Saturday, June 28, 2014

Autumn's Frozen-Inspired Summer Party, Part 2

I have had the photos for this post edited and ready for several days and I have no excuse for only now posting except that I suddenly needed to rearrange my desk and sewing area. It went well and I am almost done despite Autumn and Mike having doubts about my ability to plow through the insane mess I made! All that is behind me now, so I can finally write! This is part 2 of Autumn's Summer Frozen Party and we're headed outdoors!

I don't think I mentioned this here, but we had the family garage sale in Mike's parents' neighborhood back in April. Mike's dad decided to sell the sofa because Lainey has been wanting a new one. She...wasn't exactly expecting to come home to her sofa outside with a sold sign on it! They made it work, though, and moved the screened-in porch furniture into the living room. It worked out for me because there was enough room to put this table in there for the kids to eat on and do their craft. You can't see them in this photo but by the bigger table there are also smaller kid-sized picnic tables Lainey has for when the whole family is here.

Lindsay and Lauren made this room look good! I didn't even think about putting anything on the mantle but I had some tulle and deco mesh so they got to work. I wasn't sure what to do with the photos of Autumn, one from every May since she was born, but this turned out perfectly!

The clothespins came from Autumn's roadside bulletin board and I got the hanging paper things from Walmart and a couple of party stores, mostly on sale which was nice and an advantage of planning for a long time. They aren't in this photo, but I also put mason jars filled with yellow flowers on the mantle.

We didn't go crazy in the outdoor kitchen area. Pd hung these pretty paper poofs I found at Hobby Lobby, Lainey already had the candles, and I added the flowers. I bought one bouquet of yellow flowers at Costco on a whim and they seriously brightened everything up. Lainey and Pd provided the food, hot dogs, and sliders. Great for the big crowd!

Since the food was simple, I didn't do tent cards for the buffet. I did make an Olaf in jello thing but the one on Pinterest was so much better than mine. Olaf might have been a little better if the plastic I covered the bowl with didn't stick to his button icing and smash his nose. It wasn't really worth buying the ingredients to do this one project but I think if I hadn't tried I would have been a little sad. Although I'm a mediocre marshmallow artist, he still looked pretty cute up on the bar.

Because of the In Summer song, I wanted to do a picnic look for the outside. When I got lucky and the cake figurines were in stock at the Disney Store, I also picked up Hula Olaf. He's in my car now! Autumn made the sail boat some time ago as a Kiwi Crate project. The place mats are paper ones I saw at several party stores and I found the blue vases at Michael's on clearance. I thought they would tie the theme to the inside of the house, along with the blue tablecloth on (in?) the screened-in porch. I made the dandelions AND I LOVE THEM SO MUCH.

I love them so much that all of this is on my breakfast room table right now! Sorry about the picture quality on this one. I took it with my phone. If you would like to make your own dandelions, I used this tutorial and skipped the dying step. Also, instead of using stems from inexpensive flowers, I used floral stem wire. I also wrapped the stem wire around the bee wings (the bees are from Oriental Trading) and it held them up perfectly well despite my initial concerns.

Even Pd got into the spirit, he dyed the fountain water blue!! Too fun!

I just realized that I took this photo before I finished the punch--at this point only the lemonade is in there. Like the fountain, the punch was blue. And, you can see one of the two tent cards I made. The other one was with the candy to tell people to please fill their bag. Autumn won't drink carbonation which isn't necessarily a bad thing but it did put a stop to the sprite-based punches I was pinning. I found this recipe for Tiffany punch, though, and the kids loved it. The grownups loved it. I highly recommend it for your next party requiring a blue sugary drink. We put the other drinks over on the cart but it appears I forgot to take a picture of that! We didn't do anything special other than putting out blue cups and napkins. Oh, and for the outdoor meal, we used plain white plates with blue napkins in keeping with the picnic theme.

Which brings us to the special guest! We had the kids wait at this cool wall that Mike's parents have and snuck Elsa in through the back. At first the kids were all, "whaaaat?" And then they started to grin. I had to prompt Autumn but once she made it over to Elsa, Autumn never left her side. Autumn has a wide range of friends and our party was an even mix of boys and girls. You know I'm pretty gender neutral in my approach to parties and people in general but I did wonder how a princess (queen, really) at the party (as opposed to a Princess Party which I don't think this was) would go over. It was fine. Perfect, in fact. It reminded me of the end of the school year party. The room mom included Let it Go in the year's slideshow. The boys all groaned. Covered their ears. Then, one boy in front of me started singing passionately into the ear of the boy next to him and then ALL THE KIDS were belting out the songs like an 80's hair band with a power ballad. LOVE IT.

We took a few group photos and then headed over to the arbor where Elsa read A Sister More Like Me to the kids. It was a cute book! We used the same paper fans from the porch in the arbor and I tied some tulle bows to the swing. I also put out a red checked picnic blanket to go with the outdoor theme. Before Elsa left, the kids took pictures with her here and it turned out adorably. In fact, it was one of the boys who reminded me that we hadn't taken our individual photos with Elsa!

After the book, the kids headed over to the porch to do an Olaf beach globe. I'm going to do a separate post on this project so let me just say that I could not have done this crazy party without Tamara who helped Elsa become Elsa, Penny my cake cutter, cleaner, and child wrangler, Christy the art project person extraordinaire, and the various parents who helped out! This, by the way, is Autumn monopolizing Elsa's attention. She even read to Elsa while we were passing out cake but I didn't catch that fantastic moment, wah!

After singing happy birthday, eating cake, taking pictures with Elsa, and then seeing Elsa off to her carriage, we broke out the slip and slide!! So fun for the kids...

And some of the grownups!

Phew!! Such a long post but so much fun represented here. This was the first party where Autumn pretty much chose the entire guest list and spent a lot of time being a little hostess. We had an incredible turn out and had a blast celebrating together. At the end of the day, we wrapped it up with Parker's Water Ice, something a little different from the usual ice cream and it was great. Which is good because I have about half a tub left.

Until next time!

submitted to Made by You Monday at Skip to My Lou!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Autumn's Frozen-Inspired Summer Birthday Party, Part 1

Writing the title of this post reminded me of a text our neighbor sent that cracked me up. He asked if we couldn't have fit Spring into our Winter in Summer for a girl named Autumn party! I asked if her real birth date being in the spring counted!

Anyway, we liked the idea of the "In Summer" theme but Frozen just isn't Frozen without blue! I thought ombre would be fun and Autumn liked the waves with the snowflakes worked in so our invitation was born! It's looking a little dark here but printed the colors are really vibrant.

Like this! I wanted a different shape to the banner than the usual pennant I gravitate towards. The curves weren't too tedious to cut out, either. I know sometimes I come off like I do all kind of picky things but I rarely spend a lot of time sitting and fiddling with anything. That's why I never do any printables that are scalloped or overly intricate!

Lainey took care of the cake and she found this bakery in Southaven called Brown Baguette. The cake is lovely and Autumn absolutely went crazy for it but the amazing thing is the cake tasted fabulous. How often does that happen?? A pretty cake and not only does the cake taste good, but so does the icing? Not often. Too, I got lucky and I happened to find these figurines on the Disney Store site, if you can believe it. Until I decided to check one last time, they had been going to for something like $60 on Amazon!

It's the perfect centerpiece for the table! We elevated it a touch with a casserole dish under the runner. I had so much fun doing all of the printables and, for some reason, it seemed less difficult and time consuming than in the past. The ombre theme was soooo easy and not just for making printables. For example, I picked up the three shades of tulle for the tutu banner across the windows and finished it in no time watching something on Netflix. It's tough to see the gradient because of the light but I promise it's there.

I had this great idea to get or make an ombre tablecloth and once I got the idea, I had to do it and justified it by thinking of all the ways I'd reuse such a tablecloth! I found an inexpensive tablecloth and some poly iDye. It did pretty well but without the drama I wanted. I know, kid party, but I couldn't let it go. Er. Pun not intended. I had some acrylic paint leftover from the playroom project and smeared it all over the ends. I started with a sponge and ended up putting on gloves and just finger painting. I like it. It wasn't the right size for the table so we tied it in two places with tulle and called it a night!

Another random project were the silhouettes. One of the parties I saw had these pretty nursery prints of the girls' dresses but there was no way I was going to pay so much for a party picture. I did the silhouettes in photoshop and found the LAST THREE of those blue frames at Hobby Lobby for $3 each. I will so use them again, especially since I seem to gravitate to blue for party colors. I got to reuse my feather wreath again and everything!

The candy came from Oriental Trading company and it was GONE when the kids were done filling their treat bags! I am so glad because last time we did a candy bar we had a ton of leftovers. I forgot to take a photo of the bags but I have one left over so I'll put it in the next post. Oh, and the candies I bought are on my Summer Frozen Party Pinterest board if you're interested. Over the last 6 months, we found a few Frozen toys and I incorporated them into the decor. By the way, did I mention I got a cotton candy machine earlier this year? It was pretty funny, I really thought Mike would object but he said that it made me so happy it was worth the $30. Ha! We have used it for 3 parties and 2 get-togethers since March!

I promise I'm almost done with this post. But, I do have to tell you about this project. I brought some of Autumn's Frozen pictures and her bulletin board...which is made from a mirror I picked up on the side of the road!! I think it originally went on a dresser so I took the mounts off, painted it, and covered the mirror with batting and fabric that Lindsay gave me! After that, I hot glued ribbon and Autumn and I modge podged some clothespins with fabric scraps. I am so happy with how it turned out! It didn't exactly match the party theme but it was fun and Autumn got to make her own party decorations! Once the hearth was covered in gifts, it looked super festive.

Well, that's the inside of the house! The outside was a little more Olaf oriented with picnics, a project, and some water play. Here's a preview of the outside of Lainey and Pd's house...

and a preview of the arrival of our special guest!

Until next time!

(I shared this on Made by You Monday at Skip to My Lou!)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day

I posted this on Facebook and thought it would be somewhat appropriate to put here:
"Insert drugs and I could have written this. I am unbelievably thankful for Mike, his dad, and his grandfather and bittersweet for the life my dad could have chosen to have. He missed Autumn by just over a year."

And I really am. I'm so very thankful for the dads in my life. It makes Father's Day a little less weird.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bachelorette Party Time!

I have a little bit of a wedding series going around Tamara's wedding. Last time, we visited the Ice Cream Social Mike and I hosted for Tamara, Landon, and their friends. I was going to combine my bachelorette party post with the rehearsal dinner but I have more photos than I remember taking! It looks like I have at least two more, and maybe three, posts.

Back to the party, I outright told Tamara that I am completely incapable of throwing any kind of wild and crazy party and that if she wanted a stereotypical bachelorette party, I wouldn't be offended if she wanted someone else to take it on. I also said I could plan a fun, sleepover girls' night if that's the kind of thing she'd prefer! She was up for it and I got to work. I knew I wanted a sleep over and because Mike had already endured two weekends of house guests, I looked for a decent hotel suite that would sleep 6-8 of us. We ended up at Embassy Suites and it was a great room with excellent staff.

At the last minute, I decided to put together a little bachelorette party survival kit. It wasn't too serious or big since we weren't doing much going around. I just put in some blowpops, the Vampire Blood hand sanitizer I had left over from another party, some breath mints, chap stick, and a couple of cute packets with "safety first" and "hangover helper" items in them.

Oh, and I put these in because I passed them at Hobby Lobby and couldn't resist. Everyone wore theirs all night so I'm glad I did it! My veiny hand and bony wrist is in the bottom, right corner. The better to injure you with my pretty. ::cackles::

Not too shabby for a hotel room, huh?? A couple of the other ladies pitched in with snacks and drinks and I brought a few movies for us to watch. Among the movies we chose were the last two Twilight movies so we could watch the wedding scene and make fun of the actors and story.

But before we did that, we went out for dinner! The actual dinner place was kind of meh despite a lot of recommendations. It just was more...hipster...than we really wanted. But we still had some fun AND Tamara got to wear her awesome bridal head band! I didn't want to do the usual veil or obscene dangly headband so I did some looking. I found one of these for an unholy amount of money on Etsy but Cheri came to my rescue and made this for me in exchange for some wedding shower items. Oh, man. As always, I got the better end of that deal!! How adorable is Tamara in this??

We had better luck at our next stop, the Frost Bake Shop which is also the place that made Tamara's wedding cakes. We had some great cupcakes in the cute shop. Here we all are! So fun!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Three Years...

Three years ago today we said hello and goodbye to Garrett Michael Colley. Today, we are a little more weathered. We persevere. I pray, as Mike did at the cemetery, that the darkness in our life means that the bright spots shine that much more brilliantly.

Today was the first time I put flowers on his grave. Isn't that weird? I guess in the past I brought a pinwheel or someone else provided the flowers. It felt odd buying them. We did have a bit of a laugh. Next to the explosion of color on each side, Garrett's stone looks positively staid. I kind of want to see what it looks like at night because one of the stones is surrounded by solar spotlights. It's pretty amazing.

Garrett's birthday sneaked up on us this year. I realized intensely yesterday how quickly life goes on. And that's hard, if good and probably the best thing for all of us. There's no big commemoration. We aren't releasing balloons or setting the cemetery on fire. There will be very few calls or texts. We don't have dinner with friends and family planned although we had an excellent breakfast with Tamara. And, like I said, this is good all the while acknowledging I don't like it. I don't want this to be my life. I want to be planning a third birthday party and convincing Mike that it's worth the money and time. I want people to be calling and singing Garrett happy birthday. I want to be back at the day before Garrett died when I had still, miraculously considering my life, maintained the innocence that life would, somehow, go smoothly. But that isn't what our life is.

I don't know what's next. I told Mike I feel less hopeful than I did even the day they told us Garrett wasn't going to make it. To reuse a word, I am weathered from the storms of the last three years. That's not to say I am void of hope. It's there. I still have faith, although I'm sure it isn't enough to move mountains. It is enough to sustain me, especially when added to the life I have with Mike and Autumn. Despite all of heartache and unexpected turns, it is still a good life together. And, for that, I am grateful.

Click here to read stories of past anniversaries, including our One Year Later guest posts from friends on how Garrett's short life affected them.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Fitness Update 2014

We're coming up to the 3rd anniversary of when I went to the hospital and what would have been Garrett's third birthday. I realized haven't done a fitness update in a long time (other than in a martial arts context) and thought this might be a good time to do one. I was going to do measurements but I can't find my tape. I'm going to say this is a sign that my ego is too fragile to take it today! Which isn't entirely true, I'm not unhappy with how my fitness path is going but I do wonder where my measuring tape went. I was just about to write that I always hang it on my thread board with my scissors when I suddenly remembered it is in the bag I took to Nanny when I was working on the Elsa dress. So, excuse me while I do some measurements....

Meh, no real change in measurements from this time last year. I did find that my most recent body fat percentage was a fluke. I'm at 24.2 percent which is much more in line with my progression than that random 21 percent.

I really started tracking these particular stats to measure my road to health. Last time I posted measurements, I suspected I needed to try something new in terms of goal tracking and reporting. I should have been measuring things like pushups and situps and weight loads but it's too late to measure that from when I got out of the hospital. I never dreamed I'd go from not being able to sit up for more than 20 minutes to teaching classes, to be completely honest. Anyway, here are some goals and achievements:
I promise I'm getting to wedding posts. It wasn't a specific goal but I'm glad I looked nice at Tamara's wedding.
ƪ(˘⌣˘)ʃ  I started doing strength classes that use dumbbells with 3, 5, and 8 pound weights back in late 2011. Today, I use 10, 12, and 15 lbs. when I am in class and 8, 10, and 12 lbs. when I teach. Because I'm a chicken.

ƪ(˘⌣˘)ʃ  I can roll and fall and spar with no abdominal issues. The only time I have trouble is occasionally on my knees and when I am thrown in such a way that my body is at a 45 degree angle to the ground and my legs fly out. It's a rare occurence.

ƪ(˘⌣˘)ʃ  Post-surgery, I had almost no side lateral leg motion. Today, I can do leg swings to full extension and I can stand flat footed and lift my foot to my shoulder.

ƪ(˘⌣˘)ʃ  My abdomen was a disaster in 2011. I have consistently improved my abdominal strength and have a wide range of exercises I can teach. Two weeks ago, I taught the last thing I couldn't do: bicycle crunches. On Saturday, I got to tell people "NO DYING COCKROACHES!" which is what our friend Tony used to say when we were doing terrible bicycle crunches. Silly, but I was so wanting to say that Tony-ism!

ƪ(˘⌣˘)ʃ  I teach 5 Aikido classes a week and 2 kickboxing classes using a weighted bar. I sub a lot of strength classes lately and I'm teaching some stick classes over the summer at a school in Hernando. For several weeks I'm doing a strength class and a kickboxing class back to back. In kickboxing, I am transitioning from a 9 pound bar to a 12 pound one.

I hope I don't always look this goofy when I'm talking and punching.

Which leads me to something cool: I think I briefly mentioned this here, but I got a job at the gym I where I wanted to teach. I am so excited about it. When I turned in my resume at the end of the summer, they told me they weren't hiring. I was sad but I picked up some other classes and got some experience. Before Christmas, I sent in an updated copy of my resume. I told them that if they were looking for holiday subs, that I'd love to come and audition. They called me back, made some suggestions and I ended up on the sub list! Yay for persistence! After subbing a while, the kickboxing teacher I subbed for Monday nights decided to adjust her schedule and I took over that class in March.

It's been interesting. I am trying to develop thicker skin for when people don't like me or my classes but, seriously, I love it so much. I have a ton of friends there who have supported me through my journey and it's crazy awesome to be able to help other people reach their goals.

As far as what's next, I am going to see a nutritionist. I'm not unhappy with how I look. I have moments when I am frustrated with the lack of connection between my appearance and the amount of exercise and healthy eating I do. That's probably normal. The main reasons I want to see a professional are issues related to my PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome) and genetically high cholesterol that I think a nutritionist might be able to help me handle. Apparently I can't do it on my own since it was sky high when everything else was in the "holy crap she's healthy" category. Plus, I am so very active these days that I'd like some help making sure I am eating enough of the right things to maintain my schedule and work on my continuing goals. More on that later, I'm sure.

I started this post expecting to be a little down because I had a bit of a rough day but this was way encouraging! I hope that it encourages someone else because there is so much hope with good friends, knowledgeable teachers, and maybe a little faith when it all seems pointless.