07.29.16How to: Plants vs. Zombies Party

Every year, my son has the incredible knack of asking for a party theme that does not exist at any party store, or online, at all. He’s good like that. And when I tell him this, he turns to me and says, “Well, Mom, I know you’ll think of something.” And I sigh and complain and stress about how I’ll never figure it out. And then I do. Because I always will. Mostly because I love to make things, but partly because I have grown sort of fond of the kid too. Birthdays are meant to be celebrated, however we want them to be, I believe. So this particular year, I found myself searching Pinterest for “Plants vs. Zombies birthday party.”

To which I didn’t find too much. There are some great ideas out there, sure, but not as many as I expected. Which is why we find ourselves here today. So that I can share my experiments with you, and then you can throw your child (or app addicted husband or self) a rad birthday party if you so choose.

How to create a (rad) Plants vs. Zombies Birthday Party

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I’m pretty handy at graphic design, if I do say so myself, so I made his invitations in Photoshop and had them printed super affordably at MPIX.

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I started off by making the games. My first idea was to create six life-size (to the kids) zombies, and place them around the house for the kids to shoot at to their hearts content. My son happens to have as many nerf guns as kids invited to his party (it’s an addiction), so weaponry wasn’t an issue. To make the zombies, I found high-res photos that I wanted to use online, and uploaded them to a website called Block Posters. Once they were made, I printed out the puzzle pieces, cut them out, and glued them with mod podge to mat board (that I got at the Scrap Exchange in Durham – 6 giant pieces for under $5 – if you’re local, go check them out). Then I stapled wooden stakes to the back of them and my husband hammered them into the ground. Time consuming, but very easy and the kids were so excited about them. You’d think I would have taken more photos, but you get the idea. I predict that the scuba guy is going to live in my garage forever.

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Once the kids were sweaty, hot, and tired from their nerf war, I let them come inside (It was over 100 degrees out. I’m not a monster. I allowed it for a few minutes). They enjoyed playing pin the eye on the zombie. And by enjoyed playing, I mean enjoyed totally cheating. Cheaters. I had this poster printed at Office Max before I knew about the Block Posters website. I won’t ever do that again, it’s insanely expensive for a large piece of paper. I printed the eyeballs on my home printer and made my son cut them out. Because I was tired, and hey, it’s his party!

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Then I sent them outside again. But even in the heat, I’m pretty sure they’d agree that it was worth it, because this pinata was full to the brim with candy. My son had asked for a zombie head pinata, but my expertise isn’t in creating zombie heads out of paper mache, so I took the easy way out and purchased a chili pepper pinata on Amazon for $15, cut out the face using leftover mat board, and slapped it on there with some duct tape. Looks pretty good, huh? This was the party favorite, especially since my husband had to hold it after the tie wrap broke off and the kids (and by kids I mean adults) kept giggling that the bat “might hit him somewhere funny.”

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Finally, I basically littered the house in zombies. Anything I could find on google images got printed out and used in its appropriate place.

Other stuff you might want to know:

  • I bought the cake at the grocery store. Gone are my days of making a grand cake, shaped like whatever theme he chose this year. It makes me a very foul person. That’s not good for anyone. I know my limits. They were happy to print a photo of a zombie on an edible icing sheet and slap it on a cookie cake for me. And I was happy to pay them $10 to do it.
  • The favor bags had stuffed plants and zombies in them, from China. I’m not proud of it, but those suckers are so expensive here! They were only $1 each where I got them online. Part of my soul is dead now.
  • I carefully counted out organic crackers into sandwich bags for the kids to snack on during the day. They ate the bowl of potato chips that was out for the adults. Damn kids.

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Happy kids = happy Mom.

There you have it! You can do it too. Honestly, compared with past years, this one was pretty easy. But I’m sure that just means next year will be impossible. Wish me luck!

07.20.16Ten

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You arrived with a dramatic flair,

Already then, certain, independent, sure of self

A preview of what was to come

 

Those first years filled with life,

all that comes with it. The highs and lows,

tantrums, snuggles, catching monsters and “push me, mommy, one more time.”

 

Years passed quickly, yet ever so slow. Funny how that goes.

Time after time, you showed us who you were, taught us who to be.

Never passing up an adventure, dreaming big but staying cautiously close.

 

You embraced our family, when small was what it turned out to be,

with a smile and a hug you cheered me up when I was down,

you brought me back when I was lost. You reminded me, this was all I need.

 

Always wiser than your years, except when you weren’t.

Mistakes are important, decisions are meant to be wrong sometimes.

You learned as you grew, you cried. We were here.

 

We always will be.

 

So much is changing and so little too.

You fit in my shoes, but still hold tightly on to things of memory.

And so much is yet to be.

 

Ten years have passed, the happy moments overflow.

What is to come, we wonder, we wait patiently with eager eyes.

Who will you be? What will you do?

 

Today, still just a boy. Growing, embracing each day.

Tomorrow? The future. Yours. Ours.

An endless possibility.

06.28.16night wonderings

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It’s in that space when the last bit of light from the tired sun has dropped from view, and the moon has yet to stretch into its overnight position that my thoughts catch up with me. Not the minuscule ones of the day, those pesky reminders of insignificant tasks and worries, but the grandiose wonders of life that make me whole, that add up to the sum of me.

I lay in my bed, wrapped up in a warm quilt that is oh so colorful in the day, but in the darkness of my room is enveloped in everything else. I feel familiar aches and pains, my body’s way of reminding me that it’s there too, present, listening. There’s a small twinge of guilt, for the hour is a bit too early to sleep, but I push it away, and allow the calm of my night to wash over.

What is life? What is my life? What is next for my life? Will I die young, unexpectedly, missing the next chapters, or live until every last strand of hair on my head is glittery white, and my great-grandchildren call my name while running down the hall? I let these questions hang in the air above me, waiting for answers I know I will not get. When they get to be too much to bear, I repeat to myself that it is not for me to know the answer, and I move on to questions I believe I can answer, thoughts I can at least tackle.

What do I want from this life? What can I do? To be better, to be really alive every day, to open my heart, and my arms, and my mind, and do something? Be something…more? What does that look like? Who do I want to be? Is this it? Or is there more?

I pause. I breathe. I let the words soak into my body. I feel the rise and fall of my chest, calming myself before I get caught in the trap of thoughts that don’t belong, the ones that brew to tell me that I’m not enough, that I’m not doing or being…enough. They have no place here, in the sacred night. I do not let them in. I breathe.

My husband sleeps to my left, finally peaceful after a stressful day, his breath letting out an almost inaudible sound. I’m centered by this noise, pulled back to happy wonders, to the beauty of life, of my life. The unbelievable and sometimes perplexing love that fills our home. The dreams, the wishes granted. The laughter that has filled years, buckets of memories. My soul is warm, full. I breathe that in, steadying my breath to match his.

My thoughts, questions, wonderings, begin to fade. Until they are fuzzy and distant, and I cannot reach them any longer. They will wait for me there, until the time when tomorrow’s light falls from the sky, if I choose to pick them up again. And I know that I will.

For it is in this magical place each night, where I remember to be, and not just exist.

06.21.16diy dreamcatcher

IMG_1818“Who are you making that for?,” my husband asked me when I sat down on a lazy Saturday morning to start on this project. “Myself,” I said.

Dream Catchers are believed to bless the “sleeping ones” with pleasant dreams, good luck, and harmony throughout their lives. I’ve had numerous ones throughout my life, and I really love the symbolism. I haven’t made something just for me in a long time, and I was missing that part of myself. So I set out to create my own dream catcher. With just a few (cheap) materials, a partial tutorial, and an hour, I created something very meaningful to me. Here’s how I did it – an easy project for you to try, or to share with your kids to make their own during this summer break.

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Here’s what you need: The inner circle of an embroidery hoop (whatever size you choose), thick twine or crochet string, a second type of twine (or ribbon), two types of feathers, and beads.

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Step One: Take the twine and wind it tightly around the hoop, tying the twine together at the end in a loop. I added a bead for fun, you can customize as you like.

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Step Two: Tie the first tips of the inner star to the hoop in whatever fashion you wish. Once you have the outer tips tied, then go around again and loop through those strands you created. Take a look at the tutorial I used to help guide you thorough this part, it was tricky, and I definitely altered my approach from theirs. You just want to loop row after row, tightening as you go to create a star or flower shape on the inside. I tied it off in the middle, and added a bead to hide the tied portion behind it.

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Step Three: Using the ribbon or second color twine, tie the feathers into a knot at the bottom and then thread a bead or two through the twine and over the tips of the feathers to hold them in place. Then make a knot so they don’t move. Once you’ve done that, tie it to the hoop wherever you wish, cutting the excess twine. Repeat as many times as you want – I chose to add three. One for each of us in my family.

IMG_1819Hang, and you’re done! Easy, totally customizable, and it was very relaxing to make. Enjoy!