Month: July 2013

Magical Birthday Portraits

ZellersAdd a touch of magic to your child’s birthday portrait this year by incorporating their birthday party theme into the photo.

It’s your baby’s birthday!  You’ve started planning his birthday party months in advance.  You’ve fretted about things like the color of the plastic spoons.  Pinterest has become your best friend, as you spend hours every evening pinning party décor ideas.  Have you given this much time and thought to your child’s birthday portrait?

The party day has arrived and you’re running around making sure there is enough ice in the ice bucket.  Then you blink your eyes and somehow the day is over.  Everyone had a blast and you sit down to look at the photos you’ve taken…or didn’t have time to take.  If you’re lucky enough to have a friend or family member that is willing to help, and has a good camera, assign her to photography duty.  Believe me, you’ll be pleased that you did.  However, with all the activity at the party, there is no way to get a portrait of your child that symbolizes this unforgettable year of their life.

Take some time to think about why you chose your child’s birthday party theme.  Most likely it was because your child lights up the moment he sees Mickey Mouse or maybe she goes running to the TV the second she hears the voice of Mickey Mouse and starts dancing to The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme song.  These are moments that I know I never want to forget and I’m certain you don’t want to either.  Incorporate those “magical moments” into your child’s portrait.

For example, if you read my blog post yesterday I shared with you my daughter’s first birthday party. It was themed Mickey and Minnie’s Flower and Garden Birthday.  At the end of the party Victoria handed out Minnie Mouse Inspired “Now Sew” flowers to all of the female guests.  I’ll never forget how she loved the flowers and enjoyed handing them out.  She had more fun doing that than participating in any activity that I had planned for her that day.  Since I had her portrait taken after the party, I made sure I brought a few of them along for her to play with during the photo shoot.

After your child’s party is over, look around at the décor that you purchased or made for the special day.  Before discarding think about selecting a few key items for your child’s birthday portrait.  The Minnie Mouse prop showing her name in her birthday portrait, was used as part of directional signage at her birthday party.  For my son Gavin’s second birthday, he had a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse party and his love of airplane started that year too.  The toy airplane, that can be seen in his portrait, was his favorite toy during the entire second year of his life.  Gavin is six now and still loves planes.  The toy is no longer in our home, but because of this portrait I will never forget that was the year his love for Mickey Mouse and airplanes began.

Every photography studio that I’ve used has welcomed extra props, especially if they engage your child.  I’ve taken props into places like Portrait Innovations and Picture People and they’ve easily used the props in the pictures.  However, the most special moments in my children’s lives, like the ones you see here, I bring Gavin and Victoria to a Fine Arts Studio.  The quality of the prints are archival and the individual attention that my children have received make a huge difference in the sincerity of the image.  The photographs in this post are courtesy of Kaiser Fine Photography.  Owner Cheryl Kaiser has been my “go to” photographer for very special moments in my children’s lives.  Her ability to capture a moment in time and have it speak volumes is amazing.  I’ll forever cherish these photographs.


This year when planning your child’s birthday party remember to plan out their birthday portrait too.  You probably already have the props and they are ready to create Portrait Magic!

To see more Kaiser Fine Photography portraits, visit Cheryl on Facebook!






Mickey and Minnie Mouse Flower and Garden Birthday Party

Table DecorYou Might Be Wondering How This Theme Came To Be.

My nephew and my daughter’s birthdays are only two days apart.  So when my sister-in-law, Karen Enke Wheeler suggested we throw a dual birthday party for my daughter’s 1st birthday and her son’s 2nd birthday, we instantly knew it had to be a Minnie and Mickey themed party.  Mickey and Minnie birthday parties are super popular, so we thought we’d give it a twist.  Both of our children love the outdoors and we knew from visiting Mickey’s home in Magic Kingdom that Mickey loves to garden and Minnie loves flowers.  That’s how our idea of a Mickey and Minnie’s Flower and Garden Party was born.  Today I’d love to share with you some of the unique items that we created for the party and some of the themed food that we served.

IMG_2324Since this was a party for both of our immediate and extended friends and families, we knew that we were going to have guests attending the party that didn’t know where to park.  I created this Party Parking sign out of wood, spray painted it and then used vinyl lettering to complete it.

Birthday MouseketeersThese two signs, featuring the birthday girl and boy’s names, were also made from wood.  I wanted to make sure that even if it rained the signs would withstand the weather.  The Minnie sign has a separate bow, which I glued on.  To do the lettering, I found the font style on-line, printed out how Walt Disney might have written their names and used it as a guide to paint their names on the signs.

Guest SeatingHere is a photo of our guests’ seating area.  The day was a bit windy, so the balloons were a challenge.  Unfortunately, all of the polka-dotted red and white balloons blew away during party set up.  With my daughter walking through the area the tables looks like Minnie Mouse put on the finishing touches.  Each pail, used to hold the balloons down, has a name of a little party guest painted on it.  They were filled part way with dirt for the children to use later during the children’s flower-pot activity.

Kids Table

The kids table featured tons of polka dots.  All the boys’ place settings were red and white for our pal, Mickey and pink and white for the little girls’ spots representing Miss Minnie Mouse.  Karen and I purchased the terra-cotta pots at a local craft store and painted them.  Inside of the pots we gave each child a Minnie or Mickey magic towel that they could use to clean up their hands after they were done planting their flower.  The garden markers that they used to write their names on, I found in Target’s dollar section.  The small gift, a Mickey Mouse vinylmation, was a surprise for them to take home.

No Sew Flowers as Favors for the Ladies

When hosting a birthday party I like to have thank you favors for the adults who attend the party too.  I made these “No Sew” Minnie Mouse Inspired Flowers which were from Victoria and given to her guests.

Rice Crispie MickeyKaren made these adorable Mickey Mouse chocolate dipped Rice Krispie treats for my nephew to give his guests.

  gift tagsHere is a close up of the gift tags that I made for the Rice Krispie Treats.  Once again I used my trusty Mickey Mouse punch.  LOVE that thing!

Serving Table The following photos will show you some of the food offerings that we had for the party guests.  We kept it really simple, as most of our little guests preferred to play in the yard with the oversized balls, that polka dotted the lawn, than eat food. In addition to the items that are featured here, we had Pluto’s Hot Diggity Dogs, Pete’s Pizza and Daisy’s Drink Station, to name a few.

Minnie's Flower Pot SurpriseMinnie’s Flower Pot Surprise was yummy Dirt Cake!

IMG_2350IMG_2331    Toodles Noodles   IMG_2362

Last But Not Least The Birthday Cakes and Cupcakes!

Thank you Fairy Godmother Kerri for such a beautiful birthday cake!
Thank you Fairy Godmother Kerri for such a beautiful birthday cake!


My nephew's adorable Mickey Mouse birthday cake with Mickey inspired cupcakes made by Karen.
My nephew’s adorable Mickey Mouse birthday cake with Mickey inspired cupcakes made by Karen.

Karen and I had a wonderful time creating this party for our little Mouseketeers.  I’d like to thank Tia Maiolatesi Welsh for taking the beautiful photos that I shared with you today!


Disney with Kids- Pirates

Sept. 2012-May 2013 106Top Ten Pirate Hot Spots at Walt Disney World

If you’re planning a trip to The Walt Disney World Resort and it’s been a while since you’ve been there, then I must warn you, there are pirates everywhere!  Pirates have always been popular.  However it seems that with the rise of The Pirates of the Caribbean films, now Pirates are to boys what Princesses are to girls, an obsession.  My family is a slight variation of that statement, since my two-year old daughter is also obsessed with Pirates, that is Jake and the Neverland Pirates (or affectionately known by Victoria as “Ho, Ho, Ho”!).  Gavin, my six-year-old fits the mold; three out of his six Halloween costumes have been either Captain Hook or a Pirate.  If your little scoundrels are Pirate loving Mates, then schedule theses ten Pirate Hot Spots into your Walt Disney World vacation plan.

There are 10 great Pirating Adventures to be had at Disney, which I’ll break down into two categories, Pirates of the Caribbean Themed Adventures and Neverland Pirates Adventures (Peter Pan and Jake and the Neverland Pirates).

Gavin and JakeNeverland Pirates’ Adventures

  1. Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine:  During this character dining experience, in Hollywood & Vine at The Disney Studios Theme Park, you’re little pirate can spend a few minutes, getting his autograph and taking a few pictures with Jake from Disney Junior’s Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  The food is fantastic too!
  2. Disney Junior- Live on Stage!: This preschooler friendly show is located at The Disney Studios Theme Park.  Make sure to check the show times when you enter the park.  You don’t want to miss this attraction if you’re kids love Disney Junior.  They will also see Sophia from Sophia the First, Doc McStuffins, and The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse stars.
  3. Disney Junior Meet and Greet Area: Meet and GreetAt the Animation Courtyard in Disney Studios, several  of Disney Junior’s super stars, including Jake of Jake and the Neverland Pirates, are available for autographs and photos.  Make sure to check times for this meet and greet when you get to the park.
  4. Peter Pan’s Flight: Found in the Magic Kingdom Park, tucked within Fantasyland, Peter Pan’s Flight is perfect for kids of all ages.  Make sure that you utilize Disney’s Fastpass option at this attraction.  Since it’s a popular attraction, the line could be long.  Watch out for Captain Hook and his scoundrel pirate crew!
  5. Pirates and Pal’s Firework Voyage:  If you’re pirates love Peter Pan, Captain Hook and Mr. Smee, this is the ultimate experience for them.  Although our family has not been on this voyage yet, we have it booked for this fall and of course I’ll tell you all about it when we return.  Here is what I do know, before boarding their pirate vessel, children and their parents have a private meet and greet with Captain Hook and Mr. Smee which includes snacks.  The boat then launches in Bay Lake and takes its passengers on a Firework Adventure to see Wishes (Magic Kingdom’s firework show).  Upon the conclusion of the show, the mates return to find Peter Pan waiting at the dock of the Contemporary Resort. The Pirates and Pal’s Firework Voyage books out months in advance, so contact Disney as soon as you are booking your trip.

Pirates!Pirates of the Caribbean Adventures

  1.  Pirates of the Caribbean Attraction: Located at the Magic Kingdom Park within Adventureland, this is the ride that inspired the movies, which then inspired the current version of the attraction that you see today.  If it’s been a while since you cruised on the ride, in 2006 the attraction was updated to include Captain Jack Sparrow and Barbossa.  The adventure is perfect for kids of all ages.

  2. Captain Jack Sparrow Pirate Tutorial:  Across from the Pirates of the Caribbean Attraction, aspiring pirates can learn from Captain Jack Sparrow official Pirate sword fighting skills and take the Pirate Oath.  Once again, to make sure you don’t miss this interactive show, grab a park map for the times as soon as you get to the park.
  3. A Pirate’s Adventure~ A Treasures of the Seven Seas:  This is a brand new attraction at The Magic Kingdom and it’s perfect for the whole Pirate family to explore Adventureland.  Families complete the five missions at their own pace.  Each mission takes about twenty minutes, so plan on allocating over an hour and a half if you want to complete all five missions .  The starting point to get your supplies is at The Crow’s Nest.
  4. Pirate Adventure Cruises:  There are four different adventures that are offered at four different Walt Disney World Resorts and they are exclusive to children 4-12 years of age.    Mom and Dad, that means you drop off your pirate for two hours and you have FREE time.  I’m a bit over protective and the first thing I thought was “My child on the water in a boat without me!”.  Rest assured, Disney requires all pirates to wear a life jacket and there is a life guard on the boat with them at all times during their adventure.  The cost for this adventure is roughly $36.00 per pirate.  Check out Disney’s site for more information!
  5. The Pirate League: If you’re child wants to magically transform into an actual pirate, The Pirate League is the place were the magic happens.  Your child must be at least 3 years old to join the League and adults can join in the fun too!  The Pirate League is located at The Magic Kingdom Park and reservations are required.  Warning- your gold doubloons will go into the Disney Pirates’ registers at this spot.  The cost starts at around $30 and can be as high as $75 per pirate.

If your family loves Pirates and you’ve had any Pirate Adventures at Disney that you’d like to share, please do!  I’d love to share them with Mouse Ears Mom’s readers!








Best Picnic Ever

Pirate GavinThe Pirates found Gold, Well, Golden Cookies.

The idea of having a Pirate Picnic came to me last week.  I’m a planner, so the idea of pulling the Pirate Picnic Plan together in a matter of a couple of days was a bit scary.  I usually start planning for my children’s birthday parties months in advance!  I love to go over the top with my ideas.  Focusing on the little details, making lots of things for décor and gifts for the party attendees is part of the fun for me.  For this picnic/ mini party, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go all out with décor and that bothered me a bit.  I could visualize how beautiful a treasure chest would look filled with jewels overflowing out of it, a hand-made pirate banner hanging from the table and a giant Pirate Flag just had to be flying at the “treasure” location.  Yep, I had an entire buffet in my mind, but I had to hold back.  Instead I focused on designing a day of adventure for my children, that I believe all moms or dads can do with their children with very little planning involved.   In the end what made this picnic our best picnic ever was that I didn’t plan for months and my son is still talking about how much fun he had and asking to do it again!

Today I’d like to take you on our adventure with us by showing you some photos of our special day.

Pirate Picnic InviteGavin and Victoria woke in the morning to find their Pirate Picnic Invite.  This invite explained to them that they needed to find the Pirate Picnic Treasure Map.  To do this, they had to complete six tasks.  After completing each task they would receive a clue.  Once they collected all six clues they would be able to guess the map’s whereabouts.

Hanging CluesWhile the kids were asleep the night before, I put a clue at each of the six locations where a task would take place.  For example, this clue, which is a picture of a house, was on the knob of Gavin’s sock drawer.  One of his tasks was to get dressed and pick up his clothing. All the tasks were things that the kids normally did, but sometimes with an objection.

DSC_1969Finding the first clueBefore that day, Gavin had never completed his school prep work with a smile on his face!  I truly enjoyed this part of the morning.  He couldn’t wait to do his tasks.  Once he was done with his school work, he found his first clue.  I love how this photo catches that moment.

 collected all the clues

Once the clues were all gathered, Gavin guessed that the Pirate Picnic map was at Grandma and Papa’s house.  He was right.


Sporting Pirate hats printed from Disney Junior’s website, Gavin now had the Pirate Picnic Map in hand and Victoria was equip with her sword to fight anything that got in their way.  The Treasure Hunt was on!


on the hunt

Victoria spots the picnic first

Victoria spotted the treasure first!


Here’s an overview of the Pirates’ Feast.  It’s menu was simple, as I mentioned in a previous post, but there was plenty for two small children and still a bunch of extra grapes, carrots and cookie snacks for the adults to eat.

Pirate Picnic  My mom, so lovingly, put everything out for me before we arrived that afternoon.  Thank you Mom!

Here lies the treasure we left behind… Remaining treasure

If you are planning on having a picnic lunch with your children this summer, turn it into a picnic they won’t soon forget.  Have a Pirate Picnic!

map with sword

Pirate Picnic Party Supplies

Golden Cookies

Gold Doubloon Cookies, Check.  Captain Hook Cupcakes, Check….

I’m just about ready for tomorrow’s Pirate Picnic!  It’s going to be a big surprise for Gavin and Victoria when they wake to find their special Pirate Picnic Invite.  I can hardly wait!  I thought I’d share some of the items that I’ve prepared for the day.  They are really simple things that you could do to theme your children’s picnic lunch too.

The Treasure MapPicnic treasure map

Above is the portion of the picnic treasure map that I very easily and quickly made using Publisher.  I simply searched Publisher’s clip art file for images of the main features of  my parent’s back yard.  Obviously these images are not exact replicas of what my six-year-old sees at his Grandparents house, but he will understand the map very easily as the clip art images are recognizable.  Then I printed the map on regular printer paper and glued the 8.5″ x 11″ map to a piece of oversized construction paper.  I used two Pirate stampers to create a fun border around the map.  Rolled it up, put some red ribbon around it and it’s ready to go.  I’ll be using the same clip art images as the “clues” that Gavin and Victoria will find as they complete the steps listed on their invitation.  After finding six images, Gavin will have to guess as to where the Treasure Map is located.  Once he sees the garden or the pool image, I’m certain he will know that the map is at Grandma and Papa’s house.

Pirate Party SuppliesThe Treasure Map and Pirate Flag Straws are packed and ready for the picnic, now on to the Feast!

The Pirates’ Feast will include:

  • Fish Sandwiches (Peanut Butter sandwiches cut into the shape of a fish using a cookie cutter)
  • Canon Balls ( Red Grapes)
  • Pirate Swords (carrot sticks)
  • Gold Doubloons (sugar cookies sprinkled with bright yellow sugar)
  • Captain Hook’s Cupcakes (Check out Monday’s post to find out how to make these cupcakes.)
  • White Skim Milk with Pirate Flag straws

Can’t wait to share tomorrow’s photos with you all!