Avery’s Minnie Mouse Birthday Party

Fresh on the heels of our trip to Disney World, Avery celebrated her 7th birthday. In fact, on the plane ride back home from our trip, Avery planned every detail of her party. If you know my little girl, you will not be surprised that she planned her own party. For those of you, however, who don’t know Avery, she is precocious, knows exactly what she wants, and is quite possibly the best person I know at delegating tasks. David and I have always said that she will either grow up to be the CEO of a major corporation or the dictator of a third world country. One of our close family friends describes her as the type of kid who will grow up to have a hyphen in her name. Despite  all of those budding “leadership skills”, she has such a tender and sweet heart. She’s a really great kid.

So – armed with my laundry list of assignments and less than two weeks to get them done, I started the party planning process…while trying to unpack, clean my house, homeschool my kids, teach Sunday School, and volunteer at a consignment sale.

Thankfully, I found a really great digital invitation from a store on Etsy. The word “digital copy” makes me happy because history has proven that invitations and I don’t get along. I always order them too late or forget to mail them out in time. Always. Having a digital copy meant that I could print them and give them to our friends at church or just email them. Major details and I just don’t seem to mesh well. I’m embracing it. I’m too old not to.

Minnie Mouse Red w Photo2With the invitations behind me and a million online resources in front of me, I made my very limited time frame work. I did not have one single new idea for this party. I’m also not claiming to be creative super mom. I am, however, going to claim my mad “pinterest searching skills” and some fairly decent crafting skills. So there you go. I’m listing every single resource for this party at the bottom of the post… so if you are like me and don’t like to re-invent the wheel, you’ll know where to go for the details.

My take on the Mickey Mouse/Minnie Mouse wreath is a hodge-podge mash up of a million different ones that I found on Pinterest. The first one I made cracked into a million pieces when I was trying to connect the three Styrofoam circles. To have lost all that work after wrapping that stupid yarn around that foam 8 million times was almost more than I could take. David was sitting next to me when it cracked and wisely said nothing. I think he may have even stopped breathing for a few minutes. Smart man. 13 years of marriage has taught him a thing or two.

minnie mouse wreath - notjenny.com

minnie mouse partyThe food table covering was created out of my dislike for plastic table covers. Initially, I thought about using burlap as the table topper, but it’s stinky… and I didn’t want to spend that much. So – instead, I bought a roll of brown craft paper and cut and folded it for the table topper. I cut a rectangular plastic table cloth in half and taped it to the bottom of my table to make a “skirt”.  Less plastic makes me happy.minnie mouse party - notjenny.com

minnie mouse  cakeThe red cake stand was something that I bought several years ago at Target. I think they were sold around Christmas time. Since then, I’ve used those cake stands for just about every birthday and holiday party. I bought two of them and I can stack them for cupcakes or desserts. My two cents: If you find a cute cake stand, buy it. You will never regret it.

Another tried-and-true favorite of mine is the Ta Dot fabric by Michael Miller. I love, love, love it. It never gets old to me. It comes in a ton of colors, and I love them all. For this party, I bought 2 yards of the fabric (see below for details) and just cut the selvedges to make a table cloth for my dining room table. Easy peasy.

minnie mouse treat bags - notjenny.comDoesn’t washi tape make everything look cute? Muah, washi tape. I love you too.

minnie party - fruit cups

OK.  So here’s the part where I want to just stop and say… I’m a glutton for punishment.

Here’s what I thought when I saw the photo of the Mickey gloves on Pinterest: “oh my goodness! look at those cute gloves! I have to make them!”

That’s all that went through my brain. There was no thought of how long that making the gloves would take, how detailed they were, or that starting the project the night before the party might not be wise.

5:30 a.m. came quick, y’all..and this crazy lady was still sewing. Good gravy. Here’s a little tip: if you make these for a party, start reaaaaaally early.minnie gloves in basket - minnie partyNeedless to say, I made sure that everyone left with a pair…whether they wanted to or not.

For those of you who are not gluttons for punishment, here’s another tip: use a sillouette or Cricut catridge to cut out Minnie Mouse faces. Because that’s the non-punishing way to do it. If you are like me, you’ll just cut 12 heads and bows by hand. Learn from my mistakes, friends.

minnie mouse ice cream cup

mouse ears detail

minnie party dessert table

Avery’s request for entertainment was to have a bounce house and I said, “absolutely”. Bounce Houses are the single best party invention on the face of the earth. They are just so stinkin’ easy. Everybody jumps, everybody is happy, the end.

mouse ears - notjenny.com

By the way – how cute is my adorable sister in those Minnie ears? She’s so awesome.  Avery loves her aunt as much as I do. This photo makes me smile.

make a wish - notjenny.com

minine party birthday - notjenny.comSo – she’s seven. I can’t believe it. And another party is complete. I feel blessed to be this kid’s mommy. And even more blessed that I don’t have to sew any more Mickey hands any time soon.

As promised, here are the details:

Our Disney Vacation – part 2

Hmmm…did I say that I would post those pictures “tomorrow”? Yeah… Life has been totally crazy and busy lately – but more on that later. For now, here are the rest of the photos from our trip:

During the middle of our trip, Charlie caught a crazy violent stomach bug. And got crazy violently sick in both of the beds in our hotel room. We had to call the front desk and get new sheets for both beds. Then, I had to wash our pukey clothes so that our room didn’t smell like a garbage dump. The Contemporary is a beautiful resort…but not at 4 in the morning. And doing laundry – even in the most magical place on earth – is never, ever, magical. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the only thing that is magical at 4 am is a pillow.

IMG_2997Finding the laundry room took me at least 30 minutes. There were no directional signs anywhere and every hallway looked exactly the same. I’m pretty sure that I spent 20 minutes walking in a circle. At one point, I literally thought that I was going to lose my mind if I passed the same empty pizza box in the hall just one more stinking time. I truly believe that it was a miracle from God that I finally wandered into the right place.

I’m happy to say that we powered through that night. The next day David left to go to his conference, so we spent most of our day like this:

IMG_3001Charlie started feeling better the next day, and since David had one more full day for his conference, we spent our day at the amazing pool at The Contemporary.


Things were looking up. We even saw this amazing gigantic rainbow that evening:

giant rainbowThe next day, we woke up early to go to The Magic Kingdom.

main street decorWe walked in just as the Celebrate a Dream Come True parade was starting. It seems like there’s always something exciting going on in the Main Street U.S.A. section of Disney World.

mickey paradeWhile we were watching the parade, we met the “Mayor”. It’s so fun that the Disney cast members stay totally in character the entire time you talk to them.

the mayor of main streetAfter the parade, we headed to Aventureland. Charlie is kind of obsessed with Jack Sparrow these days. In Adventureland, there’s a super fun “pirate school” that takes place right across from The Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Charlie was so excited to see the Captain in “real life”, but was even more excited that he was able to hop on stage and take the Pirate Pledge.


They even gave him an “Apprentice Pirate” certificate to take with him:


Later, we decided to ride the train around Magic Kingdom. It’s always a welcome change of pace from walking and the breeze is so nice. If you’ve never walked to the train station in the Main Street area, you need to. It’s so adorable, and you get to see Main Street at the perfect picture spot.

disney main street halloweenNotice how low the crowds were that day? September is the time of year that the crowds are lowest at Disney World.. It’s pretty awesome. I think we may be a little spoiled. We never waited longer than 30 minutes for any ride or show that we saw during our trip. Sometimes, we just walked right on to rides without a wait at all.

Image(There’s that smile again. It’s the lets-get-this-over-with smile. Ahhhh, four-year-old boys)

Anyway – It was about that time of the day that the evil stomach bug decided to attack Avery. It probably didn’t help that it was crazy hot that day. She complained that her stomach was hurting and insisted that we go back to the hotel. Avery whined the whole way back to the resort, but thankfully, we made it to the room before anything “eventful” happened. That night, I decided to stay in the room with her while he took Charlie out to eat dinner and play in Downtown Disney.

sick in disneyThankfully, Avery knows how to run to the bathroom when she gets sick, so I didn’t have to do laundry at 4 am again. She got lots of rest and by the next day was feeling better.

Since it was our last day of vacation, she decided that she felt well enough to go back to one or two of the parks.

We went to Hollywood Studios and watched our favorite stage show: Beauty and the Beast.

beauty and the best show

beauty and the beast stage showThis is how Charlie watched the entire second half of the show:

IMG_3015When Hollywood Studios closed for the day, we headed to Epcot to do some of the things that we weren’t able to do earlier that week.

epcot ball sunglassesWe love, love, love Alice in Wonderland…so visiting her was a priority. Look at her reaction when Avery asked her why the white rabbit is always so stressed out:

alice in wonderlandShe said, “Well…I imagine that it has something to do with the fact that he works for the Queen. She’s always threatening to take off people’s heads. It’s quite stressful.”

While we were waiting to meet Duffy, the boldest squirrel on the face of the earth visited with us. Only at Disney. Right after this picture, Charlie ran screaming toward him and scared him away.

disney squirrelOf course.

We walked the Showcase of the World part of the park and got candy in a few of the different “countries” as we went through. Charlie loved his “sushi sucker”.

sushi sucker EPCOTThat night, we went to dinner at La Hacienda – a dine-in restaurant that sits right next to the World Showcase Lagoon. We had a great dinner and were able to watch the fireworks and light show as we were eating our dessert.

After a long day, Avery had finally reached the end of her rope.

sick in disney 2Our trip was full of unexpected twists and turns, but overall, we had an awesome time together. Spending time together is really what makes family vacations so special.

We can’t wait to go back to visit Mickey again soon. Next time, we’ll be armed with a gallon sized container of hand sanitizer and lots of prayer.

mickey family

our favorite Disney moments – part 1

Our trip to Disney World this year was so fun…for the most part. We hit a snag when Charlie got the stomach bug one day and then passed it along to Avery, but even a stomach bug can’t keep you down when you are at the Happiest Place on Earth.

These are our favorite moments from the beginning part of our trip. Tomorrow I’ll add the second part. I just didn’t want to flood this post with 8 million photos. That would be super obnoxious.

So instead, I’ll only show you half of the ridiculous amount of photos I have of my cute kids at Disney World. And half tomorrow. Because that is only half as obnoxious. You’re welcome.

Let’s start with the plane ride, shall we?

airplaneSomebody was super jazzed about heading to Disney.

We stayed at The Contemporary Resort this year. It was crazy amazing. The lobby smells like what I think Heaven might smell like: coffee, gardenias, and soap.

contemporary resortCharlie and Avery were obsessed with the carpet in the hallway. They called it “Green Eggs and Ham” carpet. Charlie liked to jump from green egg to green egg all the way to our room. Needless to say, it took us a while to get down the hallway every night.

contemporary hallsLike a total dummy, I didn’t remember to charge the batteries on my camera before we went to the park that night. I took photos on my phone and put them on Instagram though. So… check that out if you want to see those photos.

Day 2 –

We had lunch reservations at Yak and Yeti, so we decided to head to The Animal Kingdom first thing in the morning (FYI – when you are on “Tillman Time”, “first thing” means like…noonish. I think we were born on the wrong continent. We hate rushing.)

Apparently, my kids think they are models. That’s truth. I did NOT tell them to pose like this. I feel compelled to say that. And I’m a little frightened by it to be honest with you.


1st day at parkWe went on a few rides, and then ate lunch at Yak and Yeti. If you’ve never eaten there, I highly recommend it. I had this amazing ahi tuna salad. Fantastic.

animal kingdom maskWhen Animal Kingdom closed for the day, we headed to eat dinner at Boma – a buffet style restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. The food was good, but it would have tasted better if it weren’t so expensive. Avery loved sampling every dessert they had.

boma dessertsThat night, The Magic Kingdom was open for extra magic hours until 3 am. Crazy, right? So – after dinner, we rode the bus to The Magic Kingdom. The crowds became virtually non-existent as the night went on, so we were able to do a ton of rides without waiting. The weather was much cooler and…it was awesome.

poo at nightWe were super excited about being able to try out the new Ariel ride and the Enchanted Tales with Belle experience.

enchanted talesThe girl in the picture above is the most unhappy Disney employee ever. I think that it was around 1 am when I took this. She was d.o.n.e. and not even trying to look like she wasn’t. Belle however, was as lovely as ever.

enchanted tales with belle

mosaicWe had so much fun exploring the park at night without any crowds or heat. That night was by far the most fun I had during our vacation. It felt like we had the park all to ourselves. tangled lights

Day 3 – Epcot day

mickey icecreamThe above photo is the Obligatory Mickey Ice Cream Bar photo. A must have.

By the way – what in the WORLD is this smile that Charlie has been doing lately? He’s totally humoring me, which I appreciate and all, but man…

This next smile, however, is totally genuine:

meeting mickeyAs is this one…

laughing at plutoMy kids really love doing the Phineas and Ferb experience at Epcot. They think it’s so cool that you can make things turn on and discover hidden objects in every exhibit of The World Showcase.

playing phineas and ferbWe had dinner that night at Teppan Edo in the Japan area of Epcot. I adore this restaurant. Yummy food and great service. Last year, they made origami swans for the kids and gave them to them before we got to the table. This year, they didn’t do that. After dinner we asked the hostess for one, and she gladly gave both of the kids their own paper swan. If you ask for it, you can usually get it at Disney. I love that.

teppan edoAfter we came back to the hotel from Epcot, we let Charlie and Avery get a little gift from the gift shop in the resort. Charlie proceeded to take over the lobby of The Contemporary in true pirate style.

captain in contemporaryHe liked his patch so much that he decided to wear it to the park the next day.

Day 4 – Hollywood Studios

captain coolAt Hollywood Studios, we spent a good amount of time visiting characters since that’s what our kids wanted to do. How cute is Vanellope, by the way?

VANELLOPEOne of the things I always try to do when my kids meet characters in Disney World is to figure out a way for the characters to interact with my kids. Since the characters don’t talk, this requires a bit of imagination. I think it’s more memorable for the kids to “do” something with them than just to take a photo with them. I’ve found that the characters always jump at the chance to “do” something if they can.

I told Jake that Charlie was the best sword fighter I knew, and he grabbed a pen for him and a pen for Charlie and they had a sword fight. Of course, Jake let Charlie win and fell to the ground quite dramatically. It was awesome.

swordfighting with jake

We roared with Sully…

roaring with sully

…and flexed with the Incredibles characters. We even had a group hug before we left.

flexing with incrediblesI think vacation is about enjoying the little moments, taking your time, and not stressing out. We didn’t go from dawn until dusk every day. We didn’t wake up early. We took our time. We didn’t get to do everything on the “schedule”, but we had fun and made tons of family memories.

disney balloonsTomorrow, I’ll finish up our photos from the rest of our trip.

See ‘ya real soon (sorry. I know, I know.)

8 “Must-Haves” to pack for Disney World

8 must-haves for disney

When I am packing for a big trip, my mind usually goes in a million different directions. I always feel like I’m running around the house like a mad woman the last few days before we leave. Every trip calls for a different packing list, but for our Disney World vacations, this is what I absolutely won’t leave home without:

booboo bag

My Boo Boo Bag has been so helpful during our Disney trips. I always take this bag with me to the Parks. I’ve needed the Band-Aids multiple times for minor scrapes and cuts and blisters. Here’s what I take in my bag:

  • Band-Aids
  • Cold Pack
  • Kleenex
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Neosporin Spray
  • Benadryl individual doses in straws  (I hot glued the ends of the straws to hold the liquid)

#2 Hotel extras

Some of the most important things that I brought for this trip are in this picture. Especially since Charlie got a nasty stomach bug one night. I ended up having to do laundry at 4 in the morning. Not so magical. This bag contains:

  • children’s aspirin
  • detergent pods (purchased at Target in the dollar section – so much less expensive than the resort detergent)
  • pop-up hamper (purchased on amazon – for dirty laundry)
  • thermometer
  • scissors
  • wine bottle opener (for mommy)
  • shoe organizer (from dollar store- awesome for storing little things)

#3 stroller cover

I found this tarp and jumbo clips at Dollar Tree. They are an absolute lifesaver for those daily Orlando rain showers.

tarp in action

You can purchase rain covers that are made to zip over most strollers, but this is the cheapskate version. It only cost $2 and it works like a boss. It’s large enough to stretch over the entire stroller, but I can also cover a smaller space (like wet seats for when it unexpectedly rains while we’re on a ride). The jumbo clips are so awesome. The tarp also doubles as something to put on the ground to sit on during the parades. Claiming your “space” is kind of important (people can crowd you without it) and it will keep your booty dry if the ground is wet. I am sooooo happy that I thought to bring it this time.

#4 park bag

This is the stuff I stick in our park backpack:

  • spray bottle (Dollar Tree – works just as well as they park’s expensive spray fans)
  • wet wipes
  • face sunblock
  • regular sunblock
  • hard candy
  • fans/batteries (Dollar Tree)
  • glow sticks (Dollar Tree – for the Light parade at Magic Kingdom)
  • extra pair of underwear and clothes for each kid (not pictured)
  • light rain jackets for everybody (not pictured)
  • camera (not pictured)
  • sunglasses (not pictured)

The fans were something that I bought hoping they would actually work, but they ended up being a total miss. Avery totally slapped herself in the mouth with the fan blades after I took this picture:


The hard candy, however, is so nice to have while we are waiting in lines for rides or for dinner. It seems to take their mind off of things temporarily. When they were smaller, I bought suckers and gave them those instead.


#5 park snacksI always pack small pre-packaged snacks for the park and hotel. It’s awesome to have for those between meal munchies. As a mom, I’m always packing for the kids first, but this time I remembered that Mom and Dad need snacks too.

#6 autograph books

Autograph books can be pretty expensive in the park. Since we’ve been there two other times already, we thought that we would make our own this time using art sketchbooks and fun stickers.  I ordered my sketch books on Amazon and bought the stickers and washi tape at Hobby Lobby. The kids loved decorating their books before our trip. Sharpie fine point click pens won’t bleed and are easy for the character’s big hands.

#7 spare change

My kids are kind of obsessed with pressed pennies. Since they are the least expensive souvenir you can purchase at the parks, we always bring spare quarters and pennies for pressing pennies.

#8airplane bag

I made airplane bags out of basic tote bags from Hobby Lobby. Avery’s has a Mickey fabric applique on it, and Charlie’s was made using a freezer paper stencil of Mickey’s image. Inside, I included markers, coloring books, and gum for the plane ride. Having their own special bags was so exciting to them. They loved shopping at the Dollar Tree for their coloring books and treats to put inside.

airplane bag

The beauty of Disney World is that if you forget something, you can always purchase it at the parks…for a nominal fee. It’s just one of the many reasons that vacationing in Disney World is so magical. But seriously…don’t forget the tarp. You’ll thank me later.