Ella Leigh This is Five! Tour {5th birthday party}

I have a five year old! That statement never gets easier to say. 
My five year old has ALWAYS been a performer. So it was no surprise that she wanted to have a superstar party. Well, it started with "I want a Justin Bieber party!" then, "I want a Katy Perry party!" and ultimately she landed on the theme of pitch perfect (which I was completely stumped on how to turn into a party appropriate for a 5 year old). We sort of stirred all those ideas together and out came the party below :)

 Invitations went out as VIP passes, with the party info on the back. I thought it was so cute that some of the girls showed up and handed me their passes. Maybe we should have had someone standing out front checking to see if they were on the list, hehe.

At the entrance we set up a pink carpet photo op. I created the backdrop in photoshop and printed out huge copies at stapes. Worked perfectly.
We had fun posing for the paparazzi!
We also had a little autograph station for the kids to leave Ella little birthday wishes.
I just couldn't resist wrapping her gift in this Justin Biber paper, haha!

I felt that the decor sort of fell flat this party, and I blame the flu! I had all these ideas and intentions that were supposed to come to life the week of her party.
Then I was knocked on my back with the nastiest flu ever! Yuck. I am amazed her party even happened at all with how sick we all started out the week.
I had to scrap so many plans- like making her cake as I usually do. 

Originally we asked Ella what she wanted in her "VIP Lounge", but my energy was too shot from the flu to make everything we had planned.
We ended up just buying all the food. I guess sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do! We had pizza, fruit, salad, and a bunch of little snacks and candy. 
I some how managed to make cake pops, so I guess I wasn't a complete bust! 

We got a bunch of fun hats, boas, and other accessories for the kids to glam up with. 
Ella picked the cool headset microphones for everyone- so much easier to dance AND sing with ;)

We also set up a little glam station where the kids could get glitter tattoos and hair chalk, SO fun! 
Ella was super excited about recording a song to include on the mix cds that we put in the "swag bags" for all her friends. I was impressed with her ability to learn all the words (we did have to edit the rap part though, haha). You can listen to that song HERE if you'd like.

Ella had SO much fun dancing and singing with all her friends. She was totally in her element, and we loved watching her and the other kids just laugh and entertain us all!

I'm totally still in denial that my little lady is 5 now. But, she is quite certainly the most amazing little 5 year old I know! I love her silly and charming personality. I love hearing her sweet little voice singing loudly all day long. I love watching her innovative dance moves. And I am so impressed with her ability to put it all together.
Never a dull moment with this girl!

We so love our little Ella Leigh!
Thank you for making her party so special, once again.
We love these times of celebration when we get to watch our kids have the time of their lives!
We thank you for sharing the day with us, 
and to those far away we hope this makes you feel a little like you were there!

Fordy's roundup party!

His favorite movie is Toy Story, all of the Toy Story movies actually. And he especially LOVES Woody. So, this was his "woody party". It started with that, and it became Fordy's Roundup. 

This party was fully Woody inspired. I zoned in on Toy Story 2; the story of Woody's roundup. I also fixated on the idea of a midway carnival, like the ride at California Adventure. 
When all was said and done I was completely in love with the outcome!

The guests were greeted with an opportunity to gear up in Woody attire.

The kids were also given tickets to use at Fordy's midway carnival

Devon and I made all the games using mostly recycled materials. We wanted a really rusticy- vintage looking carnival, and I think it came out super cute! We stuck to the classic games; fishbowl toss, knock 'em down, ring toss, beanbag toss, and balloon pop (using sticky darts).

With their winning tickets the kids were able to visit "Al's Toy Barn" and cash in on some fun prizes!

I had the idea to let the kids make potato heads on their goodie bags, which I thought was a really clever idea. But, in all the party fun it was sort of lost in translation and a lot of the kids created more of a puppet-type potato head- which was adorable but not super practical for goodie bags. In retrospect, I would have offered another bag for their prizes so they could keep their puppets in tact. 

I was really happy with how adorable his cake turned out, especially because it was so simple!

For food there was no other option then PIZZA PLANET! This was a lot of fun to create.
I especially loved the little alien dudes ;)

And outside, we had a jolly jumper because... why not?! This has sort of become a tradition for the 2nd birthday. It's kind of that age when the kids really want to play in the jumper, but they are still a little too small to go in at other parties. So, they get one at their party and they can play in it all day- and that's exactly what he did!

We ate pizza. We played carnival games. We jumped, jumped, and jumped some more. 
This party was just so much fun! It was really casual, and laid back. The weather was great. The party guests were great. We just had a really good time, and our little buckaroo had a great party day!

I can't believe this guy is two! 
Thank you for joining us in celebrating him, and making his party such a success!
We missed those of you who couldn't be there, and hope this post helps you feel a little included!

Once upon a time there was a princess party.

someone asked me how long I'd been planning this party. In all honestly I responded, "since the day I found out I was having a girl!" The princess party. Oh, the princess party. My little lady has been wanting a princess party since her 2nd birthday [okay, okay that was only 2 years ago but still, in kid time that's a while]. I wanted to wait until I knew she could fully experience the princessness, until there was a chance she'd remember it, even if only glimpses of the day. 
I think four was the perfect time for the princess party.
The invites were a last minute, "I need to get them out like today!" kinda thing. They turned out so much cuter than I thought they would. Bonus, when I went to staples to print them the lady brought out this fabulous textured paper that really pulled it all together.

We filled the place with pink, and tulle, and sparkle! There were princess dresses, from Ella's collection, hung on the walls. Music from every Disney princess movie played in the background. The table was set with adorable place cards, and doilies under pink plates. I came across the cutest idea to use a child's bracelet as a napkin holder, on pinterest of course, so I incorporated that by using plastic pearl necklaces the I had originally planned to throw in the goodie bags-  I love things with multiple purposes! My grandma is an avid tea enthusiast, and she was generous {and brave} enough to lend us real china tea cups, and adorable little tea pots for the girls to use. They really completed the look too!

The girls arrived dressed in princess attire, which I just loved! Before tea time they decorated fancy princess party hats. They colored the walls of "Ella's enchanted castle". They read books in "Belle's storytime corner". And of course, the visited the "bibbidi bobbidi boutique" {a mimic of the one in Disneyland} where they had their hair & makeup done.

The girls found their place at the table and enjoyed yummy tea sandwiches, simple salads and fruit. I put out fruit teas, but my Ella was the only girl to actually request tea. That changed later in the day, after the sugar cubes were discovered.  I credit my tea loving grandma with Ella's unusual {for an American girl} knowledge of tea, it's very cute.

A party wouldn't be complete without games, in my opinion. I always loved that part of a party when I was a kid. The girls gathered around for a princess twist on the classic "hot potato"- pass the poisonous apple. Afterwards we played, "kiss the frog prince"- a game I created using cut outs of cute little frogs adorning crowns, one of which had a prince on the back. The girls all chose a frog, and held it in their hands until it was time to KISS them. After they kissed their frogs they flipped them over to reveal who's frog had turned into a prince. It worked out perfectly! Lastly, by Ella's request, we had an archery challenge- in honor of Brave of course! That was a lot of fun!

This was the first party that I left out one common little party guest- candy! I wasn't trying to, but it just didn't fit in. I wasn't feeling the love on a pinata, dainty tea cups and smashing just didn't mesh to me. And because I was already doing a sweets bar, I didn't feel right about adding a candy bar. It wasn't missed, in my opinion.

This was also the first year that I didn't personally make Ella's cake, that was a little sad to me. I put my focus on all the teeny little treats and just let Vons make her a small cake that we could stick a candle in for singing. Actually, I really loved that little Vons cake- the look, not so much the taste. Cinderella is my very favorite princess, and most of the time she is Ella's favorite too! A few of the girls joined Ella in devouring her little cake, while the others visited the dessert bar and indulged in tasty little mini treats. At the end of the party the girls pranced off with lovely little princess totes carrying fun little makeup kits, princess stickers and a ring pop- I guess I did sneak some candy in!
The day was so magical, it was so perfectly princess. I loved every moment.
Ella would live in that day forever if she could.

Parties are so special to me. Watching the kids smile, and laugh, and run excitedly from one activity to the next brings me so much joy!
Having family and friends come spend their day with us, celebrating our little lady, overwhelms my heart.
We are so blessed. I thank God every day for the wonderful people we have in our lives, and the opportunities we have to enjoy them.

With all our hearts we want to thank everyone that was able to attend, 
and those who sent their love from afar. 
We love you all!

fabulously four!

this post is long overdue, but "better late than never" seems to be my theme these days. I feel slightly justified, or excused, because I haven't had a break in special occasions in the past six months [no exaggerating]. Ella's birthday is the final shebang, for a while. Okay, on with the show...

My little lady is four. Her birthdays are always sentimental for me. Even now, though I've gotten over it, reflecting on her birthday is bring up my usual emotions. sigh. 
She had the best birthday! I think having your birthday fall on a Sunday is like the BEST deal. It always becomes a birthday weekend, and that is exactly what happened here. On Friday she had her [first ever] school party. She got to choose the lunch menu, and a treat: mac & cheese followed by cake AND ice cream. She was excited to bring treats to her friends. She was eager to finally be the birthday girl. She wore a tiara to school.

Saturday was her princess party. That post will follow shortly.

Sunday, her actual birthday, was HER day. After church, and an unexpected trip to Burbank to visit grandma Dorothy in the hospital, Ella got to direct the entire day. She wanted Mac & cheese for lunch, surprise, surprise. We stopped for lunch at Bucca di Beppo on our way back in to town. There was a toys "r" us in the same shopping center, and she had a gift card, so we perused the toys and allowed her to pick out something that she just had to have. She chose a princess Merida doll, her current favorite. I'm certain she loves her for her sense of adventure, and wild hair.

In the weeks leading up to her birthday Ella started asking if she could get her ears pierced. We had many, many, many talks about how it was going to hurt. We told her she'd have to be very brave. She was persistent, and insistent that she could handle it. So, after the toy store it was off to get her ears pieced. I had researched my way away from taking her to a mall piercer using a piercing gun, ya know the easy way- where they do both at once. I almost regretted my decision. Going to a professional body piercer is a much safer, cleaner way to pierce BUT, it's definitely less kid friendly. The lady was very sweet with Ella, she just had to go one at a time on the ears, and it's a little longer process. Ella deserves all the earrings she wants for braving through that. Of course there were tears, and like I said, there was a moment where I was wishing we had just gone to piercing pagoda and let them do both at once. I was certain she would not be getting back up on the bench to have the second ear done. Surprisingly, after a little reassuring, and an earring in daddy's ear, she climbed back up and allowed the lady to pierce the second ear. She's amazing. I was incredibly proud of her for facing her fear and braving though it. 

So, with a belly full of mac & cheese, a new princess doll, and blinging pierced ears, it was off to indulge in any birthday treat she wanted. Lucky me, she chose coldstone, mmmm I love ice cream!

It was such a great little Ella day. Sometimes you just have to put the entire focus on your child, and just say yes! to [almost] everything, that's what birthdays are for! 

Little lady is four now. It seems that four means non-stop talking. She's always been a talker but this, oh this is different. This is from the moment her eyes open in the morning until they close at night.  It's questions, and tons of "do you know what?!"s. Four is a new adventure, and I'm so thrilled to be experiencing it through this girl. She is my heart. She is incredible. She is sweet, and helpful, and silly, and loving, and carefree. She is independent, and strong willed, and way too smart for her own good. She is still my little performer, a natural born entertainer. She is insightful, and understanding. She is daddy's girl, and the most wonderful big sister in the world. She started our family, and she has lead us to an amazing place. 
happy birthday, my baby love.

happy birthday, little dude.

He is our little dude and this was his "little dude" party.

It was greens and blues and oceany hues [should I do this whole post in rhymes?? haha]
We incorporated turtles, because he's our little turtle man. Ella helped me make the turtles and jelly fish from paper bowls. Devon brought out his collection of surfboards that his dad made, plus the wooden beauty he created. I even made a shark pinata [I may recommend just buying one, it's a long process to create a pinata!]

We hung up life sized prints of our guy on a surf board, from the photoshoot we did for his invite.
And this here was one of my favorite elements-

Three generations of surfers. The first photo is Devon's dad [our Clifford's namesake], second photo is Devon, and last is little Clifford. 
Another of my favorites is something I think I will try to carry on with all my kids' parties. It was a moment of genius, at least I think so. I am seriously the worst at printing photos and consequently I get a lot of guilt from everyone about not having photos of the kids. [Seriously, it's hard enough to back everything up once in a while let alone upload stuff and send it off to be printed out.] So, I was like hey! I've got it! I will just print up a bunch of random photos from the year and throw them in a box for everyone to go through and take what they'd like! It was a success! 

I went the simple route with his cake, and I loved it. I went through so many photos of options for cool surfer cakes and then Devon found this totally cheezy 1980's looking cake topper that he just HAD to have and I was like, "what the heck am I supposed to do with that?!" So, I just let it be the star of the show and I was pleased with the result. Plus, I saved literally hours of fooling around with fondant- win!

 Okay, the food. The most important part, right?!
The "kids" options were super easy to figure out: peanut butter & jellyfish, seashells and cheese, and goldfish crackers. I think these options were a bigger hit with the adults and we definitely could have gotten away with just these items on the menu. But, one night I mentioned the idea of doing fish tacos and Devon latched on to it. They were delicious. He grilled the fish with just a little chile lime seasoning from our friends' restaurant [Spencer Makenzies]. He's always happiest standing at a grill.

I set up this little station for the kids to decorate their pinata bags with cute little oceany stamps. [That is Devon's redwood board there in the back]. We also had a fun little water table "tide pool", a sand station, and lots of bubbles outside. We failed to get photos of that stuff. We were blessed with gorgeous weather so the kids really got to enjoy those activities, so fun! 

Devon also made this awesome surfer photo station. I can remember taking photos in this thing but I can't seem to find a single one with a person in it, so weird! 

Games are always one of my favorite challenges. I struggled this year with coming up with "surfer" themed games but the end results were pretty good. We had a "turtle crawl" race, a nod to our little turtle man of course. We had a seashell search- I marked a seashell with a number 1 (it was a first birthday after all) and then buried it along with a bag full of other shells. The kids dug around in the sand until the "one" was found. We also played pin the surfer on the wave. 

Clifford spent most of the party with his favorite person on earth, my dad. He even helped him hit a pinata for the first time! Clifford did a pretty good job whacking the shark.

By cake time this kid was spent! He didn't have the best nap in the morning and and his little body just couldn't handle all the excitement. He had a couple little bites of cake and proceeded to melt down. I took him out of the room and he passed out in no time at all.

When he woke up the party was over.  The kids went home with these cute little beach buckets filled with shark tooth necklaces, sunglasses, little turtles and other fun oceany treats.  
We opened his gifts later that night. Here is that cute little "Ricky Ricardo" drum I was talking about, isn't it adorable?! I just love watching him walk up to it and do his babalu. Ella got a special "big sister" present to thank her for being so good to Clifford throughout his first year. She was very excited about this! One of our friends had this idea too, she was thrilled to get two presents on her brothers birthday!

Because everyone left before he opened his gifts I promised people I would post pictures of what he got. My goodness I never imagined how much stuff he would get! 

After setting it all up and snapping the photo I started my attempt at putting it all away and then found these other things hidden behind some stuff. I didn't want the people who gave them to him to feel left out, so they got their own photo ;)

And, when Ella saw brother getting a photo with all of his gifts she insisted on having one taken as well...
Silly little lady.

We are so grateful to everyone who was able to come for making Clifford's first birthday party such a huge success. 
We missed those of you who couldn't be there, and hope reading this helped you feel a little more included. 
We love you all and look forward to many, MANY more parties :D