Wednesday, September 17, 2014

{Weigh in Wednesday} Week 90

It’s Weigh In Wednesday … which means it’s time for another installment in my roller coaster ride of losing weight without following fad diets.  After 20 years of yo-yo dieting, I decided to focus on getting healthy the right way.  There are a lot of ups and downs, and it’s a painfully slow journey; but this isn’t only about the scale, it’s about real life.

Weigh in Wednesday

Thoughts: Have I really been at this for 90 weeks?  Yikes.  So many other times I would have given up by now, but taking the super-slow approach is working.  That said, a lot of this week’s weight loss can be attributed that I was struck by not just one, but two separate illnesses this week.  They definitely kept me from workout out as much and as hard as I would like, but I still got out there and did it.

How I am Winning this Week: You know how I know I’m in better physical condition than two years ago?  We had a near potty emergency this weekend, and I had to carry my 38 pound 5 year old about a quarter mile up a steep hill on Sunday.  A quarter mile may not sound like much, but try doing it with that much extra weight wiggling on you wearing a long skirt.  Two years ago I would have been out of breath and couldn’t have held her that long.  This year I was sweating from the heat more than the physical stress.

Areas of improvement:  It’s official.  I don’t like strength training at the gym.  For some reason, I’m just not very good at getting a very good workout when I’m there.  I’d much rather stick a video in and bust my rump in my family room.  But try doing that with a two year old in the room.

Workout Log:


Upper Body

How I feel:
Could someone just give us a bunch of moo-lah so I can quit and focus on exercising and this blog?

How do you measure your strength?
Do you prefer working out at the gym or at home?
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Monday, September 15, 2014

{Real Parties} It’s an Octonauts Party

It’s been a month now, but I still have a hard time believing that T is actually five years old.  Just the other day she was sitting on my leg and I realized that it was starting to actually hurt.  Something about age 5 just feels so big

And as much as I promised that I wouldn’t go overboard again this year, I couldn’t help pulling together a bash fit for such a big age.

In all honesty, I started dreaming up ideas long before even discussing the topic with T.  I was convinced she would want a Frozen party like every other little girl has for the last 10 months.  But, our girl keeps us on our toes…and requested only three things for her party this year:
- An Octonauts theme
- A Treasure Hunt; and
- A pinata

For those who aren’t familiar with the Octonauts…(you must not have a Disney-watching child under age 7, but I digress), it’s a British cartoon whose main characters (all animals) explore the ocean and its creatures.   Each 15 minute segment introduces a new sea creature and some interesting facts about them.  As far as kid television goes, it could get a whole lot worse.
Octonauts Party
So off I went in search of inspiration for an Octonauts party, and I hit a bit of a brick wall.  There are some ideas out there, but nothing that was within my budget, quick enough to pull together in a few hours, and really sparked my interest.  So I switched gears and included more the underwater adventure ideas. 

Octonauts Party Inspiration BoardInspirational Links (in order from top left to bottom right): Octonauts Cake, Mermaid Birthday Party, Frozen Gummy Fish, Gummy Skewers, Under the Sea Canopy, Printable Treasure Map, Blue/Green Octonauts Party, Rice Krispies Star Fish, Pink & Blue Party, Sand Dollar Cookies, Octonauts Clip Art, Balloon Bubbles, Blue & White Party, Gummy Fish Pudding, Zucchini Whale, Blue & Orange Octonauts Party, Cardboard Gup X, Pink & Purple Invitation, Treasure Chest Foam Cooler, Pink & Blue Invitation (the one we used), Sprinkles Cake, Crepe Paper Seaweed, Balloons on Ceiling, Cardboard Gup B, Sea Creatures Wall, Cut Tablecloth Backdrop, Shark Attack Favors, Bubble Station, Outdoor Water Games, Octonauts To the Launch Bay Sign 

After all that research I decided to focus on two elements for decorations:  1) Create a giant octopod (the Octonauts’ underwater ship; and 2) Decorate our outdoor tent to feel like you’re underwater with the Octonauts.  

Octonauts Party Decor
The Octopod was probably the most difficult and time consuming part of the whole party.  It was one of my favorite elements of the whole party, though, so I’ll be going into more detail about that in another post (coming soon!). 

There were so many different ways to create that ‘underwater’ feel.  I saw pictures of crepe paper twisted along celings, blue plastic tablecloths cut up and twisted or just hung in a wave pattern, and  even balloons filling a net against a celing.  All of these ideas are great, but they all just felt like they would take too long to fill up the giant ceiling in our 10’ x 20’ tent. 

Luckily, I happened upon 30’ rolls of 18” wide blue mesh ribbon.  Six rolls fit perfectly draped between the crossbars of the tent ceiling.  Loose ends along the walls were cut into strips, which curled perfectly to create even more of a wave effect.  I just added a bunch of inflatable fish hanging from fishing line (there are many inexpensive choices on Amazon), and we had ourselves an ocean.

Octonauts Party Posters
One of the simplest things I did to add a bit more of the Octonauts theme to the party was to make inexpensive posters right from our printer.  I just found a bunch of images online, edited them in PhotoShop with text or to match the theme colors of the party and printed them on 8.5 x 11 paper; which I then taped onto 11 x 14 poster board.  It was a really effective way to “frame” each picture without the hassle of real frames.  (Full Disclosure: the sign on the right was originally created by Boy Mama Teacher Mama, I just edited the arrow over to the other side and changed it to have T’s face)

Octonauts Food Table
Where I really had fun was with the food.  Ever since T’s first birthday got out of hand and too way too long to pull together, I haven’t done much in the way of themed food.  But I found so many cute ideas (and even came up with a couple of my own), that I couldn’t resist.

Octonauts Party Food
Unfortunately the great lighting during the day meant that a lot of the lighter items just didn’t photograph well – bummer.  Here’s a rundown of the food we served (it was a snacktime party only):

- Ocean Water: Blue punch
- Professor Inkling’s Hummus: Regular hummus with a bell pepper octopus on top)
- Tweak’s Bunch-a-munchy-crunchy-carrots
- Sea cucumbers
- Lost Sea Stars
- Giant Kelp Forest: Frozen Grape Skewers
- Kwazii’s Pirate’s Booty: Pirate’s Booty Corn Puffs
- Tunip’s Fish Biscuits: Pink Goldfish crackers
- Undiscovered Sand Dollars: Sugar cookies with slivered almonds
- Happy Humuhumunukunukuapua’as: Mini square shooters with a gummy fish and whipped cream whitecap  (*Note: I read a lot of stories about the gummies inside of jello cups getting mushy and losing their texture, so I opted to only have a little bit of their tales stuck inside)

If anyone is interested in using the files I created for the table markers, let me know and I’ll post them!

Octonauts Party Treasure Hunt
T’s favorite character from the show is a pirate cat named Kwazii.  It’s really no surprise, because he’s the craziest of all the characters, and she loves to get a little (a lot) crazy.  I took that opportunity to create a treasure hunt based on the idea that his pirate grandfather left a treasure chest in our backyard and the kids had to find it.  I made the map using images found online and in PicMonkey. 

I wasn’t so sure about it at first, but I have to say that the treasure hunt was the BEST part of the whole party.  Sure, the kids love splashing around in the pool, but I was really surprised at how much they enjoyed having a more structured event.

(This is yet another activity that is too long to provide details on in this post.  I’ll go through the whole process and the clues we used in a follow-up post)

Octonauts Party Activities
For the kids who wanted just a little quiet activity away from the pool, I set up a “Make Your Own Jellyfish” station.  All I had to buy was plastic bowls…I just grabbed old crepe paper,ribbons, washi tape and paint pens from my craft stash and let the kids go to town with them.  I even think a couple of the parents got more into it than the kids!

Of course, T had specifically asked for a pinata, and when I found a shark pinata, I was in love.  It fit in perfectly with our underwater theme among all the other tropical fish, whales and dolphins.  That sucker was tough, though.  We let the kids each take turns swinging at it, and they all got several turns.  I started to rip it a little bit between turns trying to get the candy to come out, but it took quite a while.  The kids didn’t seem to mind too much, though.

Octonauts Party Cake
And of course we had a homemade cake!  The different colored blues were actually unplanned.  I accidentally bought too little blue frosting and had to send the husband out for more.  He came back with a different brand, and it was far darker.  I just tried to make an ombre effect, and said that it was to represent the “Midnight zone”, “Twilight Zone” and “Daylight Zone”s of the ocean (straight from the show)

I added jellies for sea creatures and seaweed, and we topped it with a Build-your-own-gup set that was T’s birthday gift.  We called it the Gup-T (for obvious reasons).  Unfortunately her Kwazii got lost before we could photograph him in the Gup-T, but he was there in spirit.  The “sand” was actually just leftover butter cake blended with nilla wafers, and worked perfectly.

I know this post makes it seem like it was a lot to put together, but it was the first party we’ve done where I was actually ready when the guests arrived.  Picking just one or two areas to focus on really helped me manage my time and get great results. 

Now I want to know

Do your kids watch the Octonauts?
Do you include structured activities in your parties?

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Friday, September 12, 2014

{Friday Five}

Party-of-the-WeekBehind Scenes Dinner Party

Behind the Scenes at a Dinner Party via Paper & Stitch

Caramel Apple Parfaits via Pink Recipe Box

Craft-of-the-WeekBurlap Pumpkin

Burlap Pumpkin Print via Domestically Speaking


Laundry Room Reveal via A Prudent Life

Random-Link-of-the-WeekMarriage in Movies

What’s Wrong with Marriage in the Movies?  via A Cup of Jo

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

{Weigh in Wednesday} Week 89

It’s Weigh In Wednesday … which means it’s time for another installment in my roller coaster ride of losing weight without following fad diets.  After 20 years of yo-yo dieting, I decided to focus on getting healthy the right way.  There are a lot of ups and downs, and it’s a painfully slow journey; but this isn’t only about the scale, it’s about real life.

Weigh In Wednesday
Thoughts: I think I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel where my workload is concerned.  Things are still busy, but not quite as insane as they have been for the last month or so.

How I am Winning this Week: I made the firm decision to figure out how to fit exercise in when I’m busy…even if that means that I get it in a little bit here and there throughout the day or if I don’t end up doing as intense a workout as I normally would.  It’s better to do something than nothing, right?  Friday morning was ridiculously busy as the Husband and I pulled together last minute items and got the whole family ready to travel up to Philadelphia.  I took a moment here and there between folding laundry and cleaning up to do strength training moves.  Ten squats here…fold some laundry….do some lunges….more laundry….bicep curls….more laundry….rows and shoulder presses….pick up the playroom….30 second plank….and on and on.  You know what?  My quads were sore for two days…without setting a single foot in a gym.

Areas of improvement:  Sleep.  I’ve mentioned it before, and it was stressed at WGS last weekend.  I need more sleep.  It’s probably going to take some more regimented scheduling at home, but it just has to happen.

Workout Log:

Jogging Intervals


How I feel: Ready to be finished with this part of the journey and on to more of a maintenance level.

Do you like small bursts of exercise or one long session?
How much sleep do you get each night?

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