stella's birthday

Some of you may have noticed that Stella's birthday came and went without a post from me. Yikes! Well, my excuse is that I was busy putting together a fabulous party for her- the first one she has ever wanted! She knew exactly what she wanted (a pirate party!) and she sat down and made a list of eleven kids she wanted to invite. So we put a lot of effort into making it a really great day for her and her friends. I have a LOT of pictures, so settle in with a mug of something yummy, and I'll tell you all about it :)

The invitations
message in a bottle invitations
These were an even bigger hit with the kids than we had thought! Some of them found their bottles waiting in their mailbox, while others with bodies of water nearby were lucky enough to find their bottle at the edge of a creek or pond (what wonderful, cooperative parents our kids' friends have!) We even had one who dug her bottle right out of the sand at the lake. And then Stella was thrilled one afternoon to receive one of the bottles back with a reply from some of her guests! These were so much fun for everyone.

message in a bottle invitations
We had seen this idea several places on the internet, and we got extra elaborate with it. We printed the text on parchment colored paper in an extra pirate-y font, then crumpled them all up (which was a LOT of fun), flattened them back out, and burned the edges with a lighter. Then we rolled them up scroll style, tied them with twine, and stuffed them into clear glass bottles (from the Yoo-Hoo binge I let everyone go on so we could get the bottles) with sand and a few seashells in the bottom. Then we stuck a cork in the top (regular wine corks- we had a few lying around...) and labeled them on the side with the kids' names. The labels were on the same paper, crumpled and burned, then stuck on with double sided tape. They were hand written though, because I didn't think to have some printed out. I got pretty good with my calligraphy skillz by the time we finished all the labeling for this party!

message in a bottle invitations
Stella helped fill the bottles with sand and stick the messages inside.

filling the bottles
And here is what they looked like inside:

You can read the text a bit easier here. We got the wording from combining several ideas we saw around the internet. And I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, but don't forget to use your pirate voice in your head while you read this- the effect is much better. :)

The decorations
small pirate flags in doorways
Daisy & Beatrice helped me cut out all of these wonderful little skull & crossbones to make flags for the doorways- they turned out so great!

pirate flags in the doorways
the table
We used our Halloween tablecloths to decorate the table, but added a red cloth in between. We sprinkled some skull and bones confetti around as well as some gold coins, and the girls each painted a little treasure chest to put out. We gave a little plastic skull a nice pirate-y bandanna and set Stella's message bottle out as well. It turned out great! We also had black plates and skull and bones napkins, thanks to the Halloween stuff being out in the stores already!

the table decorations and cakes
We picked the cookie cakes up from the grocery store, where they did the lettering and the borders but were unable to do the skull and bones because they said they couldn't draw (wrong profession, maybe? could we get someone who can draw to work in the cake decorating department?) so I talked them into giving me a little icing so I could do it myself at home. I was in a rush so it's not my best work, but it looked pretty good and they were just going to eat it anyway. We also added gold plastic coins to the borders for an extra touch of pirate treasure goodness.

skull design on cake
We also had balloons on the mailbox to greet our guests.

balloons on mailbox

The party
gwynnie, bernadette, stella, jane
As the kids arrived, I had Stella stand outside the front door where the pirate flag was hanging and took their pictures. This was the first group to show up, and I got lucky to get this one shot before Stella abandoned most of her pirate outfit ("It's too hot!") She had been wearing it around the house for several days before the party, but the heightened emotions of the big day made it all too much. So we quickly came up with a pared down version before the next kids arrived, and she was comfortable for the rest of the party.

isa, stella, wynn
haley, stella, jane
amelia, stella
stella with cedar & orion
stella and elena
I realize now looking through that I missed one of the boys in these photos- sorry Yonah!
Everyone looked so great in their costumes- it really helped set the mood for the day to see how much everyone had gotten into it!

After they arrived, the kids went in and got tattoos applied if they wanted them, and got to choose a pirate name tag too. This is the one other thing that I missed getting a photo of. But we had name tags with silly pirate names made up for the kids to choose from, and Hazel did the temporary tattoos wherever they wanted them. Some of the kids were into this part, some just skipped it altogether.

craft time- making ships
Then we moved into the kitchen and did a quick craft project. We made little pirate ships based on the idea we found here. They were a little tricky for small hands, and the moms needed to help a little with gluing the sails to the toothpicks, but they turned out really cute and I think the kids had fun. The craft also served the purpose of occupying the earlier arrivals while we waited on the later ones, so that we were all able to begin the first game together. The ones who got there late just took the craft home with them to do later.

making ships
On to the games! We passed out some little loot bags I made up ahead of time to each of the kids. I used black fabric that I had on hand for the bags and purchased just a half yard of piratey fabric to make a patch for the front of each bag, so they were really cheap! The bags had a little tag with their name on it so they could keep track, and each one had a plastic eye patch for them to wear.

gwynnie during treasure hunt
We went outside to the front yard and had a big coin hunt- Daisy had sprinkled gold plastic coins all over the yard and the kids just ran around picking them up and adding them to their loot bags. They had a blast! We had gotten a bag of 400 gold coins at Party City and it turned out to be a great amount so that each kid had a good little supply in addition to all the ones we used for decorating.

coin hunt
coin hunt
The first thing they did when they got back inside was to dump out their bags and start counting their loot!

counting the gold coins from the hunt
Then it was time for cake and ice cream. We sang to Stella and watched her try to blow out the trick candles. She also tried to act like she was surprised when they came back on, even though she specifically requested them- ha ha!

singing to the birthday girl
trick candles relighting!
blowing out the candles
We also had fruit and cheese cut up, with some skull and bones party picks to spear them with. The drinks were "sharks blood" with cherry kool-aid ice cubes in sprite, which looked great in the skull and bones cups we found at the party store.

shark's blood to drink!
cake and ice cream
Finally, it was time for the big scavenger hunt for the treasure chest. We made up the clues ahead of time and got them hidden around the yard.

the clues to the treasure hunt
You can read all the clues more easily here.

reading the first clue
We assigned Hazel to be the official reader for the hunt, since none of our party guests are reading yet. She did a great job reading the clues and giving gentle hints to help them along.

reading the second clue
we know where to go!!
When Stella grabbed the treasure chest out of the cabinet it was in, she went straight to the middle of the floor to open it. It only took a second for the mob to surround her!

the treasure chest
crowding in!
the treasure
the treasure
The chest was something I picked up at Hobby Lobby, and it was filled with a bag of chocolate coins for each kid, plus a gold pirate earring and a party blowout for each. The presents had also been moved to the same location as the treasure, so we opened them as soon as everyone settled down with their chocolate coins.

reading a birthday card
Stella got some wonderful gifts from her friends- several really great books, lots of fun paper dolls, a new umbrella, and some pens and notebooks too. She was thrilled!

walking the plank!
After she was done opening gifts, we told everyone it was time to walk the plank! Jason had set up some different sized boards on the front walk for the kids to balance on, which turned out to be really fun. After that they all scattered- climbing the trees and playing around the yard. It was a really great way to end the party.

walking the plank!
walking the plank!
pirates in the trees!
pirates climbing trees
WOW! That was a lot to cram into one post. I really wanted to document all the details of Stella's big day because we worked really hard to make it happen for her and it went off without a hitch. Thanks so much to all the kids who came to celebrate with us and to the moms who stayed and helped out- we had a blast and it would not have been the same without every one of you!

officer bray

Stella got a little police detective play set recently, and it really got her into full character. She kept putting all this stuff on and ringing our doorbell, pretending to be investigating some crime or just running checks to make sure everyone was safe. She would even drop by in character and invite herself to dinner.

She asked me to come out and take these photos, and was very specific about what she wanted. She said we needed to be in the road (?!) and she made all the poses herself. I was just following instructions (Yes, officer. Right away, officer!)



This last one we took to put into her ID badge- look at that beautiful confidence! I love when she lets herself get wrapped up in imaginative play- it makes her so happy.


waffle day

What do you do when it's National Waffle Day and you are running too low on milk to make your famous Belgian waffles? (I had a busy day and forgot to check or I could have had Jason stop at the store on his way home from work)

You load the family up and head to Waffle House, that's what you do. The big bonuses: Mom doesn't have to cook, you get to have hashbrowns (covered and chunked, thank you) with your pecan waffle, and of course- the jukebox. Who doesn't love loading a jukebox up with some choice selections before they sit down to eat?

Hope you had a very happy Waffle Day!