Children, Creative Ideas, Family, Uncategorized

You’re invited to a tea party!

tea party invitationEarlier this year, Girl Child had a birthday party. And it nearly got away from me. She had asked for a tea party…a fancy one. With pretty things. And real tea. And tea cups.

My imagination started running wild with possibilities and ideas. Can you even imagine how adorable a little girl’s tea party would be?? Of course I started with the invitation- you can buy this template from Etsy here.

Tea Party decorations

With some brain-storming and lots of lists, here’s what I came up with. And mind you, saving money was the name of the game here.

So, how do you organize a little girl’s tea party without breaking the bank? Dollar Store, my friend. I was able to get a bunch of things that translated into fancy for very little money here. Things like “silver” plates, paper doilies, pink artificial flowers, pink crinkle paper, glass vases, toy pink bead jewelry, pink feathery boas, pink polka dot paper party plates, party favors…I picked up everything that looked delicate, fancy and formal. And I walked out spending $23. Thank you very much!

Once I had a lot of pink things for the tea party, I had a basic idea of what I wanted to spread to look like. The center-piece of the party, if you will. From there, I started rummaging throughout my house to find anything that looked like it belonged in a tea party. I found my grandmother’s old linens, small tea cups and tea pots, little teddy bears with lacy dresses and high tea hats, jewelry boxes, several unique tea pots, ceramic floral serving plates…all sorts of things.

Tea party spread

The idea here was to make a long table that would have all the food and tea spread out and have it nestled among all the pretty things so it would be a treat for the eyes to find the little treasures that gently say “yes this is a fancy tea party!”

Next up is the goodie bags. I didn’t want to use plastic bags because plastic bags do not say “fancy”! Instead, I used brown paper lunch bags and I folded a small doily evenly over the top. I then punched two holes in the top and tied the bag with brown twine. A simple and sweet way to deliver magical bubbles, a glow-in-the-dark wand, some bracelets and candies to attendees of the party.

tea party table decorationsEventually, I had to make a trip to Hobby Lobby to get some other items but I really tried to keep my purchase small because Hobby Lobby has the ability to make me see and buy things I didn’t know I needed!

So I bought a pink cupcake holder with sweet pink toile accents, tissue poofs for the wall decorations, floral paper napkins, and little bows to tie around the napkins with pink, plastic forks and spoons. My mother-in-law had small tea cups that were perfect for the girls and each one was beautiful and unique!

tea party spreadThe food: A friend graciously baked the cupcakes for us and they were amazing, of course! We went with ham and cheese tea sandwiches and used princess cookie cutters to cut the sandwiches into little castles, high heel shoes and crowns. My mother-in-law and I made an assembly line to cut up 48 sandwiches! We had strawberries that I dipped in melted white chocolate and then dipped in sprinkles. I served carrots, cookies, apples and grapes along with our main event of hot tea.

I had different flavors of tea available for the attendees to choose from. And we had little sugar cubes, which the girls just loved!

tea party activitiesWe had some crafts, coloring and a game of balance the sugar cube on the spoon relay race, which the girls all loved. And thanks to my sweet mother-in-law, each girl got to take home her tea cup as a special keepsake!

All in all, the tea party was a success and I managed to keep the cost down to just under $125 for everything!

 

 

Children, Family, travel, Uncategorized

Fun things to do with little kids- Washington DC

Fun Things Washington MonumentTraveling to Washington DC is an experience. Try doing it with three little kids! Actually it is possible to have a great time in DC even with little feet. We’ve put together a list of fun things to do with little kids when you’re in Washington DC. We have tried to be budget conscious, which can be challenging in such an expensive city! With some stamina for walking and by looking for a deal, this can be a great experience for the whole family. So come along with us and see what DC has to offer for a family with small children.

Udvar Hazy Air & Space Museum

Fun things Udvar Hazy DiscoveryAdmission is free (awesome!) but parking is $15.

First on the list of fun things for kids is the Udvar Hazy Air & Space Museum is part of the Smithsonian; however, it’s not located near the National Mall like the other museums. This museum is located near Dulles International Airport, close enough that you can see planes on their initial take-off or final decent. IMAX movie (if you choose to see one, though there’s plenty to do without it) is $9.50 adults, $7.50 kids. Plus, if you save your ticket stub, you can see another IMAX at any of the Smithsonian locations for $6 each.

On display at the museum is a Concord jet, an SR-71 Blackbird and the space shuttle orbiter Discovery in all her majesty. The museum beautifully displays hundreds (maybe not “hundreds”, but certainly a lot!) of various planes, gliders, helicopters and flying gadgets throughout the oversized hangar facilities. In addition, there is the Mary Baker Engen Restoration hangar, which was working on Neil Armstrong’s space capsule while we were there! You can walk along a huge glassed-in balcony so you can see most of the hangar and all the projects currently underway.

Another cool feature is the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower. Guests take an elevator up seven stories to a 360 lookout tower similar to an air traffic control tower. From here you can see for miles in all directions as well as watch planes take-off and land at Dulles International Airport.

Thanks to McDonald’s there’s a McCafe for lunch or snack and a gift shop to guilt you into buying toys for the kids before you leave. Special note: no pocket knives or weapons of any kind are allowed in the facility. Plan to stop for bag checks upon entering but the line moves quickly.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Fun things Natural History MuseumAdmission is free (awesome again!)

Our next item in our fun things for kids list is the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. This place is jam-packed with things to see and our kids had so much fun wandering around the exhibits. They enjoyed seeing animal bones, mummies, a live insect zoo, the ocean hall and a current display of the Hope Diamond along with other gems and crystals. There’s a live butterfly exhibit (tickets required, but they’re free) so you can walk among fluttering, colorful winged creatures.

At lunchtime we found a restaurant (it’s DC, so it was kind of pricey…) called Pavilion Cafe. Kids ate hotdogs and peanut butter & jelly and there are lots of good lunch options like beef brisket, lunchtime gourmet salads, tuna salad sandwiches and the like. Where the lunchtime price got away from us was dessert…but they did not disappoint and all left lunch full and happy!

Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Fun things national zooAdmission is free! (Awesome again, y’all!)

The National Zoo opens at 8:00am, though no one told the animals! The buildings inside open at 9:00am and the concessions opens at 10:00am during the summer. We took Uber since it was too far for little feet to walk (and since we’d be walking once inside the zoo). Parking is a mess…not very many spaces to park and for the few spaces available, the cost is $22 so be warned.

We went during the summer so it is hot! The layout of the zoo is not so much a circle, but a main wandering path with side shoots of things to see. So there’s a lot of walking and it’s best to think through your route so you don’t get stuck hot and tired at the opposite end of the zoo.

National Monuments

fun things Lincoln memorialFree, free, free and free!

Of course, a day of wandering around on foot to see the monuments and landmarks around the national mall is a fun, free option. You’ll see the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the White House, the Capitol and many others. And with little feet may come big complaints of being tired after a bit of walking so plan accordingly. You may split up the sight-seeing into smaller segments. Take advantage of the Metro or Uber to get you to your next destination or back to your hotel for a little rest.

Other Items of Interest

Our visit to Washington DC was only four days long so we quickly ran out of time. But there is lots more to see and do in the city for young children. These are definitely on our list for our next visit:

Don’t forget to wander around the neighborhood a bit to see the local sights and sounds. The area is mostly walking friendly and the drivers are accustomed to walkers. So you don’t get the feeling you’re about to be run over when you choose to walk. The foot paths are nice and the bridges are old and full of character. The Potomac River runs through Washington DC. So there are parks and areas where you can rent paddle boats in the National Harbor.

In the summer time, you’ll find the Georgetown Waterfront Park featuring a splash area for kids to cool off. Also, don’t forget to visit the hotel pool for a break in sight-seeing. If you’re lucky, you might score a rooftop pool like we did and get a panoramic view of the city.

We found low cost, unique burger joints, pizza places and the best ice cream sandwich shop near George Washington University called Captain Cookie and the Milk Man. How cute is that?! And they did not disappoint! We found tons of great little spots like this and they’re all nestled among the hotel neighborhoods.

Transportation

Fun things MetroThe Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, also known as Metro, provides train and bus service throughout the area. To use the train, riders must purchase a SmarTrip card and put funds on the cards. Children 5 and under ride free. Fares fluctuate during the course of the day based on the ebb and flow of rider traffic. You can buy the cards and reload funds easily at any terminal. And there are Metro stations littered all over the DC area.

Don’t forget you can most likely walk to your destination. With little kids, that can be tough. Our kids are quite accustomed to walking about 3 miles in a day (4, 7 & 8 year olds…not bad, eh?) so they fared well, but keep an eye on weariness because that’ll suck the fun out of any sight-seeing and I know I’m not telling you brand new information! Just know you have options with transit and Uber if you get caught with kids who’ve just had enough.

You can use Uber for wherever the Metro rail doesn’t quite make it (like the National Zoo). Schedule a pick up online (and add a tip now, too!) and they’ll zip you right to your requested destination. You have a 15 minute pick-up window and a friendly driver will meet you where you are.

So go enjoy the nation’s capital and don’t be afraid to walk around the city. It’s very bustling and in our experience, a very family-friendly area. There’s a good police presence and generally, we found that the drivers in the area were patient with walkers. There’s lots of sidewalks and the crossing lights are very generous. If you ever get tired, there are Uber drivers wandering around just waiting to take you to your next destination.

Happy traveling!

 

 

Children, Family, Uncategorized

Lifelong friends

df2820c4-b8b6-4134-9482-82d6ce1118fb-jpgYou know what I love?? Seeing my girls being friends.

Sure, we have bickering and melt downs every single day but something’s starting to happen that I am so happy to see. There’s a friendship brewing!

The girls are about four years apart, which will be a lifetime of distance once girl child gets into her teenage years. But for now, they are still kind of close in age.

They share a room and they are also homeschooled so they are together (along with boy child) much more than other siblings usually would be. This is helpful as we try to cultivate their friendship.

Whenever we can, we try to remind the kids how important family is. We remind the kids that they will always have their brother/ sister to rely on. And it’s important to be there for each other. Even when they’ve grown. We’re talking about that now. Just so it’s in the back of their minds…brewing.

We like to put things in their minds to just marinate…things like always looking out for brother or sister. Like when the kids go to their Sunday School class. I remind boy child to look out for baby girl and make sure she’s ok. I remind him that he should make sure baby girl is safe because that’s what brothers do.

I remind girl child that she has a little shadow in baby girl. And sometimes that annoys girl child…the responsibility.

But…that’s family. God made girl child to be a big sister. When I remind her of that, she seems to take her job more seriously. After all, God gave her this assignment to be a big sister.

She does a good job, too. Baby girl looks up to girl child. She wants to be friends and she wants to do whatever girl child does. She values girl child’s ideas and she depends on girl child’s confidence when baby girl is unsure.

Even at the dentist. Recently, baby girl had her first dentist appointment and she was a little nervous. We all went since all the kids had appointments…but when it was baby girl’s turn in the chair, guess who she asked for?

Her friend…her big sister.

That’s what we want to see and that’s what we’re gonna try to keep instilling in the kids.

When the kids are grown and when they go their separate directions, we want them to be close in their hearts. We want them to remember they have each other when they feel like have no one else. When things aren’t going the way they hope. They will always be able to count on each other. And they’ll have each other long after Momma and Daddy go to heaven.

A lesson we continually teach now for a lifetime of usage.

Children, Uncategorized

Where’s my prize?!

Ah, children. As mentioned before and by so many others, children say what they want, when they want. It’s our job to teach them about the filter. We as parents help them exercise and strengthen that filter. (Well, we try anyway!)

But I’ve also said earlier that children’s lack of filter is sometimes- many times- down right hilarious.

And of course, I shall provide an example.

Public bathrooms…a mecca of potential inappropriate and loud commentary from a child as he or she hears things that require a comment or imitating noise. Obviously, the child within us hears things and laughs on the inside. I believe God made farts to give us all a little chuckle. Of course, flatulence relieves gas build up inside the body, but come on…the noise? That’s simply for human pleasure.

Here’s the philosophical cause and effect of farting:

Farting makes noise+ farting noise makes us laugh + laughter releases endorphins = therefore farting is essential to good health.

You’re welcome.

I say all of this to say…I took a child to the public bathroom recently- a women’s restroom. We found a stall and began our routine of “going potty”. As a woman, I am immune to many sounds in the women’s restroom and didn’t even think of it when I heard someone in the stall next to us begin to prepare for her feminine hygiene change by opening packaging. (Sorry all, that’s the most proper way I could think of describing it)

So, my girl child begins her “tinkles” and also hears the woman in the stall beside us begin her preparations by opening various packages and whatnot. My sweet girl, without hesitation and still sitting on the potty, blurts out “Mommy, why does she get a prize and I didn’t?! I want a prize!”

What do you say to that? All I could do is laugh. And thankfully, the woman next to us laughed as well and then said, “Honey, you don’t want the prize I have!”

All’s well that ends well, I suppose.

Children, Family, Uncategorized

Open the Door for Her!

Have you ever been somewhere with your small children and struggled alone while others seemingly watched you fend for yourself? thebestforourfamily.wordpress.com-

This happened to me at the pediatrician’s office when my older children were young (actually, it’s happened many times) and I couldn’t believe that no one in the waiting room cared that I was struggling to push a stroller out a door while holding my baby in my arms. I mean that waiting room was, strangely, completely filled with men! Not one of them stood up and helped me. They all watched the show.

The momma bear in me scolded them as I made my way out the door, saying “You know, any one of you could have helped me with this door instead of watching me struggle, so next time you see something like this please get off your duff and help the poor woman.”

Let me say this: I know many men who would help me in that situation without hesitation- my own husband being one of them. I just couldn’t believe how many men sat there and did nothing! I mean there were like eight men in that room…all eyes on the pathetic sitcom going on at the front door of that doctor’s office!

So, having been through that experience I hereby state the following:

As a parent of a boy, I solemnly swear we will teach this boy manners.  We will teach him to treasure women- not objectify them, but truly treasure them. That means my young man will open the door for a lady, he will stand when a lady enters the room, he will pull a chair out for her and tuck her in at the table. He will open the car door for her, he will walk on the outside of a sidewalk to shield her from traffic, he will allow her to walk ahead of him into a room.

For Pete’s sake men, open the door for her!! Even if she bristles at the act of chivalry, know you did the right thing.

 

 

Children, Family, Uncategorized

Bathroom talk

Little boys love bathroom talk. I say little boys…little girls are like this, too. Don’t let those pink bows fool you. Little boys and little girls giggle when there’s bathroom talk. Anything about a toilet, passing gas, bottoms in general. They love to talk about it, laugh about it, draw about it…you name it.

because this is what

And these little giggle fits pop up at any moment. At church, the grocery store, during the prayer before eating a meal, while completing school work, swimming, riding in the car…pretty much whenever the kids are awake.

The kid in me totally sees the humor but the adult in me feels the need to put a stop to this kind of humor/ conversation quickly lest one of my dear children tells their grandmother about poop or a stinky bum while sitting beside her in church! So this internal conflict rages. And sometimes the kid inside wins out over the adult, which sends our children into endless laughter.

There is a “delightful” children’s poop song (there’s really no way to make this sound less gross, so sorry!) that goes like this:

Momma Mia
Poppa Pia
Baby had some diarrhea
Momma said it wouldn’t hurt so
Baby ate it for dessert

Disgusting, I know. You must remember this from your childhood. The kid inside of me giggles when I hear it.

The kids in my house giggle when they hear it, too. They love the idea of a poop anthem they can whip out at any time. And they do whip it out any time. And the adult in me regrets that they know this song…because I or my husband had something to do with them learning said song. I honestly can’t remember which one of us did it. But we often look at each other with the same thought, “this may not have been the best idea to teach them this song”.

But you know what, oh well! They know it. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s not. So we will use this as an opportunity to teach them discretion. Although I will say this particular lesson is a long, uphill battle. Uphill, near vertical hike with no water fountains or benches to take a rest, battle.

But, whatever.

Sometimes our family gets to laugh together about poop. And we have a blast.

Children, Family, Uncategorized

You’re Not Too Big to Clean Up Poop!

So this Powerball lottery is over a billion dollars now and the dreaming is kicked into high gear. Sorry, folks…we are going to be the sole winners this time around! 🙂

Husband and I were talking about houses and dreams of what we can do with the lottery winnings. We are on the same page in our dreaming-  we both want quality but not luxury. We want land, we want a farm, we want a beautiful but not overstated farmhouse that has quality amenities but nothing as fancy as an elevator. I’ll never be too rich to not be able to take my tail up a flight of stairs unassisted! (Obviously, health not being an issue)

Something we also thought about was the effect such a lifestyle would have on our young children. No matter how much we are worth, whether blessed with a lottery winning or continue in a modest lifestyle, we want our children to always recognize hard work and be willing to participate in it. To see the value of hard work and the satisfaction of it. To know they’ve done a good job and that they can do for themselves.

We would love to have a working farm. Nothing big or fancy…but just enough to reap the benefits of a beautiful vegetable garden, the ability to hunt game to feed our family and to experience the rewarding hard work of tending to small livestock. So despite something like lottery winnings we will never ourselves be, nor let our children be, too big or too important to clean up poop.

So to sum up today’s thought: Regardless of how much money you have or how much you are worth, never be too big to clean up poop.