Boy Joy Toy Tuesday

(Moses 8:20) And it came to pass that Noah called upon the children of men that they should repent; but they hearkened not unto his words... Well, all except Mario.
"Ok Noah! Let's a-GO!"

Dee tells me wearing his hat AND ear warmer like this makes him look "super cool"...

Who am I to stand in the way of "coolness"?

Yesterday morning Dee and I had a little disagreement about having seconds at breakfast. He felt he should have second helpings. I'm all for putting second helpings in hungry boys' tummies. Just not when we are already late for school. I lectured him that if he wanted time to eat second helpings he should have been up earlier and fully dressed for school sooner. I expected it to go in one ear and out the other.

This morning at 5:41 am, I was woken from a dead sleep by someone--someone wearing tennis shoes--running across the house. As my brain struggled to sift through the haze of sleep I tried to decide if I should load the gun under my bed and go investigate or just roll over and go back to sleep. I opted for investigating, minus the loaded gun.

There was Dee. Wide awake. Fully dressed. Wandering around the house. And asking for breakfast.

"Dee, why are you up so early?"

"I'm just so hungry Mama. I wanted to make sure I had lots of time to fill my tummy."

Break my heart, why don't ya?

I almost wanted to make him a big, hearty pancake and egg breakfast right then and there...


It's 5:41 am. Here's a box of gluten free cereal. Here's a carton of soy milk. Knock yourself out, kid. I'm going back to bed.

After breakfast he had a "little" time on his hands...

There's just something about a boy and his big box of little cars that makes me smile.

I sure love this happy, sweet, obedient, hungry, wonderful kid!


A Day in the Life

I had these marvelous intentions to blog every day. And no. As much as I love you, it wasn't for you, dear blog readers. It was for me. Over the past year I kind of lost track of why I started blogging in the first place. That reason was to record our family life while it was still fresh and funny and frenzied. I got swept up in comments and followers and swaps and such. I lost sight of my primary purposes. I began blogging so that years from now my children (and maybe their children too) could sit with me (for I hope I am still around; I would hate to miss a good round of laughing and tears) and we could relive these stories of their sweet and bitter children-hood and my stumbling, bumbling adventures through early motherhood.

I can't help but feel like this precious, precious time is passing quicker than I have the mental ability to retain it. It's so strange how never ending it feels some moments. Then the very next second it strikes me how fleeting this time is as well. It truly pains me that I can't seem to grasp on to these moments, the good and the bad ones. My memory already fails me as I try to think back on my oldest being a baby, on only a year ago when the youngest was a baby. Before I know it they're going to all be potty trained. I'll blink and everyone will be in school. Turn again and we're attending the last graduation ceremony. And weddings and births of grandbabies and holidays and special days and boring days and on and on.

It's all so beautifully tragic and tragically beautiful.

Here I blubber and babble trying to pinpoint with pathetic little words my frustrations with this dilemma of time tick tick ticking on whether I'm ready or not...

It's all so futile, isn't it?

I'm never going to find the perfect, magic words that will freeze my little ones as they are now.

But that doesn't stop me from trying I suppose. So...I'll keep promising to try to maybe blog and journal and scrapbook with the hope that I will be successful in my endeavors and capture little moments that can't be erased by clocks, poor failing memories, and children who refuse to not grow up.

As for today...

Today was like any other day. Nothing unusual. Nothing amazing. Just another day of survival and silliness. There were moments when I looked into my children's faces and wanted to squeeze them. What motivated the intentions behind the squeezing varied wildly. And I did manage to squeeze each of them a few times each. Mostly with love.

A rushed morning complete with a few harsh words.
Huge bear hugs from Dee and dainty cheek presses from Jeigh as I dropped them off in front of the school. A few cuddles on the couch with the two youngest.
A carefully timed treadmill exercise routine (two in school, one down for a nap, one watching PBS. And...RUN!).
A forgotten lunch rushed to the school.
$10 of gas in a minivan tank full of nothing but fumes.
A much needed lunch play date at Chick-Fil-A. Waffle fries and swapping of gluten free recipes. Homework. Snacks. Nap times.

We went grocery shopping. They asked 49 times if they could have this treat or that toy or this sugary cereal. And I said "NO!" 49 and a half times. We ate hot dogs, pizza, and lemonades at Costco for dinner. I patted myself on the back for feeding my entire entourage for a whopping $6.67 and tried to ignore the absence of health in hot dogs, pizza, and lemonades.
A failed Family Home Evening consisting of nothing more than sitting around eating Muddy Buddies together.
Too much junk food and not enough veggies. Sigh. Try again tomorrow.

And off to bed. Everyone hugged. Everyone kissed. Everyone pottied.
Everyone loved. Very much. By a very tired mother who wants to capture just another boring normal day. Because she sees the beauty in it. Because it was terrible and wonderful all at the same time. Because she knows one day she will miss days like this.

(Not) The End.


Of Motes and Beams and Garbage

I love my house.

I love my house for many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is the incredible view we have out our back door. The Wasatch Front is breathtaking.

If you can look past that stupid grocery sack that has been hanging in my backyard neighbor's tree for umpteenth months now.

Why doesn't he do something about that eye sore? It just looks so trashy. He takes care of the rest of his yard. How hard would it be to get a ladder and use a rake or something to pull that garbage out of his tree? Dumb.

Maybe I'll do it for him. Obviously it doesn't bother him, but it bothers me so maybe I should just take care of it myself. Now, how do I go about that? Maybe I'll knock on his door one day and tell him about it. Surely, he'll appreciate that I'm such a good neighbor and want to help him clean up his trashy place. Hmm.

Yeah. I'm going to talk to him. Now, let me see. I'll just walk outside and go down the stairs and...

Wait. What's that? In my own tree.

Uh oh.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? --Matthew 7:3

Unfortunately, it's not just grocery sacks. Today I'm grateful for a little reminder to judge others less and work on the only person I truly can change. Me.


Three for Thursday: I'm on a Roll!

Hey! Lookie here! I'm on a blogging roll. Can't quit now. But I'm beat. After being up for two hours in the middle of the night with various children I barely made it through a sloppy treadmill workout (but I did! Go me!) and the rest of my day was spent wandering around the house wishing I had the energy to do something more than just wander. An easy, no-pressure, not-very-clever-but-definitely-informative Three for Thursday it is!

Three things that turn my frown upside down:

2. Exercise. Who knew?!
3. Some good loud music.

Three books I'm reading right now:
1. The Book of Mormon (New Years Resolution going strong!)
2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (I'm starting all over again, relishing every moment.)
3. The Magic Tree House Series (Thanks everybody for the tip on that one! All the kids are eating them up!) 

Three things I can pat myself on the back for:
1. Losing 63 pounds since May 2011.
2. I got all of my children to eat at least half of their squash tonight! I'll keep trying. One of these days I'm going to wear them down and they will love it just as much as I do.
3. Dee's Mario birthday party. It was SUPER!

Three things that worry me:
1. Baby Cee still won't put weight on her left leg after taking her first tumble down the stairs last Friday.
2. I'm a terrible friend.
3. Finances.

Three things I'm looking forward to in the year 2012:
1. Summer family camp out.
2. Finally reaching my dream weight goal.
3. Running in my first half marathon (September 2012!)

Three pictures:
Satan--I mean Santa made a visit at our house. She was not impressed.

This girl knows how to power up in the morning.

The Christmas ornaments I made for the family for 2011. I'm sorta kinda really proud of them. Can you guess whose is whose? And why?

Happy Thursday!!


How to Make Super Mario Piranha Plant Centerpieces

As I promised in my post about the Super Mario birthday party I recently put together for my son, here is a tutorial for how to make Super Mario Piranha Plant centerpieces. Let me preface this with saying that this was not an original idea. I saw LOTS of other bloggers out there making Super Mario piranha plant centerpieces. But sadly the amount of tutorials were lacking.

While most crafters out there might be able to just look at a picture and magically know how to whip something together...I am not one of those. So for all my craft-challenged friends out there: HIGH FIVE! and here is my tutorial after I stumbled my way through making one...er three.

Again...Not necessarily the "right" way to do it, but at least the way I did it. And just between you and me, definitely the awesome way! No, really. I can't even tell you how pleased I am with how my little piranha plants turned out. I've been silly enough in the past to claim I'm not the crafty type, but after this little project I have to lay down my supposed shortcomings and admit it loud and proud: I. CAN. CRAFT!

Supplies needed (not all pictured below):

Styrofoam ball (I purchased the "smooth" one which I liked because it gave the piranha plant more of a smooth scaly look.)
Styrofoam block
empty salt container
bright red paint and paint brush
wooden dowel
green, white, and pink felt
bright green paper (12"x12" sheet)
black paper (approximately 4"x4")
foam sheet
cotton balls
glue gun and plenty of glue sticks
scissors (a good pair that will cut through felt)
paper cutter
serrated knife

Use a serrated knife to cut a triangle chunk out of your Styrofoam ball. This will be the gaping open mouth.

Paint Styrofoam ball bright red including the inside of the missing chunk. Warning: Give yourself plenty of time for the paint to dry before you handle. Styrofoam takes a lot longer to dry than wood or paper.

Make sure salt container is empty. (Or any other container you choose. I imagine a tin can would work well too. I just liked how tall and narrow the salt container was like the Super Mario pipes. Plus the cardboard was really easy to glue green paper on to it.) Remove paper and use serrated knife to cut off top.

Cut 5"x12" strip of bright green paper. (Make sure to measure whatever container you are using and adjust measurements accordingly. You'll need a strip of paper that will cover your container completely.)

Use glue gun to adhere strip to salt container. Make sure the edges are even.

Cut a 4"x6" foam sheet in half, making two 2"x6" strips. Color doesn't really matter; it's going to be covered anyway. I got these ones at my local dollar store.

Hot glue foam strips around top edge of pipe. Cut end piece so it lays flush (flat) with the other piece. This is a possibly unnecessary step but I liked that it gave the pipe top some depth and dimension.

Then cut a 2"x12" green strip from the same paper you used on the whole pipe. Hot glue it over the top of the foam, again making sure your edges are straight and lined up.

Drop some rocks into the bottom of your pipe. This will prevent the piranha plant from becoming too top heavy.

Use your serrated knife again to cut the foam block to desired size. Since I was making three plants I cut it into three equal parts which worked perfectly. Warning: This green foam stuff STINKS! Like old wet fish food. Gross.

Cram the foam block down into your pipe. You may shave some of the edges off in the process, but that's okay. You want it to fit snugly so it keeps your rocks and dowel in place.

Turn your "pipe" over and use it to trace a circle on black paper and a second circle on green paper. Cut black circle out, punch a hole big enough for your dowel to go through the middle, and glue on to top of pipe.

Cut green circle out. Then cut another hole inside your circle essentially making a green ring. (Hint: Gently pinch (don't fold!) circle in half in middle, cut a small hole, hold circle flat, use hole to carefully cut bigger circle.) Glue green ring on to black circle. The pipe is done!

Now to work on the stem...Cut a strip of green felt big enough to cover your dowel. Hot glue it on the dowel. Make sure to leave ends clear so it can stick into the foam ball and block.

Draw desired leaf pattern (piranha plants are rather malicious so I made sure my leaves were spiky-ish) on a piece of paper and cut it out. Use it as a pattern to trace as many leaves as you want on your green felt.

Cut out leaves and hot glue them on to your stem. Insert the stem through the black paper hole and push it down into the Styrofoam block so it is securely "planted". Now the stem is done!

If your Styrofoam ball is dry you can work on it now. Go ahead and spear it on to the top of the dowel.

Looking pretty cool already, right? I admit I got a little giddy at this point because of how well it was all coming together. I may have even cackled really loudly a teensy bit. Dee, who had been patiently watching through the entire process--which is to say a lot for a first grade boy, was pretty thrilled too. Coolest Mom in the World--what???

Anyway! Balls on stems... Cut free hand triangles (no need to get fancy here) out of the white felt for the piranha plant's infamous chompers. Hot glue them on to the outer edge of the missing triangle chunk.

Now comes the trickiest part. Don't sweat it! It's not too bad. We need to make the lips of the plant. I'm sure there's an easier way to do this. This is just the way I did it. Because I like to do things the hard way. It's kind of my thing.

Use a soft measuring tape to measure the mouth. Cut a 2"x whatever-you-measured-plus-some" strip out of the white felt. I made 2"x8" strips for my plants, but it's all going to matter how you cut that triangle chunk out. Then I cut tapered pieces off the four edges of my white strip. This minimizes the bulk on the edges of the lips once you start rolling it up.

The piranha plants on the game have lips that are puffier in the middle and smaller on the sides. I really wanted to capture this effect. Cutting the edges will help with that. As will the placement of the stuffing/cotton balls. Use one whole cotton ball in the middle. Then pull one cotton ball in half and place them on either side of the middle one. Then pull a third cotton ball in half and half again. Use the two quarters on each end.

Now carefully and tightly roll up the felt with your glue gun at hand. Use a strip of glue to secure the roll leaving the ends unglued.

Now carefully roll and glue the ends. Don't stress if it's a little long for the mouth.

Glue the lips on to your plant mouth. Trim the ends to the desired length. I really like when the lip pieces meet. See my plant on the left? How the lips don't meet on the edge? That bugs me. But maybe it won't bug you.

Now it's time to get creative with dots. I traced circles of two different sizes on to the white felt and cut them out. Then I hot glued them on. I also cut a triangle tongue (again, think malicious!) out of pink felt and glued it in the mouth. It's a small detail, but a fun one.

Ta Da!! Super Mario Bros Piranha Plants!

I LOVED how they turned out, but even more importantly the birthday boy, Dee loved them. More than I thought he would. He kept saying how real they looked. After I made them we went to run errands and he kept worrying that the plants were going to come alive and eat all the food in our house. Hilarious!

I was certain the boys would care less about the piranha plants but they were a huge hit. They all oohed and aahed over them. I kept finding food in them as kids were trying to feed the plants during the party.

Now the plants are being used to decorate Dee's room. I admit...it was a little hard for me to pass them over. I kind of wanted them on my dresser.

P.S. If anything doesn't make sense or you have questions feel free to ask here in the comments section or email me at hangingsilver{at}gmail{dot}com.

Have a SUPER day!


A SUPER Super Mario Bros. Birthday Party - Let's A-GO!

Last fall, right around the time school started, two men entered my son's life...

For a six year old boy this was a life altering event. In fact, I am considering cataloguing all his pictures and memories with "B.M." and "A.M." (Before Mario and After Mario). I have hope that there will be an After After Mario, but for now I'm not holding my breath.

The kid is 100% obsessed.

Everything is/will be/should be/has to be Mario.

Clothes. Bedding. Toys. TV shows. Imaginary play. Conversations. Dreams. Halloween costumes. Food. Christmas ornaments.

You name it. The boy at least wishes it was Mario.

As his mother...I HATE IT. I was raised in a home where Nintendo and other video game systems were considered a "waste of time; time better spent doing something to enrich or educate your mind and body". That was my take as a new parent too.

But I also remember what it was like being a kid and wanting to be involved in what all your friends were into. In this day and age, first grade boys LOVE Mario and Luigi. As superficial as it seems, much of my boy's friendships seem to be based on all things Mario.

So it was no surprise that this year, as Dee's birthday came closer, he had two requests: 1- "Can I PLEASE have a birthday party with my friends?" and 2- "MARIO!"

As the years go by and my parenting style adapts I am working to do some things the way my children want versus the way I want. If it were up to my we would avoid the mainstream and pop culture when it comes to things like bedding, toys, clothes, and birthday parties. But it's not up to me. It's Dee's birthday party. It's his choice. So...*sigh*...Mario...it is. (This isn't to say my children get everything they want. But it's time for me to let go of some of the control and let them form their own personalities and tastes.)

Confession: I complained to begin with. I may have even tried a bit of coaxing and bribing to not have a Mario party. But after I let go and let live the brain juices started flowing. A Super Mario party would never have been my first choice, but it was so much fun to plan and prepare for!

**Note: After cruising around on the Internet I figured out that none of my ideas are wholly original. There are a lot of fun, creative moms out there. This is just my take on a Super Mario party. And many of those moms are doing the same thing so I'm not referencing any of this.

I hit up my local party store for Mario themed invitations.

Just a little mom-to-mom helpful hint here: This was our very first friend party. Dee wanted to invite a few boys from his school class. Since we didn't have all their addresses he took the invites to school and handed them out as class was ending. This was a horrible mistake. I happened to be there that day and watched--along with the other classmates--as only a select few got the invites. I would have loved to invite them all, but this was just not possible. It was heart wrenching and I could see we had gone about this all wrong. I talked to Dee's teacher about it afterwards and she advised the best method was for the child to come early to school and pass them out before class starts. That way the kids are still pretty distracted and not as many are getting their feelings hurt. Now I know what to do next time.

Dee requested a pinata for his party so the week before I worked on making a Yoshi egg pinata. Somehow I find myself making pinatas a couple of times a year. Store pinatas are really expensive! You can make your own for pennies on the dollar. While it can be messy and kind of a long process, it's really simple and a lot of fun. (I posted a how-to back in 2010.)

I filled the pinata with candy and some plastic coins I also found at the party store (400 count for $9.99).

Cracking the pinata open was one of three games we played at the party. For another game I decorated Easter eggs (I just pulled them out of storage) with white dots to look like more Yoshi eggs. I used plain white computer paper and a circle punch I have. While I watched Leno one night I punched holes and taped three on each egg. Then I filled the eggs with various numbers of coins. For this game we hid them around the house (it's too cold to go outside) and the kids ran around finding as many eggs as they could, putting them into brightly colored paper bags with their names markered on.

The third game was a balloon game. I bought green, brown, black, and white balloons to represent the turtles, goombas, chain chomps, and ghosts (respectively). Before blowing them up I stretched them open and dropped in various amounts of plastic coins.

I honestly wasn't sure what I was going to do with the balloons. In my head I imagined the boys going through some kind of obstacle course to pop the balloons with their feet or bums. But on the day of the party it just wasn't going to work. There wasn't enough room with all the people in the house. My brother in law took over and taped them all on the wall in rows, drawing questions marks on them. The boys took turns throwing darts at them and collecting the coins after each turn. It worked perfectly! (Thanks Kip!)

At the end of the three games we helped the kids count their coins. First place got to pick one of two plush Mario figures I had purchased and used as table decorations. Second place got the remaining figure and third got a tiny little pair of plastic Mario and Luigi figurines that were left over from the cake decorations.

Speaking of the cake... I HATE decorating cakes! I always have the greatest ideas, but my cake skills are sadly lacking and by the time I'm done, the cake looks NOTHING like what I had envisioned. The entire process stresses me out way more than is healthy. Seriously. As I started on the decorating Saturday morning it wasn't long before my husband quietly collected up all the children and herded them out the door for awhile so Mommy could freak out all by herself. Note to self: Next year, avoid spontaneous combustion and leave the cake baking and decorating to the professionals.

However much hair got pulled out, the cake finally did get finished and while it once again isn't what I had envisioned, it's acceptable.

Before Christmas I ordered a LOT (as in a collection) of 18 Mario figurines off of Amazon.com so I could make Dee's Christmas ornament (I like to make my family's ornaments based on what they were doing or into that year. Obvious choice for Dee: Mario) and then have some left over for his cake. They were the perfect size on the cake. I also purchased some star candles which posed as the Star Power.

After Dee blew out the candles he had the choice to keep all the figurines for himself or hand them out to all the kids who were begging for them. What a good boy; he shared with his sisters, cousins, and friends. Those figurines were a hit! The kids were running around playing with them for a good hour after the games and cake were done.

Along with cake we served some of Dee's favorite treats. A birthday tradition we seem to be making is taking the kids to Winco which has an AWESOME bulk foods section including tons of candy. The birthday kid gets to pick a few of his favorites and we serve them at the party.We don't eat a lot of sugar most of the time so when birthdays roll around I say it's fair game.

When it came to plates, silverware, and cups I just couldn't justify spending as much as the party store wanted for Mario themed paper goods. Instead I purchased brightly colored plates (red, green, and blue), white napkins, and red plastic cups and called it good. I also purchased two bright blue table clothes from the dollar store. It was lovely to be able to just gather up the table cloth and throw the mess away when the party was over. Definitely worth $2.

We decorated the house with brightly colored balloons, streamer, and a pendant banner, all of which I purchased at the Dollar Store. I did splurge on some Mario themed stickers at the party store. I'm a little embarrassed to tell you how much I spent on them so I won't, but Dee really appreciated them and doubly so as they are now reused as wall decor for his room.

Before the party I cut several moustaches out of black felt (one sheet of felt at Walmart for $0.20) and gave them to each of the boys as they came in the house. I tried several ways to attach them to their faces, but found tape to be the most effective. Even then they didn't last long, but it was more about the novelty than anything.

As the boys left they received a little clear bag which contained Mario stickers, a note pad, and a little black bouncy ball that resembled the chain chomp balls from the game. If I had had more time I would have added a little tag that said something like: "GAME OVER. Wii thank you for coming to celebrate Dee's Super party!". Little boys could care less about stuff like that, but I thought it was cute and it still bugs me that I didn't have enough time to do it.

I realize this post has gotten irrationally long so I'll share a tutorial on my personal favorite part of the whole party... le pièce de résistance...The Piranha Plant Table Centerpieces! another day.

Until then...
Happy Super Birthday to my super little plumber who I think had a most excellent time at his Super Mario birthday party!


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