Tuesday, July 19, 2011

15 Months & Dirty Play Dates

My sweet girl turned 15 months recently. 
Doesn't she just look older? Like a little girl and not quite a baby anymore.
Not only did she turn another month older but on the cusp of this special date she started walking. 

One day in music class someone asked if she had started walking which had become the weekly question. 

I responded, "not yet but she is the type that won't give any forewarning, she'll just up and walk one day." 

No sooner had I said that that we all looked over and she walked across the large circle of moms, nannies and children. Everyone applauded and so she did it again and again and again finding the cheers quite rewarding.
As I look again at these photos I notice she seems so much more tall, more lean, more grown-up. And, all the while, a little unsure of what's to come in the world around her. 

She idolizes her big brother following him wherever he goes, offering him all of her stuffed animals, dolls and toys as if to say "what is mine is yours--we're in this together."

It continues to warm my heart to see their special relationship develop. Of one thing I am sure--aside from all of the hitting, pushing and need for dominance over toys, their love for each other is relentless.
I love when I catch her in my favorite pose---the one where she holds one leg up in mid-air.

....and keeps it there for at least five minutes. 

Yup, that baby girl of mine is one month closer to taking the world by its horns.
In addition to this important family milestone, I hosted a milestone affair of my own. 

The invitation read:  

"The dirtiest play date your kids have ever seen---
and you don't have to clean it up!"

Guests were asked to bring a change of clothes and towel because things were going to get downright messy. And they did.

I had big plans so I knew I would need an extra set of hands to get ready. Fortunately, they were sitting on a couch right beside me. 
After he prepped with a juice box he was ready to go.

Our first task was Rainbow Colored Rice. 

I filled Ziploc bags with rice, gave it 3-4 squirts of Purelle and a few drops of food coloring. 
 My little assistants helped me toss the rice and knead the bags to color the rice.

Then we began prepping for what I coined "Soap Sludge" which consisted of grated soft soap, toilet paper, warm water and glitter because everything's better with glitter.

It was love at first sight when I saw the idea here.

Preparing the colored pasta. 
(I don't recommend penne pasta because the color doesn't adhere well to the grooves although 
the kids didn't seem to mind!)
My little helpers went down for their afternoon nap so I began setting up all of the activities in our back yard. Fortunately, we have a nice size back yard which provided ample space for all of the activities. 

Hello Bug Slime Spaghetti! It's cooked spaghetti tossed with some olive oil and black food coloring. To make it creepy-fun I added about twenty toy bugs from the Dollar Store and a shovel to dig them out.

I made two huge boxes of Jell-O as a nice home for our farm animals we brought home from Wal-Mart's $1 section. I think they probably enjoyed the sweet orange fragrance much better than that retail store smell.
Doesn't Jell-O just scream yummy deliciousness for your hands?
Next to the Rainbow Rice I set up a section of baking flour. I tossed in some cookie cutters, large kitchen utensils and measuring scoops and spoons. (Caution: Do NOT underestimate how ugly cleaning up flour mixed with water can get.)

Just before the party started I snapped a few photos of the activity stations. Sissy woke up early from her nap and acted as photographer's assistant. 
There were two activities that I didn't get a chance to take a photo of. 

One was a Cocoa Puff Construction site which was a plastic bin filled with the puffs and lots of dump trucks. After the party there were no Cocoa Puffs to clean up because I think the kids ate them all. 

The other was a water table that I deemed the Iceberg Palace because I filled it with plastic penguins and a huge blue glittered ice sculpture. I made this by filling a large bunt pan with blue water and glitter and freezing it overnight. Unfortunately the inside of our freezer is now the same color due to a minor mishap.
(Sissy was trying her hardest to wriggle out of my arms because she couldn't wait to get her hands on that rice.)

The kids soon arrived and wasted no time getting down to business. There was more painting, scooping, squishing, mashing, rubbing and tossing than you can imagine.

There was water for fish, sea horses, shells, boats and even trucks.
 (There was a nearby bin of toys, measuring cups, shovels and scoops so the kids could pick 
other tools they might want to use.)
The Dinosaur Pavilion which was packed sand with plastic dinosaurs and fossils that could be found with shovels.
Rainbow Spaghetti that was filled with brightly colored, squeaky dog toys which were a kid-favorite.
I got the idea for Shaving Cream Painting from Hunter's school and it was a huge favorite.  

 (There is no doubt that this little guy had fun.)

Blue, Green, Red and Yellow colored Penne Pasta with spatulas and spoons for scooping and exploring.
 We served edible dirt for snack - chocolate pudding with Cool Whip, Oreos and a gummy worm.

(My little guy walked around with his for at least 45 minutes. I think he was saving it to share with 
Puppy later.)
I kept getting tickled because every mom that walked away from me had tiny little flour hand prints all over her tooshie.

Wellie-Boot Painting. The kids put on Wellies, stepped into a plastic big full of fun colors and walked, danced and jumped across cardboard to make beautiful art.

Painting with colored ice cubes.
(Here is Hunter painting and as you can see he is still saving that snack.) 

After over an hour of hard playing it was time to rinse off for pizza. 
And yet my little guy was still hanging onto his snack. 
Big Brother finally set aside his snack and ate some pizza.
While Emerson decided it would be nice to sit inside a box to finish her dinner.
(Her new thing is sitting inside of boxes and baskets. Remember the book basket?)
 The grand finale was the making of the Soap Sludge. I had three very eager helpers who did an amazing job creating the perfect blend of soap and toilet paper.

We added glitter because everything is better with a little sparkle.
It was fascinating to stand back and watch their conversation unfold. Although they were given no direction, they discussed which ingredients they needed more of in order to get it "right." 

I'm not sure how they even knew what right was but they seemed to know what this concoction should feel like since they kept testing it with their hands. 

It became the most fluffy, delectable-feeling mush I have ever felt. Even I couldn't stop running my fingers through it. It was a beast to clean up but totally worth it.

 (There are still large white spots with silver glitter in our yard. 
I think it looks nice. I've always wanted a yard with glitter.)
After pizza we all chatted and played a little more. 

 I even spotted a potential love connection over in the recycling area.
Then while the majority of us cleaned up to go home,

Some of us decided to finally get started. 
Now this is what it was all about....

After everyone had gone home, I put a movie on for the kids so I could start getting prepared for our big weekend. I took one last look outside and a huge smile spread across my face because I love when our yard and home have been filled with love---even flour-printed, wet-colored-rice kinda love.
Then I realized I had to clean up. 
Four days later and I'm still cleaning up but it was completely worth it. 

I got a chuckle on Friday while watching our yard guy. He kept having to jump off his high-tech, whale of a lawn mower because it repeatedly made a huge sputtering sound followed by shooting out an object with torpedo-like speed. 

He was getting frustrated because he couldn't for the life of him figure out what it was but I knew better. 

It was some tiny, two inch plastic spider or sea horse covered in shaving cream and flour that had found a new home amongst our fluffy grass after being tossed out of a water table by a small child making new found discoveries.
As in life, things get messy. But, don't you agree that it's the messes in life that help us truly appreciate the beauty?

As I finished up the last of the cleaning tonight I am reminded that before I go getting myself in a tizzy when my mower is spewing out the unexpected, I need to keep in mind that there are often beautiful treasures in the messiness.
(Little Miss Kennedy's shoes filled with rainbow rice confetti.)
The majority of these ideas came from a favorite blog of mine entitled The Imagination Tree
Amazingly cool creative ideas abound here! 

The blog's author, Anna, started the "5 Books a Day Challenge" encouraging parents to read the same five books every day for a week to encourage literacy. 

This was week one in the Menoni household and I am happy to announce that we accomplished the challenge and look forward to week two. Read more here or click on the "5 Books a Day Challenge" button at the top of my blog page.


  1. Oh My Goodness Brooke!! Seeing those pictures of Olivia and Ella at the end undoubtedly made the drama of bath time that night ALLLLLLLLLL worth it!!!(haha!) Look at them -- XOXO!! -- they just had so much fun!! So did I! There is simply NOTHING in this world like watching children able to be children!! Thank you for hosting - what a GREAT idea!!! xoxo!

  2. Great party - I wish we could have stayed longer but tiredness and grumpiness was the enemy that day....the pictures are so precious!


  3. This looks like wonderful fun! I'm going to suggest it to my daughter as an idea for her 6th birthday party!

  4. How did you make the spaghetti so that it didn't dye the kids hands colors??

  5. I had to turn my computer to see some of the images, but it looks like they had fun!


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