posts tagged with 'party'

Christmas, Hanukah, and New Years

a present for Leah under the tree

sample present

We're still not back to our regular schedule—snow delayed Nelly and Nisia's flight out for a couple days, so we abandoned school work to go sledding with them. But the holidays are undeniably over, so it's past time to say a few words about how they went. For future reference.

We were a little distracted and scattered around the present preparation this year—most of us, anyways. After we got home from church at 10:00—from cleaning up and locking up, at a service where we also opened the doors and set up—I got to work on presents, as seems to be my tradition. New this year, Harvey joined me! The ship he was making for Zion wasn't done, so he wanted to put in some time to show he really does care.

a present with a big card Harvey made for Zion

present explanation

Never mind how many things were unfinished, Christmas morning saw delight all around.

Zion smiling over a big present

Christmas excitement

Of course, no one could be as delighted as Lijah after he got a gun and a giant candy cane in his stocking.

Lijah smiling with his gun and candy cane

yet more Christmas excitement!

There were also lots of legos, the first batch of which had to be put together before breakfast.

the three boys working on legos at the kitchen table

getting right to work

After we ran out of presents for Lijah to open we packed up what we had left and headed over to Lexington. They had a few more there.

the tree at grandma and grandpa's house

presents for all ten of us

We spent a lovely relaxing day leisurely opening presents—the kids needed to pause and play with each new one extensively—and eating constantly. (We did take a little walk in the middle to keep from dying.) It was nice to get to spend Christmas with the Africa Archibalds for the first time in a few years.

The day after Christmas we celebrated Hanukah with the Bernsteins. It was also charmingly relaxed, as pictured previously. There were more legos, and more weapons for Lijah, so it was a success. Harvey handled the dreidel work with aplomb.

We hadn't planned anything for New Years Eve, but when friends asked us about it we told them they should just come over. Then we said the same thing to more friends, and some relatives. So we ended up with quite a few people and had a very festive evening—one which ended before 10:00, which was great. And some of the guests even helped to clean up, which meant we started the new year well-rested in a clean house. Expect great things from us in 2017!

Clean as it was on 1/1, we (which is to say Leah) put in some more serious cleaning time in advance of 1/2, when we threw a brunch party for relatives who had never visited us before—and one of whom cleans other people's houses as a hobby. There was some tension leading up to the event, but in the event it was fun and easy, and seeing nine Archibald cousins (well, second cousins... and some of them are DiBellas) running around was a great way to spend the bonus federal holiday day.

Then we just had a week of hanging out with Nisia and Nelly, which was super fun. And now it's now!

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lights, food, music, and friends

the illuminated tree and the buffet table

party night

We threw our party last night—never mind the rain and thunderstorms promised by the forecast and the morning's red sky. And it was great!

In a departure from our usual practice, we were just about ready as the last half-hour before the 5:00 start ticked by. Parents and friends who came early to help set up were able to relax and chat as the other guests arrived; the kids hanging around were able to join in the piano sound-check and warmup. The flowers on the table were picked and arranged by Harvey at 4:35.

the party lawn

dining area and dance floor

It was an all-grandpa musical performance this year. After last year's bravura effort Ira and Leah have their act down pat, and barely needed any rehearsal this time. They put on an early set for one friend who could only stop by for a minute at the beginning of the affair.

Leah and Grandpa Ira performing on stage, with Lijah alongside

seasoned performers

Then it was the turn of Grandpa David and the Disney Movie Singalong. He did a great job fending off the eager hands that wanted to touch the piano, and the kids sang along with spirit to tunes from our three most recent animated favorites: Frozen, Aladdin, and Lion King. What a kind grandfather our boys have, willing to subject himself to that sort of experience, and on his birthday too! I have all the songs pretty well memorized to I did my bit to keep the vocalists roughly together.

Grandpa Dave playing piano, accompanying a crowd of kids on some Disney movie songs

cast of thousands

Harvey and Zion actually practiced their parts quite a bit this year. Zion was too shy to stand up at the mic, but Harvey had no such resistance and sang up loud and proud. Megan is always happy to see a microphone.

Harvey and Megan singing with the mics

star turn

Of course, it wasn't all music. We didn't manage a bounce-house this year, but the boys and I set up the badminton net and the kids had great fun with our seven rackets and three birdies (at least until a darkness-related accident made it seem more prudent to take down the net). The hammock was also very popular, as was the ride-on tractor. And of course there was lots to eat.

lots of food on the table, lit in the darkness thanks to lamps above

enough to go around

The lights are always a key ingredient of this party, and this year I was very proud of myself for including two clip-on desk lamps in the setup: one to light the food, and the other behind the stage so the musicians could see their papers. Because of course the music went on long into the night.

Ira and guitar, from behind on the lighted stage

the evening's headliner

Despite some initial demurrals, Ira put on a great show. Besides several songs with Leah (and Lijah), he also treated us to some Beatles numbers (and other hits of the 60s and 70s), and even played backup for Jack's spirited rendition of the alphabet song.

Just before 9:00 the rain finally came on, just in time to encourage the guests to help clean up and then hit the road.. perfect timing! It was great seeing so many friends and neighbors; I feel grateful for each person who came to spend time with us. And none more so than my parents, especially my dad on his birthday.

my mom and dad sharing a cuddle listening to the music

happy birthday Grandpa David!

Maybe we'll do it again next year.

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back to fall

We celebrated the fall equinox today in quiet style with a day at home. The bigger boys and I took in the sunset outside, enjoying the beautiful crisp fall air (Leah was inside trying to put Lijah to sleep—the first attempt of several for a boy who took a two-hour-plus nap this afternoon). The reason we didn't much leave home is that we're having a big party tomorrow evening.

the invitation for our 2016 fall party

yes, you're invited too!

Pretty much the same as last time, but we're not so organized this year, so things are a little more haphazard than in years past. It doesn't look like we'll get a bounce house. But the lawn is (mostly) mowed, the lights are (mostly) up, and we've sort of planned with some people to have some music. Plus we've made and obtained lots of food: pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, cake, veggies, chips, 56 hot dogs, and some other things I can't remember. Pretty good for an event that's supposed to be a potluck...

Our organizational failures may also have led us to forget to invite you. Sorry! If you're free tomorrow evening—that may be today, it depends when you get around to reading this!—do stop by between 5:00 and 9:00. You don't even have to bring a dish to share.. we've got plenty!

Fall's looking pretty good so far.

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happy birrrrthday, Zion!

On Saturday, we finally finished up celebrating Zion's birthday with a party for his friends. It was our first ever themed party.

the presents harvey and I wrapped for Zion, and a treasure map

embracing the theme

Since we'd never done one before, our friends weren't sure how we'd manage; and their concern was warranted, since especially in our destroyed-by-tiredness state we weren't really on the ball with forward preparations. For example, I had no idea what I was going to do for a cake until Friday morning. But in the end I was pretty pleased with how it turned out!

a cake: blue sea with island, sea monster, and pirate ship

it looked bigger in real life

Of course, not everything had to be pirate-oriented. Rather than jerked meat we had plain old hot dogs, along with mac-and-cheese and chips. General kid food.

hot dogs cooking on the fiery grill

think it'll be enough?

Not being used to themed parties, the kids were all happy running around after lunch, like they would any other time—the only difference is that lots of them were in pirate hats. I really had to work to get their attention for the planned activities. First they painted telescopes and treasure chests.

the kids, many in pirate hats, sitting on the grass painting

do pirates concentrate on their work?

Next up was a treasure hunt—two treasure hunts, actually, since I didn't want the older siblings to take over all the thinking for the birthday boy and the three other kids he actually invited to the party (there were ten kids total). So the older kids had a picture-based scavenger hunt, while the five-year-olds got to do a real treasure hunt with digging and everything! They only hit each other with the shovels twice (by accident!).

Zion and friends digging by the shed

collaborative digging

The treasure was bead necklaces and chocolate—those Hershey miniatures that look like gold bars. That was Leah's idea, and it was a great one. Finding the treasure stirred up Zion's acquisitiveness, so then we went inside so he could open his presents.

Zion opening presents with friends watching

what is it?!

There was some good stuff, including a stomp rocket that occupied the crowd for the next half hour.

Zion airborne about to land on the stomp rocket

ready, go!

Then his new lego sets took over Zion's attention; lego-building is less communal, but they made it work.

Zion assembling a lego set on the front porch with a crowd around him

riveting

Some of the kids—like Harvey—really really wanted to help, but Zion wanted to do it all himself, and we managed to make it happen. He also blew out the candles himself (in three puffs). But we all could share the cake!

Zion blowing out the candles

mid-blow

And also the apple pie that I made on Zion's request, only to have him say, at the table, "actually I meant pumpkin". Oh well.

The party started at noon and was still going pretty strong at 5:00, when we packed up and moved venues—rather than making dinner we thought we'd just head over to another party we were invited to. We brought what was left of the cake and stayed until almost 8:00. So I trust Zion now feels properly celebrated, and can start acting like a five-year-old!

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joy full

some plastic eggs in the backyard

a small fraction of the total

We had an exciting Easter day Sunday; so exciting I've only managed to summon the energy to describe it now. And I'm still not sure how much I have to spare! Of course, the boys started the day in brand-new suits.

three boys in new Easter suits, posing by the fence

well-suited

Leah is a wonderful seamstress and produced a trio of lovely suits—the first time either Zion or Lijah have had jackets as part of their Easter finery. Harvey and Lijah both were very well behaved and sat still for their fittings, which is why their jackets hang properly. Leaving Leah behind for a few minutes to ready the house for a party later, the boys and I headed off to church to set everything up. That done, they got to work enjoying the craft tables.

Lijah reaching up high to paint a paper egg on a table

a bit of a reach

Some of them, anyways; Zion wasn't so sure about the Easter-sized crowds, and he wasn't happy until he connected with his friend Eliot and they found a spot better suited to their energy level.

Zion and Eliot drawing together in a quiet corner

out of the way

Harvey didn't seem to mind the hustle and bustle.

Harvey painting amidst a crowd of kids

a happy multitude

There was a service in there somewhere, but we didn't manage to pay much attention to it. There was too much going on, including special food.

Harvey reaching for one of many donuts on the table

plenty for all

And the Elementary Kids Church Holy Week art show, featuring Harvey's sculpture "Despair".

Harvey's clay sculpture

comes before joy

And, of course, anticipation of the egg hunt! Lijah was so excited he didn't think he could wait for it to start. The eggs were in there!

Lijah trying to squeeze through the gate into the egg hunt

let me in!

He had a delightful time and easily found his five eggs, but then things took a turn for the disastrous when he tripped and fell headlong into a mud-puddle. He was not happy.

Lijah crying, with mud all over the front of his suit

not happy

He was also tired. So Leah took him home, while the other boys and I hung out through another service and then helped clean up. Leah was cleaning up at home and setting up a fantastic inviting party—and also hiding lots of eggs in the yard. We got home in time for me to hide a few more, then our guests started to arrive, ready to find them all. We held them off for a few minutes, then it was go time.

kids rushing into our yard through the gate

1 2 3 go!

Due to their age and upbringing, some of the kids weren't sure what to do at an egg hunt, but they were all thrilled to be there.

Kamilah looking serious holding her basket

egg hunting is serious business

We'd set up the party inside, but as we watched the kids run around after eggs it occurred to us that it was actually pretty nice out all of a sudden, so out came the food and chairs. It was delightfully spring-like.

a few friends eating at the picnic table outside

Easter dinner

The party went on for maybe four more hours, inside and out, and by the end we were filled to the brim with joy, friendship, and delicious food. We didn't take in much theology over Easter 2016, but at the end of the day it was pretty easy to feel that Jesus is alive!

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celebrating the darkness

I don't like daylight savings time, on the whole, but I like a party. So I thought we could throw one to celebrate the last Friday evening when it's dark at 6:00 pm, before the clocks change this weekend. In order to honor the darkness we had to be outside, and my friends indulged me for quite a while despite the rapidly sinking temperature.

folks standing around a fire in the grill, lights in the tree above

almost the last evening darkness

Besides the lights in the tree above the supper tables, I also illuminated our little patch of woods—and specifically decorated the three tree platforms we've built so far with lights, so the kids could play in them after dark. Unfortunately all the big kids—or at least, some members of their families—were sick this evening, so Harvey was the oldest present and Zion the second oldest. They still had lots of fun, of course, but they were happy enough with rocking wildly on the hammock. So that was a little disappointing.

But it was still a lovely evening, and even though I did eventually have to let folks go inside, there was ice cream inside (and brownies and caramel sauce!) so that was ok too. And in the absence of big kids I got to snuggle with some little ones who aren't mine, which was a very unaccustomed feeling!

The lights are still up outside too, so stop by any time to see them in action. The big kids will enjoy them, yet. It'll just have to be after 7:00!

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fall has been welcomed

Leah singing with her dad, lit by the Christmas lights

a sparkling evening

The party was wonderful yesterday evening, and we felt so blessed to be joined by so many awesome people.

folks chatting and kids running around before it got dark

early activity

Between the food, the bounce house, and the soccer equipment the kids had plenty to do, and they formed a wild pack in the back part of the yard. There was lots of music provided by both Grandpas and Katie Jones... and Leah and Harvey did their part too!

Mama, Lijah, and Harvey singing--with Grandpa D's piano

family sing

Lots of food too; that'll have to be represented photographically by some of the 56 hot dogs I grilled.

hot dogs on the grill

cooking over the wood fire

All together it was a great atmosphere under the lights and around the fire. Just the way to ring in the fall.

conversations under the strings of lights

party atmosphere

Only it seems like a shame to take the lights down already, as pretty as they are. And we have lots of beer left... anyone want to come over tomorrow night?

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party prep

We found a bounce house for our party. The boys helped test it out.

bounce-house; Harvey head-first down the slide

borrowed bounce

There's plenty of food already waiting to be set out, with more to make tomorrow.

food and paper plates on the buffet

stockpiling

And if that isn't enough inducement, how about a brand-new homemade table?!

a picnic table made with scrap pine boards

rustic charm

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party Friday

party invitation

are you free Friday?

Besides homeschooling, our life has been consumed this week with party preparations: we're getting ready to host the social event of the season this Friday. And you're invited!

Like last year, it's officially to celebrate the kick-off of our church small group's fall season, but really we just want to celebrate fall by getting a bunch of people who maybe don't know each other together to chat and play and listen to music. Play music too!

If by some oversight you didn't get an actual, personalized invitation (and, you know, you live close enough to come and everything), send me an email and I'll fill you in with the details. It's going to be fun.

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holiday weekend

On Friday Leah and I celebrated our tenth anniversary by dropping the kids—all three of them—off with Grandma and Grandpa, and going for a bike ride.

Leah riding her mountain bike by Flint Pond

10 years of riding together

With Leah feeling a little sick we abandoned our plans for a lunch date at the end of the ride, but it was still lovely to have a few hours to hang out together—and we being the way we are, we hang out best when we're moving. We did a little over 20 miles of hilly country roads, and it was all wonderful except for not being able to cross Route 2 at two separate points and having to backtrack to find a different way home. Our marriage is still strong despite that difficulty.

Then on Saturday we marked Labor Day a little early by inviting some friends over to labor with us. Work on the porch is proceeding apace, and we thought many hands would make it light. In the event only one other couple was able to come, but Leah watched the kids while the three of us carpentered, and we got the job mostly done before eating a considerable amount of meat.

Sunday saw a full morning of church followed by a 95th birthday party for Great-grandma Faye (that's Leah's grandma). The gathering was wonderful except that we were late and Faye angrily walked out of the group photo. But all three kids were lovely—once they'd warmed up, at least—and did us proud.

Today we did school, because why not?! But we also went to a barbecue all the way down in Brookline. It was fun, but... now we are tired. Good thing the long weekend is over!

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