Category Archives: Parties

Oh, Happy Day!

No one believes in love at first sight… until that special person comes along and steals your heart. 

We met at a summer barbecue on Capitol Hill hosted by mutual friends. He was smitten with me right away and became a generous patron at the museum where I worked. I thought he was cute, but opted to keep things professional. It wasn’t until a group outing evolved into a one-on-one date that I finally realized he was genuinely interested to take our friendship to the next level. We quickly became inseparable. After a trip to Texas to meet my family (where he asked my parents for their blessing), he surprised me with a trip to Puerto Rico. He said it was a getaway to reward ourselves after all the long hours we’d both put in at our jobs, but really it was to throw me off the matrimonial scent. Looking back I don’t know how I couldn’t see it coming… On November 23, exactly five months from that fateful summer day when we met, he proposed to me at sunset in a historic plaza in the city of Old San Juan. Less than five months later we said “I do.”

I’m sure some may have rolled their eyes at our quick engagement, even doubting we would last. Six years, two cities, and three beautiful boys later, he’s still my best friend.

Oh, Happy Day, indeed.

Special thanks to Jack Potts Photography for compiling this video from our wedding day. 

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Shark Week is Jawesome

this little gem of a pic won me a shark week prize pack

My family drinks the Shark Week juice. Hmmm, I guess that would technically be chum. But regardless, we love Shark Week. Love it. I have to thank KPop, B’s Godmother and my best friend, for the obsession. Remember that movie BIG with Tom Hanks? Yea, KPop is the living-breathing modern version. She is a rockstar at her job and I swear it’s because that woman has the soul of an 11 year old boy! Her connection to Shark Week is what got our family excited about it, but B has taken things to a whole new level. It’s to the point where he wants watch shark shows, wear shark-related clothing, and yes, even eat shark food. I’ve had to get really creative with the menu to get my boy to eat! So although he’s been on a bit of a bug/reptile kick of late, he always comes back to his first love: sharks.

It’s barely spring but B knows once it’s warm out we’re heading to the beach, and to him the beach means sharks! Although Mother Nature has been somewhat cruel with the her warm-weather teasing (this morning started off cold & windy), I’m already thinking of ideas for Shark Week. Last summer we hosted a Shark Week playdate. Yes, a playdate all about sharks for lots of little kids. They loved it! Because of the Summer Olympics, Shark Week has been pushed back into August, which means more time to creatively plan.

the loot provided by Discovery

all the kids came in their bathing suits

even the littlest ones got in on the fun

Doesn’t that look like a lot of fun? I have Discovery to thank for the jawesome Shark Week party pack I won after submitting a photo of B at Sharky’s Cantina in Martha’s Vineyard. The party pack helped pull everything together! But it’s easy to plan your own Shark Week party playdate. Here are some other great ideas:

I love these adorable cards from @SweetDee

INVITES

If you want do a little more than notify everyone via email, jazz it up with MeebleMail. You could also send out a digital invite. Personally, I’m a fan of pingg but there are so many these days that any water-themed version would be just fine. You could also send an adorable note after the party. These handmade I Love You More cards from @SweetDee on Etsy are too cute for words!

you can find nemo... in their bellies! yum!

FOOD 

I love Tex-Mex so Chips & Chum was an easy one for me. Simply put out a bowl of your favorite salsa and pop in a couple of blue corn chips to represent shark fins. Our playdate last year was on a hot day so the chumsicles were a big hit.  These can be store bought or made with love and lots of chunky, red fruit. I also served dinner and opted for an easy meal that most kids enjoy: Mac & Cheese. To tie it into my beach-theme I used varying sizes of shells to mix things up a little. The folks at Pepperidge Farm came up with the brilliant idea to make Goldfish Bread. Look at how cute they are as individual pizzas. These are the perfect size for little kids and they’re fun, too! And if the chumsicles aren’t enough,  beach-themed cupcakes like ours or even with blue shark fins will be the hit of the party!

at the park or the beach, bubble refills are a must!

GAMES & ACTIVITIES

I’m a huge fan of bubbles. On land or under the sea, bubbles are always fun! Also, very important: baby pools. I think they are a must-have for any summer shindig. Whether you fill it up with babies or beer, they’re super cute and incredibly useful. My boys love hide & seek so we renamed it Finding Nemo. The hiders were clown fish and the seeker was a shark! Sidewalk chalk is another fun item to have for warm-weathered parties. The kids can draw on the driveway and when it gets too hot they can dip back in the baby pool.

jawesome cover-up from @thetrendytot

DON’T FORGET

Have the kids show up in their bathing suits, ready to get wet. Make sure to show everyone where the sunscreen is and take into consideration sunscreen that kids with nut allergies can also use. They all need to slather it on – even on a cloudy day! Put out your beach towels (even the ugly ones!) because someone will likely forget to bring one or it will be soaked from the sprinklers. If you plan ahead you could even pick up a one of these great shark cover-ups from @thetrendytot on Etsy. My boys would love to wrap up in this when it’s time to eat. And find a good splash-free zone to play some tunes. Good music always sets the tone and MTV put together a great Shark Week themed playlist!

SHARK WEEK PLAYLIST 

Weird Fishes/Arpegg by Radiohead, Barracuda by Heart, Fish Heads by Barnes and Barnes, Shark Attack by Split Enz, Teeth by Lady Gaga, With Teeth by Nine Inch Nails, Swim (To Reach the End) by Surfer Blood, Sharks by Morphine, Season of the Shark by Yo La Tengo, Hammerhead Shark by David Lee Roth, The Ocean by Led Zeppelin, King Of the Beach by Waaves, Another One Bites the Dust by Queen, Honorary and Obvious Pick: Theme From Jaws by John Williams

And in case your child is anything like mine, they’ll want to play with sharks long after the party is over. Discovery Kids has a great new Shark iPad app available on iTunes. Hmmm… Does anyone know about a waterproof iPad cover?

Are you a Shark Week fan? Do you like to celebrate it with your family? What other Discovery programming do you enjoy? 

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It’s A Creepy, Crawly 4th Birthday!

the party hats matched the invite perfect

Slither On Over! It’s B’s 4th birthday and I can’t believe my first baby is now a little boy! Like any boy, he’s all about bugs and frogs and snakes and dirt. When he’s not outside playing make-believe with his animal toys you’ll find him on our iPad or iPhone checking out his favorite show Monster Bug Wars. His love for all things icky screamed reptile theme so we decided to host it at the South Shore Natural Science Center.

No Girls Allowed! B only invited his boy classmates and a few close playgroup friends to enjoy a Saturday morning all about reptiles. And learn they did! I was impressed with the program and learned a thing or two myself. The Naturalist was wonderful and I was amazed at her ability to capture the typically short attention spans, but she did. For nearly an hour she had 10 little boys between the ages of 3 and 5 fully enthralled about snakes, turtles, frogs, and salamanders. She really engaged with them, too. Oh, how I wish I’d recorded some of the funny comments made by the boys. They were a hoot!

Reptile Rundown! The birthday room was a little small, but we made it work. I purposely chose food and decoration items that wouldn’t take a long time to set up and used the beautiful mural to my advantage. I originally planned on balloons – a must for birthdays in my opinion – but latex balloons are not allowed for allergy reasons. The mylar balloons I ordered spelled out B’s name but were too big and would have overpowered the space. Before the reptile lesson and while we waited for the boys to arrive, we played an old game with a modern twist: pin the tongue on the snake. I used the snake drawing on the invite and had it printed on a giant, laminated poster. The boys loved being blindfolded and spun around. After the boys ate their Python Pizza we played another modified old favorite: BENGO! I found a free BINGO website that you can customize with your own words. Because the boys are still too young to read, I found pictures online to symbolize each word.

Although I expected this to be an easy party to plan, surprisingly I couldn’t find any birthday planning sites with reptiles as a theme.  There are some wonderful sites like Spaceships & Laser Beams and Hostess with the Mostess that inspired me, but most party planning sites only offer ideas or products for bugs or insects so I had to get creative. I’m very happy with how it turned out. Overall the party was well-received by the guests (lots of compliments from the other parents) but especially the guest of honor. Sweet B said he loved it and thanked me for the best birthday party ever in the whole wide world! 

The pressure is on for next year!

quick and easy items to display and enjoy were on the menu

snake juice and fizzy frog water to quench everyone's thirst

the photo toppers for the cupcake stole the show (again!)

lizard dip was served in baby canning jars

an easy, healthy snack that fit perfect with the theme

a classic game with a modern, reptile twist

touching the python skin {oooh!}

the naturalist at the SSNSC talks to the boys

ready to party!

the mural at the SSNSC is the coolest part of the birthday room

plain burlap helped to dress up the table and the boys all enjoyed their custom placemat party favors - that matched the party hats, natch!

each boy took home a personalized placemat and a SSNSC cup

thank you lollipops decorated the centerpieces and added a pop of orange

the birthday boy and his bestie

the party is in full swing

a new take on the classic game of BINGO for the boys

smile and say 'creepy crawly!'

Invitation: Olliegraphic via Sarah + Abraham
Venue: South Shore Natural Science Center
Cupcakes
White’s Cafe & Pastry Shop
Cupcake Toppers: Bug & Boo Designs
Party Hats: Bayou Moon
Activities:
 Pin the Tongue on the Snake & BENGO
Created by me via Swift Publisher & printed by Staples
Favors: Personalized Placemats
Created by me via Swift Publisher & printed by Staples
Decor: Houseplants by Lowe’s & Burlap tablecloth from Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft
Lollipops & Stickers: The Fresh Market & Olliegraphic via Sarah + Abraham
Menu: Python Pizza, Turtle Treats (chicken nuggets), Snake Cakes (cupcakes), Alligator Eggs (green grapes), Lizard Dip (carrots & green pepper w/ranch dressing)


iTunes Playlist: Birthday (Kings of Leon), Pumped Up Kicks (Foster the People) Syprtle the Turtle (SteveSongs) Crocodile Rock (Elton John), Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog (Three Dog Night), Reptile (Eric Clapton), Salamander (Jethro Tull), It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green (Rex Hobart & The Misery Boys), Alligator (Grateful Dead), Union of the Snake (Duran Duran)

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Southern Style in Yankee-Land

I know people up here who do it, but having a Yankee husband I’ve been put on notice not to dress our boys up in fancy Southern clothing. You know what I’m talking about? Those darling seersucker John-Johns beautifully hand-smocked. {sigh} Sometimes I can get away with it for holidays, but unlike my Southern momma friends I don’t dare dress my boys up in it for playdates or school. However, I can’t bear to make them wear the cheesy tees I see in so many chain stores. Instead I cheat and buy inexpensive solid shirts from places like Old Navy and have them monogrammed. Call me what you will, but it gives me my Dixie fix without causing a fuss.

Once a year, though, I get my GRITS on and shop to my wallet’s content at the Kelly’s Kids trunk show. This year’s line of clothing is a chic flashback to a couple of years ago when I snapped up several outfits and I’m thrilled to be able to replenish what B has grown out of and passed down to his brothers. Truth be told there is a madras look I’m dying to dress the boys in. Even though they have matching adult styles, that dog won’t hunt here. We’re only going kid-friendly and even then I have to be careful what I get for B since he’s beginning to show some interest in what he wears these days. Goodness gracious!

If you’re interested to purchase anything from Kelly’s Kids shop here online. During check out, please enter 4754 as the party reference number.

Please Remember & Shop For A Cause

just a few items from the spring 2012 collection

I recently hosted a Stella & Dot party on what would’ve been my dad’s 72nd birthday. He passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s disease nearly 4 years ago. Typically the hostess will receive a significant discount for additional purchases based on sales. Instead, I opted to donate a portion of the sales to the Alzheimer’s Association.

My friend and S&D stylist, Vanessa, has generously allowed to keep sales open online in the event you missed out on Friday’s party. Please visit www.stelladot.com/voleary before 11PM on January 31st and make sure to select Sara Abbott as the hostess when you check out to give proper credit.

You may not recognize the brand Stella & Dot, but many pieces are very popular and worn often by well-known celebrities. Best of all, this brand has a very affordable price point: Over half of all Stella & Dot items are under $50. I own several pieces already and this time I’m treating myself to the adorable rose gold sidewinder earrings that I plan to wear to B’s reptile themed birthday party. See, there’s something for everyone! What are you going to get?

Thanks to everyone who attended and already shopped online. Buyers can shop from anywhere – shipping is worldwide. If you have questions, please let me know. Happy Shopping!

And Happy Birthday, Daddy!

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