Andrea's blog


Voice Solutions, Not Complaints

After our very fun trip to LEGOLand Florida over Christmas break, Ayla and Ben decided to write a letter to LEGOland to bring to their attention the ONLY disappointing part of our day -- There wasn't much LEGO Friends representation at the park other than a single shop, and LEGO Friends are Ayla's favorite kinds of LEGO. 

Lego Friends MinifigureHer main frustration was that she wasn't able to trade a LEGO Friends minifigure with any of the employees like Paxton was able to do, because the nametags that the employees wear to hold their minifigures aren't able to hold the Lego Friends characters because of the way the Friends are designed.

Legoland Nametag

The regular minifigures attached to the front of the nametag, rather than the top, which is how the LEGO Friends characters would have to attach.

Legoland Nametag

So, Ayla and Ben sent a letter.  Ben explained to her about how instead of just sending a complaint, it would be more helpful to LEGOLand and all the other girls who like LEGO Friends if she offered a solution to the problem. 

In her letter, Ayla suggested they modify the nametags to accomodate the LEGO Friends characters as well.  She also sent one of her own LEGO Friends characters with her letter in the hopes that they might offer her a trade after all, since she wasn't able to do it at the park. 

Letter to Legoland

Legoland Letter

It never hurts to ask--and she understood that she might not ever get a response, but she wanted to try.

Today, we received a package in the mail from the LEGOLand team in response to her letter.  That's a pretty big package for a letter!!!

Package from Legoland

Letter from Legoland

Legoland Letter

In addition to a personally written letter thanking Ayla for her suggestions, she received the "Andrea" Lego Friend character she had sent them AND an "Olivia" one to join her, a new LEGO Friends LEGO set to build, AND her very own LEGOLand Nametag!

New Lego Friends Legoland Nametag

Notice how her nametag holds the LEGO Friends' characters?  It turns out, as a DIRECT result of Ayla's letter, they ordered 1500 pieces to modify the LEGOLand employees nametags so that from here forward, they'd be able to offer LEGO Friends characters in their minifigure trades!

New Lego Friends Legoland Nametag

Talk about making a difference. :) 

Even better, they told her they are in the process of building a brand new area at LEGOLand called Heartlake City, opening this summer and offered Ayla a VIP experience at the Heartlake Salon and an opportunity to meet Emma (one of the Friends). All that AND 4 tickets for our family to spend another day at LEGOland!

Legoland Response Wow.  I guess we'll be going back!  Thank you LEGOLand!  You certainly made her day!




Girl Scout Cookies for Sale!

It's official! The Girl Scout cookie selling season has begun. 

Ayla really enjoyed selling last year (we walked the neighborhood with a wagon) and is very excited about doing it again this year.  It's a good opportunity for her to practice talking to adults, answering their questions and counting money and making change.  I try *very* hard to let her do the talking!  Which isn't too hard since we walk up and down about 100 VERY hilly driveways to do it!

So...until we collect cases and cases of cookie boxes and hit the streets of our neighborhood, she is taking pre-orders and will be able to begin delivering your cookies to you on February 7th.

If you'd like to support her Troop and get a tasty box (or 6) of cookies at the same time, you can post here or email me at with your order.  Please address your order to AYLA, as she will be taking care of the "business". :)

Boxes are $3.50 each. Here are the flavors our area is carrying:

  • Savannah Smiles - Crisp, zesty lemon cookies
  • Trefoils - Traditional shortbread cookies
  • Do-Si-Dos - Peanut butter sandwich cookies
  • Samoas - Caramel, coconut & chocolate
  • Rah-Rah Raisins - Oatmeal raisin & greek yogurt flavored chunks
  • Tagalongs - Peanut butter patties covered in chocolate
  • Thin Mints - Chocolate mint

Unfortunately, our area is not offering the "buy online & have your cookies shipped" option (maybe next year?), but if our Chicago family & friends would like to order any boxes, we will be in town at the end of March and can bring them to you then!

Thank you for supporting Ayla and her troop!


Balayage Hair

I've caught the bug.  After my first hair-coloring experience earlier this year, it was finally time for a touch-up.  Last time, I went with an ombre technique, blending my dark hair into a lighter, caramel color. 

This time though, I wanted to keep some of my darker hair and have a little more contrast throughout, so I asked for a highlighted look instead.  While I was looking for ideas, I came across a trend called "Balayage" - which is a technique of painting strands of hair to create a more natural, sun-kissed look.

See Ombre vs. Balayage for more info...

Balayage Hair Ideas

I asked my stylist to make me look like Lily Aldridge or Kate Beckinsale. :) She did her best with what she had to work with!

I'm happy! It's always fun to look a little different for a change.

Balayage Hair


Color Me Happy: Swatched

I am energized by color.  It doesn't necessarily have to be a BOLD color, or a wild color, but if it's the right color, then all is perfect in the world... 

Finding the right color meant everything to me in my scrapbooking days (how many hours did I spend searching for the perfect shade of Bazzill cardstock?). I think about it every time I get dressed in the morning and look for the right shoes and earrings for an outfit.  And it definitely holds true as I've been sloooowwwly decorating each room in our house.  No matter what the canvas - the right color scheme pulls everything together.

When Ben told me about his idea to build a website that lets you browse thousands of inspiring images by color (in my case, I was smitten with the home decor-related photographs and products), my eyes got wide and my head started spinning.  

Ooooh! If I could look through a ton of photos that used MY colors, it would be so much easier to get ideas for what to buy and how to curate a room that actually looks good!

Enter his new color-drenched website: Swatched - Browse by Color for Home Decor Inspiration and Products

I've been organizing by color for years...buttons, stickers, clothing, markers, name it!  To see a rainbow of photos and products presented like this just gets me giddy.  It's fun to look at, gets my creative juices flowing, and gets me excited about decorating.

SWATCHED - "Red Devil" Modern Kitchen Stools

Here's an example of how I've used Swatched to browse and shop for ideas in our home.

Our living room is in a perpetual state of "almost there".  I'm still looking for the right furniture, accent pieces, and artwork.  So, I went right to the colors that speak to me and are already present in our living room to see what I could find.  As I perused the results, I was caught in my tracks by these great photos and products:

There it is!  The perfect use of my colors, in a style I love.  Amazing! 

Home Decor Inspiration and Products by Color at

I absolutely love how every color has a name.  It turns out, at least in my living room, I'm a big fan of colors called "Juniper", "Chicago", and "Pizza".  That sounds about right...a little bit earthy, a little metropolis, and a lot of cheese! :)

Juniper Colored Home Decor on SWATCHED

Oh, but there are lots of rooms in my house, and so many colors to love...I think it's time to get clicking, and PINning, and shopping, and...well, go check it out!  And then come back and tell me your favorite color! :)  I bet it has a super-cute name....

SWATCHED - Explore Home Decor by Color

Swatched is brand new and still growing!  Like it on Facebook to find out about new feature rollouts and follow Swatched on Pinterest for daily pins in your favorite colors.


5 Weeks of Workout Routines You Can Do At Home

Below I've written down 5 weeks worth of workouts I've done, just to have a variety to reference if I am ever stumped for a workout to do.  I thought I'd share it here in case anyone else wanted to try them. 

Disclaimer:  I am not a trainer. I have no idea if this is an efficient or "right" way to exercise.  It's just what I like to do.  Also, this was not a weight-loss goal (my weight stayed the same)--it's just a sampling of my regular strength and cardio maintenance routine.  If I was trying to lose weight, I'd have to stop eating so many Cheese-Its!

My Normal Routine:

I generally exercise 4-5 days a week, usually between 20 minutes to 50 minutes long--sometimes at home, sometimes at the gym.  Lately, I tend toward a mix of running, HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts, and yoga.  Most of my workouts don't require any equipment, but occasionally I do use an interval timer app on my phone, an exercise mat, a kettlebell (20lb), dumbbell (5lb), or a chair.

If I've used someone else's workout routine that I found on a blog, DVD, etc., I've linked to their website or YouTube channel, so you can follow along with them.  There are some great real-time workouts out there!

5 Weeks of Workout Routines You Can Do At Home - HIIT, Yoga & Running


Sunday April 27, 2014 - 147 lbs

1 mile run on treadmill - 6mph pace - (10 min)

ZCUT #1 DVD Workout (10 min)

  • 10 competition burpees
  • 10 jump tucks
  • 10 competition burpees
  • 20 jump lunges
  • 10 competition burpees
  • 30 crab position kickups (2 legs=1 rep)
  • 10 competition burpees
  • 40 low jack side-kicks
  • 10 competition burpees
  • 10 pushups (on knees)
  • 60 crunches

Happy Hamstrings Yoga (20 min)

Monday, April 28, 2014 - 145 lbs

3 mile run on track - 24 laps - (30:12)

Circuit (~10 min):

  • 100 jumping jacks
  • 40 lunges
  • 40 squats
  • 100 high knees
  • 40 butt kickers
  • 30 side lunges
  • 10 leg lifts (each)
  • 100 crunches 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 145 lbs

Power Yoga With Twists - (45 min)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 146 lbs

2 miles run on treadmill + walking warmup & cool down - (26:00)

"Best Butt Workout" - (20 min)

  • 50 Hip Bridge & Leg Lift
  • 100 Donkey Kicks
  • 100 Glute Kickbacks
  • 50 Sumo Squats & Leg Raise
  • 100 Side Lunges

Stretch (5 min)

Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 145 lbs

3.6 mile Preserve Loop run (33:19)

2 rounds of:

  • 50 crunches
  • 25 russian twists
  • 25 v-up crunches
  • 60 second plank
  • 60 second superman

10 full pushups

Friday, May 2, 2014 - 146 lbs


Saturday, May 3, 2014

1 hour hike - gravel road


Sunday, May 4, 2014


Monday, May 5, 2014 - 146 lbs

2 1/2 mile run on track - (25 min)

  • 1/2 mile jog
  • 1/2 mile sprint straightaway/jog curve
  • 1/2 mile jog
  • 1/2 mile sprint straightaway/jog curve
  • 1/2 mile jog

Circuit Workout (10 min)

  • 10 jump squats
  • 20 jump lunges
  • 30 mountain climbers
  • 40 crunches
  • 50 donkey kicks (25 each leg)
  • 60 second plank
  • 50 donkey kicks (25 each leg)
  • 40 crunches
  • 30 mountain climbers
  • 20 jump lunges
  • 10 jump squats
  • 60 second plank

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 - 146 lbs

2.25 mile run (20:45 min)

2 rounds w/20lb kettlebell:

  • 25 kettlebell swings
  • 25 figure eights
  • 25 goblet squats
  • 25 1-leg dead lifts (L)
  • 25 1-leg dead lifts (R)

30 second superman (x2)

50 crunches

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 - 146 lbs

2 ROUNDS for a total of 8 minutes Tabata workout (10 sec rest/20 sec work):

  • 0:00 - Burpees w/pushups
  • 0:20 - Rest
  • 0:30 - Mountain Climbers
  • 0:50 - Rest
  • 1:00 - High knees
  • 1:20 - Rest
  • 1:30 - Jumping Jacks
  • 1:50 - Rest
  • 2:00 - Burpees w/pushups
  • 2:20 - Rest
  • 2:30 - Mountain Climbers
  • 2:50 - Rest
  • 3:00 - High Knees
  • 3:20 - Rest
  • 3:30 - Jumping Jacks
  • 3:50 - Rest
  • 4:00 - DONE !

Dynamic Yoga Flow ( - 27 min

  • This was more of a strength yoga exercise, mostly on the floor, plank taps, core exercises, not much in the way of warrior, lunges, balance, etc.

Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 146 lbs

3.82 mile run - Preserve Loop (32:32)

Friday, May 9, 2014 - 147 lbs

Rest / clean house

Saturday, May 10, 2014 

2.6 mile run (25 min)

2 rounds of:

  • 10 jump squats
  • 20 side jump lunges
  • 30 high knees
  • 40 lunges
  • 50 second wall sit


Sunday, May 11, 2014


Monday, May 12, 2014 - 146 lbs
2 mile run on track - (19:48)

Abs & Thighs Tabata = 8 rounds; 10 seconds {rest} 20 seconds {maximum intensity}

  • Tabata round #1: Reverse Crunch (4 min)
  • Tabata round #2: Squat Thrust (4 min)
  • Tabata round #3: Back Lunge & Front Kick (alternating legs for each 20 second interval) (4 min)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - 146 lbs

ZCUT DVD Workout #10 - 2 rounds (11:45)

  • 10 - Competition 180 Degree Burpees
  • 20 - Low Jacks
  • 20 - Bicycle Crunches
  • 10 - front lunge/back lunge & jump lunge switch
  • 20 - plank side-to-side jumps
  • 10 - 3 jump lunges & 1 jump squat

Core Fantastic Pilates/Yoga (24 min)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 146 lbs

20 Minute HIIT: Sweat to Sculpt (50 sec work/10 sec rest)

  1. 1 leg plank frog hop to Warrior 3 (left leg)
  2. 1 leg plank frog hop to Warrior 3 (right leg)
  3. high knees
  4. in & out squat jumps
  5. curtsy lunge to high kick (left leg)
  6. curtsy lunge to high kick (right leg)
  7. high knees
  8. in & out squat jumps
  9. tabletop w/single leg hip thrust (left leg)
  10. tabletop w/single leg hip thrust (right leg)
  11. high knees
  12. in & out squat jumps
  13. tabletop heel press (left leg)
  14. tabletop heel press (right leg)
  15. high knees
  16. in & out squat jumps
  17. downward dog heep press (left leg)
  18. downward dog heep press (right leg)
  19. high knees
  20. in & out squat jumps

100 crunches

Friday, May 16, 2014

3.5 mile run - 8 laps around softball fields @park (32:07)

  • 20 jump squats
  • 20 forward lunge/back lunge, jump lunge switch
  • 20 reptile pushups (alternating knee up to elbow each pushup)
  • 20 mountain climbers
  • 20 left leg side lifts
  • 20 left leg back lifts
  • 20 right leg side lifts
  • 20 right leg back lifts
  • 20 burpees w/pushups

Saturday, May 17, 2014



Sunday, May 18, 2014 - 147 lbs

1 mile run on treadmill plus 1 min warmup & 1 min cool down (13:02 min)

Quick & Fun 16 Minute Home Workout (2 rounds - 10 sec rest / 50 sec work) - 35 min

1. Push-up Jacks
2. Frogger to Chair
3. Inner Thigh Squeeze (right)
4. Inner Thigh Squeeze (left)
5. Prone Heel Press
6. Knee Cross Plank to Side Plank (right)
7. Knee Cross Plank to Side Plank (left)
8. Side Lunge Curtsy (right)
9. Side Lunge Curtsy (left)
10. Bridge Hopper (right)
11 Bridge Hopper (left)
12. Wide Leg Plank Crunch
13. Twisting Lunge (right)
14. Twisting Lunge (left)
15. Pendulum Plank (right)
16. Pendulum Plank (left)

Monday, May 19, 2014 - 146 lbs

I slightly sprained my ankle yesterday, so I promised myself I'd either skip a workout or do something that involved no bodyweight on my feet.  So, I ended up with this on-the-mat Abs & Legs workout:

2 Rounds of:

  • 25 donkey kicks (L)
  • 25 fire hydrants (L)
  • 25 donkey kicks (R)
  • 25 fire hydrants (R)
  • 25 leg lift to reverse crunch
  • 25 1-leg bridge hip thrust (L)
  • 25 1-leg bridge hip thrust (R)
  • 25 inner thigh squeeze (L)
  • 25 inner thigh squeeze (R)
  • 50 bicycle crunches
  • 3 30-sec superman
  • 25 crunches
  • 25 russian twists

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 146 lbs

2.5 mile run (up Chapel Rd. & back) - 22:21

Standing Yoga Flow for Butt, Thighs, Legs & Back (15:51)

Full Body Yoga Stretch (17:00)

  • This was a very good hip flexor stretching routine...good after a run!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 - 146 lbs

3 Rounds "Full Body Workout Series: Day 9": (15-ish minutes total)

  • 5 burpees w/pushup
  • 20 strict mountain climbers
  • 20 crab toe touches
  • 5 dive bombers (I STINK at these!)
  • 20 runners lunge to forward kick (each leg)

Ab workout

  • 20 full situps
  • 20 reverse crunches
  • 20 bicycle crunches
  • 20 russian twists
  • 20 crunches

60 second wall sit

Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 145 lbs

3.32 miles (24 laps on Rec track) - 29:27

5 Minute Ab Workout (50 sec work/10 sec rest interval)

  • frogger jumps
  • reverse crunch hip lift
  • plank leg lift
  • bicycle
  • mountain climbers

50 squats

10 squat pulses (10 sec each)

Friday, May 23, 2014 - 145 lbs

Active Rest Day

  • Hauled a truckload of wood
  • Cleaned the house
  • "swimming" for 1 1/2 hours at rec w/kids'

Saturday, May 24, 2014 - 145 lbs



Sunday, May 25, 2014 - 146 lbs

2.21 mile walk (at park) - 34:00

Monday, May 26, 2014 - 146 lbs

2.15 mile run (rec track) - 20:21

2 rounds of 5min Interval Workout (50 sec work/10 sec rest interval)

  • 1-leg squat dips (w/bench) - right
  • 1-leg squat dips (w/bench) - left
  • downward dog leg split to cross plank - right
  • downward dog leg split to cross plank - left
  • side lunge jumps

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - 148 lbs (holy Memorial Day weekend!)

20 min "Constant Work" setting on stationary bike (4 miles)

Lower Body Sculpt & Shape (50 sec work/10 sec rest interval)

  1. Plie Squat Press w/10 lb dumbbell
  2. Down Dog Cross (right)
  3. Down Dog Cross (left)
  4. Side Lunge Lift (right)
  5. Side Lunge Lift (left)
  6. Runners Lunge Kick (right) w/10 lb dumbbell
  7. Runners Lunge Kick (left) w/10 lb dumbbell
  8. Leg Series (right)
  9. Leg Series (left)
  10. Forward Fold Stretch

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 148 lbs

3.24 mile run (24 laps on Rec track) - 30:25

Challenge Day 1: 15 Minute HIIT Core Fat Burn - 1 round

  1. Mountain Climbers
  2. Temple Tap Abs
  3. 3-Way Frogger
  4. Angel Abs
  5. Mountain Climbers
  6. Side Plank Leg Lift (right)
  7. 3-Way Frogger
  8. Side Plank Leg Lift (left)
  9. Mountain Climber
  10. Knee to Elbow Crunch
  11. 3-Way Frogger
  12. Rock the Boat
  13. Mountain Climbers
  14. Super Swim
  15. 3-Way Froggers

Thursday, May 29, 2014 - 147 lbs

3 rounds of Fantastic A$$ Workout (modified to add cardio) - 27:44

  • DB (5lb dumbell) Plie Double Pulse Squat x 50
  • 50 low jacks
  • One Leg Weighted (5lb) Bridge {left leg} x 10
  • One Leg Weighted (5lb) Bridge {right leg} x 10
  • 50 high knees
  • One Leg Squat {left leg} x 2
  • One Leg Squat {right leg} x 2
  • 50 tuck jumps
  • Weighted (5lb) Double Pulse Bridge x 30
  • 50 jumping jacks

Friday, May 30, 2014

Rest / Clean House

Saturday, May 31, 2014 - 147 lbs

3.35 mile run - 24 laps on Rec track - 29:18

Legs (w/12lb bar):

  • 25 squats
  • 25 forward lunges
  • 25 side lunges
  • 25 back lunges


  • 25 right crunches (elbow to knee)
  • 25 left crunches (elbow to knee)
  • 25 crunches
  • 25 reverse crunches

1 hour of swimming w/kids in Rec pool

See more workouts here -->


Ombre for Dre - Ombre on Long Dark Hair

I've never colored my hair....until yesterday.  Since it takes me about 6 months to a year just to get back to the salon to get my hair cut, regular color maintenance is all kinds of inconvenient for me.

But...lately I've been kind of bored with my hair, which is about the time I get tempted to chop it off and sport a look more like this:

short curly bob hair cut

It's taken so long to grow my hair out this long though, so I thought instead of chopping it off, I might try some color this time instead.   With the help of Google, Pinterest and Instagram, I stumbled upon a hair color option that wouldn't require such regular touch-up maintenance, since it leaves the roots dark--Ombre Hair:

Ombre Color Ideas for Long Dark Hair

It seemed like the PERFECT way for me to try out a new shade...

I gathered up these inspiration photos and asked my stylist (Angela Bradley at Stone Salon at the Preserve in Hoover, AL) if she could make me look like Kate Beckinsale.  She did the best she could with what she had to work with (me!).  And, though I still wouldn't win in a Kate Beckinsale look-alike competition, I'm VERY happy with the new look:

Ombre on Long Dark Hair

Ombre Hairstyle - Dark Brown Long Hair

I was nervous, but excited when I went in to color my hair for the first time.  I know for many people, this is just an old-hat no-big-deal sort of thing, but for my first time--it was kind of a big deal. 

I had NO idea how long the process takes.  I was at the salon for just over 3 hours, and my neck got tired from holding up all that foil! 

Before & After Ombre Hair - Long Dark Hair

In the end, I think it's just the change I needed.  Something subtle, but different, and perfect for the summer.  If I get tired of it after a few months, I can always cut it off--but maybe I won't! ;)

I'm interested to see how the color gradient looks in my signature braid, or with natural curls

ombre for long dark hairstyle


Glasses Frames Virtual Try-On: Does it work?

The last time I bought a pair of glasses (2007), they were scratched within a week and I never really liked them all that much (they always felt crooked), so eventually I ended up just replacing the lenses in my old frames instead--which I originally bought in 2004. 

I finally tried out contacts in October 2010, and that's been my main mode of vision correction for the past four years.  But, I still pull out my old 2004 frames to wear at least once a week, since I don't like to do my sign painting with contacts in (too much dust & spray in the air!) 

I picked those frames out 10 years ago.  TEN.

It was time for something new.

Ultimately, I haven't picked any new frames out for so many years because the buying and choosing process intimdates me.  Glasses are so expensive most of the time, and you really need someone to come with you to help you pick out frames that look good on you.

Well...I never did that.  Other things just seemed more important at the time, and my old glasses were fine on the rare days I decided not to wear my contacts.

But, I finally bit the bullet and picked out some new frames.  I decided to look online and eventually ended up at the same website where I order my contacts -


Bulova Toulon Burgundy Glasses

I was able to use their Virtual Try On feature to see how lots different frames might look on me, and this is the style I landed on - Bulova Toulon Burgundy

A benefit of the "virtual" try on is that you can try 'em on with all kinds of hairstyles. :)

Virtual Glasses Try On -

Still, I wasn't SURE they'd fit, or that they'd look okay, and I was having trouble committing. So what REALLY got me to to just go ahead and get them was Coastal's First Pair Free offer.  Yep.  The frames and lenses were FREE.  I paid only $15 shipping and tax, and in just a few days, my frames (including prescription lenses) arrived.  Quite a deal over the $200 frames I bought back in 2004...

And what do you know?  When they arrived in the mail and I put them on, they looked a lot like I expected.  How 'bout that?  Virtual Try-On worked.

Bulova Toulon Burgandy Glasses Review

So, now I can cross this purchase off my list for another 10 years.  Well, maybe since it ended up being so easy I'll update them a little sooner than that this time around...


Cheap & Easy Lego Birthday Party

Cheap and Easy Lego Birthday Party Plans and ResourcesI recently hosted a Lego Playdate Birthday Party for my just-turned-five-year-old son, and thought I'd share the party plans and resources for anyone who may be interested in a similar party. 


I asked my son and daughter to create a Lego scene from their minifigures and toys.  This is what they came up with:

Lego Party Invitation Ideas

With a little bit of Photoshop magic, I put together this 5" x 7" invitation and printed them on white cardstock (they would have looked better professionally printed on photo paper, but I was short on time!) and sent them to school with my son.

Lego Birthday Party Invitation

Invitation Resources: Lego texture image, LegoThick Font


I planned several games and activities that would work inside or outside.  We lucked out with good weather, so we held the party in our driveway and set the games and tables up into "stations".

Free Play with Blocks: I borrowed two giant buckets full of Duplo blocks from my sister-in-law and the boys had a great time just making their own creations and playing with the blocks.  I was surprised at how such a simple thing entertained them for so long!

Lego Birthday Party Activities

Coloring Sheets:  I downloaded several Lego Movie coloring sheets as an emergency quiet activity, and was surprised when several of the boys migrated to that table completely unprompted!

Lego Movie Coloring Sheets

Lego Movie Coloring Sheets: Download at

Lego Toss: I used the top of a 4 ft plastic table, 6 blue paper plates (taped to the table to look like a Lego brick), and labeled the plates with points.  Then the kids each took turns tossing a Duplo blocks (bean bags would have worked better -- less bounce) trying to get the most points. The boys each did about 3 rounds of this, trying to perfect their toss.  I didn't give prizes...but you could. :)

Lego Toss Party Game

Pin the Head on the Lego Man:

I used cardstock to made a paper-pieced version of this LegoMan coloring sheet from and glued it to a piece of cardboard. 

Printable Lego Minifigure Coloring Sheet

To make the heads, I started with this Lego Faces Printable image from, and adjusted the colors, sizes and layout in Photoshop to create this printable that would work better directly onto yellow cardstock and cut them out.

Each boy picked the face he liked best (they skipped over the girl faces), I blindfolded them with a scarf and turned them around 5 times each.  We ended up with a pretty silly looking Lego guy and the boys thought it was pretty entertaining.

Pin the Head on the Lego Man

Lego in a Spoon Relay:

Somehow, this particular group of 5-year-old boys didn't know much about how relay races work, so this game kind of fell apart.  But..we attempted it anyhow. 

What you need: Two wooden spoons, two duplo blocks, two teams and two chairs.

How to play: Each team tries to get all of their players around the chair and back without dropping the Duplo block, balancing it on the wooden spoon.

Build Your Own Race Car:

This was the big "finale" activity, and also served as the boys' party favors, since they got to take home their Lego Race Car creations and extra pieces. 

I ordered 8 race car "kits" made from used Legos on Ebay.  The seller, robertpack, worked with me to create a perfect kit for 8 kids, but essentially, it was one each of these three listings:

Before the party, my husband and kids helped me divide the pieces out into "kits" which we put into ziplock bags for each boy (4 wheels, a bottom, a windshield, a driver, a seat, a steering wheel, lights, fins, etc.).  Then I put a bowl of all the extra pieces in the center of the table for "flair" and they got to work.

Lego Race Car Kits for Birthday Party

Lego Race Car Kits for Birthday Party Game

Building Lego Race Cars with Birthday Party Kits

Lego Race Car Kit Birthday Party Favor

The boys had a blast building (with a little bit of help from the adults) their own completely unique cars that they then raced down an 8ft table set up as a ramp:

Lego Race Car Track

Lego Race Car Track - Birthday Party Games

When we were finished, we put their cars and exta pieces back into the ziplock bags, labeled them with their names, and added a few pieces of candy to them to take home as favor bags.


Five year old boys don't require much of anything fancy!  I could have themed all the food out, but frankly, you end up throwing a lot of it away and it takes so much time and energy to make all those cute Pinterest-y recipes and decorative foods.  I did feed them all lunch, but we kept it VERY simple:

  • 1 Family Sized Papa Murphy's Take & Bake pizza
  • 1 bag of Cheetos
  • Lemonade & Apple Juice Boxes
  • sliced strawberries


I don't bake (at least not for presentation).  So, I went to the Target bakery the day before the party and picked out a pre-made and decorated sheet cake (it had some red, blue and yellow balloons on it). 

To personalize the top of the cake, I printed a simple banner onto yellow cardstock and taped it to two straws.  Then my son designed 5 of his Lego minifigures to run across the cake.  SOOO simple.

Lego Themed Birthday Cake


Eh...he was turning 5 and the party was outside, so I skipped the decorations almost entirely.  I did buy blue & red plates and yellow napkins from the Dollar Tree, as well as a single green star balloon for the mailbox.  But that was it.  So freeing.  So easy.  And decorations weren't missed AT ALL.


I estimate that in-all, I spent less than $120 on the whole party.  He and his friends had a fantastic time, and I wasn't stressed about planning it at all.  Not too shabby.


Family Reunion Family Tree Poster

I love a good Family Tree project--and I've made several!  So, when my grandmother asked me to make a Family Tree poster to identify the family members & their relationships to each other for our family reunion weekend celebrating their 65th anniversary and my grandfather's 90th birthday, I was happy to oblige. 

Family Tree Poster for Family Reunion
click image for more info

The large 36" x 24" poster ended up being quite the conversation piece for the celebration weekend as we all re-introduced ourselves to each other and met several new family members that weren't a part of the family yet 15 years ago, the last time we were all together!

Family & friends can read all about the weekend here (log-in to view):


This isn't the first time I've made an artistic rendering of our family tree for an event. 

For my grandmother's 80th birthday about seven years ago, I made a scrapbook-y photo-version, showing all their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, which is currently displayed at their house (and is now significantly out-dated!):

Photographic Family Tree
Photographic Family Tree Art

And in my own home, we have a paper and canvas Family Tree in our entryway that I made with watercolor paint, cardstock and canvas:

Wrapped Canvas, Watercolor & Cardstock Family Tree
click photo to enlarge

See! Told ya.  I love a good family tree project. :)


Sending You Hugs & Kisses

Hope your Valentine's Day is especially sweet!

During one of our many recent snow days, we had a little Valentine photo shoot in our living room to get some decent pictures for this year's Valentine cards...

Ayla wanted to make bookmarks for her classmates, so we went with a photo booth style design and had them printed on photo paper.  She was then adamant about taping a heart-shaped sucker to the back of the bookmark.  Works for me!

Just to keep it simple, we went ahead and used the same style for Paxton and his friends while we were at it...

I was proud of him for writing each of his friend's names on the back of the bookmark, as well as signing his own name on each one too.  That's a lot of writing for a little man.

We couldn't forget our family!  Grandparents, cousins, aunts & uncles got a bookmark featuring both smiling faces. :)

Hope your day is sweet and lovely!

PS.  In case you didn't know it, I have a thing for cute valentine pictures: 2007 - 2008 - 2009 - 2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013

PSS.  And in case you thought every picture of them was super-adorable and think I have cooperative little models, let me set that record straight:

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