Country Living...Island Dreaming

January 28, 2013

A Lego Themed Birthday Party

To celebrate my son's 9th birthday,
we hosted a Lego Themed Party..
at our house...
with 15 boys.

Yes, 15 boys...Inside...I can't believe I agreed to it.  But somehow we managed to survive the crazy day!
Lego Themed Birthday Party
The door sign set the tone for the party. (Although, I drove myself insane trying to find the right colors to make a pattern. I finally gave up and decided it didn't have to look perfect.)

I had a whole schedule of activities to fill up the 2 1/2 hour event.  The party began at 4:00 p.m. and ended around 6:30 p.m.  Of course, things don't always go as scheduled, especially with 15 boys!

As the kids were dropped off, each parent would wish me "good luck"!  That got me a little worried!

But like I said, I had a plan...First, I had each boy fill out a card to guess how many Legos were in the jar.
Guess the Legos Game
For the guesses, I covered a tissue box in Lego wrapping paper left over from another birthday.  Most of the kids actually guessed pretty well.  The total number was 268 and my son guessed 265!  I don't think he cheated because I had the jar hidden until the party started.  He gave the prize to the two boys who were tied for second place anyway.

Once everyone had arrived, they headed down to the basement playroom to horse around for a few minutes.  The second my husband and I walked down there, we knew we would have to start some games soon or else there would be a head injury to deal with!  The crazy boys were jumping all over, wrestling, throwing footballs.  Total mayhem!

My son wanted to play the first game in the family they could be near the snacks in the kitchen.  We ushered the crowd back upstairs, munched on some veggies and pretzels for a few minutes and then set up the game.  

Lego Toss Game
The Lego Toss Game

We set up three of these Lego Toss Games in a row and lined up the kids in 3 lines of 5.  We gave each team a cup filled with 20 Legos and instructed them to aim for their target without stepping over the line.  My husband coaches many of these boys in football and baseball so all he has to do is make an announcement, and they all listen.  I, on the other hand would be like, "Ok guys, now we are going to..." and no one would even pay any attention.  It was quite funny.

So I let my husband take charge of the game while I stood at the end, cheering for each team and announcing what number their piece would land in.  The kids were really into the game and were jumping up and down yelling and cheering for each other.  We went through about 3 or 4 rounds and they all had a great time.  

My next plan was to play the Ninjago Wrap Contest.  That game never happened because the boys all wanted to just run around and play and my son informed me that he's "not really into the Ninjago guys anyway".  Just great.
Lego Party Games
The plan was to have three teams.  Each team would designate one person to wear the mask and the rest of the team would wrap him up to look like the character, Zane, (pictured in the upper right).  Now, I know nothing about these Lego characters but I discovered that Zane looks like he is wrapped in toilet paper anyway, so it made sense to use him for this game.  I would set a timer for 3 minutes and the boys would have to wrap their teammate and at the end, we would judge the best Zane.

Now, I happen to know from experience at a school Halloween event, that boys love wrapping someone up in toilet paper.  I just knew this game would be a hit...but like I said, we never got around to doing it!  Oh well.  If any of you decide to try it, let me know how it goes!

We had also planned on a Pass the Lego Game (like Hot Potato) but that never happened either.

And the Build the Highest Lego Tower game... never happened.

But what did happen was lots of running, wrestling, jumping, football playing, a tiny bit of Lego building and some Wii.  And you know what...they all had a great time!  Every now and then, my husband would head down to the basement and throw the football to them and I would hear all this cheering and laughing.  

When the pizza arrived, the sweaty boys emerged from the basement just long enough to stuff their faces and  then they were back to the basement again until it was time for cake.

Lego Table Setting

I am sure they barely noticed the Lego table settings...or even cared.  Originally, I bought actual Lego tablecloths with the "City" theme of helicopters and police cars on them.  Of course when I opened them up I discovered that the scene was only on the edge of the tablecloth and the middle was just white.  I wasn't happy with how the table looked so I took out some white tablecloths and cut the Lego wrapping paper I had into table runners to put down the middle.  Then I just enlarged a Lego logo and pasted it onto a piece of card stock for the center.

Lego Place Setting
Luckily,the silver plates (square for Legos) I bought to go with the original table cloth matched the new "runner".  I just switched the navy napkins to red and I was all set.  I used the dining room table and the kitchen table instead of attempting to fit all the boys in one room.  

The table settings ended up fitting in well with the Happy Birthday banner I made for the fireplace.
Lego Party Decor - Homemade Banner for the Mantel

Lego Party Banner for Lego Themed Birthday Party

The banner ended up being a bit of a challenge because when I tried to download some Lego fonts, I picked up a computer virus (which I am still trying to completely get rid of).  I ended up finding some very small fonts that I could not enlarge on the computer so I made copies and blew them up on the printer.  The copies didn't enlarge well and were very light so I had to fill them in with a Sharpie.  Then I just outlined them in yellow, cut them out and glued them onto red card stock.  I punched holes in the top and strung them up with long shoelaces.  They took a bit too long but I was happy with how they turned out.

The party finally came to a close as the parents arrived between 6:00 and 6:30.  Most of the kids were not ready to leave, which I guess was a good sign.  The basement felt like a sauna from all the sweaty boys running around.

As everyone departed, my son handed out the goodie bags he helped me make. (There was one extra due to a last minute cancellation).
Lego Goodie Bags To make the bags, we just cut out circles and attached them with puffy double sided stickers onto plain colored gift bags.  We filled them with a Lego 3-in-1 car kit, a Whoopie cushion and some candy...because the kids weren't quite sugared up enough!  As expected, they were very excited about the Whoopie cushions!  Boys!!!

My son was thrilled with his party.  His friends had a blast and my husband and I survived the 15 boys...or should I say - our house survived 15 boys!  (The 15 included my 2 sons).   Everything ended up working niece even came and picked up Rosie for the evening so she got to play with her doggie friends.  A fun night for everyone!

Have you had any indoor house parties for your kids?
I would love for you follow along so you don't miss a post!

Lego Birthday Party Ideas - Decor, Games and Gift Bags


January 27, 2013

Weekend Pupdate #50

It's almost all fun and games
living with Rosie. 
She is always ready to play
and will grab a toy the second someone enters the room.

Or a sock...

She is always rolling around the floor with something...
or someone.

Last night Rosie had the opportunity to roll around with some other dogs.  While we hosted a birthday party for my nine year old at our house, Rosie spent the evening at my niece's house.  No way was I going to entertain 15 crazy nine year old boys and keep track of a furry beast!  My niece was happy to help out and since she has two dogs who just love Rosie, it was fun for everyone!  My niece even texted me a few times to let me know how Rosie was doing.  I think she would have been happy to stay there all night.

Here is a picture my niece sent me.  
Rosie was enjoying the snuggling time!

And this is what she looked like when she got home.
One exhausted girl!
Just resting up for another day of doggie adventures!

Did you have any adventures this weekend?


January 23, 2013

Study Tips for 3rd Graders

This week I am running around getting supplies together for my 9 year old's birthday party!  I can't believe I have a 9 year old!  My husband was so considerate to remind me that now my son is halfway through his childhood years of living at home with us.  Thanks, I really needed to be reminded of that!

Anyway, while I am getting ready for party day, I thought I would show you how my 9 year old prepares for his weekly multiplication test.  We have gotten into a good routine of studying each week and using some helpful tips.

Each Friday, his class is given a pretest on the weekly number.  The most recent being the 7's.  He will then memorize and practice multiplying by 7 for the week, ending with a test on Thursdays.  He usually does fine with his studying but I like to help out in the following ways.

1.  Flash Cards - I make him a set of flash cards each week for the current number.  He usually keeps them by his bed and goes over them each night.  Sometimes, he will bring them downstairs and have his brother test him with these too.  His brother loves playing teacher so this is an easy way to have some practice.

2.  Reminders -   I like to leave reminders around so I tape a list on the bulletin board of his desk.  These are just there so he can glance up while doing his other homework.  I figure, the more he sees the facts, the more they will sink in.

3.  Post Its -   And speaking of sinking in, I also bombard him with more facts written on Post-Its and taped to the back of my car seat.  Between tennis, piano and the various other reasons he would be in my car each week, he gets to see the multiplication facts right in front of him.

4.  Yellow.  Yes, you might have noticed that the list on his desk and the Post-Its are yellow.  Well, many years ago, I remember from some videotaped study guide that yellow is supposed to be a color that stimulates memory.  I have always made a point to use yellow when possible for that reason.  Of course, when I was about to write this post, I figured I would look on the internet to see if this yellow theory was believed to be true.  I didn't find much but then came across the following website:

The Erupting - The Effects that Colors Have on You

Sure enough, they mentioned that yellow helps to "activate your memory" and "stimulates mental activity" among other things.  The site lists all the colors and explains the effect of each one.  You should check it out.

5.  Practice, Practice, Practice.  Of course with all memorization tasks, repetition is key.  Our school recommends several websites that my son practices on.

One is where we have a log on from the school to sign on and practice each week.

Another good site is where they also have to sign in with their school password.

In addition to those, I also print out a few practice tests from  If you click on the "multiplication" box in the blue section at the top and choose "five minute frenzy charts", you can scroll down and print the chart you need - example "multiply by 7s".  There are 5 or 6 different practice tests for each number.  We usually print a few and then I time my son while he works on them.  We usually do these on Wednesday nights since he final test is on Thursday.

With all that practice, he does pretty well on his final test each week and is hopefully learning some helpful study skills in the process.

Do you have any study tips for kids?


January 20, 2013

Weekend Pupdate #49

I took this picture right before I left for church this morning.
Let's just say Rosie was not happy.
And neither was I.

She was out in the yard while I was getting dressed this morning.  When I went to let her back inside, she came running over to me with a muddy nose and feet.  Needless to say, I was not dressed to clean a dirty dog so I stuck her out on the deck until I returned.  Luckily, our deck has gates so she was contained in an area where she couldn't get more mud on her.  And luckily my husband did not go to church today so I could feel safe leaving her outside.  Plus it is pretty warm here today - in the 50's!..heat wave for us.  So, I didn't feel bad leaving her out for awhile - AND I had something to look forward to doing when I got home...ughh.
When I returned, I washed her paws and nose with wet cloths.  She cleaned up pretty well and before long was back to her antics in the yard.

 Carrying branches and sticks...

 Running in the grass...

And chasing whatever the wind blew by her.

I think she will sleep well tonight!

Are you spending any time outside today?


January 18, 2013

Not Just Dreaming...

I am happy to report,
that this year instead of just dreaming of the islands...
we are actually going to the islands!!!

You might remember my failed attempt last year at convincing my husband to take a Caribbean vacation...see Operation Caribbean Vacation.  But last year it was difficult to get away.  We brought home our darling puppy in February and there was no way I could leave a non-trained puppy with someone for a week.  I tried my hardest to plan a trip before February but "we", and by "we" I mean my husband...decided against it.  Well, not this year baby!  We are going!

Before we had children, my husband and I would choose an island based on best beaches, best restaurants, spa treatments...basically the "pamper factor"...
Here is the entrance to the Regent Palms Turks and Caicos.  After paging through my previous posts, I realized I never did a full report on this lovely resort!  I mentioned it a few times like in the post, Caribbean Inspired Lighting, but I never gave you a full trip report.  I will have to work on that.  I would love to share this wonderful vacation spot with you in detail.  This resort had all the pamper factors I was looking for.  But this was definitely better for a couples trip.

You might remember how much I loved Jumby Bay, Antigua...a little bit too secluded and relaxing to bring the kids...but oh did I love it there!  You can read about that trip HERE.
The beaches were so peaceful and calm.

Seriously, how many times have I posted this picture of myself standing on the stairs of the Great House at Jumby Bay....looking like I own the place!
I do look like I could live there, don't I?

We actually considered a trip back to one of my favorites - The Frangipani Resort in Anguilla.  The hotel has added a pool since we were there last and they do have full suites with kitchen and living areas so it would work for kids...and that BEACH - ahhh one of the best!
We decided against it, basically because only the most expensive penthouse was the only suite available for the week we wanted.  We still plan on going back here again because we had such fond memories of the place.  You can read HERE about that fabulous vacation.

There are also so many islands we haven't visited with and without the kids so we had a difficult decision picking one for this year.  Then one evening we pulled out all the photo books and dvd's of the three times we took the kids to Grand Cayman and we knew we would just have to go back!
It's been three years since our last trip there and we chose the island again for all the reasons we have in the past, (see Grand Cayman with Kids).  We have such wonderful memories of vacationing there when the boys were little.  I just feel like Grand Cayman has become the family vacation spot for us.  I want them to recognize things - from memory and the videos and pictures, and I want them to get excited about the place all over again!

So the trip is booked for the spring and I am sure you will get sick of seeing all the pictures I post when we return!  I am counting down the days now!

Do you have any spring vacations planned?

Linking to:
Chic on a Shoestring Decorating


January 16, 2013

Yoga Mats Can Be Pretty

Isn't this a cute yoga mat?

Yoga Mat - This one is almost pretty enough to be mistaken for a rug!

Please note that this post contains an affiliate link, which means I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking my link.

I just picked it up yesterday in anticipation of this morning's yoga class.  At first I was going to swing by Five Below and buy one of their cheapo ones, but since I know many yoga mats are made out of PVC and all kind of hormone disruptive chemicals, I decided against that idea.  Instead, I stopped by the local health food store and purchased this one from Gaiam.  This brand is free of the "top six most harmful phthalates" and although it was more expensive (around $22.00), I felt better knowing I am not exposing myself to all those nasty chemicals.  Who wants to disrupt any hormones when menopause could be just a few years away?!!!

Unfortunately, I later confirmed that although the Gaiam is free of those 6 phthalates, the mat I chose is still made of PVC - like most yoga mats...oh well.  The company does carry some that are non-PVC.  I guess I didn't notice that when I was at the store.  Well, at least it is still pretty... It looks like an area rug and the colors are kind of beachy, so it works for me!  If are interested and your local health food store does not carry these, you can find a selection - HERE.

Yoga Mat - There are so many pretty new styles on the market these days!

Why this sudden interest in yoga, you ask?  Well, I am the coordinator for our local MOMS Club "Empty Nester" events.  Basically, that means I plan an outing each month and invite MOMS Club members.  Anyone who does not have a child at home is welcome to join us and spend some time with the adults in a planned monthly activity.

In the past, I have organized pedicures, breakfasts, lunches, shopping trips...but this month I invited everyone to attend a drop-in beginners yoga class.  January is generally a get-back-in-shape-month and I thought yoga would be a fun way to ease into that.  Plus, it has been years since I have done any yoga.  I used to take a class back in the days when I worked in an office.  I found yoga to be a great stress reliever and I enjoyed making the time for myself to do something healthy.

But of course, after I bought my new mat and put together a cute yoga ensemble, we woke up to an icy morning with a 2 hour delay for school.  So much for that yoga class this morning!  Oh well...I will have to reschedule since several friends are interested in attending.  And after all, I have to use my pretty new mat!

 Have you started any new fitness routines?

Linking to:


January 15, 2013

My Style Board

Today, I decided to
post a Signature Style Board!

I have seen them around on other blogs lately
and I thought it would be fun to design one of my own.

Darlene from the lovely blog,
Fieldstone Hill Design
posted a tutorial for making a Style Board
and it really couldn't have been easier.

The only difficult part was trying to
 narrow down pictures from all my Pinterest boards.

I think I must have changed my mind 10 times!

But here is what I came up with...

I want my home to feel:

Casually Elegant
 a little Coastal
and a touch of tropical  - of course!

Now is that too much to ask?...

Now I just have to transform my home into my Pinterest boards!
I don't think I am quite there yet...

Putting together the Style Board ended up being a fun project!  I also linked my Style Board to Darlene's blog, Fieldstone Hill Design.  She is adding all the submissions to her Pinterest page.

Have you made a Style Board yet?

Linking up to:
Serenity Now - Weekend Bloggy Reading

January 14, 2013

Weekend Pupdate #48

The Weekend Pupdate is a little late this week...

While most of the country is battling the flu,
(not us yet - knock on wood!).
my little Rosie has been battling a stomach issue.

My little sweetie hasn't had an accident in ages, yet Sunday morning I woke up to two very messy accidents on the carpeting - of course!  Then she seemed fine for the rest of the day.  She was her usual friendly self during my 9 year old's birthday dinner.  But after the relatives went home, things took a turn and she had a couple more accidents.  So unlike her.  

Anyway, we decided at that point to barricade her in half of the kitchen and hallway for the night.  I won't even go into the mess I found in the kitchen this morning, but needless to say, I had her at the vet by 9:45 am.  They checked her for parasites which came up negative.  Then they injected her with fluids and gave me instructions to not feed her food or water until tomorrow morning.  At that point I will start her on a bland diet of rice and chicken for a couple days and then slowly introduce regular food.  I also have to give her medicine twice a day.  

My guess is that she either picked up something at the kennel last week or maybe ate something in the deer poop!  Ugh!  Well, what can you do?...

My son made this last night.  He just loves that dog!

But hopefully my little girl will be feeling better soon.
I want to see her relaxed like this again...
Feel better Rosie!

Any stomach issues or flu in your house?

January 10, 2013

Baker's Rack...Again

Now that Christmas is over
and I finally packed away all the holiday decor,
it was time to do something with the baker's rack...again.
It's that in between time of the year
when I struggle with wanting things to be cleared out and fresh
yet not too stripped down and boring.

So I went simple for now.
Whites always seem to work.

Notice those little trees are still alive from Christmas?
That's a miracle around here!

I love the look of cookbooks in a basket.
I was thrilled when we received a gift basket over Christmas
but not for the cheeses and other treats in there...
but because I knew the basket would be the perfect size for cookbooks!
And these are the cookbooks I use the most
so it only makes sense for them to be out.

So this is how my baker's rack will look for a while.
On to the next project...

Do you struggle with accessories this time of year after Christmas is cleared out?

Linking to:


January 8, 2013

Vermont Vacation

Why on earth would a warm-weather-loving person
take a vacation to a ski resort?

Well, when you have two snow-loving boys,
you gotta do, what you gotta do!...

This past weekend, we headed north for 4 days
to our favorite ski town of
Killington, Vermont!

And if you love snow,
it was a perfect time to go!
In the past week, over 3 feet blanketed the area!

The skiing conditions were perfect...
well at least the snow was perfect.  
On Friday the temperature was only in the 20's
 with on and off snow and wind gusts of up to 40 mph.
Not exactly the day you want to introduce your kids to their first ski lesson...
but we did.  

At first, we didn't think they would last 5 minutes of their 2 hour lesson in those weather conditions.  At Killington, the instructors will teach up to 5 kids per class.  No problem there.  We paid for a group lesson but it ended up being a private lesson for the two of them!  It was so frigid that my husband and I spent the entire time in the lodge sipping hot chocolate and trying to stay warm.  (Yeah, what great role models!)  Every now and then one of us would venture out onto the deck to observe their lesson.  It was too cold and windy to even stay out there for a few minutes!  The whole time we joked around about how the kids will never want to ski again!  What were we thinking sending them out there in practically blizzard conditions?  How will we ever get them on skis again?  Will they want to just drive home after this?  Do they hate us now?...

But our little troopers hung in there and before long, we could see them (red and blue jackets) actually skiing down the little hill.  Then they would get right back in line and head up the "magic carpet" to the top.  This gave us some hope but we still dreaded their reaction when it was over.

When we traipsed over to get them after what we imagined was a grueling 2 hours, they skied up to us declaring how much they LOVED skiing!  We were so proud of them and very pleasantly surprised.  Still, we quickly whisked them inside to warm up with hot chocolate and dry clothes, although they didn't even complain about being cold!  

In fact, as soon as we got back to the townhouse, they wanted to help shovel the deck.  They spent at least an additional half hour playing and throwing snow around.  Go figure.  At that point, if I had been in their shoes, I would have checked myself into the local hospital with hypothermia and possible frostbite.  I am SO relieved they do not take after me!

The next day after some lounging around and lunch at the Lookout Grill, we headed over to the new Killington Tubing Park!  I was thrilled when the sun came out and the temperature was actually bearable.  I think it reached the 30's with virtually no kind of day in the mountains!

The place was awesome.  You buy a ticket for a two hour time frame, grab a tube and slide down the hilly course.  The first time was a little frightening because I wasn't prepared for how fast you take off!  You really have no control so you just have to hold on while spinning and sliding down the hill.

Instead of having to drag your tube back up, they hook you onto a rope tow that pulls you to the top.  My kids thought that part was almost as enjoyable as the ride down the hill!  
It really was an exciting day of tubing fun!

And later that afternoon,
while the boys worked hard...
on a 1000 piece puzzle,

I went shopping in the charming gift shop at
It's always a great place to shop for housewarming gifts.

Next time I might buy one of those wooden signs...
since after all - we now have a couple of skiers in the house!

Sunday morning we were on the road
by 9:30 a.m. for the 4 1/2 hour trip home.

See you next time Killington!

In case you are interested,
during this trip we dined at the following restaurants:

The Wobbly Barn Steakhouse - We eat there EVERY trip to Killington.
The Garlic- Killington Vermont - We usually go there on our first night.
Casey's Caboose - The kids love the train theme.
Johnny Boys Pancake House - A usual stop for breakfast.
The Lookout Bar and Grill - A good place for casual lunch.

If you want to read about a previous Vermont trip,
click HERE and HERE.

Have you taken any winter vacations recently?

Linking to:
DIY by Design - Winter Blues Wednesday
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays

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