Tuesday, April 22, 2014

#KidsofInstagram and Why I Hate Them.

Ok, so the title is a little harsh. I mean what do you want me to do, go around titling blog posts about love and peace? Ya, that'll get me reads. Let me tell you something, when you declare you hate something in a blog post, the clicks pour in. There, a free tip for you new bloggers, you're welcome.

This post is going to be me picking specifically on Instagram and the #KidsofInstagram because currently it is my social media platform of choice. If you aren't familiar with Instagram (IG for short), you will still probably relate to this post- so don't worry.

Ok, so maybe HATE was a little strong. I mean, my kids are on IG a heck of a lot, and of course I don't hate them. Well, sometimes... Ok, so I don't really hate any of the kids that have become the rolling feed of my Instagram... It's just well, I hate that they look so amazingly perfect every flipping day- in every aspect from their face to their clothes to even their bedrooms.

I'm serious. These kids are dressed to the nines like everyday. Every. Day. There's a photo shoot with them everyday. No judgment on the photo shoot or the parenting or anything like that... I can assure you I do some pretty weird child rearing myself during Party Week. It's just that seriously, what kid puts up with this stuff? I can hardly get my kids to sit still with shoes on, let alone actually look at the camera without them trying to rip it out of my hands. Even if my kids are dressed as cute as I can manage on my monthly kid's clothing budget of (Ha! That was good!) there's usually a stain involved or a blue tongue sticking out. But not for the #KidStyle, #ToddlerFashion, #FashionKids of IG. There's never a stain. Never a bad hair day. Never a refusal to give that perfect #ModelKid pout.

Look, I had all sorts of ideas on how I was going to dress my kids before I had them, just like I had ideas on how I was going to dress myself as a young cute mom. If Pinterest existed before I'd had kids I would have totally had boards titled, "Future Littles" filled with pictures of babies in scarves and toddlers in head wrap turbans... That crap was totes on my radar. But then I had kids and became a mom and life and poop and spit-up- it all happened and I had to tone it down on the baby fashion and just hope I had an extra onesie somewhere. I figured I could wait for everyday fashionable kids until toddlerhood but somehow bow ties and button-up shirts just didn't pan out for a kid who just wanted to dig in the dirt making mud pies all day. And let me tell you, skinny jeans are terrible for potty training.

I used to have ideas that my kids would NEVER wear licensed character items. I mean, that was my worst nightmare. Now I get as excited about Lego Movie tees as I do about a good V neck for myself. Oh dear, I just admitted to liking both of those things, practically out loud. WHO AM I?

With every IG photo of the adorably dressed, very hygienic looking kid a little piece of the old fashion design obsessed-me dies. I mean, here I majored in FD and I can't for the life of me get motivated to get my 2 year old in to anything other than leggings... Target brand leggings. Sometimes anything more than underwear is an accomplishment, clean underwear.

But am I admiring those carefully planned-out IG #KidStyle posts? Well heck yes I am, "like" after sweet "like". Because I do- I actually love that somehow these moms (and dads) managed to get their 20 month old in to a sailor outfit complete with heart shaped sunglasses and a head wrap. I'd be crazy not to eat that shit up.

Not that I've ever dressed my kids "high end" because my version of high end is the Gymboree sale rack. However even our version of high end I've learned to save for two big holidays: Easter and Christmas. I figure my kids can handle Momarazzi twice a year begging them to smile and keep their shoes on. We just did Easter and I'm exhausted.

I know, I know... Maybe I'm a hypocrite. Maybe these IG parents will someday stumble upon my IG and say, "HOW does she manage to pull off those parties with two kids vying for her attention!" (Oh, I sure hope someone, somewhere says that someday) but for now, I can't even imagine parties comparing to the daily task of making sure your kid's hair is groomed, face clean and that they're dressed really, really well in the current season's kid fashion and then photographed again, really really well.

My favorite little girl to follow, Harlow- from The Daddy Fashion Stylist

What gets me even more than the IG parents with their super gorgeous, never ketchup-stained children, are their followers who follow them and said Gorgeous Perfect child. I mean, the IGer could be posting a picture of their kid swinging in the park showing off the Spring14 hot off the press "Roaring Tiger" dress and the follower somehow notices something ridiculously small that is of interest to them, like a red barrette or something no one should notice that small. Follower will then beg for the poster as well as any of their followers to let them know, "Where can I possibly find that barrette, MUST HAVE". I mean, is this really, like really- for real?

The IG kids clothing brands crack me up too. Parents seriously wait around on their phones for this stuff to "go live". I mean, heck- I'm all about supporting small business but people really spend $38 on a toddler's tee shirt- like regularly! And that's on the VERY low end! I'm hard pressed to spend $8 on a tee for a 2 year old! Not that I don't love a lot of the kid's clothing designs on IG, it's just weird to me that parents care that much about their kids everyday PLAY clothing! AND I LOVE CLOTHES! I'm not like some weird cheap hand-me-down mom- I actually love shopping! But caring about custom printed aztec leggings that cost $42 that will be grown out of in 3 months- it just seems straight crazy to me! Target sells aztec leggings. In multiple colors.

For a while, before I started following a ton of them, I kind of got the idea of the whole IG kids clothing brands thing. Because here I was thinking that sure you might be spending big money but at least your kid is wearing totally different stuff than every other kid... NOT true. My entire feed is IG kids all wearing the same $88 yellow polka dot bikini, Saltwater sandals and please don't forget the head wrap, the ever important head wrap. Kids really keep those things on their head? I'm in awe of this. I can't even keep a good old fashioned real rubber band in my daughter's hair, let alone a big piece of fabric.

Baby Hair Scarf. You know you want one.

And that is all.
I'm done.
I feel better now.
Off to spray stain remover on our poop-stained Target leggings.

xo Party or Die xo

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Queen of Hearts" 40th Birthday Bash

This party has only been seen on my Instagram, that's how busy with school and motherhood I've been these last couple of months. This was the last party MPM threw and it took place a few months back on February 16th. My good friend Amy, who has an actual Valentine's Day birthday had been talking about a 40th birthday party since before her 39th... My kinda girl! And I mean, seriously- what better theme for a Valentine's baby- especially if you know her!
I'm not gonna lie (do I ever?)... Parties for friends are tricky. The "problem" is you actually know and love the person you're throwing the bash for... And once that fact is in the equation, somehow your hourly rate just goes out the door (well, if you're me it does!) which is why I really need to stop throwing parties for friends!
However, this party was a blast. Live band, dancing, hearing Amy sing and a photo booth with great friends... all a recipe for a PAR-TAY. It was a full 2 days of work, first fluffing and hanging the pom- poms and lanterns, and then the actual set up on party day. I literally showed up at the venue which Amy's husband is part owner of (an amazing Italian restaurant in Orcutt, Ca called Trattoria Uliveto) with my friend Lauren in-tow to help me figure out our layout. I didn't have a clue where I was going to place the dessert table because the windows in the room where really messing with my original plan. I knew that I was going to need to cover windows up with fabric to create some sort of wall for the table to go on, and I had some ideas about hanging the red glittered AMY letters above the dessert table. However, that was it. I had a bunch of stuff collected and knew it would come together somehow... But because the week before I was in LA filming for the Nickelodeon show, AND I had just started week 1 of business class... I was totally winging 95% of this set up. Like that mirror? Ya, I took that off the wall of the restaurant to help add some depth to the table. And that cool chandelier painting? I snagged it from Amy's house the morning of the party.
We finished setting up at 5:40 pm... The party started at 6:00 pm and you guessed it, I was pretty impressed with myself.
I'm still in party hibernation mode while I finish up the class I'm taking through Santa Barbara's WEV program. I will be back with a bang for Birdie's 3rd "Woodland Chic" birthday party in late June and it'll be worth the wait, just trust.
Enjoy the photos and as usual...
xo Party or Die xo
Event Stylist: Miss Party Mom
"Hello Forty" Gold Foil Print: One Stylish Party
Graphic Design: Tania Fischer Designs
"Sweets" Pinwheel Banner: Peckled
Photo Props: Tweedle Dee Designs
Happy Birthday Banner: TableTop Treats
Cake: Courtney Arensdorf, Orcutt Ca
Cupcakes: Charlene Sousa, Orcutt Ca
Gold Glitter Crown Cupcake Picks: Hues Studio
Striped Lanterns: Z Gallerie

Saturday, April 12, 2014

{Happy Sibling's Day!} & Crap My Kids Fight About


I really wanted to use a curse word in the title but you know... You trade in a lot of luxuries when your husband's a pastor.

It's been a busy couple of weeks since I last braced the blog with my deep thoughts on life. I'm in the thick of writing my business plan for my business class and we're on the financials part. True to always, simple math is kicking my butt. I've been meeting with people left and right trying to get my pricing structure in order and re-launch my business after graduation this May. It's exciting and nerve wracking and I'm learning so much about myself in the process. I mean, it's like therapy every week. And there's an actual therapist in our class too. I probably need to book a sesh...

Moving on...

So... Happy Belated Sibling's Day? That whole idea kind of blew up this year, eh? In honor of it- I decided to write about how lately my kids have been fighting about the craziest (ie: stupidest) things imaginable... Just to add a little zest to life I think. When I think about their fights, it's seriously laughable. And cryable. And screamable.

I've decided it would help me cope with their bickering if I gave the world a sampling of what I'm listening to on a daily basis...

So here we go.

They're fighting over plates. Who gets the dinosaur plate, who gets the owl plate... I'm about to toss out every cutesy plate and have them fight over white China. They'll only throw that at each other once!

They're fighting over who sits by the dog's crate while they're eating. I'm convinced my son doesn't even really like the dog, but my goodness he somehow needs to sit by him now while eating breakfast... I love starting the morning off with tears!

They're fighting over if the other is aloud to, "get in on their side of the car". Cormac's made a rule that Birdie cannot crawl over his seat to get to her car seat. So now Birdie has the same rule. So I've got to walk to both sides of the flippin' car now for fear that feat will be flying in the other's face trying to prevent the ol' crawl-across. These are the types of things you swore you'd never do before parenthood.

They're fighting over if one looks out of the other's window while we're driving. I mean, seriously you can't make this stuff up. This is our newest fight and it's mind numbing. Me trying to explain that windows belong to everyone- not just the person sitting nearest to it... Not the meaningful post-preschool chat I was hoping for.
They're fighting over who Birdie can be in the Circus Show they've created. Cormac is controlling (like me) and Birdie is a free spirit. She swears she needs to be the Clown Tamer, not the Lion Tamer. It is pissing Cormac off that she just can't be a normal Circus act. And she is mad he can't see the beauty in taming those unruly clowns.

They're fighting (actually mainly just Cormac complaining on this one) that Birdie only wanted to play with him on her first day of preschool. "That first day she played with me and now she'd rather play with sand!" But the minute they get home, you know where they're actually forced to play together- Cormac suddenly needs "alone Lego time". My brain hurts trying to process this stuff.

For all of the fighting they do though, I must admit they have some of the sweetest moments. Like when he actually breaks apart his baseball game snack to share it with her. And when her brother is in trouble, Birdie runs to his side and caresses his back and says, "It's ok Cormac, I love you..."

So for all the fighting, I have to remind myself that their love for each other is huge and I'm so happy they have each other as siblings.
So... Happy Flippin' Sibling's Day!


Follow me on Instagram for more photos of my kids when they're getting along. I try and capture every moment as if it were the last.
xo Party or Die xo

Friday, March 28, 2014

Teaching My Kids About Racial Equality

Sometimes I think about things I'd like to write about, simply just touch on- on this blog- and then I think to myself, "Kenna, you're essentially a party blog, you most definitely should not write about that..." And I don't. I'm usually good at listening to myself. This should probably be one of those times.

But it's not. Today I'm going to talk about my desire to teach my kid's racial equality- and I'm not even going to be funny in the process. This is definitely not party planner blogging. Maybe I need another blog for something of this nature... But for now, this is what I got. So if you were looking for a cute party, you might wanna check out the 1000's of other blogs doing that right now- or come back next week.

As an intro to where I'm going with this post- I'm going to touch on some of my own upbringing as a child. A real get-to-know-your-[favorite?]-blogger moment is coming your way... Brace yourself.

I've mentioned before that I was born in Inglewood, Ca and raised in Hawthorne, Ca. Obviously, for a white girl like myself- being raised as the minority all the way through my high school years- has shaped a big part of who I am. And now, at 33 years old- I can honestly say I wouldn't change it for the world.

If you would have asked me that my Freshman year of high school, when I came home crying for a month straight, begging my mom if I could, "go to the white school" I wouldn't believe that I'd be saying that. I was dead set on getting out of a place where I felt ostracized for my skin color. Where the nicknames, "wedda" and "whitegirl" were not sitting well within my soul. I yearned for El Segundo... That glistening town 10 minutes away where there was no graffiti. No ghetto birds. No riots. While it was close in proximity- it was far, far away in reality.

That Freshman year my mom told me in a nut shell that I was nuts, I was not going to another school because we lived directly across the street from Hawthorne High, our zoned school- where I would learn to fit in. She reminded me that I was a likeable girl and I was going to meet people running track, I just needed to be patient and wait for the season to start. And you know what, she was right... I waited- and I made friends. I made a ton of friends. I was well-liked and decided I loved all of my nicknames and I took pride in being one of the only (if not THE only) white girl on my track team.

While I had a couple of white friends in high school from as far back as elementary, I mainly hung out with my new Hispanic and black friends. I spent my afterschool days eating homemade pupusas and flan. We went down to Mexico on the weekends with my friend's parents to go dancing. I had my hair braided in corn rows for my Senior prom. I went through many stages trying to fit in and figure out who I was in a sea of amazingly tan skin... When all I could do was burn.

Although I grew out of my Spanish accent (it was gooood) at my core I felt like I was either Mexican or black most days. I felt connected to other races (Asians, Tongans, Samoans) much more than I did to my own Irish skin. I floated between groups of friends forgetting all together that I'd ever felt like an outcast upon entering high school. Learning to get along with everyone was in hindsight, a gift.

One of the beautiful things about being raised in the ghetto is that no one is better than anyone else. That is something I really value learning at a young age- that I wasn't entitled because I was white. This is something I desperately hope to impart on my children.

Which brings me to our current state. We've moved in to a primarily Hispanic community on Santa Barbara's East Side. Which didn't faze me upon arrival... "These are my people", I thought to myself when signing our lease. "I will have no problem making friends". To a point I am impressed with my naivety and optimism. Because it has not been easy. While I may feel a close connection to the Hispanic community- they have not necessarily felt that same connection to me, or my family.

And I could delve in to so many reasons here about the how and why I think this is but instead I will keep it simple and say that in my short time here I've realized I wouldn't be overly welcoming of the white family in town if I were Hispanic either. Just the ways in which I've seen or heard white people talk to or about the Hispanic community is embarrassing to me as a white person. There is so much hate and I want to break that down and be different. I want my kids to be different.

One of the most important things I want for my kids is for them to understand that they're not better than anyone because of where they were born or what language they speak. I never want them to see race as a barrier in making friends. Even when it's uncomfortable. When Cormac starts school in August I am sure he is going to have many uncomfortable moments as a white kid in a Spanish Immersion school. And it's scary to think about a 5 year old feeling left out. But you know what- nothing great was ever easy.

I want to be able to say I gave my children an understanding of equality and real life. Part of the reason I was scared to death of raising my kids in our old town is because I didn't want my kids thinking the world is made up of middle/upper class white people. I'm comfortable saying I've seen what kind of adult that produces and I'm not interested in raising that person. I'm not saying it's inevitable, but in my experience, the outlook wasn't looking promising.

It's simple- love and respect for all people- shouldn't we all want that?

End rant.


A few days after I originally wrote this, my kids made friends with our neighbors...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

{Client Dessert Table} Riley's Mermaid 4th Birthday

I did this dessert table this last August and though it's been featured on Amy Atlas- it's never been on my own blog! To date it is one of my favorite tables yet and I was so happy to add a mermaid theme to my inventory. I love the way it came together and I am proud of the fact that I did the set-up alone for this party.

I was lucky enough to book this party for a professional photographer's daughter's 4th birthday- which is just an awesome added bonus. Not having to worry about getting a party professionally photographed (by one of the best!) is such a freeing feeling. The fact that Riley was adorable and had a fantastic color palette in mind (which happens to match my blog perfectly!) was a double win! I love my 4 year old clients.

xo Party or Die xo
Vendor Credits:
Event Styling: Miss Party Mom
Printable Package: Party On! Designs
Ombre Scales/Mermaid Cake: Kelli Cakes, Central Coast CA
Cake Pops & Macarons: Elaine's Cake Pops, San Diego CA
Gold & Pink Gumballs: Oriental Trading Company
Sand Castle Strawberry Baskets: Party On! Designs
Mermaid Tail Tutus: Mirelle Carmichael