Sunday, November 21, 2010

Two Weeks & A Tea Party

This is the end of two intense weeks. Jon was away on work-related business Sunday - Friday and then Sunday - Thursday. This was the longest I've been alone with the kids, and although it didn't exactly go well, it wasn't exactly horrible either. Which is to say, God was gracious and kept our attitudes positive. The dark evenings didn't drag as much as expected, and I was able to function despite being exhausted. I was even able to exercise at near-normal levels.
I could give a detailed rant of what went wrong, but perhaps it's best to quickly list the highlights and let you draw your own conclusions: daylight savings time ended, toddler diarrhea (everywhere), Anna coughing up a lung, microwave broke (my Dad says the megatron busted which made me vaguely autobot-ish, and hence briefly empowered), cancellation of various social events.
On the plus side, Isaac held off on the late-night vomiting until Daddy got home. Granted, this may not be a plus for Daddy, but it worked for me.

Originally, my plan for Jon's two week absence was to do nothing. No cooking, no cleaning, no nothing. And then I looked at the calendar and realized that Anna's b-day party was happening right after Jon's final return. Tactical error, that one.
So instead of nothing, my free time was spent scouring the web for preschool party ideas and taping streamers to the wall. What I discovered was that planning a party for little kiddos is fun! Lots of fun! Our theme was "A Tea Party for Little Fairies." I tried to keep the pace fast and the activities simple. I think everyone had a good time. (Anna was overwhelmed for the first half, maintaining a blank look on her face. She spent some time on the floor, but as long as she wasn't crying I marked it a success.)

 Pixie Hollow, waiting for fairies and elves to arrive.

Here's what we did:
Guests were invited to enter the Fairy Web and retrieve their wings. Once they did so, they chose their wand & tiara (for the fairies) or sword and crown (for the boys).

 Fairy Web

The kids then decorated their wings until all the guests had arrived. We played Stepping Stones (a non-competitive form of musical chairs), Fairy Freeze (a dancing game), and Pin the Flower on the Fairy (yup, everyone gets a prize - I'm not into competitive games for this age group).

 Preparing for Pin the Flower  
(kudos to my mom for quilting the wall hanging, and inspiring our party theme).

Then it was time for the Tea Party. I brought out my second-best china, and we ate in the Fairy Bower. There were toadstools and wands made out of fruit, butterflies (yogurt-covered pretzels), and fairy bread (raisin bread with cream cheese and sprinkles). We had cheese cut into small shapes and sparkling juice.
Fairy Food

The most popular food, of course, was what I didn't make: an ice cream cake from DQ. A couple of years ago I laboured over Anna's Dora cake, and then watched kids eat only icing. Since then I decided it's better to spend more money for something the kids will actually eat, than lots of time on something they won't. I'll save my cake-decorating mojo for other things.

After the cake we opened gifts. I was on the fence about doing a gift opening, until we attended a party without one. Anna was so crushed that she wasn't able to "give" her gift. And anyway gracious giving is a good skill to practice.
If there was any gift-envy it was lessened by the treasure hunt that immediately followed. Finally, there was a free-for-all until the parents came. (This was a parents-optional event, and we had about 2/3 attendance. Next year I may go kids-only. Or not. The parents were all very helpful.)

Anna's actual b-day is next week, and I am glad we can spread things out a bit. We'll do family gifts on her big day, and maybe take her to see Disney's Tangled. It will be a mellow day, after some hectic weeks. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sugar High

Halloween has come and gone, and we had a fine time despite both children being ill (three cheers for Motrin). This was Isaac's second illness in two weeks, and so I resigned myself to the fact that the season of poor health has begun early this year. Already, Anna's coughing has resulted in two missed events (preschool and a sleepover at her grandparents' house) and it ain't over yet.

But anyway, back to Halloween. Isaac wore the same tiger outfit that Anna donned for two years, and boy was he cute. We loved watching him toddle up and down the driveways carrying an oversize bucket, and offering the occasional tiger growl. By the third house he figured out what was what, and often had his hand in the candy bowl even as our neighbors were handing dropping goodies into his bucket. Obviously, more than a few chocolate morsels were consumed en route.
Spooky Ghost Tiger!

After much debate and discussion, Anna elected to wear her firefighter's outfit instead of her Tinker Bell costume. I felt it was too cold for fairies to trick-or-treat without long pants or a sweater, but Anna begged to differ. We had this same discussion days earlier, mere minutes before leaving for her preschool's Halloween parade (i.e., children in costume walking in a circle - it was precious). I didn't want to push the issue, since I only spent $15 on the outfit back in September.
Luckily she was able to go pure Tinker Bell the day before, at a Halloween party that her grandmother and great-aunt put on for the cousins. They did such a great job, with themed cookies and snacks and everyone in costume. I'd say that was one of the highlights of our autumn.

After the parties and hoopla we were left with a bucket of candy and a preschooler whose "tummy is [always] rumbling for candy." So we did what my mother did with us kids, way back when, and it has worked wonderfully. Anna and I divided up her spoils into groups of three (sometimes four!) candies and put each group into a paper bag. Every day she chooses a bag, and that's the sum total of her treats and desserts for 24 hours. She can choose to eat them whenever she wants (provided it's not right before or during an actual meal), and she's demonstrated excellent self-control. Most days, that is.