Parties Posts

An Octonauts Party

An Octonauts Party

So…I wrote this yesterday, and then it turned out that the internet was down and I couldn’t post it! So here it is — a day late. Turns out the world wasn’t ending. Who knew?


Well today is a first for me.

My kids are unable to get to school because of RAIN. Yes, you read that correctly. In the desert of Arizona, my children will be staying home from school today because it is a RAIN DAY.

Ty couldn’t get to work today due to road closures, so he’s currently working across the dining room table from me – another first.

This is right by our house. Can you see the top of the basketball hoop?

Time to get right with Jesus, y’all.

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Well since today is probably the end of the world, I thought that I should do this post about Aidan’s birthday party from a month ago because it might be my last chance!

Aidan turned 4 in July, and we threw an Octonauts party!

If you have never seen the Octonauts, you should. My kids have learned so much about sea creatures and adventure from this show!

Aidan regularly discusses kelp, coral reefs, humpback whales, jellyfish, and even has told me all about a fish called the humuhumunukunukuapua’a.

It’s a reef triggerfish.

Google it.

Here was the problem, though: Even though it’s a show on Disney Jr., it apparently originated in Great Britain, which means there are no pre-made plates, decorations, etc.

Now, usually I use a good mix of pre-made stuff and homemade stuff for my parties. This time, though, it was pretty much mostly making it all on my own. I used some printables from online that I found on Pinterest, but for the most part, I made my own stuff this time. So this was a much more labor-intensive party than I usually throw.

But this time I had extra help, too!

My wonderful friend, Brittany, was visiting during the week leading up to the party, and it was so helpful! She was my original crazy crafting/systems/organization sidekick growing up, so she just jumped in with both feet pretty much the second she got out of the car.

It was the week of our wedding anniversary, and Noah started kindergarten, too, so she dealt with a lot of emotion that week.

That’s a good friend.

My mom and sister, Carlie, came the night before the party to help decorate, too!


So…without further ado…here are some of the things that we did for the party!

Please note that I scoured Pinterest, and pretty much compiled so many different ideas from different parties I found. I’m so grateful for those other moms who had great ideas for me to use!

As always, I used the island in the kitchen for food.


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These are the names of what we made:

Tunip’s Kelp Cakes (applesauces)

Gup “A” Fruit Salad (made by my mother-in-law. Isn’t it so cute?!)

Professor Inkling’s Legs and Shells (pasta salad)

Dashi’s Ocean Water (water and blue punch)

Shellington’s Sand Dollars (tortilla rolls)

Kwazii’s Shark Teeth (cheese triangles and triangle Triscuit crackers)

Peso’s Pulled Pork and BBQ Chicken

Tweak’s Tools (forks, napkins, etc.)

Many of those names were from various sources on Pinterest that had the same problem I did finding different ideas.

The cake was AMAZING, and was made by my go-to cake woman.

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For the rest of the house, I bought cheap plastic tablecloths and we taped them over the windows to give the house a blue tint inside. We just threw on some paper fish and other various ocean animals that my mother-in-law had from previous parties.

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The next big element was a whole bunch of jellyfish! Like…50.

My mom, Brittany, and I made them out of plain white styrofoam bowls that we painted green and orange. If I was going to do this again, I would have used paper plates, knowing what I know now. What I know now is that the paint didn’t stick to the bowls very well.

After we painted them, we used 8 strands of green or orange curling ribbon for the tentacles of the jellyfish. We poked a hole in the bowl and stuck the ribbon through. We hung the fish from the ceiling or the wall with just white thread.

I tried to hang them in kind of breezy areas like by the vents in the ceiling, in well-used walkways, etc. so that the tentacles would flutter like jellyfish in the ocean. It worked really well!

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Brittany and Carlie put kelp up all over the house using green streamers. It was quite the project and they took it very seriously. The whole house was covered in kelp. It was so cute!

I also put a tablecloth on an old coffee table to have a spot to put the gifts. I put the table in the corner and then we hung a decorative net, some extra kelp, and some extra jellyfish.


See those favor boxes? They were so cute! I used plain white favor boxes from Oriental Trading and printed Peso’s medical bag logo on sticker paper. We cut them out and stuck them to the boxes to make them look like they were Peso’s medical bag.

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Inside were bubbles, crayons, and coloring pages of each character’s information. I got the images straight from the Disney Jr. website, and I printed them four to a page so they were more like trading card sizes.

I also had little cups of chocolate covered raisins and yogurt covered peanuts. I put labels on them that said “Captain Barnacle’s Beans”. They were the perfect height for the box to close.

I hate when my kids eat so much sugar at parties and then get sent home with so much sugar, and I admit that I’ve been guilty of doing that to other parents, too. It’s so hard to think of fun things that kids will like when you know candy will be a hit! These were a slightly better, albeit still sugary, treat at least.

The last part was a particularly awesome element.

Mary Jean, my mother-in-law, had these signs printed at Staples for the front of the house and for the door on their way out.

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Seriously, so wonderful! I now have the sign from the back of the door waiting to be hung on the back of the door in their ocean-themed bathroom.

The best moment in the whole day was when Aidan walked in the front door and stopped dead in his tracks and whispered, “It looks like we’re in the ocean!”

Mission. Accomplished.

But, as is always the most important part of any party, the fact that all of our friends and family came to celebrate with us was so special. They are so dear to us, and we are so grateful for so many people who just love our kids to pieces.

It was a great day, and I think fun was had by all!

I still can’t believe my baby boy is 4!!!

A Birthday and a Hospital – My Messy Beautiful

A Birthday and a Hospital – My Messy Beautiful

I went to school to be an event planner.

I love the colors, the planning, the joy!

My degree is all-encompassing. I can work in many different event and entertainment venues – a concert venue, a sports stadium, corporate meetings, convention centers. But my love of all loves is parties and weddings.

But for right now, I’m a mom. Not many weddings are happening in my life. But parties? Oh I can find any excuse to have a party.

Thank goodness for birthdays!

Super Why.

Aidan was turning 3 and he wanted a Super Why birthday party.

It is my firm belief that my kids don’t care about how spectacular their birthday parties are. If you give them cake and invite their friends over, it’s pretty much the best day of their lives.

My kids don’t worry about Pinterest, or DIY decorations.

Those are totally for me. They remind me that I have talents, passions, and things that are still mine.

Please hear me when I say this – I don’t think you need to have a Pinterest-worthy party to be a good mom.

But for me, it’s my hobby. It’s my creative outlet, and it is a part of my DNA to go all in for a party.

So Super Why it was!

I planned. And planned. I made cute little Super Computer labels for the taco bar, themed posters, Super Why Bingo…even the plates were Super Why. The cake from my favorite cake decorating extraordinaire was shaped like a book from the movie (with some planes from Planes upon Aidan’s request). I was in heaven.

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The party was just getting started, and it was almost time to eat. The dads were outside playing some game with a ball that requires manliness, and the kids were playing…well, everywhere.

Now, let me say this also, because I don’t want any chiding emails or finger wagging. We are sticklers for helmets at my house. That’s why we have cool helmets…see?

*Note: this is actually from his party — he got a bike and helmet from Grandpa and Nonni for his birthday!*

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You don’t get on a bike without a helmet, and for the most part, my kids comply without me having to ask.

For the most part.

This day, it was chaos, and Noah hopped on a scooter and took off without giving a helmet a second thought.

As I was toasting tortillas, one of the dads came in from outside and, bless his heart, calmly asked for a towel.

“What kind of towel?” I asked. Hesitantly, he said, “A towel for Noah’s head. It’ll get bloody. You might want to come out here, too.”

In flooded about 30,000 children in total hysterics screaming about how Noah was broken, bleeding to death, and the like.

I rushed outside muttering to someone that I left tortillas on the griddle…don’t let them burn

I pride myself on keeping a pretty chill attitude about messes and injuries in my house. I encourage my boys to climb higher if they want to, rub some dirt on injuries, and get back up and play. I know that God has blessed me with a washing machine, bathtub, and bandages for a reason. I took a deep breath, and on my way out the door reassured all the guests and children who’d melted into the floor from the hysteria that I was sure everything would be fine. Why didn’t some people start to eat?

You guys.

When I finally rounded the garage to the driveway, Noah looked like he’d survived the apocalypse. As I picked up my previously nonchalant pace, I saw blood dripping down his face from his forehead. I couldn’t see an injury. I just saw blood. Blood in his hair, blood in his mouth, blood on the ground.

This was a hospital trip, for sure.

As I gathered information, it came out that Noah had fallen off of his scooter right into wheel well of our van parked in our driveway. A one-in-a-million shot. Isn’t that the way it always goes??

I collected him, towel and all, asked my mom to grab my keys, and hopped in the car.

All the dads started gathering up their kids, saying that they should just go home.

No!!! That’s seriously the worst thing! Aidan wouldn’t get a birthday party!

As the car was pulling away, I was yelling, “Don’t go! Please stay for Aidan! The tacos are ready…eat and play, and we’ll be back by cake!”

Can I just say that I have the best mom friends?

They were already in the kitchen working on dinner, pulling out the games, and distracting the kids.

They sent pictures from the party to Noah to keep him in the loop while we waited at the hospital.

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The nurses worked double-time when Noah said he was missing his little brother’s birthday party.

And you know what? FIVE stitches later, we were back in time for cake.

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When we pulled in the driveway, Aidan was waiting anxiously to see Noah, and Noah was excited to get back to the party. He hopped out of the car and they rushed toward each other.

While they were hugging, Noah said, “Hi Aidan! How’s your birthday party going?” And Aidan replied, “It’s fun! I missed you! Do you feel better?” Noah said, “Yeah! Let’s open your presents, okay?”

Stop it. Just stop it.

The tears that I hadn’t even thought to cry came like a flood.


This beautiful moment between these sweet boys of mine.

This is why I am a mom. This is why what I do matters.

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It’s not about the cake, or the decorations. It’s about the love. It’s about the people.

Mom friends who finish throwing your party so you can go to the hospital. Your friends who wait in the driveway for you to get home from the hospital to make sure your head isn’t in 5 pieces. Brothers who spend the afternoon worrying about each other.

This is the beauty in the mess.

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

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A Baby Sprinkle!

A Baby Sprinkle!

My friend just had her second son a few weeks ago. He’s so precious! Of course, we had a baby shower.

But wait!

I learned something in the planning. Did you know that a baby shower for a second (or third…or fourth…) is called a SPRINKLE!?!? Get it? Not a full-blown rain shower, just a little sprinkle? Oooookaaaay….

Oh, yes? You knew this?


Well…in any case….I didn’t know!

So…you can be sure that once I knew that….it was over! We had to have a sprinkle theme.

Wanna see??