Ballerina Party Ideas Series – The Invitation

Thanks for joining me as we talk about every little piece of this Ballerina Party! You can see all the posts in one place on my first article in the series. You can also check out the Ballerina Party Ideas board on Pinterest by clicking on the picture below.

In this article, it’s all about the invitation! It sets the tone for the whole party and it gets all those darling little guests super excited about coming.

Ballerina Party Ideas Invites

I used PowerPoint to design our invites and sent them to a friendly local printer to have them printed. My daughter was excitedly handing them out to all her buddies about three weeks prior to the party.

If your party is a surprise for your ballerina, then you get full rein on exactly how they end up looking. I had my girl look at the images I had found that I liked and let her pick her favorites.

These were printed two times on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. When you set up the size of your slide, you’ll want it to be 4.25 X 5.5 and the orientation can be to your liking.

Since I was not selling these invitations, only using them for personal use, I searched on Google Images for the right background and ballerina silhouette.

Here are the other invitations I mocked up for her – which one do you like best of the three?

ballerina party ideas invites

ballerina party ideas invites

ballerina party ideas invites

Giveaway and Sale!! All About Reading Level 4 is READY!

(*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting HGM and my family.) All about reading reviews

We love all the products from All About Learning Press, including All About Spelling and All About Reading!

If you’ve used the All About Reading products, you know that Level 4 has been in the making recently. Well, IT’S READY!!

And, to celebrate, Marie Rippel and the AALP crew are giving you a great sale, some freebies, and an awesome giveaway.

For one week only – through September 15th, 2014 – All About Reading Level 4 is $20 off!

A description of the package from Marie:

In Level 4 (the final level of the All About Reading series), your student will learn exciting new concepts, including words with multiple suffixes, fifteen new phonograms, and methods for decoding multisyllable words – and continue to establish a firm foundation for a lifetime of learning. Every component of reading is taught: decoding (phonics and structural analysis), vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.

Wow! I can’t wait to dig into it! There are LOTS more details about the whole package at the AALP website and their Level 4 overview page. Three of the freebies I linked to below are sneak peeks at Level 4.

The giveaway is one full set of this brand new reading level – that’s a $140 value! Click here to check out the giveaway. Hurry, because it ends September 14th!

Four Freebies

Eagles Learn to Fly – A Game to Review Level 3 Words

Words from Greek Mythology – A Sneak Peek at Level 4

Charlie’s Sick Day – From Level 4

The Pirate Dictionary – From Level 4

Have you used the other levels of All About Reading? What’s your favorite thing about this reading tool?

Ballerina Party Ideas on a Budget

ballet party themeI love how ballet has infiltrated our home since one of my girls developed an interest (actually, an addiction!!) for the beautiful dance style.

And yet, having an aspiring prima ballerina in the house certainly isn’t cheap.

You’ve got all those ballet lessons, the ballet slippers, leotards, recital costumes, all. that. makeup., gas for driving to every event that has anything to do with ballet, and the list goes on.

You definitely don’t need to spend another fortune on her birthday party! Of course, at the same time, no one wants to throw together a Ballerina Birthday Party that looks shabby.

I’ve got you covered!

ballerina party ideas

My little ballerina turned 6 recently and we really wanted to throw her a nice party. We just moved and are finally in a space that will accommodate larger parties – our budget did not grow as large as our space did, though.

So, we invited some sweet little girls and a fabulous ballerina and had a great time – on a budget!

I’ve separated the different things we did at her party into different articles – makes for easier and quicker reading. You can also check out my Ballerina Party Ideas board on Pinterest where I’m rounding up even more great ideas for you! Please repin and share my articles!

Ballerina Birthday Party Invitation
Ballerina Cutout and Stage
Ballerina Party Theme Pink Foods
Ballerina Party Favor Bags Tag
Ballerina Party Table Tutu
Ballerina Party Balloon Avalanche
Ballerina Party Game Ideas
Ballerina Party Gift Ideas

I Got the Liebster Award!

homegrownmommy liebster awardBut, what IS the Liebster Award?

It’s a great way for you to find new blogs that are just starting up or have a small following. It’s also a really nice opportunity for bloggers to meet each other!

And, since I know a really good-looking German guy (don’t tell him, but I have a big-time crush on him), I get exposed to lots of German words. Liebster means something along the lines of love or dear one. For instance, Ich Liebe Dich mean I Love You.

I was nominated by Wild Redhead Homestead! Thank you! (Head on over there and take a peek at the answers to her questions.)

Rules of the Liebster Award

Include your answers to the questions you were asked by the blogger who nominated you.
Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
Choose 5-10 blogs (with less than 200 followers) and link to them in your post.
Go to their page and let them know!
No tag backs

Here are the questions posed to me and my answers:

  • What is the last movie to make you cry? This one is totally hilarious to me because, seriously, practically EVERY movie makes me cry! We usually do an at-home Family Movie Night on Fridays so we do take in movies regularly. The last one was Click with Adam Sandler. This wasn’t just crying – I was sobbing!! Partly because I was totally not expecting to cry at an Adam Sandler movie, for crying out loud! and partly because the lesson of it all is just. so. true.
  • What was your last online purchase? Do you love it? The last thing I bought online was my roses from The Bouqs! They were gorgeous and I totally loved them! Who says you can’t buy yourself flowers?! lol!
  • What is your dream job? Honestly, I love being at home with my kids and also working from home on this blog. My favorite thing to do is help other moms feel better about their success as a mom no matter hats they wear in the process. I’ve always been a writer – Creative Writing was one of my favorite units in grade school and English was so fun in high school. Blogging takes both of those ideas and combines them into a job that helps me support our family.
  • What is your favorite food? I wrestle between anything with chocolate {especially chocolate and peanut butter} and a salad with every topping imaginable (HomeTown Buffet has the best anywhere).
  • Where would you love to go on vacation if you could choose anywhere? Germany, without a doubt! All of my in-laws are there and I MISS them terribly! But, I love to go places so my travel bucket list is quite long – beautiful places like Rome and Paris, historic places like Gettysburg and Washington DC, exotic places like Malta and Egypt, crazy busy places like London and New York, quiet places like The Biltmore in Asheville, NC and the Scotland country side.
  • Which famous person, dead or alive, would you like to meet? Well, the first person that comes to mind is Jesus, but since I’m certain I’ll be meeting Him one day, I would have to say … hmmmm, there are SO many … George Washington (thank you, sir!) … Mother Teresa (how did you do it?) … Jonah (really? what were you thinking?) … the family that used to live in that decades old farmhouse out in the country (what was it like?) … Georgia O’Keefe (where did the inspiration come from?) … my grandmother’s mother (tell me about it all) … the list could be endless!
  • What reality show would you like to be in? Ugh! None! I’m not a big fan of reality shows and I definitely wouldn’t want to live this crazy life for all the world to see.
  • What is your favorite thing to blog about? My kids and our adventures!
  • What is your favorite book? You guys are going to think I’m crazy with all these list-long answers! I LOVE books and I’ve always been an avid reader. I can still remember devouring my first book about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table – it was HUGE and I did hardly anything else for at least a week! Same with Jane Eyre – magnificent! I love spiritual books that help me in my walk – right now I’m reading “Power Thoughts” by Joyce Meyer and it is phenomonal! My husband just laughs when I get home from the library with my kids – we usually get between 50 to 100 books each time!
  • What is the most dangerous thing you have done? Most people would tell you that is was having a frank-breech baby naturally but I would say I’ve never really done anything dangerous. (Well, except for those couple of things way back in my 20’s, but it would have to be very special circumstances before I would share that information!)
  • What are a few good tips for new bloggers? Only one … BE CONSISTENT! That will carry you through any other advice or tips I could possibly give you. That’s one blogging lesson I have gotten loud and clear, not because I’ve done it, but because I’ve watched others do it and have tremendous success. I’ve just joined a group of magnificent bloggers who are challenging each other to make their blogs better and I plan to learn this lesson by experience!!

To the Liebster Award, I hereby nominate …

Mountains of Grace Homeschooling

A Divine Encounter


Conversation with Women

Shatul Wellness – Biblical Whole Foods


The Shady Lane

The Crunchy Homemaker


Bloggers, your questions … (credit for the questions goes to Ashley Denton where he has 165 conversation starters!!)

  • What do you think are some of the pluses and minuses of social media?
  • Who taught you how to drive a car?
  • If you were to receive a text message right now, what would you want it to say?
  • What was your best year in school & why?
  • Have you ever invented anything?
  • Name two people (living) you’d love to follow around for a few days & why.
  • What have you done for your last two vacations?
  • Recall articles of clothing that were your favorites at one time or another.
  • Name two things you love to do. When was the last time you did them?
  • If I said there was a long distance phone call for you, who would you like it to be & why.
  • If I was to give you a large package, what would you hope was in it?Bonus Question (because there were so many good ones and I couldn’t decide!)
  • If you had $500, what would you do with it?

This was definitely lots of fun!!! Make sure you follow all the links and start discovering some awesome new bloggers!

How To Calm Your Kids When They Fight

homegrownmommy calm kidsPlease tell me I’m not the only one whose children fight sometimes. More than sometimes. More than I would like them to.

It’s just normal sibling stuff but I just feel awful when they get at each other. Especially with our recent move, things have been pretty out of whack. I don’t do well living in boxes, so I’ve been so focused on unpacking that our schedule and their emotions have been on the fritz.

So, we had a “situation” today. The outcome ended up being better than I expected and, since my main motivation for writing on this blog is to help encourage you guys, I wanted to share it with you.

Here’s the lead-up:

Child A and Child B are fighting downstairs. Child A walks away in the midst of the upset. Child A comes across my path and begins talking to me about something else.

Child B is still mad and comes to find Child A. I see the look on Child B’s face and intervene. (Side note: I canNOT say or type the word “intervene” without hearing Tim Hawkins’ voice in my head!!! Lol!!! I linked the video for your giggle-of-the-day but forward to 1:53 if you just want to hear him say it!)

Anyway, back to the children. Ahem.

I took both kids into my room and had them sit on the bed while I discussed better ways of handling the situation. Neither of them were particularly chipper by the time this teaching moment was over and I excused them to go finish what they were supposed to be doing. Child A was obviously still upset by the sound of the stomping.

Surely You DID Something About That!?!

In the past, I’ve been taught to deal harshly and swiftly with that type of behavior – the stomping, the fuming that goes along with it, the attitude. I normally would have called her back over and corrected her by pointing out that her attitude was way out of line and that she needed to fix it.

But, recently, I’ve seen some other ways to deal kids in these tough situations. Situations where it seems like no matter what I say, I make it worse. Where I am trying to teach them something valuable but they just aren’t receiving it.

So, I did something about it.

I called Child A back over by me and had her sit on my lap – she’s 9 but sometimes, she still needs mama’s lap. First, I hugged her for several minutes. Then, I gently smiled at her asked in a warm voice, “What do you need? What can I do for you?”


So, I just rubbed her back for a little bit.

“Well, I guess you don’t really ever let me talk. You just talk and then make us carry on with what we’re doing.”

This was said sadly but respectfully and sweetly – no bad attitude was left at all.

We talked some more and they she went back to her story from before Child B entered the picture. It was really nice. I felt like we connected and she understood how the situation could have been handled differently.

It’s now late afternoon and she has had a wonderful spirit about her all day.

The Bouqs Company Review

homegrownmommy review  homegrownmommy review
Flowers? For ME? I don’t mind if I do!When The Bouqs Company asked me if I would review their service on HomeGrownMommy, I didn’t think twice – although, I did think it was too good to be true at first!The process was super easy. Logon to the website at TheBouqs.comand click on Shop at the top.So many gorgeous bouquets! I really liked that they had some unique color combinations and types of flowers.When you’ve picked the one you want, just click Send and fill in your information. You can even send it with a special note to someone else, choose a particular reason for sending or  make it anonymous.When my flowers arrived, they were packaged with extreme care and protection. You can be sure that your flowers will always get to you in perfect condition.

Right after I received the flowers, I cut down the stems and pulled off much of the foliage. {Real flowers have real thorns! Ouch! Wear gloves.} I added some of the little packet of cut-flower food and arranged the flowers in my *vase*.

This review has caused me to realize that I have no vases. How can that be?? We’ve moved A. LOT. over the last two years and I have purged so much of our stuff during that time – apparently, flower vases did not make the cut at some point.

I received the flowers on Tuesday and my daughter’s Ballerina Party was coming up on Saturday. The true test for me was to see whether or not the bouquet from The Bouqs would last until then.

The Bouqs - Premium Farm Direct Flowers
Well, I am so happy to say that, not only did every single flower survive, but they all still looked so fresh! These poor flowers suffered a bit even. My daughter accidentally dumped them over and the water spilled. I thought she put more water in, she thought I put more water in. So, the flowers sat all afternoon and over-night without water. I was worried when I found out in the morning. Not to mention that all my children just had to touch these beautiful creations about every time they walked by – so silky, so pretty!

And, then, during the party, they were dumped again and no one put water in them. They still looked great the next day! Amazing!

I would definitely use The Bouqs again for a special delivery or just to freshen up the kitchen table!

The Well Planned Day Wall Calendar Review

homegrownmommy review
 homegrownmommy review
Planning time! There’s just something about sitting down with a new calendar, new pens and highlighters, new books and a cup of chai that makes me all giddy! When the Back-to-School sales start coming out, all I can think of is that song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.Needless to say, when I got the opportunity to review the Well Planned Day Wall Calendar, I was so excited!First of all, it’s beautiful. It’s important to me to have beautiful things around me – I’d much rather look at this calendar than the plain old one I have currently.Also, the spaces are pretty large for writing in all those appointments and dates and goings-on for a busy family.

Each month has an inspirational quote, something uplifting to keep you going on those someone-tell-me-again-why-I’m-really-doing-this days. The one currently on their website takes you through the rest of 2014 and through all of 2015.

I do like that the pages inside are not glossy coated. I think it’s lots easier to write on them and to erase mistakes.

homegrownmommy reviewWhen I hung the Well Planned Day calendar next to my dollar store cheapy, the main difference that stands out is that the WPD is so much prettier. At only $9.95, I think the price difference is definitely worth it.


Other differences include:

  • The cheap one is also only 12 months – to the end of 2014
  • The cheap one doesn’t show you all 12 months at-a-glance like the WPD

Thanks so much HEDUA for the opportunity to review this great addition to my homeschool planning process!

Watch for my reivew of the Well Planned Day software! With a calendar, bulletins, menu plans, reports and more – this could possibly replace everything else you’ve ever used for planning your day well!

50 Shades of Grey – Wrong? Why?

HomeGrownMommyThere has been lots of buzz about the trilogy called “50 Shades of Grey” by E. L. James, especially with the announcement of a movie coming in early 2015.

Whether it’s a Christian women’s group on Facebook or waiting in the checkout aisle at the grocery store, you hear about it. Talk shows are having guests analyze it. Magazines are watching for every bit of gossip about it. Seems like it’s everywhere right now.

I will preface everything I’m about to say with a personal fact: I have not read the books.

Religious or not; Christian or otherwise, every one of us needs to stand back and make a judgement call about something before we dive in. Is this right for me right now? Is this going to edify myself and those around me? What will the impact be on my life if I were to move ahead? I’ve heard it said many times, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” or “Don’t judge those around you.” But, like it or not, we make judgements on everything we do, every single day.

Is Fifty Shades of Grey Wrong?

Most of the people I am with on a regular basis are Christians, as am I. Most of them absolutely detest any mention of *that Grey book*. From what I’ve heard, it contains lots of risque sexual behavior between at least two people who are not married, Ana and Christian. That in and of itself tells me that it’s not something I want to read.

So, briefly, in my opinion, reading the book(s) would be wrong.

But Why?

Why is it so popular? Why do women (I’m assuming mostly women are buying the books) even want this kind of thing in their life?

Usually, when lots of people around me are sharing the same opinion about something and are talking about it over and over, again and again, it moves me to go beyond what they are saying. It begs the question within me, “But, why?” Why is it happening? Do all these people really know what they’re talking about? Am I getting the right information? Is there something deeper happening here?

I did a little bit of digging into that question of *why* and some of the things I’m seeing really make sense. It sounds like Christian Grey just knows everything Ana wants in an intimate way without her having to ask or direct or verbally communicate. It also sounds like Christian is a take-charge kind of guy and women are responding to that.

Is this the opposite of what women wanted in the feminist movement? They wanted to take charge, they wanted to be shoulder-to-should with men in every way. From giving out orders at work to running the home, women wanted to be no different than men.

Maybe they ended up with more than they bargained for. It sure appears that the success 50 Shades is having in many circles may be due, at least in part, to the notion that women are tired of being in charge all the time. Women are complaining that men don’t take charge enough in the bedroom, or anywhere else for that matter. They are enjoying reading about a man who takes control of the situation, every situation.

It Goes Deeper

But, more than that, women are hurting inside. There is an unfulfilled need. There is lots of pressure, whether you have a job outside the home or you are a full-time SAHM – pressure to have it all together, pressure to live up to the expectations, pressure to be both man and woman (in a manner of speaking).

50 Shades is about a woman being taken care of in a very intimate way. It’s about someone just knowing her and wanting to provide what she needs. Yes, Grey goes too far in his control of Ana, but the underlying need is a signal.

As they read, maybe women are wondering how they can get more of some parts of that into their own lives and bedrooms – maybe without the ropes, though. Maybe, they are wondering how they can talk with their husbands about this topic.

Intimacy in marriage is a beautiful, fulfilling thing. Something that God created for us to enjoy. If Christians are willing to dig a little deeper into the underlying reasons for the success of this series, could we help some women who are wanting some healing in their own lives? Is it possible that this book series may just help us to open up the doors and see how we’ve gone wrong? Could we then allow a safe, kind, satisfying kind of intimacy into our marriages?

The Only Ballerina Without a Princess Dress – And It’s Okay


My 6 year old daughter has been obsessed with ballet for years now. Whether she is sitting, standing, going hiking or washing the dishes, she can figure out some way to relate the activity to ballet – it’s uncanny!

The day after she turned 6, we were able to enroll her in a two-day ballet camp that had a Princess theme. The dancers were encouraged to bring their princess dress-up dresses to wear during some of the time. Our little Ballerina brought hers but didn’t want it on right away.

As the other little ones starting showing up for the camp, I noticed that most were already wearing their dresses over their leotards. I asked my ballerina if she wanted hers on and she cheerfully said, “No thanks!”

Maybe there was some other explanation.

Maybe she didn’t really like her dress and didn’t want to wear it in front of the rest of the dancers. Nope. I asked her and that wasn’t the case. She did eventually put it on when the teacher asked them to and felt fine about it.

Dancer after dancer showed up with a princess dress on and still, she was totally fine without one on. As the class started and I made my way out the door {first time I have left her like that!}, she still was perfectly comfortable being the only ballerina without a princess dress on.HomeGrownMommy

Now, maybe some of you have always been confident in your own skin and so this story won’t sound so amazing.

For me, that is not the case. The fact that she could be the only one without something is shocking to me. Being the only one with something cool – that I can see! 🙂 But, as I watched the action unfold, I was just in awe of her confidence in herself.

I took it as confirmation that what we’ve been doing over these years with her and the other children in regard to parenting and homeschooling is working! She is very well socialized – she folded right in with the other dancers perfectly and made several friends the first day. But, she also has her own presence within the group. She doesn’t absolutely have to be doing everything they are doing.

I know she’s only 6 and we have a long way ahead, but I am so excited with the start she’s getting.

Odd Squad Review – Not So Odd Afterall

odd squad reviewA new series is coming from PBS starring great kids who use math skills to solve odd mysteries! It’s called “Odd Squad” and it will premiere on Wednesday, November 16th, 2014 on PBS KIDS with a one-hour broadcast featuring two back-to-back episodes. There will also be digital and offline content to round out the fun experience for kids.

Here’s the info they gave me about this new show, and then I’ll tell what I think based on the teaser I watched.

The series follows two young government agents, Olive and Otto, who use math skills and collaboration to investigate weird and unusual phenomena. ODD SQUAD is designed to help kids ages 5-8 learn math through a math concept embedded in each of their cases.

ODD SQUAD is created by Tim McKeon (The Electric Company, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Adventure Time) and Adam Peltzman (The Electric Company, The Backyardigans, Wallykazam!) and produced by The Fred Rogers Company and Sinking Ship Entertainment. The television series is part of a multiplatform media experience that will feature interactive content online and on mobile, including games, parent resources, apps and more.

It definitely looks like it would appeal to my three middle-est kids, ages 9, 8, & 6. Lots of fast-moving activity, cute jokes, and kids everywhere! I love how they are able to weave the math into the episodes in a fun way while adding a little bit of the outrageous in there, too. {a number hog sucking up all the numbers? Lol!}

There are two things about what I say of the program that irked me a little bit. First is the nerd and second is the boss-lady.

It seems to me they are really driving home some deeply engrained stereotypes that I would definitely like to keep my kiddos from adopting.

The first stereotype I saw was in the “nerd” persona of Oscar. He talks funny, he’s got a weird hair-do {by most kids’ standards}, and he’s the ultra-smart scientist.

Now, tell me which kid you know would ever want to be THAT guy. It seems to me that, if kids think smart equals Oscar, they may not want to travel that road. Certainly, we give our kids lots of examples of what smart looks like in action in our everyday lives – so I know this show isn’t going to be the only thing that shapes their definition of what smart is like. But, it’s kind of disappointing to see this stereotype promoted.

The second stereotype was the “boss lady” named Ms. O. She’s loud, she’s crabby, and she’s in charge.

Gives so much more fuel to the “my-boss-is-awful” fire. I know not every boss is awesome and some are downright nasty but, if my children become someone’s boss someday, I don’t want them thinking that this is the normal way to act.

I’m not saying I won’t ever let my kids watch the show. If it makes math fun for them and helps a few of the concepts to stick a little better, fabulous! Just making a few notes of things that I would chat with my kids about before letting them watch.

Go on over and watch some of the teasers, learn about the cast, and have a look around at the site!