Tweener Birthday Ideas

Once upon a time, in a sad, faraway place, we didn't blog.

I didn't document things step by step.

My photos, well, (gasp!) they had Sierra Mist bottles in the background.

But, even way back in 2006, I had a teeny bopper birthday party.

Ashleigh's super cool, fun and blogworthy scrapbook party inspired me to dig these goodies up. So, if you can tolerate lots of visual clutter, read on brave friend. If not, refer back to Ashleigh's scrapbook party. :)

Her cream puff cake was so unique and looked so yummy I actually licked the computer screen. I have an anti-caker also so we did an ice cream cookie sandwich cake. Add some candles and you really can turn just about anything into a birthday cake.


These little paper mache letters are a blank canvas for pre-teen creativity to go wild. Provide paint, scrapbook goodies and some modge podge and they have a personalized letter made to match their room.


And if you have ever tried to fill those long hours of slumber parties, pull out this nifty craft. Plain white headbands sell for less than a dollar at our craft store. I pre-cut fabric to fit and the girls modge podged it on. The inside tends to look like a train wreck but the outside is all the matters. (I sometimes apply this rule to closets and drawers).


Thanks for taking this trip down pre-blogging memory lane with me.

You are very patient people.

And you deserve a medal.

Messy Party

Its a rare occasion when I let my kids get really messy.

Tell me I'm not the only parent who says NO to moon sand, play-dough, or finger painting,
just because I'm feeling too tired to clean up after the activity?

But all of my kids' hopes and dreams were fulfilled when they attended the Messy Party at church.
My genius friend planned this activity last summer and it was a huge hit!
I found myself in charge of the activities for the kids at church this year, and decided to do it again.
I was totally so worthy of a sequel!

After 2 successful Messy Parties, I decided it needed to be shared with the world!
We were planning for a group of 40-55 kids at church, but it could be for any size group of kids.
It would be fun for a birthday party, block party, or if you're really ambitious, a play date at your house!

I repeated a few things from last year, and added some new activities too.
I'll just share highlights from both parties as a big list for ya! (I only have pictures of some of them).

Shaving Cream Slip and Slide- Its hard to say, but this might have been the favorite.
We did it both times. Some were covered head to toe! They would just go wash off and then slide again.

shaving cream

Messy Hair Station- The first year we had a messy hair station.
We got a bunch of cheap hair clips and combs at the $1 store and tried to make their hair messy fabulous!
Some even wanted the colored hairspray. (It washes out).
This year we just announced that they should come with a messy hair-do.

Water Balloon Fight- There were hundreds of water balloons!
They played boys against girls in a big open field! This was the anticipated big event last year. They had earned the amount of water balloons they got and enjoyed each one.

Water Wars- A simple kiddie pool with water guns and missiles kept so many of them entertained for a long time!
water play

Pudding Eating Contest- No hands was the only rule!
pudding eating

Making Gak!- I don't have the exact recipe my friend used, but she had pre-portioned amounts
of one ingredient in a sandwich bag, then scooped the other ingredients in. They zipped the bag,
mushed it around and had themselves a bag of gak to take home. My kids played with this for months after!

Ooblec Play- Do you remember ooblec from science class in junior high?
When you mix 2 parts corn starch with one part water, you get an ooey-gooey mess.
It can be rolled in a ball as a solid, then suddenly melts right in your hand back to a liquid.
We had rainbows of this on a table for them to play with as they please.
Some kids never left this table!

Flour Tag- What do you get when you fill a sock with flour and tag your friend with it?
A big puff of flour dust! When they are a little bit wet, it sticks! This one was a hit with the boys.

Spaghetti Tag- This is the closest thing to a food fight, many of them could get!
We had buckets of spaghetti (with plenty of water so the noodles would separate)
and a marked off area for tag! It's hard to throw, but the goal was to get it to stick on someone.
spag tag

Silly String Simon Says- We played simon says, but when they messed up,
they didn't get out, they got sprayed with a little bit of silly string.

Pie Throwing Contest- This was the big event this year! With just whip cream in the tin,
they each got to toss one at their church leader, who is a very good sport!
pie throwing

Egg Toss- Everyone chose a partner and we tossed, stepped back, then repeated.
Some got messy, but most of the eggs just bounced on the grass. Who knew?

Jello Tug-of-War- The tarp down below had jello and corn syrup on it!
If they got pulled into it, it was a sticky situation. Some kids just rolled around in it on purpose.

Cheeto Toss- Cheetos are messy, right? Especially when they're dipped in cool whip
and thrown at someone. The game was to see how many they could get to stick!
cheeto toss

Jello Mural- We hung a large piece of fabric on the fence for them to get messy.
They used jello-water in spray bottles to make this abstract masterpiece.

Face Painting- The line was long for our fabulous face painter.
The ones that weren't completely covered in shaving cream opted for a cute look.
Some did both and they ended up with messy face paint!
face painting

Coloring- Some kids are less adventurous and don't love getting so messy.
So we had some simpler things out like coloring. We told them to make the tables messy.

Pudding Finger Painting- They used chocolate pudding to paint all over the (butcher paper covered) tables.
We put them in a cup so they wouldn't be sharing germs as they licked their fingers along the way.
pudding painting

Kid Wash- Last year my friend commissioned her husband to build a "kid wash" out of pvc pipe.
It was hooked to a hose and they could walk through and get cleaned off.
This year we just set out a simple rotating sprinkler for them to run through.
This gives them the opportunity to clean up between messy activities, and before eating.

Messy Snack- Just try to think of the messiest things your kids eat.
Smores and Ice cream sandwiches came to my mind.
It was fun watching them eat these "smores sundaes" with their hands.
Last year we did little pudding parfaits with dirt (crushed oreos) on top.

Obviously some of these activities were done as a group and some of them were done as free-play stations.
It was great to have a variety of really messy and kind-of messy activities, for all kinds of kids!
The invitations were splatter painted and messy! We were sure to let their parents know they
would be getting really messy. They wore a swimsuit or clothes they didn't mind getting ruined.

Surprisingly enough, clean up was a breeze.
With a hose, a trash can and some towels, we left the church pavilion in decent shape.
I can't take credit for the idea, but I'm so glad my friend let me do the Messy Party 2
and let me share the fabulous ideas.

Kids get messy whether we want them to or not, but they might not be used to us encouraging it.
(My kids for sure aren't).
It only takes a minute for them to realize the mess really is allowed,
and soon they are experiencing messy bliss!

I'm sharing the messy love on Today's Creative Blog and Blue Cricket Design.

My "Left-Brained" Towels

I've always tested "middle-brained."
You know when you take those tests to show if you're right or left-brained?
{translation: Type A personality or Type B}.
My mom always taught a unit on the brain. Remember the dissection I referred to?
She always made us take the tests and always analyzed our behavior in this way.
Here is a table to show you what I'm talking about.

My "right-brained" self is a visual/kinesthetic learner, I talk with my hands, I enjoy creativity,
I'm lead by my feelings, I'm not super great at time management, etc.

My "left-brained" self likes to be organized, makes lists, plans ahead, craves simplicity
and uniformity, has a low tolerance for risk, and only buys white towels.

Yes, I said it. I have a white towel (and white sheet) policy in my house.


I just love the uniformity of it. I love that I don't have to worry about which bathroom they go in.
I love that they don't fade. I love that I can just bleach out any spots. I love that I can buy them in bulk at Costco.
I love that they look so clean.

Okay, I probably lean more to the left of middle.

Back to my towels. Here were my boring towels on the boring towel bar that came with our house.
towels on bar

The whole wall above the tub had this smack dab in the middle and only held 2 towels.
2 boring towels + 1 boring towel bar= way too much boring. Even for me!
towel bar

I wanted to fill up the wall a little better and be able to store more towels there.
You see, my left-brained, clean, showeraholic husband goes through 2 in a day.

So my right-brained self created this simple shelf.
All it took was a board, 2 wood shelf supports and some black paint. Total of about 8 dollars.

Then my left-brained self stacked the towels...
two rows

Until they looked uniform and orderly.
three rows

We have about 20 towels in rotation and this little baby will hold all of them if they're all clean at once.
Which they never are.

This was the logical/creative solution to my towel situation.

Sorry you had to get the full hemispheric dominance lecture as I shared this project.
I felt so lame after seeing Kathryn's (right-brained) bathroom makeover.
Hopefully you can identify with one towel system or the other. :)

Scrapbook Birthday Party

My oldest just turned 10.
Oh my goodness, she is getting old! But that couldn't possibly mean that I'm getting old. No correlation, right?
As long as I'm in denial, I'll pretend that I was totally on top of my game with this party.
I'll refuse to admit that my procrastinating is getting to the ridiculous point.

Well, as late as it was, I did get the invitations made.
I bought the digital birthday kit from House of 3. The little flag banner is from that kit.

My daughter wanted it to be just like the scrapbook parties that I go to once a month.
We (moms) just set up tables, chat, laugh, and have an array of treats on the table.
So I recreated this type of party for my tween crowd.

My decorating consisted of a few balloons, and old scrapbook pages of her hung around the house.
Don't laugh at my "old school" pages. I thought they were cool a decade ago.
I also set out some albums for the girls to browse through.
page banner

They each brought a stack of pictures. I told them to think about what colors of paper might look good with it.
Then we went to the "scrapbook store" (my scrapbook room with a sign on the door) and picked out paper.
I told them to start with one piece of patterned paper and 2 or 3 pieces of cardstock.

They all seemed to really enjoy scrapbooking.
I spent some time helping them cut out page titles on the cricut.
I also taught them a few techniques. They really loved the eyelets.
The time just flew! The party was 3 hours and we could have made it 4 or 5.
Most of them only got 2 or 3 pages done.

I found these cute 12x12 "KI memories" at Michael's, so each girl could go home with their pages in an album.
They also got to go home with some extra paper, glue and some embellishments that they chose.

Toward the end, I tore them away from their scrapbooks and we played a couple games and opened presents.

My favorite part of the party was this little project:
We scored different shapes and sizes of these dusty old things at a garage sale.
garage sale finds

I spray painted this one and it became my serving tray.
spray painted

I put my cake stand right on top with some jars of candy on the bottom.

My high-maintenance-in training-girl isn't a huge cake fan,
so she requested her favorite treat... cream puffs.
That's okay, I can put anything on a cake plate, put candles in it and sing.

That smile on her face says to me that this party was a success!
I would highly recommend this theme to anyone planning "tweenie bopper's" birthday.
The girls really got into it!
If I'm ever feeling on top of my game again (my hope for that is dwindling),
I might just plan a scrapbook night for the girls, just for fun!

I'm linking to:

The Girl Creative


Ciao! Are you feeling Italian today? Lets talk caprese...
Caprese is defined as the combination of these few ingredients:
Fresh Mozzarella (you know, the soft kind that is packaged in water)
Fresh Basil
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
and often, Balsamic Vinegar
p.s. I always add a little pressed garlic to the mix

Any way you combine these flavors.... it is tasty.
I think tomato, basil and mozzarella were made for each other.
It is perfectly fresh and light for summer!
And lucky for me this summer, I successfully grew my own basil after many failed attempts.
We put these beautiful leaves to good use and make caprese quite often!

Typically, it is sliced and configured in some way with the olive oil and balsamic drizzled on.
My brother lived in Italy for 2 years and he said my caprese was totally legit! Sweet approval!
However, the way I pronounced it was not legit. I have been corrected.

On this occasion I threw it on a platter and we ate it with some baguette.
platter copy

My bro said he only ever saw it sliced in Italy, but I like to play around with presentation.
Why not dice it and chiffonade the basil? Sorry to break the rules, but this is gorgeous, and tastes the same.
I say, it's a side dish extraordinaire.
chunky and chicken

I also love a caprese-style green salad.

I throw the olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper in a bowl and make a little dressing.

But my most favorite way to have caprese... the most dazzling, darling way... the easiest way to eat it...
is on a toothpick!
bite sized 1

I can just drizzle the dressing on a plate and set them on.
bite sized 2

As much as I love caprese salad, this little girl loves it more!
She declares it as her favorite food and her favorite thing to make.
These little hors devours are kid-chef-friendly. Super easy!

I just had to share what we've been loving lately.
I think I might have to serve these at my brother's wedding.
bite sizes 3

And in his honor, I will even pronounce it correctly as I serve it.
I might even throw out a Questo รจ fantastico caprese!

The Disease of the Ugly Bathroom

For five long years I have been suffering from a disease called The Kids' Bathroom Is Ugly, Plain, and Sometimes Smelly and I Can't Force Myself To Go In It-itis.

Here are the symptoms....

White walls, white shower curtain, shower rod that doesn't actually attach to the wall, Oak cabinets.


The cure, as it turns out, is called The Kids Hate Their Bathroom Too and Won't Stop Using Mine and I Can Only Take So Much Toothpaste In My Sink-illin.

It took a little time to find a shower curtain that all four kids, boys and girls, could agree on. This one was a major compromise for my almost 13 year old son. Sorry to ruin your preteen manly mojo, dude.


I let them pick the paint color and the color of their towel. They thought I was encouraging individuality but really I just want to know who to yell at when the towel is on the ground. And painting those cabinets was like pulling off a bandaid, painful, but it had to be done.


Every throne needs a crown...


And every kid needs subtle reminders...


I survived the disease of the white bathroom for far too long. I don't know where the bee in my bonnet was on that one. Now, I finally have my bathroom back and can actually look in the kids' bathroom when I walk by instead of pretending I've lost all peripheral vision :)

Linking up here...

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