Drive-In Movie Birthday Party

Once a year, I get crafty. Since Belén and Eloise’s birthdays are within three days of each other, if they agree to share a birthday party, I’ll get really crafty, or at least attempt to. With Belén turning six this year, I figured there are probably not a lot more years when she will want to share a party with her sister and soon having a birthday party at home will have less appeal…so I decided to go big this year with a Backyard Drive-In Movie Birthday Party.

Backyard Drive-In Movie

My mom gave me the idea for a Backyard Drive-In movie party in January. I pulled together this pinterest board and started planning. A month or so ago, I initiated the preparations by creating the invitations (using Powerpoint and printing out the “slide” at 55% size), procuring the popcorn and candy cups as well as the whiteboards for the trays (Dollar Store) and then attempted to figure out how I was going to attach the whiteboards to the boxes to serve as trays. A couple of weeks ago, I bought 13 Extra Large boxes from U-Haul and then used a box cutter to shorten them to what Belén and Eloise helped me deem the right height for backyard movie viewing. We went to Home Depot and purchased spray paint, which we quickly returned as it did not serve the purpose and exchanged for six mini jars of colored paint chosen from Belén and Eloise’s favorite paint color swatches. Almost every night over the last couple of weeks, I spent 30 minutes or so in the garage, painting two boxes with a new color of paint, laying it on thick so I wouldn’t have to do a second coat. Meanwhile, Andy was busy ordering a screen and projector to display the movie on.

backyard drive-in movie birthday

In the last few days, I bought popcorn, Red Vines, Runts, M&Ms and jelly beans as well as other refreshments for kids and adults. I cut out 52 black wheels, 52 grey hubcaps, 26 yellow headlights, 26 red tail lights and stapled plates to the boxes for steering wheels. The night before the party, I made license plates for the kids who had RSVP’d as well as with the help of my mom, hot glued the wheels and lights to the cars. As I went to attach the trays to the boxes, my dad and I determined that the design of my prototype was faulty so he helped me rework the tray attachment last minute so they were much more stable using wood on the inside of the car that my angle brackets could screw into. One of the best things about this whole exercise is that my girls now use the word prototype regularly. :)


Drive-In Movie Birthday Party

The morning of the party, I baked the cupcakes then painted on Karo Syrup to serve as glue for the baby marshmallows. Next, I placed a tray of eight cupcakes at a time under the oven broiler for approximately 15 seconds to get the marshmallows to brown and puff a bit making them look like popcorn.

Immediately before the party, Andy assembled the screen next to a shade canopy and attached a dark sheet to one side to block out more sun. The movie was still faded a little faded but the kids could see it. We moved the cars in front of the movie screen and delivered the candy and popcorn to the trays and waited for kids to arrive and get their sugar and birthday fix on. When the kids arrived, they decorated their license plate and picked their car, which I then glued their personalized license plate to with a glue stick. All in all it was a lot of work, but it turned out super cute and the kids loved it.

Most importantly, Belén and Eloise were thrilled and had a great time and seemed to appreciate of the day.

Drive-In Movie Birthday Party


Drive-In Movie Birthday Party

Thanks to Tamara of Tamara Kenyon Photography for all of the awesome photos. She has a way of capturing the moment and making everyone look good!

Drive-In Movie Birthday Party

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Funny, independent, determined and smart are the first four words that pop into my mind when I search to describe you, my newly minted four-year-old. Eloise Mae, you are one of a kind and I am so grateful to have you in my life and when I think of you, without fail, I smile.


It is impossible that you are have been gracing our lives for four years already. It seems like just yesterday that I held you in my arms for the first time. I still remember my days of my maternity leave with you so fondly when we’d go for a walk, hang out, watch Anthony Bourdain and the Tour de France, eat and sleep and all the while, you’d smile up at me and melt my heart. You remain that happy girl today except for when you don’t get your way, the tables turn awfully fast. I wonder how many times I will have to remind you, “crying doesn’t help you get your way” and “when I say no, I am not going to change my mind” before that lesson finally sinks in. You’ve quickly determined that “No” does not deter you from pursuit of what you want, proving that certain genes have been passed on to the next generation.

Besides the aforementioned behavioral lessons, you are as smart as a whip. You have figured out how to do things for yourself at record speed and independently do things that amaze me. You also use your smarts to try and manipulate people but I’m here to tell you that we are on to you. After enough times of asking for daddy when I don’t give in to you and vice versa and watching you “be so hungry” after you were full five minutes earlier but then a new, interesting food presents itself or “so cold” when you want a coveted blanket, we’ve got your number. My favorite is when I’m getting annoyed about either you or your sister not listening and you quickly sense it and proclaim, “I love you, Mommy.”


You are a social girl who gets along with everyone, once you decide that you want to play with them. I’ve watched you connect with not only your friends at school but also with Belén’s friends. I’m not sure if that easy connection comes as a result of your ability to tailor your interactions with different people or by your nature to not be shy to get in someone’s face or grab their hand to get their attention. At the end of the day, your favorite playmate is your sister and oftentimes when she arrives at your school after her day of kindergarten has concluded, you politely tell your friends that you are finished playing them as it’s time for you to go find your “stister.”

I think that you girls bought me flip flops for Mother’s Day but I’m encouraging you to keep whatever it is a secret. When we were driving home this evening you said, referring to the gift, “it starts with an ‘f’ but its not a fish.” Good thing…but this “clue” illustrates how far you’ve come with your letters and reading. I’ve also recently been educated about which planets are the hottest and coldest in the solar system, which animal runs the fastest and many other fun facts. I’m glad to see that you are retaining what you are learning in pre-school and we are quickly getting to the point where I am going to start learning things from your education. “No, I had no idea that a honey bee has five eyes.”

I’m never one to wish away any age or stage (well, mostly) but if four brings anything, I hope it brings more of everything that makes you awesome but also an end to the tantrums when you don’t get what you want and I hope you start eating better. You have a tendency to look at a plate full of food and make a split second decision on if you will even try anything on your plate. The good thing is that you can now be persuaded to at least try the foods, which is an improvement over four months ago. Just this week you ate kale salad and a casserole with onions in it and I almost fell over. Your sister went from eating like a bird to a great eater who is even complementary to the chef (probably too strong of a title when being applied to me) so there is hope.

I love that you are still super snuggly and request a mixture of tickling and snuggling. At the end of a long day, nothing beats pulling you up into my lap for a tickle snuggle.

You love gymnastics and are very strong. You love to play and are a force of energy bouncing around any time you are not sleeping.


You’ve already received a lot of cool gifts from your birthday including motion-activated, singing Elsa and Anna dolls that I can’t figure out how to turn off and therefore may be inexpensive bulgar alarms. Other highlights include getting your ears pierced and a bike with pedals (at your request) which should help you keep up with your sister when we ride our bikes to the park. Being that we haven’t had your birthday party yet, this year might be a little bit over the top but something tells me that you won’t mind.

Eloise, you are one of those kids that even if you weren’t my own, I’d be watching you, eager to see what comes next. I believe that great things are in store for you. For now, you are a wonderfully carefree, opinionated albeit easy-going, awesome little four-year-old. You light up the lives of those around you and keep us all on our toes. It is a privilege to be your mother and both your daddy and I love you so very much! Happy Birthday Weezy Woo!

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Today you turn six and this is where I write the cliché comment about how time flies. Can it really be six years since they wheeled me into a cold, stale operating room with “American Pie” playing from an unseen speaker and performed a life beginning surgery for you and wonderfully life altering surgery for me and your dad and so many others who love you dearly? That cold, stale room welcomed a little girl who is warm and engaging to her core, an “old soul” with pure intentions and deep feelings.


Six-years-old means you have already taken on kindergarten and, with the many options available for kids these days, swimming, soccer, gymnastics, ballet, tap and Girl Scouts. For your birthday this year, you even rode a horse for the first time, which you made look as easy as you did riding a dolphin at age four. Needless to say, you are active, adventurous, strong and resilient and I love all of these qualities about you.

You are thriving at school and every time I volunteer for art class, I have at least two little girls asking me for a play date with you. Your kindness and sweet nature is translating to more friends than your parents have time to schedule play dates with. It has been amazing witnessing how much you have learned in eight months of school and I can already see that school is a place where you will thrive as you are intelligent, social and have a steel trap memory. You are becoming a good reader and you love to snuggle up and read before bed each evening.


Your all time favorite play date is your built in play date, your little sister. You and Eloise play together constantly and are like two little dynamos feeding off of each other. When I watch you two together, I often find myself smiling knowing how fortunate you are to have each other and also because you are pretty darn funny. Right now, your favorite thing to play is “pet school” where you line up all of your stuffed animals around the room and take them through didactic presentations, etiquette lessons and circle time.

At age six, your personality is a lot more apparent than it was a couple of years ago. You are unequivocally a perfectionist who does not like to make mistakes. This can manifest itself into drama when you miss a word while reading or make a mistake during the creation of an art masterpiece. Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” could not have become famous at a more perfect time in your life and we sing it along with other pop favorites, often. Those of us who love and surround you, consistently remind you that mistakes are a modus operandi of pretty much everyone and that as much as we love your sweet sweet nature, we hope that your skin becomes a little bit thicker before harder lessons need to be learned.


Right now your professional goals are to be an artist or, now that you’ve started to enjoy the presence of dogs and other animals, a veterinarian. I promised to get you another dog a little bit prematurely as the yard, as is, would not currently keep a dog of almost any size contained. That promise will be fulfilled in time and it and the chicks from your kindergarten class (if they hatch, cross your fingers) should help you explore the veterinarian dream. For now, I suspect you are satisfied with your birthday presents which are varied and plentiful with everything from a Build-A-Bear to the horse riding lesson and the addition of Littlest Pet Shop to your vocabulary and toy chest.

Belén, you are intelligent, kind, loving and extremely considerate. You notice every single detail and point out the beautiful and wonderful things in this world.  You are one of those rare individuals who brings sheer joy and happiness to those around them.  Happy happy birthday to my little big girl. I love you so much!

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Apr 04

On This Day…

My sister sent me this photo today reminding me how fast time has flown in the past five years.

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Mar 31

Spring Break Journal

  This is what Belén was up to last week!    

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Oct 18

Learning to Read: Baseline

Peter’s story came to mind as Belén was showing me how she is now able to identify and write the words, “I”, “A”, “can”, “we” as demonstrated on a partial sheet of white card stock from her kindergarten class. I thought of Hessler’s progression as he mastered hanzi (simplified Chinese characters) and thought it might be fun to similarly capture Belén, and eventually, Eloise’s mastery of dictating the English language.

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Aug 25

Belén’s First Day of Kindergarten

We’ve been talking about it for months now and the day finally arrived, today was Belén’s first day of kindergarten. She picked out her outfit weeks ago and this weekend we put the finishing touches on the accessories. (Thanks to Nana for the lego earrings and Scrabble ‘B’ ring.) School supplies were purchased and dropped off at orientation last week and the Frozen (what else?) backpack arrived from amazon before we left on vacation. This weekend, B and I put together her “Birthday Book” which isn’t “due” until November but we were giddy for a school project. She also did an awesome job of filling out and coloring the pages of her “All About Me” book.

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Aug 21

After the Storm

If I’m going to continue with the metaphor, I’d say that the storm has passed but it’s sort of lingering in the atmosphere as we move forward into calmer waters. Most of the debris has washed ashore and life is moving on. And now that you are wondering what the hell the storm represents, it is our marriage.

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Jul 27

Things You Cannot Do When You are Not a Toddler

Those of you with toddlers will especially appreciate this.

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May 01

Dear Eloise (@ 3 Years Old),

Dear Eloise, It is with great pleasure that I wish you happy birthday after three amazing years of life. I can’t believe that three years ago today, I was in the hospital staring into your beautiful eyes, breastfeeding you for the first time and being amazed that I could love another child as much as […]

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