posts tagged with 'party'

Elijah's celebration

Lijah's friends around the kitchen table

a crowd to celebrate Elijah

As I mentioned, we cleverly scheduled Lijah's birthday party before society closed down. He invited six friends—appropriate for a sixth birthday!—and those friends brought along enough family members to bring the total number of folks in the house, including Archibalds, to 26. Pretty good! The party had a dragon theme, officially, though as the day got closer the birthday boy decided he wanted to give unicorns equal billing. The short notice didn't bother me since I didn't have any particular dragon-based activities or decorations in mind anyway; he wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting so options were limited in that direction, and I was too overwhelmed with other life to think too much about activities. (I did make a fantastic rainbow unicorn card that I gave him on his actual birthday on Friday.)

kids and a dad working on making construction paper puppets

craft table

Of course, with all those kids in the house we needed to do something! As the kids arrived we had material out for them to make puppets—or any other project they cared to attempt with construction paper and lunch bags. I had prepared a dragon puppet as an encouraging example. Lijah made a unicorn puppet (with terrifying sharp teeth); there were also a couple other dragons, a knight, a dog, and two penguins. The more active kids played outside on an obstacle course that Zion and I had set up. Then we had lunch—plain pasta and chicken nuggets for the littles, home-made pizza and African food for those with more discerning palettes (who am I kidding, the kids ate most of the pizza too). After lunch I sent them out on a treasure hunt to find a dragon's hoard hidden in the yard (totally not a pirate treasure: that was last year). They couldn't figure out one of the clues but it didn't matter: they brute-forced it by blindly searching the whole property and finding the clues out of order. I knew I should have buried them! The prize was a bag of candy for each kid.

Which hopefully they didn't eat right away because next we had cake. No ice cream, but there were also chocolate chip cookies... does that count? After the cake Lijah opened his presents, and besides the musket and knife from his parents he got so many beautiful and thoughtful dragon-related gifts. A Dragonite doll, a dragon puppet, an amazing homemade costume, an embossed leather journal... He was delighted.

Lijah in his new dragon costume exclaiming at a Dragonite doll

exciting!

It was a three-hour event; the morning of I was actually worried I scheduled it to be so long, and I wasn't sure what everybody would do. I needn't have been. The folks who absolutely had to be somewhere else tore themselves away after three and a quarter hours, and everybody else stayed for four. Maybe we had an inkling we wouldn't be partying together again for a while?

Lijah and four friends on the roof of the playhouse

birthday boy and his cool-kid friends

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not feeling the superiority

We attended a Super Bowl gathering on Sunday evening—one that was well suited to our level of interest in the game. The invitation went, "So I guess there's a Super Bowl... want to come over and pretend to care?" The email went out on Friday, and I wasn't even sure exactly when I was being invited to attend... I was pretty sure the Super Bowl happens on Sunday, but was it thisSunday, or the one following? (no worries, the internet had the deets for me). Now, I don't want to sound like I'm coolly disdainful of the whole thing—that's just obnoxious. There was a time when I knew all about football and cared quite a lot about who won the title. But time has mellowed me (which is to say, left me uncool and out of touch) and neither professional sports nor television are now any part of my life. Parties are, though, so I was more than happy to go! I brought rocky road bars and cheddar jalapeno biscuits.

We kicked off the festivities at 5, which meant we had time to watch almost a whole soccer game (Bayern Munich defeating Real Madrid back in July, because if you haven't seen it before it's new to you!). Then we watched the first 30 minutes of the American football on tape delay so we could skip the bad commercials (it turns out they were all bad except the Smart Park one, which was at least worth discussing). Then we went home. In between the watching we ate hamburgers and chili and chips, and then ice cream sundaes. And biscuits and rocky road bars. And the small children played football and soccer amongst themselves, which is much better than watching it (the bigger children were more drawn to the television screen). It was a good time all around.

I understand from a tweet from our president that the Chiefs ended up winning the thing; congratulations to them, and I hope everyone playing had a good time!

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it's my party

The advantages to hosting an event is that you can make everybody do all the things you like to do. So when we celebrated the solstice with our homeschool co-op today we started with a walk in the woods, then sat around a fire for a story, then had a gigantic pot-luck lunch, then came back to the fire to toast marshmallows. Well, some people toasted marshmallows: it was pretty cold out, so about half the group felt done with sitting around outside, even right next to the wonderful blaze I had created. Of course, there was also a good group playing on the roof of the playhouse, so it can't have been that cold.

Of course, the flip side of having a party my own way is bearing the brunt of the stress. Some families were ready for the walk and getting chilled while waiting for others to arrive and get their gear on. Some kids found the lunch table a little stressful (to be fair, it legit was—13 happy hungry kids can make some noise!). And everybody was cold at one time or another. I felt all that, since I wanted everyone to enjoy themselves, even with my idiosyncratic activity choices. It took me the rest of the day to recover. And that's with some significant help with the dishes from a couple of the parent attendees! Yes, it was lovely being in charge... and now I'm glad tomorrow's party is at someone else's house!

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if you want people to join your group, offer chocolate

I thought we were impressive with our 22 people for wreath-making last week, but today our second co-op event just blew that out of the water with 35 people at our friends' house for a hot cocoa bar and board games. It was a little chaotic at times, but our hosts showed a perfect combination of elegant preparation and obliging equanimity as their house was being overrun, and everyone had a great time. How could we not, with this spread to greet us when we arrived?!

fancy accompaniments for hot cocoa

we're part of a classy group

Zion and Lijah very briefly played some of a board game, played with their friends' toys, and romped in the snow outside. Harvey was convinced to join a Monopoly game and did that for three hours, questioning his life choices towards the end. At least he was winning when they had to stop! (naturally, they weren't able to finish the game). And we all drank lots of hot chocolate—even better, hot chocolate covered in whipped cream and other chocolate—and ate cookies. There was even something called "liquid truffle", which is basically hot chocolate but more so. Since the chocolate was basically the purpose of the gathering we jumped right into that at 10:30, so needless to say the kids weren't super enthusiastic about their lunches. Hopefully I restored them to health with soup for supper.

It was awesome to have so many people come out for the event. I now have 11 families on the co-op email list, and there was one other family there today who's not on the list yet. So I've got to feel that our efforts to build a learning community are going pretty well! Now all we need to do is find out how we can afford to rent a space that'll fit all of us...

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Halloween details

I was too tired last night to write much about our celebration; I'm still pretty tired now, but I can't let the words go unwritten! So here are some more details.

The Costumes

The boys planned their costumes a long way out this year, but then didn't do much about it and mostly forgot about their plans. But they were pretty certain on what they wanted to be, at least: a bat, a ninja, and a wizard. Lijah's bat costume was along the same lines as Harvey's from last year, and just took a hooded sweatshirt and a half-hour of sewing (on Leah's part this year, thank goodness) to add ears and wing membranes. Zion was a ninja last year as well, but lost every part of his costume; he does own black clothes, but Leah had to make him a new mask and sword belt, while I crafted a pair of wooden katanas. I did that Wednesday, so when he broke one within the first two hours I could glue it back together. Leah made an incredible black hooded cloak for Harvey; under it he wore his Easter jacket and sweatpants cuffed up to look like knee-breeches. And he had a wand. Then yesterday was warm enough that he could go barefoot, to be a hobbit wizard. I wish I'd taken better photos.

The Trick-Or-Treating

Despite the terrible forecast the weather was actually great for trick-or-treating. It was mild—hot, even!—and the rain mostly held off. Despite the warnings we didn't head out until nearly 6, which was as soon as we could get our gang together. We had thirteen kids between the ages of 4 and 12, with one of them in a wheelchair, so there was a wide range of speeds; but with some encouragement we mostly stayed together, and the slower kids didn't have to skip more than one or two houses. There were lots of other groups out after dark, and with that and all the decorations in our neighborhood it felt very cheerful and celebratory. The kids got lots of candy.

The Party

We had a potluck with all the folks who went trick-or-treating with us, plus a couple others. There was tons of food, and despite no planning or communication before hand it was all thematically quite unified: chili, chicken tortilla casserole, quesadillas, and Spanish tortilla. Also a couple soups and bread and biscuits. Not that any of that was really relevant to the kids; all they wanted was to get at the candy. They brought it all upstairs to trade (and eat, of course), and after the party Leah and I were witness to the devastation they had wrought. The wrappers you expect, but there was also a good bit of half-eaten—even partially chewed and spit out—candy all over the rug. I guess that's how you know it was a party!

The Glow-sticks

Since all three of our kids were in costumes that were almost entirely black, Leah ordered an awesome collection of glow-sticks. We wore them with pride on our trip around the block, and the other kids took lots of them home, but after the party there were still plenty left for us to play with. So we turned out the lights, put on "Thriller", and had our own little family dance party. Super fun. (That was before we found the candy mess upstairs.)

All in all, it was a terrific celebration. Lots of work—besides the costumes and cleaning I think I did more cooking than I do for an average Thanksgiving!—but well worth it. I'd be happy to do things just the same next year.

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happy halloween

We celebrated the heck out of Halloween today. Costumes and baked goodies at homeschool coop, visits from both grandmas (treats direct to our door!), a giant party at our house with all of the friends we hadn't already hung out with, and a family glow-stick rave to end the day. And of course the trick-or-treating.

lots of kids in costumes posing on the street at dusk

most of the kids

A wonderful day. Happy Halloween everybody!

is it still a party when nobody comes?

Last month when we were discussing the future of our homeschool coop I got carried away and said I'd organize a gathering in December to play board games. A couple days ago I realized we were rapidly running out of December, so on Sunday I sent out an email inviting everyone to come over this morning for play games, run around, and have brunch. I don't know if what the lateness of the invitation, the business of the season, or the fact that we just aren't that cool, but nobody took us up on it. Never mind! The boys and I enjoyed the quiche and the apple muffins (well, only Harvey and I had quiche actually) and spent a happy hour playing Dragonwood together.

It was fine. We do lots of things with other people; it's nice to not, sometimes. Still, it was a little disappointing. One of the reasons I hadn't managed to get the invitation out earlier was because I was worried that it wouldn't get an enthusiastic reception, and I wasn't interested in dealing with rejection. Given the choice I only want to invite people to things I know they want to come to! That's the best thing about planning with friends: you can establish first that, yes, you want to do something—then work on the details as you go. When I'm thinking about coop events I wish I could check in with everybody ahead of time about their availability and what they're into, but of course that's not how it works. So sometimes we strike out. Now it's someone else's turn to organize!

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Harvey's Lego day

Harvey blowing out his candles amongst a delighted throng

happy birthday

Last Sunday Harvey celebrated his birthday with his friends. He wanted a Lego theme, and he was only interested in inviting five peers—which meant that, with siblings and parents, we had 14 kids and eight adults sharing the fun. As a group of mostly homeschoolers, the kids would have been fine entertaining themselves, but a themed party needs activities and I was there to make them happen. We started off with "brick tag" (blob tag, but more thematic), and then I invited anyone interested to try and spell out "Happy Birthday Harvey" with the big pile of Duplos we'd dumped out on the lawn. They managed it, and even added an exclamation point!

many of the kids on the stage with the Duplo

saying happy

Up next was dinner of hot dogs, hamburgers, and watermelon. After we ate it was time for the main event: the building contest. The kids got together into teams—well, mostly; the bigger kids all chose to work alone—and I asked them to think of a theme they'd like to focus on for the contest and write it on a slip of paper. Picking out of a real hat, I drew "castles", and they were off!

kids building with lots of legos on the living room and playroom floor

the best kind of work

Harvey picks his friends well—almost all of them, ages six to eleven, could have kept building indefinitely. As it was I let them go for about an hour, which gave the adults some nice quiet conversation time to themselves outside. Unfortunately, the judging process—which I left to them—was a little disappointing. They didn't entirely appreciate the energy and effort the kids put into their creations, so the prize delivery was a little underwhelming for the kids. Still, Harvey and Ollie's flying castle-ish pirate ship quite deservedly won best in show... and then we had cake. I wished I could have gotten the frosting on a little smoother, but even with the indifferent texture I'm still going to go ahead and say it was the best yellow one-by-two brick cake anyone there had ever seen. And pretty tasty too: chocolate cake, chocolate ganache, and buttercream frosting. Harvey approved.

Harvey, Zion, and the gang with the Lego cake

Legolicious

So he's totally eight now. And we have even more legos in the house. Maybe we should have given some away as party favors?

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Zion's baseball party

Zion and his baseball cake

birthday boy in his new cap

Now that the kids are school age it's harder to schedule the birthday parties. Everybody has so much going on—and we want to make sure the important friends can come! So we waited a little for Zion's big 6-year-old baseball party. Saturday was the big day, and it was lovely.

The day was cool and overcast but the rain stayed away, and it wasn't so chilly that we worried about having the whole thing outdoors. Of course, nothing was going to stop the baseball game part of the affair. We played two and a half innings, and Zion loved the whole thing—even if he is a little more enthusiastic about batting than fielding.

Zion sitting in the grass in front of his birthday banner on the fence

relaxed outfielder

All seven friends that he invited made it for at least a couple minutes, which was great. We moved up the cake-eating a little bit to make sure one early-departing guest could have his portion, which was fine with everyone.

Zion taking a deep breath to blow out his candle

ready to blow

I actually made two cakes, because I was halfway through a chocolate layer cake when I suddenly remembered Zion had asked for a yellow cake. Oh well, this way we could cater to all tastes. Plus there was vanilla ice cream from Bedford Farms, so nobody went hungry.

some of the kids eating cake at the picnic tables

having cake and eating it

We actually ended up with a ton of food left over, because the adult attendance was lower than expected. And several of the kids barely touched the lunch proper—hot dogs and cole slaw—because they filled up on Zion's special request, Doritos, in the hour before lunch.

With the baseball and the cake out of the way we couldn't hold Zion off from his presents. So the last part of the party was playing with them: first a big game of wild catch with a new big fabric throwing disc, and then—what the birthday boy had been waiting for all day—with the new legos.

Zion and Nathan building legos on the schoolroom rug

finally

Zion reports complete satisfaction with the day; he has now been fully celebrated!

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our Easter day

suited and barefoot Zion on the steps with a basket full of eggs

the egg hunter

Yesterday was Easter, and it was full and celebratory. The weather was beautiful all day, and we enjoyed sharing the day with lots of friends. But first—before breakfast or even Easter baskets—with the photoshoot:

the boys in their Easter finery

celebratory clothing

Unfortunately, the rising sun was in the subjects' eyes, but you get the idea. At least they weren't dirty. This is the first year since Harvey was born that Leah didn't make new clothes for the boys the holiday—she's a little busy—which meant that they had to make due with hand-me-downs, or, in Harvey's case, awesome African duds from Auntie Nelly. They still looked sharp.

At church we all got right to work either setting up an awesome, welcoming service, or freaking out at all the rush and business—as appropriate for the age or general coping skills of each of us. When it was apparent that there was going to be enough food, and enough eggs hidden, and enough greeters, I could relax. Leah couldn't quite as much, since Lijah's freak-out was only magnified by the above-normal crowds. So he had some quiet time. Then there was the egg hunt. Sadly, due to its early start I missed seeing Harvey and Zion hunt, but I did make it in time to see Lijah at work (he was drawn out of seclusion by the prospect of candy).

Lijah holding up an egg on the church playground

green egg and bunny

And, of course, I caught up with Zion afterwards to get a load of his haul, as pictured above (he made a mockery of the eight-egg limit, but he was their early to help hide them so maybe it's ok..).

There was another service after that but everyone was exhausted, so Leah and the boys headed home to set up for our egg hunt and party. I was on the clock so I had to stay. And I enjoyed the second service; then enjoyed the hot bike ride home, an hour when I didn't have to talk to a single person. The boys had a more conventional rest, so they were raring to go when 4:00 rolled around and our egg hunt opened for business.

Harvey saluting with his basket on his head

pre-hunt high spirits

It went well; I think there's not more than a dozen unfound eggs littering our yard today.

Kamilah reaching for an egg

like you do

We didn't have many kids join us this year—just six hunters counting our three, and three babies—but there were lots of us old folks, plus one special guest.

Harvey making friends with a puppy

making friends

The second-graders there were glad to share their obsessive sorting and categorization of prizes; I think they made some trades too.

Harvey, Zion, and Havana sorting eggs on the stage

checking the loot

Zion is in that picture too, but he also played; the other two sorted for like, an hour. Maybe more. They love sorting. In their defense, there were lots of cool things in the eggs this year: dinosaurs, Peanuts dog tags, Squinkies (if you don't know, don't ask). Not so much candy, but that was fine—we had plenty of treats available.

lots of desserts on the table outside

just desserts (and drinks)

The party ran on cheerfully until darkness, light rain, and too-far-past-bedtime drove our guests away, and we went to bed dreaming of the next adventures. Today was just as full and exciting; maybe I'll manage to write about it tomorrow.

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