A couple of weeks ago, I set up an area in our backyard for Jason and Jenna to dig, plant and play. It’s been a big hit, especially with Jenna who has started her own garden in this previously unused portion of our yard. Today I’m sharing more of this project on Modern Parents, Messy Kids.
Since moving to the DFW area several years ago, the Dallas Arboretum has been one of my favorite local places to visit. Last fall, they opened the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden and now it’s one of Jason and Jenna’s favorites too. The garden is science-focused, with each of the indoor and outdoor stations featuring interactive activities around common themes, like energy, space and geology. We visited this weekend and arrived just after opening. We had the entire park nearly to ourselves!
Here are (more than just) a few of my favorite pictures – the gardens are so beautiful it’s hard to narrow down all of the photos I took.
When Jenna first suggested a camping and Cinderella themed party, I immediately loved the idea. I wasn’t exactly sure how to pull it off, but I knew it would be fun to try. Jenna had a few requests – like wanting to dress up like princesses and wanting to make necklaces - so that was my starting point and I added on from there.
Here’s what a day at Camp Cinderella turned out to be:
When guests arrived, they entered into the ‘costume area where they could gear up with all of the necessary clothing and equipment for the day (capes, tutus, sunglasses, tiaras, etc.).
After getting dressed up, the guests moved out to the backyard where they could choose from our ‘camp activities.’
Camp activities included:
- Archery – we had a couple of sets of the Brave archery bow and arrows and a hula hoop hanging from a tree to serve as the target.
- Horse Riding – it doesn’t get much better than a pink pony with lots of sparkles galloping through your yard.
- Sword Fighting
- S’mores – see Part 1 for the camp menu
- Tent “Clean-Up” – I purchased these castle tents and then decided at the last minute to add a few toy brooms so that the kids could clean their castles, just as Cinderella was required to do before going to the ball.
- Camp Photos - I purchased a frame at Michaels, spray painted it Cinderella blue and suspended it from the ceiling using pink tulle. I added some tulle along the wall behind it for an easy photo opp set-up.
I think the highlight, at least for Jenna, was definitely the horse. There’s something pretty magical about a sparkly pink pony wandering around in your yard.
For details about the camp food, see Camp Cinderella: Part 1.
My daughter requested a “Cinderella and Camping” party to celebrate her 6th birthday. It was an interesting mix of princess girliness with outdoorsy fun, and Jenna and I had a great time thinking up ways to combine the themes. In the end, our backyard was filled with girls in tutus, boys wielding swords, a bonfire and a glittery pink horse. I’m hoping we look back on this one as the year mom nailed it! Happy Birthday, Jenna!
Today I’m sharing our camp menu:
Enchanted Trail Mix
We set up a create-your-own-trail-mix bar for party guests to assemble their own camping snack. The bar included:
- Chocolate-covered almonds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Pink, blue and white M&Ms
No camping adventure would be complete without s’mores! Despite 80 degrees temperatures, all of our campers were up for sitting around a camp fire, roasting pink and white marshmallows and making traditional s’mores. I purchased these extra long roasting skewers to keep everyone a good distance from the heat.
Cake and Princess Punch
After making a practice cake a few weeks ago and experimenting with marshmallow fondant and natural dyes, I ended up purchasing two cakes and decorating them myself with pre-made fondant. For drinks, we served strawberry lemonade (aka Princess Punch).
For more party details, see Camp Cinderella: Part 2
Jenna loves planning her birthday parties, and this year’s celebration of turning 6 is no exception. She suggested a “Cinderella Camping” party, and I’ve had a great time thinking up ways to merge two seemingly opposite ends of the party theme spectrum. I won’t go into detail now but the mood board above gives quite a few clues. Will there be a pink-maned horse? Yes, yes there will. More pics after the party!
Despite lots of sickness in our family, we had a very nice holiday weekend. It was our first Easter in the new house, and the yard proved to be the perfect site for an egg hunt. Most years, Jason and Jenna quickly snatch up the eggs and count their bounty to see who won. This year, victory definitely went to the Easter bunny. J+J gave up after an extensive search of both the front and back yards, leaving at least 3 or 4 eggs to be found later in the day.
Here are a few more highlights from our weekend:
Last night we held our very first nighttime Easter egg hunt using glow-in-the-dark eggs, an idea shared by my aunt in her comments to something I posted last week. Genius! I knew we definitely had to try it out.
The concept is extremely simple – glow sticks inside of eggs – so I think I underestimated the amount of prep work involved. If you’re considering a night-time Easter egg hunt, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Proportion: Consider the size of your glow sticks in relation to the size of your plastic eggs. I purchased bracelet-sized glow sticks and tried to use the mix of small and large plastic eggs I had on hand. The sticks were nearly impossible to cram into the 2-inch eggs, but fit easily into the larger 3-in eggs. I recommend using all large eggs or purchasing these mini glow sticks (wish I had seen these at the craft store yesterday). As a last resort, tape is your friend.
Material: Similar to the size issue, I had a mix of transparent/textured eggs and the more traditional solid color eggs. Not surprisingly, the solid color eggs were better at giving off a “glow” in the landscape than the transparent eggs.
Timing: Since you have to “turn on” the glow sticks, there isn’t a lot of opportunity to prep this activity in advance. It took my husband and me almost an hour to place glow sticks into approximately 36 eggs and hide them in the backyard. I had planned on having our hunt just after dusk so that there would still be a bit of natural light for photos. But the prep took longer than expected and we ended up taking the kids out just past their usual bedtime, in full-on darkness. If you’re going for optimum glow effect, however, this is the perfect time for your egg hunt. Seeing the eggs glowing around the yard was definitely a very cool sight!
I’ve made decoupage bowls before and I’ve always found it a pretty messy craft. I came across this technique recently for creating little paper birds nests without ending up with glue covered hands and decided to try it out with Jenna. We made a bird nest (using long strips of paper) first, and then I tried making a couple with paper punch circles. Both were very easy and turned out super cute.
Here’s how to make them:
- Cut decorative paper into narrow strips or use a paper punch to create small circles.
- Mix glue and water (2/3 glue to 1/3 water) and paint the inside of a small bowl.
- Cover the inside of the bowl with plastic wrap and paint another layer of glue over the plastic wrap.
- Add a layer of paper, starting at the bottom and working your way up the side of the bowl. Use a paint brush to gently coat the paper with glue as you go. You can add a second layer and additional coats of glue for a sturdier bowl.
- Let the paper dry in the bowl for several hours. Once the inside is dry, lift it out of the bowl and remove the plastic wrap. Turn the bowl upside down and let dry completely.
It’s not quite spring but already we’re beginning to spot some new guests in our backyard. Watching birds is becoming a bit of a hobby around here, and over the past weekend, we even spotted a red-tailed hawk. In addition to being on the look-out for birds, I’ve also been scouting options for modern bird houses and feeders for our yard. I just purchased this wooden bird feeder and, even though the birds haven’t discovered it yet, I love the new view just outside my office window.
Here are a few others on my wish list: