Fiesta Forever: Lip Sync Battle

Drinking the Whole Bottle is a metaphor for life – and a confession… but mostly a metaphor. It’s about tasting it all, trying everything at least once, and enjoying every last drop of life. I’d say through most of my life I’ve done a good job of living this way and being abroad has made it even easier. Every weekend is a chance to live out loud. Every day a possibility for fun. But there is no time I have seen the DTWB mission statement played out more vibrantly than on this night.

This is the Lip Sync Battle Party.

Lip Sync Battle

Fiesta Forever: Party Planning Series… because why should we have all the fun

Hosted on our cherished KV Rooftop, the 2nd Annual Lip Sync Battle Party, inspired by one Jimmy Fallon and the Tonight Show, had its second year this May 2015 and unlike most sequels, Continue reading

The Dance: How Jenuary Jenanigans Came to a Close

With Jenuary 2015 in the books, my birthday Jenanigans (yes, I like inserting my name into regular words) have officially come to a close until 2016 but not without one last laugh, and a good one at that. So if you are indeed in need of a solid, belly chuckle, hit PLAY and share in the silly magic of Jenuary. And if you do laugh – even a little – share with your friends… cause why should we have all the fun?

If you would like to recreate this video, here are the 5 essentials you will need:

Continue reading

Olympics of Gobble Proportions: Fiesta Forever

(As published on Women Who Live on Rocks.) 

As do other rock expat dwellers we have to pick and choose the holidays we go home for; we can’t have ’em all. Christmas is mine. I won’t miss being home for it; maybe someday when we live further away I might have to but not while we’re on a rock where a 4-hour flight is the only thing standing between me and my chilly home for the holidays. Unfortunately, this means that many other holidays are off the proverbial table, like Thanksgiving for example. 

We knew our first year, Thanksgiving away from home would be hard. We had just had our first baby and up until that year we had never missed a Thanksgiving with my family or Husband’s family. I vividly remembering stifling a cry in the bathroom when I got off the phone with my mom that morning. “We all miss you here,” she said, “This is the first Thanksgiving in 30 years I’ll spend without you.” Knife. Turn. Ouch. I knew she didn’t mean it to upset me; my mom would never try to deliberately make me feel bad but she was missing me and I was certainly missing her. And in the core of it, I knew that this was part of our life abroad equation that I wasn’t sure I could handle yet.
In reality (knife in heart excluded), it wasn’t too hard in the end to enjoy Thanksgiving abroad, thanks to some strategic planning.
See, most of our island friends also choose to stay on the rock for Turkey Day; so we throw a big family dinner together. We make Turkey. Everyone brings a side dish or dessert. We feast. Our kids play together. We’ve organized flag football games and volleyball games. We drink wine.
Oh, and did I mention we all take our long weekend break at this place: 

So there’s that. And while Husband and I certainly still miss home, we are thankful for our beachier version of the Norman Rockwell painting and for this tradition that had been created long before our family ever arrived. So thankful, in fact, that Husband and I wanted to inject our own tradition that would help other rock expats not miss home so much for the Gobble Day.

So last year, on Black Friday when everyone in the states was mid-line at Kohl’s with two full shopping carts, looking for the greatest deals in the Universe, our group of 40+ friends began uniting on the beach, wearing team colors in our adult version of school spirit. The Green Team. The Blue Team. The Red Team. The White Team (that decided they wanted to be Fuchsia but that’s a whole different story).

Our scoreboard was ready. Our supplies were gathered. Our spirits were high. It was time to start Thanksgiving Olympics.
And because it was EPIC, I thought I’d share some ideas with you, in case you’d like to throw your own Thanksgiving Beach Olympics on your little piece of rock:

Game 1: Bucket Brigade.
Objective: Put a ping pong ball in an empty tub. Fill a small tub with water using one red solo cup until the ball flows out. No splashing the ball out.
How to Play: Your team stands in a line. The first person runs the solo cup from the front of the line to the ocean and fills up the cup. The cup gets passed up the line to the last person who dumps the water into the tub, runs the empty cup back to the ocean and fills it with water. Then, they pass the cup up the line again to the next person who will dump it, run it, fill it, and pass it. This is continued until the bucket fills up so high with water that the ping pong ball flows out. Once the ball flows out, the team runs to their hula hoop boundary area and digs in the sand until they find their team flag.
Warnings: This game is waaaaay more exhausting than I thought it was going to be but was a great opener to the Olympic Games!

Game 2: Water Balloon Toss. 
Objective: Don’t drop the balloon.
How to Play: Your team separates into partners. Form two lines: one partner on each side. Everyone starts close together and tosses the balloon. For every successful catch, the players move one step further from each other. The last couple standing with balloons in tact wins points for their team.
Warnings: You might get wet.


Game 3: Team Relay Race
Objective: Win.
How to Play: Since this was a team relay we needed enough relays within the race for most people to participate. The relay started with a person crab-walking who then switched off to someone waiting in a potato sack who then tagged the two people participating in the wheelbarrow. When the wheelbarrowers got to the other end, the partners tied up for the 3-legged race sprinted their fastest to the person ready with their dizzy bat who then ran to the last person responsible for army crawling across the finish line.
Warnings: cheer a lot! so fun.

Game 4: Tug O’ War
Objective: Tie a flag onto the center of a rope. Your team pulls their side of the rope until the flag crosses the line.
How to Play: Tug. Hard.
Warnings: Holy God. You will hurt after this. Bad. For days. Maybe months.


Game 5: Name that Tune
Objective: Guess the name (and artist) of song.
How to Play: We have an in-house musical genius so he prepared 10 songs for us… on his trumpet. He played the song and teams worked together to name the song and composer.
Warnings: Sounds easy but can be made harder when you add composer/artist. Great game to play when everyone needs a break after a brute game event like Tug O’ War.
Game 6: Human Horse Shoes
Objective: Ring the person with a hula hoop.
How to Play: Each team picked a ringer. This person stood about 10-20 feet from their team. Each player on the team had two shots to ring the ringer with a hula hoop. For every hoop touching the ringer, the team earned a point. For every hula hoop to ring the ringer, the team earned two points. The ringer was allowed to move their body but not their feet to help ring the hula hoop.
Warnings: The smallest people on each team were picked as ringers. Watch your faces, littl’ens.

Game 7: Pie Eating
Objective: Find two peanuts in a tray of whip cream.
How to Play: Another team hides two peanuts in a tray and then covers it with whip cream. One player from each team must face dive into whip cream and scoop out two peanuts, spitting them into their cup.
Warnings: This gets super gross. Like, really, super gross.

The feedback we got from all of our friends was amazing but even better was hearing the different stories from everyone after the games ended. Stories we still talk about. The daughter of a friend who was our pie eating gladiator. The stepson of a friend who paired up with a pro at water balloon tossing and pulled off an amazing win! Our incredible victory at Tug O’ War against a team we thought we had no business defeating. Best. Win. of. My. Life. See…
 I hope you decide to throw your own Thanksgiving Olympics because it really was a ton of fun. And if you do, I’d love to know about any games you played, see your pictures, or hear your best memories! Gobble, gobble y’all. Gobble, gobble.

Picture Credits:

Cabarete at Night – Chris Breikss

Cabarete Beach – Swell Surf Camp 

Birthday Party, Disney Style

Parents know that birthday parties are always more work than you originally plan. I always have the intention of keeping it *simple* but unless simple means gala-style, I don’t do simple – one of those unavoidable truths I’m going to have to accept in my life. Worse even, a truth Husband will have to accept too.
Normally for me, throwing a birthday party is hard work, not so much because of the actual party but because I’m looking for decorations in a country where finding everyday things (like bananas) is sometimes hard to find so finding specialty items? Let’s just say I start planning her October birthday in August and have been known to hole punch my own confetti. But this year, as luck would have it, our good friend (and one of Rafa’s Godfathers) is getting married in September which meant that the kids and I stayed in NJ an month extra. I took the chance to not only celebrate her birthday party with our family and friends that never get to celebrate with us but I also got to throw a birthday party in the land of ease, where everything is accessible and easy to find and if it’s not at Target, it’s on Amazon. God, I love the U.S. sometimes!
Since we arrived here this summer, she has watched My Little Mermaid everyday (yes, I know she calls it My Little Mermaid). She’s been giving me checkups as per Doc McStuffins, wears necklaces to mirror Sofia the First’s amulet, dances to “Let It Go” like she’s on So You Think You Could Dance, and treasure hunts with Jake and his Neverland Pirates. So…Disney was Captain Obvio theme and though the guest list was short – the festivities were big!
(I gathered many ideas via Pinterest and came up with the rest. Feel free to check out my Disney Birthday Party Pinterest page.)


This is my absolute favorite part of birthday parties!!!  Guests walked into the entryway and grabbed a Mickey Adventure bag. The bag had a few small toys already but would be used for the game prizes they would be winning and for the piñata candy!
From here they opened the front door to Arendelle:
…and the backyard tent with more balloons and the Princess piñata. 

It wouldn’t be a Cuban thrown party without lechon (roast pork) and bocaditos (yummy Cuban-style finger sandwiches) so those were provided my Mom Extraordinaire. As for the rest, the typical snacks were made kinda fabulous by festive Disney signs.
The first game we played was Ariel’s Under the Sea Search. I filled a baby pool with balloons and about an inch or two of water, dropped in a Nemo figurine and then covered the whole thing with a net. The kids then put on a blindfold and had to search for the fish through the balloons and water. This was a fun one to watch although my Princess chose to not use the blindfold… cheater. Everyone got a Disney coloring book for playing! (Shout out dollar store – where most decorations and prizes were bought.) 
Next, we played Doc McStuffin’s Help Put Doc Back Together Puzzle Hunt. I bought a 24 piece Doc McStuffins puzzle from… you guessed it… the dollar store and separated the pieces into six groups of four. I put those pieces in a Ziploc and hid them around the backyard. The kids had to hunt around the yard looking for the pieces and once they were found worked as a team to put it together. I really liked this game. (Hint: Write down or remember where you put all of the pieces.) They all won a Jake and the Neverland Pirates magnetic picture frame for their Adventure bags.
The last game we played was another Doc McStuffins game: Pin the Band-Aid on the Band-Aid. This was a variation of a game I found on Pinterest where they pinned a band-aid on Lambie or Stuffy but I didn’t have time to make a character so I used something from – drum roll, please – the dollar store. With the kids blindfolded, they had to stick a band-aid on the band-aid puzzle piece. The prizes for this game was a Disney pen and flashlight. (Did I mention how much I love that dollar store?!)

Having both the Snow White Apple Station and the Ice Cream Station worked out well since I was able to use the same toppings for both: marshmallows, shaved coconut, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, caramel, dulce de leche, chocolate frosting. And these pumpkin cookies my sister made were To. Die. For. 
And of course… 
The Princess with her Princess Cake
And after all of that our Princess was pooped.
Just kidding. She wasn’t sleeping. She was hiding candy.
This was a special birthday for us but perhaps my favorite moment was when Rafaella changed into her Princess Belle dress and came out to everyone singing Happy Birthday. My parents had my sister and I make an entrance to our birthday parties and I remember it fondly – I don’t know that my sister felt the same way about it but I lived for it. I didn’t plan for Rafaella to make an entrance but it sort of miraculously worked out that way and I couldn’t have been happier for the unexpected opportunity. 

Disneyly yours,
The Planning Crew,


You are welcome to use, share, pin, tweet materials from our Disney party but please link back to this post.

Oktoberfest and Two Year Olds… Who Knew?

It started with an idea…

What if Rafaella’s 2nd birthday party was an Oktoberfest themed birthday party? As usual, Husband thought I was slightly off my rocker for only a moment before agreeing to an adult themed birthday party for a 2-year-old. 
Numero One:
To make my life easier I ordered everything from the states this summer because finding everything you need on an island – that isn’t the island of Manhattan – isn’t impossible but it is totally frustrating. So I ordered and shipped everything to my parent’s house in New Jersey and then shipped it to Santo Domingo.
Part Deux: I asked Julain, whose son’s birthday is October 3 (Rafa’s due date) if she wanted to co-throw the bday party together, so we were now joining forces to create Oktoberfestaganza! I found some fun Oktoberfesty pictures online, cut and pasted Rafaella and Harrison’s face to them, and added in the birthday details. Print. done. The invitations looked like this:
Part Tri:
Next, we rolled up the invitations and stuffed them into empty toilet paper rolls. Luckily, I started saving these from September so we had enough for each family we were inviting. We stuffed the invitations with lollipops and then wrapped the rolls with Bavarian Flag plastic tablecloths that were trimmed to fit and tied with a ribbon. Although voilà is French… 
voilà!
Step Tri and a half: Get an Oktoberfest Pedi, Baby! Gotta do something for yourself.


Step Foursquares:
Decorating for the 3 o’clock party thankfully started at noon. I knew I would be decorating up to the 24th hour and I was right. (And it showed because when the party did start I looked like a hot mess but that’s neither here nor there.) I wish I wasn’t so crazy decorating so that I could have focused more on the pictures, but throwing a kids’ birthday party for about 100 people is as easy as it sounds. So here’s what we planned and set up more or less:
Here was out Pretzel Stand. We heard of an amazing German butcher – yes, you heard me. GERMAN BUTCHER in the Dominican Republic – sometimes this place totally surprises me. Anyway, butcher has a “bread guy.” Bread guy makes pretzels. Pretzels were ordered and delivered and totally delicious. Move over NYC… there’s a new pretzel kingpin in town.
The little blue goody bags had pretzel glasses, kazoos, a lollipop, and these Oktoberfest tattoos:

Because it was an Oktoberfest party, the food and drink was easy. Sausages, hot dogs, and mustards. I found a variety of mustards at the supermarket here – again… totally shocked. And lots of beer for the adults… in a kiddie pool of course.
 My favorite idea, however, was our party favor. I found these great photo booth props on Oktoberfesthaus.com so as the kids rolled in we would take their picture in the cutouts.
Here are how some of our picture party favors turned out:

After taking their picture, the kiddos got to pick a picture frame to take home and once the photos were printed they would have a keepsake from Rafaella and Harrison’s Birthday Party!

Part Cinco de Mayo – German Style:
Party! (for everyone else) I loved it. I did. But throwing a bday party isn’t the most fun a parent could have. I kept pouring myself a beer and then find myself doing something else and so I’d lose my beer. After a while I decided it was a good idea just to chug my beer, lest I wanted to waste any more perfectly chilled Dominican Presidentes. The same went for food. Amazing Husband made me a plate and cut up my sausage which was perfection since I only had time to walk past my plate and pop a few into my mouth at a time. Who has time to sit???



 

Archer’s First Birthday Party… ever
 

The Grand Finale
It was cake time. We had decided that instead of getting one big 2 pound cake, we woud get two one pound cakes. The pretzel shaped one was an easy choice. Oktoberfest. Kids party. Easy Peesy. But what shape would the other be? What else is Oktoberfest and kids’ themed? An apple juice filled stein, of course!

Well I guess it sort of looks like a beer filled stein?
We also went to Guli’s, our got to coffee spot with the most amazing desserts, and they made us some delicious apple streudels and mini Black Forest Cake – which is apparently Germanesque. Who knew?
SINGING HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

It was a great day for our little family that was shared by our great big community. And at the end of the evening when everyone had gone home and we were done cleaning up. After Mike helped Shelly put our little stein-muffins to bed and we sat poolside staring at the place where we had just hosted an epic 100 person Oktoberfest kids’ birthday party, we had a night swim with Julain, whose son was skinny dipping in the pool, and toasted to our successful birthday party.

Prost! 

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