Schooltime Favorites

One of the things I really love about my kids going to school (Hint-it's NOT shopping for school supplies!) are the "About Me" and "My Favorite Things" work they bring home. It's a little snapshot into their minds when I'm not around. Here are a select few things my daughter Em (2nd grade) wrote: "The best thing that happened to me last year was "- that I went to Puerto Rico; "If I could rule the world, I'd"- make everything to ice cream; "If I had $100, I'd"- share it with the poor; "My pet peeve"- vacuuming. (Nice, babe. Guess who's getting that chore when they are older?!) OK, the fact that she'd share money with the poor and loved our family vacation kind of make up for the vacuuming thing (she gets mad because I vacuum when she's trying to watch TV). She actually included our Puerto Rico trip in a number of her "About Me" pages. It made me so glad to know that the memories we made on that trip are as precious to her as they are to me.

Of course, my younger daughter brought me back to reality. Her answer to "Person you admire the most"- Barbie. UGH. Just what a feminist mommy wants to hear. In our defense, she's not into the dolls, just the movies, books, etc. Great. Best Parents Ever. Maybe it makes some sense; my dream career in Kindergarten was to be Miss Texas. Not even Miss America. I'm sure my parents were really excited to see that homework sheet.

Wednesday -Augh

All day today I kept thinking it was Thursday. Augh. That's happened to me way too often lately. I even bought an extra calendar to keep me up to date! I can think of no better cure for a wonky week than a pretty picture. Here's one from our recent trip to the Cayman Islands. Ahhhh, much better.

School Days

*Photo editing all messed up-my girls are not an icky gray color. But, yes, M's toenails are painted blue on one foot, purple on the other.

Today my girls started school. It was kind of a big day for us since it meant that our baby (M) is now in Kindergarten. Sniff. Em was also starting a new school; she had been at the same wonderful private preschool and school since she was three. Thankfully, the new school means that both M and Em now go to the same school. We can walk them to school in the morning after having breakfast as a family. So, lots of changes. I was anxious, not because I worried that the girls couldn't handle the changes. I knew they'd be fine. But, because of my concerns- would my girls meet any mean girls, would the kids accept Em since she is the "new" kid, would it overwhelm them to have so much new at one time, would they adjust to "normal" teaching (they've only been exposed to Montessori for the last 3.5 years), etc.

The first day was a resounding success. It was everything we wanted and more. Their teachers seem like truly special women. I'm sure there will be tough days for both of them. Today wasn't tough. Today was special and fun and exciting; everything a mom could hope for.

Friday Favorite- Missoni for Target

My love for Target designer collaborations combines my love for fashion and saving money (and Target). Unlike Orla Kiely and Liberty of London (previous Target collaborations), I do not own anything from Missoni. Although I regularly drool over their line. I love the designs and merging of colors and shapes. Unfortunately buying an entire closet full of Missoni doesn't jibe with my daily life or budget. I first heard Target was teaming up with Missoni a few months ago and anxiously awaited the result. I saw the first sneak peek at T&Lo's site and squealed with Glee. I want it ALL. I love it. (OK, really just the sweater and clutch in this outfit-that's a bit much).

I love the designer collaborations with Target (the ones that have worked have worked well). I think it's such a great way for designers to diversify and open their market up in a way that allows fashion houses to reach a larger audience in a way that gives them complete control over the way their product looks. (As opposed to knock offs like Forever 21 or similar retailers that do little more than steal others' artistic vision.) I think fashion should be more than just something nice to look at, or post to an inspiration board. Fashion should be attainable and wearable and liveable. That's just what this collection is. I'll be there first thing September 13th, how about you?!

Missoni for Target- my Friday Favorite

Wonder Woman Party-the Sweet Stuff

Is there any more to say about the Wonder Woman party?
Yes, Oh so much more. Today it's the sweet details.

First, the birthday girl requested Wonder Woman cupcake rings. These would not have been my choice for her birthday celebration. Also, Wonder Woman cupcake rings are surprisingly hard to find-thank goodness for Google. Perhaps the simple cupcakes worked out best since my birthday cakes never quite turn out the way I think they will. The cupcakes were pretty funny though- I wanted to make red and blue colored cupcakes (I've done this at least five times before). My husband bought yellow cake mix. Do you know what happens when you put red and blue food coloring in yellow cake mix?- Yup, orange and green cupcakes! Too funny. Oh well.

The Superhero Suckers. I loved how these turned out. If you want to recreate these at home, here's the super easy instructions: cut a template for the cape (I used glitter cardstock), punch a hole in the cape, squish the bottom of the lollipop wrapper through the cardstock. Cut a template for the mask, glue dots, and Bam! Pow! Kazaam! Instant superhero. I just found these on etsy, so you could go that route instead.

The Aggie-SEC Saga

We have 16 days before College Football starts, which means that its time to start talking about and obsessing over conference realignment. Woo-hoo! I love conference realignment talk almost as much as a Buffy marathon, shark swim, Tim Gunn meeting, and Kate Spade shoe sale combined. Almost. Last year there was a lot of chatter about Texas A&M moving to the SEC. A little over a year later, the chatter has increased. As of today, it looks like the move is imminent-though halted. *I recommend reading articles from Frank the Tank, Sports Illustrated, Kirk Bohls, and espn for more in-depth analysis.

Why are the Aggies thinking about moving?- In my opinion, the biggest reason behind the most recent rumors of a move to the SEC is the Longhorn Network. Maybe not directly, but indirectly. Once again Texas has something the Aggies don't and it doesn't make them happy. Not only is the Network a huge financial jackpot for Texas, it is a recruiting dream. (And, oh YES, I LOVE it!) Since the Longhorns aren't about to give up the Network, A&M is going to make it as uncomfortable for the rest of the BIG 12 as possible. Ultimately though, it's all about the money. (Not a dig against A&M, every major college football decision in the last 20 years has been about the money.)
Money, recruits & the future-there's more of it in the SEC. If the SEC accepts A&M to the conference, they can renegotiate their TV deal and probably make the most lucrative deal to date. A&M will have more money, which is good, because they'll need it. They will need to make A&M more attractive to a higher level of recruits; either in sports facilities or professors, etc. A&M's recruiting has fallen off in the last decade compared to the great classes snagged by Mack Brown and Bob Stoops. SEC schools have great recruiting classes because they have so much to offer recruits. A&M will be able to offer its recruits the chance to play on a stronger stage and wider audience. However, that stage will have a higher caliber of team and A&M will need to rise to meet the SEC.

What does it mean for A&M? -My perspective is that A&M will likely be right where they are now. Occasionally they get a high ranking, but almost always end up around a .500 season, only one conference championship and one BCS Bowl. Examining the bowls they have played in results in a 5 bowl losing streak (3 of the 5 losses were against SEC teams). And, that’s OK. Not everyone can win a National Championship (multiple times) or have Heisman candidates, but they will have money. *I should clarify here that this might be OK for the Aggies, but it most certainly would NOT be OK for Texas. I could barely handle one bad season, multiple seasons of less than 10 wins-NO.* The SEC is a strong conference. As much as it kills me to say this, they are the strongest football conference. The rest of the SEC's sports are pretty impressive as well. I think A&M will be at the bottom, or near the bottom of the SEC in most sports for quite some time. A&M isn't that strong in basketball (no conference championship, only one sweet 16 appearance in the past 15 years), while the rest of the SEC is pretty good. The SEC is even better as baseball, which is usually a pretty good sport for A&M. However, in a few years, the recruiting might be stronger for A&M than it is now, not because A&M will necessarily win more but because they will be playing at a higher level and on a stronger field. Clearly A&M is not going to make the move to the SEC because they think they can immediately win the conference.
What about the State?- This is where I think the deal gets held up a bit. A&M is a state supported school and, as such, has always had significant strings to what it can and can't do. The fact of the matter is that Texas and A&M have been a package deal since, well...the beginning. The only reason that the Big 12 exists as it does is because the state mandated that Texas and A&M make sure a couple of the smaller schools (Tech and Baylor) got taken care of. I don't see the Legislature allowing A&M to make a sweet deal for itself that leaves Tech swinging in the wind. Not without repercussions. A&M may be able to smooth some feathers by bringing in the SEC money and reducing the amount of appropriations they need from the state. That could work. Or, negotiating with the SEC to invite Tech, that could work too. Bear in mind that A&M is dealing with state elected officials who are probably getting pressure from constituents to maintain the Texas-A&M rivalry, so A&M needs to make sure that the Legislature at least feels like they are exerting some control over the situation. That said, A&M has never gotten the lion's share of appropriations before, so maybe they don't mind if their share is reduced. Maybe they think that there will be enough SEC cash flowing in to off-set the reduction.

What does it mean for the Texas-Aggie rivalry? -The Texas v A&M rivalry is far less than it was 20 years ago, even less than it was 10 years ago. The fact of the matter is that Texas vs Oklahoma has become far more important a rivalry than A&M. In fact, for many years, the Texas versus Oklahoma game was basically a National Championship. During that time, Texas A&M created a new rivalry with Texas Tech, which makes more sense given their similar playing levels and school composition. This is not a dig because I am a Longhorn and dislike A&M (some of my best friends are Aggies), these are the facts. I would happily debate anyone who still believes that Texas v A&M is THE rivalry it used to be. There are a number of schools that have cross-conference rivalries. I believe that Texas and A&M will always schedule games against each other, whether or not they are in the same conference. We are looking at generations of history, you don't throw away that tradition.

Does it kill the Big 12?-Probably, but we knew that a year ago. Alternately, the Big 12 could expand (back to 12-ha ha!). I don't like that option as much. I'd rather see Texas and Oklahoma go to another conference, or even start their own conference, maybe bring Tech, OSU, Notre Dame...hmmm... that would be fun! It means we can FINALLY write our own ticket. Texas is the pretty girl everybody wants to dance with. Still. Yes, we have our own Network and a lot of conferences won’t want to deal with that. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways around that. Other conferences have regional networks, there's no reason why Texas couldn't bring the Longhorn Network with it to the Pac-10 or Big Ten. The benefits of having Texas in your conference still outweigh Texas with its own network, just ask Dan Beebe. Texas could 1) negotiate with ESPN, 2) Create a new conference from disenfranchised teams tired of their conferences, 3) go to a new super conference of 16 somewhere….the options really are endless.

I LOVE conference realignment talk, so this is all fascinating to me. I wish the Aggies well if they decide to go to the SEC. I don’t think it is the panacea they think it is. And, frankly I think it boils down to whining about what Texas has (EARNED) that they do not have. I would love the creation of four or five super (16 team) conferences. Basically that would create a de facto playoff system. That is very much needed and would be exceedingly entertaining. The drawback to the super-conference idea is the death of the little guys like BYU and SMU. That said, I have LONG maintained that the little guys just do not play consistently at the same level as the big ones; it's not even apples and oranges. If A&M moves to the SEC, it opens the state up to more recruiting pressure from the SEC. I'm OK with that since there are a TON of very talented football players in Texas and it’s big enough for everyone. I also think that there are legions of great football players who are born and bred to love Texas and will sign up to play for Texas because all their life they've dreamed of wearing a Longhorn uniform. It doesn't much matter whether that uniform is in the Big 12, Pac-10, Big Ten, SEC, or any other conference. You play Texas football. It is what it is.

Friday Favorite-Wonder Woman Tiara & Bracelets

Image via maycouture

When my daughter said she wanted a Wonder Woman party, I knew I would need two awesome Wonder Woman outfits (one for her and one for her sister). I was all too happy to make sure I had awesome outfits for the girls (Wonder Woman-heck yeah). The girls and I made shirts, I made skirts (after some trial and error), so I just needed tiaras and bracelets. I searched the web for tiara and bracelet tutorials and even found a couple that didn't look too difficult. Fortunately I realized that I couldn't do it all (THAT was a big realization for me!) But, maycouture could. She made these great Wonder Woman tiaras and bracelets for my daughters. Her prices are extremely reasonable, she was super fast, and just generally a great seller to work with. She also makes really cute Princess Leia costumes-perfect for Halloween!

Wonder Woman Accessories-my Friday Favorite

Superhero-Wonder Woman Party Decor

You know what is lucky? Planning a Wonder Woman/Superhero themed party right around the 4th of July. JACKPOT. In fact, so jackpot that I ended up returning a ton of decorations (stars, etc) that we just didn't need.
I already showed you my fabulous door signs. But, it's my blog, so here they are again. The W was turned into an M for "Wonder M" and S to an M for "Super M." I LOVED these door and window decorations.
Probably the easiest and most eye catching decoration was the Wonder Woman garland. I followed the directions from One Charming Party. It involves using vintage Wonder Woman comics (I got mine from eBay), then sewing into a length of bias tape (I used double folded red). Voila! Instant decor. The only problem with this decoration is that it KILLED me to take them down. I pretty much want to redecorate our house using these; they are so awesome. I can imagine using a similar process for a little boy's room. Or, perhaps they might be a starting place for my future redesign of the girls' playroom/study area?! Hmmm...

I'm big on recycling, so I used the covers from the comic books to hang in our kitchen (where I normally display artwork). The extra (un-cut) comic books were displayed for the adults to read during the party. The page scraps were used in the frame project I wrote about yesterday. I got plenty of Pow! Bang! out of those comic books!Loved the skyscrapers. LOVE these. So easy. I've seen them using black, silver, and white paper. Basically, you wrap varying sizes of large boxes in craft paper and then cut & tape paper for the windows. So easy it's ridiculous. These made awesome photo props of the kids "flying" over skyscrapers. They were also handy when the boy superheros used them to launch balloons at the rest of us. My teenage next door neighbor helped me make these-what a sweetheart! Of course there were poufs. I had to. I have some weird compulsion to make poufs for every party; I can't help it. I also had YARDS of tulle to use since I bought it when I envisioned making floor to ceiling gathered columns. But, I decided that I liked the comic book garlands so much that I didn't need any additional decorations. I used the tulle on our stairway instead. I guess the upside is I now have yards of extra tulle for...well, anything because I have a ton of it! Thankfully tulle is pretty cheap when you have several Hobby Lobby coupons!

The last decoration I made was a quick and easy garland using a pdf file of Wonder Woman, the number 5, my daughter's name, etc. These button garlands are pretty quick and easy. I probably would have used more of these, but I loved the comic book garland so much more.

Add a few stars and balloons here and there, and that was our decor. My favorite was the comic book garland. Or the skyscrapers, or the door was a Super fun party to decorate!

Super Superhero Party Activities

Back to the party!
My daughter's Wonder Woman/Superhero party was Super fun to plan. I had tons of ideas, thanks in part to so many great parties on the Internet. Gotta love google. In case you are plannign a Super Wonderful party, here's my activity plan (and lessons learned!).

You can see from the picture above the list of the activities we had at the party. I tried to pick those aimed for the 4-7 crowd.

Create a Cape

I made a basic cape shape out of felt using a superhero cape we already had as a template. I used a Martha Stewart template to cut out a bunch of other felt shapes like lightning bolts, hearts, etc., provided glue and let the kids go. I used velcro dots to "secure" the capes. If I had time, I would have sewed the velcro on; that would have been a great idea. You really need to use something stronger to hold the cape- maybe ribbon or something laced through the cape. I'd also stay away from gluing felt. It doesn't really hold that great and was difficult to use. I'd concentrate on either choosing iron ons or stickers.

Save a Superhero
Using a Wonder Woman character (from a book), I printed out several "heroes" and hid them all over the living room. Each kid needed to "save" one. If I had to do it over again, I would print out WAY more and hide them everywhere. The kids really loved this game and you could easily turn this into a larger game. It would be fun to assign point values for the characters-like the ones up high are worth x, the ones hidden really well are y, etc. I would also have made this game last through the entire party, so kids could keep "finding" heroes and then you could give prizes at the end.

Frame Yourself
I Loved this idea- mod podge vintage comics (what I had left over from making the Wonder Woman banner-oooh, need to show you that!) on wooden frames for cute favors. The problem was that the kids got sort of stalled here. They either LOVED it and spent tons of time at the table, or they got really bored and left quickly.

Mask Mania

There are a ton of mask tutorials, but I have been traveling all summer and I knew I wouldn't have time. So, I ordered masks from The Red Knot. What a great deal-they were reasonably priced, shipped quickly, and look fantastic. I used foam stickers, sequins, etc. In retrospect, I would just stick with paint pens and stickers, the glue was pretty temperamental.

Vaporize Villains

My daughter made three requests for her party: 1) Wonder Woman, 2) Cupcake rings, 3) Silly String. Vaporize Villains fulfilled her Silly String request. Who doesn't love Silly String?! I used a coloring book to find pictures of villains, blew them up and stapled to our fence at varying levels. Then, we let the kids go wild. Easy and fun.

Roll over Crime

We have a huge blow up hamster ball (the kids can get in and roll around). So, each kid (who wanted to), got to "Roll over crime" over the front yard. The kids loved it. The only drawback was the weather- it was probably 100 degrees that day. Our ball is similar to this one.

There you have it, a Super Wonderful party. Next up, the decor, my favorite part!

Love Thursday- Back to School

I've finally found the true test of love: a mother's willingness (stupidity) to venture into Target and go back to school supply shopping. Remember when getting school supplies was fun! and exciting!? It's not like that anymore. It is full combat shopping. I can compare it only to those "Midnight Madness" warehouse sales Harold Powell used to have-C-R-A-Z-Y. The poor Target employees were restocking the shelves faster than you can say "What type of manilla paper do I need?" I went yesterday at lunch, thinking a weekday two and a half weeks before school would be relatively stress free. WRONG! Also, can somebody tell me why you have to get a specific brand of folder or erasers? Doesn't it all accomplish the same purpose? Is it to make parents go crazy before the school year starts???!!!

Of course the girls' school has an online supply order form, that I found out about 2 days after the orders were due...Augh. So, I bought what I could and came home to find an invitation from the PTO inviting me to an event WHERE THEY WILL BE SELLING SCHOOL SUPPLIES. Then, my head exploded.

The things we do for our kids. That's Love, man.