Pockets of Joy

I have been amazed with the energy and excitement of my 2-year-old daughter.

If she’s in one part of the house and wants something in another room, she runs to find it as fast as her little legs will carry her.

She’s always asking, “Where we going next?” As though every place we go is a new adventure.

She is very interested in trying new things and doing them by herself. “Me do it!” she says.

She notices the sound of trains, planes and loud trucks.

She sees sparrows in the grocery store parking lot.

She finds bugs outside — and sometimes inside the house.

She proudly shows me how she properly used the potty.

And she gets very excited when her shorts, skirts or pants have pockets. “Oooooooo! Pockets!” she says, as if it’s the most joyful thing to be found.

Thank you, Lord, for little legs, planes, trains, bugs, birds, potties and pockets. And for little children who remind me how blessed I am to have all those little things I often don’t even notice.

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How to make a Mario party!

In accordance with my goal to do little things to add some fun to life, I have enjoyed some simple parties to celebrate birthdays. We usually do a meal with family members, and we decided to do a little friend party for the kids starting at age 5. Our oldest just turned 6, so we’ve had two friend parties so far.

I love to find party ideas online. In my research, I’ve found that some people spend hundreds of dollars buying things for parties. Other people spend hundreds of hours making things for parties. When I say “it’s the little things,” I don’t mean that every little detail must be planned and coordinate with a theme like a Martha Stewart magazine. (I do enjoy Martha’s creativity, but seriously, she has a whole staff to put together items for a photo shoot in a magazine.)

For me, “it’s the little things,” means doing a few little things so the kids will have fun. They are not going to remember invitations that coordinate with favors that coordinate with napkins that coordinate with forks. (If you love doing that kind of thing, FABULOUS! Do it! If you don’t, relax and do some things that you enjoy!) What they are going to remember is having a fun time and feeling special on their birthday.

And, I have to admit, I have been accused of going overboard on decorating cakes for the kids’ birthdays. (“People are just going to eat that!”) I admit, it takes some time. But, I like it. I do it because it’s fun for me, not because I think I have to have the perfect cake (further post in the works).

Birthday #6 party had a Super Mario Brother’s theme. I found lots of cake ideas online, most of them using fondant. I haven’t experimented with fondant, so we used some ideas with regular icing. The top had Mario and Yoshi, and the sides were supposed to look like a level on Super Mario Brothers.

I found a free printable Mario Bingo game online here. We used butterscotch candy as “gold coins” to cover the Bingo squares.

We made a large Mario for “pin the mustache on Mario” by printing a poster-size coloring sheet, also found online. It printed in four 8.5 x 11″ sheets that I taped together and colored with crayons. I used some black felt with adhesive on one side, leftover from another project, to make Mario’s mustache.

My mom had made my kids cute hats Mario hats, just for fun, so kids were wearing them throughout the party. That was a great bonus item! Thanks, Mom! 🙂

Pinatas are always fun for a party, but most of the ones I found online were too expensive for me. So, I looked into how to make my own. I had initially thought a coin brick, like from the video game, would be fun. But, the simplest paper mache pinata to make is with a balloon. Birthday Son wanted a Yoshi egg, so simple pinata was created!

I used a large balloon, paste mixture (2 cups flour, 3 cups water) and strips of newspaper.

I dipped strips of newspaper into the paste and covered the balloon. The balloon started rolling around, so I found it helpful to put it in an ice cream bucket.

The first layer dried overnight and then I added another layer. When it was mostly dry, I popped the balloon, removed the balloon pieces, and painted it to look like a Yoshi egg, using paint we had on hand from some other projects. I put some candy inside and hung it in a tree in place of a bird feeder.

After destroying the pinata, the kids “raced” around the house. We pretended they were racing in Mario Kart, but really it was just a way for a bunch of boys to burn some energy! 😉

We ate some cake, opened gifts and, of course, played some Mario Kart Wii.

I think they party guests had the most fun just playing with some Batman toys! Further proof that over planning and over spending on a party is not necessary. Just do a few little things to make your child feel special.

Blog Spotlight: Stuff Christians Like

I do hope to get something written here sometime, but until then, I’ll refer you to someone who writes funny stuff every day. The Stuff Christians Like blog is one of my new favorites.

You can read his “about” page here to find out how the writer, Jonathan Acuff, got started. I see it as he uses his gifts of humor and writing to help people laugh, learn and think a little.

I particularly like Wednesdays, because he posts something more serious under the category “serious Wednesdays.” Today’s post is a good one!

Pajama Ride!

The Hubs and I attended a little marriage conference today (Marriage Matters Iowa: Hitched & Happy; we recommend it). One of the things they suggested for having a good marriage is to have fun together. One of those things that obviously makes sense, but sometimes doesn’t happen in the busy lives we have. The couple leading the discussion gave some creative ideas for fun dates, some of them including the whole family.
We think we’ll have to try their suggestion of Pajama Ride. Here’s what you do: Have the kiddos get ready for bed as usual. When the kids are just about asleep in their beds, barge in the room and make a big ruckos saying, “Pajama ride!” Then, load the kids in the car and drive somewhere, like an ice cream place.
Sounds fun to me!
Here’s the kicker: The couple who shared this have two kids in college and one about to finish high school. Recently, the parents were in bed and almost asleep when … you guessed it … the kids barged into their room, yelling “Pajama ride!” The kids took the parents out for ice cream.
How fun is that?