Tonka Birthday Party

I think it is mandatory for all little boys to want a construction or tool party at some point. My son was no exception. He had a real tool thing going when he was little. For his second birthday, we threw a construction and tool party that was a great toddler party. But– stay tuned– because I am also including a variation to this party for older kids (and by “older” I mean up to adult aged kids) at the end of the post. This is another PB (pre-blog) party, so my photo choices are limited.

The Invitations: I had two options for the invitations. We ended up using an invitation that showed a boy and his tool belt, but I also had some dump truck invitations that I included in the picture above. In fact, I still have them (in their original box). There are ten in the box plus a sample; I will MAIL THEM to the follower who posts a comment with the best idea for an activity, party favor, decoration, or even why you are thinking about throwing a tool/construction party. I will post the winner on Sunday, August 5 with information about how to receive this ONE OF A KIND PRIZE. I am quite certain the competition will be fierce. Psst, Aunt B, this is your chance.

The Activity: For weeks, I saved paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, cereal boxes and other recyclable materials. I purchased Elmer’s glue, craft sticks, wooden dowels, foam stickers, wood blocks, foam blocks, and any other materials I thought could be used in building. I set up two low tables in our basement and covered them with butcher paper. I set all the materials on the tables, so the guests could walk up and create.

The Party Favor: The Dollar Store had plastic tool kits. I put the tools in a Lowe’s canvas tool belt and wrote guest names in Sharpie pen across the front. We tied these on the guests as they arrived, so they could use the tools while building with the recyclable materials.

The tool belt pictured was a birthday gift, but the Lowe’s belt party favor looked similar.

The Cake: I used a bakery in New Orleans for this one. They created a rocky terrain with icing then set construction vehicles onto the cake.

The Food: We served nuts and bolts (Chex Mix), Fritos, and small sandwiches with the crusts cut off. The food choices were not anything super exciting, but I borrowed all of my son’s dump trucks, lined the truck beds with coordinating paper napkins, and used those as the serving dishes. That was a good little detail!

The Gift: My parents gave my son a play workbench, which is one of the best I have ever seen. For a little bit bigger child, a great gift is the Real Construction sets.

The Older Party: This past year, my parents won a “Tonka Party” at a charity auction. A construction company had donated a trip to the site where they keep all of their equipment. My mom booked the party over Christmas when all of the grandkids, kids, and grandparents would be together. She invited some other family friends too. The party included rides on the big equipment like the back hoes, pulling the air horn on the dump truck (believe me, the adults lined up faster than the kids), and climbing around on the front loaders and other big trucks. I am not sure if you have a local construction site willing to do this, but it sure was something different. My mom made sack lunches for all of the guests and served Bloody Mary’s for the big kids and hot chocolate for the little kids.

Better Than a Brown Bag Lunch

Bring your child’s teacher a really good lunch the first week of school! In fact, this is a great little sirsee for a teacher’s birthday, teacher appreciation week, standardized testing week, or any random day. As mentioned in the Teacher Emergency Kit post, teachers are trapped in the school building all day.  Unless a planning period aligns with the moon on a Tuesday in January, they are not getting out of that building to go pick up a lunch. Most teachers (read: me) hastily pack a half of a peanut butter sandwich along with their kids’ lunches as they are racing out the door in the morning. What a treat it would to receive a good lunch one day.

The Bag: I sewed the bag in the picture above modifying a pattern I had for an art bag. I would not recommend sewing your own lunch tote. After 7 hours at the sewing machine, I decided I do not like my children’s teachers THAT much. Pick up a lunch bag at any store where you purchase school supplies or even your local grocery store.  A cute disposable gift bag would work well too. I really like the neoprene lunch totes if you want to upgrade the gift. Almost all teachers have access to refrigerators, so you should not need an insulated lunch bag.

The Food: I made a really good pesto chicken salad and put it on a squishy roll with arugula. I included pretzel crisps, raw veggies, and a small container of cashews, almonds, and dried fruit. I added a bottle of water too. Teachers usually have a microwave available, so you could send something yummy in a tupperware with re-heating instructions instead of a sandwich.

You can click on Fancy Sandwiches for the pesto chicken salad recipe and a few others. I realized after I decided to post these recipes, they probably have a bad breath factor to them. No problem– include a mint with the lunch OR make sure your child’s teacher has the Emergency Kit, so he/she has a toothbrush.

The Extras: Do not forget to add a paper plate, napkin, and any plasticware that is needed.

One Lovely Blog

What a happy surprise!  A fellow blogger, FadedFairyTale, nominated me for a blog award.

7/30/2012 — Another nomination.  Thank you Parentista for the nomination.  I am so appreciative to have bloggers who read and like my posts. I am combining my nomination posts since I don’t have any new insights about myself to add. I did have one new hot blog to share, so I updated my blog nominations. See the list below.

There are some rules that go with the nomination:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you with a link to the site. (see above)
  2. Write seven things about yourself that other bloggers don’t know.
  3. Nominate fifteen other deserving blogs.

Seven things about myself:

  1. Eating Altoids makes me sneeze.
  2. I let my children watch TV, so I can read (mostly juvenile literature).
  3. I recently learned how to make pasta from scratch. And, yes, it is far superior to pasta from the box.
  4. I love spreadsheets, tables, lists, file systems, etc.
  5. My dining room table is overflowing with mail and in-progress projects. My husband wants to know why I insist on having a dining room in any house we own since we never eat at that table. DUH– where else will all my project supplies go?
  6. I love junky Mexican restaurants and margaritas (frozen, no salt).
  7. I let my children eat Fritos, crackers, whatever is in the pantry for breakfast as long as they fix it themselves.

(Almost) 15 blog nominations:

Oh Yes They Did! — Hilarious.  I always laugh when reading this and LOVE this blogger’s writing style.

Nerdy Book Club — Great source for juvenile book ideas.

Popcorntheblog — Tips and inspiration about writing.

Wuppenif — Love reading about life on a farm.

Pretty Baking — Really good cake ideas.

The Joy of Teaching — Good comments about education.

Running in Mommyland — Written by a friend from my 8th grade class about life as a mom and trying to keep up with it all.  This blog semi-inspired me to get my blog going.

Village Connection — Keeps me updated on new and fun things in my neighborhood.

Hot Mess Mom — If you feel down about your parenting skills, read this.

Paper and Cake — Party ideas and printables

I wish I had more, but I am new to the blogging world and am just beginning to explore all of the great posts that are out there. Thank you again FadedFairyTale and Parentista for the nominations.  It made my day(s)!

Back to School Teacher Emergency Kits

I cannot believe I am already preparing to go back to school, but I know it is right around the corner. I have been thinking about this little gift for awhile. It is something I would like a parent of one of my students to give me on the first day of school. Once teachers arrive at school, it is almost impossible to leave the building until after the students leave. There are days when you need a little something from CVS and there is no way to get there. I thought my children’s teachers might appreciate this little Teacher Emergency Kit; I know I would.

The Box: I purchased a few bead storage boxes from Michael’s. It has ten slots with removable dividers. I removed a few of the dividers to make one section of the box bigger.

The Contents: I chose the contents based on things I need when I am teaching. Below is the suggested list, but I also considered adding things like Band-aids, a good red pen, hair bands or a clippy, Tums, and even a feminine product or two since my children have female teachers this year (but the box was clear, and I thought that might have the potential for an embarrassing situation– although not having that item can create an embarrassing situation too, so you decide).

  • cough drops
  • Advil
  • chocolate
  • Tylenol
  • peppermints
  • soda money (quarters)
  • travel toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Aquaphor (or ChapStick of some kind)
  • emery board
  • travel lotion
  • Sharpie pen (I always need one of these at odd times and never have one in my classroom)

The Labels: I printed a 2″x 4″ label for the lid of the box using the Red Cross logo to make it look like an emergency kit. I created a table for the inside of the box and printed it on cardstock. Using a paper cutter, I cut it down to fit the inside lid and attached it with clear tape. I wanted the “map” on the inside to look like one of those lists they have in the big chocolate candy boxes, so you know what kind of chocolate you are eating. Here is a copy of the teacher emergency kit map.

Footnote: I did a little Pinterest research, and (big gasp) I am not the only one with the Teacher Emergency Kit idea. After analyzing my competition, I noticed a few flaws with the other kits’ contents. They often contain colorful paper clips or Starburst candies or things that make the packaging look better, but these items are not that useful. A Starburst is not going to make my breath better after I eat garlic-y hummus for lunch. I don’t need colorful paper clips; I can get a whole box of paper clips in the supply cabinet next to my school’s copy machine. When you fill your emergency kit, think about items that a teacher would not be able to access in a school building and might desperately need.

Ice Cream Sundae Birthday

Part of our recent road trip was a visit to my sewing sister’s house. This is my sister who made the drawstring bags for our Hello Kitty birthday party. Our trip overlapped with my niece’s 8th birthday, and we were able to celebrate with her. My niece invited two friends to come swimming on the afternoon of her birthday. On the day of the party, my sister whipped up some activities that made the party look like she had been planning for weeks (not only does this sister sew, she is also very good at parties). She kept it simple, but it was so cute and colorful.  I think it would be an easy party to host for a wide variety of ages. What are other good ideas for impromptu birthday parties that look coordinated and well-planned?

The Face Painting: My sister did an Internet search for kids’ tattoos– not face painting designs– and copied a collection of simple ideas on master pages that were easy for the kids to reproduce. She set up the face paints and design choices on the table by the pool.  It was a “self-serve” operation. The kids took breaks from swimming and decorated their faces, hands, legs, backs…

The Cake: My whole family loves a grocery store birthday cake! My sister ordered an undecorated cake– she did plan this ahead of time– and provided materials for the guests to decorate it. Think of the finished product as an edible pinata. TIP: We decided that an activity like this probably needs a small group. Maybe eight children, max. If you are having a larger party, provide individual cakes or two or three larger cakes. The Betty Crocker Cake Mate squeezable frosting cans were perfect for this project. They came in bright colors and offered different frosting tips for fun decorating options.

Before

During

After

The Ice Cream Sundaes: My sister had colorful spoons and bowls from a previous party and purchased a variety of ice cream toppings at the grocery store. After we scooped ice cream, the guests added as many toppings as they wanted!

The Supplies: Most of the food items were in white or blue ramekin dishes. Everything my sister used was in bright “ice cream” colors, which created a themed look to the party even though it was a very casual get together. She had pink bowls, ice cream sundae spoons, brightly colored M&Ms, sprinkles, chocolate and caramel toppings, ice cream cones, brightly colored frosting, and Tervis Tumblers with colorful lids filled with M&Ms for party favors.