Meet Isabella

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For SJ’s birthday this year I thought it would be really special if she got an American Girl doll and and then we could take the doll to the American Girl Doll Hospital for hearing aids. The problem is I knew we couldn’t afford an American Girl doll right now. Normally I would just buy second hand, but even then I couldn’t find one anywhere near my price range. You can hardly touch them for under $75.

So I had this wild idea to post an ISO on some yard sale sites on Facebook.

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And the response was INCREDIBLE. Strangers were sharing my post and contacting friends and offering dolls left and right. I could hardly keep up with the outpouring of generosity!  I had one lady send me a private message saying that she was deaf in one ear and really wanted to give a doll to my daughter. She said that she would let me choose one from the three that she owns STILL IN THE BOX! I tried to refuse her offer telling her it was too generous. How could I accept such a personal and valuable gift from someone I don’t even know? She told me it was what she wanted to do and the doll needed to be played with. In almost no time at all I met up with her and gave her a huge hug while expressing my deepest gratitude.

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Then the doll waited  and waited quietly in my closet until the big day final came. The gift bag was so big we had to move it from the table to the floor so that our little birthday girl could reach inside. As SJ pulled out the doll she instantly fell in love with her new friend.

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I explained how her name is Isabelle and that she is going to get hearing aids. SJ calls her Isabella because she told me there is a girl named Isabella at her school who has cochlear implants.

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It’s only day three of having Isabella and SJ has hardly let her leave her side. Sometimes I mistakenly call her a doll and SJ will correct me saying “She is not a baby. She is not a doll. She is Isabella.”

It’s been really sweet to watch and later this week SJ and Isabella will take a trip with Mémé (my mom) to go to the American Girl Doll store at The Mall of America.

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The original idea of having hearing aids put in on the spot fizzled out when I learned that it doesn’t work that way. You have to ship the doll to the AG hospital which is not located in the store and then they will ship her back. That’s okay though, we still plan to do that and the outcome will be the same.

On top of all that I am wanting to start a non-profit for special needs girls that have hearing aids, or a wheel chair, arm crutches, a service dog etc. to be able to get a doll that they can relate to. All of these disability accessories that I have mentioned are offered through American Girl. Just think of all the dolls that need a new loving home that could be donated to girls that would otherwise never be able to have a doll that shared their uniqueness.

There is still so much that would have to happen to set up a doll sharing program for special needs girls, but I just can’t shake the idea so I do believe that it is something the Lord placed in my lap.

I want to give a special thanks to the two women that donated dolls already and for the many others that were willing to. These days “feel good stories” are hard to come by in this divisive political climate, but I am encouraged to know that there are still so many people out there whose hearts are overflowing with kindness. This whole experience has been such a blessing and I am encouraged to never stop paying it forward.

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By | March 6th, 2017|Hearing Loss, Special Needs|0 Comments

Cow Under-appreciation Day

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First off let me say that I love Chick-fil-A. If you read my blog then you probably already know that I am HUGE fan. However I do want to bring some attention to how Cow Appreciation Day has made some changes that I’m not too sure about just yet.

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This will be our 7th year to participate in Cow Appreciation Day. I finally broke down and ordered a full blown cow costume for myself this year, but I am a little concerned that the tradition is starting to fizzle out. I do realize that this is going to be the goofiest thing I have ever gotten riled up about but here goes.

Cow Appreciation Day 2016 is taking place this Tuesday July 12th.

Cow day used to be on Fridays but they switched it to Tuesday last year. I remember because my bloggy friend at Little Dove was the one who noticed the date changed. I understand that Fridays are the busiest day and Tuesday are the slowest so it make sense to drive more traffic in on the slow day.

The thing I am disappointed about is that they are no longer giving a free meal to anyone dressed in a “Head to hoof” cow costume. Instead they are “simplifying” things by giving a free entree to anyone wearing any kind of cow accessory at all. This includes the paper hats that they give out for free at the restaurant. They are very clear on their website that you can dress up or just wear the hat.

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To which I go from saying moo, to saying boo.

Now hear me out, I am not being greedy. I am thrilled to get a free sandwich or shake, plus the kids still get a free kids meal so I think that’s super generous. The thing that chaps my hide is that there is no longer any incentive to get all dressed up.

Why would someone go out in full blown costume in the heat of JULY to get free food when all they have to do is throw on a paper hat provided by the store?  The campaign went from dress like a cow, to simply wear anything “cow like”. Does this mean we will continue to see more and more patrons dressed up cute like this

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or this?

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I hope so because that’s my favorite part to see all the creative costumes.

I do understand why they streamlined it because I am sure there were people showing up with a dot here and spot there demanding a free combo meal and complaining when they didn’t get one. I just think they should at least have a photo contest to keep some buzz going for this event. 

So I emailed Chick-fil-A, because yeah I am that serious about this dilemma and I say Please tell me there is a photo contest. If there is a photo contest then I’m in. They sent me an automated response stating that they would eventually really reply. So, for now I guess I will begrudgingly go through with the original plan to wear my  cow suit. I suppose I could just have a good attitude and do it for my kids, but it’s a really hot costume. Really hot. Seriously.

Aside from my oldest child who started at age 2 all of my kids have been participating in Cow Appreciation Day for their entire lives.

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I’ve been a pregnant cow twice.

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I had a daughter and a niece wear the same cow dress which will now be passed down to my youngest calf who I also by the way have a cow cloth diaper for.

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This is big stuff in our family! I would hate to see the tradition dwindle away.

Let’s keep the dream alive people and show our appreciation for cows all across this land! Come on Chick-fil-A. Please don’t let us down.

By | July 5th, 2016|Creativity, Frugal Living|3 Comments

My Personal Hearing Loss Story

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This might be a bit of a bore, but I just got hearing aids and there are a lot of people shocked to learn that I have hearing loss. Shoot, even I am a little surprised in some ways. So here is the story start to finish.

When I was a little girl my parents took me in for a hearing test because it didn’t seem like I was responding as well as I should. At the time I was diagnosed with stubborn toddler syndrome. In other words there was no sign of hearing loss.

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I never struggled in school or carrying on a conversation so the idea of hearing loss didn’t come up again. In high school I realized that I couldn’t hear really high pitches that my friends could hear, but that’s not a big deal.

When I was 20 (2002) I had a bad episode of vertigo and experienced ringing and stuffiness in my left ear.

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I expected it to subside, but when it didn’t I found an ENT and had a hearing test done. Their report showed mild hearing loss, but I was told there was no remedy and to just play music to distract me from the ringing. It was such a discouraging consultation considering I had no insurance at the time and shelled out $350 for the exam. I just wanted some answers. I wanted help. 

Fast forward about 10 years (2012) and my daughter SJ was diagnosed deaf.

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Her hearing loss is genetic, but we were told that J and I are both carriers of the genetic mutation. So it’s recessive. We have no history of deafness in our families.

In the mean time my hearing seemed worse, but I put my needs on the back burner. I thought maybe I was imagining it because there was so much focus on hearing loss in our home. I was always misunderstanding people or not hearing them at all. One day my sister in law asked if I ever considered getting hearing aids. I dismissed it because compared to SJ I was hearing just fine. I was in denial.

However three years later (in early 2015) I bit the bullet and decided I would have another hearing test done. I went to a GP who referred me to an audiologist. The audiologist tested me in a sound booth and the results showed that I had moderate to severe hearing loss on the left and mild on the right. I had so many questions for the audiologist, but she had no answers. She said that I needed to see a different doctor. They told me they would call me and they never did. I could have followed up and been more assertive, but I had three children plus one on the way and again I put my needs on the back burner. 

After Elle was born she failed the newborn hearing screening. I swore she could hear because she flinched and startled to noise. Yet she failed the screening over and over again. Sadly, I knew this meant she would eventually be deaf like her sister. HOWEVER, the genetic test (which takes about 6 weeks for results by the way) showed that her hearing loss is different than SJ! Her hearing loss is still genetic, but it’s generally a mild hearing loss. None of us saw that coming. The geneticist said the only way this is even possible is if either the mother or father also have this hearing loss. I voluntarily suggested that it was me. Basically between SJ’s DNA and Elle’s DNA they uncovered the missing link to my hearing loss mystery. So they ordered a genetic test for me just to be sure. I got it back a couple weeks ago and it confirmed that I do in fact have hearing loss due to genetic mutation (I know that sounds weird). I asked about why it didn’t show up as a real problem until later in life and so far no one has an answer for that.

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Regardless, now that I had it in writing with DNA evidence I was ready to do something about it.  I went back to the same doctor, and was sent to another doctor, and then to the audiologist and was tested AGAIN and FINALLY got my hearing aids. So even though it looks like this diagnosis and treatment came from out of nowhere it’s kind of been leading up to this point for a long time. 

So that’s the back story. I have a daughter who is deaf, a daughter who has mild hearing loss, and between the two of them I finally recognized that I have moderate hearing loss.

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Of course everyone wants to know if it’s related to gender at all, but it’s not. That part is completely coincidental.

I am still getting used to the devices, but I do feel like I can hear a lot better with them. That does not mean that I hear perfectly though, so please be patient with me if I am not understanding or if I have to ask you to repeat yourself. Thankfully I have been reminded by several professionals that no one hears perfectly so I don’t need to feel bad.

This whole hearing loss journey has been a wild ride, but I at least we’re getting somewhere.

By | July 1st, 2016|Hearing Loss|3 Comments

Baby Elle 5 Months

Here we are on the tippy tail end of Aril and Elle is closer to 6 months than she is to 5, but I haven’t posted an update yet.

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At 5 months she weighed 17 pounds. She is in the top 25th percentile for weight. Maybe that’s why she isn’t very mobile yet.

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The day she turned 5 months (April 10th) it snowed, which is crazy, but as soon as the weather cleared up a little I took her outside. I wanted to get a picture of her in some winter clothes that she wouldn’t be able to fit in next year.

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Unfortunately Elle was captivated by all the sights, textures, and sounds of the outdoors and she didn’t give me and my camera the slightest glance. I eventually gave up. The perk of being a photographer is that when she woke up from her nap with a big smile on her face I grabbed the camera again and started shooting.

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She rolls over now. Mostly back to tummy and she can push herself up a lot more than what you see her doing in this photo.

She still has blue eyes although I can already see some pigment coming in. The jury is still out on whether they will be brown or green though.

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Elle continues to do well in occupational therapy and speech therapy. She is also still exclusively breast fed and obviously not missing any meals (I hear that comment a lot). So everything is going great with baby Elle. She could not be loved anymore than we all love her, that’s for sure. She is precious and I am beyond blessed to be her mom.

 

By | April 29th, 2016|My Life|1 Comment

Mail Organization Tips for Small Spaces

As someone who has a large family in a small space I know how challenging it is to find ways to have good mail organization without an office. However it’s even more imperative that we do keep papers and files under control because we don’t have any room for error.

I am currently reading The 8 Minute Organizer by Regina Leeds and it’s been such a game changer. While the book is not about small space living, I have adapted it and combined Leeds organizational style with methods that I’ve already had in place.

 

Tips for mail organization

 

Here are 5 mail organization tips that we use to keep incoming mail from overtaking our limited living quarters.

 

  1. Keep Your Mail in the Mail Box until you are ready to sort it

In the book The 8 Minute Organizer, Leeds recommends having a basket, but a basket of mail would take up too much valuable flat-space-real-estate (i.e. counter or table top). So in our case I consider the mail box the basket. This means keeping all the mail out of the home until you are ready to sort it. It’s one way to maximize exterior space as storage.

   2. Sort and toss 

Because we live in a tiny space sorting the mail immediately is pretty crucial. So we forgo the basket idea proposed in the book. I suggest immediately throwing away junk mail and shredding anything that may contain personal information (or in our case rip it up).

  1. File important mail

8 Minute organizer recommends action files labeled “Pending, to call, to do, to file, to pay, to read.” That’s sounds like a great idea. We are not that organized yet. For now we each have individual files. The kid’s don’t get much mail other than medical documents, but they do have homework.

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This system has been a tremendous help to us. Since the files are up on a shelf it saves floor space. We do have a filing cabinet where we keep critical documents, but for the pending everyday stuff we use these Ikea cardboard magazine files in the kitchen (they’re only 99 cents for a 4 pack!).

4. Stay on top of the old mail

It’s not about just sorting incoming mail. If you file something that needs to be paid, or a form that is supposed to be filled out you should schedule it on your calendar immediately so that you don’t forget about it. You should also go through your pending files regularly. For me I go through each family file monthly. I am not saying I have mastered all this, but I have come a long way!

5. Go paperless as much as possible

Direct deposit, ebills, and AutoPay are our best friend. For one, you are automatically more organized because the computer is paying things on time for you. Also, you are helping the environment by trying to be as paperless as possible and lastly you are saving space because all of those letters and envelopes  are no longer floating around your home.

Most of these mail organization tips can work for anyone that wants a better system for mail organization, not just those living in small spaces. Still, there is a lot of information out there about organizing mail and not all of it works when you don’t have a home office, or even an average size home.

I have to give credit to my husband because he is the one that gets the mail and pays the bills, but I did the filing system. And together we learned that keeping the mail in the box until you are ready to sort it, filing right away, going through old files regularly, and doing online bill pay has made all the difference.

Hopefully these 5 mail organization tips have been helpful for other small space families. For more tips, tricks, and advice about living in a small space check out Lots of Hope in a Little Home here on Messymom.com.

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Good luck with all that mail!

 

 

By | April 28th, 2016|Lifestyle, Simple Living|3 Comments

Messy Blog

Every once in a while I have to do some house keeping on the blog. If you know me, or even if you just note the name of my blog, I am not that great at house keeping. This is why my blog is a mess. It might not look like a mess to you, but if you could see behind the virtual walls you would find broken links, outdated articles, and probably some messed up code.

It was a year ago that I launched The New Messy Mom Blog and basically I am ready to do that again. I won’t be doing a new site this time, but I will be taking the time to clean out ALL my old blog post.

Here is what this means. I am going to be going through over 1,500 blog entries! A lot of them I need to throw in the trash, but some I will update, and some I am basically rewriting and republishing. 

Last year I took a big step by changing to self hosting, having a custom design and incorporating some high quality videos like my welcome video and gender reveal video. I started having sponsored posts, and reviews, as well as some giveaways. It was a good year, but I have so much more that I want to do and I’ve got to take care of some maintenance stuff before I can really move forward.

 

So I’ll be sharing old stuff remixed, some new stuff that I am really excited about, and regular family updates. Thanks for following and supporting me. I am sorry the site has been down so much. I know I have announced that it was fixed in the past, but hopefully that really will happen soon.

I’ll sign off with a recent photo of baby Elle and my new haircut just because I don’t think I posted any here on the blog.

Happy Monday everyone.

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By | April 11th, 2016|My Life|6 Comments

Personality Tests

I have been reading H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick while we are out of town for spring break and it has been really enlightening.

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In the chapter “A Habit of Self- Discovery” Lomenick suggests several different personality tests and recommends reviewing the results side by side looking for echoes.

The first test I did was similar to a Strength Finders test and found that my main talent (according to this test) is “Believing”.

The results showed that

Individuals with the Believing talent can have a solid set of core values by which they choose to live. This talent can enhance ethical standards and integrity, and when presented with alternative paths will tend to choose the ‘right one’.

As I said at the beginning of the year my word for 2016 is “Next” as in just do the next right thing. So that’s was a cool confirmation.

The next test I took was the Myer’s Briggs. I have taken this before, but I always forget what the 4 letters are. It looks like I am an ENFP (extraverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiving). Everything I have read about this personality seems to fit my own.

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The last one I did was DISC which was also neat. These are my results in a nutshell.

 

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Out of all of these results I realized that I am really high on the emotional strengths and lower on the structured ones. For example some of my highest strengths are being a positive, motivating, harmonious unifier. The things I am the most lacking in are being commanding, responsible, strategic, deliberate, and disciplined.

As I have mentioned before J and I are opposite. When we chose our core values for our family mine was compassion and his was self control. We are apart on love language too. Mine has always been words of affirmation by a landslide and  his is acts of service. Acts of service are almost pointless to me. I appreciate them, but they don’t make me feel more loved. I guess we balance each other out.

According to H3 Leadership personality tests are a way to “step outside of yourself and more clearly survey how you’re built.” It’s an emotionless snapshot of you identify, gifts, and passions.

Have you taken any of these tests? What areas do you thrive in the most?

By | March 30th, 2016|My Life, Uncategorized|2 Comments

Create Your Own Speech Therapy Book

When SJ was first diagnosed with hearing loss I was encouraged to create an experience book. Books are a great resource for speech delays anyway, but a book that has pictures and experiences that your child can directly identify with is even better.

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I try to make a new one every year so that we can expand on what she has learned. Here is a look at how easy it is to create and implement.

First Words

The first book was the most basic both in it’s design and the words that were in it. For this one all you need is

  • 4×6 photo album
  • Pictures of your child or objects that are familiar
  • Index cards to spell out the words you are encouraging the child to say

I chose words like hurt along with a picture of SJ with a boo boo

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or sleep with a pic of her sleeping.

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Trash is a word you may not find in your typical “first words” book, but trash (or some people say garbage) is a word we use everyday. That’s the beauty of customizing your own language book. You get to choose what to put in it.

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When we first made this book we weren’t even ready to start with saying words we were mostly working on the ling sounds like “Shhhhhh” for sleeping or “mmmm” for eating. Eventually she learned all the words and it was time to make a new, more advanced book!

First Sentences

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At this point she was learning the names of everyone in the family

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Along with the places we visited frequently (like the grocery store, museum, or school).

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When we started the book we kept it very simple and I had her repeat the words “Breakfast” “Lunch” “Dinner”. Eventually she started saying sentences and so we could expand to say “I see my teacher”. You can show a picture of a friend or a teacher, but it’s more meaningful to the child when they see their friend or their teacher.

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Early Reading and Abstract concepts

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She got this book for her birthday and she absolutely LOVES it. For this book I wanted to put in some sentences that she could read on her own because she is learning to read now. So for example “I love my family” is not expanding her speech because that is a sentence she has been able to say for a while now, but it’s simple enough to read. SJ loves to point to and sound out all the words.

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Then I included parts that are a little more difficult to read, but they are words and ideas that I hope she will start to have a better understanding of. For example, this page says “Sometimes I am sad, but I still obey mommy and daddy because that is a good choice. If I make a bad choice I say I am sorry. Mommy and daddy love me when I am happy or sad. They will always love me.”

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This can certainly apply to any child, not just special needs. My oldest son has recently requested that I make a book for him and I plan to do that next.

Now let’s look at the progression

If the first book says “School”

The next book says “I go to School at Ohio Valley Voices”

Then the next book says “I go to School at Ohio Valley Voices in Loveland Ohio”

It’s been so rewarding to watch SJ learn to communicate. I am really grateful that the idea for this was introduced to me and I hope it can be helpful to others.

Both of the hardback photo books shown here are from Shutterfly and I cannot recommend them enough. Right now there is a promotion going on for a free 8×8 photo book just like the one I’ve shown on here. The coupon code is ” SPRINGONIT “It expires tomorrow (March 22, 2016) so I know that’s not much time, but I will tell you that the Shutterfly website makes it so easy to throw these books together, so it doesn’t take much effort and they turn out beautifully. If you miss this offer you can catch the next one. Just Like Shutterfly on Facebook or sign up for their email to be in the know on the latest deals.

Your child will love seeing their pictures in print and you will love hearing them say all the new words. It’s a simple, but wonderful tool all the way around.

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Elle at 4 months

Elle has had a major growth spurt over the past month. It’s like someone pulled the cord on a self inflating raft and she just instantly filled out. She is currently sitting at 14 pounds of super cute chunkiness.

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Here she is doing some tummy time in her Dr. Seuss diaper. I held back on cloth diapers the first couple months because I was just trying to get back on my feet. IMG_9414

Now that I am back into my routine I’m starting to feel so much better, physically and emotionally.

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There aren’t too many developmental milestones to report other than that Elle is getting stronger and more curious.

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She appears to be my first thumb sucker of the bunch (just like her momma was) and she is also starting to explore by wanting to put things in her mouth.

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We just love having her around!

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By | March 11th, 2016|Babies, My Life|2 Comments

The Big Six

SJ turned 6 years old on Friday. If you have spent any time around MessyMom.com then you probably know I like to party. SJ has had a Cupcake Party, Green Eggs and Ham Party, Donut Party, and Tea Party. However as I said in my blog post “How to avoid overboard kid parties” I don’t do theme parties every year and this is an off year. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have fun though! SJ still had a fabulous birthday and I still got to cherish all those gigantic smiles with FOUR teeth missing.

I started the day by sneaking in her room to hang some streamers in the door and throw some pink balloons on her bed. This might sound fancy, but trust me it was nothing you are going to see on pinterest. She woke up late so all 5 of us snuck into her room to surprise her (not hard to do with a deaf girl). We sang happy birthday as a family and she was beaming!

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Her birthday outfit was a shirt I got from a yard sale that had a number 5 on it, but I covered it with a pin that said “I am 6” and she also wore her cupcake headband from last year which was from a conisgnment shop.

No slaving over the oven this year. The cupcakes I sent with her to school were store bought and the 13×9 cake that we ate that night was all from a box.

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My parents and nieces and nephew came over for her “party”. It worked out great because they were going to come over anyway because their mom just had a baby and needs to rest. It made for a really great surprise birthday slumber party though.

Decorations $2

Birthday accessories $6

Birthday desserts $10

Birthday joy- Priceless

So as you can see it was definitley a low budget simple year and I know SJ still loved it just as much as the years I go all out.

The fun continued on Saturday since the family was still around to hang out and ride scooters.

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Then Sunday she graduated to the big girl class at children’s church and yesterday she had her first daddy/daughter date.

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That’s the last of it though. The birthday festivities are officially over until next year, which may or may not be a theme party. I’ll warn you though, if an idea sparks, there is no stopping me!

 

By | March 8th, 2016|Frugal Living, Motherhood, Parties, Uncategorized|5 Comments