posts tagged with 'party'

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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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!