This past weekend, as a thank you for doing such a good job for helping both Ben and me execute surprises this past week, we busted out these cool Huzi Design Cars and gave them to the girls. Oh my gosh… they went wild for the cars! Huzi makes these wooden cars, painted in chalkboard paint, and they come with a little packet of chalk (and an eraser). The girls spent all day decorating the cars and playing with them. The body (top/chalkboard part of the car) magnetically snaps together to the base/wheels. We have 4 cars, but there’s only one set of wheels per box (a box has two car bodies), so they had to take turns; they mostly did a good job of sharing. They creatively figured out other ways to play with them when someone else had the wheels.
I was out doing errands and Ben would text me about all the different types of designs they would draw on the cars. I think the popular one was a van that delivered fresh bread. And as you can see above, they took tape and made roads all over the place! They really played with the cars all day long. It was funny, as I would just walk through doing this or that around the house, and if I ended up on one of their roads, they would say, “Don’t walk in the middle of the road Mommy!” Between these roads, and the designs from this day, I’m pretty much all out of tape. I’m glad it’s going to good use that keeps them engaged and let’s them be creative. Now that I think of it, I probably should add that to their stockings for Christmas!
We have the “Dream Car – Adventurous” and the “Dream Car-Classic,” and now they are lobbying for the other two sets… too bad they didn’t put it on their Christmas list. I love toys like this that really encourage creativity and are well-designed.
This is how we put together the castle for Soul’s princess party. Ben created the frame by using PVC pipes we already had. I simply covered it with my massive roll of craft paper (I use it for so many things!) and affixed it on with packaging tape. I cut out the two, top front panels in the shape of a tower, and then I painted on a brick pattern all throughout the exterior (excluding the back and right side) and interior.
I originally wanted to make it out of cardboard boxes (inspired by this) and make them slot together, similar to the cardboard dollhouse, but we didn’t have boxes large enough. Also, I was too pressed for time to figure that out (that’s what happens when I have two December birthdays to prepare for on top of Christmas!). I told Ben what I was visualizing and I let him come up with the frame. Thus, he came up with the skeleton, and I added the meat. We like to tag team on projects like that often. Usually though, I do the skeleton and he adds the substance, but this time it was at the other way around. *high-five Ben!*
I did see this cool medieval castle playhouse, and this coloring castle, or this life-size fairy castle, or even this discovery play castle. In the end though, none of them were quite large enough to have them have a party inside the castle, so we made our own. But I just came across this carriage, and had I seen that early enough, I might have gotten that to add to our castle. Everything worked out wonderfully and if you saw her party post, you know Soul loved her castle! The only bummer part is that when I moved my fiddle leaf fig tree, I didn’t realize there was sitting water in the saucer. I’m guessing somehow it leaked out because there was a big puddle on the wood floor, which I didn’t see until after the party was over, and well now, we have a a couple really warped planks. Oye vey!
Last year, she requested a “fancy party,” so that’s what we did and Ben was the butler. I thought for sure she would want a hotel birthday since that’s what all her sisters got this year, but she said she just wanted to go to a hotel to swim and not sleep there. Then, since she had a swim class scheduled on her birthday, she said she didn’t need a hotel. HA! So the request changed to a princess party at home.
While Ben was chauffeuring the girls to classes and errands during the day, I was able to put the meat on the castle’s bones, so to speak, as well as prepare the party table. Soul saw the castle’s frame in the morning, but when they’d pop in and out throughout the day, Soul could see her princess dreams come to life; it was neat to see her light up with excitement. Ben even took her to a local bakery to pick out a cake, so she was quite happy to be in charge of that. She picked one that looked fit for royalty!
It was just a small list of princesses invited… her sisters and a neighborhood friend. Soul was dubbed Princess Soul-fia by True (that was very clever of her), and wore this dress. Brave was Merida and Glow was the Swan Princess, and both chose to wear Misha Lulu dresses we already had (okay, I gave Glow two choices and she picked this one). True was Queen Elsa and wore the Elsa costume we had. Their friend came over decked out in beautiful sequined dress, and Ben and I had five little princesses to attend to.
They participated in a couple crafts, played some games that True and Brave made, sang Disney Princess songs, and we served them dinner. And of course, when fancy glassware is involved, there must be a toast. Soul was itching to open up her presents; we got her two coloring books, and the sisters made a whole lot of handmade presents. Then last, but certainly not least, came the moment she was waiting for… cake! We had a couple rounds of singing and then the girls had a few rounds of cake.
It was a delightful evening being able to spoil one of our little princesses. Her glee all day long made Ben and I so happy. I can’t believe she’s 5! We love this feisty girl of ours. If you want to see how we did the castle frame, I’ll have another post for you soon.
I’m not very good at doing an advent calendar or countdown. Every year, I make an attempt and make something for it, but most days, I end up dropping the ball on it. We’ve made this tear-off calendar in the past, but doing a daily thing is hard (at least for us). I didn’t plan to do one this year at all, but Ben took the initiative and got the book Prepare Him Room and has leading our family worship a few times a week in preparation for the arrival of Christmas. Whew! A 2-3 times a week is much easier to handle than the pressure of doing an activity everyday, and this way, we are able to really reflect on why we celebrate Christmas.
The first project in the book was to make an advent wreath, but we didn’t follow their directions exactly. Instead, I went to Lowes and picked up discarded Christmas tree branches, and wrapped them into a wreath with floral wire. Then, I inserted four wooden candle holders into the wreath and secured them on with more floral wire. Voila! It’s also a nice centerpiece to our dining table.
Are you pretty good at advent activities? Or are you not so good like me?
One of my most favorite things to sew are my dollhouse pillows. This is my first one ever and it’s still getting a lot of love today. It looks pretty worn because it’s been played with and loved so much! In my book, Let’s Sew Together, I give full instructions on how to make a dollhouse pillow that opens up! It’s one of the “take your time” projects in the book, but it’s really such a labor of love your child will treasure.
I shared a simpler version of my dollhouse pillow on A Beautiful Mess, so if you still need a couple ideas of Christmas presents to make, you might want to consider making one these. Get the full instructions here. Also, if you want to see some of my other contributions to ABM, check out the full list here.
We had such a lovely day celebrating Ben’s 40th birthday yesterday, and what I thought was going to be all about him, there ended up being a surprise for me too (I share a bit about it here). That man of mine is something else!