Milkshake Cake

Daniel turned seven last week and he requested a “milkshake cake” for his birthday.  He’s never been a big fan of regular cake.  Sure, he’ll eat a piece at a friend’s party, but it’s not his favorite.  He’s always asked for a McDonald’s vanilla milkshake as his special treat for passing the next level of his math class or getting good grades on his report card.  So a milkshake cake made perfect sense. We ordered seven small milkshakes, arranged them on a tray, threw in some colorful straws, added the candles, and VOILA!  I think Daniel just invented the next birthday cake craze.

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And you can check out the DONUT CAKE from Daniel’s “Cars and Trucks and Things That Go” Birthday Party HERE.

Happy 4th of July ’13

Happy Independence Day.  From our little Pop family to yours.  Let freedom ring.

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I Want Everything On My Mother’s Day Pinterest Board

I decided to create a board on Pinterest with cool Mother’s Day gift ideas for trendy, hip moms. You know, Justin Timberlake CD’s and Beats by Dre. So, I sat down at my computer and…TWO HOURS LATER…I was still pinning (and drooling a little.) Click here to see what I found!

Pinterest Mother's Day

I personally want everything on this list. But there are 37 items and I only have two kids. Plus, I know they have already made me cards in school. Why don’t they teach kids how to make Tory Burch bracelets?

***Every week I send out my Pop Kids Report newsletter. It has all the latest information on kids movies, music, DVDs, TV shows, apps, and more. If you haven’t already, sign-up here.

Happy Easter ’13

Happy Easter!  I love this joyful time of year.  It finally feels like Spring around here and we were blessed with beautiful weekend weather.  It was perfect for egg hunting and bunny petting.  And, of course, every day is perfect for eating chocolate and drinking wine.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful day together.  This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.

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Annabel’s Hello Kitty Tea Party

Annabel celebrated her 5th birthday with a Hello Kitty Tea Party – girls only!

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It was the first year she only invited her little girl friends and she was so excited to have her very first tea party. Of course we had to include Hello Kitty – her absolute favorite.  I was excited to plan the details because I love Hello Kitty and tea parties too!

Our plan was to have the affair outside in our backyard.  But as the big day approached, our Florida weather was not cooperating.  I didn’t want to stress and make changes the night before the party, so we decided about a week out to change our plans and have everything indoors.  It was a bit challenging because our house has a bunch of tiny spaces rather than large rooms, but we made it work by creating separate party centers.  The only thing we had to eliminate was my pretend tea party play area with PINK sand (which was a tough find!), but I got over it.  We were able to create a really cute tea party space which we kept off limits and very “VIP” until it was tea time.  That was super fun.

Here’s the tea party set up in our dining room.  We had to move all the furniture out and we ordered a long kids table and small chairs from a local party rental company.  We kept the piano in place because 1. It was impossible to move and 2. It added a cute background feel and was the perfect spot for Annabel to display her three favorite Hello Kitty dolls.  I ordered the adorable banner from Etsy.  I love supporting home-based businesses and they have the best custom banners around.

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My new favorite flower arrangements are colorful carnations in mason jars, so I put those on the lace table runner.  I also placed tumblers filled with baby’s breath flowers all around to add to the tea party “lace” feel. The party colors were light pink, bright pink, yellow, and splashes of turquoise.  I picked up the paper party supplies at Party City.  I usually shy away from the “themed” paper products and instead buy everything in the party colors and just use the theme (Hello Kitty, Tea Party) as accent decor.

The side room was set up for all the moms to watch the tea party while they enjoyed a special “Moms buffet” of pasta salad, green salad, cheeses, and raw veggies.  The girls’ tea party menu included: Peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches cut into mini hearts, turkey and cheese sandwiches cut into mini triangles, mini chocolate chip and blueberry muffins, fruit cups, apple slices, mini sugar cookies with pink sprinkles, white chocolate covered strawberries with pink sprinkles, and strawberry cupcakes as the birthday finale.

We also had colorful cups of pretzels and pink popcorn (bubblegum and watermelon flavored from our local gourmet popcorn shop) as snacks before the tea party.   The drinks were pink lemonade and water for the girls and iced tea for the moms.

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Our four party centers were Hello Kitty face painting where the girls could choose a Hello Kitty design on their face or a glitter tattoo for their arm, a craft table with Hello Kitty bead necklaces and wooden picture frames, an “Annabel’s Dance Party” karaoke space with dress-up, and a Hello Kitty coloring table.  I recruited my two babysitters to help with the centers which was key for me to enjoy the party and socialize with the moms and girls.  Annabel was so excited when her friends arrived.  They were greeted by a special Hello Kitty wreath on the front door and then they jumped right into the fun.

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We then played “Pin the Bow on Hello Kitty,” “Musical Chairs,” and “Freeze Dance” before we lined up the girls for the tea party.

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The girls found their seats by looking for the pink Hello Kitty with their name tag.  Each place setting had a tea party tiara, a napkin with a tea party ring, and a real china tea cup for the blueberry tea – Annabel’s favorite.

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At the end of the tea party, I gave the girls cupcake sticker sheets to play with while we wrapped up their Hello Kitty dolls and tea cups to take home in personalized white craft paper goody bags.  The goody bags also had a Hello Kitty sticker sheet, pink lollipop, and any other sweet treats they wanted to take home from the party.

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Annabel had a blast.  It was a little strange not to have her big brother at the party, but he was upstairs with his good buddy having a fabulous “boys time” in our playroom.  Daniel was thrilled to help Annabel open up all her presents and play with all her cool art gifts after everyone had left.  It was an awesome day.

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You can see Annabel’s 4th Birthday Shabby Chic Pony Party HERE.

Merry Christmas ’12

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!  May God bless us all.  Enjoy every moment.

– Pam

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Blessed

This is the word I am using to describe EVERYTHING now.  I’m so blessed.  You’re so blessed.  We’re so blessed.  My kids finished up their short week with Christmas parties and lunches.  Today was a half day and all the students gathered to watch my son’s Kindergarten class perform a nativity play.   Both my kids have amazing teachers and I’m in love with their school. Now we’re on Christmas break and the house is filled with laughter and crazy energy.

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Happiness is a Store-Bought Cookie

Oh my goodness. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in all this holiday “hustle and bustle.” I love Christmas. I love the spirit of Christmas.  But I tend to stress over the details and that always takes away some of the enjoyment.  We have to get to the store today to get this toy before it’s gone! We have to get the Christmas card photo done NOW or they will never get out in time!  We need to make a list of teacher gifts! And on and on.  I decided yesterday that I’m officially relieving myself of the traditional duty of baking Christmas cookies.  This is HUGE for me.  I don’t like to give up.  But cooking and baking are not my “thing.” The worst part? I just don’t enjoy it.  The thought of filling the kitchen with lovely smells of sugar and spice as carols fill the air sounds really cool and all, but it never turns out that way.  I will get frustrated and grumpy and no one has any fun.  And the cookies never taste that great.  So I’ve decided to have the kids pick out their favorite Whole Foods bakery cookies on Christmas Eve and that will be our new family tradition.  (They are soooo yummy.)

I think because I love Christmas so much I feel a need to make everything perfect.  I want the perfect advent/countdown calendar.  I tape every holiday TV special and I will beat myself up if I miss one.  I will analyze the stocking stuffers to make sure I have the right amount and they all have some special meaning.  I want everyone to have their perfect Santa visit outfit, Christmas Eve outfit, and Christmas Day outfit.  I want the Santa cookie jar filled with lots of homemade goodies.  It’s all motivated by me wanting to give my children perfect Christmas memories.  But I’ve finally realized that if I don’t stop for a second, I’ll miss the memories I’m trying to create.  And what’s perfect even mean?

This was the first year I did not venture out on Black Friday and I was so happy with that decision.  Rather than spinning in circles at the shopping mall, I was relaxing on the couch with my family.  We talked and played games.  We watched a movie.  It was worth so much more than a discount I would have received on something at the Disney Store.

I’m Daniel’s room mom and I’ve been stressing about the costumes for his Christmas play.  I had to cut head and arm holes into tons of pillowcases and I worry that some are off-center or too jaggedy.  But then I thought about it.  The kids are so excited for the play.  The teachers can’t wait for the parents to see it.  And no one will even notice a not-so-perfect costume.  I should feel blessed to spend so much time in my son’s classroom.  Today I got a special “sneak peek” at one of the Christmas presents for the Moms.  I watched Daniel play with his buddies and make a LEGO rocket ship.   He loves when I’m there.  That’s all that matters.

I took Annabel to her dance class yesterday so she could rehearse for the Christmas recital.  I usually sit there with my iPhone and my Kindle getting work done or catching up on a new book.  (Right now I’m reading Rob Lowe’s autobiography and it’s awesome.)  But then something just shook me.  I just stopped and looked up.

My little girl was dancing.  She was twirling in circles and giggling with her friends.  She was following her teacher’s moves by looking in the mirror over my head.  I was mesmerized by her concentration and by that look of innocent joy.  She was in the moment.  I put everything away and just enjoyed her.  I felt my eyes well up and I’m sure the other Moms were wondering why I was so emotional.  I just felt so overwhelmed by the moment.  THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT, I thought.  Don’t forget THIS.

So I’m declaring here and now that I will no longer spend my holiday time stressing about a teacher gift, a party dress, or that toy I didn’t buy yet.  It’s not worth it.  I’d much rather be with my family.  In the moment.  Eating a store-bought cookie.

Thanksgiving ’12

Thank you to my friend who posted this quote on Facebook yesterday.  “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more…”  I am grateful for my healthy and happy family, my good friends (new and old), and the amazing feast my hubbie makes every year.  (I’m also thankful I did NOT go Black Friday shopping.  Cheers to drinking pumpkin coffee and watching The Today Show on the cozy couch with my family.)

Thanksgiving ’11

Thanksgiving ’10

Thanksgiving ’09

Happy Halloween ’12

Happy Halloween from our silly family to yours.  I hope you’re sitting down with a glass of wine and a Milky Way bar.  Just like me.  (Okay.  Maybe two Milky Way bars. YUM.)