Friday, September 12, 2014

Sponsored Post: Celebrating Everyday Moments

The best thing you’ve ever done for to help me take my life less’s only life, after all.” 
--Indigo Girls

Ever since I moved back to the United States from India, celebrating small moments has been one of the most important things I do in my daily life. Gratitude is now the driving force behind my attitudes, my decisions, and my celebrations. I learned--the hard way!--that losing sight of the beauty in everyday life can mean missing out on your own incredible journey. And that taking life too seriously? Can make all the difference in all the wrong ways.

Big moments are important too, of course--the birthdays and firsts-days and great big live-out-loud milestones are fun and important and beautiful, too. But since my great Indian adventure, and the even greater adventure called parenthood, I know now that taking the time to appreciate the beauty and grace in the be here the greatest gift we can give ourselves and the people we love. 

Which is why I’m pleased to be working with American Express, and my dear friend Soleil Moon Frye, to spread awareness for the #EveryDayMoments campaign. The American Express Everyday Card is designed with moms in mind. Using the card on everyday essentials like clothing and groceries has a big payback, and it’s a great way to make it a little easier for parents to create everyday celebrations for their families.

Check out the card on Facebook here, and also Soleil’s super cute video below, where you can see how she and her adorable family turned the everyday moment of buying a (gasp!) minivan into a dance party. (And yes, I’m one of those minivan snob moms who shudders at the words “sliding door” and had made fun her of endlessly since the day she brought it home...but this video sort of just a little bit changes my mind...)

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by American Express. All opinions and statements are my own, including making fun of minivans (but secretly envying minivan dance parties...)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to Throw a Hamster Birthday Party (Yes. Really.)

I never thought I'd say this, ever, but...
Internet? You failed me.

When E came home and announced she wanted a birthday party inspired by her favorite literary character, I Googled "how to throw a hamster birthday party" and came up with nothing.

Really, nothing. Nada.
Not one single post.

How can that be? Do I have the only kid on the planet who's obsessed with all things hamster? (OK, I probably do...)

Ninety billion hours on Pinterest, Etsy, Amazon and various and assorted craft websites later, I'm pleased to present the Internet's very first hamster birthday party how-to post. So if anyone else's kid falls in love with Humphrey the hamster and wants to party like a rodent? You'll be all set.

Hamster Party Craft

This was by far the most important part of our hamster party (and also the one I'm most proud of.) A craft table activity that doubled as a favor, these DIY hamster balls were the hit of the party and an absolute blast to make. Using real hamster bedding (available at pet stores or on Amazon) and an assortment of hamster accessories, we created individual hamster balls that each child took home as a "pet." Since the party, we've gotten a ton of texts, emails and pictures of the hamsters in all sorts of cool places. I guess they were a hit!

What you will need:

140mm clear acrylic fillable ball ornaments (available at Factory Direct Craft)
Small stuffed hamsters (we used this one from Amazon)
Hamster accessories: mini wooden blocks, miniature carrots, baby bottleshamster snacks, miniature teddy bears
Baker's twine (we used purple)
Kraft paper hamster-shaped tags (check out these from Etsy)
Sharpie marker (for labeling)

We put everything into bowls on the craft table and let the kids create their own perfect hamster habitat. (Note: adult supervision is really helpful here, since the ornament balls can be a little tricky to close. Huge thank you to my rock star cousin Natalie, who was the best Hamster Station manner ever.) When the kids were finished creating their hamster balls, we wrote their names in Sharpie on hamster tags and used baker's twine to attach the tags and keep the ornament balls closed.

Hamster Party Entertainment

Hamster-themed birthday party entertainment was a tough one. I found these giant inflatable hamster balls on Amazon, but that seemed sort of not safe and maybe a personal injury lawsuit waiting to happen. So I begged our local puppet show guy to perform (he's amazing) and incorporate a hamster into his script. I provided the hamster puppet. The puppet show was a BIG hit with the kids, and E got to keep the hamster puppet at the end of the show. Double awesome.

Hamster Party Snacks

For snacks, we went with stuff E thought hamsters might like, based on her knowledge of hamster from obsessively reading Humphrey the Hamster books. Knowledge which may or may not be accurate...but whatever, we went with it and it looked super cute! Pretzel sticks, popcorn, carrot and celery sticks...all easy stuff to arrange in mason jars so the kids could grab what they wanted. For both the craft and snack tables, I hand-lettered signs using purple paint and cardboard. We also did an "adult food" table and switched out the carrots, etc for a tower of mini purple and brown cupcakes (red velvet and chocolate-chocolate, E's specific request) when it was time for cake.

Hamster Party Candy Station

The final touch to our hamster birthday party was a candy station customized with all of E's favorites (and some of mine!) We wrapped wide mouth mason jars and some glass vases we had around the house with baker's twine and filled them with an assortment of small candies. E and N had a blast stamping kraft paper bags with a hamster rubber stamp and the words "Happy Birthday." As each guest left the party, they got to fill a bag with some sweet treats.

Hamster Birthday Gift

Confession: I may or may not be the worst mom ever for refusing to get E an ACTUAL real live hamster for her birthday. Which she really, really wanted. But with two jobs and two kids, not to mention a husband, a dog, and a whole lot of other things on my plate, adding a rodent was Just. Not. Happening.

So I did the second best thing I could: I made her the coolest faux hamster set up, ever. It's got a water bottle, a feeding station, a hamster wheel, plus all the cute wooden chew toys a (stuffed) hamster could want. Check it out!

E was really happy and excited about her "real" Humphrey and his hamster much so that she's been "feeding" him, giving him water, reading to him, and sleeping with the whole thing right next to her pillow every night since her birthday. Which, if you think about it, is even BETTER than an alive hamster...because no way would she be sleeping with a rodent next to her pillow.

(Just saying.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Interview: E, Six Years Old

And the tradition continues.

I can't believe my baby girl is turning six years old. Time is flying by. Every moment feels more precious than the one that came before it. This year, we did our traditional birthday blog interview on the couch after school, E curled up on my shoulder, reading her words out loud as I typed them. When on earth did she get SO BIG? 

So much is changing, but her sweetness and kindness and compassion and curiosity about the world remained unchanged, and I am grateful.

The Interview

Favorite color: silver

Favorite dessert: melty mint candies

Favorite fruit: orange melon (cantaloupe)

Favorite vegetable: carrots

Favorite food: tacos

Favorite song: On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons (god I love this kid)

Favorite thing to do: snuggle with my dog

Favorite restaurant: the Persian restaurant

Favorite thing to do at school: read

Favorite thing to do on the weekends: have playdates with my friends

Favorite movie: The Sound of Music

Favorite TV show: Garfield & Friends

Favorite book: The World According to Humphrey

Favorite animal: koala

Favorite place to go: the beach

Favorite game: Candyland

Favorite flower: bougainvillea

Favorite thing to do with friends: jump rope

What do you want to be when you grow up? a librarian

What are you afraid of? not bees and bad guys

What makes you happy? C (her best friend), Mommy, Daddy, N, Tucker, when the rainbow comes out.

Tell me about yourself: My name is E and I like having playdates and playing with my dog. I like to imagine. I like playing with my brother. I am an American. I like going swimming and climbing trees.

Do you want to make a six-year-old statement? Nope.