Thursday, May 30, 2013

Graduation Party!

I'm baaaack!  Whew!  What a whirlwind month this was!  I'm sorry I haven't blogged much recently, but between wrapping up things at school for the end of the year, meetings, family gatherings, and getting ready for Kelin's high school graduation party, I was meeting myself coming and going.  I plan to do a lot more blogging this summer, so get ready! :)
The highlight of this month though was my youngest son graduating high school! Woot! Woot!  We had an open house Memorial Weekend.  If you live in the Midwest, I'm sure you are well aware of all the rain we had over that particular weekend.  We had flooding here in Galesburg worse than most people can ever remember around here.  I'll do a post later on some of that.  Today though, I want to focus on our soggy, but wonderful, graduation open house that we had for Kelin.

Let's start with a few brag pictures of my graduate!
My two handsome sons (proud mama alert!):

Officially a high school graduate:

The Fab Five!  These five guys are always together!  I'm so going to miss seeing them having so much fun together when they all go their separate ways for college :(

Ok, so now for the open house - which was actually the day before graduation.  We had a very low key, informal party in our garage and I recycled some of the decorations that I used for Kenny's two years ago.  The school colors are silver and gold, but black is always present in the mix so those are the three colors I used in decorations.  
Tables decorations were pretty simple...silver table coverings, black 12x12 scrapbook paper in the center with a silver centerpiece (purchased at Dollar Tree!!!!).  I also sprinkled some silver and gold "congratulations" confetti and Hershey's Kisses and Rolos in silver and gold foil.  
Simple, yet festive:


Also on the tables, I place two "success" quotes.  I just looked up random quotes about success, printed them on 3x5 cards and mounted them on gold scrapbook paper, then I placed them in acrylic frames.  

There are quotes from Michael Jordon, Dr. Seuss, and many others!  I think they added a nice touch to the tables.  

I have to take a minute and apologize for the quality of some of these pictures.  I took them in a huge hurry because I was working very last minute to get everything ready!  That is very unlike me, too!!!!!  Somehow, time just got away from me and I was putting the finishing touches on things when the first guests started to arrive.  I have to say another HUGE THANK YOU to my SIL, Bobbi, for her help in setting up the party!  I would never have made it on time without her help.  She also did a fantastic job on the cake table, which you will see soon! :)

Food!  The most important part of any party, right?  Our menu was simple:  pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, coleslaw, chips, veggies and dip, and Bobbi made some delicious cream cheese pinwheel wraps  (have I mentioned how much she helped me that day?????).  

Ya, we have a ton of pork left over!  Pork sandwiches, pork casserole, bbq pork pizza - which was actually VERY good!  You can also see the cream cheese pinwheel wraps in the background here.

The big, white mini-pool is a blow up cold buffet server.  You simply blow it up, fill it with ice and place your cold items on top to stay cold.  I ordered it from one of those catalogs that have odds and ends gifts, like Harriet Carter or something.  I think I paid $30 and it has been worth it!  We've used it often for cook outs and parties in the warmer months.   

I pre-wrapped the silverware in silver and gold napkins.  Then I made paper napkin rings in black and white and added graduation cap and diploma stickers.  I just taped the rings in the back.  Sorry about the random chip in the basket.  I didn't notice it when I took the picture.  

And now for the cake table:  (actually, it was a cupcake and cookie table)

I saw this smartie/dum dum idea somewhere online but can't remember where.  I just bought two clear glass vases at Dollar Tree (L.O.V.E. that store!), printed out the sayings, mounted on gold paper then taped to the vases.  Kinda cute. :)

Yes, I baked and decorated the cookies myself with some help from my mom. I actually enjoy the cookie decorating.  I'd like to get better at it and maybe sell them!

Cookie bouquet!  For some reason, I really wanted cookie bouquets on the table.  This is the first time I've ever made a cookie on a stick.  I'll do a post later on how that works.  The vase is just a tin container I got, where else???, at Dollar Tree!!  I cut floral foam to fit down inside then wrapped it in black tissue paper and topped it with silver paper shreds.  Then I stuck in the cookies and tadaaaa!  Cute, no?  

We did simple chocolate and yellow cupcakes with buttercream frosting and multi-colored sprinkles on top.  I don't have close up (because I forgot!) but there are also molded yellow candy stars on some.  I used Wilton candy melts and made a bunch of yellow stars.  Those Wilton candy melts are super easy to use!  In case you haven't noticed, I also had somewhat of a "star" theme going.  Star cookies, stars on cupcakes, gold and silver stars hanging from the ceiling, etc.

As for his personal displays, I created a photo board and tried to lay out some memorabilia that gave guests a glimpse into his school career.

If you look really closely at that newspaper, it says "Obama Surprises Streaks."  During my son's junior year of high school, during football practice, President Obama stopped in our town on the way to a speaking engagement.  He came by the football field and talked to the players.  We had no idea he would be stopping.  It was all very exciting!  Kelin got to shake his hand, too!  Even if you're not an Obama supporter, it's still VERY cool to be able to shake the hand of the President of the United States!!!!

This is his gift and card table.  Nothing fancy since most people bring you cards with money. :)  I also had black scrapbook paper out with metallic colored pens for people to sign so I can put them in his scrapbook later.   

Here's a closer photo of the candy card I made him.  I've made a few of these now and they are always fun to do!

I think that's the highlights!  It was such a fun day, in spite of the rainy weather!  I love celebrating these milestones with my family and friends!  We just don't take time out of our busy lives often enough to get together unless we are celebrating a birthday or holiday it seems.  
Graduating high school is a big accomplishment and we are so proud of Kelin!  He'll be attending Monmouth College next year and I can't wait for him to start the next chapter of his life!  Hopefully you found an idea or two here that you might use in your next celebration.  

Happy graduation, Kelin!


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Friday, May 3, 2013

A Mother's Love

Mother's Day is in a little over a week.  I'm not a real sappy person (just ask MY mother and she will surely confirm that because she definitely is!) so I won't be waxing poetic over a mother's love and all that.  However, I do take pride in being a good mom raising my boys into good men.  I got those skills from my own mom.  She's a great mom who would do anything for her kids and I like to think I take after her in that respect (maybe that makes up for my un-sappy side).  So here's a big THANK YOU to my mom for being so wonderful and always being there for me through anything!  I LOVE YOU!  (and I know she's crying as she reads this!)

Me, my mom, and my brother

Here's a motherhood story of a different sort:
I've had occasion this week to watch one very dedicated mom go through some harsh stuff for her babies.  She is truly an example of perseverance in the face of adversity!

Yes, she's a Mourning Dove.  :)  This little mama made her nest on top of our arbor on the patio.  She literally has not left that nest for one week!  I talk to her  all the time and tell her what a good job she's doing (I know, I know, now I'm turning into crazy bird lady).  She isn't scared off easily because I can get right under her and she just eyeballs me.  I do worry about where she built her nest though.  It's right on top of the arbor and is totally exposed to wind, rain, predators, everything!  You can barely see her below on top of lattice work.  If you live anywhere near west central Illinois, you know it rained ALL day today with more to come this weekend and is cold as well.  The picture above was taken through the window when it was basically pouring.  She just hunkers down and rides it out.  That's one dedicated mama!!!!!!

A dove built a nest in that same spot a few years ago and it didn't turn out very well for the babies. :(  I'm rooting for this batch to make it!
We have another nest on our property, too.  Well, it's on our property part of the time.  It's actually a travelling nest.  Confused?  Have you ever heard of a bird building a nest on the underside of a truck?????  Lance noticed a robin last weekend piling up sticks and stuff on his rear truck tire (it's his work truck so it mostly sits on the weekends) so he kept brushing it off to discourage her.  Apparently it was too late because all week he takes his truck to work but the second he gets home, that mama robin flies over to it and disappears inside.  I'm dying to get under there and find it, but haven't had a chance.  I'm not sure what the chances are that the babies will make though. :(  If they do, they'll be well traveled little buggers.  

So if you are a mother, Happy Mother's Day to you!  If you have a mother that is still with you, treat her right next weekend and thank her for all she's done for you.  I'm quite certain there are many, many things that your mother has done for you through the years that you don't even know about!  Your mother would do anything for you, including sitting on your egg in the pouring rain 24/7.   Remember, no one will ever love you more, unconditionally, than your mother!  

Happy Mother's Day!

~ Dawn

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