A Surprise Valentine Breakfast

I’m glad you guys seem to love me so much, because, after blogging for 3 years, one thing is very clear: there is no rhyme or reason to this blog.

And speaking of love, while I’m plugging away at writing up some memories from Gid’s 7th birthday, I thought it would be a good time to FINALLY share the pics from our Valentine celebration.

You know, the one from last month.

Pinterest is laughing at me right now, isn’t it? Valentine’s Day is so last season.

But that’s okay because, honestly, I’m behind in every area of my life right now, and this has actually led to something GREAT.

As I usually have the house decked out for V-day on February 1st, I felt pretty much like a miserable failure when the week of love arrived and my house was not dressed for the occasion.

Rebekah was throwing up all week long, and things just weren’t working out for me; there was no possible way I could have the house cleaned up and decorated by the 14th.

Something had to be done.

If only I had a completely empty room just sitting around that I could put ALL of our Valentine stuff in…

well, I did.

The sunroom!

Recently emptied of all of its furniture and cuteness to become Jake’s temporary dog-home, it was the perfect place to hold a little party for the kids.

The sunroom is separated from our kitchen by an antique door, and what excited me the most was that, by covering the door’s large window, I could completely deck out the room and have it ready without the kids ever seeing it.

The entire day before Valentine’s Day, they had NO idea that there was a party waiting for them just beyond that door.

But I knew. And I was pretty giddy about it.

There was nothing really spectacular about this party. I already owned all the decorations, the books, and the games, and the breakfast menu was our typical pancakes and bacon.

The fun was in the surprise and in taking a moment in our day to celebrate a holiday together.

Take a look!

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I hid out in the sunroom and took pictures of the kids when they saw the party table…

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Mr. Gore pretended to be surprised, too. Please notice the completely trashed-out, non-decorated room behind him that matched the entire first floor. But NOT the sunroom. :) Sigh. I love the sunroom. And Mr. Gore.

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I say this every time, but I think this was my favorite party ever…

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We ended up our breakfast by reading our little collection of Valentine books together. (The Day It Rained Hearts is our favorite!)

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And then we opened our valentines to each other. The night before, Mr. Gore and I made handmade cards for each kid with pictures of us and them, and they were a huge hit.

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I would show a picture of Rebekah with her valentine, but she threw up on it right after this, and all over our party table.

But, still. It was a great morning.

And best of all, it completely inspired me to keep the sunroom empty, so that, during these crazy years with little ones underfoot, I’ll always have a safe place to celebrate our holidays.

Did I mention that I love the sunroom?…

~

Coming next to a sunroom near you: a Nursery Rhyme party! (maybe).

A Halloween Party in the Woods

A Halloween Party in the Woods

Two years ago, probably a day after Halloween, I was struck with another of those impossible-to-ignore urges to throw a specific party for my favorite little kiddos.

A Halloween party.

In the woods.

And I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like…

I saw a spread in Country Living once (hey look! I found it: click here) featuring an outdoor Halloween party inspired by festivities of yore where costumes were less “dress-like-your-favorite-Disney-princess” and more festive and Halloweenish. Here’s an example of one of the antique costumes at the party:

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I was completely taken with the idea, and tucked it away in the back of my brain where it sat for years. Every Halloween, I would think about it and pine for such a party and costumage (you can go ahead and add that word to your handy-dandy-Mrs. Gore-Dictionary); and as Halloween 2011 drew to a close, I made a decision. We would have our old-school Halloween party next year, or I would die trying.

Only one problem.

Vintage Halloween clothes are ‘spensive. And rare. And just like there weren’t a lot of WWII-kids-party supplies out there when it was time for Gid’s 6th birthday, I had trouble finding any reproductions of old-school Halloween clothes on the market today. I know, right? Cray-cray.

So we did the next best thing and bought every Halloween dress and accessory that Cracker Barrel had to offer. Every year, they sell an assortment of black, orange, purple or gold dresses with lots of tulle, and by the time we bought them after Halloween, they cost about as much as an Arby’s value meal.

Thus, for a full year, my Mom had bags of poofy dresses and funny hats hidden in her closet, waiting to surprise the children on a beautiful October afternoon in 2012.

Oh, and there was one bright orange shirt for Gideon from the hunting section at Wal-Mart.

And here were the goals of our party: 1. The entire concept had to be a surprise – when the kids arrived at Grandmother’s house for the party, we wanted them to have NO IDEA where they would be going or what they would be wearing, 2. We wanted to allow them to walk through the woods to the party alone – with the oldest being 8, this would be a big and memorable deal for them (and Amy would shadow them with her camera, of course!), and 3. Have a festive and magical hole-in-the-wall-type party all set up when they arrived.

And shiver me broomstick, we did it! I will admit, I almost died of fatigue before this party even started, loading and unloading mountains of supplies, single-handedly arranging all those haybales and pumpkins, and then there were the three giant wasps nests we discovered above the party table about an hour before go-time (my Mom is a rockstar and slayed every single one of them without fear)…

but this afternoon will forever be cherished in my heart as one of my favorites. The kids loved it. And I loved watching them love it. Take a look…

Amy made these labels that we taped over vintage milk bottles and filled with assorted candies.

Amy made these labels that we taped over vintage milk bottles and filled with assorted candies. We placed one at each child’s seat and they passed them around so they could sample all of the different flavors.

Welcome to our Halloween party in the woods!

Welcome to our Halloween party in the woods!

A sparkly bat greeted our little guests.

A sparkly bat greeted our little guests.

I lined the pathway with pumpkins we borrowed from a nearby farm and filled in the path with crunchy leaves. Very fun!

The pathway was lined with pumpkins we borrowed from a nearby farm and was filled in with crunchy leaves. Very fun! And free!!

We made a simple sacklunch for each child and had it sitting on a real plate with real silverware - we wanted this party to have an authentic tea-partyish feel, but heavy on Halloween.

We made a simple sacklunch for each child and had it sitting on a real plate with real silverware – we wanted this party to have an authentic tea-partyish feel, with a heavy emphasis on Halloween.

The table was simple, but festive, and very easy to put together.

The table was simple, but festive, and very easy to put together.

Donuts from a Tulsa bakery - I considered for two seconds making some from scratch, but Mrs. Gore ain't got time for that.

Donuts from a Tulsa bakery – I considered for two seconds making some from scratch, but Mrs. Gore ain’t got time for that.

Very rustic caramel apples, speared through with a twig from the backyard.

Very rustic caramel apples, speared through with twigs from the backyard.

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You can’t see them very well, but we also hung black bats and festive lights from the ceiling.

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The kids LOVED their surprise costumes. Each one was different (but similar), and each girl had a funny hat to wear (Gideon got a black superhero mask). Anna’s hat had a giant spider on the top, but still looked very beautiful and fancy.

Funny...Amy and I dressed in all black and wore funny hats and accessories with absolutely NO intention of looking like witches. But we totally look like witches.

Funny…Amy and I dressed in all black and wore funny hats and accessories with absolutely NO intention of looking like witches. But…we totally look like witches.

Time to walk down the wooded path to the party! Everyone lined up, including our very uninvited guest, Batman the Cat.

Time to walk down the wooded path to the party! Everyone lined up, including our very uninvited guest, Batman the Cat. More on him later.

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Marching to Halloween! I was pretty giddy about this part of the party…

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Which way do we go?…

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That way!!

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They found us! And good thing, too, because I was about to eat all their candy.

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Ready to party.

I swear to you, just like our witch costumes were accidental, we did NOT invite my parents' cat, Batman, to our party. He followed the kids, and was by far our best Halloween decoration.

So. The cat. I swear to you, just like our witch costumes were accidental, we did NOT invite my parents’ cat, Batman, to our party. He appeared out of nowhere and followed the kids, but was by far the best Halloween decoration we had at our party. Way to go, Batman!

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I had to take a minute to get a picture of Amy and her girls (and the cat). They all looked so beautiful! (You too, Batman).

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And I have to brag on my party guests…

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they are used to their weird Mama/Auntie, so they gladly took a few “fake party pictures” for my blog before digging in to their treats.

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I’ve never been so proud. :)

Rebekah and Kate enjoy their party and some lively conversation.

Rebekah and Kate enjoy their candy and some lively BFF conversation.

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After their meal was consumed, Grandmother had a special game planned for them where they had to find special treats and surprises she had hidden in the woods.

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It took some earnest searching…

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but all the treasures were eventually found…

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and the rest of the evening was leisurely spent, playing, talking and daydreaming. One of my favorite things about children is that they need very little to entertain them. Just give them the great outdoors…

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and some playmates…

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and they’ll stay happily occupied for hours.

~

As a fittingly full moon began to shine through the trees…

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our Halloween party in the Woods mozied to an end and we made our way back to Grandmother and Granddaddy’s house…

tired?

Oh yes!

With a huge mess to clean up?

Indeed.

But our Halloween-lovin’ hearts were oh so full and happy…

especially Batman’s.

~

Happy Halloween, dear friends!

A “Tea For Two” Birthday Party

On Saturday morning at 11:00, after working harder than I think I did for my own wedding, we welcomed guests into our completely-transformed house for a special “Tea for Two” birthday party for our little girls, one of whom was turning 4, one of whom was turning 2…

get it? Tea 4 2?…

How sad is it that I sprang out of bed late one night to write the name of this party down, and then clapped my hands with glee and dubbed myself a “genius”?…

Don’t answer that.

Anyhow, why was our house transformed? Where was our typical and expected party backdrop of the great outdoors?

Four words: Tornado watches. Rain. Oklahoma.

But after my initial disappointment over moving our par-tay indoors, I discovered that this was quite a blessed turn of events, and I was able to spend days setting everything up “just so”, rearranging our entire abode like it was a life-sized dollhouse, cleaning, scrubbing, baking, and decorating like there was no tomorrow. And, by the grace of God, I actually had fun doing it.

Little girls are some kind of magic, aren’t they? I’m still giddy over this entire party, full of sweets and treats and flowers and nostalgic sugar-and-spiceness. Take a look…

(but first, if you want a little background music while you peruse our party, just push play. We love you, Doris!)

I am sorely tempted to leave my living room set up this way…wouldn’t it be nice to wake up to a beautiful dessert table every morning?…

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I purchased the old screen at a vintage show in Tulsa a couple of weeks ago, and can’t wait to see how many ways I can use it. The wooden “Tea for Two” letters were purchased at Michael’s and spray-painted a light aqua color, and then hung with crocheted ribbon and twine.

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On the treats menu: strawberry cake and cupcakes (from a box) topped with Paula Deen’s delicious strawberry icing, mini Kentucky butter cakes, Paula Deen’s lemon blossoms, strawberry shortbread cookies, miniature buttermilk pies, raspberry tarts, Pepperidge Farm butterfly crackers, and fresh strawberries.

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To decorate, I used pink roses (of the regular and miniature variety) and baby’s breath, teapots and teacups, vintage handkerchiefs, doilies, and our typical collection of cake and treat stands. If you have any questions about where I purchased anything, please ask in the comments section and I’ll try to help you locate what you’re looking for.

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We came up with the raspberry tarts recipe “on the fly”, but as they seemed to receive more compliments than anything else, I thought I’d share the “recipe”: phyllo cups from the grocery store freezer section, instant vanilla pudding, canned whipped cream, and a raspberry. You are so welcome.

raspberry tarts

Since the only tea we actually served was iced with lots of sugar in it and guzzled from huge glasses, we put the cupcakes in teacups to go with our party theme. So easy. And the cupcake toppers were made with toothpicks from Cracker Barrel (they have pretty tops), and red twine tied in a little bow. Also…so easy.

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We only have approximately 400 cupcakes left…

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Inspired by this party, I made bagged lunches for each child with a brown paper bag, craft paper from Michael’s (that somehow exactly matched my girls’ dresses), a white doily and red twine. Inside was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a little pouch of raisins.

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Simple and sweet!

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We set up a drink station on the vintage rolling cart we keep in our pantry and served raspberry lemonade, sweet tea, and water. The mason jar lids were purchased here (TOO cute!!), and the aqua-striped straws were purchased here.

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Any of the paper decorations you see are from the Martha Stewart line of party supplies and were also purchased at Michael’s.

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The old buffet in our dining room served as a nice gift table, and a wooden “2” and “4” indicated whose gifts belonged where (these numbers were also used in the girls’ birthday pictures)…

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This precious birthday-card-download was purchased here. All I had to do was print it on cardstock, cut it out, back it with our extra paper from Michael’s and frame it!

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Don’t you think gift tables look especially nice when they are full of GIFTS from loving family and friends?! Me too.

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The party schedule was pretty simple. While the girls were having their pictures taken (by my amazing sister-in-law, Amy), Mr. Gore took all the party guests upstairs to teach them a fun birthday song to sing for the birthday girls. When everyone was finished, we set the girls on our barstools and brought all their friends downstairs…

stoolsThe song was hilarious, and so much fun. Thanks a million, Mr. Gore!

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And the girls loved being serenaded by their friends!

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Then, before the girls got dirty and sticky like I knew they would, we blew out candles…

Betsie blowingFirst, Betsie Fair…

Betsie candlesthen Rebekah Sunday.

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Lunch was then served on the front porch…

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and it was good.

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After lunch, the kids were free to partake of the treat table and to play in the designated areas we set up for them, the girls in the super-girly sunroom, and the boys in the upstairs nursery…

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It was a beautiful day to celebrate two of the greatest gifts God has given us…

2 and 4

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Tea for two…

Rebekah and Betsie

and two for tea.

~

Want to remember this idea? Pin it!

a birthday tea party

~

To see more of my inspiration for this party from Pinterest, click here.

Gideon’s “War” Birthday Party, Part 3 – The Battle

Well, we’ve finally come to the end of this series featuring my 6-year old son’s “army” or “war” party, and I have to thank you all for sticking with me as I have revisited and celebrated this super-fun and special day in my family’s life…

you are literally the best. (said in my best Chris Traeger voice).

So as I told you before, I had the party part of this party down – the menu, the decorations, the vibe – they all came together quite nicely (and thankfully, with little expense). And I knew we were going to have a “war”…

in fact, if you’ll remember, that was how I sold this party to my son in the first place. And I had made  a big, big deal about it. We talked about it nearly every day.

But secretly…I was stumped.

How in the world were we going to actually have this so-called war? With a group of Preschoolers, Kindergarteners and an 8-year old, no less…

So I did what any self-respecting female would do.

I dumped this part of the party on my unsuspecting husband, nonchalantly mentioning that I needed help with this one teensy little bit of the planning.

He accepted the challenge…

but then stalled for weeks.

Secretly, he was stumped, too.

And then, in a stroke of last-minute genius, he called me up with a full list of party game ideas for me to choose from (including the paper airplane activity we also did), and the minute he mentioned the following idea, I knew he had struck gold:

Operation: Rescue Abigail

(Abigail is Gideon’s eldest cousin and beloved friend)

Two teams: bad guys and good guys.

Adults on each team to help the kids.

One prisoner in distress.

Bad guy weapons: big marshmallows dipped in all-purpose flour.

Mission: rescue Abigail (or other prisoner) from the bad guys. If you get hit with a marshmallow (which leaves a huge flour mark on your clothes), you  have to run to the field hospital and get bandaged. Then you can return to the battle.

Could we all just give a round of applause to Mr. Gore for coming up with this awesome game? We played 2 or 3 rounds of it, and it was too. much. fun. Kids this age (at least in my house) love nothing more than tying people up and saving them, playing “doctor”, pretending to be good guys defeating bad guys…my husband somehow incorporated all of Gideon’s favorite pastimes into one awesome party game that made his little 6-year old heart soar. I couldn’t have been more pleased.

For older kids, a capture-the-flag type game would have been ideal, but this game perfectly suited our younger crowd. If you are planning a “war” or “army” party of your own, and have any more questions about the details of this game, please do so in the comments section. I will make sure to get back with you as soon as I get the chance.

Now how about some pictures?…

Gid was in character long before the party began…

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Ready for battle, Katerbelle? Yes, SIR!

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Mr. Gore led the kids in a few pre-battle drills to start off, lining them up…

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and leading them in a rousing rendition of “I’m in the Lord’s Army”. This was a CHRISTIAN war party, mind you…

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Attention!

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jumping jacks…

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Let’s do this thing.

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Our pretty nurses had the hospital ready to go, eager to come to the aid of the wounded once the game commenced…

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First prisoner: Abigail. And the fact that we played several variations of this game with different prisoners was because this fun-loving girl wasn’t content to just be a prisoner. She wanted in on the battle action, too! Her Daddy – the baddest of the bad guys – led her to a tree in the nearby woods to tie her up.

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I now present to you…

Operation: Rescue Abigail, starring Mr. Gore – the goodest of the good guys – and his army of tiny soldiers!!!

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they’ve been spotted and attacked! Run to the hospital! Quick!

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our nurses sprang into action, doing their best to get the soldiers back to the front as soon as possible, giving each soldier a bandage and a candy pill…

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but, with a little teamwork and perseverance, they did it! Good prevailed, and Abigail was rescued.

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and the “good guys” felt like macho superstars.

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Next battle…

Operation: Rescue the Birthday Boy. Mr. Gore was probably very glad to add a quick-as-lighting 8-year old to his team. He rallied his troops, gave them a few tips, and the 2nd battle began…

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(sidenote: can anyone spot my Daddy in the next picture? This is why people use camouflage. It actually works!)

 

 

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and lickety-split, Gideon was saved.

Then, in the scariest and most melodramatic battle of the night (our soldiers and nurses were taking dramatic liberties with the game by this time), our two hospital nurses were taken prisoner by the scariest bad guy in the woods…

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Things got ugly for our soldiers during this battle…

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but our field nurses were so brave and helpful in the face of duty…

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reviving our soldiers on the spot so they could return to battle and save the hospital nurses!

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which they did, right as dusk set in. The hospital nurses were a bit shaken up, but a quick stay at the hospital fixed them right up…

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and I am happy to report that, by the end of all of our battles, every soldier was still accounted for, though they all looked a little more ragged than they had before…

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Our rescue operations…and thus, the biggest part of my son’s party…had been a huge success.

~

A few more notes on our war party:

1. It dawned upon me and Amy both (sometimes we share a brain!) that an activity like this doesn’t have to be saved for a birthday party. This was just a super fun night for all the kids and families involved, and it would have been even easier to throw together if we hadn’t been trying to do birthday cake and presents and spend as much time as possible with the birthday boy. You could do this with so many different themes: spy games, princes and princesses, cowboys and outlaws…the possibilities are extensive. Then, on birthday party days, you could just kick back with your family, have a cake and a few gifts and call it a night. I’ll be mulling this over…

2. I also wanted to tell you that, by the end of the battles, all the kids were congregated at the hospital, playing their little hearts out. It looked like an ant hill. Which means that I will probably be setting up the hospital sometime soon for a fun play day. I’ll share more on that in the future!

3. Thank you again for indulging me for this week-long series and for all the sweet words you’ve shared. I love your comments and encouragement so much and thank God for you, always.

And good news – I have some VERY unbirthday blog posts coming up next week – stay tuned!

~

To read about all the ideas and products that went into this party, click here.

Gideon’s “War” Birthday Party – The Components

I thought I would start this “war” party series (read the “prequel” here!) by sharing all of the decorations, ideas and products in one place so you can have easy access to links and inspiration, should you ever choose to host your own WWII party.

You know…cause lots of people have WWII parties.

(awkward silence).

Anyhow, let’s get started!

About an hour and a half before the party, Amy and I (but mostly Amy) painted this huge sign on the back porch at my parent’s house. We used brown craft paper, poster paint, and foam paint brushes. By the way, she free-handed this, my insanely talented sister-in-law.

Once it was dry, my Mom and I drove down to the party site by the creek to hang it up. There was only one problem: Oklahoma wind. Sweeeeeeepin’ down the plain. We couldn’t even hang this sign where we wanted to (it was so windy, we couldn’t even get it in the air, let alone fasten it!) and had to rearrange the entire pavilion area to accommodate it. Even then, it still tore (razzle frazzle…), but Amy saved the day with lots of tape and thumbtacks. She’s a genius, and my party sidekick for life.

Everything you need to know about throwing a vintage "army" or "war" party for a little boy - products, ideas, menu, playlist - its all here!

Other than the torn poster, the “Mess Hall” was decorated with vintage-inspired patriotic elements, authentic WWII helmets and ammo boxes, our typical galvanized tubs and cake stands, old metal pans and colanders, and vintage recruiting posters. I will share links to many of the products we used at the end of this post.

Everything you need to know about throwing a vintage "army" or "war" party for a little boy - products, ideas, menu, playlist - its all here!

We tried to keep things simple and to at least pay homage to the authentic. You could really go nuts and buy lots of disposable camo and/or army stuff for a party like this – but a roll of white paper towels, and some disposable baking pans from Wal-Mart absolutely did the trick. Our biggest conundrum, however, was HOW to hide Crock-pots. At our remote-ish location, Crock-pots were the only way to keep the food warm, but we just couldn’t bear the thought of them being on the serving table. Amy came up with the winning solution by wrapping diaper boxes in craft paper and cutting holes in the top – this is the stuff that just cracks me up about our parties…my Grandmother, visiting for the week, thought we were absolutely nuts! But I’m sure that Mess Halls in the ’40’s served ALL of their food out of paper-wrapped diaper boxes. Right? Right?…

Everything you need to know about throwing a vintage "army" or "war" party for a little boy - products, ideas, menu, playlist - its all here!

Forks were kept handy in washed tin cans that had their labels removed…we were going to use these for drinking vessels, but my Mom kept cutting her fingers on them, so we scrapped that idea.

Everything you need to know about throwing a vintage "army" or "war" party for a little boy - products, ideas, menu, playlist - its all here!

The menu was simple and easy and, again, at least payed homage to the authentic. We had to find a way to tip our caps to what a soldier might eat during WWII while still actually feeding our guests, many of whom were under the age of 6. We settled on little smokies, macaroni and cheese, biscuits, and a variety of cookies. And two days before the party, I discovered that there is such a thing as gummi army men – I had to throw them on the menu at the last minute (p.s. I love you Amazon Prime!). They looked like funny green beans in the colander I served them in, so I took one out to take a picture, just for you! (I just thought you should know that I’m thinking of you guys, even when I’m partying and windblown and frazzled).

Everything you need to know about throwing a vintage "army" or "war" party for a little boy - products, ideas, menu, playlist - its all here!

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Everything you need to know about throwing a vintage "army" or "war" party for a little boy - products, ideas, menu, playlist - its all here!

Here are a few pictures of the other side of the “Mess Hall”. Gideon received this medic bag for Christmas, and it is such a nice bag for an extremely reasonable price. He stores all of his Nerf ammo in it on a normal day, but on WWII party day, it served as decor!

Everything you need to know about throwing a vintage "army" or "war" party for a little boy - products, ideas, menu, playlist - its all here!

And these are some of the vintage recruiting posters I printed off from an image search online. I printed them on white cardstock and taped them to a red photo matte from Hobby Lobby. So cheap and easy, and now I’m not stuck with 5 red picture frames that I don’t need. Or 5 huge war posters, for that matter!

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And…my personal favorite part of the entire party…the part that I dreamed of at night and squealed about when it became a reality…was the Red Cross station, where wounded soldiers (during our “war” game – I’ll share more on that later this week) came to get bandaged before returning to the front lines…

Everything you need to know about throwing a vintage "army" or "war" party for a little boy - products, ideas, menu, playlist - its all here!

My husband and I (yes, he is a very selfless and amazing man) made the Red Cross backdrop the night before the party with a large canvas drop cloth, 2 yards of red felt fabric, and fabric adhesive. He used his math skills to perfectly measure and cut out the cross for me – I seriously could not have made this without him!

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And an old white rolling cart from our pantry held all of our medical supplies, including a first aid kit full of gauze bandages and bandaids, and 3 jars that (eventually) held candy “pills”. This station was a huge, huge hit. The kids loved it! (Which you’ll see in the days to come – I have lots of pictures to share).

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~

And here are some links to products that we used (all of which I highly endorse) for the party. Click on the pictures to be directed to these products at Amazon:

1. As our little guests first began to arrive, to fill in the time as we waited for everyone to get there, Amy painted faces for me with camo “make-up”. After doing a lot of research, this product seemed like the best choice, and I am SO glad we went with it. It went on so easily, dried fast (but not hard and crackly), stayed put, and was pretty easy to remove with wet wipes.

2. The gummy army men were too fun! Even the adults loved them and were happy to take some home. They are green apple flavored and very yummy. To purchase 5 lbs. of these at a local candy store, it would have cost me $45. When I bought them at Amazon, they cost less than $10.

3. The Red Cross medicine box I used for the “hospital” is one that we already owned and store all of our kids doctor toys and costumes in. I love it, and think it looks so cute in our nursery. I originally saw this at Land of Nod for $40, but did a little digging and found it at Amazon for about $25. Score!

4. We also used this metal First Aid kit for our field hospital, made by the same company as the Red Cross box – at home, it actually holds all of our medicine, kept pretty safe by the latches (the other box does not securely latch – that’s why we use it for toys!).

5. And the green striped paper straws were a must-have for our camo-faced soldiers to sip their lemonade with – these were nice and sturdy, and didn’t dissolve in liquid like some do.

6. And here’s a link to that pretty awesome medic bag I showed you above (or you can purchase it here at our favorite boy’s adventure store). It’s crazy how thick and sturdy it is, and it only costs about $12:

And here are just a couple of gift ideas…

1. Can you believe that there is a sticker book ALL about World War II? I was shocked. My son LOVED it, but be prepared…it led to a lot of questions. But those led to some pretty great discussions about war and sin and “bad guys”…

2. Gideon received this Ammo box full of army men for his birthday and has played with it nonstop. This is an awesome toy for a little boy!

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3. Just stop it with the cuteness already! I can’t handle anymore. Army men bookends. I don’t know what else to say.

If you have any questions about anything else you saw in the pictures, feel free to ask. I don’t get to respond to all my blog comments, but I do try to answer product questions, because I love to help you guys find what you are looking for!

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One last thing! I’m still trying to figure out how to share a playlist on here, but until then, here is just a typed-out list of the “vintage” soldier songs we had playing in the Mess Hall. These will also come in handy on the 4th of July and in our future homeschool classes:

  • “Over There” by Arthur Fields
  • “When Johnny Come Marching Home” by The Folksingers
  • “What Can You Do With a General?” by Bing Crosby and Irving Berlin
  • “Marines’ Hymn” by Johnny Desmond
  • “Yankee Doodle Dandy” by Gene Autry
  • “(There’s Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover” by Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra
  • “Keep the Homefires Burning” by Buddy Clark
  • “You’re a Grand Old Flag” by James Cagney, Walter Huston, Rosemary DeCamp and Jeanne Cagney
  • “G.I. Jive” by Johnny Mercer
  • “The Battle Cry of Freedom” by Tom Glazer
  • “The Old Man/Gee, I Wish I Was Back in the Army” by Bing Crosby, Irving Berlin, and Danny Kaye
  • “I’ll Be Seeing You” by Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra
  • “Song of Freedom” by Bing Crosby
  • “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by The Andrews Sisters
  • “Comin’ In on a Wing and a Prayer” by The Song Spinners
  • “The Caissons Go Rolling Along” by Johnny Desmond

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Phew! I know that was a LOT to share, but I’ll be so happy if it helps any of you along in the planning stages of your future parties. Thanks for sticking with me! Stay tuned for more “war” party pictures!

Gideon’s “War” Birthday Party – The Prequel

Warning: the following post might give you a startling glimpse inside the sickness that is in my head, and I hope you still love me after you read it. I am kind of a weirdo about birthday parties. Not yours – I never judge a party we attend, and am just happy to have free cake – but ours. It is how I show love and is one of the most utmost expressions of my heart toward my kids. We’ve all learned to deal with it, but I do always worry that my potential over-the-topness in this one area will discourage others who don’t “do” parties…

Therefore, it would make me so happy if you would read this post before continuing on. Thanks a million!

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Oh boy…

I always think the party we just had was my favorite party ever…

until the next one.

And so I can safely say, a couple weeks past my son’s 6th birthday, that his World War II-inspired “army” or “war” party was my favorite party ever.

And I really mean it this time. For reals.

(I think).

It doesn’t even matter that the planning stages for this party were a little different than normal…

Usually, the day after Christmas is over, I start involuntarily daydreaming about his March birthday party. I can’t help it. I love birthdays!!! Love them. It’s what I do, yo.

Therefore, I usually have two really good months to get a handle on what we’ll be doing and to start finding ideas and recipes and so on and so forth.

This year, however, I was unknowingly pregnant on the day after Christmas, and the month of January and most of February became a black hole on the calendar. I know I was alive, and I know we continued to do stuff like go to church and I think I brushed my teeth a couple of times, but…that’s about all I remember. ‘Twas the worst first trimester I’ve ever endured.

And once I emerged from this twilight zone of sorts, I had other important things to do, like pluck my giant, untamed eyebrow, and make food for my family (they were almost emaciated), and so, really, Gid’s birthday party had been pushed to the furthest back burner on the stove…you know, the one no one ever wants to use with leftover oats and and dried-up rice and the singed bits of paper from the tea bag…

(apparently, no one ever wants to clean that burner, either)…

Thankfully, we had at least settled on a theme earlier in the year, although even that took a little work this time, mostly because I made the mistake of asking my son what kind of party he wanted. Silly me.

“Ummmm…a Batman party!” he exclaimed.

“Well, Gid…we don’t really do parties like that…” I hedged, turning my nose up at the thought of all those paper party decorations I would probably have to buy – and then throw away – from Oriental Trading Company. If I’m going to buy party supplies I want to be able to use them again and again.

“How about a superhero party?” he asked.

“Well…Anna had a superhero party last year…” I said. I didn’t mind the idea of having the same theme as my niece, but Amy and I had already been there and done that, feverishly sewing capes and eyemasks in a Sunday School room at the church 24 hours before the party. I wanted to do something different.

“How about…a knight party?!” he said.

“Hmmm…a knight party…” I replied, as my mind started quickly cataloging all the things we could do with that. Lords and ladies. Big turkey legs for everyone to eat. Kid jousting?…

“We could maybe do that…” I said, the idea sort of intriguing me. But it wasn’t really hitting me in the heart like our birthday parties normally do. It wasn’t quite right…

and then I had a brain lightbulb, the really bright kind that turns my eyes all buggy and psychotic.

“How about a war party?!” I exclaimed. “We could have a REAL war with two teams, and you can wear camouflage and you can hide in the woods at Granddaddy and Grandmother’s house…

his face lit up, even more than my brain lightbulb, and I knew. This was our party. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

And right then and there, I determined that this would be our first full-out BOY party for my son since, you know, he is really and truly entering the realm of boyhood. No frills. No cutesy. No baby stuff. Just fun awesomeness for Gideon, in the hopes that he would feel like he was in paradise on the day of his birth.

But then I fell into that first trimester abyss I just told you about.

And when I came to in late February and realized that we only had a few weeks left until his party was here, I started that silly daydreaming process I usually start on December 26th.

And in the course of one of those daydreams, I accidentally injected some Mrs.-Gore-weirdness into his perfectly normal little-boy “war” party and turned it all vintage and whimsical, and before I knew it, his laid-back camo-heavy party had turned into a World War II-inspired affair, complete with a Red Cross station, a Mess Hall, a playlist full of nostalgic soldier songs, and lots of googling…

“What did soldiers eat during World War II?”…

“Vintage army recruiting posters”…

“Military songs from World War II”….

“Vintage mess hall plates”…

And I began to be truly grateful that I didn’t have much time to plan this party, because it became very obvious to me that I could have gone wayyyyy overboard with this one. I love me some 1940’s, and, if I had had my typical 2 1/2 months to plan this party, I am almost positive I would have had veterans from each of the armed forces there, and possibly a USO stage where I would have crooned song after song to the horror and embarrassment of my immediate family, especially my brothers.

As it was, thank God, we did a lot of “making do”, substituting the tin mess hall plates I found at Etsy with disposable cake pans from Wal-Mart, forgoing all the awesome WWII posters I could have purchased (again, at Etsy) by finding, printing, and matting free images online, and using our trusty ol’ Martinelli apple juice bottles for drinks rather than buying the canteens or enamel mugs I was dreaming off.

That first trimester saved us a LOT of money.

And when you are a collector of old things, and you have friends who are also collectors of old things, it is absolutely crazy how quickly you can throw a party together full of…old things.

That’s right, I’m talking about authentic WWII helmets, ammo boxes, and…wait for it…COTS that belonged to actual soldiers during the actual war (I think). I’m still over-the-moon about it, and I am so grateful, as always, to my friends and family for so generously pitching in and lending their hard work, their generosity, and mostly, their understanding; that I am surrounded by people who “get” me and love me, nonetheless, seriously humbles me to the core.

ALLLL that to say, I am pretty excited to share with you (if I haven’t already lost you with this blog post), in a 3-part series, Gideon’s “War” Birthday Party.

Here’s a sneak peek…

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Part 1…coming up tomorrow!!

Miss Sunday’s Third: a Farm Stand Birthday Party (Part 1)

Congratulations!!!

You hung in there through an entire week of posts concerning my middle child, the opinionated and unsinkable Rebekah Sunday. Welcome to the 2nd week. (I can’t stop…I love her!)

To be honest, I was afraid I would lose some of you in this process, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the feedback and the consistency of my site stats…which, 1 1/2 years into the blogging experience, I still check about a hundred times a day. Thank you, for staying with me as I relive this very special week in our lives, and for continuing to encourage me with your kind words and compliments.

I happen to adore both.

Today, I am nigh unto bursting to finally share with you this collection of already treasured photographs from the 3rd birthday party that has been in my heart for well over a year. It was a special day, through and through, and Amy did a fantastic job capturing the spirit and beauty of the event with her photography.

By the party’s end, I was positively ebullient, heart overflowing with joy and contentment…

the day had been perfect.

The weather was more than agreeable. The party was unhurried and comfortable. The food was delicious. The fellowship was heartwarming. The love and goodwill was tangible. And no one had died in transit. Yes, this is something I always worry about. I’d hate for a loved one to die on ANY day. But on a PARTY day?! Say it ain’t so.

And if you enjoy looking at the pictures from this party even a fraction of what I experienced actually being there, well…I’ll be a pretty happy girl.

Without further ado, I humbly and happily present Rebekah’s Farm Stand Birthday Party. Part One.

If you remember, Betsie Fair’s Pat-a-Cake party was soft…pink…lacy…rosy…doilyish…all things that represented (to me) the innocence and babyish beauty of my littlest one. But Miss Sunday is at an entirely different stage of life. If I close my eyes and think of her, I see sights and colors so different than those that come to mind with Betsie: gingham…health and robustness…blues and reds and pin dots …daisies…strawberries…in other words, timeless country simplicity and fun. This party matches her spirit. I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much:

Remember how I did Betsie’s Pat-a-Cake party on the cheap? Rebekah’s not so much…

Fruit is kinda ‘spensive.

but what a beautiful party table it makes! We borrowed Gideon’s Radio Flyer wheelbarrow to give us some layering with old-fashioned country charm.

My Mom is a long-time collector of blue-and-white dishes, colanders, pottery and serving pieces, so I didn’t have to look far to pull off this Farm Stand color scheme. I particularly love this little enamel strainer, holding a couple of handfuls of bright, red (delicious) cherries. On the table is my Mom’s old red ticking sheet, pulled out and ironed at the last minute.

The turquoise berry baskets came from my favorite online party supply store, Shop Sweet Lulu. To see their precious collection of party goods, click here. This store is delightful in every way, all the way down to the way they package your purchases for shipping. I especially enjoyed the complimentary piece of taffy I found in a pretty package at the bottom of my box, along with a sweet little “Thank You” note. You can also follow this shop on Facebook by clicking here.

Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, Red Delicious apples and perfect Porter peaches…

and Miss Sunday was more than happy to share it all with her friends!

including old-fashioned bottles of soda pop for the children…

“What kind of soda,” you ask? NuGrape, purchased at Cracker Barrel, and Stewart’s Black Cherry, found at Petty’s Fine Foods in Tulsa. Both were so tasty, and the children were intrigued by the bottling and delighted by the taste.

 And for Miss Sunday’s grown-up friends there were plenty of mason jars filled with yummy sweet tea.

I happened upon those canning lid covers at Wal-Mart the week before the party, and bought them without even knowing how or where we were going to use them. But 12 covers for $2 was pretty hard to pass up, and they seemed destined to take part in our Farm Stand party…

The fruit, though delicious and healthy, was not enough to sustain all those hungry tummies. Thus, for each child there was a simple sack lunch consisting of peanut-butter-and-strawberry-jam sandwiches and a small bag of potato chips.

I bought these strawberry canning labels the same day I bought the lid covers (also on a whim!), and they were perfect for dressing up our sack lunches a bit. We just folded the bag over, punched 2 holes near the top and tied a strand of heavy twine into a bow to package it up nice and tidy-like.

See? Nice and tidy.

Kate Belle helps herself to some berries…

and our friend, Isaiah, poses for a strikingly handsome picture.

Miss Sunday greets her friend, Henry…

while I bring out the last of the food table goodies (such a cheeseball!)…

Paula Deen’s Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake (for the recipe, click here), turned into cupcakes with a freshly sliced strawberry on top…

and a Martha Stewart gingham cupcake liner on bottom (available at Michael’s).

that just left one thing…close your eyes, Rebekah!

a gorgeous strawberry and cream birthday cake!

We wouldn’t normally indulge in such a cake for a 3-year old girl, but as this was the same cake Mr. Gore and I had at our wedding, and since our anniversary was only 2 days away, we thought it was only fitting. This lovely and delicious cake is always available at my favorite eatery in the state, Queenie’s Cafe and Bakery. I seriously could eat 2 meals a day there and be eternally happy. If you’ve never been…go! Right now!

And if the strawberry cake was not tempting enough, we made a special little treat for the grown-ups: strawberries, piecrust and heavy cream, a favorite recipe of our family’s. I promise to share the details of this slice of heaven in the near future. But for today…

I’ll just let you be curious. And maybe a little jealous?…

Henry enjoys his soda pop in the yard…

while Jackson tries to figure his out on the porch.

And Kate and Rebekah (Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane) guzzle theirs before even making it to their lunch.

As far as birthday parties go, this one is going down in the history of my most beloved and memorable…

and the party is only just beginning!

We still have to blow out candles, open presents, swing and slide, and go swimming!

Part Two…coming up tomorrow!