~ Mom by Day ~
What job perks do you have with your line of business? For instance, maybe you’re a plumber and grateful when that pipe starts to leak you don’t have a gigantic, unexpected bill because you can fix it yourself. Or maybe you have an office job position, but your company throws fun Christmas parties you look forward to every year. In college when I was trying to plan my life, I had dreams of being a freelance graphic designer actually in hopes that I could stay home with my children and not need to send them to daycare. Thank you Jesus for this most joy-filled gift. My kids are grateful too. I have the sweet memory of The Babes telling me once, “Mom, why can’t you only have ‘being our mom’ be your only job.” I was shocked because literally the only time I spent working was during my kids’ nap time or bedtime. Except for an occasional daytime phone call or email interruption for a tight deadline, I was generally at my kid’s disposal. So think how different life would have been for them if I had not been their full-time mom.
Still, working from home would be by far my biggest perk, but what I hadn’t anticipated was all the creative design projects I could do for my family. With Ding Ding turning double digits this year I thought I’d share a favorite birthday party I hosted when he turned four and all the fun graphic design that went into it. Although he got the ‘Friends and family graphic designer rate,’ I was thoroughly paid in the currency of love for Ding Ding’s Wild Kratts 4th birthday party. I’ve hosted a lot of birthday parties in my mom life, 26 to be exact at the publishing of this article. I don’t know if this was the best one, but at least that’s what I was told by one of my young guests. 🙂
My son was and still is a big fan of animals so it only seemed natural for him to pick a theme about two animal conservative brothers that PBS made into a cartoon who saves baby animals with special animal power suits. They create these animal power discs that when you activate them turn into that animal. This is where my graphic design started.
Now I will be honest and admit I’m all about efficiency so when I found a template for these power discs on Pinterest pages, I used them. But my graphic design skills did come in handy when my son’s favorite creature, a Peregrine Falcon, wasn’t on the sheet I downloaded. I used a silhouette of the missing animal and seamlessly put it on a new power disc design.
Ding Ding points to one of his favorite Wild Kratt animal discs, a Caracal. When activated, the one wearing the suit gets the creature powers of the Caracal: enhanced jumping ability, speed, hearing, night vision and sharp claws.
I made 5 sets of creature power discs and then some single ones for the game, “Guess the Creature.” Good thing I had been saving juice lids for some random need.
Ding Ding watched me make these along with power suit holders for all the kids to wear for the games where they would earn different animal power discs to finish all the tasks. My favorite memory during the birthday prep time was after I had finished designing, printing and taping these circles onto metal juice lids.
I handed a finished cheetah disc to Declan to put in his holder I made out of a plastic bag and blue paper plate, and let him try it out. Just like on the cartoon, he popped in the disc, pressed it and said, “Cheetah power activate!” He was so excited until nothing happened. A huge frown and disappointment came over his face. He looked up at me with sad eyes and asked, “Why didn’t it work?” as though he was actually going to turn into a cheetah like on the cartoon. “Oh buddy,” I said. “It’s just for pretend.” My heart was breaking and laughing inside all at the same time with his imaginative child like innocence.
There were so many great ideas I found out on the internet combined with my own so preparation was a little time-consuming. In the end, though, it was definitely worth it as the theme played out through the entire party.
I designed a Wild Kratt banner of garland we hung over our fireplace behind the birthday kid table centered with a birthday message for Ding Ding.
We decorated the house with all those stuffed animals that are so easily and quickly collected by any child. My kids were delighted to find another reason mom couldn’t donate them to Good Will yet.
Ding Ding requested pancakes for his birthday meal so that wish easily fell into the Wild Kratt animal theme. His dad made him and his friends paw print pancakes.
I do not boast to be a pinterest-worthy cake decorator, but just enough for kids to tell what it is. This birthday cake was very simple with a frosted chocolate paw on the top and his favorite creature power disc in the middle of the pad surrounded by old animal safari toys we already had on the toy shelf.
Yum! Ice Cream! HERE’S A BIG PARTY TIP YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS. Growing up, my mom always did this for my birthdays. Pre-scoop ice cream into cupcake liners and freeze them ahead of time for ready-to-go ice cream with cake.
To earn their beaver creature power disc the kids built beaver dams out of pretzel sticks and chocolate frosting.
Then to earn their cheetah creature power disc, they had races.
To earn their platypus creature power disc the kids carefully had to carry their platypus eggs through their habitat and place them safely in their nest.
To earn their own unique creature power disc the kids each got to play “guess the creature” game with clues. When they guessed correctly they won their bonus disc and WOW, did the excitement roar in this game! They were pumped!
To earn their butterfly creature power disc the kids had to crawl like caterpillars (in sleeping bags for full effect) across the room, build a cocoon (get wrapped in toilet paper by the parent helpers – thanks dads!) and break out into a beautiful butterfly.
To earn their fish creature power disc, they had to defeat the evil Gourmand who is trying to catch them by eating the bait (gummy worm) on his fishing hook and not getting caught.
And what birthday party would be complete without a piñata. Believe it or not, this piñata had made it through multiple birthdays because the trap door we cut into it for the Babe’s first birthday to make it easier, allowed the candy to always fall out the bottom before the kids could break it completely in subsequent years. We just adapted the theme every year to fit, but this year’s lion was already good to go.
Ding Ding’s party was a hit! Declan loving it would have been enough, but the fact that another boy told me how this was “the best birthday party ever!” out of the blue, that also made my day. Apparently that memory has stuck with me, and I’m guessing it will a while longer too.
The final piece to Ding Ding’s Party was the specially designed thank you card given to each guest. I had taken pictures of all the kids with my mom’s help so I designed a thank you card, and dropped in a new message and new pictures for each guest.
The preparation was a lot, but the kids had so much fun, I think they all felt like honorary Wild Kratts at the end, which made it all worth it.
~ Graphic Designer By Night ~
Now it just so happened, the boy who told me that Ding Ding’s Wild Kratt birthday was the best party he had ever been to lived several houses down from us, and his mom was a neighbor friend of mind. Bobbi Jo is a stylist out of Brookfield, WI who prides her business on making her clients feel comfortable and relaxed all while sharing her expertise to make them look and feel their best.
I felt more than honored when Bobbi started asking me about marketing and branding for her business. While our kids were playing, we were discussing her logo and plans for a web site.
We designed her logo in a good handful of rounds – not too little time that it seemed rushed, but also not too much time where we looked back and felt it should have been finished back on round three. No, the pace was perfect as we played with the right shade of blue and gold, the right script font, as we got the right feel from the spirals and how it flowed with the text.
Next we built her brand to the next level. To say Bobbi Jo is a talented decorator, would be an understatement. She always had a vision of class and elegance as I watched her home transform over the years with new ways of decorating it. So of course, her studio in Brookfield was no different, and her professional photographer she had hired showed this brilliantly.
I began with these warm, welcoming studio pictures to create the framework of her site. Following this came the other essential information that forms an inviting image for the potential client including the very important testimonials she received from some of her existing clients. These praise words begin to build trust on top of a solid marketing identity and web site where new clients can then dig deeper about Beyond Beauty and start building a stronger trust with her company. Thank you again Bobbi Jo for trusting me with this piece of your business. Come visit her site and salon!
~ Reading Nook ~
I have a new found love of reading thanks to my kids that I shared in an earlier post. What I’ve discovered is I get a thrill from learning something new and how it fosters creative thinking. No matter what your status or season in life, creative thinking skills keep our brains healthy. Here is this issue’s book recommendation to surprise you and help you grow. If you’ve already read it, please post me a message and tell me what you thought of it! Good or Bad 🙂
I’m Just No Good At Rhyming
To be honest, poetry has never been my thing. I would say the reason for this is only my own fault in that I never learned how to appreciate it in a way I could relate to it well. I imagine it’s kind of like two people who visit an art museum where one is well versed in the world of art and thus sees master pieces beyond compare while the other doesn’t have any understanding of what goes into an art piece and comes away saying, “Any kid could have made those finger paint drawings.” So fast forward through my schooling days where I didn’t find poetry interesting to now where I’m discovering new ways to learn about why poetry is worthwhile and in this book’s case, quite amusing!
This month is all about Ding Ding so I picked one of his favorite books. In fact, after getting this from the library, he liked it so much he decided to have me purchase it for a prize he earned from me for reading out loud to others throughout January. I’m Just No Good At Rhyming is a comical book of poems that had me surprised and chuckling over and over again. Ding Ding laughed so much as we read one of the first poems of the book, The Island Where Everyone’s Toby, that he was crying. I was laughing just as hard, but I admit a good chunk of the motivation to that laughter was from watching Ding Ding. He was cracking me up with how silly he thought it was.
This is a clever and witty book that I would recommend to anyone who likes to laugh or is drawn to funny books like my son. The title of the book is a brilliant poem that pushes you to finish the poem that the author just can’t rhyme himself and leaves you laughing at his troubles. I’m personally glad Ding Ding decided to buy this one as it’s a great one to revisit again and again when you need some comical word play to make you smile – or cry depending on how you laugh.