Party Like A Rock Star

Me at my birthday party. CHEEESE!

Me at my birthday party. CHEEESE!

I love to celebrate special occasions. My mother raised me that way. There was not one birthday of mine that went by without being celebrated. What great memories she created for me. During that time, there was no Chuck E. Cheese’s. At best, my party would be at McDonald’s. But typically all of my parties were held right under our carport on a beautiful summer Saturday. My mother and I were the party planners. She would have me choose the theme of the party which would be reflected on the white sheet cake overloaded with colorful butter cream icing. Bozo the Clown, Winnie the Pooh, and Barbie were some of my most memorable themes. The invitation list always consisted of family members, neighborhood kids, and occasionally a few friends from school. My guests and I proudly wore our coned-shaped paper birthday hats until the elastic holding it down broke or became too unbearable around our little faces. Our entertainment consisted of us playing pin the tail on the donkey, bingo, or running around chasing each other. Capturing the memories was easy with our Polaroid camera that developed pictures right on the spot as we fanned the photos back and forth. Those were the good old days. Memories were made. Mission was accomplished!When I my oldest daughter turned one, my mother and I got together once again to plan the ultimate house party for her. We invited lots of guests, hired a clown, ordered tons of pizza, and had plenty to drink. We were so excited to pass this party tradition on to my daughter. To our dismay, my daughter slept through most of the party. The preparation of the house before hand and the clean up after wards was more than we could have imagined. We vowed to never throw a house party again.

Bowling birthday party for my son's 11th birthday.

Bowling birthday party for my son’s 11th birthday.

The next year we went to Chuck E. Cheese’s for her party. We paid our money, walked in when the party started and walked out when it was over. Ahhhh…..we had found our answer to a stress-free party. Like most parents, I despised being at Chuck E. Cheese’s but my kids loved it. Party places like that served us for most of my three kid’s birthdays. Then, finally, they outgrew those places. That’s when I had to dig in and find creative ways to celebrate their birthdays. We have had spa parties, dinner and a movie parties, scavenger hunts, bowling parties, America’s Next Top Model parties, and a candy themed Sweet 16 party. Let me warn you, the parties get more expensive. In our home, we throw a party to celebrate every time our child turns a year older. We throw a big party at 13 and 16 with smaller celebrations for the ages reached in between. Not a year goes by without being celebrated at all.

My daughter True's America's Next Top Model Sweet 16 Party

My daughter True’s America’s Next Top Model Sweet 16 Party

Let me start by saying, I enjoy planning parties and various events for my loved ones. It’s a fun hobby for me, but if event planning is not your thing, HIRE an event planner. There are way too many details that go into having a successful event. If it’s not your thing, put it in the hands of a pro. If you want to plan and execute the event yourself, here’s a few helpful tips:

1) Pick a theme. The internet is a great source of inspiration. Be sure to pick something that really represents your child’s personality. For instance, don’t choose a 70’s theme if your child is uncomfortable with wearing crazy costumes and dancing. I can sense when I have found the right theme because the moment I find it, my mind begins to race with ideas on how to customize it for my event. I don’t want to totally copy someone’s idea, I want it to inspire me to create my own.

2) Create memories inside of memories. As if throwing a sweet 16 party isn’t memorable enough, find ways to create memories while creating the party memory. My daughter and I created additional memories by constructing all her invitations together by hand. We also had fun shopping together for her outfit and for some of the party decorations. Consider having a party planning meeting with your child over their favorite meal. Perhaps you can go to the spa together to have your nails done for the party. Create memories leading up to the event to make it special every step of the way!

Sweet 16 Candy Themed Party for my daughter Fahrelle.

Sweet 16 Candy Themed Party for my daughter Fahrelle.

3) Venues & menus. The type of party you want to have should weigh heavily on your menu and venue selection. If you don’t want a sit down dinner, serve finger foods on small plates instead of heavy dishes that require the use of silverware. Find a venue that suits the type of party you want to have, at the location and price you desire. Every venue has different restrictions, so read the contract carefully before signing.

My daughter True's 17th birthday dinner at P.F. Chang's. Attire: neckties

My daughter True’s 17th birthday dinner at P.F. Chang’s. Attire: neckties

4) Budgets & Buddies. Creativity can cost you extra money or save you extra money. Predetermine your budget for decorating, food, photographer, wardrobe, entertainment, venue, etc. Use online shopping to get decorations for much less than many of your retail craft stores offer. The best budget saver is a creative buddy! Get a creative friend on your team that has a knack for finding cost effective ways to bring your vision to pass. Having a fresh set of creative eyes can offer you a fresh perspective. Two are better than one!

5) Get some FUN out of your FUNction. Don’t allow the party details to stress you out to the extent where you forget to have fun at the party. Participate in a game, dance, chat and take pictures with the guests, laugh with your kids. At the end of the day, you want to walk away with some great memories, too.

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Supermom Decoded Tip: I encourage all parents out there to celebrate each year of your child’s life. Find a way to create a memory around that special day. Remember, it doesn’t have to be expensive to be memorable.

 

 

 

 

 

Other Birthday Celebration Ideas

  • Create a scavenger hunt for the birthday child to find their gifts around the house.
  • Cook their favorite meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • Take them out to their favorite restaurant (for an extra bonus, check them out of school and take them)
  • Invite their friends over for pizza and movie night.
  • Have a small dinner party at a restaurant for them and their closest friends.
  • Add some excitement to smaller parties by requesting all the guests dress in a certain wardrobe. (Football jersey of their favorite team and player, your child’s favorite color, etc. For my daughter’s 17th birthday, we had a dinner party at P.F. Chang’s and had all the guests, guys and girls, dress in white shirts and black neckties)

Summer Vacation Rules!

What is the best thing about going away on a family vacation? It’s doing adventurous activities, discovering new things, and creating memorable moments with your family. On the other side, vacation time may pose an issue–being around your family the ENTIRE TIME. Wait, did I just say that? YES, I did. Come on, how often are you joined at the hip with everyone in your family for several days straight? You’re inseparable while trying to compromise on everything from where to eat, where to shop, where to play, etc. Without some loose guidelines, it can be stressful! Not to mention the hot sun, long lines at amusement parks (if that’s what you do on vacation), crazy sleeping and eating schedules, and being away from the comforts of home. All of those can be ingredients for major misery if not dealt with properly.Vacation should be FUN, not frustrating, right?

We just returned from our family vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC (see our vacation photos at the end of this blog). We had a really fun time. I think we have finally found what works for us. Here are our SIX SURVIVAL RULES FOR VACATION!

RULE 1. Wear whatever you want to wear. No matching, ironing, coordination needed. No judgment either. My kids love this one. I admit my husband and I are sticklers about how our kids look when they leave our house. We have had to learn to give our teenagers some room to “express themselves” while still upholding some of our no-compromise standards. And those no-compromise standards are still upheld on vacation; however, they have freedom within those guidelines!

RULE 2. Compromise is a must. In a family of five, there are not a whole lot of things we all enjoy doing together besides mini golf. Everything else we do together takes compromise. We have learned that being together on some activities and seeing someone else completely happy is most valuable.

RULE 3. Be lazy if you want to be. Sleep in all morning. Stay up late as you would like. No cooking. No washing dishes.  In fact, do not do anything that resembles a chore. We only require that everyone keeps up their personal hygiene and please make the bed if housekeeping services are not available.

RULE 4. Be your own budget planner.I learned a valuable lesson on a previous vacation that led me to this rule. We give our kids their own spending money in cash to use it on whatever they want. They never have to use it towards NEEDS. It is strictly for their wants.  It gives them such a sense of independence. They get to decide which purchases are really important to them. It also keeps them from constantly coming to us for every little thing they want.  Our only policy is once they spend all their money, it is gone so use it wisely.

RULE 5. Divide and conquer. My girls and I love to go shopping, but my husband and son don’t really care to do that. They would rather be driving race cars or something. We will usually agree to divide and conquer, especially if we are limited on time. This year we divided differently. My husband accompanied me on a quick run to one of my favorite stores while the kids went to the beach.

RULE 6. Space PLEASE. Somewhere along the way you may just want a little space. It’s ok to need a moment to yourself. One day my husband and I got up early and walked on the beach while our kids slept. Other times, I got up early and had some alone time with God to read the Bible and meditate. Our kids are at an age where they don’t have to share sleeping space with us. Having separate rooms from your kids (when they are at the appropriate age) can be a relief for you and them.

SUPERmom Decoded Tip: Know your family and what works for you. Create your own unique vacation experience. Do what you must to make it memorable, not miserable. Stay FLEXIBLE!

5 Creative Ways to Get FREE Babysitting!

If you are like me, you have meaningful relationships in your life that need to be cultivated besides the relationship you have with your kids. You may be a wife needing to spend time away from home with your husband or a single mom wanting time with your friends.  Regardless of your situation, spending time cultivating relationships with other adults is vital to your mental well-being! Finding that time is not always easy; especially when your kids are not old enough to be home alone. Sure, you could pay to hire a sitter or you could take advantage of these five ways to get a sitter for FREE!

Be Eventful – Taxiing your kids to birthday parties and sporting events can crowd out your personal time on the weekends. Maximize those moments!  Check with the party host or another responsible adult at the event to see if you can leave your kids there under their watchful eye. Use that time to catch a movie and go to dinner if time permits.

Be Creative– Who says a date or alone time has to be relegated to Friday or Saturday nights? Try day time dates. Use those valuable hours while your kids are at school to plan a day out! Take advantage of the smaller crowds and inexpensive pricing of movies and lunch menus that are offered through the daytime only.

Be Giving– Who understands your need for a date or alone time more than anyone? Another mom does. Work out days and times where you can keep each other’s kids at no cost. Perhaps every 4th Friday night she can drop her kids off at your house, and you can drop your kids at her house every 2nd Friday night.  Each of you stands to benefit from giving free time to each other. You can never lose when you give!

Be Relative– Family matters, especially when it comes to needing a sitter. Grandparents, mature teen nieces, younger siblings, and other trusted family members should be at the top of the list when it comes to needing someone to keep the kids. Their familiarity with your kids and loving family bond can make them an easy choice when you need to get away.

Be Community-Minded– Your local community churches or fitness centers may offer FREE Parent’s Night Out services on a monthly basis. A gym in my local area offers it to those with gym memberships. Look out for free babysitting services like this in your community. Check your local newspaper, or ask around. What you need could be right there in your neighborhood!

Supermom Tip– Do not compromise cultivating other meaningful relationships in your life because you don’t want the hassle or expense of getting a sitter.  Your other relationships matter, too! Occasionally dedicating some time to those relationships will help you achieve an overall balance to your life.

Do you know anyone who could benefit from these ideas? Please share this with others via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, etc.

Fire the MAID, Hire the COACH- Making the SHIFT

I confess I was sort of late learning to ride a bike. I was so girly, I didn’t want to fall off a bike and scar my legs (don’t judge me). By the time I got the courage to learn how to ride a one speed bike, most of my cousins I wanted to ride with had moved on to the ten speed bike.

It was bigger and better, yet a little more complicated. The ten speed bike came with gears that I could shift to adjust the bike, making for a much easier ride up or down a hill. That feature alone made the ten speed bike better than the one speed bike. If you have ever had to walk alongside your one speed bike instead of riding it while going up a hill, you know exactly what I mean!

Moms, can you imagine life in one speed? I can. I did one speed for a while, but the journey got hard. Living life in one speed wasn’t intentional. It was subtle—very subtle. I imagine I was like most moms. My husband and I brought that beautiful bouncing baby girl home from the hospital and I went into action—feeding, changing diapers, bathing, changing clothes, combing hair, doing laundry, packing baby bags, and on and on and on. I did it day after day, month after month, year after year, and I neglected to shift. It just became natural for me to do it all, even after I had my second child. I was too exhausted as the mom of two young girls, only 18 months apart (yeah, almost twins). I did manage to make some minor adjustments along the way, but I can’t say I had actually shifted gears. I didn’t even realize I was supposed to shift gears. The realization came when my 7-year-old niece came to stay at our home for the weekend. She was about the same age as my girls, but she was extremely independent. She took showers (not 30 minute baths with the perfect water temperature, bubbles, and toys). She had selected and packed her own clothes, managed her own hair fairly decently, and much more. I was SHOCKED! It had never occurred to me that my girls were at the age where they could do more for themselves. Somewhere along the way, between the hustle and bustle of life, and the longing to just get things taken care of, I had become like a maid, an unpaid maid I should add.

That day I did what any good mom would do- I FIRED the MAID, and HIRED the COACH! This revelation did not mean I would no longer serve my kids, it just meant I would start training them as well. I honor and respect the position of a maid, and in no way am I putting it down, but in the life of a mom, the maid must be a seasonal position. You must know when to shift gears and start coaching instead. A maid does everything for you. A coach trains, instructs, and prepares you. Prepares you for what? They PREPARE you to WIN the upcoming game (of life). Once the game begins, the coach isn’t allowed to get in the game and play for the player. At best, the coach can give guidance from the sidelines. A great coach uses practice time to show the player what to do, watches them do it, and then gives them any needed correction or further guidance until they can successfully do it on their own. The coach is satisfied from seeing the player use the preparation he or she taught them, and score big during the game! Just like game day comes for the player, the day will come where your child will be on their own, putting all your instruction into action. Prepare them NOW to WIN when that time comes. But keep in mind, WINNING TAKES TRAINING!

That ten speed bike I mentioned earlier is much like the life of a mom. As our children grow, we have to make the necessary adjustments for a much easier ride. I have seen it time and time again, you know, that burned out feeling you get when you don’t shift gears. That is because LIFE IS NOT MEANT TO BE LIVED IN ONE GEAR. Most of the time when the moms I know get burned out I ask them what are their responsibilities and what are their kid’s responsibilities around the house. I have usually found it’s the mom doing it ALL! Some moms do it all because they got in one speed and stayed there. Due to a lack of knowledge, they missed the shift. Other moms do it all because they don’t want to teach and train. They figure it will save them time and frustration just to do it themselves. That way they know it will be done right. Then there are some moms who have a need to be needed by their child. They attach what they DO for the child with their VALUE to the child, so they joyfully do it all. Moms, please know you are an invaluable treasure simply because of who you ARE, not only because of what you DO for your child. You are valuable just because you are their mom. Remember, when you do it all, you rob your child of the benefit of being responsible and knowing HOW to do things. If the President and First Lady of the United States make their daughters have responsibilities in the White house, why can’t our kids have some responsibilities in our house? Let’s evaluate where we are now so we can make the SHIFT!

Evaluate What – Make a written list of what your household responsibilities are. The best way to get a complete list is to write down every household related thing you do over the next seven days. Seeing it in writing will give you much more clarity than just thinking about your responsibilities in your head. If you’re exhausted just looking at the list, you probably need to shift!

Evaluate Why– Look at each task on your list and ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Is it because your kids are infants? Is it because your kids are too busy (this busy kid thing will be in an upcoming blog)? Do you pity your kids, and think giving them responsibilities is unfair? Be HONEST with yourself. There may be some good reasons. There may also be some not so good reasons. It’s okay, that’s why you are doing this evaluation.

Evaluate Who & When– Who can do what you are doing? When can they start? This is about establishing age appropriate duties for your kids. If your toddler can take toys out the toy chest, they can also put toys back in the toy chest. Have you ever observed all the duties a child has at their school? Even the kindergartener has to empty their own lunch tray. Why can’t they empty their dinner plate at home? Can your 7-year-old access the cabinets? Have them help put away clean dishes. Maybe they can put canned goods neatly in the pantry. Are you still waking your kids up every morning? Why not get them their own alarm clock without a snooze button? Are you still telling them when to get in and out the shower? Put a timer in there; let them set it to 10 minutes before they get in the shower; when it goes off, they have to get out the shower. Can your child fold towels, move clothes from the washer to the dryer? Do they know their colors? If so, get a dark, white, and bright-colored laundry baskets and have them sort the clothes accordingly. Teach them to make their bed correctly, instead of you doing it for them. You get my point, right coach? Show them how, do it with them, watch them do it, make corrections as needed, and then let them have it. You will always OVERSEE everything and hold them accountable, but you don’t have to DO everything.

SUPERMOM Tip– Making the necessary shifts can help you not to burnout quickly. It’s not about making lazy moms, but making responsible kids! Coach your kids on how to do things for themselves. When game time comes, they will be ready, and you will be proud to watch them WIN!

What are your thoughts? Have you been the maid for too long? Do you plan to implement these steps? I enjoy your feedback and comments.

PREP(aration) SCHOOL – Getting You and Your Kids Out the House On Time

Frustration and tension you could cut with a knife…..These were not feelings of a woman that had just found out some heart wrenching news.

Oh no. This was ME getting my two beautiful little girls ready for church every Sunday morning– alone.
My husband would leave early to play in the band at church, and I was left to myself to find tights, dresses, bows, shoes, and all the other things little girls wore. (Insert sympathy here). Oh and somewhere along the way I was supposed to get myself together and show up at church on time, looking fabulous, feeling refreshed, and ready to worship! This was NOT my reality however. While I hoped and wished it would all work out, every distraction imaginable would come up. [Read more…]