Shit Happened

Anyone who has made the mistake of innocently asking me, “How’s it going?” in the past couple of months has received an earful of potty training trials and tribulations. For those who’ve become emotionally invested, and for those who are just plain curious to see if I’d actually throw a poo poo party (and what it looked like), I’m thrilled beyond measure to share that the deed is done! My 3-year-old daughter pooped on the potty and I’m pretty sure I was happier than I was the day she was born (mostly because I had a full-blown panic attack that day, and let’s face it: childbirth is a miracle, but it’s no picnic).

Right after the kids and I celebrated with a jumping-up-and-down group hug, I put in the call to the Publix bakery for the cupcakes. I LOVE their bakery. You ask them to make a half-dozen poop emoji cupcakes for you at 4pm for 9am the next morning and they say, “OK!” And only for five dollars! TOTALLY worth it.

poopoocupcakes

It so happens my best friend from growing up and her family were visiting this weekend so we had built-in party guests. She was quite amused, but made it clear that I need to get a hobby, a job, or a life of some sort. Point taken. But here she is humoring me with the poo piñata. Oh, yeah. I ordered it from Amazon.

poopinata

And here’s my big girl, holding up her piñata treasure: unicorn poop, of course! Also from Amazon. (I have a slight Prime problem.)

unicornpoop.jpg

We slammed a poop piñata with a Louisville Slugger, and ate Unicorn Poop candy and poop cupcakes. A good time was had by all. Now if I can only get her to poop in the potty a second time…

Jed’s Bug Birthday Party

We celebrated Jed’s birthday at our house just a little over a month ago and I’m finally getting around to sharing all of my crafty Pinteresting party planning. (Better late than never, right?)

We let him choose the theme. It took him about half a second to decide on bugs. For anyone planning a boys’ birthday party, here’s a little insect inspiration.

the invitations

Last year, I made the mistake of e-vites. Great in theory and for the budget, but turned out a few of the moms from Jed’s class never check their email and totally missed out. So this year, we hand-delivered straight to the cubbies — unless they never pick their kids up from school, I figured this was failsafe. Found these on Etsy from Olive & Star Paper Designs. They were wonderful to work with and did a super quick turnaround:

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the food

With a 3-5pm party time, I didn’t have to worry about a full-on meal and instead went with filling, healthy (bug) bites. We went all out with bug-themed snacks and an a-MAZE-ing cake from DOUGH, my favorite client and bakery in Asheville.

This pic doesn't really fo justice to the magnitude and deliciousness of this cake. Pastry Chef Ali Caulfield crafted a beetle coming out of the "dirt" just for Jed... his favorite bug:)
This pic doesn’t really do justice to the magnitude and deliciousness of this cake. Pastry Chef Ali Caulfield crafted a beetle coming out of the “dirt” just for Jed… his favorite bug:)
Caterpillars made from grapes with white frosting and mini-chocolate chips for eyes, put together on toothpicks.
Caterpillars made from grapes with white frosting and mini-chocolate chips for eyes, put together on toothpicks.
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P “Bee” and J: mini sandwiches in the shape of bugs, using bug cookie cutters.
Adult refreshments out back:)
Adult refreshments out back:)

the entertainment

If I could go back in time and teach myself balloon art rather than babysit, I would. In Asheville, a super smart kid who goes by Mr. Twister, has it made. He’s adorable, great with the kids and super talented. He made bug balloons for all of our guests including this dragonfly for me:) He even learned two new balloon bugs just for Jed’s party.

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We also had a bug scavenger hunt. I bought mini-magnifying glasses and a bag o’ bugs online from Amazon and hid 144 bugs all over the house. I gave extra “points” for anyone who found and got rid of any real bugs;)

decorations

I didn’t do too much in the way of decorating. I used some burlap fabric I had leftover from a Baby Q that I hosted last year, which I used for the table cover and made this very nifty Very Hungry Caterpillar out of balloons. I figured with other bug balloons bouncing about and bugs scattered all over the house, that was enough.

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And being close to Halloween, I was able to take advantage of a bunch of spider stuff out there, like for napkins and plates and our spider pinata. The pinata was probably overkill — had plenty to fill the two hours without it– but I thought I was self-editing when I held back on the two bug crafts I had planned. No one can say there wasn’t enough to do! In addition to the pinata candy (organic and low on sugar from this dentist’s daughter) and scavenger hunt bugs, kids brought home favor bags with Spiderman bubbles, glow-in-the-dark bug stickers and bug tattoos.

With disposable yet recyclable plates and a very helpful mother-in-law, clean-up was a breeze!

And, most importantly, everyone including parents seems to have a good time.

Baby Q: A Couple’s Baby Shower

Last weekend, Dave and I threw a Baby Q for our friends, Britt and Nate. They are the anti-baby shower type of people, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to celebrate their little one like everyone else (and reap all of the benefits that a shower implies). I can’t say that I blame them. I was never for the cheesy games and frilly finger foods either. Since a lot of their friends are women and men, a couple’s shower made sense. And since we know them so well, an evening of barbeque, backyard games and craft beer made even more sense. Needless to say, Mama sat out on the beer sippin’ this time:)

Baby Q Invitations

I’m usually a fan of Evites, but when it comes to showers, I think paper is in order. I was amazed to find so many Baby Q designs on Etsy. It didn’t take me long though to decide on this one from PuzzlePrints:

$13 for your customized version of this design.

They responded quickly and offered great customer service. If you haven’t had a broken printer on your to-do list for two years, you could print these out yourself from the final PDF or jpeg. I had it done at a UPS store on cardstock at a very reasonable price and bought invitation-sized envelopes from Staples.  I can’t tell you how many compliments I got on these!

The Setting

Our gracious guests of honor actually offered up their home for the party. It worked out well, with their flat lawn for table and games, a nice partially covered deck, and no hauling loot post-party back to their place. Win, win!

The Baby Shower Menu

This was not your typical baby shower food. We also had to keep in mind that this would be outside in August, so we didn’t want anything too hot n’ heavy. And being in the South, there was a definite Southern, local flare to our fare:

Appetizers:

  • Cheese Spread Duo: Pimento Cheese (my mom’s famous recipe) and Three Graces Dairy goat cheese from right down the road in Marshall, NC, served with an assortment of crackers.
  • Veggie Tray with Ranch dip.

Beverages:

The etch-it labels for claiming cups were a huge hit with kids and adults!

The Main Event

Watermelon, blueberry and feta salad. Photo from readbreathe.com.
  • Pulled-pork barbeque (Dave smoked it for 12 hours and made his own two sauces to go with it: Piedmont and Eastern. YUM.)
  • Zesty Slaw
  • Potato Salad, recipe from Brown-Eyed Baker. We left out the eggs. I’m not a potato salad person, but was thinking of the greater good. It went over very well!
  • Watermelon, Blueberry and Feta Salad, recipe by Kath Younger. She shared it in the August 2011 issue of Breathe Magazine. I used fresh basil rather than mint.
  • I recruited help from a friend to put together a garden salad. She created her own crunchy topping and a homemade dressing.
  • The dessert table: mini cupcakes in vanilla and chocolate, Guinness brownies a la grandma-to-be, and a bouquet spray of fruit twists in various colors and flavors from Fresh Market. I love their candy section!

Activities

  • We busted out the root ball, cornhole, and Kan Jam (although by the end of the evening, boys big and small were using the “Kans” to just roll down the hill)
Guests could write advice, words of wisdom and well wishes for the parents-to-be. I love the Denyse Schmidt fabric I found!
  • And, okay, it is a baby shower, so I had to do one crafty baby showerish thing. I made my first memory board using a mix of a few tutorials I found online, and I learned a couple of things:
  1. Nothing makes me feel better than hearing how easy it was for a group of seventh graders to do something in ten minutes that took me two trips to the fabric store.
  2. One of the women said she’d tried this with both a regular stapler and staple gun. She said a regular stapler worked much better. I beg to differ.

The Set-Up

  • We had a buffet inside with a separate dessert table.
  • Appetizers and drinks served on the deck.
  • Tables and backyard games on the lawn. (Guests were prompted to bring their own lawn chairs.)
  • I used burlap fabric for table covers and small mixed bouquets from the farmers market (bought that morning) in everyone’s favorite party accessory, mason jars.

Favors

  • We bought three types of barbeque sauce by the quart from Asheville’s famous 12 Bones Smokehouse. We redistributed them into mason jelly jars and gave them cutesy baby names: Western Carolina Girl (tomato), Sugar ‘n’ Spice (blueberry chipotle) and Temper Tantrum (spicy mustard).
  • Kids got bubbles, but they got their favors when they arrived:)

The Flow

  • Guests arrived at 5-ish.
  • Drinks and apps, 5-6:30pm.
  • Dinner
  • Open presents at 7pm. (We opened their new pack n’ play to use as the gift “table”. Kept it inside, then it rolled out easily onto the deck when it was time.)
  • Folks with kids (with bedtimes) could see their gifts opened and still be home at a reasonable hour. Some stayed a little later. When I left at 9:15, the Mexican Lager was kicked, but the Pale Ale was still flowin’. A good time was had by all.

A special thanks to our elves Jennie and Michael. Lesson learned: even when there aren’t a lot of games planned, there’s A LOT to do between sending out invitations and making the food. The devil is indeed in the details!

Belly to Belly: Planning a baby shower that doesn’t suck.

With Jed out of school this week and an influx of freelance work (yay!) it’s been tougher for me to make time to post. So, again, I bring you a re-post from my Blogs of Yore. I wrote this one about three years ago when I was planning a baby shower for my other most favorite Emily.

Throwing a shower for a friend? Or perhaps someone near and dear is throwing one for you? You have an idea of what you want, but don’t want to step on toes. (After all, she’s nice enough to throw the shower, right?) How about oh-so-subtly sharing this post with your friends on Facebook with a “Read this! So clever!” note. She’ll take the hint:)

Can't find a pic from the shower I threw for Emily, but she in turn threw me a shower six months later (which also didn't suck).

My mom and I are throwing a baby shower for a close, second-sister friend (you know, the friend who you bought that BFF broken heart necklace with at the mall in middle school). It’s on Saturday and I’m determined to make it a shower that I would actually enjoy attending. Next to having your fat circled with a magic marker as a sorority “new member”, I can’t imagine anything more painful than your friends using measuring tape to guess how large you are around the middle. No games of any kind, thank you very much.

I was excited about putting together a baby shower playlist for background music and burning it to CDs as favors, until I had this conversation with the shower honoree while home for Thanksgiving.

Me: Don’t worry, Friend. We aren’t doing any tacky shower stuff, I promise.

Friend: Oh good. Because for your sister’s shower, they made me make this CD of songs with the word “baby” in it. I didn’t want to, but they made me, and it was so tacky. And then they didn’t even use it… thank God.

Ummm. Uhhhh. Okay then.

At first I was going to completely back off, but then I remembered that I’m the hostess, and who am I to deprive our guests of my superior mix-tape making skills? I stayed up late into the night on iTunes to put this “Mother of All Baby Shower Playlists” together for the cool, urban, hipster mom-to-be:

“Mother and Child Reunion” – Paul Simon

“Stay Up Late” – Talking Heads

“Baby Please Don’t Go” – Van Morrison

“Baby” – Rufus Wainwright

“Baby’s Got Sauce” – G. Love & Special Sauce

“I Can’t Quite You Baby” – Led Zeppelin

“Baby” – Iggy Pop

“Jack” – Widespread Panic (she’s naming her son Jack)

“Cry Baby Cry” – The Beatles

“Baby Boomerang” – The Shins

“Kooks” – David Bowie

“Little Baby” – The Rolling Stones

“Baby Hold On” – Leftover Salmon

“Put A Straw Under Baby” – Brian Eno

“My Baby” – Janis Joplin

“Baby” – Dave Matthews

It was actually easier to find beautiful songs about abortion than birth, but even I realize that “Belly Button Window” by Jimi Hendrix and Bend Folds’ “Brick” would be in poor taste. My playlist might not resonate with the baby boomer partygoers, but my too-cool-for-baby-songs friend will appreciate it.

Then there was the issue of party favors. I don’t have time to burn 25 copies of this CD and create cute labels. And everything online needed to be ordered 4-6 weeks ago. When I Googled “last-minute baby shower favors,” the only articles that popped up said things like “don’t leave the baby shower favors until the last minute.” Um, yeah, thanks. I also didn’t want to spend a fortune on something that’s going to get thrown away… and they all get thrown away.

After days of online obsessing, I took the philanthropic route. My  first instinct was to find a baby-related charity, but as I researched, The Louisville Zoo continued to pop up as one of the highest rated non-profits. The shower’s in Louisville, KY, where we grew up, so after investigating further on the zoo’s website, I decided to adopt Baby Elephant Scotty in the mom-to-be’s name in lieu of favors. My friend will get an adoption certificate, her name on the website, and a picture/info card of Scotty. I ask you, how cute is that?

What are your tips for planning a shower that doesn’t suck?