Sunday, February 28, 2010

Baby Shower

Last Wednesday I finally got to throw the baby shower I had been planning for weeks. One of the attorneys that I work for is having a boy in April, so I offered to throw her shower. I was very excited about it, because every since I started visiting many of the homemade craft/party planning blogs on the net, I've wanted to throw my own. Unfortunately, at the time I started all of this, my daughter's 4th party was only a couple weeks away, so there was no way I could possibly do all the things I would want to do in that short amount of time. So I looked forward my next possible opportunity, and that was the baby shower.

Since it was a work baby shower (meaning we did it over the lunch hour with other attorneys and staff), it was quite a typical baby shower, but I wanted to make it special.

Since she is having a boy, the color theme was, of course, blue. I started off creating party circles for the cupcakes, inspired by TomKat Studios. That also inspired the "It's a Boy!" banner that I created to match. The cupcakes themselves were vanilla with an almond buttercream frosting, and very, very yummy!


For her nursery, she used a few Amy Butler fabrics to make the bedding and some of the room decor, and luckily I was able to find Amy Butler scrapbook paper at Michaels that matched. I took the paper that matched the patterns she used for her bumper pad and decorated the cupcake stand, alternating the paper. The frosting actually matched the cupcakes very well, too.



Along with the cupcakes, I also made baby bottle candy pops. For the first few batches, I tried to use blue candy melts for the bottle rims and then do the rest in white, but it didn't work out so well. Towards the end, after discovering that candy making may be a little harder than I thought, I added brown chocolate pops and raspberry flavored pops in solid colors. That was easier. I displayed them by sticking them in styrofoam inside blue containers that I got on clearance at Michaels, that kind of look like cupcake liners. I then covered up the visible sytrofoam with light blue and gray M&M's.

The party decorations weren't my only project. Part of my gift to her was a frame to match her room decor. I purchased a wood frame from Michaels, and used one of the Amy Butler patterns to cover it. I used Modge Podge for the first time, and sealed it with stuff I got at Hobby Lobby. After it was finished, I finished it off with a few faux rhinestones to give it a bit of bling. I was very excited about how it turned, and she was very appreciative of the gift!

So now I turn my attention to the most important party -- my baby boy's first birthday!! The party is now just three weeks away and I have a lot to do. We're going with a car theme, so I'm busy trying to collect ideas and items for decorating and party favors. One of my big ideas is to make car soaps as party favors. I purchased a very cute soap mold online and purchased some soap making supplies, but since I've never tried to makes soaps before, I probably need to get moving on it!!

I'll keep posting updates on the birthday party, and if anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear it!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Productive Weekend

Originally, this weekend was supposed to be one that the kids and I spent in Lincoln at my niece's baptism. However, as I figured would happen, the weather forced us to cancel those plans. I woke up on Sunday a little annoyed that we decided to stay put, because it was perfectly sunny. However, a text to and from my mom and I learned that the same could not be said for Lincoln. And apparently, their experience driving to church, to lunch, and back home was a pretty "interesting" one. And then later, after seeing the 40+ car pile-up in Wyandotte County and another multi-car accident in Johnson County, KS (which was totally surprising to me, because where I live I never saw anything close to those conditions), I was very thankful that the kids and I spent the weekend home instead of on the road.

So while I was home, I tried to use the time wisely and start really working on the decorations for the work baby shower I'm throwing in nine days and my son's 1st birthday party in March. For the most part, I've created the cupcake/party circles I'll be using for both events (inspired by the creative The TomKat Studio), I just need to finalize the colors and what is printed on them, print them, punch them out and assemble. I also sent out the "Save the Date" emails for Brendan's 1st birthday party in March, and created the invitation. It's pretty basic, but I'm very happy with them.



(The little yellow sticky notes are not part of the invite).

Now to actually get them labeled and mailed out!

And now that I've got the invitations done, I plan to concentrate more on getting the stuff done for the baby shower, since I obviously have less time for that. I need to finish the cupcake toppers, cover my cupcake display with paper, make my banner, make one of my baby shower gifts, AND next weekend and early next week I'll be making about three dozen cupcakes -- make, bake and decorate. Busy times!

This weekend was also Valentine's Day. Thinking we were going to be out of town this weekend, we did our Valentines dinner with the family on Wednesday. So Sunday shortly after we got up we gave Emily and Brendan their Valentines gifts, and eventually I settled in to watch the Daytona 500. I wanted to enjoy the race so I put my crafts aside for awhile, but little did I know the race was going to take six hours! During red flags I worked more on my party stuff, but in the closing laps of one of the most exciting Daytona 500's that I can remember, all I could do was sit on the edge of my seat. (Yay for Jamie McMurray's win - a group of friends and I were in Charlotte for his very first Cup race/Cup victory, and he's from Missouri, so I have a soft spot for him.)

After dinner and Em's bath, we baked Valentine's cookies and made cards for the kids at daycare. Em did the stamping, I did the rub on transferring, and she signed the cards.

This was actually the first time I'd seen her write her own name, and I was VERY impressed at how quick she picked it up. Then I found out that they've been practicing at daycare : ) But I still think it's very good for a four year old!

So party progress is being made and fun is being had. I will continue to post updates and pictures as I go along.

Friday, February 12, 2010

STOP SNOWING!

I'm not a snow person. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm freaked out to drive in it. And it's not so much me -- especially since I know have a Hyundai Santa Fe with new tires and all wheel drive -- but I just dont trust others. I've seen way too many people do stupid things that cause stupid accidents, and they really freak me out. I save PTO days JUST for the snow so I can stay home when it's too bad. But this is a bad season for that, because I had to take over a week off in November when my son got H1N1, and that along with the other times I've had to stay home because he's been sick leaves me with just two days left of PTO before my anniversary date the END OF APRIL! The way he's been getting sick and the way the snow has been going, I will be in the hole by the time April roles around.

And driving to work isn't the only bad part of it. The kids and I haven't been back home to Lincoln since New Years, and even then we spent most of our visit in bed with the stomach flu. That means we haven't seen my neices and nephews since our Thanksgiving visit. We were supposed to go up there this weekend for my neice's baptism, but with the predicted snow here, there and in between, there is no way I can risk not making it back on Monday. So, thanks to the snow we will not be seeing the family. Two months may not seem like a long time, but for us, it is. We usually make the visit (or my mom comes down here) once a month or so, but now it's looking like it will be two, maybe three months before we visit.

It may be a good thing that we stay here this weekend. My boss's baby shower, which I am throwing, is February 24th, and my son's first birthday party is March 20th, so I have a lot to do in that time frame. I will probably spend most of this weekend trying to get some of the paper craft stuff done, and then the following weekend I'll be preparing to make at least 3 dozen cupcakes. Yikes! I am very excited about both, however.

What is frustrating for me is my son's birthday party. I decided to go with cars as a theme because he loves playing with the wheels, mainly. And not Disney Cars, but just cars. I want to make his invitations and cupcake picks, etc., and have been looking for car paper punches and car stamps. And all I really want is something that looks like the outline of a VW Bug from the side. Nothing fancy. Yet is amazes me how impossible it's been to find! I found ONE pack of clear stamps that has a car, but after buying it, it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. I also found ONE car paper punch, from Martha Stewart, but after trying it out last night it's just too small for what I want. I was hoping to have embossed or flocked car embellishments on the invitation, but now I'm thinking I'll just settle for some really cute car clip art. IF I can even find that.

After reading several homemade party blogs over the last six months, I've been really excited about all the ideas I've been able to see and think up for both the shower and the birthday party. Unfortunately, I'm quickly discovering that dreaming and executing those visions are two totally different things. [Sigh!!]

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Racing Returns

I've been a NASCAR/racing fan for a little over 10 years now. It all started when my husband began watching, but I couldn't stand it. However, after being "forced" to watch it enough, I decided to pick a driver so at least I'd have someone to root for. I picked Mark Martin, and I picked him because I found a plastic "doll" of his and recognized his name, so I thought, "I'll pick him." I didn't know it at the time, but it ended up being a great choice. It didn't take me long to become a big fan. Some may have said I was obsessed. Po-ta-toe/Po-ta-tah.

About seven years ago, I joined the website "Frontstretch.com" as a writer, writing about NASCAR. At that time, my dream was to work in NASCAR, preferrably in PR. For me, The Frontstretch was a good starting point. It ended up being an awesome experience. My first season, I went with the site's owner to Texas Motor Speedway and spent the weekend hanging out in the media center. As a race fan, it was beyond cool!
Later that year, I got credentials to the Truck Series race at the Kansas Speedway. Unfortunately, the only access the credentials gave me were to the garage. I couldn't get into the media center, just the garage. Sounds great...get to walk around, watch the cars, see the drivers, and make all the fans staring through the fence jealous. But there was one problem. It was July, and it was HOT. And there are no concessions stands in the garage. But I was very lucky. I had made friends with the PR gal for driver Brendan Gaughan (she actually had to help me get the credentials), and she and the team took pity on me, so I got to spend the weekend cooling off and refreshing in their hauler. And they couldn't have been nicer, especially the driver, Brendan Gaughan.

In the years that I wrote for The Frontstretch, I got media credentials for the Kansas Speedway (several races), Texas Motor Speedway (two races) and Gateway Raceway (St. Louis, MO; about three races); got to sit with all the media goobs (who were usually fun) in the media center, watch driver press conferences, cruise the garage, and watch races from pit road. I even got to hang out in Victory Lane a couple of times, with David Starr and Brendan Gaughan, both in the Truck Series. The best part -- especially for the race fan in me -- was that I got to interview several drivers, both in person and on the phone. That list includes (currently in the series list, but may have been in a different series at the time): Truck Series drivers - David Starr (my personal favorite), Johnny Sauter; Nationwide Series drivers - Terry Cook, Brendan Gaughan, Jason Keller, Kenny Wallace; Cup Series drivers: Kasey Kahne, David Gilliland, Carl Edwards, Brian Vickers; drivers that are in between or not yet big names: Mike Wallace, Scott Riggs, Scott Wimmer, David Stremme; and racing personalities Rick Allen and Bob Dillner, both of SPEED TV. I know there are more, but for the life of me I can't remember them. I'm getting old.

I had a lot of great experiences and had big dreams of joining that group everyday as a PR rep, or just covering the series somehow. But then, a crazy thing happened. I had Emily. Suddenly my priorities and my dreams totally changed. Life on the NASCAR circuit, especially the constant traveling, no longer interested me. I used to think I couldn't imagine not wanting to be involved in NASCAR, but now I can't imagine not seeing my babies every day. While being a secretary isn't my dream job, and I hope one day to find it, being a mom is my dream, and I wouldn't change that for anything.

But I also had the opportunity to do things some NASCAR fans never ever get to experience, and for that I feel extremely lucky! After writing for Frontstretch for several years, and after deciding that my career probably wasn't going to involve NASCAR, I've lessened my role at the site in the last few years. For about the last two, my only real involvement has been helping to facilitate the David Starr Driver Diary (I would call and interview him once a month, turn his answers into an article, and run it by him for approval), and that was ok with me. However, following the 2009 season, the powers-that-be at The Frontstretch and myself decided that after five years (or something like that) the Starr Diary had probably run its course, so we ended things, and that officially ended my relationship with The Frontstretch.

I think I've kind of veered off course from where this whole thing started... Oh yeah. So after a few months off, the racing season starts tonight with the Shootout. For the last few weeks, I haven't really been looking forward to racing season again. It's a really long season, and the last few years I've kind of been a little bored by the end of the season, and not really ready for it when it starts. So when it finally hit me two weeks ago that racing was right around the corner, I wasn't very excited.

But this morning I watched Daytona qualifying, and right now I'm watching the ARCA race. Apparently, all it takes is the sound of those engines to bring back the excitement!! So I'm writing to say, I'm ready for some racing!! And please, let's have someone other than Jimmy Johnson win the championship! : )

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Another Sicky in Our House

I hate it when the family gets sick. It started out with the boy last week...runny nose, low grade fever, fussy, and not wanting to eat. It soon transferred to the hubby, who has had a congested head, dry heaves, and generally ickiness. And now...my sweet little girl. It started yesterday with a runny nose, and by bedtime she was coughing. She ended up waking up at about 1:00 coughing and complaining, so I gave her some Tylenol and brought her into bed with me, where she slept restlessly the rest of the night. She's at daycare today, but isn't feeling very well. Apparently, she was telling everyone at the daycare that she was sick, and had a fever and mommy gave her medicine. True, she is sick. And also true, I did give her medicine. But never, at any time, did she have a fever that I am aware of. Our daycare gal had to call me JUST to be sure! So I'm really hoping whatever she has isn't bad enough that she can't go in tomorrow. While I wouldn't mind staying home and out of the snow they are calling for, I only have 3 days of PTO left until late-April, so I need to work as much as possible!

Can I just say, UGH!!