Our Summer, According to Pinterest

Thanks to Pinterest, I have a wealth of ideas and activities I plan to tackle to help make this summer organized, exciting, educational, and fun.  Shoot, I already printed out monthly calendars with notes, weekly calendars with sections to record dinner plans, and cleaning schedules for daily, weekly, and monthly chore charts.  First things first, right?  I am both thrilled and nervous to have all three kids home all summer.  On the one hand, I can’t wait to spend lots of quality time with them; on the other hand, that’s a lot of hours to keep three kids occupied!  But maybe, with a little help from Pinterest and the mommy blogging community, we’ll survive…

First, to kick things off:

Then some planning:

When we get bored:

When we run out of money (Who are we kidding…we’ll be starting here!):

A few special treats:

Some fizzy and scientific fun:

Some boy-focused fun:

Some messy fun:

Some pretend fun:

When the kids resist naps:

To activate our inner artists:

Fun in the kitchen (and our tummies):



And of course we also have the YMCA for Kid Watch, swimming, and the playground, area parks, our children’s museum pass, day-trips to Atlanta, bike-riding, walks, the library, and errands.  Target should be good for at least an hour a week…I kid, I kid.  Not really.  Only sort of.

Then we have our trip to Virginia, vacation in Florida, and possibly other trips to PA and Texas…

Did I mention I’ll be taking one class, teaching myself Spanish for Reading Knowledge, reading approximately a book a week, writing as much fiction as I can, creating a syllabus for creative writing, and trying to get an article published?

Should be enough to fill the time, right?  Now that I have it all written out, I think the time is going to go by entirely too fast!  I hope we at least have time to make s’mores one night…

A Candy Land Birthday Party

Saturday was a beautiful day for Riley’s birthday party!  We had it at a nearby park with a covered pavilion, plenty of wide open space, and a playground (that we never made it to during the party.).  The pavilion was ours from 1-5 to give us an hour to set-up and pack-up around the two hour party, and we needed that whole time and then some!  Just after noon, we packed up the family and all of the party stuff in two cars and took off for the park!  Alli, CE, and my parents came down from Virginia to celebrate Riley’s birthday and Easter with us.  I don’t know what we would have done without their help!


1. I took this idea from Pinterest:

And had Shawn and CE put up the table cloths across the top of the pavilion.  It was a bit breezy, but they certainly filled the space nicely and created a cool effect.

2.  We had three helium-filled Mylar balloons for the cake table.

3.  Alli did streamers around each of the pavilion poles.

4.  On the tables, I just had table cloths and bowls for candy and food in Candy Land colors.

The Party Plan

Our idea for the party was four half-hour blocks of time for the following activities: games, eating, art, and playground.  But actually, we ended up with blocks for games, eating, art, and free-play around the pavilion while the parents and fam all chatted.  The two hours went by so fast, and I think everyone had a good time. I hope so!  Riley said she did!


1.  Balloon Pop Candy Race.  We did this last year, but with dinosaurs and lizards in the balloons instead.  The kids formed two teams of three, and raced out into the field where they popped a balloon, retrieved the candy, and ran back to tag off.  It was adorable watching all of the kids run and find new ways to pop the balloons.  Good times.

2.  Easter Egg Hunt.  This one seemed like a no-brainer considered Easter was the next day, and the party was focused around candy!  Alli and CE and Riley stuffed the eggs in the morning, and my dad and Adrian hid them around a field.  Total: 131 eggs!

3.  Bucket Ball Toss.  I had this idea from Pinterest for this game:

But instead of buckets, I used brightly colored pots and ping-pong balls.  Then, we just had all of the kids stand around and try to toss a ping-pong ball into a pot.  Okay, so this was a little lame, but the kids seemed to have fun!  Next time, I’ll just get buckets!


1.  Cookie Cakes.  Since I had had a cookie cake for my birthday, Riley wanted a cookie cake for hers.  But instead of one cake, the plan was to create four 9″ round cakes (since she was turning four and I had bought four packs of cookie dough).  In the end, we had three.  Two rounds turned out perfectly and popped right out of the pan (Kroger’s brand).  The next two didn’t, and I ended up destroying one cake and leaving the last one in the pan (Nestle’s).  Then, Riley and I iced and decorated the cakes with M&M’s, so they looked like giant pieces of candy.  Who knows?  She may be the next Cake Boss.

2.  Candy.  In keeping with the theme, we had a ton of candy at the party!  It was also part of the party favor, but during the party, we had all different sorts available for everyone to enjoy: gummy bears, jelly beans, Hershey kisses, Reese’s cups, M&M’s, Robin Eggs, and assorted mini Hershey’s bars.  We still have a bunch of candy left, too!

3.  Snacks.  We kept it simple since we had so much candy: pretzels, grapes, and strawberries.

4.  Drinks.  Capri Suns for the kids and bottles of water for everyone.


1.  I picked up a balloon animal kit for three dollars from Target.  The plan was to have Shawn blow them up for the kids, so the kids could decorate them as snakes (or something simple).  Instead, the kids helped blow them up and got a chance to wave them around a bit until they popped.  Adrian went through at least ten balloons!

2.  My dad is a sign-making genius!  So I asked him to make a banner for the kids to color together at the party.  Riley loves to color, and I thought it would be nice to have a chill activity in addition to the games.  My dad brought markers, and I picked up glitter glue pens and stickers.  The adults did most of the work on the banner, but the kids sat down for a little while, and it was nice having something for them to do quietly for a time.  I will definitely post a pictures of the completed banner once I get it from my dad!


1.  A friend of mine, for her baby shower, attached a thank you note to the favor for all of the guests, and I thought it was a genius idea!  So Friday afternoon, Riley picked out thank you notes and filled them out for her friends.

2. Then we picked up water bottles for all of the kids and attached the thank you notes to them.  At the party, the kids filled their water bottles with candy before they left.

I love being able to celebrate our kids’ birthdays in fun ways.  Now that Riley is getting older, it is nice having her help plan and prepare for the party, too.  A big thanks to all of Riley’s friends for coming to her party!  A big thanks to my family for being there and helping so much!

Enjoy the pictures!

Pinterest and the Stress of Planning a Party

Riley’s fourth birthday is fast approaching.  April 7th will be here before I know it, especially with Spring Break over and classes and school work kicking into high gear for the final six weeks of the semester.

I started talking to Riley and Shawn about the upcoming celebration over the last couple of weeks.  We decided we would do a party for all of Riley’s friends, and the party’s theme would be Candy Land.

(I should confess first and foremost that I got the very idea to have a Candy Land party from Pinterest.  I saw a couple of cute party ideas and then proposed the idea to Riley, who really liked it.  And of course, I knew she would.  The girl does not know a sugary food she doesn’t like!  So even from the outset of party planning, Pinterest was a player…)

So now we have three weeks to go, and we need to get serious about planning her party.  Here’s the problem: Pinterest has upped the stakes.  I have a board for birthdays and a new board for Candy Land parties.  All of the ideas are great, but they are sort of stressing me out.  Now I have to make choices.  Now I can see ways to be cute with candy for activities and decorations, and I have the pressure to put these ideas into play.

Consider how we planned Riley’s third party.  The biggest decision was which park to plan it at.  She choose dinosaurs and lizards as the theme without any input from me, and we went along with it.  I bought some dino decorations and plastic toys from Dollar Tree.  I picked up a few dino party game ideas from a book a friend of mine found at a library in Denver during our vacation out West last year.  I think the book had three ideas, and we used two of the three.  For decorations, my dad made a sign and I bought some balloons.  For favors, we went with bubbles and a few little dino toys.  My twin sister helped me make a dinosaur shaped cake I found on a website.  We bought pizza.  We set out a cooler of drinks and bowls of grapes and pretzels.  And that was it.  Boom.  Done.

All told, I will probably execute a similar approach to Riley’s party this year because of time and money.  I will try to spice it up with some great ideas from Pinterest (like giant balloon lollipops, a candy buffet, and some cheap decorating ideas).  But all those other ideas on my inspiration boards will haunt me a little.  I love planning parties for my kids.  I love going all out.  Pinterest works on both of these desires of mine in paradoxical ways: I can collect all sorts of great ideas, and that growing body of ideas increases my anxiety.

I realize that shouldn’t happen.  Right?  I mean, Riley doesn’t know what Pinterest is or what it does.  And for her, as long as her party has food and friends and fun, she’ll be all set.  But still.  Now that I know all these greats ways to carry out a Candyland party, I want to put them into practice.  I want my online inspiration to positively influence my offline party planning.  The problem is, Pinterest doesn’t care about time or money.  On Pinterest,  my resources are limitless, inconsequential.  It’s in the translation from online to offline that things get problematic.  When Pinterest meets practical issues, something has to give.  And as a result, I hover in this party-planning purgatory, plagued by this uncomfortable feeling of stress that I know I should not feel, but feel all the same.

Filtering seems to be the issue.  I have to filter content from Pinterest to pull off Riley’s party.  On Pinterest, the only criteria for filtering is a simple question: Do I like this idea or not?  In reality, filters abound: How long will this take to make?  What do I need to buy?  Do I really need this?  Will Riley like it?  Do I know enough about jello?  Can I manipulate tissue paper?

Don’t get me wrong: I am still enjoying the party-planning process with the help of Pinterest.  But I do get this funny little feeling at times, and I need to remind myself to breathe and relax.  I already have invitations, and maybe next weekend we’ll start shopping for decorations, candy, and supplies.  Hopefully, I can spread out the preparations, so the days before won’t be frantic.

And after the party, I’m sure I’ll blog about it.  Maybe I’ll even have a new pin or two to put up on my board for pins I’ve used, bought, done, or made.

I’m sure I will.

*Note: all of the images in this post are from Pinterest pins.