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?
Soul had the traditional birthday breakfast in bed. Her request? Pumpkin waffles. We all came in singing to her, and she had the sweetest smile. You could tell she was eagerly anticipating this moment of hers. Ben made her an Olaf from mushrooms (he forgot Olaf’s hair) and she was delighted to have her own stack of waffles topped with cream and syrup. She was also crowned by her sisters as Princess Soul-fia for the day (Sophia the First is one of her favorties)! True was the clever one to think of “Soul-fia.”
The girls made her many handmade presents. We were so impressed with all the stick puppets True made her, and the paper dolls from Brave. Seriously, these big sisters of hers are full of so much creativity. Since her request was to be a princess for her birthday, we gave her two princessy outfits (this and this one from fab kids), and allowed her to have multiple outfit changes just for her special day. She loves to change multiple times a day regularly, but that isn’t allowed, and I often make her change back to her original outfit. On this special day though, she was free to switch out her dresses as she pleased. I don’t care much for the frou frou type dresses, but she loves it, so frou frou it is!
They had swim and dance that day, so Ben played chauffeur, while I got things ready for her birthday lunch and party in the evening. She requested to have langostino sopes for lunch, so that’s what I made. Well, when it came time to sit down all together for lunch, she had two bites, and then asked to be excused! I was like, “WHAT?!” I think her excitement over the day, just made her lose her appetite. Oh well, at least the rest of us enjoyed it!
I have another post to share about the little princess party we threw for her in the evening, but you can get a peek at it here. On her birthday, she told me, “Mommy, I feel like a real princess!” That made my heart happy.
This was our first mini Thanksgiving feast with just the six of us. Hopefully, we can start a new tradition of doing a mini feast on Thanksgiving Eve because Thanksgiving Day is spent with Ben’s family for lunch, and mine for dinner. While I cooked and prepped, the girls got the table ready with place cards and notes. Their thank you notes were so sweet. To decorate, they just gathered whatever fall-ish decor I had around the house and put it all over the table.
I’m not brave enough to attempt a whole turkey, so I used this turkey breast crockpot recipe, this stuffing, and we did the Brussels sprouts recipe that’s in my book. Of course, we also had mashed potatoes and gravy, and pies! It was all your traditional things made as healthy as possible, so that means whole wheat stuffing, lean sausage, no butter in potatoes, and lightened up pies. There were a couple rounds of toasts, as the girls loved drinking sparkling lemonade (they rarely get juice), while Ben and I sipped on a Santa Margherita Prosecco. It was nice to be able to take some time to celebrate a day of Thanksgiving with the six of us.
Somewhere along the evening, the girls were so excited and crazy (in a good way) and they started their own mosh pit. I don’t even remember where that came from, but all of a sudden, the four of them were jumping and bouncing around in a corner together laughing and yelling. Ben and I were just laughing at how silly they were, and as much as they drive me nuts, I know I have lots to be thankful for.
Last year, the two older girls had lockets on their Christmas wish list. I found these two sweet lockets from Jean Jean Vintage, one of my favorite vintage jewelry shops, and they are so teeny tiny, but perfect lockets for little ones. I did some searching for a book to go with it, and found The Magic Locket (no longer in print) and bought it used to accompany their gifts. This was one of their favorite gifts last year that they took good care of and still love this year. Jean Jean Vintage is also a current sponsor and she’s having a 15% sale off all items this weekend, so if you’re eyeing something, right now’s the weekend to scoop it up.
Our Glow loves softies, so I got her this Misha Doll last year to accompany the Nino Ponte she already had. Glow’s a softie hoarder! You should see her bed, it’s 3/4 filled with softies! Animal ones are her faves, and she calls them all her “babies.”
Last year, Santa brought this Build Your Own City set to the girls when we were in Texas. As you probably realize from reading this blog, we love making dollhouses, so this colorful slotted style is another fave. It’s easy to put away and store and put together when they want to make a village for their mini My Little Ponies. Usually, most of their toy requests revolve around things for their My Little Ponies.
We’re pretty much done with all the gifts we need for the girls. We try to get them a book of sorts (the big girls requested 2015 planners), and maybe two things from their list, plus one big ticket community item from Santa. The two older girls have some handmade gift requests, so I’m going to need to find time to make these things happen. Basically, the things on their list are simple items like coloring and sticker books, craft projects, and handmade gifts (apparently, they think I can make everything), so we might have splurged on their community gifts a bit. They wanted this camper play tent (they saw it in the catalog when it came in the mail), so while I want to try my hand at making one for them, we bought it as backup in case I ran out of time.
One of the not-so-simple-requests True had on her list was “to own Disneyland.” Definitely can’t make that happen, but yeah a camper tent is much more doable. How do you handle Christmas gifts for little ones? I know there’s the wear, read, play route, but my kids aren’t into requesting clothing items just yet, nor do they need anything in particular, so that guideline doesn’t typically work for us.