Xavi Turns Two: TWO-rannosaurus Rex Party

My baby is officially a ‘Big Boy’ now!!!

(or so he says)

Our original plan this year was to travel as a family since the holidays were pretty hectic, I wasn’t sure I was ready for party planning stress but then with Marco’s crazy schedule at work and with some prior commitments at Cassie’s school we had to postpone travel plans and so I told Marco that I’d just throw a playdate for Xavi. We’ve come up with a small local mom group here in Muncie and we rotate houses to hold play dates so I figured it would be a perfect time to host a playdate (on the day of Xavi’s actual birthday), at least we could somehow celebrate Xavi’s birthday, right?

Then mom guilt started kicking in, I mean Cassie had a pretty big birthday celebration last October and when she turned two during our first year here in Muncie, we didn’t know a lot of people yet even then we had a big party for her. I almost considered just having a small party at Escapades like when he turned One but I wanted to be comfortable at home so exactly 5 days before his birthday I decided a theme for the playdate and officially made it a playdate birthday party by sending out an invite.

 

Dino Invite Template we got from Zazzle

Everything was going to be last minute so I decided on a theme that would be easy to execute and since Xavi already got a dinosaur suit from Pilica for Christmas and a dinosaur balloon that we didn’t get to inflate, might as well go with that theme. I also used pretty much all of his dinosaur toys to somewhat decorate the place. The rest of the supplies were from the dollar store and Walmart and I did a bunch of easy DIY projects that I will touch on in this blog post.

First dino toy spotted as a centerpiece, I randomly just put them all over the place.

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For the backdrop, I just used two different shades of green crepe paper rolls that I got from the dollar store and Walmart. I cut long strips just above floor level (or however long you want the strips) and taped them on the wall alternating. I printed some leaf templates I found on line on different shades of green colored construction paper and placed them on top of each other so I could cut them all at once. I did the same for the dinosaur prints but this time on brown colored construction paper, decorate as desired.

Above are the templates I used for the backdrop I made for Xavi’s birthday, Click on them to use.

We ordered our goodies from our favorite chef here in Muncie, Chef Maggie of Simply Patisserie and I was so glad that she was still able to do our order considering that we asked her last minute.

Dino toy #2 spotted along with the white chocolate pretzels aka “Dino Fossils”

Xavi’s chocolate Dino cake

Toy #3 spotted with the letter board

I reused the ballon garland strip from Cassie’s birthday and just popped all the leftover balloons from her birthday. I bought 12-pack green and gold balloons from Walmart and  15-pack white balloons from the Dollar Tree and filled the strip up once I inflated them. The big dinosaur balloon was the one we got from Pilica and you can get that at your local Target.

Loot bags were done last minute as well, we had left over sandwich bags from Cassie’s birthday and I searched for a random baby T-Rex online to put on it. I would’ve done a whole lot more if I had the time (like a hatching egg or maybe dino foot print thank you tags ) but then again, its supposedly just a a playdate, right?

We threw in our favorite chocolates in there and I found some ‘dinosaur themed’ items to just tie in the theme— crayons, stickers, erasers, slap bands, dino goo and finger puppets.

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Above is the printable we used for the loot bags. Image c/o Shutterstock.com

Dollar Tree FTW! Dinosaur paper plates and napkins, the things you find at your dollar store.

Love how we found this Cat and Jack Triceratops sweater on clearance at our local target.

You know the kids are having fun when they make a lot of mess. Haha.

Xavi enjoyed his chocolate birthday cake from Chef Maggie of Simply Patisserie. The kids always enjoy getting your cake, cupcakes and sugar cookies.

And Daddy made it home! Marco was long call today so he came home late, we waited for him so Xavi could blow his candle and slice the cake.

Ninang Telly is in town!!!

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As usual Tita Ditas spoiling the little boy. 🙂

Perfect way to end Xavi’s birthday, Mexican night with the Rousseaus.  I had my frozen margarita so it’s all good.

And that wraps it up guys, I hope those templates will somewhat help you throw an awesome Dinosaur Party. I know it made Xavi’s playdate look like a planned party playdate even if it was done last minute.

~Rhea

HOUSTON: Color Factory with kids

I guess the reason why you’re reading this blog post is because you want to find out what a trip to the Houston Color Factory with kids looks like. So read up…

Color Factory- Houston

Address: 3303 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX 77098

***PARKING IS HARD. So make sure to read the website prior to your visit. They will tell you where to park. We lucked out and found parking at the very end of the street by an empty lot. It was a walk with kids but its free.

Tickets:  $35 for adults; $28 for kids (3-12) 

You have to buy tickets online and they sell them by time slots just to ensure that there’s just a right amount of people when you go. Also they want to make sure its never too crowded to take pictures and enjoy the installations. See, they thought about us. lol

The kids prices… yep, I know. I was a bit hesitant to purchase a $28 ticket for Cassie (4) not knowing what to expect plus mind you that doesn’t even include taxes. Cassie and I ended up paying somewhere close to $75 for the both of us (yikes) since Xavi was free but I can honestly say it was worth it. I figured they scouted the entire US to find the best place to put up a pop up of this amazing New York exhibit and among all the cities in the United States, they picked Houston so I wasn’t going to let this chance slip away. Plus on their website they go in detail explaining how they came to do so. Check it out here.

Pro tip with kids: Come 30 minutes early so you can enjoy the lobby display and take pictures. (I mean that’s the reason why we rough out a trip to the museum with kids, right? Its all for the gram. lol) Plus it gives you and your kids time to enjoy the FREE mochi without getting a brain freeze. Don’t bring strollers. They’re not allowed in the exhibits inside, you will be asked to check them in.

Once they take you in, adults are asked to register and get a token that can be scanned for different photo opportunities all throughout the exhibit. Yes, they have pretty amazing cameras set up so you and your friends (or kids for this matter) can enjoy taking as many pictures as you want. These photos will directly go to your registered email once the visit concludes so its important to have that token with you at all times.

Pro tip with kids: Have them get their own token even if they’re not registered, I’ll tell you at the end of this post why that’s a good thing. Make sure that your kids tokens are a different color from yours, you don’t want to scan the wrong token and have those photos sent to an invalid email address. It would be a waste.

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Trying out my token and it works. First official photo from Color Factory’s Cameras.

After registration, they let you grab your very own French Macaroon to enjoy. They have a LOT of flavors to pick from too (same as the Mochi), I made sure I picked Coffee. The kids are allowed to get their own macaroons, even Xavi who came in free had his own.

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Unwoven Light by Soo Sunny Park

Nice to hold but No-no to touch, of course Cassie went in and reached for it. She did this too at an exhibit at the Broad but they were more understanding over here when I apologized.

Someone forgot to blow dry her hair today. Haha

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This photo was from one of the Color Factory’s cameras in the room. Pretty neat huh?

You know your kids are having fun when you can’t even ask them to take a decent picture with you because they’re too busy playing with gigantic bouncing balls. haha

Pro tip with kids: I wish I had one for this room but I was honestly overwhelmed, I myself got excited and I wasn’t thinking straight but if I were to change anything, I would have given my kids one ball each and I would have gone straight for the camera so we could take decent pictures and get that out of the way then explore and play in the room. Oh, and make sure your kids don’t throw the balls too high so they don’t hit the ceiling.

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YOU. ARE. MAGIC

Pro tip with kids: See our hands on those blue things? Don’t let the kids do that part, if you break connection (they will explain this over there) those things don’t light up so if they ‘accidentally’ take their hands off then you’ll be taking pictures in total darkness. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration.

Also, notice the letters GI not lighting up? Well, no one was there to press those thing in the right side of the room (not seen in photo) so a full room is what it’ll take to get a good photo. The nice thing with those tokens is you can always go back and try it again if it fails the first time.

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The Confetti Room

The photo opportunities here are endless with two cameras situated by Color Factory to take awesome photos but this is also the room where my kids felt so wild and free that they were rolling over and having confetti wars with each other. They got so excited that Cassie felt compelled to ‘taste’ confetti.

Pro tip with kids: THEY. WILL. GO. CRAZY.— just expect that. And also don’t make the same mistake I did, I had Cassie wear boots to the exhibit and she brought home a dozen confetti paper in those boots.

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Make sure you leave the room without any confetti on you, you also get to grab a bag of colorful popcorn (yes, just like the confetti). 3rd treat of the tour.

We have this in our local Muncie Children’s Museum so we didn’t really spend a lot of time in this room. Its a given though, kids will always want to play with this giant version of the Lite Brite, big lighted pegs? I mean who wouldn’t.

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Doodle Away.

Pro tip with kids: Grab a marker as soon as you enter, markers are limited and just to let you know, they might be too heavy for your kids so make sure to assist them. Then search for an area on the wall with minimal doodles.

Do not let them handle the markers by themselves unless you have older kids. My daughter tried turning around while holding it and almost knocked someone over.

Sniff. Sniff. And sniff some more.

You know how you smell something and it brings up a memory, well this room is full of those.

Pro tip with kids: If there’s too many people in the middle, you can always go straight to the walls, they also have those tubes on there and they will give you the exact “sniffing-experience”.

My partner in crime, Ann Marie.

This interactive activity might only be applicable to adults and older kids since instructions are given. My kids were too young to do this one and so I had Xavi on my lap and Cassie had to stand.

Pro tip with kids: Distract the little ones with a pencil or paper or whatever is on your assigned color desk while you’re doing the activity. It can be hard but it’s doable.

Oh, and you get a small pack of candies based on your color card. 4th treat of the tour. They’re also nice enough to hand your kids candies even if they didn’t do the activity with you.

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I think the main attraction and the last exhibit of this pop up is the massive ball pit, a collaboration with NASA which makes perfect sense that the area is designed like a galaxy and that they decided to put this pop up in Houston. This intergalactic experience is quite a workout with kids though, they have a bunch of cameras set up in the ball pit area but getting there is quite the struggle.

Pro tip with kids: If you have more than one child below the age of 5 then it would be best if you had another adult or a friend handling the other one(s). The pit is deep and they can easily “sink” in it. I know Cassie started panicking because she started feeling trapped after awhile.

Also be careful with those phones, they do tell you that you can easily lose your phones in the pit but it also helps if you leave it in the cubbyholes especially since you’re going to need both hands to handle the kids. Believe me its hard to keep track of your child and your phone at the same time when you’re trying to stay “afloat” in the ball pit yourself.

Take advantage of the camera set ups in the ball pit if you need those photos badly, you can take a gazillion ones with your token.

Before you exit, they ask you to drop your tokens in exchange for a souvenir. The choices we had were a pin, a pen, temporary tattoos (or was it stickers? ) or a magnet. This is where it pays for you to have your kids get their own token. They also have to drop those and you get to bring more souvenirs home, I know I kept those for myself. Haha, I’m kidding. And if you’re wondering what that black thing we’re eating is, thats the complimentary black ice cream in a cone from Aqua S, another Instagram worthy Ice cream place in Houston. That was a nice treat to end the tour.

Pro tip with kids: Don’t get your ice creams all together. Make your kids have their ice cream first so you can make sure that they don’t get any stains on their clothes and also so you can enjoy your own ice cream once they’re all done. And take pictures…they have some cute colorful areas for sitting.

Can I just point out how even the staircases to different rooms and different exhibits were presented in a way that was still in theme with Color Factory’s color goals. Even going up and down the stairs seemed enjoyable.

The last colorful wall before we headed down to the souvenir shop aka the Exit.

Even the mirror by the restroom was gram-worthy. Haha.

Most interesting wall right after the souvenir shop, make sure you slide up those circular panels, they have a lot of photos from Htown . Get to know your city y’all, Get to know Houston.

Overall, I can say that the Color Factory is a place for kids and adults alike and I would like to commend everyone who made our tour a very pleasant one. As a mom, you’re always weary about causing delay especially in exhibits like these and in the Color Factory, I never felt any pressure to hurry up to the next room with my kids. They never made me feel that the kids were rowdy, on the contrary they were very welcoming so enjoy and take your time and let the kids be kids. I’m sure it would be have been a different experience with friends, the Color Factory could easily be an Instagram playground  but the look on Cassie and Xavi’s faces every time we entered a new exhibit room was priceless. I love how we ooh-ed and aaah-ed over things together, it certainly is a great thing to experience with your kids, I highly recommend you take them.

~Rhea

Cassie Turns Four: Enchanted FOUR-est Party

This was another last minute party but surprisingly it didn’t stress me out as much as I thought it would. The reason why it became “last-minute” was because Cassie wanted to take part in the party planning this year, she’s FOUR now and of course she wants to have a say in EVERYTHING. So originally she wanted a Unicorn Party and then considered an LOL Party and then a Frozen Party and then we went to the Minnetrista Fairies, Sprites and Light event and that did it for her, we were doing a Fairy Party. Oh and I decided to put my foot down that’s how we finally agreed with the theme, but she was a bit concerned that some of her boy guests wouldn’t come because it was “too girly” so we called it an Enchanted FOUR-est party instead of a fairy party which gave us more wiggle room to include some woodland creatures.

Fairy Invite Template from Zazzle

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The outside set up for the kids

The Set Up

I moved Cassie’s teepee outside and layered some cheap rugs from Five Below to cushion the area. I also draped a floral leaf garland that I found on clearance at Joann Fabrics to match the floral centerpieces on the table which by the way we found at our local Goodwill for $2.99 per arrangement. How lucky were we when we found 4 pieces of those a day or two before her party.

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Those tables were stacked up wooden pallets that I found on FB marketplace and we got it for $3/ piece, there were 8 pieces in this set up. We were so lucky too coz he was the only one selling a ton of similar sized wooden pallets within our area.

I totally forgot about covering the pallets until I finished arranging them (didn’t want the kids to accidentally get splinters), then I realized I didn’t have any table cloth or just any cloth long enough to cover the whole thing. So I rummaged through ,my linen closet and found some quilts we weren’t using at that time, its crazy how you find the most random things at home just when you need them. The pillows were obviously from the living room and I just threw them in there to complete the look,  I would’ve added more if I had more lying around, haha.

The fairy wings from the Dollar Tree made the perfect backdrop and it was so accessible for the kids to grab whichever color they liked (also to take home)

The pop up white canopy tent we purchased from Amazon. Click here for the link.

Made some floral head dresses for the girls and found some Animal Headbands from Dollar Tree for the boys. It’s been ages since I’ve made headdresses so I tweaked them a bit and used floral wire which wasn’t the best move since it made them flimsy but at the same time I didn’t want them to be too stiff and too hard around the girls’ head so I went with it. Here’s my original DIY tutorial from 6 years ago.

Imagine this set up without the greenery, that was what it looked like 30 minutes before the party. I totally forgot about the backdrop and thought it would look fine with just the balloon but it looked so bare. I went to the backyard and started scouring the area for overgrown plants that would go well with the theme, I literally cut the overgrown branches and just taped them on the wall and voila! I couldn’t believe the final touch to Cassie’s dessert table was just sitting in our backyard, and it was FREE too.

The real live flowers on the cake complemented the greenery backdrop I made

Marco loves the red velvet cupcakes the best, I think next time we should try ordering a red velvet cake.

This has got to be one of our favorites from Chef Maggie of Simply Patisserie. A lot of people loved the cake, some loved the cupcakes best and of course the kids thought the cookies were the best. They all agreed though that these goodies were pinterest worthy, the best part is the taste lives up to its looks.

DIY Loot Bags:

Brown Paper Sandwich bags, scissors, artificial flowers, woodland creatures printable, Roll of Jute twine, hole puncher, paper doilies and Thank You tag printable

Best part is you can find all of these at your local dollar store unless of course they’re out of stock (except for the printable)


I had two sets of loot bags ready for the guests, I had some floral ones (in the back) and some woodland creatures up in the front to distinguish which ones were for the girls and which ones were for the boys.

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The ‘Thank You’ cards I found  online from Blooming Homestead and printed last minute, of course it took time to cut them, punch holes and tie them onto the loot bags but I finished just around the same time the first guest walked in, talk about a buzzer beater.

I set up an arts and crafts section on the side where they could paint their own fairy houses or design their own fairy wands

We were so worried about the weather but God kept his promise and made it a perfect day—not too hot, not too windy, not too sunny, not too cloudy…just right!

I wish I took more pictures of the kids in the bouncy house because the kids literally had so much fun with it. A special shout out to Boogie Bounce, LLC , for coming all the way from Indy if I’m not mistaken and for giving us a very reasonable rate, their service was 100% excellent. I was honestly surprised they didn’t charge me all those crazy add ons the bouncy house companies here in Muncie were charging me— like delivery fee (what for? we’re in the same city?), set-up fee ( I guess they expected us to blow that dang thing) and after office hours fee ( yeah, someone was charging us more if rental  went beyond 4 pm on a weekend). They (and I mean a dad and his daughter) came in early to set up the bouncy house, gave us the rules (pretty basic like no sharp objects in there, no wearing of shoes while bouncing inside), as soon as everything was up they left and they were nice enough to leave the bouncy house until morning the next day without additional charge.

Time to blow her candle!

She was sooo happy her classmates and her playdate buddies could come.

My last minute DIY fairy house piñata made out of recycled boxes, left over crepe paper roll, left over ribbons, left over artificial flowers and a whole lot of glue.

Our little guests sporting my hand made headdress.

Never complete without our silly faces family photo.

…And the Birthday Girl is out.

Little brother followed suit

Thanks to everyone who made Cassie’s special day extra special, thank you for coming to the party, for spending time with her and for celebrating out little girl. I also want to give thanks to our family and friends who couldn’t make it, thank you for your birthday greetings and your prayers, you made one little fairy girl extremely happy.

Happy Birthday Cass! Daddy, Mommy and Xavi love you so much, hope you had a blast!


Thanks for reading up guys!

~Rhea

Playhouse Halloween Makeover | Halloween Decor on a Budget from DOLLAR TREE

*DISCLOSURE:  This post is NOT in anyway sponsored by Dollar Tree.

The kids playhouse has been due for a fresh coat of paint but since we were out for the most part of summer, we never got around to painting it. I figured in it’s current “grungy” state, we might as well start decorating it for Halloween. If you’ve been following us for awhile you know how much we try to enjoy this season with all the opportunities to play pretend and dress up. Well, this year we decided to “dress up” the playhouse as well but challenged ourselves to decorate the playhouse with a $25 budget and we all know shopping at the dollar store is probably the only way to get this challenge done so the kids and I headed to our local Dollar Tree and this is what we ended up getting.

4 Halloween Themed Flower Stems

2 2-pack glittery spiders

2 Black Creepy Cloth

2 White Creepy Cloth

2 Hanging Ghosts

1 BEWARE sign

1 spider web with spider decor

2 rubber rats

2 styrofoam Pumpkins

2 styrofoam tombstones

2 plastic skulls

2 plastic skull fence

1 cauldron pail

The talking doorbell was on clearance from BIG LOTS post Halloween from two years ago. I bought it for less than $5.

Here’s the BEFORE and AFTER for comparison.

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BEFORE

AFTER

Here are the back details of the house 🙂

Xavi and Cassie enjoying their mini haunted house

I’m sure we could have gotten more stuff from the Dollar Tree since they had a lot to offer like string lights shaped like skulls, pumpkins and bats, giant spiders, clip-on bats, etc. but a challenge is a challenge besides I’d like to think less is more.

How did we do with the 25-dollar challenge? Not bad right? I know Halloween is still a ways to go but I hope this inspires you and your kids to decorate your cubby house this Halloween season. Enjoy!

~Rhea