Sunday, July 19, 2015

Spork's Pirate Party

All hail Pinterest!  I love party planning, and it is so much easier and more fun when I raid Pinterest for ideas, then tweak them as needed!

Cheap homemade invitations on cardstock, trimmed to fit in basic envelopes.
Font:  Pieces of Eight
Clip art: Galleon sail ship

X marks the spot, of course!  I would have hung it on our front door with a wreath hanger, but our front door had a little incident the day before the party.  Tempera paint on poster board, hung with twine.

 Kraft favor bags with party blowers and eye patches from Target (eyepatches were sold in bundles on Halloween clearance) and Palmer chocolate coins.  Those coins are not nut-free, so our one allergic guest got a Go-Go Squeez pouch in his.

 Favor bags all lined up and ready to go.

 The Nugget and I found and washed rocks, then painted them gold earlier this summer.  This morning, I hid them under fresh sand in the sand box and set out shovels for my little treasure hunters.  I have to remember to use Sharpies instead of washable markers, because the humidity did make the ink run after awhile.

 Especially with outdoor parties, I like to set out some basic amenities.

 Face painting table

Thank you, Pinterest!  The kids LOVED this game.

Snacks were done minus a working fridge! Cut watermelon and fresh pineapple.  "Peg leg" (honey wheat twist) pretzels and goldfish in freshly washed sand pails with shovels for the servers.  We have done many different kinds of party beverages and have found the combo of iced tea, lemonade, and ice water to be popular and economical.  Solo cups with Sharpie for names.

Store bought frozen meatballs in slow cooker with hoisin sauce.  Not pictured are the pizzas and breadsticks that Daddy picked up midway through the party.

Pump and balloons by Spritz at Target for balloon swords
Cupcakes with homemade chocolate buttercream frosting. We had "green ice cream" (mint chocolate chip) too on Spork's request, though he was so excited, he didn't actually eat any dessert. The cupcake wraps and anchors were left over from Spork's 3rd birthday party but were originally by Spritz at Target.  Actually, if you frequent our parties, you will note that I reuse quite a lot of our party goods from year to year, from the number candles to little banners, which makes hosting kids' bashes a good deal cheaper.  I store leftover party goods in giant Ziploc bags in the basement.

Thank you notes from Vistaprint; I like to replace the "Thank you" with my child's full name, then it becomes personalized stationery they can use all year long.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Nugget is 8!

Dear Nugget,

You are a most astounding and interesting child.  You see the world uniquely and respond to it in kind.  You are Peter Pan, Eloise, and Bill Nye the Science Guy all rolled into one.  The world tells you to check one box; you laugh and check them all, because life isn't about coloring inside the lines but playing connect the dots.  You have an insatiable desire to know how things work and what makes people tick.  You want to be a teacher, a pilot, a farmer, the worker of a printing press, a daddy, and the proud owner of 3 whippets and dozens of cats when you grow up.  It's a little hard to imagine you growing up, because you are so good at living in the moment.

Spending time at the farm with your friends was the perfect way to celebrate you.  We love you, our fearless leader!

Love, Mommy


As the Nugget has grown, he has asked for a bit more media privacy.  I will still be happy to share photos and anecdotes, but he is the solo author of his own story.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A conversation with macaroni

Tater's favorite video these days is Yo Gabba Gabba! So she has been singing the party in my tummy song, and at dinner tonight, she had an interesting conversation with the macaroni on her plate.
T: You cooled down? Ok, come to the party in my tummy!
Macaroni (voiced by T): Oh it's so fun!
T: (to the next forkful) Well, you are sick, so you can't come to the party. You better go home and rest. Get well soon, ok? (10s pass) Oh you all better now, come to the party!
M: It's so fun!

Tater now prefers pulling her lovies in the wagon or pushing them in the stroller. She stops every few yards to readjust their seat belts or to soothe them because they are crying.

I took my trio to the library (which is always a mistake), and they had all earned prizes for the summer reading program. They chose kids' meal coupons from a binder, then the librarian turned away to pull the actual coupons from a drawer. When her back was turned, Spork eagerly asked me, "Her makin' da chicken now?"

I took the littles and some friends on a little nature trek on campus this week. We stopped to appreciate a statue of the holy family up close and personal. Spork was determined to, "touch the baby's toes," then declared it, "Dis my most favorite statue ever. It da best of all!"

A friend recently shared a Pinterest painting idea with me.  The idea was to have the children swing on their bellies with paint brushes in hand and sweep the paint onto flattened cardboard boxes.  The Nugget had to put his own spin on it and instead performed Cirque du Soleil worthy spinning/upside down/backwards painting.  Luckily, he had neglected to remove his bike helmet after a recent ride, so at least the noggin was protected. I love his creativity in messy action.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Spork is Four

Dear Spork,

How can you be four already?  I barely got to know the squishy baby you were, then all of a sudden you were a toddler, then here you are!  Four and proud of it, shell-shocked mama and all.

Top 10 Challenges of Spork at 4
10. Questions, a lot of 'em.  They say the average four year old asks about 400 questions a day.  You are anything but average.  You ask about 400 questions on a single errand.  "Where we goin'? When we comin' back? What we havin' for lunch? When Daddy comin' home?  When Nugget comin' home? He gonna watch? Why you turnin' this way? Where we goin'? Why you slowin' down? What we havin' for lunch? Why sissy got that toy? Why you blow your nose? Where you puttin' the tissue? You gonna put it in the trash? How much boogies you got out? Can I see the boogies?" (This is all before we get out of the neighborhood)
9. You are the ultimate routined child.  You like things the way they are, and we better not change how we do things or else we bear the wrath of Spork. 
8. Your fingers are constantly seeking sensations, and we get that's an important soothing mechanism for you.  But it is a bit uncomfortable to be your object of comfort at times when your fist is kneading inside my back pocket or you attempt to put your head up my skirt.
7.  You still wake up pretty grumpy, which means when you fall asleep in the car, we're all in for a treat.
6.  You wake up early, dark early, and you sing songs.  We love your singing.  We love it slightly less at 5:30am.
5.  No matter what fun things we are doing, what you really want to be doing is just sitting on the couch watching "wideos".  You tell us so, repeatedly.
4.  We have finally retired your bibs, but eating is still a messy affair.  You especially love to lean over and wipe your chin on whoever's sleeve is nearest you, and you will sometimes jump up from a spaghetti dinner and run to greet Daddy enthusiastically when he comes home in his nice work clothes, and he has to dodge you (lovingly).
3. When you get overexcited or anxious, your instinct is to bury your head in my pants, then start crashing head first into furniture.  It's cool, let's just get a handle on this before you start your college interviews, hmmm?
2.  Your default setting is "whine". 
1.  "Spork is one of our loudest friends," your teacher told us at conference time, in her best Miss Lippy voice.  Oh yes, we know. At this point, you can't maintain an inside voice if your life depended on it, but you're trying!

Top 10 Things I Love About Spork at 4
10. You don't create art as often as you used to, but when you do sit and make something, you are careful and precise.  Your brush/marker/crayon touches the paper with a lot of purpose and concentration, it is so fun to watch!
9. You are always whipping up something in your kitchen, be it fixings for Tater's picnics or a hot pizza for your "guys".
8.  You lack manners in most areas but when I set food in front of you, you always remember to thank me.
7. When we read books together, you let all your muscles go slack and snuggle/lean into me.  You love books and could read for hours.  You also love to choose your own books at quiet time.
6. Your dancing brings a big smile to my face.  You throw your whole body into the music, and your moves are all your own.
5.  You are a tattler.  That might seem like a negative thing to some, but with the siblings you have....let's just say I am thankful for The Spork Alert.
4.  You remind me to schedule down time.  As an extrovert mama, sometimes I need a reminder to dial it down a notch and make space and time to breath and recoup.  You insist on it, and that's good for all of us.
3. You have such a zest for life!  I am so thankful I can type that now and so sorry that it took so long for us to figure out and meet your needs, Spork.  It's as if SPD were this unhappy fog that has finally lifted and let out this sweet boy who was trapped inside its clutches.  You are happy, silly, smart, funny, goofy, affectionate, strong, and you can be assured that your mama will keep fighting to give you the power and the tools to put SPD in its place.  And on the days it gets you down, I will build pillow forts for us to hide in and find you something safe to smash.
2.  Your play is so funny.  You can play cooperatively now, but after awhile, you slink off to be on your own with "some guys".  The guys can be Imaginext, Little People, stuffed animals, plastic dinosaurs, sometimes even lint balls, you really don't care.  You bring them to life with your dialogue and imagination, which is always out loud.  They always get into some kind of scrape, but always turn out ok.  You barely notice the outside world while you play this way.
1. You are forming a very special bond with the Nugget, now that you're less a toddler interloper knocking down block towers and are now a co-conspirator. I love to see you two cuddled up in the tent whispering secrets and splashing in the wading pool devising new games.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

That's Classy

Tater burped, and Spork responded, "Oh, that's classy!"

When trying to dissuade Spork to drink water from the local splashpad, I calmly explained, "Little kids sometimes pee in the splashpad, then the water goes down the drain and into pipes and shoots back up for you to play you shouldn't drink it."  He soaked in the information, then a grin grew over his face and he replied, "So I can pee in the fountain?!" Not the takeaway message here, Spork!
 (Spork also busted up both knees and keeps letting them heal, then picks the scabs off - ewww!  Sensory seeking behavior, I know, but does anyone have a solution other than buying stock in Neosporin?!)

While at the park, Tater noted a teenage boy and girl wrestling, flirting, and giggling. She said, "Why they doing that? I don't like that." I replied that's how teenagers act sometimes. She puffed out her little chest and declared, "Well, I'm never going to act like THAT."

The Nugget has this new sideways gallop, in which he slaps his his bottom with every step, as if encouraging a horse onward.

I love the springtime opportunity of open windows but I am not so sad that a/c season is upon us, because the Nugget's friendliness has come bursting out of said open car windows lately. "Whazzzuuuup?!" he shouted to some young twenty-something guys in a muscle car, their radio blaring, their car rocking. Horrified, Hubby and I awaited their reaction. They looked stunned for a second, then their tough guy masks crumbled into hysterical laughter and they screamed back, "Whazzzzuuup?!" They traded this nonsensical greeting back and forth all the way down the hill, and the Nugget was sorely disappointed when their car turned.  Another time, we saw a man smoking while jaywalking, and the Nugget rolled down the window to provide a helpful correction. I hushed him quickly, put the child window lock on, and tried to explain how when adults make sad choices, it is not our job to correct them. The Nugget fretted, "But he is making TWO sad choices!"

Cute mispronunciations:
Jamannas - pajamas
Skabetti - spaghetti
Wedge-able - vegetable
Dinanna- banana
Picpic - picnic

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Disney World 2015

Grammy and Grandpa very generously treated the family to a Disney World vacation this month!  I had a few misgivings about taking 3 year olds to the Happiest Place on Earth (They're not tall enough! They won't remember it! It will become a logistical nightmare with naps, strollers, and potty breaks!), but you just can't pass up family time and an opportunity for fun and memories.  I packed for the kids and I while Hubby was out of town on a work trip, he came home for 24 hours and patiently listened while I wailed/worried about airport security, my confusion over Magic Bands and FastPass+, and would we have enough underpants for Tater who had been regressing in her potty skills.

It really worked out better than I could have imagined.  Yes, buckets of tears were shed, about:
1. Who was squirting whom with $18 spray bottles.
2.  Being too small to go on rides with big brothers.
3.  Having to wait for buses (Nugget and Spork)/having to ride buses (Tater).
4.  Not being carried 24/7 despite there being a beautiful double stroller available.
5.  Having to wait in line for rides and meals.
6.  Getting separated at the water parks, because clearly Mommy and Daddy rely too much on cell phones to find each other.
7. Stopping to take photos, because that is the WORST when you're a kid on a mission.

But there were a lot of smiles and giggles too, about:
1.  Special bonding time with cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
2.  Downtime Pooltime in the afternoons and pretending to be a baby octopus.
3.  Amazing rides like Test Track and experiences like the Disney Junior Live show.
4.  Watching Spork get over his fear of costumed characters to enjoy meeting Handy Manny and Jake at a character breakfast.
5.  Ice cream at 10am, unlimited screen time when we were in the hotel, because we were on "vacation rules."
6.  Seeing giraffes roam, zebras gallop, and crowned cranes play peekaboo out our hotel window.
7.  Marveling that because we were all so incredibly hot, we didn't need that many restroom stops/spare undies after all!
8.  Realizing that those Magic Bands allow adults to charge Pina Colavas to the room at the pool.  Cheers!
9.  Discovering that Grandpa had a 20 year old purple, green, and yellow Blizzard Beach shirt that
he happily wore for like 3/5 days!


Pretty much by the end of Day 5, we all felt like Spork here, so while it was a magical experience, this Mama is happy to be home.

Our Disney tips for others, but mainly for ourselves should we be brave enough for House of Mouse Take 2:
1.  The Rapid Refill cups are awesome.
2.  Buy your own darn fan squirters before you go.
3.  Bring your own water bottles, even if you lose one or two, you will save so much money on bottled water.
4.  P.M. pooltime might make you feel like you are missing out on the park experience, but it will also save your sanity if you have children under the age of 7.
5.  Always check your 3yo's wrist for the Magic Band, about every 5 minutes.  Because the one time you don't, you will have ridden 2 buses for 60 minutes with little sister screaming and when you get up to the front of the line and are counting down the seconds to plopping your tired butt in the lazy river, your angelic boy will look up at you with doe eyes and a bare wrist, and proclaim, "My band not here.  I take it off."  Then you will stand in the guest service line sweating out 10% of your body weight and praying that they will let you in and you will not have to turn your wretched family back to the bus line.  They did.  But I think Disney would be wise to make the child-size Magic Bands a bit more like LoJacks.
6.  Bring stain treater.
7.  Get those water-safe cases for your cell phones so you can locate your Sig Oth at the waterparks.

Some Father's Day Doozies

We had a pretty nice Father's Day this year.  We went strawberry picking then out to lunch at B-Dubs.  I asked the children if they could give Daddy nice restaurant behavior as part of their gift to him, and it worked for the most part!  On the way to the farm, Daddy was dancing in the car, which often makes them laugh or sometimes makes them groan. This morning, Tater begged him to stop dancing, and when he finally relented, she seriously quipped, "You should say sorry, Daddy."  Daddy also called something "nifty" and complained about song lyrics these days, so it all felt very scripted.

The Nugget was his usual interesting self, practicing his gargling/talking combo in the car.  Then he was determined to find the weirdest looking berries as well as the reddest ones.  He kept whispering to him, "Red perfection," when he found a really ripe berry. And of course, he had to use the photo opp at lunch. This kid keeps me laughing.

Spork was most delighted when we discovered that there were a few red raspberries to be had. We only had enough for one pint, which he desperately wanted to claim for himself.  He said he was going to eat four strawberries, but I think dozens more went down the hatch.  Most of Spork's time on the farm was spent wondering aloud when the tractor was going to come back for us.

Strawberries are Tater's all-time favorite fruit, so she was in strawberry heaven.  She ate a whole bucket of snap peas too, then starting playing with the bushel baskets, giving them names and taking them "shopping".