Monthly Archives: January 2011

My Sunshine


I seem to remember when my sisters were little that they made all sorts of interesting little sculptures in preschool with bits of wood and nails. Real nails – so there must have been hammers. I can’t imagine that happening in preschool these days. And that’s a shame, really, because there isn’t much more fun (or creatively stimulating) than tinkering around a bit. I think perhaps we all need more of that in our lives.

just to remind myself

I am not a Tiger Mother. And honestly, I don’t want to be one. I need to remind myself of that every now and then. So though I have posted this before, I am posting it again. Some things bear repeating:

Manifesto of the Idle Parent:

  • We reject the idea that parenting requires hard work
  • We pledge to leave our children alone
  • That should mean that they leave us alone, too
  • We reject the rampant consumerism that invades children from the moment they are born
  • We read them poetry and fantastic stories without morals
  • We drink alcohol without guilt
  • We reject the inner Puritan
  • We fill the house with music and laughter
  • We don’t waste money on family days out and holidays
  • We lie in bed for as long as possible
  • We try not to interfere
  • We push them into the garden and shut the door so that we can clean the house
  • We both work as little as possible, particularly when the kids are small
  • Time is more important than money
  • Happy mess is better than miserable tidiness
  • Down with school
  • We fill the house with music and merriment

circus time!

Turning 7

All the planning paid off. The Harry Potter party was a huge success! Crazy, yes. Chaotic, yes. But what else would you expect from a 7 year old’s birthday party?? I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I would have liked, caught up as I was in the flow of the moment. But again, that is as it should be.

The kids had a ball. They were sorted into houses (and very few complaints about the sorting – which concerned me going in) and were thrilled with their house scarves. Several kept asking me if they had to give them back or if they got to keep them.

The Potions Lesson was a huge hit despite the fact that a few of the older kids tried very hard to give away the secret, having just done similar experiments in science class. Raymond told the kids not to drink the potions or they would turn into chickens, then pointed to the hens roaming the backyard as proof. Hysterical how many of them thought twice about that one!

Then, despite the fact that we had snow flurries (for the 3rd time this year!!) we all headed down the street to the park for our Care of Magical Creatures class. The magical creatures had escaped, and a fabulous scavenger hunt ensued . . .

Back to the house to warm in front of the fire and enjoy the rest of the whirlwind of activities. It was 2 jam packed hours, and could easily have gone on for longer! The Bertie Botts tasting was a big hit – though I should have thought to have a “spit jar” at the ready since it seemed most of the beans were of the nasty variety and most of them came back out of mouths much faster than they went in! It was hysterical.

As you can see from the photos, this was a “no parents allowed” party to cut down on the number of people in the house – we ended up with 20 kids in attendance and that was crowd enough! Fortunately, with 2 families involved we had 5 adults to keep things under control since my mother was able to join for the weekend. Control might not be exactly the word here, but it wasn’t total chaos. Several of the kids said this was the best birthday party they had attended – and my mother even heard one say he wished he could do this every day! I’d say that is pretty high praise from a group of 6 and 7 year olds. The big question now: how will we ever top this??

Party planning: Harry Potter style

Today, my amazing little boy turns 7 years old! Funny, isn’t it, how seven years can seem simultaneously like a lifetime and like it has passed in the blink of an eye? I can’t believe he is growing up so fast. . . . and I can hardly remember my life before him. Everything is better with this happy, funny, exuberant kid around.

We are in full party planning mode this week! In just a few days, our house will be transformed into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for a 7th birthday extravaganza for our sweet Fletcher and his buddy Will. It is such a fun party to plan, and I am so happy to be doing it with my dear friend (and Will’s mom) Jessica!

Jessica designed these incredible invitations to set the tone for the party guests. Each is a personalized letter from Hogwarts, inviting them to board the Hogwarts Express for Fletcher & Will’s birthday party  – parents not allowed. We also included a card explaining that in lieu of gifts, we are encouraging guests to make donations to Backpack Buddies. Backpack Buddies is a national initiative
(practiced locally) which provides nutritional meals and snacks to youth whose primary source of food is the school cafeteria. Each Friday, local churches and clubs deliver backpacks to our regional schools containing 6 meals to cover the weekend. The food donations we collect will help students at Fletcher and Will’s school, and will have a far greater impact than a handful of new toys for two boys who have everything they need. Fletcher, for his part, wasn’t entirely sure about this gifting direction – he knows there are people who need things more than he does  . . . but what kid doesn’t love getting gifts, right? In the end, I think this party is going to be so fabulous he won’t even think about gifts.

We have sooooo much planned!We will probably pull out some of the Halloween decorations to help set the tone. I am also working on a collection of magical ingredient and specimen jars that are looking really great so far! I found the inspiration (and some great printable labels) here.

When the guests arrive they will be sorted into the 4 Hogwarts houses (with the help of a sorting hat borrowed from my sister) and each will receive a fleece scarf in their house colors.I made the scarves using scrap fleece on sale at Hancocks – the lot of 24 cost less than $20 to make, which isn’t a bad price for a party favor. Plus, it has been crazy cold around here so the scarves could come in handy as I’m pretty sure we will not want to keep 20 boys (and a few sisters) cooped up in the house if we don’t have to!

Then, let the games begin! We will have a potions lesson (a baking soda and vinegar concoction like the experiment we did here), explore our knowledge of magical ingredients with a “What’s in the box?” game Jessica has cooked up, and an if-you-dare tasting of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. Actually, it is nearly impossible to find Bertie Botts anymore. At one time Jelly Belly was selling the off-flavor beans under the Bertie Botts name, but now they are selling a version called Bean Boozled. The Bean Boozled jelly beans come in regular tasty jelly belly flavors like chocolate and berry blue, but for every normal flavor there is a matching  . . . . ummmmmm . . . not so ordinary flavor to match. Flavors like canned dog food and pencil shavings. The trick is that the nasty beans look exactly like the regular ones, so you never know what you are going to get! The box comes with a spinner, so we plan to have each child spin, pick and taste – if they dare!

If the weather holds out we have a great scavenger hunt planned in the park down the block. We have a collection of plastic rats, frogs, snakes and the like that we will hide in the park. The kids will hunt as part of their house team and will earn points for each item they found – the more “rare” the find the more points they earn.

And then, of course, there is the food! We are sticking with pizza for lunch – can’t get a much easier crowd-pleaser than pizza.  And with the pizza, butterbeer of course! There are loads of recipes out there, some of which sound incredibly complicated. The one I found here sounded like the easiest, and with everything else going on I think easy is key. We gave it a test run over the weekend, with mixed reviews. Fletcher loved it exactly as prepared. Lola Gray, however, did not like all the foam. And I had to agree with her. The stuff is sweet – think cream soda topped with whipped cream and you’ll get an idea. I started out with gobs of cream and have been gradually testing it out with less and less. Honestly, I think I could just serve cream soda, call it butterbeer, and be done with it. But Fletcher likes the cream, so we will compromise . . . with a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of cream on top of the soda.

We’re going to split the feasting up a bit – first pizza, then some more games, then cake and ice cream. And to go along with the cake, magic color change sodas. I found the idea here and absolutely can not wait to give it a try for the party!



And then of course there will be chocolate frogs and licorice wands, a wizard hat pinata, Quidditch broomstick party favors . . . photos of all to follow soon!!

Oh! And I can’t forget the cupcakes! Will’s dad is tackling the extravagant Hogwarts castle cake for the party, but for Fletcher’s school buddies today, snowy owl cupcakes in honor of Harry’s owl Hedwig. How cute are they??

In case you can’t tell, we are having a ball planning this party! Such a fun theme – with so many possibilities!!

first words

At dinner tonight, the kids wanted to know what their first words had been. If I was one of those good mothers who religiously kept a baby book, I would be able to answer them. But honestly, I can’t remember. Isn’t that awful?

I do, however, remember both of their first sentences.

Fletcher’s first sentence was “I want apple juice.” We were in the parking lot of Home Depot, and Raymond & I were so shocked that he used a full sentence rather than just saying “juice” that we drove straight to the grocery store and bought the boy some apple juice!

Lola Gray’s first sentence was even more of a shocker. It’s hard to imagine now, but she was not as verbal a baby as her big brother the non-stop talker, and because I worry about everything I was just the tiniest bit worried about her vocabulary, which I think consisted pretty much of “Mommy”, “Daddy” and maybe “juice.” (Mind you, she was still very young and her vocab was actually perfectly normal.) One day we stayed for a church lunch after the Sunday service. We were in the line to get lunch and I was holding Lola on my hip when she pointed up at one of the lights and said “I see the moon!” I was so surprised I just looked at her for a second and then said “What did you say?” And she said it again!

For the record, neither of them has stopped talking since!