Attempted Crafts


Hmmm…should we cash in some of our 401k and contribute to the increasingly elaborate, hire a planner, children’s birthday bashes?  OR…should we have an old-school, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, musical chairs, cake and goodbye party in our backyard? Not having 40 kids and parents to clean up after is written in all caps on the pro side of the “rented hall” list. And as much as I hate to admit it, there is that “coolest party ever!” competition I’m in with all the other parents at Nate’s school. {tsk-tsk}

When Nate declared (through a town crier) that his 5-year-old party would be a Star Wars party, I immediately did some surfing to see what other Moms of Jedi-Junkies had done with this theme. Maybe it was the cleverness of all those Moms, maybe it was purely the unconditional love of my eldest son, or maybe (probably) it was how very cheap thrifty I am…I decided to go with the home-made, DIY party in our backyard.

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We decided to call it a “Jedi-Training” party. That way, everyone was on the same side…the good side. We didn’t want some poor kid coming to the party dressed as Darth Vader and getting his “dark side” kicked all over the yard. We try to teach non-violence to our sons, but it’s hard when your husband is a Wookie-lovin’, Solo wannabe. I was determined to make this party as peaceful and Zen as Yoda himself.

The preparations:

Who wouldn't want a "Wookie-Cookie"?

Who wouldn't want a "Wookie-Cookie"?

Melted chocolate will give you 3rd degree burns on your tongue...FYI

Melted chocolate will give you 3rd degree burns on your tongue...FYI

Obi-Wan Cannolis??? We bought these just for the joke!

Obi-Wan Cannolis??? We bought these just for the joke!

We also had Jedi-Juice. It was green Hawaiian Punch. If you add 7-up it’s Yoda-Soda! In keeping with the cheap thrifty theme…I made the cake myself and decorated it with Nate’s Galactic Heros:

Nate chose the white frosting because it "looks like snow" and he wanted to create the snow-something attacking Luke while he's riding on that kangaroo-looking creature.

Nate chose the white frosting because it "looks like snow" and he wanted to create the snow-something attacking Luke while he's riding on that kangaroo-looking creature.

Sure, it looks home-made and uneven to us but to the kids at the party….”Woah! Cool cake, Nate! Can I have a piece with Luke on it?” Mission accomplished.

The party schedule was this: (Of course there was a schedule! I’m still type “A”) When the Jedi arrived, they were given their Jedi robes and their very own light saber. Both of these items were handmade from online tutorials I found.

The robe was easy. Rectangle of fabric folded in half then cut a "V" out on the fold side. Tie a cord around their waist and viola! You're a genius. The light sabers were pool noodles cut in half with duct tape wrapped around the end! This way, they could beat the tar out of each other without leaving incriminating marks.

The robe was easy. Rectangle of fabric folded in half then cut a "V" out on the fold side. Tie a cord around their waist and viola! You're a genius. The light sabers were pool noodles cut in half with duct tape wrapped around the end! This way, they could beat the tar out of each other without leaving incriminating marks.

After each Jedi was uniformed and armed, they entered the training center for some light saber training:

Keeping a balloon in the air using your light saber. Lots of fun and most importantly...keeps Nate from asking, "Can I open just ONE present now?"

Keeping a balloon in the air using your light saber. Lots of fun and most importantly...keeps Nate from asking, "Can I open just ONE present now?"

When all the Jedi had arrived, we herded them outside for the Jedi obstacle course:

The playset turned Jedi trainer! Swing over the lava, climb the stairs and slide down into the swamp. Who knew the red vinyl table cloth playing the part of the lava would be such a big hit! PS. 50 cents at Goodwill!

The playset turned Jedi trainer! Swing over the lava, climb the stairs and slide down into the swamp. Who knew the red vinyl table cloth playing the part of the lava would be such a big hit! PS. 50 cents at Goodwill!

We borrowed a bubble machine from Amber (aka life-saver) so the Jedis could wack at the bubbles while waiting in line. So, I have a fear of snakes...apparently, Mark has a fear of bubbles..

We borrowed a bubble machine from Amber (aka life-saver) so the Jedis could wack at the bubbles while waiting in line. So, I have a fear of snakes...apparently, Mark has a fear of bubbles..

Then we played,  “Get Han Solo out of the carbon-freeze” I had taken 3 of Nate’s Galactic Hero Han Solos and froze them in a container of water. We separated the kids into 3 teams. Each Jedi had a cup for water. They took turns dipping the cup into a pail of water and running to dump the water onto their frozen Solo. The first team that got Han out of the ice won.

They were mesmerized by this game and got so excited when Han Solo was finally free! The winning team started helping the other teams..."Must save Solo!"

They were mesmerized by this game and got so excited when Han Solo was finally free! The winning team started helping the other teams..."Must save Solo!"

It wasn't a game to them...it was a science project! That's our Montessori dollars working for us.

It wasn't a game to them...it was a science project! That's our Montessori dollars working for us.

After light saber shaped popcicles, we moved back inside to cool off. We played a Star Wars version of the old cake-walk game:

Mark printed out photos of Star Wars characters and I taped them to the floor. An adult game of "Name the character" was also going on. I'm not sure but I think illegal bets were placed.

Mark printed out photos of Star Wars characters and I taped them to the floor. An adult game of "Name the character" was also going on. I'm not sure but I think illegal bets were placed.

When the music (Star Wars music, of course!) played, everyone jumped from photo to photo. When the music stopped, you stay on your character. I pulled a name out of the hat and whoever was standing on that character sat down. Last one standing wins!

When the music (Star Wars music, of course!) played, everyone jumped from photo to photo. When the music stopped, you stay on your character. I pulled a name out of the hat and whoever was standing on that character sat down. Last one standing wins!

About halfway through this game, I pulled out R2-D2 and looked up to see that Nate was standing on that photo. I said, “Nate…that’s you! Sit down.” All of a sudden I hear  what sounded like a helicopter, “pssst…psst…shhhh..ssssss…” I look up to see EVERY other parent starring me down. “Did you just call the BIRTHDAY BOY out?” They all whispered at once. “SHHHHAAAME ON YOU!” I didn’t know you let your kid win just because it’s his birthday. I’ve seen way too many Lifetime movies about parents who cheat for their kids. I guess I was being overly honest. “Nate…I made a mistake…stand back up!” (before this angry mob lynches me!) So, after a few more rounds…”And the winner is Nate!”

Then it was cake time:

Mark serves the cake. 3 cups of Jedi-Juice spilled on the carpet. Which gave Mark the right to say, "Told ya so!" Little did he know it was my way of getting the carpets cleaned after the party.

Mark serves the cake. 3 cups of Jedi-Juice spilled on the carpet. Which gave Mark the right to say, "Told ya so!" Little did he know it was my way of getting the carpets cleaned after the party.

Nate wanted a pinata. Even after I showed him all the “America’s Funniest Videos” of people getting  hit and mamed for life trying to bust open pinatas…Nate wanted a pinata. I found a Darth Vader pinata online but really didn’t like the idea of hitting him in the head with a bat. Even though he’s the bad guy. We’re trying to teach, “Bodies aren’t for hitting…only for hugging”. Then I found one at the Party Store that was non-violent. It has ribbons attached to the bottom. Everyone takes a turn pulling a ribbon until someone pulls the one that spills the goodies all over the floor!

Pinata/camera tricks! The best present we got was a disc filled with photos from the party. Thanks, Fed and Wendy aka Darth Mom.

Pinata/camera tricks! The best present we got was a disc filled with photos from the party. Thanks, Fed and Wendy aka Darth Mom.

Nate pulls a ribbon...nothing.

Nate pulls a ribbon...nothing.

Andrew (thinking he has the answer) pulls all the strings at once....Taa-Daa! Goodie scramble.

Andrew (thinking he has the answer) pulls all the strings at once....Taa-Daa! Goodie scramble.

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Where ever Sam is...a party's sure to break-out!

Where ever Sam is...a party's sure to break-out!

The Jedi were awarded their "Certificate of Mastering the Force" and then headed over to the banner for their "class photo".

The Jedi were awarded their "Certificate of Mastering the Force" and then headed over to the banner for their "class photo".

Oh, yeah…there’s Zeke! Wondering what happened to Zeke? Well, Mommy and Daddy decided to hire a personal escort for Zeke. Thanks, Danielle for keeping Zeke safe, happy and away from the cake!

Mark brought home a life-sized Darth Maul. "We're trying not to emotionally scar the kids for life, Mark!" So he taped a photo of Nate on it! Danielle and Zeke check out his handy work.

Mark brought home a life-sized Darth Maul. "We're trying not to emotionally scar the kids for life, Mark!" So he taped a photo of Nate on it! Danielle and Zeke check out his handy work.

After everyone left Nate got to finally open his gifts:

It was like Christmas for 7 kids! I really should have put 3/4 of it away for Christmas.

It was like Christmas for 7 kids! I really should have put 3/4 of it away for Christmas.

That night in his thankful prayer, Nate was thankful for, “The best birthday party I ever had or even went to!”

Old-School wins.

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So how wrong is it to take 1/2 of the presents your son gets at his birthday party and hide them in the closet until Christmas?  Calm down…I didn’t do it. I thought about it, though.  {sigh}

Today was Nate’s 4th time turning 5. It was his classroom party.  We got out of the classroom party last year because Nate’s birthday comes a few days before school starts. But when he kept asking, “How come all my friends have a birthday at school and I don’t?” Mark and I decided to let him have it the week after. Turns out, it was a lot of work, but way easier than living with the guilt of skipping it.

Montessori birthdays are really special. (“special” being a euphemism for “lot’s of work”) I had to gather photos from Nate’s life and write something that happened to him when he turned 1, 2, etc.  The teacher shows the photos and tells the class the “story of Nate” while he holds a globe and walks around a lit candle (the sun).  It’s his 5th day of Kindergarten and he already knows more about the solar system then I do.

It doesn't look heavy but Nate had to "put down the world so I can rest" between each trip around the sun. I know that feeling all too well.

It doesn't look heavy but Nate had to "put down the world so I can rest" between each trip around the sun. I know that feeling all too well.

The parent of the birthday child (that would be me) is also responsible for bringing a birthday snack for all the kids. The teacher suggested fruit. Now, being vegetarian and a very little sugar kind of family…this was great. Only problem was, how do you make fruit fun, exciting and birthday-ish for a group of 3 -5 year olds? I got crafty:

Fruit all washed and cut...look how pretty!

Fruit all washed and cut...look how pretty!

I used a cookie cutter to make flowers out of the watermelon...well...more like bumpy circles of watermelon.

I used a cookie cutter to make flowers out of the watermelon...well...more like bumpy circles of watermelon.

Taa-Daa! It looks like a flower arrangement! (Unless you have a subscription to Martha Stewart's Magazine, in which case it looks like fruit salad on a stick.)

Taa-Daa! It looks like a flower arrangement! (Unless you have a subscription to Martha Stewart's Magazine, in which case it looks like fruit salad on a stick.)

Nate was happy and his friends thought it was "Awesome! So cool! Can we eat it?" And I felt like a crafty Mom that handmakes things with love for her kids...for an entire hour!

Nate was happy and his friends thought it was "Awesome! So cool! Can we eat it?" And I felt like a crafty Mom that handmakes things with love for her kids...for an entire hour!

It makes me happy to think that Nate will grow up and remember fondly how much work and love I put into his birthday.  And if he doesn’t…I have these pictures as proof!

I would rather receive a home made gift than anything bought (or re-gifted) from any store. (Except Anthropologie. A gift from that store wins my affection for life!) I can only hope the recipients of MY home made gifts feel the same way.

I found 3 yards of this adorable fabric at a yard sale for $1. and it came with a bag of embroidery floss and yards of antique lace trim. One dollar. I felt like a thief.

I found 3 yards of this adorable fabric at a yard sale for $1. and it came with a bag of embroidery floss and yards of antique lace trim. One dollar. I felt like a thief.

My twin nieces, Hope & Paige’s 8th birthday was coming up, so when I saw this fabric I was filled with the spirits of crafty women from bygone eras. They kept urging me, “Go ahead, buy it. You can sew the girls something out of it”.  “But I don’t know how to sew.” I argued. “You can make a blanket, a blanket is easy. Anyone can make a blanket…it’s just sewing a straight line.” Crafty women can be so persuasive.  That’s how I ended up with a sewing machine I don’t know how to use, boxes of scrap booking supplies that overwhelm me into paralysis, enough yarn to crochet a bag big enough to hold all my “Teach Yourself to Crochet” books  and a 10-story block of Italian marble waiting to be sculpted.

But it was only a dollar. Even if I just used the fabric to wrap an expensive store bought gift for the girls, I would be ahead of the game. So I handed over my dollar and brought home yet another project. But for some reason, this one was different. Maybe because it was a gift for my sweet nieces, or maybe because we had a new rule, “Any project brought into the house must be done within a week.” Whatever the reason…I did it! I actually made Hope and Paige their own little lap blankets.

Made from the heart. Which is what people say when the thing they made is less than perfect.

Made from the heart. Which is what people say when the thing they made is less than perfect.

 

 

Look at me, I'm sewing! I love this photo. Mostly, because Nate took it but also because I'm surrounded by some of my favorite things, doing something I've wanted to do all my life...sew. Maybe you can teach an old dog some new tricks.

Look at me, I'm sewing! I love this photo. Mostly, because Nate took it but also because I'm surrounded by some of my favorite things, doing something I've wanted to do all my life...sew. Maybe you can teach an old dog some new tricks.

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I’m happy to report that both Hope and Paige loved their blankets. They also loved the Minnie & Mickey Mouse shirts I bought them and the birthday cards stuffed with some cash. I wasn’t taking any chances. Maybe I’ll be more confident in my home made gift abilities by Christmas.

The final tally: Fabric and embroidery floss for blankets = $1.00.  Time put in to make them = free.  Reaction from nieces = grateful smiles and hugs.

Which means that home made gifts are both…endearing AND cheap!