Saturday, January 30, 2016

Rainbow Unicorn Birthday Party - on a budget!

I am not a Pinterest Mom. I look at Pinterest and get ideas, but they rarely turn out like the pictures - basically, I am a Pinterest Fail Mom. 

I am also a Mom who looks at some of these party blogs and thinks, "Are you kidding me? She's SIX!!!" Sorry, but we will not be hiring a pony that will be painted in rainbow hues and have a horn stuck to its head for the day. I am not creating a picture-perfect table, because I know the kids will likely be eating as they race through the house. I am not spending a fortune on custom cakes and special outfits. I do, however, like to have fun with a theme, and "rainbows" makes everything so easy! Here are some things we did for Sheridan's birthday, and none of them cost a fortune.

Unicorn Horns

Mardi Gras horns from the dollar store - $3 for 18. I painted the plastic blower part in glue and dusted it with glitter. Then I cut slits in the sides on the other end, and slid ribbon through. I had some ribbon already, and picked up other scraps at local thrift shops. These were to give away at the end of the party, and I wanted to let them pick their own colors, so I put them in this basket with a sparkly thrift shop scarf rather than in the...

Goodie Bags

Which were just white paper bags the kids decorated the week before.

Gotta love those dot markers! They were filled with a few brightly colored toys, like the old stand-by beads,

and packets of rainbow goldfish crackers, rainbow chip cookies, rainbow colored fruit snacks, and some brightly colored candies. All inexpensive, mostly useful, and things I can toss into lunch boxes if there are leftovers!

On to the 

There are a million ways to do a rainbow themed cake. Since we ended up in a weird time crunch, I decided to do rainbow layers, which I could make and freeze the week ahead, then assemble the night before. We have a local 'dented can' type store that sells overstocks, etc., and I usually pick up a few cake mixes when I'm there anyway.

I only used one packet for each color (except the green, which crumbled because I didn't wait for it to cool, so I had to make another one), so about 50 - 80 cents per color. No yellow, which I could have made with food coloring, but I had yellow frosting, so I decided to put it together with that. We already had 6 layers, because there is also pink in the rainbow - just ask Sheridan!

That's a lot of food coloring. There is nothing homemade or healthy about this cake, and I make no apologies for that.

I put it together Friday night, while the kids had a highly nutritious supper of pizza.

This is not a Pinterest worthy cake. 

I started smoothing the frosting, but that just exposed edges of the larger layers (and how I got different circumferences when they were ALL BAKED IN THE SAME PAN is beyond me), so I gave up. Here's the thing, Moms: whose birthday is it? The kid's. Who needs to be impressed? The birthday girl. Those fancy cakes with the perfect fondant Disney characters? They look adorable, but, news flash: fondant tastes like play-do. There, I said it! You do not need to have a perfect cake, just one that makes the birthday kid smile.

Daddy always decorates the birthday cakes, and I made this one fairly easy on him. Bag of M&Ms, sorted by color:

Arranged in a rainbow under the unicorn topper I picked up at a thrift shop:

And, voila!

Pretty enough to please a 6-year-old girl, and it cost around $12. It's just too bad we didn't have any use for the brown M&Ms.


The cake was tall, but I worried about being able to cut it into enough pieces for everyone, so I also made cupcakes at the last minute - Funfetti cake mix, chocolate frosting, and rainbow sprinkles. I tend to way overdo the food. Call it residual effects of living in Ukraine, where you MUST have enough food to feed the entire city at any given event. There turned out to be plenty of both (which means plenty of leftovers!)

I think she liked it.

The inside looked cool, too!

After Logan ate all the frosting and M&Ms, and pronounced himself full.

Of course, first we ate actual


I like to serve finger foods - things you can try a little of, or binge on, things that come in small amounts. A mix of healthy and not-so-much.

I had been craving these meatballs all month:

Just generic frozen meatballs, doctored up a LOT. I much prefer home made meatballs, but those take forever! Since a couple people asked: I added brown sugar, minced garlic, spy sauce, worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, and a quart of crushed tomatoes.

Rainbow Muddy Buddies:

At least, they were supposed to be rainbow. I decided to use this rainbow colored cereal instead of sprinkles, since there were sprinkles in just about everything else. I should have stuck with sprinkles. And then I discovered I didn't have white chocolate chips like I thought, and had to use regular, so...basically they are just regular Muddy Buddies with a lot of excess crumbs. But, Sheridan loved them!

Rainbow fruit and veggie tray with unicorn poop dip:

Rainbow Jell-O (easy, but you have to start it a couple days before, so there is time for each layer to set).

Rainbow(ish) Pasta Salad:

to which I totally forgot to add cheese,

and Rainbow Sherbet Punch, which I never got a picture of. I way overbought the sherbet, so I know what I'm having after the kids go to bed tonight:) *

I had a rainbow of plates and cups, many of them left over from previous parties, and then white plastic ware and napkins tied up in colored ribbons: 

I don't plan a lot of activities any more, because the kids mostly just like to run around and scream really loud. Seems silly to interrupt the fun to make them play a game. I was always the shy kid who needed something to do, though, so I had a coloring/puzzle table,

And a unicorn horn ring toss made with a pinata stick from the thrift store, and embroidery hoops wrapped in silver duct tape. The 'horn' is in a juice can, also wrapped in silver tape, held up by rocks and rainbow colored aquarium gravel.

Everyone seemed to have a good time! Mountain families can be pretty spread out, so it's nice for the grown-ups to get together and just talk. The school is so small, you can invite all the kids in the class (Kinder, 1st and 2nd grade) AND their siblings, and not get overwhelmed. I really like getting to know them all now, so when they hit their teenage years I am not worrying about who my kids are hanging out with.

Sheridan got some wonderful gifts - there wasn't a single thing that made me wince, and she truly loved everything. She had fun, her friends had fun, their parents had fun, and that makes Mommy happy. 

Happy sixth birthday to my Paper Bag Princess!

*It just occurred to me, I distinctly remember buying Bugles because they look like unicorn horns, but they did not make it to the table. We had an abundance of junk food, so that's not a problem, but...where the heck did I put them?!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Kid Comics: Let's Be Hilarious!

Your Sunday funnies for this week!

Sheridan is going for 'sophisticated' today. Logan is going


Sheridan (while painting with her brothers): "I am good at painting pictures. I am going to put mine here so the boys can copy it." #andhumbletoo


Mommy says I can only be nekkid if I'm sitting on the potty, so I'll just do everything here today.

"Snowing, Mommy! Snowing!"

Logan: "Sheridan, let's be hilarious!"
(So, they PLAN it! Makes so much sense.)


Shane just brought me his cocoa cup, complaining that it was "bad! really bad!" But...I notice it is completely empty.


Asked the kids if anything interesting happened in school. Sheridan said something about PE. Christopher had nothing. What are their normal days like, when AN ENTIRE TROUPE OF CLOWNS doesn't bear mentioning?


Logan: "Mommy, it will be infinity days before we die!"
Me: "That's good! I..."
Logan, interrupting my sweet thoughts: "But not for you, because you have been a grown-up already for a long, long time."
Sweet thoughts gone.


Shane was carrying his cereal bowl around, which he is not supposed to do, and spilled it all over the living room floor, which is why. Not to worry, though - before Mommy could get the broom, he smashed every single corn flake to smithereens with his plastic hammer.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Middle Schoolers and Zombies (was that redundant?)

With all the required testing and test prep and test review and...stuff that schools have to fit in, it is getting harder and harder to organizations like the library to get in and do outreach these days. When you get the chance, you jump on it, so I said of course we would take a table at the middle school health fair this week.

Then I had to figure out how I was going to get 450 teens to spend ten seconds at the library booth, when I was competing with the medics giving kids fake wounds, and the guys from base who had all sorts of desert critters with them (FYI, guys, a boa constrictor is NOT native to NM, and that is TOTALLY CHEATING! But, thanks for letting me hold her.) I'm not totally unfamiliar with the audience, I taught at this school when it first opened. So, what attracts middle schoolers?

A) Free candy
B) Zombies

I had this dress from a zombie prom we ran a couple years ago, and I love it SO much more than any other prom dress I ever wore! The picture doesn't show the shiny black clunky boots, which I also love. I didn't do much makeup, because I wasn't sure how receptive the faculty might be - and then I saw the group doing fake wounds. The kids all looked worse than me! Next time.

When kids approached my area, I was holding my tub of candy, and asked them if they were dum-dums or smarties.

In addition to fitting the theme, both are extremely cheap to buy in bulk. I did wander around after and pick up stray sucker sticks on the floor, so hopefully the custodians don't totally hate me.

Then I asked them how they thought they would do in the zombie apocalypse. The answers were mostly either, "I would totally kick a**", or "Die. I would die." I had six questions on my board, taken from the Zombie Survival Guide, with answers on the back, so I challenged them to test their knowledge. 

They were mostly questions you could argue, like "what is the best mode of transportation in a zombie apocalypse?" which offered some engagement. "Dude! A Tank? You'd be trapped! You can't maneuver, you can't get through tight spaces, and what happens when you run out of gas?"

I had printed lists of our zombie books to hand them, so they could brush up a bit. Almost everyone took one! Library card info, not so much, but a list of books about things that will chew my face off? Heck, yeah! There were also flyers about our upcoming tween event, and the CDC's graphic novel about zombie preparedness. As they were wrapping up, I would tell them, almost as an aside, "You know, I really don't care if you get these right. You are using your brain, which is making it grow, which means...more food for me!" (See, I was educational - using your brain makes it work better. End of health lesson.)

I had a great time. The kids were hilarious. Until...remember when I said I used to teach there? A seventh grader I didn't recognize gave me a hug and told me her name. I used to teach...her seventh grade. I. am. old.

Towards the end I was invited to go to the high school next month, which I have been trying to get to do for ages. Full makeup this time! I will also spruce my board up a bit, but for the most part this was an easy to set up and inexpensive outreach. And most of all, fun!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Kid Comics

One of my friends says opening my Facebook page is like reading the Sunday funnies. So, just for you, WC, here's a week's worth! Several of these were stolen from Grandma's Facebook page...

Shane runs into Grandma's kitchen, laughing hysterically. 
Grandma asks, "What's so funny?"
Shane: "MEEE!!!!". Runs off cackling.


Somewhere in the middle of breakfast, the kids decided to play some version of hide and seek. While they are busy chasing each other from one end of the house to the other, Shane is going from seat to seat, quietly finishing off their breakfasts.


Over dinner, started talking about the doll Christopher had, to practice being a big brother before Sheridan was born. Sheridan ran over to give him a big hug as we talked about what a great big brother we knew he would be, and what a great big brother he is.

So Christopher licked her.


Someone discovered the ski mask in the mitten box...and he's growling at me. The best was his reaction when I showed him the picture of himself - he backed away and said "Scared!"


Logan and Shane are playing in the living room with the big legos. Logan: "Shane, I really like what you made! You're a real artist, you know that? Here, do you want to use these ones too? Wow, that is awesome!"


Yes Shane, it's a good idea to brush Tinkerbelle Kitty.
But not with the toilet bowl brush, please!