Monday, December 17, 2012

No words.

Friday's tragedy has me at a loss. I cannot shake the images of those poor children out of my head. My imagination runs wild, thinking of their last few moments on earth. I can only pray they didn't experience any pain, suffering and most of all, fear. I, like many of you, think of my own babies-- and it literally breaks my heart. I picture Ava there, scared and wanting her parents to save her,  help her. So many kids didn't get the chance to be saved.

I do not know how these parents can move on after something like this. I honestly don't. Personally, I don't know that I could. I like to think I would find the strength to live on for the rest of my family, but I don't know that I could ever overcome the grief of losing a child-- especially in this horrific way.

For two days, I sat glued to the TV, waiting for updates on this tragedy-- trying to find answers, most of all a motive. I mean, how could someone do something so awful? I cannot comprehend it. What would compel anyone to do something like this?

The images of that small community literally hurt my heart. How do you explain to your child that their friends were killed? How do you look the parents of the deceased children in the face and not feel guilty that your own child is alive? How do people plan to reenter that scene where this awful massacre took place?

I don't blame the guns, however I would like to know why a rifle, that could do that amount of damage, is available for purchase to any "Regular Joe" walking down the street.

Nope, I don't blame the gun. I blame him-- and to me, a "history of mental illness", does not make what he did okay. How does a thought of such horrific acts even enter one's mind?? How are you that sick to even devise such a plan? I just don't get it. I can't wrap my head around it.

I can only imagine what the parents of Sandy Hook are going through. Looking at the Christmas presents under the tree that will never be opened. Plans crushed. Hearts ripped out.

Dropping Ava off at school this morning was a somber one.  As I sat there in the drop-off line, I imagined her little classroom and all of her beloved friends and teachers; there wouldn't even be time to hide if something like that happened in her class. If some crazy wanted to wreak havoc, he could. Sure, they have security but so did the school in CT. If someone is that determined, they will always find a way. It's so sad. What is the world coming to?

I guess that is what saddens me most-- that such evil exists in the minds of people. I pray those sweet babies are in a better place where things like this will never again touch them. And I pray for those left here on earth to find a way to make the world we live in, a better place for our children. This has to stop.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


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My dear friend Kate invited us to join her family on the lovely island of Maui in November 2012. The decision to join her was a no-brainer, having been to Maui in 2008 (before the kids were born) and remembering it as my most favorite vacation to date. This island is HEAVEN.

Fortunately, Kate's parents own a few properties here on the island; we decided to "take shelter" at Honua Kai-- in the King Kamehameha Suite with (yes, this is true) the LARGEST lanai on the island, a sprawling 3200 sqft! Don't believe me? They even wrote an article about it! Read it here.

The 270 degree view (yes, 270!) is like nothing you've ever seen-- and we got to admire rainbows (like the one pictured) DAILY. Each room opens-- wide open-- onto the lanai, allowing the warm island air to fill all of the rooms of the condo. It's simply impossible to describe the beauty of this place. Here are a few pics of the "joint", just to make you ooooooooze with jealousy!

And did I mention that actual condo is a whopping 2650 sqft, 3-bedroom-penthouse with King-size beds, and showers big enough to throw parties in? Yep! If you weren't jealous before, I have a feeling you might be a little "green" now-- especially when I tell you we spent 19 days there.

There are 3 different pools on the resort, which makes it hard to rope the kids in for nap-time, which was probably the worst of our problems, while on Maui.

Each day we jogged about 2.5 miles, along the gorgeous coastline to the Hyatt, where the kids were able to enjoy feeding penguins, koi fish and parrots. We would then treat ourselves to smoothies (we-- the adults-- get a little rum in ours!).

From there we slowly made our way back to Honua Kai, stopping for lunch at Whalers Village and detouring to the Ka'anapali Alii for a quick dip in the pool (her parents have another home here).

The kids got along gloriously-- Ryder who is 5, Ava and Graham who are 3 and Jack and Spencer who are 1. Here are some of the views we got to see during our daily jog:
Hibiscus-- they're EVERYWHERE
Playing in the lobby at the Hyatt

Their feet aren't even touching the ground! 
Each day brought new adventures. Lucky for us, there was a grocery about a mile away-- close enough to load the kids in the BOB stroller and head over to pick up some supplies (milk, eggs, wine, beer).

We even ventured out to take the bigger kids to a Luau, while Jordan (Kate's nanny) stayed behind with the babies. They loved it! Especially when they were asked to come onstage to learn the hula!

Pulling out the pig!

We even had some adult friendly adventures-- dinners in Lahaina, an overnight stay at the Four Seasons on the island of Lanai, as well as a local masseuse that came to the condo to give the most amazing massages. Let's be honest, all the kid-friendly activities had us in serious need of some relaxation!

Four Seasons at Menele Bay 

So why am I telling you this? I'm telling you because this entire experience is up for grabs! Yep, Kate's family has generously offered up a week long stay at this property, in the upcoming Benefit auction for Hinsdale Junior Woman's Club.  If I could magically replenish the funds we spent while in Maui, you can bet your keester that I would be the #1 bidder on this package! Sadly, we don't have a money tree in our backyard... and we likely spent our children's college fund while there. Poor kids. Better hope for scholarships!

So here's YOUR chance! The accommodations will be packaged with dinners, golf, manicures, massages and more-- just to make the package even more mouthwatering. The benefit, called The Gatsby Gala will take place on February 9, 2013 at the Hyatt Lodge in Oak Brook. Visit the HJWC page to purchase tickets!

Mahalo Kate-- and to the Ryder family for memories that will last us a lifetime!

Jack even learned to walk while there!
On top of the world!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A life cut short-- and in so many ways

My Aunt Marsha passed away last night at the young age of 59. She was my Mother's one and only sibling.

Marsha didn't lead a life like you and I. Unfortunately for her, her oxygen was cut off at birth, which caused her debilitating mental state, requiring continuous care and looking-after from the moment she was born until the day she left us. Lucky for her though, my darling Grandparents cared for her, day in and day out, until their passing 10+ years ago.

After that, she lived in various nursing homes throughout Missouri where she could be best taken care of. She was diagnosed with cancer 2 years ago and last night she took her last breath.

I feel bad for a lot of reasons. I feel bad that she never got to experience true love. I feel bad that she never got to hold her own baby, and the movement it makes inside. I feel bad she never got to drive a car. I feel bad she never got to swim in the ocean, feel her children's arms around her neck, have a wedding and more than anything else, have her very own family.

I feel bad that the highlight of her days were those spent on outings to get fast food or to visit a Claire's boutique, where she could buy little trinkets that made her happy. It makes me sad because she never had the opportunities that most of us have-- to truly live.

And mostly I feel bad that I never spent time trying to visit her. Sure she was in a rural Missouri town, which isn't easily accessible from where I reside-- but I still feel I could have been more-- done more. I think back now on all of those Christmases at Grandma & Grandpa's farm, and how she ADORED Christmas. She would sit and wait for the presents to pile up-- and she always got the most. Cat clocks. Cat watches. Cat sweatshirts. Alvin & the Chipmunk cassettes. Kenny & Dolly Cassettes. And of course, packs upon packs of batteries so she could listen to her music-- over, and over, and over-- while wearing her cat watch and sweatshirt. She adored her music. And cats. In fact, every cat she came across was named "Fuzzy"... a dear cat that she had when she was a young girl.

Getting the call from my sweet Mother this morning was so sad. It was a blessing to hear that she is no longer suffering, yet it's yet another tie that has been torn from our family. We have lost so many. Stupid cancer. Marsha will love on though. What few organs she had that could be donated, were. Her eyes will allow someone to see someday. What better gift could be given..?

I will be traveling to the services to honor her life. And sadly, I know I will sit there, wishing she had gotten more opportunities-- feeling remorse for not driving to get her and taking her to the zoo-- or picking her up and going on a long walk-- or visiting her, allowing her to see my own children. Why didn't I do any of that??? Too caught up in my own stuff I suppose-- but it doesn't make me feel any better that I was "busy". She was a life. A real person. And thanks to her, someone... someday will "see" what life is supposed to be like.

Here is her obituary: Marsha Rae Roach

Monday, September 24, 2012

Caroline's Pamper Party

"Thumbs up, Poppy!"
Let me begin by telling you-- we had so much planning this party!! Sweet little Caroline and her super-fun Mom (Julie) were the best clients to have as we kicked off our new business venture, Poppy Event Design.

The six-year-old sweetheart wanted a Pamper Party-- pink and yellow themed--complete with stations for hairstyling, manicures, makeup and (of course) candy-necklace-making. Couldn't you just SQUEAL with how fun and girly this was??? So ridiculously cute!

I have to tell you though- Julie was amazing. I dropped off a few of our creations on Saturday and by Sunday morning she had the lanterns hung, banner draped and all of the favors were plated or in jars.  If you ask me, she should be in this business, too! She has a great eye for design and one of the most fun people I know. Julie for Mayor!! ;-)
Mom and Birthday Girl (Julie & Caroline)
During the party, I actually overheard a little party guest say, "I don't ever want this party to end"-- I could have SQUEEZED her. The other part of me wanted her to repeat what she said, on camera, so I could use it as a testimonial! Either way-- I loved hearing it!

As the kids entered the party, they were given flip flops and eye masks-- which helped set the theme of the fun to come. Once inside, they went to the various "stations" to get pampered. In the meantime, the kids snacked on:

  • Spa Smoothies
  • Veggies and Ranch
  • Fruit Parfait
  • Gourmet Mac n' Cheese
  • Pink Lemonade
  • Chocolate covered Pretzel Rods

This was the first time I've been at a kids party where the parents drop them off vs a party where the parents oversee the kids-- and let me tell you-- Drop-off parties are SO much more work-- especially when you have 23 little party guests to entertain! With the help of some local teenage gals, a hands-on Mom and Poppy we pulled it off! In fact, just this morning, I received the sweetest voicemail from Julie, thanking us and saying, "I don't know what I was thinking-- believing I could have pulled this off without you."  What a HUGE compliment!

Jillian's darling creation! A cake JUST for the birthday girl!
To see our full album of the party: 

As the girls left the party, they did a brief pitstop at our Favor Bar, to fill their goody bags with girly goods: body splash, loofahs, lavender sugar scrub, rock candy, nail files, etc. A great time was had by all!

In other news, my house is a disaster area. Between all of the serveware, decor items and theme props-- I may as well invest in building a barn. No joke. I suppose the garage, storage room and kids play area will have to suffice for now. Keeps our operating expenses down, right?!

Must close for now-- just finished a meeting for an upcoming Holiday Party and I need to get crackin' on decor for our upcoming party! Next up, a very darling girl will be celebrating her 2nd birthday, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse style!  Here's a sneak peek at our cupcake toppers!
Available for purchase on Poppy's Etsy Shop!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My new endeavor!

Well, after a little coaxing from friends I have decided to take the plunge and start my own business! 

You're looking at (or reading a blog by, rather) the newest event designer to hit the streets! That's right. I'm the proud new owner of: 

~Custom Event Design by Kristi Gilbert~

I can barely even believe I'm writing this. I've wanted to be an event planner since the moment I watched "The Wedding Planner"-- only I don't want to plan weddings-- instead, I am focusing on children's parties, baby showers, couple's showers, holiday parties, family events, etc-- all the fun without the drama Bridezillas. 

To throw it out there, I sent an email yesterday morning to some of my close friends, offering FREE services to the first three interested clients-- to help me build my portfolio and gain more experience. After all, I would never hire someone if I couldn't see their work or if they had a crappy website. Well, I'm happy to say, I have 7 parties booked between now and the beginning of November! And even better-- some on the calendar for after the new year. 

What wonderful friends I have!! So blessed! Which means, I've got to get my booty in gear and get organized to pull these off-- and do so successfully. This is a business built on referrals; every party needs to be 200%! 

Next steps? I've got my friend working on my logo, website, etc... and I've already received a Fed ID #... which means Poppy is officially open for bookings. It's legit folks! I'll be sure to update you as the website and logo is developed. Thanks in advance for spreading the word! My first event is booked for next weekend, which means I need to stop talking and get to work. I'll keep you posted as things develop!! 

Ain't no party like a Kristi Gilbert party!! ;-)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Calling all Pixies and Pirates!

This past Saturday, we celebrated Ava's 3rd Birthday by throwing a Pirates and Pixies party. I came up with the gender-neutral theme because most of Ava's closest friends are boys-- which meant it couldn't be a girls-only party. Once I had the theme in mind, I got to work. I borrowed ideas from Pinterest, Catch my Party, and a handfull of other party planning websites. And if you know me, you know I like to go a little overboard when it comes to my kids' birthdays.

So rather than bore you with the details, I'll show you the pictures and offer up the links where I found the original inspiration. I'll also share the recipes we snacked on. Here goes nothing!

The Fairy Table

Fairy Cake! Inspiration found online here.

Butterfly Sandwiches (PBJ's cut out with butterfly cookie cutter)

Cutesy Caterpillars! These were a hit with the kids! Recipe here.

The Pirate Table (this shot was taken before all the food was brought out)

Pirate Cake-- inspired by a cupcake

Catch of the Day

Other food not pictured: 
Cannonballs (meatballs)
Pirate Fingers (pigs in a blanket)
Pirate Gold (cheese cubes)

Enough about the food though. Aren't you just dying to know what the kids were up to??? I gave each pirate or pixie the necessary items to transform themselves into their character of choice. Each girl was given wings, a tutu and a fairy wand (ordered from Halo Heaven) and the boys were given a hook (DIY: red solo cup with aluminum foil shaped hook), pirate eye patch, bandana and mini scope. These were also their party favors... but instead of handing them out at the end of the party, I gave them to the kids at the beginning so they could play in them while at the party.

Getting some of the boys decked out in their pirate garb.

Favor station: Fairy outfits and pirate gear

Now that we've got them dressed, onto the activities!

The kids loved it! Paint, stickers, glitter... it was a (washable) MESS!

And you can't forget about the Tattoo Parrrrrlor!

The (dirty and very sweaty) birthday girl, helping YaYa with her tattoo

And of course I just had to build a pirate ship! I (yes, I am actually going to admit it) did my first ever (and hopefully last) dumpster dive. I needed a refrigerator box and ya know what...? I got one! A few cuts and a few cans of spray paint and it came to life. It wasn't anything fancy, but if you're a mere 36" it was pretty cool. I even made a plank that the little ones could walk. 

And no party is complete without a giant bounce house!

When your kid asks you to bounce-- you bounce.

When the kiddos were good and worn out, we wished the birthday girl a very happy birthday!

And here are just a few more shots from the day that I wanted to share. It was a fantastic day and a super fun party. Thanks to all who could come!

Sweet Jill! The kids' babysitter and my super-party-helper!

Making the pirate hooks

Pierre (the pirate pinata). We forgot about him until the very end of the party. I'm keeping him around for a day that I need to relieve some frustration.

My fabulous Mom made this birthday crown. 

I think they thought there was buried treasure in the sand box. 

And to my two very special helpers, Jillian and Mom-- I couldn't have pulled it off without you! THANK YOU! 
Jillian- hard at work on making all of those cute cakes!