Tuesday

Everything is Awesome! - a Lego party for Girls AND Boys



It's been a very long time since I've written a blog post.  My cute little Munchkie turned six and a big party was thrown for her and her sister, Chunka, who just turned ONE YEAR OLD on Saturday. During the party planning process I was getting so angry because everything I found said "best boys party ideas," "Lego party for boys" or "games for boys' Lego parties."  This motivated me to throw a great Lego party for two girls and start back blogging to show the Pinterest world that you can have the best Lego party ever for girls (and boys).

Welcome to our party!
 I used a super cheap ($1ish) plastic tablecloth and taped paper plates of the same color to the tablecloth to make a door covering. I did the same thing for the photo booth.
Our house is in party mode!  Yellow totes from Oriental Trading got an upgrade with a black fabric marker. Inside of each tote was a free printable I found of a word search and a color yourself as a minifigure. 
Each child had a name tag that they wrote their name on so that they were a master builder.

 We had a photo booth set up in the corner with photo props I found at Target for a few dollars. After getting their picture taken, they decorated a foam picture frame.  While the kids were eating, Munchkie and Chunka's Dad ran to CVS to print the pictures off.





Since the party was for a one year old and a six year old there were a wide range of ages invited.  I had a "baby ball and block pit" for the babies, but it turns out that all the kids wanted to play with the blocks.  While we were waiting for everyone to arrive, the kids decorated picture frames and played with blocks while the adults all chatted and got to know each other.
 Thank you Target for having some "building block" decorations for just a few dollars. I didn't have to make a lego block banner, and Munchkie's Mimi oh so kindly cut out circles and rectangles to make all kinds of other decorations.


Munchkie very proudly created this collage of Legos that Mimi had cut out and put together.  She used a circle cutter to create the circles and some foam glue dots to create some dimension to the blocks

Chunka had her own little birthday thrown since she was celebrating her first birthday (and on her actual birthday too!)  She wasn't so interested in her smash cake, she was pretty creeped out by the texture of the cool whip frosting. 



I chose to have the kids eat partway through the party and then eat the cake at the very end. We had pepperoni pizza (cheese with cheddar cheese circles for the vegetarians) that looked like Lego blocks with grapes, veggies and popcorn for lunch. I made a very simple pasta with a pesto topping (on the side) for the adults to eat so there were plenty of pizza Legos for the kiddos.
We continued with more games and crafts after lunch. Pin the smile on the Lego guy was a huge hit. Each smile placed in a funny spot brought peels of laughter. The bean bag toss brought out the competitive nature in the kids, but luckily there were no prizes and we all cheered for each child's 
attempt.

We did two different crafts after lunch as well.  Munchkie and Chunka's Daddy had used his smallest drill bit to drill two holes into small flat Lego pieces.  I then threaded string through the holes (this was no easy task I realized!) so that the kids could choose to braid the three strings if they were able, or just put beads on to make a bracelet. Then the kids each made a terrarium using a Megablock, some beads, a little plastic animal and an airplant. I made sure to send each kid home with instructions on watering their plant and a tiny spray bottle (super cheap on Amazon.com).



 We used the leftovers to create a "jungle" terrarium.

Now, the real birthday cake was my pride and joy. Due to a nasty stomach bug that swept through our house the weekend before, the party had to be  rescheduled. I considered the cake that I had to dump in the trash (with some tears) my practice so this cake turned out even better than the first.

Munchkie had seen a similar picture to this on Pinterest and decided that she really wanted a cake just like it.  While mine does not look as good as the original, I think that it still turned out pretty good.  A friend from work let me borrow some silicone block and minifigure molds, so I used candy melts to create the blocks.  I also used fondant to cover the cake, which was Funfetti with buttercream frosting. Since it was both Lent and pretty gluten-ful I did not try it, but I heard it tasted pretty good too.

So there you go.  A super fun Lego birthday for two girls that was enjoyed by both girls and boys of all ages.  

Wednesday

Update and Oat Bran

Oh boy it's been a while.  Once I let a period of time go by without posting, then I feel that I need to have this incredible post to make up for the time gone by.  Well, that's not really going to happen.  I think now I'm just needing to post something to get back in the game. 

We had a very busy summer.  We were go go going almost every day.  From driving 24+ hours (each way) to the upper peninsula of Michigan to learning to take the public transportation to Target we were constantly exploring and discovering all kinds of fun things.  In between our explorations Munchkie's Daddy and I trained to run a 10k, something I never ever would have imagined doing.  See my brother is the runner, not me.  But I went from barely making it one minute running to running every step of the 6.2 miles we ran this past Sunday. 

Oat Bran with apples, cinnamon, almond butter
I also found a new blog that I am loving.  I am in the process of reading every post she has posted, but am still only on 2009.  I think that blogs are the new books for me.  The thing that bothers me about reading is that I want to finish the whole book.  I sometimes sit reading a book cover to cover and neglect all else.  But with blogs, each post has a wrap up so you feel that you can walk away and aren't constantly wondering what you're missing by not reading.  It sometimes it still a continuous story, but you can take breaks without feeling like you need to read "just one more sentence" so you are in a good stopping point.  Anyway, in this new blog Heather Eats Almond Butter she talks about the importance of eating healthy fats, something I have agreed with.  I think that I did increase my healthy fats, but not on a daily basis.  I also was eating unbelievable amounts of fruit because I love it so much.  Now I am trying to substitute veggies for the fruits I was eating, because sugar is sugar. 

Oat bran with pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, unsweetened carob chips
I also have found a love of oat bran.  I work 12-13 hour days, eating breakfast around 6am, maybe a snack mid morning and sometimes not having time to eat lunch until after 4pm.  It's absolutely essential for me to find something very sustaining to last me that many hours.  I am amazed by how well this oat bran fills me up.  The key is all of the things that you can add into your oat bran.  I think tomorrow morning I am going to venture into spinach.  We'll see how this goes.

Munchkie had maple syrup and milk added to her pumpkin oat bran.
Oat Bran

1/2 cup oat bran
2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (can use water or any other kind of milk)
2-4 packets of stevia (or your sweetener of choice)
1-2 tablespoons almond/nut butter (get in those healthy fats!)
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
add ins of your choosing, pumpkin, apples, butternut squash, spinach, carob chips, more seasonings, raisins, all kinds of fruit, nuts, whatever sounds good

To make, on the stove-top bring to a boil the oat bran, milk, sweetener, cinnamon, and pumpkin/apples.  Turn the heat down a little bit and continue boiling until the milk and oat bran are completely combined and it has thickened, only another minute or two.  Turn the heat off, add in the vanilla and almond butter and stir until combined.  You can eat right away, adding more yummy things into your bowl or you can put it in the refrigerator overnight, even up to a couple of days. I think that it is delicious both warm and cold, it depends on my mood.  It's also very portable, I eat it on the bus on the way to work.  This amount usually is too much for me to eat, I usually separate this into two containers and eat over two days, or I "snack" on it throughout the morning at work, eating a few bites when I get the chance.
Mmmm

Mmmmm

Mmmmmmmm

I thought that I would also include some pictures highlighting our summer of fun!
Rode on her first horse with Grandpa at Old McDonald's Farm

Lots and lots of swimming, she graduated swim classes and enjoyed every minute of it.

We went to a water park where Munchkie loved the thrill of sliding down the slides.

Munchkie found out that she likes lobsters.  A lot.  Between lobsters and her love of good cheeses, she's an expensive date!

We ran our first 5K, running around our city to various historical points of interest, learning more about where we live.

Went to a Food Truck Festival, enjoying all kinds of good eats.

Spent an afternoon in a rowboat on a pond in the city, so relaxing!

Munchkie loved tubing on the lake in the UP of MI, wanting to go faster and faster!

Couldn't get this girl off of the Sea-Doo, she wanted to do "tricks" all day long.

Plenty of time spent on the beaches, finding all kinds of treasures.

Traveled to some water falls with friends, nothing like splashing your feet in cool water.

Hanging out by the waterfalls.

The first day of school, so hard to believe!

We went to our first tea party, so much fun!

We did it!  We ran a 10k!  Munchkie ran across the finish line with us.
And there you have it.  We have been busy, enjoying time spent together.  Although it's sad to be back to the grind of things, school, work, etc. it's nice to be back in a rhythm. 

Tuesday

How We Do Healthy While Taking Time Away

Re-hydrating with some sparkling water

This past weekend I had a long weekend and so we decided to do something fun.  Our initial thought was to go away for the whole time I had off, but then different things came up and our time away turned into a two day one night trip.  It was a wonderful and much needed two days and one night.  Munchkie loved every single minute of it and can't wait to go back.
Plum and tail mix snack break

One thing that I dread about vacations and holidays are all of the changes and unhealthy decisions that are made during those times.  This time I was determined to not make the financial and healthy eating sacrifices just because we were away from our normal routine.  I used our weekly grocery budget to get all kinds of snacks, foods and sparkling water for us to eat while hanging out on the beach or in between rides down water slides.  It worked out so well, no one went hungry, we didn't stray from our weekly budget and we didn't have that ugh feeling of fried and processed foods. 
Our healthy spread of foods for lunch at the water park

What I packed in our cooler:
Greek yogurt
Apples
Plums
Cheese sticks
Sparkling water
Carrots
Cut up red bell peppers




In another bag:
Trail mix mixed together from various bulk nuts, seeds and dried fruits from bulk bins
Dried apple chips
More Sparkling water

We also made sure to stay in a hotel that had a breakfast available
Yummy apples!

We had a wonderful time and there was not a single ounce of guilt over what we were eating.  Munchkie was able to go without a nap both days and I think that her lack of complete breakdowns were largely due to the fact that she didn't have an afternoon sugar crash and was packed full of healthy sources of fats, carbs and proteins to keep her going.

We had a wonderful time away as a family, enjoying playing together splashing in water and soaking up some great rays.  The little bit of planning that I did ahead of time, in between shifts at the hospital, made all of the difference in the quality of our time together.  
Trail mix
 Sunflower seeds
Raw pumpkin seeds
Raw whole almonds
Craisins
Raisins
Dried tart cherries
Pistachios
Banana chips
Goji berries
Raw cacao nibs
Dried pineapple
Skipped the salty chips and instead snacking on apple chips