Birthday Party – Daniel Tiger Neighborhood

Howdy Y’all,

Happy Monday. I hope your weekend was great, mine was interesting as Mr L is away on business and I have been flying solo with Little L for the last week, she has been pretty good except for night waking. I have to tell you this mama does not do well on little sleep. I did try my first hip-hop class this weekend, yes you read this right and Beyoncé I am not although I had great fun. On Sunday evening my friend and I took our daughters to see Daniel Tigers Neighborhood which was performing in Houston and that inspired me for todays post. It was wonderful to see so many parents appreciating the value in taking their preschoolers to the theatre. I secretly hope Little L shares my passion for theatre, it is one of the things I miss most about my British life, I was spoilt with the West End on my doorstep. I was blessed with the variety of theatre I saw in my formative years, so whenever their is anything suitable for Little L I pounce. I was touched to see her actively participating in the audience, she was so upset when we left as she wanted more “Dan Dan.”

I have been meaning to share this post for a long while, but better late than never -right? Now Little L has started pre-school I find myself nostalgic about where the last (almost 3 years have gone -wth?)  A wise person said “the days are long but the years short.” They definitely had toddlers. She turned two in the latter part of last year and Mr L and I decided to celebrate this milestone with a party at Gymboree. If you are not familiar with this establishment it is a program of classes for children from 0-5 available across the world. Little L had been attending our local classes since she was 8 weeks old and I have never underestimated how much she has benefited from attending. Like so many of the children’s facilities they offer parties, after all who wants to entertain a group of toddlers?

Gymboree do offer an excellent range of themes for their parties, at that time she had one great love and he came in the form of an animated tiger called Daniel or as she calls him Dan Dan. This is based on Mister Rogers Neighborhood. I appreciate my European readers will not be familiar with this cartoon but if you see it on Netflix or Amazon Prime and you have a toddler, download. If you need further convincing I was reading over the summer of some research by Texas Tech on preschoolers who watch Daniel Tiger and its affect on social skills development. (I link article here.) Little did I know when I purchased some very cute electronic invites of Daniel Tiger on Etsy, how little party merchandise there was. Disney and Nick Jnr seem to have all their characters covered but the PBS characters have a less commercial presence.(Although I think this is improving.) So this means that TLL had to spring into Pintrestmom and make and create things that would fit the theme. Below I wanted to share with you some of the photos of things that I made to give it the Daniel Tiger party it’s feel and make it a party for Little L to remember.

The majority of the party was a class of fun games and activities on the equipment and I knew that it was during snack time and home time is where I could create the theme feel.

 

cakestand
I opted for cupcakes this year, since the focus was on the toddlers, these are much easier to portion and don’t require a sharp knife. Little L also loves pink and insisted on pink frosting (didn’t she get the yellow and red Dan Dan theme – kids!) The cupcake topers I purchased from Etsy, I printed cutout, stuck to card both sides and attached to cocktail sticks. Each little one could choose which character they wanted to be.
RosePartyTable
This was the toddler tea, pre-toddlers, I made sure I took a photo. It is difficult to see but I bought small red paper plates and then stuck a Daniel Tiger images on each, I followed suit on the plastic cups. I even went more mad by making water labels with Daniel Tiger, I am insane. I made sure all food was finger related so it did not require silverware. (Less washing up.) I kept the table decorations simple with little Daniel Tiger figurines which you might be able to see. You will see at the back I made larger trollies for extra decoration.
FoodRoom
I am really pleased I ordered the yellow and red ballon arrangement, they were relatively inexpensive and I think they added impact. I also seperated them and gave each friend a ballon with their favor/party bag at the end of the party. If you have super eyes you may also notice another large trolly I made on the gift table.
RoseGiftTable
In this picture you can see the garlands I made to help decorate, I printed out, punched holes and thread string through. They looked great. You can see the larger trolley again. I keep mentioning these because they were the most difficult to make. I love these red table cloths that I bought from Dollar Tree. They hide a multitude of sins, under the table was boxes and bags which carried all these things from home to the venue.
Gift Table
I also printed these posters which I scattered around the venue.
DTGoodieBags
These are the favor boxes. I made them individual trollies. You may see that better on the photo below. I used red favor boxes I found at Dollar Tree but all party places carry something similar.
closeupgoodybags
You can see closer up in this photo, the face masks which the children loved I attached to straws, and they match the character on the trolley. Think I might be a little obsessive.
Goodiebag
Here is a final photo of the favor boxes with the balloons attached. I was thrilled with how it all turned out.

Food Ideas

As I was serving a simple tea, I wanted the food to be light, relatively healthy and easy to transport. I made these pizza bites which I found through Pinterest. The kids loved them. I kept them veggie as I had vegetarian, they all went. I also made fruit salad and portioned them into small pots, similar to this, they were perfect to transport and the right size for toddler tummies whose eyes were on cupcakes. I also served raisins and veggie sticks. I was pleased as I was left with very little food and all the kids seemed to eat and enjoy. They sat for 20 mins eating and chatting which was super.

Favor Boxes/ Party Bags 

You can see the favor boxes above, they did take a while to make but once you have made a few you can speed up. I think they look pretty effective and the kids loved them. Inside was a face mask as you can see. I also included a Daniel tiger crayon pack which I made, I bought sets of crayons placed them in a clear gift bag very similar to this. I added some coloring pages, a ball and a free pass to try a Gymboree class (thanks Gymboree.) Honestly it is a while since I packed them and I had none spare after delivering to some guests who couldn’t make it. I think there might have been one or two extra items.

Decorations

I will be honest and say I would have been “up a creek without a paddle” if I did not have access to this PBS site, they helped with printouts and inspiration. I did adapt and change some of the ideas but generally a super resource. Little L’s party invites came from NineLivesNotEnough via Etsy. They were perfect and set the tone. I also bought her thank you cards at the same time which matched. Looked super. The same shop provided many of the printouts I used to decorate everything. I urge you to take a look.  Little L’s T-shirt came from littlemacboutique via Etsy, again this was great for the party gal.

We really had a super time and it created many happy memories. I was very impressed with Gymboree and how professional and fun they made the whole event (I am fussy.) In  conclusion I want to thank my brother who helped me prepare some of the decorations when he was over visiting (who knew you needed to be an Engineer to make trolleys?!) TLL knows how to treat her guests well. I would urge you to check out dollar/pound shops for party supplies (I never thought I would write that!!) I was impressed with what was available and you don’t mind trashing after the event. The party also reinforced to me that the party is for the kids and not the adults who attend. Little L’s first birthday we had lots of adults and we catered more for them, this time we made the right decision with a Gymboree style option. We had a great time, lets hope we can make some new friends in this new location before November so I can plan another party, but Little L if you are reading this lets have a more commercial theme next time? Princess’ Frozen, Sophia the First, Thomas, any of those would be great!

Hope this was useful, I had fun.

Ta Ta for now.

TLL x

That dreaded word SNACKS

Howdy Y’all,

Hope you are doing well and congratulations it is Friday, you have made it through another week!! Today I wanted to share something mummy related which had made my life a little easier, as I navigate this rocky road of parenthood. As Little L has grown that magic word SNACK has grown infamous. I would go as far to say as that it ranks as one of her top words, NO being the most popular (obviously.) Snacking had never really been a massive issue earlier on with Little L, she has always been a good eater. Recently I have  been noticing, with growth spurts, more socializing with peers and her increasing independence of spirit the desire to snack is on the increase. I need to preface because as Mr L likes to point out I have an inclination to explain myself (so here goes 😄) I am not a snack tyrant . I’m not against them, I love a snack, I’m hardly Kate Moss but I also want to teach Little L healthy habits and to make good choices. I basically follow the mantra, everything in moderation. I’m also proud enough to admit that I have used snacks to pacify Little L when I need her to just keep quiet for a few more minutes and when Daniel Tiger on the cell phone no longer works.

So dealing with this increased desire to snack has made me take more responsibility in looking into what is in toddler snacks. (OMG! Another post on that!) Before I receive a barrage of information on what a healthy snack is etc. I’m fairly clued up but there is only so much fruit and veg you can give your little one. Plus when Little L is at the park with other kids and they are eating Goldfish or Animal Cracker (both yum) another round of cucumber sticks might not hit it. Other mummies will also know the perils of the sippy and snack cup. Yup we have all been there, two cups full of identical liquids or snacks but it always tastes better in the cup belonging to the other child, which you can somewhat stomach when you know the other child! But I often find there is that spare cup belonging to no man floating around the park 😜.

I remember reading a while back in some diet article about breakfast cereal, generally people eat at least double the recommended portion of cereal per day because they don’t bother to measure the recommended portion size. This got me thinking. When buying snacks for Little L purely for convenience I tend to buy snack already portioned out. This is more expensive and sometimes not possible, especially when you buy some of the smaller organic brands. So a couple of weeks ago I thought I would look into the recommended snack portion for littlies and the standard seemed to be roughly 30g. If your like me, trying to cram too many things into a too smaller time frame, you are often running for the door thinking coffee, key, purse, phone, diapers, wipes, drink, child and SNACKS!! I’m usually rushing out and don’t have time to consider the correct portion of something. So I have started portioning the snack basket when I buy them and I have been really impressed with how it works. I am more aware of how much she is having and I noticed it’s enough. It is also really helping with decision making because I allow her the option of one of another. I basically measure out the recommended portion in a zip lock back (snack size) then either write on the bag with a sharpie or clip all the bags together with a peg or bulldog clip. I also do this with fruit and veg in the fridge. The only snacks I don’t do this is with is the freeze dried fruit I buy because I find the foil packets keep it fresher. Although this system takes a little time I have found I feel better and for housekeeping I can see much quicker what we are out of. If you are a Costco shopper and buy in bulk this is another way of buying the bigger boxes and still managing portions. Some of you might feel zip locks are expensive but you could reuse and honestly whether it’s Costco or a grocery store they usually have coupons or great deals on zip lock bags. (Especially at this time of year!)

I might be late to the party of course, and you are all doing this as standard. I wanted to share and surprisingly Little L has not been quite so snack obsessed this week, maybe an impending growth spurt. Snacking has been one of my learnings as I navigate this journey of motherhood. I am so blessed to have such fantastic and responsible mummy friends who also care about snacking and who humor my uptight British tendencies. I won’t even bore you with how I expect Little L to sit down while snacking, no eating while running or playing (beginning to relax this one.) Poor Little L it will be a miracle if she can grow into a civilized and contributing member of society with me as a mother.

I have rambled.

Happy Weekend

Ta Ta for now

TLL x

 

The essentials, love these scales.
The essentials, love these scales.
Yummy snacks!
Yummy snacks!
Neat & tidy snack basket
Neat & tidy snack basket

I.Y.D.H.A.N.T.S.D.S

This post in an announcement, proclamation and a plea. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t speak. Now I know it’s Monday, we are all a little down in the dumps about that, and for us folks in the Northern Hemisphere its summer and hot, which can also alter the mood. However, I wanted to ask people to take a breath and be kinder and nicer to everyone. Now hopefully you’re getting to know me a little better and realize I am not the type of gal to sugar coat everything and who only sees fluffy bunnies. I am usually quite the opposite – often too direct – but I don’t go out of my way to pass judgement or be unkind.

The incident that has caused this public announcement was passive aggressive comments made by a mum to her daughter, loud enough so the mothers of the said children she was speaking of could hear. This is wrong on so many levels. Firstly, from me to all mums out there let’s cut each other some slack: whether your child is an infant, toddler or grownup, have times really changed so much that you want to judge and attack each other? Surely what we should be doing is supporting each other and thinking this is one tough job, let’s care for one another. After all it is Proverbs which says “It takes a to village to raise a child.” These words are so true. Secondly, to make comments in such a passive aggressive manner is so naff. I would have more respect for a person who would come forward and share their complaint or suggestions. After all, we are all entitled to opinions and views. I celebrate that I am fortunate enough to live in a democratic nation where freedom of speech is encouraged. Finally Mummy L raised me with the mantra “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t speak.” Today these words rang true.

Whilst I know that I am speaking to mummies who I often find are each other’s toughest critics, these words ring true in lots of instances. So I ask of you what I am asking of myself, I Y D H A N T S D S!

Ta Ta for now

TLL x