Joon’s Amazing Harry Potter Pool Party!


As you probably know, Joon celebrated her tenth birthday this last Sunday and it was a splash and a half. Actually, make that five-thousand smashing splashes and a half because it went off like no other pool party I have ever planned.

Have I ever planned a pool party before? No, I don’t think so. But that’s beside the point.

A little back-story on this party: It was cold and rainy on Monday. Payam and I even had a fire in the fireplace on the Friday before so the fact that Sunday rolled around to be a scorching 83 degrees Fahrenheit was downright providential. It was the PERFECT day to have a party at the pool. In fact, I doubt we could stand being anywhere else.Harry-Potter-Birthday-Pool-Party-Friends

Pool parties are easy. You know why? Because you don’t really have to do anything. Just throw in some pool toys, order a few pizzas and maybe bring a cake. That’s really all you need to do and at the end of the party all the kids will go home sun-kissed and exhausted.

But of course that’s not how we roll. We go big or go home!

We made pool noodle brooms, aka The Aqua Nimbus 2000: They are very good at hovering over water and then bucking you off into a big belly flop of a splash. The kids had a blast with them, and then afterwards used them to mop the deck. (Just kidding. There was no mopping.)


We made butter beer (skipping the sweetened condensed milk in favor of whipped cream out of a can, because come-on, who’s gonna deal with that sticky mess at the pool?). It was a huge hit. It looked nasty like a pot of kombucha or something but that didn’t stop the kids from sucking it down in their miniature plastic beer steins (aka coffee cups ordered from Party City that I customized with a Joon’s Butter Beer Pub logo.)


And of course edible wands (cookie sticks) and Levitating Lemonade (aka regular old lemonade in a neon green cooler that broke half an hour into the party. Note to anyone planning a party like this: Do not buy this model of a cooler from Party City. Do not be tempted by the el cheapo $16 price tag. It is junk and you will rue the day. The knob broke off the top the minute I touched it and the spigot broke during the party, leaving everyone to ladle lemonade out of the top with a paper cup. It was super messy and super stupid.)

Don’t you love a good back-story? Here’s some more:


How did we make the giant snitch piñata? With paper maché of course! I did it very much the same way I created the giant cat toy piñata for Bug’s black-cat-themed seventh birthday party but this time I took my time and applied FOUR coats of newspaper and flour-water paste over the span of a week.

It was so much more solid than the cat toy. Awesomely solid in fact. I could have rolled it down the street if I wanted to and it would have held up. But it was also very big so in order to make it strong enough to hold the 20 pounds of candy and prizes we needed to stuff the piñata with, we had to create a macrame holder from string. Otherwise the pure weight of the piñata would have busted off it’s top.

Payam and I worked very hard on this thing. We haggled over how to make the wings for hours. We tried all kinds of wire (you should have seen Payam stripping tv coax cable which unfortunately didn’t work either) before we finally found the right gauge combined with a small piece of a wire clothes-hanger to keep it just stiff enough. Then I covered the wings with gold tissue paper and cut the feathery bottom. We sprayed the whole thing with gold spray paint.


I also made some baby snitches (or actual-size snitches) for anybody who might want to play quidditch in the water. Those were made from ping pong balls, wings cut from duct tape and hot glue, of course. Hot glue is my spirit animal.


SMASHING SUCCESS! That thing was so satisfying to smash. It broke just the right way, like smashing a big hardboiled egg. Everyone got a good thwack and then the birthday girl got a second turn to really whale on it before all the candy rained down on their heads.


Joon’s mom made a really cool Harry Potter cake with a chocolate fondant sorting hat, broom, glasses and even a tiny, super-cute, red-and-yellow stripped Gryffindor scarf.


I think this kid is loved. Don’t you?


Joon is TEN!!! Can you believe it?!!  This is the best age. I used to worry that Payam and I rushed into living together too soon but when I look at our girls and how they get along so well most of the time (while bracing for the hormone-riddled teenage years) I am so thankful. These are the best years. I love this family that we have created so much! Sorry to gush, but you know how I feel. It’s just probably been the best twisty turn I’ve ever taken.


And last but not least, I leave you with a closing shot of Joon giving Payam a rotten egg-flavored Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour jelly bean. Yes, we totally re-posed that shot because I wasn’t quick enough to catch the original but let me tell you, that belly laugh is real.

Love you Joon!

Cake the Cat Costume!


You know what happens when your mom makes costumes regularly for her blogging job? You think store-bought costumes are the best thing ever. It happened to me too.  My mom sewed a pumpkin costume for me and my brother when we were little. We wore cute little green hats and green tights and we were the cutest round chubby pumpkins you ever did see. I would give a zillion dollars to see a photo of us back then but guess what? I HATED THAT COSTUME! I wanted to be like the other kids who got to wear make up and dress up as gypsies and black cats. There were no princess costumes back then or I’m sure I would have wanted to be that too.

Bug humored me with the Galaxy Costume and she really did genuinely love it but you know what she really really really wanted deep down? A store-bought Fionna from Adventure Time costume. This is where I have to look sheepish and admit I have never even watched Adventure Time and I don’t really know what my kid watches when she is with her dad so it might be highly inappropriate but I figured if Bethany’s kids watched that show and they loved it then it must not be too terrible. Annalie actually has great taste. So I ordered it from one of those costume sites while we drove down the road on the way to Payam’s mom’s house. (Don’t worry, I wasn’t driving.) It was a total impulse buy to appease my kid for some other unfairness that I have completely forgotten about. Then later (of course) I did a little research and fretted about the shortness of the skirt and the hoochiness of the knee socks. That’s how I parent.

Bug was on the moon. She couldn’t wait for that costume to arrive. She talked about it constantly. She even talked Joon into being Cake the Cat as her companion. Only problem was that there weren’t any Cake the Cat costumes that we could order online. cake-the-cat-costume-2

You know what that means!!! I had to make Joon a Cake the Cat costume. Poor me! Hahahahahhahaha!

That was the best thing ever for me. Joon and I headed off to Target to find a big fluffy white sweatshirt. Then we waited in line at the fabric store for our 1/8 yard of off-white felt and 1 yard of yellowish-orange felt. Or maybe it’s blanket felting. It’s nice durable fabric, not the kind that falls apart in the wash.

Joon loves helping me with projects. She is my number one assistant. Unlike Bug who has been there, done that and is so over it already. Joon loves to tag along with me everywhere. She even told the cutting lady what we needed while I took a quick bathroom break. When we got home I got to work. I sewed up a tail (trying not to make it look like a penis, which is totally hard!), some ears and cut out some big orange-yellow spots. Then I attached everything to the sweatshirt. It took a while and the felting kinda moved as I sewed, making everything ever-so-slightly off center but Joon LOVED IT!!

She wanted to wear it the day I made it which was days before the Halloween parade at school and Halloween itself. She wanted to wear it as a sweatshirt to school the next day and pajamas that night. Joon’s appreciation for my homemade costume swelled my heart up so big.

Unfortunately, it also brought out the green-eyed monster in Fionna. Nothing went right with her store-bought costume. The skirt was age-appropriately knee-length and not butt-hugging like the character in the cartoon. The shirt didn’t fall off her shoulder. Her hair was the wrong color and everything WAS ALL WRONG! It was a disaster. So I gave in and altered the store-bought costume. Not too terribly hoochie-mama but just a little bit. It was a compromise. Then I let her wear some really light pink blush and lip gloss and all was well again. The things I do, man. Parenting winner over here.


Anyway, Cake the Cat was awesome and Fionna was too. They actually even hung out together at the school dance/parade which is huge for Bug because she’s the cool kid and little half sisters are so uncool. I know. We are working on that. They actually get along famously but you know how it goes.