It's Not Everyday Your Young Lady Turns 11

So it took me months to get this party together and I thought I had WAY more pictures of me making stuff :(  I am SUPER glad Isa let me know in February that she had been looking forward to turning 11 for years so she could have her Hogwarts party. Needless to say it was so much work! At the last minute before our move I came up with a great idea!  Why not make scarves for each house and have the kids randomly choose them to sort them into houses?  Great idea right? Not so much.  I spent basically every free second I had and quite a few that I did not making 16 scarves.  

It involved me having nightmares of doing this for hours on end. But they came together.

Isa was torn about whether to have the party in Texas or NC since her very best friend lives in Texas but her larger group of good friends was in NC.  I caved and did both but the Texas one was on a MUCH smaller scale.

A few mid morning curses.

They just couldn't remember what they'd forgotten.

 Cauldron of sweets

 This is one stuffed suitcase of Harry Potter goodness.  There was also another box...

Of course to start the whole process you need some awesome invites! I started with the template here.  I ended up changing the wording a bit to better suit Isa and our party.  I then bought a cheap "H" wax seal on amazon and used my good old 40% coupon at Hobby Lobby to get the sealing wax.  I also got a cute owl stamp to stamp on the outside of the envelopes.  For added fun I asked each parent were their child's bedroom was located in the house so I could address it like Harry's (ie cupboard under the stairs).

 Here is a terribly shadowed shot of our acceptance letters/invites.

Any acceptance letter worth it's salt would arrive by owl post.  For this I got plain white balloons and drew a very rough owl on it and tied it to the invitations.  The students got a real kick out of it.

The first thing we did was have the students choose a bag.  They used this bag to keep all their supplies together.  I had already randomly placed the house scarves in the bags so as they chose bags they were sorted into houses.  Funny enough nobody ended up in Slytherin.  I made sure they didn't cheat and peek to avoid it. I got the bags $4.99 per dozen at Hobby Lobby and then used my trusty coupon. I just googled Hogwarts crest and printed those on card stock.

We had Eeylops Owl Emporium where everyone got to choose and decorate their own owl.  I got the owls here from Oriental Trading. I had them use washable markers because that is what I had on hand.  You could use paints but that would take longer to dry.

I think Isa's was the coolest.  She added paint.

 Every witch and wizard needs a wand!  Ollivander's was a lot of fun to create.  Isa made and painted all the wands and did an amazing job.  This was the second favorite shop of the day for sure.  I have posted about making these wands in the past here.  I also made special wand boxes for the kids.  I used this template and the site also had cool labels and wand numbers to print for free.  Isa picked out a sage colored satin that I used to make a pillow for each wand to go on in the box.  They turned out really cute and I wish I had taken a good picture of them.  

Each student was blindfolded and then had to choose their wand.  They thought this was really fun and tried hard to remember each part of the wand they wanted so they could feel it out.

Even though there was no shop for them we decided to make Remembralls which turned out pretty well. I got the idea here.  It's basically glass ball ornaments, red ribbon, gold ribbon and hot glue.  Super easy but really fun. I glued the gold ribbon on before hand to avoid needing to use the hot glue during the party.

Students can't start term without their Standard Book of Spells so of course we had Flourish and Blotts!  Josh was a huge lifesaver with these and got them all formatted for me.  We started with this site and adapted for our needs. I couldn't find any cheapish 4x6 albums so I opted to print them out, glue them front to back, hole punch them, and sew them into a felt cover with ribbon.  It was WAY more work than I thought it would be but we had a blast with them.  I got a  bunch of puff paint and glitter glue so they could personalize their books.


Isa's was my favorite.

While we were letting some books dry we went out in the driveway for a duel.  I was honestly trying to kill some time because the students blew through the first craft rotation, but it was a HUGE hit!  We were out their for at least 30 minutes.

The students really strategized with what spells they were going to use.  I was very impressed.  I got some cute videos but I don't post videos of other people's kids on the interweb so...

So when I say Ollivander's was second favorite it is because we had this.  Honeydukes Sweet Shop.  
This totally stole the show.  The reason they blew through the first part was because I told them the sweet shop would be last so I guess they figured they would do the other stuff really fast.  

Cockroach Clusters (almonds and milk chocolate)

These were the bane of my existence.  It seemed easy, this mold with melted chocolate in it.  How hard could it be? Do you see the flaw in my thinking with this whole party?  Well, the frogs themselves were pretty easy, but the boxes however, were not.  We started with this free template ( this is also where I go the template for our Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans and the idea for the golden snitches).  It was easy to assemble but a pain to cut out.  Then I found these witch/wizard cards with a different template but it wasn't nearly as cool as the first so I used the cards from the second with the boxes from the first.  Genius right?  Well, it would have been if I had checked to make sure the cards fit in the boxes I wanted, but I didn't. Side note there is a typo on the Voldemort card and Dumbledore card from the website.  I wasn't super thrilled with what this particular site chose for the info either.  Some of it was lame and not their most interesting accomplishments but beggars can't be choosers. In the end my AMAZING formatting guy (Josh) fixed everything for me (including the typos) and got the cards to fit the boxes.  This added a whole new game for the students and they couldn't wait to see which witch or wizard was on their cards and then do some trading if need be.  

These little babies cost me several burnt fingertips but ended up really cool.  Ferrero Rocher and vellum.

 My mom wrote out some beautiful name cards for each candy.

 Another full shot. All in all we had, Peppermint Toads (used the chocolate frog molds with white chocolate and peppermint extract) Gold Galleons, Licorice Wands, Canary Cremes (Peeps), Unicorn Horns (twisted lollipops), regular Lollipops, Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans (you can get actual ones but they are expensive and gross.  We used Jelly Bellys), Golden Snitches, Chocolate Frogs and Cockroach Clusters. I got some small jewelry bags with a zip lock seal for the Chocolate frogs and Jelly Beans and I just put those out for the students to put their candy in if the wanted it separate. Oh, and Popcorn Broomsticks.  Those were inspired by this.  Really easy. I got some little black pails (cauldrons) for them to put all their sweets in.

 I tried to do a panoramic shot but of course it's really tiny.

 Anyone who knows Isa knows she can be, particular, about her birthday cakes.  This year I was planning to make her a huge fondant Hedwig cakes with a modeling chocolate scarf and wand.  She instead chose this.  Hagrid's cake.  I really hit the jack pot this year!   

Of course it wasn't all easy. She wanted the inside to look like this. 

Which I was kind of able to do.

 Either way, my Mom made super yummy butter cream for me and it was delicious.

I think she liked it.  I did tell her that the next time I put this much time into a party for her it would be her wedding :)


In Less Than A Heartbeat

My internet/Facebook perusing occasionally comes across and article or post about the parent of a child who has special needs.  In quite a few of these articles I notice the phrase "I wouldn't have it any other way".  On the face of it it seems cool.  That the parent would actually choose this and that they wouldn't want something different.
Here's the thing.  I would change it.  I would make my daughter's DNA normal.  I would wish these trials away from her.  Faster than you could blink.  Her life is hard.  Much, much harder than it should be.  She has been through more then most people could even imagine and she is only 5.  She hasn't even gotten to the normal hard stuff yet.  I would let her ear.  I would let her run.  I would let her be able to balance so she can play like an average 5 year old.  I would let her speak with ease.   I would let her do this and so much more.
Some might say that I don't love my daughter for who she is.  On the contrary, I don't think my daughter's disability has anything to do with who she is.  She would be amazing either way.  Whether she had CHARGE or CP has no affect on that. She's Emmeline plain and simple.  I just wish...


Things Happened

I get busy.  Busy with life and my expectations of what it should entail. But every once in a while I stop. I look at what we have done, how we have changed, and who we have become.  Sometimes that means feeling like I failed.  Most of the time however, I feel overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed at how well things have turned out. 9 years ago when what I call my "real" life challenges started I saw no relief or end in sight.  It looked and felt like eternal misery.  Like nothing would ever alleviate my suffering.
Don't get me wrong.  My life is still difficult and exhausting.  But I've done things.  In the midst of feeling like I was sinking, things happened. For me and for my family.  Some good, some awful and some amazing.
Moments where our choices paid off, moments where we were left confused and biter and moments where I thought "is this really my life?" (in a good way).  My family has weathered more storms then even my anxiety ridden mind could imagine.  Well, different storm then I imagined anyway. I will admit, I have not handled all, or even most, of those storms with dignity.  Most of the time  I end up being that person standing their screaming "YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!!" while everyone else is just dealing with it. In the end though, I got it done and sometimes pretty darn well I might add. Well, things worked out anyway.  Despite not knowing what I was doing or how to even start some tasks I managed to get it to some semblance of done.  I always thought my other life was on hold just waiting for me. Thankfully it wasn't. Things have turned out pretty darn well considering what we thought we were getting. Pretty well well indeed.


To Cheap To Buy New Clothes...Again

Last year I was trying to deal with the fact that I had put on 10 pounds I couldn't get rid of.  I fought and got really depressed but in the end decided that I shouldn't obsess over a number so I figured I should just bite the bullet and buy a size up.  All was well as I tried to get comfortable with a mushy me.
Then I got home from Christmas this year only to see that I had once again put on 7 pounds over that year as well.  VERY not cool.  I, being the super cheap person I am refused to buy yet another size up.  Plus I was gross.  Thus began my new calorie counting working out regime.  Part of me was hoping it wouldn't work.  That I really couldn't help it and there was nothing I could do.  Alas, it worked.  Well, so far.  I have lost 10.5 pounds and then stalled.  I am just pushing on in hopes that I keep losing but I do feel stronger.
It has me wondering though.  If I have to work this hard to get the weight off do I really want to live to maintain that? Not likely but we'll see. I am hoping once we get to a place where I can be more generally active it wont be so hard.


I Told A Little Lie

A week or so ago my sister asked if I had cut Emmeline's hair after seeing a picture of her on Facebook.  I said no because I am super slow and hadn't posted about it yet and for me it was a SUPER big deal.  Why such a big deal? Because Emmeline has never had a hair cut.  Well, other than the little bit behind her ear they clipped (and saved) for me after Emmeline's CI implantation.  See, she was born with a beautifully soft full head of black hair.  It was adorable.  Then, at 3 months old it fell out. In very traumatic clumps. I even took her into the doctor I was so worried about he rate of the loss.  He delivered the bad news.  Since Emmeline was basically starving for the first 8 weeks of her life her hair was now falling out due to malnutrition.  I scored some major great mom points that day I'll tell you.  One of many blows to my ego involving Emmeline.  Due this the trauma I just haven't been able to bring myself to cut her hair.  It didn't help that she was great about letting me fix it and had cute little blond tips.  That ended after she saw Isa get all her hair cut off before Christmas.  She wants to do whatever Isa does.  This led to crying and whining about "needing" a hair cut.  I finally worked myself up to it only to be getting ready to cut it and finding out that Josh wasn't ready, so we waited.  Then when Emmeline asked again I sent her to Josh.  He caved and the haircut was on.

Here she is full length

She really wanted a ponytail to see that had been cut off since Isa had one.

 Almost through

All done.  I know, I know.  It doesn't really look like I cut off much but I did!

Here is the pony tail.  It's actually about 5-6 inches long so quite a bit.  She loves it but was sad that I hadn't cut it short like Isa's.  I told her Mommy wasn't ready and she had to work up to it. She looks adorable and I made it through.  Win win.


Have I Been Putting This Off?

Of course I have!  Who wants to deal with the comeback post?  Not this girl.  Either you try and start from where you are now and hope no body notices or you try and do a bunch of posts to highlight each thing in all it's glory.
Here's the thing.  I had to cut back on my crafting goal.  The big thing...I have to move all these crafts after I make them.  Yeah it was a great distraction but who wants to lug all that down 3 flights of stairs? Not this girl. So I pulled back a bit and focused on something much more fun but a bit more dangerous.
 My food Pinterest board.  I decided that I should make as many of the recipes as I can and move them  from "things I would eat (maybe)" onto "things I have eaten".  Fun because, hello, yummy food but dangerous because some of those things are exactly calorie counting friendly. I hate tiny portions!  But, Emmeline can eat something really fast if she likes it so I don't have to worry that it will be around calling to me for a along time.
I of course couldn't ignore everything we have done lately so I have some random pictures to follow that I like form the last month of so. Some crafty but mostly darn cute!

Emmeline on her first beach trip. She was not interested in touching the water, or maybe I should say in the water touching her.  The girl likes to be in control.

 Pony bliss.

Hoping she'll have better knife skills than me.

 Putting on a show at the park.

 My Mom gave me the treasured wheat grinder form my childhood and a whole bucket of wheat. Needless to say, I am having fun with those :)  

 Moving means we have to let stuff go, to stay emotionally healthy or some crap along those lines. These are the sippy cups Emmeline learned to really drink from and the little medicine bottle I would carry around her daily oil that I mixed in her food to up the calories.  My how far we've come.

 While Josh and I were waiting to hear back from Sweet Briar and feeling really homesick, a fellow southerner (Tennessee) made this for me :)

I made these really yummy greek yogurt souffl├ęs.  Yummy.

I canned a TON of ham.

 Emmeline and Isa were invited to a party at build a bear. Heaven.  I think she is smelling that bear maybe?

 They have MLP there now so I'm sure there was no doubt what Emmeline would pick.  She was the only one to not pick Twilight Sparkle though. She likes to stand out :)  Isa got a red panda:)

I recovered this...

Into this.  I was going to do a whole post on it but all you do is take out your cushions, trace them leaving a seam allowance and sew around the edge. I love it.

Someone got a mini trampoline for second Christmas.

One of Emmeline's best friends moved away :(

Emmeline spent a solid week in these curls because she wanted to look like her friend from school.  Poor girl, Isa and I could not stop squeezing and kissing her because she was just too darn cute!!

Sister OT crab walk.

I also made a magnetic chalk board with an oil drip pan and some chalkboard spray paint.  FYI: oil drip pan $12, paint ~$4.

Climbing the tree shrubs.

Several times a week Isa and I walk down to the public library near Emmeline's school to do her school work.  There is a pond next door with many varieties of birds.  Isa is obsessed.

 A fire truck came to Emmeline's school. The men were a little overwhelmed by all this cuteness ;)

You might be asking yourself, Isn's she a little young to be driving a fire truck?  Yes, yes she is.

She even let Isa have a turn

Don't worry, she's a professional.

I got Isa some roller blades and she spends quite a bit of her time like this.  Regardless of whether she is inside or outside.

I honestly feel like I just pictured puked all over you so, sorry about that but it had to be done. Well, it made me feel better anyway.