Monday, February 6, 2017

The decade-old Chick has a party


Ok, now for the party!

I have mixed feelings about Chick's party.  I can say that everyone was happy, smiling, playing, interacting with others.  They all seemed to have a really great time.  So it was a success.

But I woke up this morning feeling like, despite the success of happy kids, it was a failure for me.  I am disappointed in my time-management and the unnecessary stress that it put on me.  I think it would have been really easy to eliminate the kinks of the party if I'd been more prepared.

However, now that I've had some more time and distance from the party, I am feeling better about it.  It's not a FAILURE, but certainly a learning opportunity. 
(though if I haven't learned to not procrastinate by now, then I'll wait and learn it sometime later....)

*************************
Here's the rundown.  At about 11:55 guests started to arrive.  We weren't ready.  I had 11.5 out of 13 aprons made.  We had a few streamers up, but most were still sitting on the table.  I blew up a couple of balloons, but didn't get the cute baking words written on them.  Frosting was not done, and I was in the process of getting cookies cut out and baked.

But the cake stands and mini cakes were ready.  And I do think the cake stands were one of my genius ideas.  I love cake stands, and really wanted cake stands for the girls...but not only would 13 cake stands cost a pretty penny, but then what would I do with them afterwards?  Where would I store that many?!

I like the homemade stands that you see on pinterest...where people glue candlesticks to plates, etc...and I saw one that was done with a bowl and plate.  I had already seen some plates and bowls on the dollar tree website that I wanted to get anyhow....  I admit that bowls aren't as cool as candlesticks, but they are more sturdy, so it seemed perfect for young cake decorators.

But there was still the factors of not having those items available for regular use afterwards if I glued them, and again: where would I store them anyhow?!

And then, brilliance.  Really (though not humbly).  I remembered how sturdy the gingerbread houses were at Christmas...and how they didn't come off the plates until I'd run hot water on them.  So I decided to "glue" the plates and bowls together with royal frosting.  And it worked LIKE A CHARM.

They stayed together perfectly while the girls were using them, and after the party I ran hot water on them and they disconnected, so that we can use them as regular dishes some other time.  And at $2 per "cake stand" they were the least expensive option.  win win win.



Ok, so when the first girls started to arrive I put them to work on helping with streamers, and though it didn't look like I'd have done it, it did give them something to do, and there just wasn't time to do it as I'd have done it.  So good enough.  Most streamers didn't get put up, and they'll just reroll and wait for the next party.  (They weren't from this party, anyhow.  I think I'd originally made them for Chick's 3rd birthday party, and because they are sewn and ruffled they don't rip and are able to reroll and use again and again.)

Then they all got to pick out a homemade apron.  I'd given my camera to Monkey to take pictures of all of the aprons & the cake stand display, and the pictures that she took didn't quite showcase them as I'd hoped...but I appreciate the pictures that she DID take.  Once again: good enough. 

(OH, and the we'd hung up the aprons on hangers on the curtain rod...so then JUST as people were starting to come, the curtain rod FELL DOWN.  And it's big and heavy, so I'm really glad that no one got hurt, and nothing got broken from that!  After that we just stacked up the aprons on the table).

I should note that Chick was wearing my apron, because I didn't get enough done. But then when the final guest arrived Chick gave that temporary apron to her, and Chick put on one that Grandma J had made for her.  Everyone was happy, and everyone will end up getting their own to keep, but Chick and our neighbor didn't get to wear their party aprons for the party.

Once they had their aprons, then went to the dining table to decorate chef hats.  That went well...until some were done, and Mr. Fox hadn't arrived with the pizza yet, and I was frantically trying to make a mondo batch of frosting.  The girls that were done with their hats started goofing around and it started to feel frantic.




This is where I should say that 13 girls is too many.  Especially if you figure that my younger kids didn't stay away as planned, so they added extra bodies and extra commotion.  I originally had said that the max was 12 girls...but she was having trouble cutting out the 13th girl, so I let her invite everyone with the assumption that SOMEONE wouldn't be able to make it.  But they all did!

Ok, finally all of the chef hats were done, and Mr. Fox got home with the pizza, and everyone sat down to eat peacefully for a few minutes.  And I continued to try frantically to make the frosting and get it colored and in pastry bags... but they were getting wild again, and I wasn't ready to start the cakes. 

So I asked a fast-writing friend to write down gifts as Chick opened them, and they did the presents.  And she got lots of really fun, cute stuff, and she loves it all.



And during that time I got the frosting reasonably ready.

Then we had a quick talk about the first things to do when baking: tie back your hair, and wash your hands.  So they did that, and I gave them each a stick of gum so that they wouldn't be tempted to  be snitching frosting or anything.

The cake decorating seemed to be really fun for the girls.  They each got one or two cookies to practice on (in the frantic dash to bake the cookies I had miscalculated, so rather than two for each girl, I only had 1.5 for each!  Ugh.  I made so many mistakes on this party!  I hate to even admit all of it, but it is cathartic to get it all out.).

There seemed to be a lot of problems with bags leaking, or clogging, or running out, or, or, or.  And I was very busy trying to help with those problems.



Seriously, though.  They are all so awesome.  What a fun bunch of girls, even if it was uber crazy!












And that is when parents started to arrive...and we hadn't even had ice cream yet!  Thankfully the parents were understanding.  One stayed to help serve ice cream (oh, thank you, sweet angel of scooping!), one or two left and came back later.  It all worked out.

The girls finished their cakes, got them boxed up, and ate their practice cookies.  They started going home.  Some didn't get picked up as early, so they gave piggy back rides to the twins and goofed around and the kids all had a great time.

And eventually everyone was gone.  I tidied, and my kids kept eating frosting and sprinkles, and I didn't even care. We'd made it through, and the only casualty was a bowl that had been a wedding gift (I'm still bummed about it, but it was COMPLETELY my fault, and things happen sometimes.  It's just a bowl, right?  But it was really cute...you can see it in the picture of the girls decorating their hats).

Then I fell asleep on the couch for a couple of hours.

************************

So from a kid's point of view: it was a fun party.  And my kids said that I did seem stressed, but not grumpy...so that's great!  From a perfectionist party planner's point of view: the party was a fiasco. I'm just trying to remember that it was A KIDS PARTY.  They didn't care about streamers, or having the table all set.  They didn't even care that I was in the kitchen scrambling to make frosting...because they were in the living room making memories by goofing around together.

I'll try to remember to post a funny story about my sleep deprivation from this week...those darn aprons took longer to make than I had time for (due to the aforementioned procrastination), so I had many late, late nights this week. 

Special thanks to my friends who helped! 
Thanks to Brooke for helping with sewing!  She did one of the aprons, and helped undo the binding of one that needed to be resewn.  What a huge relief it was to have her help!!!!

Thanks to Brenda, who had an extensive amount of cake making gear (and so many different kinds of sprinkles...the girls were in heaven!).  Brenda also had some good ideas for how to handle this sort of party, since she is a cake-maker extraordinaire and has done this sort of event several times.

And thanks to Shannon, who babysat on the day before the party.  Technically I paid her in babysitting co-op bucks, but I was late to pick up, and Shannon was so nice about it!  I was so tired and frazzled, and it was a big help to run my last-minute errands WITHOUT kids!

The end.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Decade-Old Chick

Ok, first a bit of backstory...

Last week I didn't blog.  Because I was sick, but also because I didn't have a ton to say.  I'd spent my week doing the "usual" and then binge-watching the show "Goblin: The Lonely and Great God."  And "binge-watching" already doesn't really equate to "productive" but even less so when the show is in Korean and you have to read subtitles.  But I was completely sucked into it.
Combine that with having a bad cold for a couple of days, and that's what I have to report for last week.

(Except for this:  Chick's homework was the Miss Alaineus costume.  Last year she was "Lustrous."  This year she was "Tenebrous."  She purposefully picked a word that meant "dark.")



(Oh, and except for getting the school bulletin board done.  It totally made me happy to see teachers standing in front of it and discussing the pictures the day after I'd put it up.)



***********************************

Ok, now for this week.  Earlier in the week was Chick's birthday!  Yay, she's 10!  I've been parenting for a decade!  And Chick is double digits!  And firmly a preteen (when I asked her what to tell people if they asked what she'd want for her birthday, she said, "doll clothes or dangly earrings."  If that doesn't sum up "preteen" then I don't know what would).

Anyhow, for her birthday I got a project done that I've been wanting to make for YEARS.  Seriously, I think I came across the idea when she was in kindergarten.  I just had never found the right briefcase...until now. 

I introduce you to: our birthday picnic in a briefcase.

On the outside it is unassuming....



On the inside the hills are alive.



All the kids will get to take turns using it for their birthday lunches (Owl and Otter have a summer birthday, so they will take it on their 1/4 and 3/4 birthdays [their half birthday is during winter break]). 
Anyhow, I'm happy with how it turned out, and she really had fun with it. (She said that her teacher took a picture of it and sent it to her mother, saying, "Why didn't you do this for me when I was little?!" lol.)

For dinner she requested "breakfast for dinner."  One of my favorites, and especially simple, which was good because I found out that Mr. Fox had a scout meeting that night that wasn't on the calendar.  So we hurried to get dinner on the table.  The neighbor girl happened to come over and ended up getting invited to dinner. 

It wasn't this sparse...we all had a LOT to eat. 
Sausages, dutch babies, and waffles with homemade berry syrup & whipped cream.
Dinner followed by strawberry cake.


Presents were:
  • Roller blades (one thing you want)
  • Money for summer horse camp (one thing you need...though it's not exactly a NEED....)
  • A robe (one thing you wear)
  • and "The Legendary Petunia Rainwater" (one thing you read)
They were excited to pose together with their roller blades and robes on.  goofballs.

Then more people wanted to be included.

They wanted to pose with everything.  Lovely cards from Aunt Katie, and both sets of Grandparents included!
This post is already pretty long, so I'll end here and do a separate post for her birthday party.
Happy birthday, Chick!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sweetness

Hey!  How was your week?
Mine was pretty good.

We started out with a visit to Grandma and Grandpa N on Monday, and that is always nice.  We did most of the puzzle that we recently gave to them...but we left the really hard part, so it's ok.

On Thursday I went to what is called a Key Communicators Meeting.  It's something that our school district does.  Usually it's a presentation with a breakfast spread, and it's at different schools each month.  They want two people from each school in the district, so sometimes I'm one of the people from my school.  Anyhow, this time was actually more of a discussion format to aid in creating an Equality Policy.  I had been dreading it, because I don't generally like to share my opinions in a big group.  Surprisingly, I really enjoyed it.  I did share my opinions, and I enjoyed hearing the comments of others.  It was all great.  But the interesting thing was hearing some of the stats.
  • 90 different languages are spoken in the homes of students in the district!  I don't even think I can name that many languages!
  • Our district is 50% at or below poverty level
  • According to the principal of the school that was hosting this month: 92% of her disciplinary work is dealing with kindergartners.  She said that it's vastly different from even 10 years ago.  She attributes it to too much screen access at a young age, which inhibits person-to-person relationships & learning to manage personal emotions.

Ok, anyhow.  Later that night I went to a cookie tutorial night, where we watched "Alison's Cookie Party" about how to decorate cookies.  It was perfect timing because the invitations to Chick's Baking Party were going to be on cookies!  The tutorial had a lot of good information for a newby like me (I may have used royal icing once before....), but the best part of the evening was sitting around after the video and chatting with friends.  It's so nice to get out and visit with other women!  Thanks for hosting, Brooke!!

On Friday my sister was in town, so I broke my vow to stay away from the Goodwill Outlet so that I could show it to her (I did tell Mr. Fox that I was going to break my word...somehow that makes it better).  I ended up getting more than intended, but anyhow....  One of the things that I found was this painting. 

It's pretty rare that I find artwork that I like at thrift stores.  Rare as in: it's never happened that I can recall.  But I did like this one a lot (Despite Mr. Fox's response of: "What is it?  I only see dabs and squiggly lines").  It had a black scrape on it, but I was able to wash it off when I got home, and now it's as good as new.  And the best part is that it cost me $1.30!  Yay!  Also on that shopping trip: brand new looking ballet slippers for my little ballerina's (they had outgrown some, so we only had one pair that fit, and I needed to get another pair)...for 12 cents.  Seriously.  $0.12, and they were like new and just the right size.  Such a nice, unexpected blessing.

On Friday night, after a really delicious dinner of burritos/ taco salad with homemade tortillas, Mr. Fox and Moose went to watch a hockey game where our school choir was singing.  The girls had a movie night at home, and I worked on the cookie invitations.  I'll admit that they aren't perfect (and for some reason I HAD been expecting perfection despite having never really worked with royal icing)...but I was happy enough with how they turned out.  I'm planning to do some practicing in the upcoming months.  (The tray of little cookies were for my Young Womens class at church).

(Before adding the written info)




(These were all experimental, trying out different techniques and ideas)


Saturday was ballet class for the twins, and then HOURS of driving around to deliver the invitations.  It's nice that Chick gets to meet new people because of her schooling situation, but between her school classmates and her church classmates we had to drive for such a long time.  But they are all out now, and I need to hussle along with the aprons!

Today I was released from my calling at church.  I've been in Young Womens (the teen girls group) for over three years, and the past almost two years of that was as beehive advisor (teaching the 12-13 year old girls).  I'm sad to not be in there with them anymore, but it's time for a new adventure.  I'll tell you the new calling next week, when it's official.

Lastly, I'm getting ready to update the PTO bulletin board at school.  It is going to be "Favorite Books on our Shelfies" featuring some of the school teachers, staff, student leadership, etc posing in a selfie with their favorite kids book.  So here's mine:



Monday, January 16, 2017

Of Books, Vintage Sheets, and Other Happinesses

Hey!  So you know the table runner and faux flowers, etc that I wrote about last week?
I did nada. 
Well, I found a milk bottle on Buy Nothing that I'm going to paint and use as a vase, but I haven't picked it up yet.  And that is all that I did.

But what I HAVE done has been pretty fun.  I've started gearing up for Chick's birthday party that will be at the start of February!!  You know how much I love to prep for parties!!!!!
Anyhow, it will be a cake decorating party...nothing too elaborate, but the girls will all get to decorate their own little cakes to take home.  And the fun part for now: they'll each get their own apron made out of vintage sheets.  Actually, some sheets may not be vintage...I don't know dates for them, you know.  But some are vintage, because they are the same sheets that I had growing up!!  (not the same exact sheets, but the same pattern.   You know.)  It has been super fun to scour the thrift stores for cool sheets.  And what I don't use for aprons will be used for EASTER DRESSES for my girlies!!  yay, I'm excited!!

Anyhow, I drew my own pattern based on an illustration that I found online.  They are no-tie cross-backed aprons.  I've just about gotten them all cut out, and the first test apron is done and ready.  Here it is:

Stay tuned for the rest...hopefully I can get 11 more aprons done in time!  (It totally sounds do-able, but it is amazing how the rest of my life can get in the way of these fun projects).

Ok, also this week was a trip to the library to pick up an obscene amount of books that were on hold for us (I think it was 25, but I also had books checked out already).  It is a big job keeping these kids supplied with books.  Chick is currently working on reading Newbery & Sasquatch award books for school.  Monkey and Moose both read whatever they can get their hands on.  All three kids are voracious, and Mr Fox and I have to be kind of mean about taking away books when we find post-bedtime reading (which happened a lot last week).

Anyhow, with all of this demand for books, I've come across some good series, and thought I'd share.

Monkey's latest series are: Emily Windsnap, The Mysterious Benedict Society, and The Cupcake Diaries.

Moose is currently devouring A to Z Mysteries (and Monkey is re-reading them...that probably is her favorite series ever, so far).  Moose is also reading Geronimo Stilton, Boxcar Children, Magic Treehouse, Kingdom of Wrenly, and we are trying out the Owen Foote books.

Our read-aloud is The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket (We are reading these before we can watch the new shows that are/will be on Netflix).  We aren't very far into it yet.

On CD we are listening to The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo (who I totally love)...it's an interesting one!  Lots of repetition...feels like a dream-like poem, and it's excellently read.



Also this week was a fun evening out with my friend, Kary.  I don't get out much, so that was fun.
 
And I watched Thoroughly Modern Millie, which I haven't seen in a long time.  It was fun to watch again.  I don't remember it having so very MANY innuendos, but maybe the last time I watched it I was too unsullied to recognize them??

I also went to the Goodwill Outlet a couple of times.  Have I mentioned that I'm feeling a bit like a compulsive shopper lately?  I did have the excuse of needing to find sheets and a vase....  Anyhow, I had a really good time.  The Outlet is a crazy shopping experience: everything is in huge carts and you have to dig for your treasures.  And pricing is per pound.  You get some amazing deals, but the shopping style is certainly not for everyone.  I like it, but after going several times already this month I promised Mr. Fox that I wouldn't go back for a month.

Mr. Fox spent some time this weekend working on our kitchen cabinets!!  We bought RTA cabinets (ready to assemble), so there's going to be quite a bit of putting together before we can actually put them in.  It would seem like a long time, but since it took us YEARS to actually get the ORDER in...well, I think my patience muscles are getting stronger.  {Not really...wish me luck.}

Hmm, I guess that's it.  Have a great week!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Checking In!

Well hello there!  Fancy meeting you here!

It is late (which tells you how well I'm doing with the 11:00 bedtime, lol)...but I wanted to write a quick little accountability note & update on the week.

As far as my goals go, some are going great. 

I've been most diligent about doing the nightly kitchen cleaning, and I must say that I absolutely love it.  It is SO nice to wake up to a clean kitchen and to not feel like I'm behind already.  It hasn't always been easy.  The other night I had to wake Chick up at 11:00 to unload the dishwasher (her chore) because she hadn't done it and I needed to load it!

I've also done well with my morning scripture reading now that I don't keep my phone in the bedroom when I sleep.

I only jogged twice.  Maybe I should be happy that I jogged twice, since that is twice more than I would have otherwise done...but I worry that it will fall off my radar if I don't do it a bit more consistently.  The weather and kids haven't been especially helpful on this one, but those are just excuses.

Ok, those are the ones that I most wanted to write about.  Now for the update.

This week  was re-entry.  And it was rough.  We'd had two blissful weeks of sleeping in, staying up later than usual, and not having to run here and there for appointments and such.  I loved the vacation.  And then school started back up.  And with it came PTO meetings/responsibilities, and homework, and choir practice, and picking people up at certain times.  And I dragged myself through the week.  It really was hard.  I hope this week will be easier.  Especially since I wasn't the only one dragging, and there was one night when almost all of the kids completely melted down and ended up going to bed quite early.  Which was sooooo needed.

The good news: I enjoyed the PTO board meeting.  We have some fun stuff coming up!!  The things that I'm most excited about (that I'm in charge of) are an Arts and Music Festival at the end of March, and teacher appreciation week at the start of May: "Best teachers in the world" theme!!!  Super fun.  I love themed events.

Owl and Otter took their first ballet class on Saturday.  It was all very blush pink and cute.  They both participated, which is great (sometimes Owl will decided to be shy and just shuts down and goes into statue mode). 



Santa brought "experiences" for everyone this Christmas.  Horseback riding for the older girls, hockey for Moose, and ballet for the younger girls.

Mr. Fox was busy this week with his scoutsing.  They were picking up Christmas trees.  I think he really enjoys his scoutsing.

Lastly, I bought some artificial flowers.  I know that's not super exciting, and I don't even have any pictures because I don't have the right vase yet.  But I'm working on redecorating my living room, and I think these are really quite lovely.  I read articles about how to make fake flowers work.  While I agreed with the tips in the articles, in the end flowers that I got won't follow the rules.  They won't pass as real flowers.  But they aren't even trying.  They have a certain artistic flair to them that I think makes them more of an art piece and therefore are exempt from needing to look real.  What do you think?  What rules do you follow when using fake flowers (or do you NOT use artificial?).  I hope to find a vase this week.  And sew a table runner.  And get some pictures framed.  And FINALLY have the living room book table nicely arranged!  I'll post pictures when it's done.

Ok, that's all.  I need to get to bed.  g'night.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Quarterly FHE Plans!

Ok, I just spent some time getting the FHE plans ready.  It turned out that it was easy enough to do three months rather than just one.  Of course, making time & having things ready each week will be the bigger challenge, but at least we have a game plan.  It isn't entirely fleshed out, but pretty much done.

Here it is:

Week 1: Seasonal Topic
Week 2: Primary Theme
Week 3: Article of Faith
Week 4: Scripture Story
Week 5: Family Council & Preparedness

January:

2nd:   New Years
Lesson
New Beginnings/Goals
Mom
Activity
Resolution Charts & thank you notes
Mom
Treat
Chocolate Fondue
Mom
Songs

Mom

9th:  Agency is the Gift to Choose for Ourselves
Lesson
Agency
C
Activity
Wise man and foolish man enactment
D
Treat
Brownies
E
Songs

A & B

16th:  Article of Faith #1
Lesson
 The Godhead
D
Activity
Sarah Wagner's Sorting Game
E
Treat
Tapioca Pudding
A
Songs

B & C

23rd:  Adam & Eve
Lesson
 Story of Adam & Eve
E
Activity
 Coloring Pages
A
Treat
Pineapple Upside-down Cupcakes
B
Songs

C & D

30th:  Family Council & Preparedness
Lesson
 Family Council discussion
Dad
Activity
 Fire Drill
Dad
Treat
 x
Dad
Songs

Dad

February:

6th:  Valentine's Day
Lesson
Love
Mom
Activity
Valentine's making
Mom
Treat
Rice Crispies "kisses" in funnel?
Mom
Songs
"As I have loved you" & "A Happy Family"
Mom

13th:  When we Choose the Right, we are Blessed
Lesson
 "When we Choose the Right, We are Blessed"
A
Activity
Valentine's delivery to neighbors
B
Treat
Heart cut-out cookies
C
Songs

D & E

20th:  Article of Faith #2
Lesson
 Own sins, not Adam's transgressions
B
Activity
 Article of Faith #2 Puzzle
C
Treat
 Chocolate bars
D
Songs

E & A

27th:  Scripture Story
Lesson
 Jesus Healing the Lepers
C
Activity
 Henny Henny Cluck Cluck
D
Treat
 Popcorn
E
Songs

A & B

March:

6th:    King Benjamin's Address
Lesson
 Recap of King Benjamin's address
D
Activity
Set up tent in living room & watch LDS.org videos
E
Treat
S'mores (Hot dogs for dinner)
A
Songs

B & C

13th:  Living Prophets Teach me to Choose the Right
Lesson
 x
E
Activity
 x
A
Treat
Fruit Rainbow
B
Songs

C & D

20th:  Article of Faith #3
Lesson
 Through  Atonement of Christ, all mankind saved
A
Activity
 Something to do with start of spring….
B
Treat
 Root beer floats
C
Songs

D & E

27th:  General Conference Prep!
Lesson
 x
Dad
Activity
Gen. Conf. Center prep & restock GC booklets
Mom
Treat
X
Dad
Songs

Mom