Monday, June 07, 2010

Nancy Drew Party- The Mystery


This was by far the hardest part of the party. I underestimated just how hard it would be. It was Thursday night, 2 days before the party and I still couldn't figure out who took Jada, why and how I was going to leave clues for the girls. How does one go about writing a mystery for 8 year old's to solve? At 11pm it came to me. At least most of it.

Super Sleuth School ended and I declared them all graduates and ready for their first official case. We reviewed the ransom note, I handed everyone a picture of what Jada looks like and began presenting the suspects. This was super fun. I had made up suspect wrap sheets the day before for Trevor, Rylee, the grandparents, Chris and one for Blackbeard. Blackbeard is a pseudo character that Chris will slip into every now and then with the kids. It's quite funny! In the suspect wrap sheet I put clues that I would use in the mystery. For instance, "Trevor's favorite stuffed animal is his dog Jimmy, who's blue with floppy ears." I said something else like "Rylee's favorite thing is gum, she'll often get into Mommy's purse and eat an entire pack!" True story.

After handing everyone a suspect list the doorbell strategically rang. On the doorstep was a note left for Nancy. Oh you should've seen the girls excitement! They grabbed their super sleuth kits and hit the family floor to open up the letter. Inside was a letter from a neighbor saying they had found part of a note and thought it might have to do with Taylor's missing doll Jada. Beforehand I had typed up a letter from the person who took Jada to the person he/she wanted to give Jada to. Then I ripped the letter into four pieces. The first part said something like

"Dearest sweetie-
I was in the homeschool room reading a book when the most beautiful doll fell into my lap."

All the pieces of the letter were typed in 4pt font. So the girls had to use their magnifying glasses to read it. The picked up on the clue to search the homeschool room. While in there they find Jimmy on the rocking chair! They remembered that Jimmy was Trevor's and Trevor, who was following them around, said he didn't do it. My goal was to lead them to Trevor's room. It took them a minute or two to think of that.

In Trevor's room was a pile of waded up gum wrappers on the floor by his bed. They got this right away and rushed off to Rylee's room. On Rylee's dresser was a framed picture of Jada with a note attached.

You are a girl who is only 3 and therefore I think you should have as many dolls as you want. Here is a picture of her so you know what she looks like. I can’t give her to you yet for it has to be a secret! For now I’m going to listen to some piano music.

In perfect time they finished the reading the note and someone started playing the piano downstairs. The girls rushed down to find Papa D, a suspect, on the piano playing some parlor type music.

Also on the couch listening were all the adults/suspects. Minus blackbeard. Hard for Chris to be two people at once. The girls began questioning Papa D. He said he didn't know anything. And well even if he did he wouldn't tell them. At this point I need to say that there's a similar scene in the Nancy Drew movie. Where Nancy is trying to get some information and the man is not helpful. She thanks the man for his trouble and gives him one of her housekeeper's Hannah's lemon bars and walks away. I don't believe that bribing with food was in any books but this was one of Taylor's favorite parts in the movie we watched the day before. So during the school portion I explained that all the treats were made by Nancy's housekeeper Hannah. I also told them that sometimes Nancy would try to bribe people for information by using Hannah's lemon bars!

They all seemed to pick up on Papa D's line and one of the girls said "Thanks, here's a lemon bar!" and Taylor lead the girls in walking away. Papa took a bite and said "Wait a minute, come back here!" He told them he did see something suspicious while looking through Taylor's music book. She might want to check out Jack & Jill.

The girls grabbed the book and looked through the music trying to find the song Jack & Jill. Once there they found the last part of the note.

"Meet me on Saturday at May 29th, 2010 at 3:05 in the loft. But come alone.
Yours Truly"

The girls ran up to the loft and hid while waiting for the criminal. Up walks Chris into the loft all the while begins talking to himself about how he can't wait to give Jada away. Taylor pops out, with the girls following her cue and she begins to say things like "Where is Jada?" I wasn't sure how this part would go. But Chris played it out. He said he didn't know what she was talking about. Taylor looked at me funny. I said something like, well tell him why you think he did it. Taylor laid out her case and Chris confessed. Chris said he's give her back but they had to use their compasses to get to wear she is.

He lead them through a series of directions. Which was when I learned that the cheap compasses from Hobby Lobby didn't work all that well. And it didn't help that some of the girls were holding them upside down :) But they made it through and into the homeschool room where Jada and Taylor's cake resided.

Mystery solved, case closed :) Let's eat & open presents!

Well it was a blast hosting and planning this party! I'm so happy with how it turned out and more importantly Taylor said it was the best birthday party ever! I think I'll take that year break now :)

Sunday, June 06, 2010

1 year ago...


1 year ago I was cleaning like a mad women getting our house ready for Grace Church's first meeting ever. It wasn't our official start date. We'll celebrate our 1yr in August. As my husband said to our church, in marriage you celebrate the anniversary but remember the engagement as well. Today we remember the engagement.

All month I've been reminiscing that it's been a year in Peoria. A year in this house. I am so amazed at how quickly and well we've all adjusted. It hasn't been without it's challenges but God has been so kind to bring friends for my children, give us neighbors to reach out to and knit our church close together in friendships & our understanding of the gospel.

Today Chris is having our church's first official membership class. We've added new members over the year individually. But today we're expecting from 20-30 people to be in the class. Very exciting!

I wish I could say that I've completely won every battle in my unbelief and that my faith never falters. But I'm still a sinner. It's gotten easier but battles still arise. I still have fears. I still look for my security in this world only to be redirected to Christ and all that he has secured for me! In the midst of it all though, I can say that I love our life. This is the most enjoyment I've had, dare I say ever, in our ministry life as a couple. And I can say that I have more respect and appreciation for my husband then ever before. I wouldn't want his job nor do I envy him but he is truly called to this and God's work in him and through him never ceases to amaze me!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Nancy Drew Party- Super Slueth School

After our girls arrived I had them sit at a table and explained to them that before they could solve "The Mystery of the Missing Doll" I had to make sure they were ready!

First off, and very important for girls, was to make sure they were fashion ready :) I had bought a bunch of headbands from the dollar aisle at Target. Then at Hobby Lobby I found some cute plaid ribbon and jewel stickers. Nancy Drew always wore headbands!

After fashionizing I tested them on their observations skills. A sleuther has to be able to take in her surroundings and remember details when solving a mystery! I had prepared a little hand out beforehand and paired the girls up back to back. They were questions like. "Are her ears pierced? What color is her shirt? What color are her eyes?" ect.

From there we talked about fingerprints and I had each girl do a fingerprint of themselves on an index card. Originally I had thought each girl could touch a glass and then I'd mix up the glasses and the girls could dust for fingerprints. In practicing the night before I had a hard time with my homemade coco powder and paintbrush dusting set-up. It wasn't all that easy getting a good fingerprint. Jeff, Ruth's husband, suggested to blow off the coco powder instead of "dusting" for it. That worked a lot better! So in the end we had Taylor touch a super clean glass and demonstrated how to lift a fingerprint from there. I think the girls found it really interesting and had fun using their magnifying glasses looking at each other's fingerprints.

After that I pronounced them as ready to solve a real mystery. I passed out pictures of Jada, Taylor's doll. One for each of their folders. We explained where Taylor last saw her and I had prepared beforehand a list of suspects. More on that and the mystery in the next and final post!

Nancy Drew Party- Decorations

There were a lot of different color options for Taylor's party. Somewhere along the line I heard blue was Nancy's favorite color. In the end we found these amazing black/grey plates at Hobby Lobby that had an old fashioned chandelier on it. The plates just said "mysterious". From there Taylor chose purple and yellow to accent the black.

I saw this idea on a blog and asked my friend Ruth, who's gifted in every way I'm not, if she could help me pull it off using our Nancy Drew theme. Well by help I meant help, but she had some free time and took the paper from me and did it herself. Thanks Ruth!! I think this was one of the coolest parts of the decorations but probably would've been the first part to go for me if I ran out of time. We hung some over the food table, our entryway into our family room and a couple over the table the girls sat out. We mixed in some purple & yellow streamers as well. I also need to give Ruth credit for the Nancy Drew image I used in the invitations and on the circles. She drew it in Adobe paint and I was able to use it in my photoshop documents.

Taylor picked out the food she wanted. Fruit salad, chocolate covered strawberries, "Hannah's Lemon Bars", that we used when solving the mystery, and crackers and cheese.

I found a picture of a magnifying glass cake that Ruth made for Taylor! It turned out so cute!

I made place settings with the girls character names around the table. They all brought notebooks & pens, as well as the file folders they received as invitations. I found mini magnifying glasses & compassses at Hobby Lobby that we used in super sleuth school and to solve the Mystery of the Missing Doll!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


It's that time of year again! One I despise almost every summer... trying to find a swimsuit. Ugh. Just when I found the perfect suit I get pregnant and my whole body changes on me :)

Well, this new site I found won't exactly help me this year but it might be of help to some of my friends and I most definitely will be checking it out for next year!

Check out some of these super cute Tankini Tops!

For more suits & prices go to Lime Ricki.

Nancy Drew Party- Invitations

So I'll be honest I flat out took this idea from this blog. I also found this idea on another blog that I really liked but in the end I let Taylor pick. And being that I had a short amount of time to pull it off I'm glad she decided to go with the first idea.

Taylor enjoyed the process of picking out Nancy Drew character names to give her friends for the day of the party. A theme we carried into the party itself.

Taylor cut out the letters for the ransom note and painted with lemon juice on the cards to create the secret password.

We put the folders in white manila envelopes and I printed out labels with the girls name and also some red "TOP SECRET" tags that we glued to the front.

If you choose to go with this sort of invitation/theme for a birthday party be prepared for it to come with high expectations from the guests :) I heard from mom after mom how excited their girls were and that each were researching their character's name and searching for the most perfect Nancy Drew like outfit! I'm not sure what kind of response I expected but I had very little plan for this party short of getting the invitations out so this type of response put me in high gear planning mode for the party! Next up... decorations!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Happy 8th Birthday Taylor


How do I begin talking about Taylor? Chris & I have looked at each other and said a number of times, "how did WE get HER as a daughter?!". She is one of the sweetest girls I have ever met. Her heart is soft towards God, she loves her brothers & sisters and is constantly laying down her own preferences to serve them! One of the highlights of her weeks is going early with daddy to church and helping set-up for our meeting! She is still my avid reader, devouring anything given to her. She even tried reading a few chapters in Augustine's Confession of the Faith. It was just a little to advanced for her to comprehend. But her even attempting is a sign of her brilliance. She has taken fairly quickly to learning the piano this year. She loves to sing, dance, draw and serve mommy!

It has been such a fun week celebrating her life. This was her year to skip having a big party. But in talking with Chris we remembered how last May she moved away from her home on her birthday week and there were a few months of praying, through tears, for God to bring her new friends. We had many wonderful people who moved and went with us for the church plant but at the time there were no obvious friends for Taylor. Well in thinking of who to invite to her party this year she had 10 new west valley friends to invite!! We thought that was worth celebrating in and of itself and made an exception to our every other year party decision!

Boy did we party :) I think this could've been the best birthday party the Daukas' have thrown yet! Taylor loves reading mystery's, particularly Nancy Drew. So with some help from the internet and my friend Ruth we threw a mystery solving themed party. I'll take a couple posts to show how we pulled it off! I don't want to forget as I've got two more girls behind her that will probably want to do the same sort of thing when they are her age.