posts tagged with 'party'

what did we do with the old one?

When the younger two boys got vaccinated the thing they were most looking forward to was the annual New Years Eve party at our friends' house. Which of course we missed last year. Then when the omicron surge got going and there was a chance it might not happen, they were prepared to be crushed. Happily, limiting the party to a core group of friends and having everyone take a rapid test beforehand meant that, never mind the pandemic, we were all able to celebrate the New Year the way it's meant to be celebrated!

Or the way some people mean it to be celebrated anyway... the boys were strongly in favor of staying up until midnight, which I didn't think sounded like a good idea at all. I felt sick and woozy just contemplating it! But with a party that got going at 6:00 I figured we'd have plenty of time for fun and then still get to bed at a reasonable hour. I guess I didn't anticipate how much fun it was going to be!

Fun and food. There were only three families there, including the hosts, but we all felt like creating a festive atmosphere required plenty of food and drink. I made coleslaw, rolls, and a pecan pie, and also brought crackers and dip. Then there was chili, cornbread, chips with a green enchilada dip, caramel popcorn, chocolate chip cookies, oreos, and candy. Oh, and a bowl of baby carrots. Luckily there was an appropriate amount of alchohol to counter some of the sugar flooding my blood and keep me from exploding; I'm not sure how the kids survived.

Actually, I'm not 100% sure how they spent most of the party. The hosts kept them off screens until 6:30, so they got to participate in a couple card games, but then they vanished into the other room to play on a couple Switches and watch some of the old Avatar show. There was also an air hockey table in there so I guess they had the option to move a little bit if they wanted. Me, I didn't move much unless it was too and from the buffet. I just sat at the table and played games: Pit, Dungeon Mayhem, Spit, Pokemon cards, Root, and Regicide. I lost most of them but that doesn't matter; I was still having a great time!

I knew it was getting late, but I was still surprised when I finally checked the time and saw it was just past 11. Awareness of the hour sent my body into shutdown mode, and I barely managed to collect the boys and say a polite goodbye before stumbling out the door. All three boys had been advocating that we stay up til midnight, so when we got home at 11:30 they felt that we were so close we might as well wait up that last half hour! Plus they wanted to hear stories. I knew, though, that if I didn't get myself into bed instantly I might die, so I declined. Of course, I told them they could stay up as long as they wanted! Tucked in their beds Harvey and Elijah fell instantly to sleep—as did I—but Zion, our king of willpower, held on til the bitter end. Though, as he reported in the morning, he was a little disappointed to miss the precise turning of the year: he looked at his watch at 11:57, then blinked and it was 12:03.

All that excitement was pretty hard on us! We took a walk in the afternoon on New Years Day and Elijah, who began it full of joy and energy, was in a grumpy sulk before we got back to the car. Back at home he unspeakingly ran himself a bath and soaked for a while, then came downstairs in his bathrobe and promptly fell asleep on the couch for two hours. Yes, it was hard work but worthy work: this New Year was properly celebrated.

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solstice with friends

We had a party yesterday! It felt like the first in a long time; we've had people over to the back porch lots in this pandemic time, including last winter solstice, but those were all more like relaxed hang-out get-togethers. Last night we know it was a party because I bought beer and chips, made multiple desserts, and had not one but two steaming pots of hot drink available—mulled cider and hot chocolate. And of course a bonfire.

a big fire burning in our firepit

as big a one as the firepit allows

Which was good because we really appreciated the chance to get warm inside and out. It wasn't super cold—and the ground wasn't covered in a foot of snow like last year—but there was a damp chill in the air and it wasn't weather that would typically encourage people to linger outside. But on this night, linger we did!

friends gathered on our back deck under lights

partying the long night away

At least for a little bit. It was still a school night, after all, for those kids who have to go to school; the solstice isn't as important in the public school curriculum as it is among homeschoolers of our vaguely Waldorf-influenced set. But that was ok, because after everyone left and we finished all the cleanup—which took some time!—the fire had died down enough for us to be able to jump over it. Which three of us did! True, it wasn't really a bonfire any longer, but I think it should still count. Now the sun can come back!

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Halloween

Halloween this year was wonderfully celebratory: just like a real holiday! It's because it fell on a Sunday so we were able to devote the whole day to a series of varied observations. We started at church. Last year in the pandemic we did a church thing on Halloween (on a Saturday) because it was a chance to gather together outdoors. This year lots of us are meeting indoors but not all, so we thought we'd do it again! The kids all had the opportunity to wear their costumes to Kids Church, then we did trick-or-treating and photo-ops out in the parking lots.

me and the boys posing in our halloween costumes

church halloween photo op

As you can see, we were a warlike bunch! (well, I was actually a peaceful farmer—as Elijah pointed out I picked that costume so I could just wear my regular clothes!—but I couldn't help but get into the spirit for the photo). Zion was a ninja for the fourth year in a row and Elijah joined him in that brotherhood of the night; though as you can see Elijah had a little more liberal interpretation of the canon. Harvey was a ranger again, this time with a bow instead of a sword. As you can see he's in middle school which means he likes to make his costumes exclusively from things he already has (his high-school friend went as a wizard dressed as a muggle, which if you know Harry Potter you can see took even LESS effort!). The younger boys made new swords and masks for the event at least.

Then we had some time for resting—and for Zion to renew his hair dye—before the main event that evening. For trick-or-treating we were joined by four more kids, three of whom were ninjas. The fourth was a katana, which was significantly more original while not departing at all from the theme. The trick-or-treating was a joy, with excitement high on the streets after a gap of two years. Everybody got lots of candy.

the boys and friends posing in the street before trick-or-treating

mostly ninjas

Then we went home to gather around the fire with a few more folks who had trick-or-treated in their own neighborhood. I made hot cider, and the kids ran traded candy and ran around. We didn't stay up super late: it was school night, so by eight everyone was about ready to head home. But even with that prompt finish, the day was well celebrated.

the boys and friends sorting their candy at the picnic table

the reason for the season

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is this the pandemic?

We had a busy day yesterday. Indoor in-person Kids Church started up again—for the first time since March 2020!—and the boys and I left the house at 8:00 so I could be sure to be ready for the 9:15 start time. It went wonderfully, and it was so lovely to be there with the kids doing fuze beads again, but it was a little more involved schedule-wise than turning on the computer for a 45-minute like I was used to for the last year and a half. Then straight from church we headed to a mini-golf course for a birthday party—well, the first part of a birthday party, because after a mostly successful 17 holes (one of them was closed) we headed to the birthday boy's house for a couple hours of backyard socializing. By the time we got home at 5:30 I was wiped out!

I guess we've been doing plenty all summer, so it's not a total departure. But being inside again for church, and the fact that the party was with friends who we've seen much less over the past year and a half than we always used to, made the day feel like one from before the pandemic times. Of course, we were wearing masks all the time we were inside, and there weren't many people at either Kids Church or the party. So maybe we're just getting used to this life?

family party

We did in-person Kids Church for the first time yesterday, but as exciting as that was it wasn't even the headline story of the day: it was completely outmatched by the baby shower we went to in the afternoon. Now, I know that baby showers aren't usually considered to be non-stop fountains of fun and delight—certainly when I told people we were going to one they were inclined to apologize. But they didn't need to! Because it was a fantastic party. There was a pool!

the boys playing in a pool with their cousin

shower? pool party!

The mama being showered was my sister-in-law, who along with my brother and their two already-born kids are visiting from Virginia. We haven't seen them since before the pandemic—fairly long before—so it's been a joyful visit. Joyful, and just full! Our cousin who lives about an hour away wanted to get in on the family reunion fun, so the shower was really just an excuse to get us all together. The heart of the party was the ten kids: our three boys, their two first cousins, three of their second cousins (the hosts), and two of the second cousins' friends from down the street. As you can see from the photo above, they had lots of fun together.

The party started at 2:00, and besides the pool featured plenty of food, a Disney singalong (sorry, covid restrictions; we forgot!), and lots of relaxed hanging out. When we finally left a little after 8—facing an hour drive home!—we had to drag ourselves away, against the wishes of everyone else there, who all have later bedtimes than we do. We're tired this morning, but it was well worth it. Easily the party of the year so far!

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marking the day when time has no meaning

New Years feels kind of strange this year; Thanksgiving and Christmas were both so low-key, and we very well may have let New Years Eve pass by entirely unremarked. Sure, we're glad to see the back of 2020, but as Leah remarked this morning when we were talking about resolutions, "why bother trying to do anything different these days?" Tomorrow will be much like today, I imagine. But one of our friends asked yesterday if we wanted to do something like a hike, and another friend said they weren't around until the evening and suggested a fire. So in the event, we had a pretty good party! I made pizza, friends brought cookies and hot cider, and for a couple hours we sat around the fire (at an appropriate distance, of course) and chatted about New Years hopes and movies and water heaters. Some of the time the kids played laser tag. It actually compared pretty favorably to some other New Years observations I've taken part in: there's no mess inside the house to deal with, and I didn't drink so my upset stomach is due only to overconsumption of pizza and cookies plus s'mores, eggnog, and maybe a bit too much cider. So now I'm ready for a new year. Here's hoping it's a better one!

party in person

Bubble school has been great, but only this week was the best part of bubbling up revealed: we can go to each other's birthday parties! We did that today. It was a shared party for the sisters who make up two sevenths of our school-age kids; their birthdays are just a week apart and since homeschoolers are kind, loving, and non-jealous as a group they're happy to have one party between the two of them. Not that they missed out on any party fun: we were there for five and a half hours of nonstop delight!

the kids waiting to batter a pinata hanging on a line

they still remember how to party!

There were no organized activities for all that time: the kids just like playing together that much. Even more so since usually when we're together we keep dragging them away from their games to do schoolwork! Today was all social time, and they really appreciated it. We grownups did our share of talking, but we also got in on the active fun a little bit, with some jump rope and some tug-of-war (surprisingly, the 3rd-through-6th graders beat the team of the six-year-olds and me in the tugging... those big kids are strong!). And there was food—tons and tons of food. It occurs to me that I hadn't done anything you might call "social eating" for a real long time now; today I ate many chips. On top of Thanksgiving, it left me feeling a little bit heavy this evening. I'll have to make sure to do some more jump rope!

We're so grateful to have this group; it would be looking like a long winter without them. Here's to everybody staying healthy and lots more fun to come!

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a pandemic halloween

Halloween was obviously a little different than usual this year. We had talked about putting together some sort of trick-or-treating plan with neighbors, but then didn't do anything about it; since nobody among the group we usually go with was enthusiastic, we decided to just skip it. And we didn't have an awesome family celebration planned like some people (nor could we watch a movie, which I hear lots of folks did). Still, we made some things happen! Mainly the costumes.

Lijah with green face paint, goblin ears, black cloak, and knife

assassin goblin

Zion as a ninja (with yellow boots)

ninja (plus practical boots)

Harvey with cloak, straps, and dagger

ranger

The boys had firm ideas of what they wanted to be a couple weeks ago, if not before, but nobody started any real work on getting the pieces together until a couple days ago. Mama got them some new clothes—a green shirt for Harvey, black sweatpants for Zion—and Harvey and Elijah used cloaks from previous costumes. Leah did a little sewing to make Harvey belts for his potions and knife. I worked on the weapons.

Candy-eating got started early, when Grandma came over with a bag for each boy. They went through enough that lunch was pretty small. Mid afternoon we headed to church for a costume parade, photo-op, and candy pick-up. It was a delightful, lively event; I only wish it hadn't been limited to 40 people, because there were more people who would have come if they could have; it could have been even more lively! The boys were disappointed none of their friends were there, but they still participated with enough enthusiasm to earn their next hit of candy.

Just after that event we headed to a friend's house for a social-distanced backyard celebration with a couple other families. The kids played, we all had pizza (one pizza per family, over 12 feet apart), then we set up trick-or-treating stations around the yard and rationed out the candy. It was actually super fun; I'd almost rather do that than regular trick-or-treating, especially if we could lose the social-distancing part.

the boys bundled up celebrating with friends, orange leaves in the background

celebrate!

The only problem was the cold—the very cold—which cut the proceedings a little short (grim precedent for social-distanced gatherings this winter!). We needed a fire! So on the way home we stopped by another friends' house, where there was one. And one more chance to trick-or-treat!

Lijah warming his hands at a fire in a metal fireplace

the goblin got the coldest

It was good. And best of all (from an ancient parent's perspective) it was all over by 6:30! So were able to get to bed early and both maximize our extra time-change sleep and get ourselves well-adapted to the new time. I was glad for the extra sleep because the morning's sugar crash was hard enough as it was... but that's another story!

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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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