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



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Forget Play Dates, I'm Looking For Mom Dates.

Let me just get the obvious out of the way- I don't know how military wives do it. They're fantastic human beings made up of flexibility and emotional stability. They do not sit around and wonder about things like if so and so is hanging out with so and so... (because- really, they weren't even friends before I introduced them...)

I digress. Yes, I'm back on the subject of moving. It's been 3 months since we moved and wow- moving... well- in a nut shell- I'm still in shock I think. I blogged on the subject pretty soon after we moved- and I'm just back to confirm, yep- moving still sucks.

Although I don't regret our choice to uproot our family, sell our house and move an hour back in to civilization (aka: a big city), it does not take the sting out of any of it. The sting of leaving what you knew to be home for over five years is... I'm going to admit it- harder than I thought it would be.

Some of the sting comes from feeling it through my kids (my 5 year old) and some of it is just plain missing things the way they were.

While there are days I do miss our house, our yard, even our chickens... These things don't occupy my mind the way my friends do. This move has taught me that I really valued the friendships I'd made in those five years.

Not to say I haven't made any friends in my new town, I've made a few that I'm loving getting to know. The difference is I'm used to having a gaggle of them- a crew that all knew each other and hung out- who's kids all loved each other because they'd been friends since they were babies. That is what I'm missing. It was ideal and I didn't realize how amazing it was, foolish me.

The things we take for granted...

Disclaimer: I have never had a problem making friends- ever. There have been times I've wondered how the hell I got so many friends and tried figuring out ways to un-attach myself to a few. I remember meeting my friend Brette 10 years ago (my military wife moving-hero) and telling her that, "I'm not really in the market for new friends." (I mean, seriously- WHO SAYS THAT?!) Oh to have such a problem former self. Former annoying self.

Moving not only means giving up houses and neighborhoods and grocery stores and the local burger joint- it means meeting new friends. Dating new friends I should say. Wondering if you're going to get "that second play date text" or if it just wasn't a match- with the moms, the kids, the schedules... AHHHH! The stars need to align in order to get that text.

In thinking about finding new friends I've realized that like with regular dating- I have a few prerequisites. At this stage of the game, I actually have quite a few. I'm a high maintenance friend dater- there I've given you fair warning.

So in an ode to moving and attempting to make new friends that I will like as much as my old friends, I have put together this personal ad... You know, in case you wanted to pass it on to any Santa Barbara moms out there you may know... By chance.

Here we go!

Looking to meet moms with likeable children ages 2-7 who know how to throw a good tantrum from time to time (for solidarities sake). Moms that love their children -obviously- but who don't necessary feel like they're killing it with the whole mom-thing... You know, like you're actually really excited for Kindergarten. Or work. Or both.

On any regular day we should be able to talk fashion, kid fashion (preferably Harajuku Mini and what Easter outfit ideas we have coming down the pike), home décor (you must be able to get excited about things like a new Ikea rug purchase), blogs, social media, how annoying the husband can be (a non-negotiable) as well as talk about celebrities as if they're our friends- because it's pretty much only a matter of time, right?

No "helicopter moms" need apply, I'm your worst nightmare and it just won't be a good match. I'm not saying your kid is running in the street during rush hour... but practically. I'd like to be able to sit with you and talk about life and how we don't understand why every other kid is Gluten Free- without you getting up 5,000x to check and see if, "the kids are getting along". Even if the kids aren't getting along- do I look concerned? Let them figure it out. I'm not trying to run a 2 year old's play time for our entire play date- which in my head I'm definitely referring to as a Mom Date.

It's a major plus if you like to shop. Places like TJMaxx, Ross and Home Goods are my stomping grounds. Doing things like splitting the costs on a sitter while the husband is at work so we can get out and score a few deals- ya, that kind of crazy is right up my alley.

Coffee is good too- kids love coffee shop play dates, right? Taco Bell? You're talking soul mate material now. I like quick, easy and cheap all rolled in to one. We're not getting together to cook a gourmet dinner while we sip wine, that's for sure. Don't mistake me for classy.

As we get to know each other, feel free to wear sweats and your paint splattered sweatshirt to my house if you're feeling it. I don't want to always have to look great around you either so this really levels the playing field. I mean, don't get crazy and meet me somewhere in sweats or anything- we have to maintain some shred of decency- but feel free to be makeup-free after a handful of Mom Dates if it's just us.

Please have a sense of humor. I hate non-funny people. Like, how were you born without a sense of humor? It's so sad and I'm not trying to have a charity case on my hands ok...

Last thing- a love of the party. Since this is what I do, it's really helpful if you love a good party. You don't have to be amazing at it but please no, "I hate celebrating birthdays!" That crap is just weird.

In closing- I'm kind of awesome and I'm just looking for some equally awesome ladies to bond with- is that too much to ask?

xo Party or Die xo

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

{Cormac's POP Art Party!} & Learning to Work With My Strengths!

As most of you know- we were moving cities 6 weeks before this party happened, so the planning of it was as all over the place. I feel thankful that my amazing photographer was able to capture so many great images because my brain was spinning trying to get ideas together in time to make this party a reality. Literally crawling around our basement unpacking boxes the night before, not the usual way I set up for a party!
I already blogged about how the theme for this party came about {Art Party + Balloon Dog = POP Art Party}... and how I tried avoiding putting the family through Party Week here, if you haven't read it yet- you should. It makes me seem like a stress-free party planner... HA!
Although my husband might disagree- for me (and every other party planner), this party was done on a small budget. As with any move, finances were tight (paying a rent and a mortgage!) so I somehow managed to do this entire party for under $350.00- including food thankyouverymuch. (Hot dogs, chips and a soda bar). If you think that's a lot (husbands out there!) then you really don't know how much can go in to a professionally planned party. This is why it's a hard business to figure out profit on... Because things add up- quickly! With the amount of people we invite to our parties- they never end up being cheap, just like they never end up being less than 50 people. Ever. This party was kind of a house warming/birthday so I really wanted it to be fun and welcoming... but I had to keep reminding myself to tap in to things I already owned to save on spending. Having done a Rainbow Party for my daughter's 1st birthday this actually worked out quite nicely. I already had my table cloth and backdrop (Cormac's old bedroom curtains) as well as the lanterns from my birthday this Summer, colorful stacking boxes and a bunch of other smaller décor. The entire party is pretty much just a mix of every other party I've done- if you've been following me a while- you know this! I call it Party Recycling...
One of the pluses of being a party planner is that friends offer you random things they were planning to donate or get rid of... My advice is that if you have the space- take it! You seriously never know when or where it will come in handy. I was given 12 clear frames a year ago (which I inserted coloring pages in to) and 19 mini wood crates (kid's decorated and took home as "art crates"). These added great detail- all for free 50 free!
I had to learn to let go of some things with this party- because financially I was lucky to be throwing it. It actually helped me learn a few bigger things about myself as a party planner, or as I like to call myself: Party Stylist. Things that are really helping me define myself as a business woman and party planner. Here are a few...
I learned to let go of the idea of the ever popular fondant cake. Are they gorgeous? Yes. Does every party planner these days seem to have an amazing fondant cake at the center of their work? For the most part, yes. Currently however, I do not have the money/connections to use a fondant artist in my work... So I'm not! A while back I thought this would be the party for me to make that happen, but it wasn't... So instead of stress out about it- I went with the poor woman's version of a fondant topper and used a custom graphic topper. I realized I am not known for having fancy cakes anyway. Usually Hannah whips something up and we decorate it cute and simple. My goal is to make the entire dessert table look great, truthfully- the cake is almost a second thought. I am embracing that concept now!
I learned to work with my strengths/resources. As I mentioned before- my strengths lie in design. The extras I bring to the table as a party planner are sewing, color coordination and an eye for styling a table. I am not an excellent baker. I am not a prop-builder. I've learned to use the talents I do have to add the biggest bang to my parties. For this party I decided it would be sewing and using fabric I already had to make each kid an apron as their favor. The only thing I spent money on for the aprons were the ribbon ties I used, even I was impressed!
I learned to not pick apart everything that I wasn't able to finish in time. There were a few things I just didn't get to. One was putting my son's actual art desk out as a "prop". I'd normally still be dwelling on this oversight but in an effort to make myself realize I am literally on 3 hours of sleep while delegating, cleaning my house and getting ready myself- all while setting up a party- I'm learning to not be so hard on myself for letting a couple of things falls between the cracks. Now if this had been I stylized shoot- I'd still be really pissed.
I learned to let go of the idea that we will get the perfect photo of all the kids looking at the camera with their favors... Am I always going to try for this shot? Ya, of course I am. But I'm also coming to grips with the fact that I'm running an actual party that I don't want to zap all of the fun out of. So we try for "the shot" for a couple of minutes and then we learn to let it go and hope there's something we can use... and bank of the candid "everyone be crazy!" shot.
Aside from learning things- the party was really adorable. I feel so lucky to have found Sandy Ford Designs who did all of the amazing hand illustrated graphics of Cormac as well as all of the printables for the party. This is one talented lady!
Cormac had an awesome time playing with his friends and crafting/painting/creating- his fave past times. My husband twisted balloons in every color, shape and size and the Dessert Table and Soda Bar were a hit. All in all I am very happy with the way it turned out, whew!
I hope you enjoy the photos (and that they've had enough time to load!)
xo Party or Die xo

Party Stylist- Miss Party Mom
Photographer- Moments Captured Photography
Printables- Sandy Ford Design
Dipped Fortune Cookies- Pixie's Sweet Treats
Cake- Hannah's Cookies and Treats








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