Not my problem…

It’s been entirely too long since I sat down to put my thoughts and ramblings into words for this blog.  Life in the Latch home is extremely hectic with school activities, sports, running my photography business, and my husband’s hotshot company.  Seems like there’s always something to be done and very little time for anything extra.

I wanted to touch bases with you on a subject that’s been weighing on me for quite some time now.  I may even rant a little bit, forgive me.  I want you to for a moment consider the biggest problem in life right now.  Now, I want you to consider the biggest problems of others in the world for a minute.  How do your biggest problems stack up to those of the world?  We spend a lot of time dwelling on issues that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things and completely neglect some real BIG problems facing those around us.  We forget to be grateful for what we have because what we don’t have clouds our judgement.  We live in a constant state of oblivion to our fellow man. We don’t concern ourselves for others because their issues are NOT OUR PROBLEM!  We’ve become a culture that completely lacks empathy for others.  We sit in our little box casting judgement on everyone, focusing on the mundane day to day of our sheltered lives, and complaining about what is wrong with the world.  News flash!  WE are what’s wrong with the world!  If you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem!

Did you know that 1 in 4 children suffers from malnutrition worldwide?  Probably not because it’s not your problem.  Here’s something you may not know, according to dosomething.org, 1 in 6 people in America suffer from hunger.  Let’s think about that for a second.  Envision your 6 closest friends.  Now imagine that 1 of them doesn’t have the food they need to thrive.  Hits a little closer to home doesn’t it?  If you knew your neighbor didn’t have enough resources to properly nourish their children, would you step in to help?  Imagine the desperation those parents must feel.   When was the last time you were really hungry?  We joke and say we’re hangry when we haven’t eaten for a few hours but we don’t stop to consider that there are children across the world, across the nation, and even in our very own backyard who haven’t eaten in days!  It’s not our problem right?  But, what if it were you?  Would you want someone else to make it their problem and step up to help you out.  To help your kids get the nourishment they so desperately need?

There’s the man who got laid off and is searching for a job but can’t seem to find one.  He’s working odd jobs to pay the bills but it’s not enough.  He can’t provide for his family, not for lack of trying, but it’s not your problem.  The kid on the baseball team who has a single mom trying her hardest to get him where he needs to be because even though she’s run completely ragged, she doesn’t want him to miss out on anything.  She can’t drive him to practice sometimes because of work so he walks, sometimes miles to get there but that’s not your problem.  The teenage girl who so desperately seeks the attention of every male she meets because nobody taught her she’s beautiful, loved, and cherished.  She finds herself a mother when she too is just a child and she needs help desperately.  She needs to feel loved and worthy of real love desperately but that’s not your problem!

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement.  I think a lot of us who are not black, don’t fully grasp the concept that racism is alive and thriving in our own backyard.  Why?  Because it’s “not our problem“.  It doesn’t directly affect us and our family and thus we turn a blind eye to the fact that it actually IS a problem for someone.  It’s a very real problem for our neighbors, co-workers, friends, and our children’s schoolmates.  Don’t believe me?   I have a very good long time friend who happens to be black.  Yesterday, as her children rode the bus to school, a white kid pulled a knife out on her daughter and threatened to stab her, her brother, and the other black children on the bus.  Yes, but you’re right, racism no longer exists here.  I’m absolutely shaking with anger and frustration for her family even as I type this.  As much as I want to get my belt after the behind of that child on the bus, I want to ring the neck of his parents even more because Racism is a learned behavior.  Do all lives matter?  Absolutely!  Are we saying by supporting Black Lives Matter that we don’t believe that ALL lives matter?  Absolutely not, but let’s get real honest, when was the last time your life was threatened or your intentions questioned for strolling through your neighborhood at night just because of the color of your skin?

My point is, be a part of the solution!  You can’t solve all the world’s problems, but you can certainly help with some.  The bible tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Are you truly loving others as you love yourself?  Because loving others fully sometimes requires taking their problems and making them our own.  Working together to find solutions instead of creating more division.  If you see someone that needs help, roll your sleeves up and get in there to help!  If we aren’t helping those with needs big or small, and we aren’t teaching our children to be a part of the solution, our future is doomed and that IS OUR PROBLEM!

I leave you with a FREE printable to frame for your home and remind you daily to be kind and help others.  It’s formatted to an 8×10 just click the link below the image to download and print.

“Be the change you want to see in the world”-Gandhi

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per·fect

per·fect

having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.

Years ago, when my husband and I were in the midst of some marital turmoil, he confided in a friend that one of our biggest problems was that I was too “perfect”.  The way he said it was insulting rather than a compliment.  When I asked him what exactly that was supposed to mean he said “You’re good at everything and it’s annoying”.  There’s something about that statement that has resounded with me since.  It wasn’t the first time someone had given me a “compliment” like that.  In joking I’ve heard, “you’re the perfect mother”, “you’re the mother I wish I was”, “you’re so good at everything”, “you and Dave are so cute, you’re like the perfect couple”, “you put my project to shame”  Funny, these statements were meant to be compliments, but to me, they magnify all that is imperfect about me.  I think a lot of us feel this pressure partially from society, primarily from ourselves, to be perfect.  I didn’t realize my quest for perfectionism was so annoying but I know I often feel exhausted by it.  I recently posted this photo on my personal instagram & fb pages:

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Sure it was all supposed to be fun and games but it rings incredibly true.  We slap on a cool filter and display the best of us.  We rarely post the “real” us.  We talk about and post the good but not the bad and the ugly.  Sometimes I’m a rockin’ wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend but never am I close to perfect.  In fact, more times than not, I’m completely drowning here!  I know I’m not alone here and I think we should all start being a little more real with one another about it.  I don’t want to dwell on my imperfections or shortcomings but I certainly don’t want to portray a “perfect” life.  Maybe if we all started being a little more real with each other, we may be able to let go of some of the pressures that plague us daily.  This week, I shaved one leg and not the other, was late to church, got into a fight with my husband, yelled at my kids, missed the memo about 1st grade awards and didn’t show up, fed my kids absolute junk food at least 3 out of 7 days, and almost forgot to pick them up from school.  Nobody’s lunches were cut into cute shapes, the grocery store was out of organic 2% so I bought regular, and I didn’t work out once.  I did however plan a camping themed family night complete with a tent in the playroom, an obstacle course, and driveway s’mores which I posted the crap out of.  Betcha didn’t see a single photo of all the things I totally screwed up though did you?  My point?  I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect, we will never be perfect.  The good news is, we don’t have to be perfect, just real and kind to one another.  Lighten up y’all, go easy on yourselves, were all in this together!

Favorite things brunch

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I’ve seen favorite things parties all over pinterest and I had been dying for a reason to throw one for quite some time.  Naturally, when I saw that a ladies brunch group I’m a part of was in need of a May hostess, I jumped at the chance to finally put this together.  The party itself wasn’t super fancy so I wasn’t sure that I was going to share or not, I’m not used to planning adult parties!  I did however, create several printables and I thought someone else may be able to put some of them to use so decided to do a quick share.  Because it’s just a Facebook group I didn’t create tangible invitations but instead opted for a group event page.  The party info read this:

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Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things…

Here’s the skinny, purchase 5 of your favorite things (under $5). This can be anything at all you love! An awesome lipgloss or chapstick, a cool face mask, awesome markers, candy, snack, lotion, you get the idea. When you arrive, you’ll write your name 5 times and place them in a bowl. We will take turns presenting our favorite things and then drawing a name from the bowl to give each one away. By the end, we will each have 5 NEW favorite things!

When guests arrived, they grabbed a plate and piled on the grub and mixed themselves a drink.  I set out grapefruit juice, pineapple juice, orange juice, and orange mango juice with several bottles of champagne for those who wanted mimosas.  I also set out olives, vodka, bloody mary mix, and the fixings for that.  I had water too but not much of that was consumed!  haha

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I didn’t go super crazy with food, I chose mini pancakes with syrup dipping cups, donut holes, sausage balls, cheese, crackers, chips, salsa, and 2 different quiche options.  I was worried it wouldn’t be enough food but we were all pretty stuffed.  It was a pretty cost effective menu.  The donut holes were about $1.50 per dozen at my local donut shop, I got a big bag of pre-made mini pancakes at walmart for under $5, and the little individual containers for the syrup at dollar tree (10/$1).  I made the quiche(s) myself, they’re super easy and delicious!

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I originally set out to order custom cups but couldn’t find them in a small enough quantity (I was only expecting about 10 guests), plus, I was having a hard time committing to a single saying, I thought it would be fun to have different cup options.  The group is called “b!#ches who brunch” (I didn’t name it) and I kinda wanted to incorporate that but the mom in me didn’t want it all over EVERYTHING!  lol  So, instead, I bought cheap clear plastic cups at walmart and a package of round adhesive labels at dollar tree.  I downloaded the template online and used photoshop to add cute little sayings, printed, and stuck right on to the cups.  The girls had fun picking a cup and cute paper straw.  I chose polka dot paper straws with cute little flags to write everyone’s name on so we didn’t get our cups mixed up.

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I set up a separate table with bags for everyone to take home their favorite things and a bowl to put everyone’s name in.  Everyone set their favorite things here when they came in.  When it was time, we took turns standing and presenting our favorite things, then drawing a name and giving that item away.  It was super fun, and we got some great goodies!  I purchased the brown paper bags at michael’s, printed out the label at home, and attached it with glitter washi tape.

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It was a little different planning a party for moms and not kids.  I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I didn’t need to plan a bunch of activities or games!  lol  We just ate, drank, visited, and did lots of laughing.  In addition to the favorite things exchange, I set up a Photo Booth area in the front living room with props.  We may have had a little fun with that too.

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We had lotsa fun, can’t wait to do it again!  I’m going to attach the table decor signs, even a few I didn’t actually end up using.  No sense in them just sitting lonely and un-used on my computer.  Hope you get some use of them!  I don’t ask anything in return but that if you use them, use the hashtag “dysfunctionaldomesticdivablog” when you post to instagram so I can see how you used them!  It’s so fun to see different takes on something!  <3

sipsipsign (This was created to be a 5×7)

dipsign (5×7)

morning mimosa (8×10)

bitchesbrunch (8×10)

boozeless (8×10)

favoritethings (8×10)

mimosa bar (11×14) I had this one printed as a photo by my print company

bag tags (printed as a standard 8.5×11)

brunch cup labels (these were printed on those dollar tree stickers)

I used glue and glitter to make some of the signs sparkle after they were printed, but that’s totally optional.  I got most of the frames I used at dollar tree too.

 

 

 

 

 

Holes in my shoes

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This morning, I woke up ready to take on the day!  Seriously, things were going off without a hitch and we were on time and life was good.  I took the big girls to school and then came home to begin getting A ready.  She looked quite cute in her little ruffled leggings and super sweet twirly dress.  She even picked a cute chunky necklace and a big pink bow to put in her perfectly placed ponytail.  I went to the kitchen to finish making her lunch and told her to put on her shoes and grab her backpack.  She came to me in a bit of a panic because she couldn’t find her folder.  We looked for a bit and then decided maybe one of her sisters had accidentally grabbed it as they all keep their backpacks in the reading nook side by side.  Our folder search ate up any spare time and before I knew it, we were on the verge of running late.   I quickly ushered her into the car and we sped off to school.  Upon arrival, I struggled to help her grab her nap mat, backpack, lunchbox, Ted, and her quest box (why does a 4 year old need this much gear for MDO?!?!?!).  We fought our way up the stairs and into class and her teacher commented on how pretty she looked.  I noticed she had a little breakfast left on her face so ushered her to the sink to wash her face before kissing her to tell her goodbye.  There my perfectly dressed little princess stood before me smiling as I glanced over her to proudly bask in all her head to toe adorableness.  That’s when I noticed it…

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There before me were her big toes gleaming out staring me in the face.  I could immediately feel my smile contort into an open mouthed gaping state of shock.  I froze absolutely horrified and began to panic.  You see these old glittery toms had become her “play shoes”.  She would slip them on and frolic outside to play for hours.  Recently, I had noticed her dragging them along the concrete as she rode her scooter and thus had ripped holes in the toes.  I told her to throw them away and that I would get her a new pair.  I trusted that she had but they’re her favorite shoes all broken in and comfy like that and so I guess she couldn’t bare to see them go.  I began to explain the situation to her teacher and vowed to return shortly with a less beggar looking pair.  I drove home in a hurry eager to grab some decent foot ware and return them to my little darling.

As I left the school for the second time after delivering suitable shoes, something hit me.  I have holes in my shoes too.  Not literally.  Metaphorically speaking.  My life is imperfect.  I often fall short of the mother, the wife, the daughter, sister, friend, and Christaian that I want to be, that I know God wants me to be.  I sin and disobey and cling to things in my life that are broken because they are “comfortable”.  When God tells me, “throw those things out, they are not good for you, I have something better for you”, I ignore him.  I look past those holes because grabbing a hold of something new is scary.  Sometimes new shoes leave blisters until they’re broken in you just have to get through that initial pain before they become your new favorite shoes.  Sometimes it’s easier to put a patch on the holes in those old shoes than it is to risk the blister of the new ones.  But God wants us to have new shoes.  He wants us to be the very best that we can be and he wants us to remember that he’s there with us through that blistery transition period.  I want to encourage you today to look at the holes in your own shoes.  Those broken relationships, that self inflicted criticism, those judgements, those addictions.  Lay that worn down pair of shoes at His feet and exchange them for a shiny new pair.  Exchange them for healing.  Remember, they won’t feel perfect the second you put them on for the first time.  They’ll be stiff and may cause blisters and that’s okay.  It’s just part of the process.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  psalm 147:3

 

 

Moms like me-Lori Latch

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I’ve had this idea in my head for quite sometime and I’ve decided it’s finally time to execute it.  I’ve been long troubled about the pressures we place on ourselves as mothers and the comparison game.  It’s easy to look at someone’s posts on social media and their lives from the outside and think they’ve got it all figured out.  In reality, they’re probably just as lost as the rest of us.  So readers, I introduce to you a new monthly segment called “Moms like me”.  In this segment, I’ll provide a glimpse into the lives of moms who are just like me and you.  Stay at home moms, work from home moms, workforce moms all with 7 plates spinning in the air at once.  Although I’ve got a few willing participants on my list, I’ve decided to start with myself to break the ice.  Yeah, I interviewed myself, because I’m cool like that!  ;)

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Tell us a little about yourself, like the cliff notes version:  Welp, my name is Lorianne Latch but most folks just call me Lori.  I’m a 32 year old Texas gal with a big heart, a deep love for Jesus, and all things artsy.  I’ve been in the photography business for about 6 years now and am still learning more about it every day.  I’ve got a good lookin’ hubby, 3 gorgeous girls, and a rambunctious yorkie poo named Sadie.

What about your other half?  Been married to Dave for going on 8 years now.  He’s truly become my best friend.  We’re pretty much always goofing off and laughing together.
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Let’s meet the kiddos:  I’ve got 3 of them.  All girls.  Yeah, I know, we’ve totally got our work cut out for us.
P is 11.  She’s big hearted and the easiest kid on the planet.  Always has been.  She’s my big helper and an amazing big sister.  She’s my soccer star and my artist.  I can always count on her.
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T is 7.  She’s goofy, smart, and loud.  She’s caring and super sweet but will argue with a wall.  She’s my cheerleader and my horse lover.  She hopes to barrel race when she gets older.
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A is 4.  She goes about a mile a minute from the second she rises in the morning till she lays her head to sleep each night.  Strong willed doesn’t even begin to describe her.  She makes every day an adventure.
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Early bird or night owl?  Night owl. Definietly night owl.
What do you do after your kids go to bed?  Stare at the wall in silence.  For real though.  The day is so busy and noisy that I need like 10 minutes to process it all when it’s finally quiet.  If I’ve got sessions to edit, I usually do it when they’re sleeping and I can concentrate.  Sometimes I color (yes, adults totally do that), read, or lounge in the recliner and peruse pinterest.  When Dave is home, we watch movies and shows together. 
Tell us what a typical weekday looks like for you: 
I typically wake up about 6:30 and get the big girls ready for school. 
I drop them off by 7:30 and try to get some time in the Word in before full on chaos ensues.  
Tue/Thurs about 8:15 I wake the little one up, feed her, make her lunch, and get her ready for MDO.  
After I drop her off at 9, I run errands if there are errands to be run.  Grocery store, bank, dry cleaners, etc.  
I then frolic home to do my chores like a good little housewife.  
If Dave is home, sometimes we use the time to have a lunch date or something since we don’t get out without kids at night much. 
I work on some continuing education classes I’ve got online for a couple of hours and then it’s time to start picking kids up.  
After school snack, homework, and then it’s off to Cheer practice and soccer.  
Home to quickly whip up dinner and feed everyone.  
Then it’s bath, book, and bedtime for the kiddos!
gameblog.jpg(I tried to include some real life stuff here, which is tough when you’re the photographer!  Thanks to my handy tripod and timed release shutter, I was able to get some pretty telling photos of the girls and I playing a game.  Playing board games is one of our favorite things to do together.  Even though I have like 8 chins and P looks like she was picking her nose(she was scratching the side of it actually), I posted them anyway.  Why?  Because the way A is being her sassy bossy self needs to be shared and the way T gets in your face to rub it in when she’s winning is legit)
Let’s talk about your business, how’d you get started and what’s the best thing about your job:  I took an interest in photography in my high school photo journalism class and I’ve loved it ever since.  I purchased my first dslr in 2009 as a way to mainly take photos of my kiddos.  I started taking pictures for friends and family but really didn’t know what I was doing.  I cringe when I look at some of those old photos.  By 2010, I decided to make a business of it and launched Piece of Cake Photography.  I was also making cakes at the time so the name went along with my cake business.  I took a little hiatus after we moved 2 years ago but recently rebranded and relaunched as Lori Latch Photography and I’m super excited about all the new possibilities.  (Like me on Facebook and follow me on Instagram).  The absolute hands down best part about my “job” is meeting awesome new people and getting to see the world through the eyes of a child occasionally.  I’ve gotten to share in some amazing moments from birthdays to weddings and have enjoyed watching some of my clients grow over the years.
What are your biggest challenges balancing your business and your family? Sometimes I’m so swamped with editing or a design project that I need to do it during my children’s waking hours.  It becomes difficult when you’re interrupted repeatedly to get a snack, a drink, diffuse an argument, or doctor a boo boo.  Some days are so busy I don’t have a single waking second to myself and I work into the wee hours of morning making sure my projects are client ready.  
Do you ever feel like society underplays your job as a mom?  All.the.time!  Sometimes I feel like people think I stay home with my children because I didn’t have any other skills or because I wasn’t smart enough for a “real career”.  That’s totally not the case.  I stayed home because I felt like it’s what was best for my family and my children.  If you think I don’t miss the adult interaction of my 8-5 you’re gravely mistaken.  It’s a choice.  A choice that I question daily.
What do you think about the pressures we put on ourselves and other mothers?  I think it’s dreadful.  Mom guilt, it’s real y’all!  We’ve got the weight of the world on our shoulders and we are all so critical of ourselves and other mother’s too for that matter!  If I feed my children anything less than farm raised organic meat and organic locally grown produce with fresh spring water I feel like a failure.  We have this idea of what the perfect June Cleaver mother should look like with a perfectly clean home, fantastically delicious nutritious meals, and perfect hair and pearls and when we undoubtably fall short, we beat ourselves up.  When other mothers don’t parent quite the same way we do, we judge.  
What bit of encouragement would you offer other moms?  You do you.  Worry about what works best for your family and your busy lifestyle.  Worrying about keeping up with your neighbor, your best friend, or that awesome mommy blogger you found on pinterest will only bring more stress to your life.  Seriously, some days I make elaborate meals and play all day with my kids.  Some days we do amazing art projects and things are all unicorns and rainbows and we post those things on social media for all to see.  Other days, we run late , forget things, eat chef boyardee, and have meltdowns you don’t always see.  Some days I have the patience of Job while others I yell at my kids and then feel so guilty I crawl in the fetal position and cry.  The point is, if elaborate valentines, meals, and parties are your cup of tea, you do you.  If they’re not, there is absolutely no shame in your game!  I’ve got to make a more conscious effort to stop holding myself (and others) to some unrealistic standard.  We’re all in this together!

 

*Are you a DFW area Mama who might like to be featured in a future Moms like me post?  It’s easy and fun!  I’ll email you a few questions similar to those above and then on a day that’s convenient for you, come snap some photos of you and your family both in a portrait like setting and your natural element.  There’s absolutely no session charge and I’ll link your business page for your customers and mine!  Let’s support each other’s businesses ladies and encourage other mamas too!  I’m looking for work from home mamas, business owner mamas, working moms, and stay at home moms married or single.  It takes a village!*

 

Sheriff Callie Party

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I know I’m a little behind on sharing A’s December birthday party but I figured while I’m on a roll, I may as well back track!  She requested a Sheriff Callie party and I’m typically pretty opposed to character parties but I thought I could probably run with a cowgirl theme so I agreed.  Of course our first step was to snap some photos for her invitations.  I stumbled upon the cutest little flea market outside of town that looked like a mini old west town from the outside so we loaded up and took advantage of the scenery.

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I designed a quick and colorful invitation in photoshop and sent it off to my print company.  The above photo was the back and the front was this:

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We used our trusty ole tablecloth trick to transform our garage into the ole west.  We picked a blue color to look like sky and my mother had the idea to use cotton to make clouds.  The result was pretty adorable!  I knew early on that I wanted to make an old west town out of appliance boxes for the party so I called me local Lowe’s and asked them to save me a few refrigerator and washer/dryer boxes.  They called within days saying they had a few and we went to work cutting and painting them.  We made a bank, Ella’s saloon, Uncle Bun’s store, and of course the Sheriff’s station and jail.  I had my husband cut a walkway between a refrigerator box and a dryer box so that we could connect them.  That way when the Sheriff had to throw someone in jail, they had to go through the station door.  We used a box cutter to make the bars and tin foil to give them a metallic look.

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We took pictures of her stuffed animals and added them to wanted posters in photoshop then printed them in sepia tone and taped them inside the sheriff’s station and the outside door.  I used scrapbook paper that looked like old distressed wood from Hobby Lobby for the bank and sheriff’s station doors.  We bought fake money at dollar tree for the kids to play with in the bank, plastic cups and pitcher (also from dollar tree) for the saloon, and brought out some play kitchen foods and shopping bags for the general store.  It’s amazing how much fun kids can have in cardboard boxes!

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As our guests arrived, we got them all fitted in bandanas, cowboy hats, and deputy badges. We got the foam hats in black and brown at dollar tree and the bandanas at Hobby Lobby.  Because they were so large and the majority of our guests were under 5, we cut each bandana into 4th’s.  This was cost efficient and they fit much better on little ones.  The deputy badges came from Hobby Lobby as well.  We also gave each guest a little drawstring canvas bag from oriental trading to keep their gold nuggets in from the panning for gold station.

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Because our party was in the afternoon, we served sweet snacks rather than an actual meal.  We choose flavored popcorns from a local gourmet popcorn shop and put them in little cow print favor bags from Hobby Lobby.  We also made s’more pops by putting large marshmallows on a skewer, dipping them in melting chocolates, and then covering in sprinkles.  These were a huge hit as were the chocolate coins. I raided our American Girl collection and thought this Our Generation horse stable was the perfect addition to our table.  We used it to hang onto our snacks.  12322645_1229405073752640_166357767555459773_o

I found those awesome fabric garlands on clearance at Michael’s for around $3 each and knew I couldn’t pass them up.  We found the tissue fans at Dollar Tree for an extra pop of color.

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Kids colored Sheriff Callie sheets and “roasted” their marshmallows over the “fire”.  I found that adorable inflatable campfire at oriental trading and it was a big hit!  I printed the coloring sheets directly from the disney jr. website.

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My niece, nephew, and girls tried out the panning for gold station before the party started.  For quality assurance purposes of course.  To make this, we purchased a small bag of decorative rocks from Dollar Tree and spray painted them gold.  We then took a large long plastic bin and filled it with sand purchased from Home Depot and sprinkled the “golden nuggets” all around burying them in the sand.  We added water to the top and added some shovels and other sand toys we already had.  We used foil pie tins which we hammered holes into the bottom so the kids could scoop and sift.  Whatever nuggets they found, they got to take home in their little pouches.  There was a steady flow of children here the whole party.  HUGE hit even with the older kids!

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Another huge hit was the Photo Booth area.  To make this, I just took an image of a wanted poster I found online (I’ll link it if I can find it again) and enlarged it in photoshop. I then printed it off in quarter sections.  We cut it out, burned the edges with a lighter to give it an aged look and then glued it to a piece of cardboard that was left over from our cardboard box town renovations.  We used a box cutter to cut out the center and thumb tacks to secure the edges and look like fancy nails.  We used a long thick piece of leftover cardboard to create a stand and then placed it in a small bucket filled with sand and rocks to steady it.    The kids had fun with this but honestly, I think the adults had more fun with it!  haha

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Unfortunately, in my haste, I forgot to photograph the other 2 activity stations we had but they were inexpensive and simple and kept the kids busy the whole party long.  We took a stick horse from our playroom and stuck it in the yard by digging a small hole for the stick.  We set out hula hoops we already had and let kids try their hand at “lassoing” the horse.  It was sort of like a ring toss on a bigger scale.  We also had buckets which I had decorated with pictures of boots I had printed and colored.  We purchased plush snakes from the dollar tree and kids had to try and toss the snake in the boot.  We called it the “there’s a snake in my boot” game.  Because we’re witty like that!  ;)

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The Sheriff and all her little pals had a great time and those darn boxes stayed in our garage for a month because we couldn’t bring ourselves to toss them!  lol

Birthday Carnival Fun

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Gosh, I’ve been pretty bad about updating here lately.  What can I say?  I’ve been a busy beaver for sure!  The holiday’s had me swamped and then it was birthday parties and traveling and out of town guests galore!  Last weekend, we hosted T’s 7th birthday party here at home.  Even though I never managed to get A’s Sheriff Callie party blogged (I better do that today too!), I thought I would go ahead and get the details for the Carnival party blogged while they were still fresh on my mind.

We decided about 3 months ago that we would be going with a Carnival theme and took to pinterest immediately to begin planning.  A few weeks before the party, I took her out in some colorful clown garb to snap a few photos for her invitations.  They’re pretty goofy but they’re probably my favorite pictures ever of her because they really let her silly personality shine!  Here are a few of my favorites!

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I normally have really cute double sided photo invitations printed from my print company but, unfortunately, I procrastinated a bit and ran out of time.  Instead, I had them printed 2 to a page at my local office depot.  They had them printed and cut down to size for me within an hour and they were on their way to the post office that afternoon!

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Meanwhile, we begin gathering supplies and prizes for the games and sketching ideas for setup in chalk in the garage and driveway.  Haha  We decided that since A. I would be returning from camp with my oldest the night before the party and B. The party was in the afternoon that we would not serve a full lunch menu but instead opted for snacks and sweets.  While I was at camp, I enlisted my hubby and mama to transform our garage into a big top canopy by using plastic tablecloths.  We’ve used this method for many parties and it always works so well.  Gives us an ample party space while still being whimsical and colorful.  You almost forget you’re in a garage.  Thankfully, weather for both my girl’s winter birthdays has been absolutely perfect!

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I wish I had taken a better picture of the garage because it looked super cute but you get the gist here.  We served popcorn, cotton candy, cake, and ice cream.  I got the cute little carnival napkins at Hobby Lobby, as well as the little cotton candy stand, and the marque looking signs.   Most of the other table decor came from the dollar spot at Target!  We found the colorful popcorn containers there as well as the felt birthday banner and letters, and the cute little red cake stand.  Because I didn’t have a lot of extra time or energy for cake decorating, I picked a super simple design and I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out.  I rolled the bottom tier in sprinkles and for the top tier, I designed cute little ticket strips with her name and birthday in photoshop and then took it down to my local Wal Mart bakery for them to print on an edible image.  It was quick and easy and the image only cost about $7!  I got the little pennant banner, cupcake flags, and glitter 7 at hobby lobby too.  I bought bags of cotton candy from our local Golden Corral for $1.25 each and just divided them into small portions and put them on lollipop sticks.  They made for a cute display and kids weren’t consuming giant portions of sugar so it was a double win!

We had 5 game stations so each kid was given 5 tickets when they arrived (I got these at dollar tree!) so they each got to try each game once.  Because we had extra time and more prizes once each kid had a turn, we allowed them another set of tickets if they wanted to continue playing which most did. We also hired an amazing local face painter.  She was a huge hit with the kiddos!  Our carnival games were simple and inexpensive as were our prizes.  Most were purchased at the dollar tree with the exception of the pet fish soap which I made myself.

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The balloon pop station was the biggest hit I think.  To assemble it, we used squares of cork board purchased at hobby lobby attached to a piece of plywood we had laying around.  We used thumb tacks to attach the balloons and darts with plastic tips for the kids to throw.  If they popped a balloon the selected a prize (bubbles or play dough) and if they missed they got a piece of candy.  They each got 3 tries per ticket.  We got the dart balloons on amazon and the darts 3 to a pk for $1.97 at Wal Mart.  We blew all the balloons up prior to the party and placed them in trash bags.  We just did a little at a time and within a couple of weeks had them all blown up!  :)

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For the fish bowl game we used small clear plastic cups from walmart filled with water.  We dropped a plastic fish toy in several of the cups and kids had to toss ping pong balls into the cups.  They got 3 tries per ticket and if they got it in a cup with a fish, they got to take home a pet fishy bath soap.  I made these easily by purchasing a large block of clear glycerine soap from Michael’s with a 50% off coupon.  It totaled about $10 and I still have a ton left for a future craft!  I purchased the vinyl goldfish on Amazon.  They were so simple to make and the kids had a blast helping me.  We cut the soap into smaller pieces and placed them in a microwave safe bowl.  We melted them in the microwave and then poured the liquid into small plastic treat bags sitting in mugs.  We then moved the bags to a bowl of ice water where we used a skewer to push fish toys down into the soap as it hardened.  If you choose to add scent to your soap, mix it in with the bowl.

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For the ring toss, we had the painstaking job of drinking beer to empty those bottles!  I gave my husband that job weeks in advance thinking they would be done waaaaay ahead of time but the week before party time, we only had 2 bottles sitting on the counter!  Luckily, we attended a Super Bowl party the weekend before and managed to collect enough!  lol  I spray painted the bottles and caps and found those super cute carnival soda labels at Hobby Lobby.  The kids each got 3 rings (which were harder to find than I imagined).

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For the lucky ducky game we purchased 50 rubber duckies and this inflatable pool from Amazon and glued washers to the bottom of each duck.  We painted about 12 with nail polish first.  The kids got 3 tries to pick a duck with a colored washer on the bottom to win a prize.  They got a piece of candy if they didn’t pick a winning ducky.

Last but not least we had a bean bag toss.  I didn’t get any pictures of this but it was pretty simple.  We used a lawn game set we already had from Academy and set it out side by side that way 2 kids could play at once.  Each got 3 bean bags.

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After a stop at the face painting booth, our guest were ready to have their picture taken in the ring of fire.  I had my oldest and a friend make this using a hula hoop we found at the dollar tree and red, yellow, and orange tissue paper.  Made for a cute photo prop!

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Overall, I think a great time was had by all.  Even this ole top hat wearing Ring Master!  Thanks to everyone who came to make our girl’s day extra special!

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