Virtual Diary: Valentines 2020

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

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

Destination: Nashville, Tennessee

March 27 – 28, 2019

I know a day in Nashville is VERY limited as there are so many things to do there but we were really just dropping by before our main destination— Atlanta, GA. So after we visited the National Corvette Museum from the previous blogpost we drove to Nashville and I was surprised that it was only going to be roughly an hour and 45 minutes going there plus factor in a short stop over if needed. Of course our first stop in Nashville was going to be a food place so we found ourselves driving to Arnold’s Country Kitchen.

Arnold’s Country Kitchen

Address: 605 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

So if you haven’t been to Arnold’s the process over there is you fall in line, get your food and then look for a place to sit down and that place based on the reviews and from the looks of it is always packed. Now I walked in pushing a stroller and holding Cassie in one hand while I had Marco fall in line. I read the rules and figured, ‘rules are rules’ whether I have 5 kids with me or not so I was a little hesitant but I was going to brave the line. A woman approached me and told me I could sit down and I told her I didn’t want to grab someone else’s seat especially since we didn’t have our food yet, I jokingly mentioned something about not being a rule breaker and she laughed and said I could break them because she made those rules—yup, apparently she was the owner. She told the other employees not to tell me off and that I could sit down with my kids. In my head I was like—OK, I LOVE NASHVILLE, TN. That was honestly one of the nicest things a stranger has done for me in a while. 

Of course the food was SOUTHERN and PERFECT and it satisfied our current craving at that time plus it was cheap. Good food and good prices AND good people, now that’s a 5-star rating from us.

What Lifts You Wings Mural

Address: 302 11th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

So those who know me know that I appreciate taking photos with mural walls ANYWHERE in the world, so here in Nashville they have the infamous ‘Wings Mural’ by Kelsey Montague. She actually has a bunch of similar interactive art all over the US if I’m not mistaken. We checked the maps and it was like a 10-minute walk from Arnold’s, it was a beautiful day so we decided to go for it. We could easily spot the mural because there was a line to take photos and I was genuinely surprised but this is what we came for so we decided to fall in line and I’m glad we did.

Across the street, diagonal to it there’s another mural where the kids and I had fun taking pictures because it was so colorful and right across that mural was Milk and Honey

Milk and Honey

Address: 214 11th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

Milk and Honey Nashville is a popular local coffee shop (if I’m not mistaken) that had good ratings online so since it was right across from where we were, we decided to grab a gelato and coffee to go. I wish we had more time to try their food especially their baked goods but I can tell you the place has a nice ambiance, its beautifully set up inside and very instagrammable if you know what I mean.

The Parthenon

Address: 2500 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203

After grabbing a little snack our last stop for the day was Centennial Park, we figured it was a beautiful day outside might as well spend the rest of the day outdoors. I on the other hand was just interested in seeing the Parthenon, a replica of the greek former temple. It would be nice to see the ruins of the real Parthenon one day.

People were literally playing outside and having picnics and I wish we had more time to kill in that park but we literally just walked through it, walked to the Parthenon and found out that we needed to bring the double stroller up the stairs so we compromised—we took pictures outside and I gave in to the kids wanting to play in the playground, Marco did offer to stay with them outside while I go in and explore the Parthenon but this was a family vacation so to the playground we went.

Sleep Inn

Address: 3437 Percy Priest Dr. Nashville, TN 37214

We were totally pooped and decided that we were done with our little adventure so we headed to our hotel to check in. The check-in process took awhile since there was only one guy in the front desk and although he was courteous and everything another customer was giving him a hard time and they were having an ongoing misunderstanding so his hands were tired.  We had to wait for a good 30 minutes until they could sort things out, its a good thing the kids were just playing in the lobby while waiting. The rooms was of a decent size and it was overall clean, breakfast was nothing out of the ordinary but the staff serving breakfast was very helpful and polite.

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

Address: 5209 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN 37209

I understand this chain isn’t all over the US but if you find yourself close to one, I suggest you get in. The place was packed and there was a line but they had quick service and the food was WORTH it. My kids are usually picky eaters even with fried chicken (go figure) but both of them were digging in. Don’t forget to get their lemonade too, if you like ’em cold and fresh then this is where to get it even on a cold night.

The vibe inside had a modern industrial feel to it, I am not surprised a lot of millenials and hipsters hang out at this place. Good food, great vibe and again IG worthy, you’re getting a bang for your buck. No wonder this place averages 4.5 starts out of 5 online.

Grand Ole Opry

Address: 2804 Opryland Dr, Nashville, TN 37214

Before parking for the Grand Ole Opry, its nice to point out that right across it is Opry Mills, an outlet mall. If you are into shopping when you’re on vacation then you’ve come to the right place, plus right next to it the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.

Every legendary country star has probably performed a concert right here in the Grand Ole Opry, the architecture is already interesting and I wouldn’t have minded doing the tour to learn about its history but we were on a tight schedule and Marco wasn’t really into country music so we had to skip it. We explored the outsides and there are a lot of photo-worthy spots like those two gigantic guitars at the entrance, its hard to miss. But if you are a BIG country music lover then you can’t miss this place.

Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center

Address: 2800 Opryland Dr, Nashville, TN 37214

Even if you’re not staying in this hotel, a lot of people still make a trip to the Gaylord Opryland Resort because of its picturesque hotel set-up where one atrium leads to another. I swear if you walk around, you’ll feel like you’re in paradise with all its greenery. If you’re into botanicals then you would appreciate this resort as it has labels to all its flowers and plants that are strategically arranged surrounding waterfalls and acclaimed restaurants (that are a bit pricey if I might add). Also from my understanding this is the largest hotel in the US that does not have a Casino. Did I mention that they have a boat ride inside? Again, we didn’t have time to do this but I’m saving this  along with the newly designed waterpark for the next trip here.

Do take note that if you want to park inside the resort they will charge you $25 even if you’re just there for 5-10 minutes. Now if you do eat at one of their restaurants then they do validate but other than that I would suggest parking outside the mall close to the cinemas and just walk to the resort. That’s what we did.

And that is it for our one-day trip to Nashville, now on to our final destination—Atlanta, GA.

~Rhea