Saturday, June 13, 2015

DIY Minecraft Birthday Party on a Budget

Parents with Minecraft-obsessed children dream about creepers and diamond pickaxes. Kids (and adults) get so into this seemingly-simple game of creation and destruction that they chatter about it constantly, pulling everyone around them along with them into the world of Steve.

My oldest son is in love with Minecraft and--since I could write a book on the game too now--I decided to throw him a DIY Minecraft 5th birthday party at my parents' house this past winter. My son and his friends, both boys and girls, had a really great time and most everything was handmade or printed out from online for free!

The great thing about Minecraft party DIYing is that the primary colors (green, brown, black and blue) are easy to find at any party store or dollar store and the artwork is all squared (pixelated) and easy for even the worst artist to recreate. Here is the lowdown of our Minecraft birthday party, with links to printouts and more to make your party planning easy!

We started out our party decorations with green and black helium-filled balloons, green plastic tablecloths, square plates, and two shades of green crepe paper purchased from Party City (available at dollar stores as well.) I drew creeper faces on a few of the green balloons with a black sharpie. Simple and effective!

I printed out a perfect and FREE Minecraft birthday banner, tented food cards, and Potion of Healing drink bottle wraps from Printabelle via I used  twizzler bites for TNT, rolos for Gold, Hershey's Kisses for Diamonds, and Swedish Fish for, well, Fish! We also wrapped green Gatorade bottles with the Potion of Healing bottle wraps.

You can download all these free printable and more HERE.  

Finally, I splurged and ordered my son the letters of his name transformed into 8" Minecraft characters by Christine at Wrap It Up. These served as the dessert table centerpiece, but also as a gift for him that is now a decoration in his bedroom. The letters are amazing and were totally worth the $10 a letter.

Entertainment/Party Activities: 
I found a perfect mom-approved Minecraft parody music video playlist on YouTube and beamed it wirelessly to my parents' TV from my iPad for the duration of the party. The kids were mesmerized by the videos and spent the beginning and end of the party alternating between free play with my sons' toys and having a Minecraft dance party.

You can get the playlist HERE and HERE.

After we ate pizza (what else?), I had the kids decorate paper swords with adhesive back foam squares and stars from Oriental Trading. I doubled up the swords (glued and taped them together) to make them sturdier for the sword fighting that ensued. Both the boys and the girls loved this activity (and some of the parents participated too)!

And, finally, I had the kids get out the rest of their energy with a Minecraft pinata. I made this myself out of green and black crepe paper, glue, and some ribbon. You can't tell from the photo, but it had a black crepe creeper face on the front! SO easy and SO cheap.


I made Steve and TNT fondant cupcake toppers with pre-made fondant purchased at AC Moore. I didn't get a good shot of all my hard work (ok, it wasn't that hard!) but all you have to do is cut out squares and rectangles. Its so simple and quick if you use boxed cake mix and premade frosting as well.

For favor bags, all you need is a green paper bag and a sharpie or some black construction paper to make creeper faces if you have the time. I stuck to plain green bags with the guests names on them and filled them with candy, novelty noise makers from Party City, and homemade Perler bead Minecraft keychains.

These keychains are SO fun to make with your kids and you can find patterns online HERE or come up with your own designs. Perler beads and keychain findings are available at AC Moore or Amazon. You can also purchase them from my Etsy shop HERE if you are feeling DIY-ed out!

For a party that was super simple, cheap, and enjoyable to throw together, you wouldn't believe how much fun the kids had! But, maybe, that is just the real underlying power of Minecraft; the power of going back to simplicity and letting kids use their imagination to dream up the fun.
How will I top this next year??

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Not just another blog post

Some bloggers don't share enough and some share too much. I tend to retreat from my blog when things get difficult in my personal life because part of my healing process is (regretful) over sharing. This is why you may have noticed the many posting hiatuses over here at Rockland Mother over the past few years.

So, here I am again after another hiatus and, forgive me as I'm going to forgive myself, but this is one thing I feel I need to over share: I am getting divorced.

Ugh. Its really painful to write that for all the world to see. Though over half of marriages fail these days, we of course never imagine we'll find ourselves in this terrible predicament. We hear about celebrities getting married and divorced every day and it seems like cake; sign the paper, move on. But, really, it is so much more awful than that.

First, you beat yourself up and second guess yourself about all the things that you may have done wrong or could have done differently. And, honestly, you'll beat yourself up about these things long after the papers are signed. Even if you've tried most everything to save your marriage, there'll be a little voice that says "If I had just done everything he/she had wanted, maybe we could have stayed together and been happy!" Man, that little voice is an asshole.

Second, especially if you've been in a particularly tenuous situation for a long time, you may find yourself dealing with some anxious and/or sad emotions that truly and honestly suck. Some days you'll feel like you are ready to move on and take the bull by the horns. Other days, you'll try on your wedding rings or look through your wedding album and cry silently to yourself so that your kids don't hear. Each day is a surprise party of emotions that you may or may not welcome. Surprise! Your future will not turn out as planned! People around you will tell you to "get over yourself" or "just deal with it," and you won't be able to make them understand what it feels like to be just one when you were two.

If you have kids, be prepared for you heart to be torn into shreds on many different occasions. You will worry about them when they are not with you. You will worry about them when they are with you but are missing the other parent. You will worry about what their future will look like as children of divorced parents (i.e. you will have nightmares of them ending up in prison.) You will find yourself overcompensating for the parent who can not or does not want to be there.

Your children may say things to you like "I wish mommy and daddy and my brother and me could be all together." And, even though you know that that scenario wouldn't be in anybody's best interest, you can feel your resolve slipping away. You'll want to run to the courthouse and rip up the papers. "Stop this ride! I want to get off!"

You'll look at the person you probably still love and you may try to be as nice as possible, but divorce brings out the ugly in people. You'll only be hurt again and again if you expect kindness to always come your way.

Oh, and if you're Catholic like me, you'll worry about your immortal soul.

Its sounds horrible, right? Well, its all this and maybe some more. BUT, I take heart from so many people who have survived this. They may be changed, but they still go on and, at this point, moving forward is the only way to go. I will let the little moments of happy sustain me until there's only mostly blue skies ahead. I will savor every little kiss and "I love you. I always want to be with you." from my little boys. I will sing when I like and I will try to remember that the Earth continues to spin.

Thank you for listening and, if you have been or are in the same spot, please know you are not alone. A little over sharing can sometimes make us feel better. I know I do now. xo

Friday, October 3, 2014

Giveaway! Kidstuff Coupon Book for Westchester, Rockland & Putnam

Its that time of year again! New fundraisers seem to magically appear in my sons' backpacks each week, and, while I'm always a fan of gift wrap and chocolate, the KidStuff Coupon Books are always a huge hit with family and friends. Not only do they contain coupons that I find myself using all year-round, but 50% of the $25 purchase price goes directly to the fundraising school. Plus, its buy 5 get 1 free, which I always try to take advantage of.

This year, the folks at KidStuff were very kind to send me--and possibly you!--the latest Westchester, Rockland and Putnam coupon book for review. The coupons this year do not disappoint, from kid's interest stores/services such as Babies and Toys "R' Us, Carters, the Lego Store, and the Children's Place, to A.C. Moore, Macy's, Carvel, Modell's, Planet Wings and much, much more.

There are hundreds of dollars of savings in these books, at local stores that we actually patronize--definitely worth the $25 and a worthy fundraising options for schools as well. And, if you don't live in the Rockland, Westchester, and Putnam area, KidStuff offers coupon books in 22 different areas in 12 different states.

So, do you want your own KidStuff Coupon Savings Book for Westchester, Rockland and Putnam? Just write a comment below by October 7th at 11:59pm. There will be two winners chosen at random. Good luck and happy couponing!

For more information on KidStuff, including a sampling of coupons available and fundraising opportunities, visit KidStuff online at

Monday, July 7, 2014

Book Giveaway! Best Supporting Role by Sue Margolis

Summer is in full swing and you need a fun book to read by the pool. Lucky for you, NAL has generously offered Rockland Mother a giveaway copy of Sue Margolis' latest cheeky Brit novel, BEST SUPPORTING ROLE, just out this month. (Shock all those pool-goers with the risque cover!)

Here's the synopsis:

When her gambling addict husband died, Sarah Green was left penniless—and with two children to raise. Since then, she’s been desperate to keep her professional and personal lives on firm financial footing. And what could be safer than dating an accountant and working at a non-emergency crime help line?

But then Sarah’s aunt dies, leaving Sarah her once famous—now flailing—lingerie shop. With her fashion background, Sarah reluctantly decides to make a go of it, even if that means breaking up with her too-prudent boyfriend over the risk.

Suddenly Sarah finds herself falling for Hugh, the handsome struggling actor she hired to renovate her new boutique, and entering a prestigious lingerie competition. Taking chances has never been her forte, but the built-in support of family and friends could give her the boost she’s been looking for...

TO WIN: Leave a comment on this blog post by 11:59pm on July 13th. Best of luck!