Friday, April 26, 2013

High Five for Friday

It has been far too long since I have taken a moment on a Friday to reflect on the week and all the good things that happened.  In fact I haven't done a High Five for Friday post since last September. 

Bad Kelly...

This felt like the perfect week to get back into it because this week had so many things to be thankful for...

#1 - Sunny Friday Mornings
Once a week I try to take my oldest daughter to school.  It means getting to work a little later and then having to work through my lunch or stay a little later but it's totally worth it. I want my daugther to know I am invested in her schooling and I want her teachers to know that as well.  It's a bonus when the morning is sunny and the kids are cooperative enough for us to get there early enough to spend some time on the swings:

#2 - Twin Day...and why my daughter is awesome.
A few weeks ago my oldest came home with a notice saying that April 26 would be Twin Day and the children were encouraged to pair up with a friend and dress the same. She had recently attended a birthday party where all the girls had received the same t-shirt and she told me they would all be wearing that.  But this morning she threw me a curve ball when she came out of her room wearing something completely different.  When I asked she said one of her friends didn't come to the party and had no one to pair up with so she decided to pair up with her instead.  Because "I don't want her to feel left out...that's not nice."  Oh how I love that kid...

#3 - Nanny's Weekly Visit
Every week my mum and grandmother come for dinner. I think its very important to teach my girls how important family is and as Nanny will be turning 90 this year we don't know how much longer we will have her around. This week Nanny gave their girls their birthday present - a doll house.  The girls were over the moon and the smile on Nanny's face when they hugged her and kissed her was priceless.  

#4 - Shutting the Door on Me
I do my runs at night - usually leaving the house right at bedtime - and every time my youngest insists on closing the door behind me. What's she is wearing when she closes the door on me depends on how far into the bedtime routine we are.  This week - on Wednesday - she wished me good luck on my "walk/run" (she can never just call it a run!) - wearing just her underpants and her necklace. cute is she?

#5 - Overcoming Mental Obstacles
When I first downloaded the Ease into 5K app I looked ahead at every week and scared the leaving bejesus out of myself with how hard each week got. Week 3 scared me with its jump to 3 minute runs from the previous week's 90 seconds. But week 4 doubled that again with a jump to 6 MINUTES! Without a gentle push from my running partner I probably would have been content to run week 3 forever...instead I took the plunge and crushed that 6 minute stint. Moving on...

What a week it has been...what were your highlights?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mary Poppins Birthday Party Extravaganza

All the cupcakes have been eaten, the chalk dust has been swept away and the carousel horses have retired to the toybox…and upon reflection I’m pretty sure we pulled off a party that Mary Poppins herself would have been pleased to attend.

The 25 kids that visited our version of 17 Cherry Tree Lane on Sunday sure seemed to have a good time. Despite the fact that we had some April showers that timed themselves just perfectly to make outside play time impossible…

As I mentioned before I had a lofty vision for this party.  I was pretty sure that this would be one of the last birthdays (for a while at least) where my girls would agree on sharing a party and as such I wanted it to be spectacular. I was also pretty sure that some of the kids attending the party would never have seen Mary Poppins.

It turns out I was right about that.  Only about a quarter of the kids at the party had seen it…and that…my good a tragedy.  Mary Poppins is a classic…a movie that every kid (and grown up too) should see. My girls have seen it dozens of times and they still laugh out loud at the funny bits, sing along with all the songs, and hate the ‘mean old man at the bank that steals Michael's tuppence.’ Seriously…if you haven’t watched this movie with your kids yet…do it now.  You can borrow my copy if you want...but it is a little worn.

Okay…back to party central…let’s break down by the elements:

Best to start at the very beginning right?  I pretty much took the easy way out with the invitations – laying them out in publisher and using graphics I found on the internet to round it out. The text I used was a mix of different invitation styles I found on Pinterest.  Simple yet effective…I was pretty happy with the way they turned out:


London Skyline:
This was my loftiest vision. I wanted hubby to make a skyline of London that covered every wall in the room.  That meant he needed to build 40 feet of skyline. The first challenge was determining what material he should make it out of.  At first I thought we should just find a roll of black craft paper but hubby had an even better idea – he bought a roll of black roofing paper from Home Depot.  It was bigger and much more durable…it turned out to be the perfect choice.

He then created a template of the roof tops to use as a guide and spent several hours with an exacto knife meticulously cutting out every roof and chimney.  The result was nothing short of amazing:

And then…because what’s a London skyline without the most recognizable buildings – he drew a freehand Big Ben and Parliament Buildings as well as the dome of St. Pauls:

My mum pitched in on party day outlining the roof tops in front of each monument in white so that they didn't get lost in the black on black set up. The only thing missing was cutouts of chimney sweeps dancing on the rooftops that I was supposed to make. 

What can I say…I simply ran out of time.  With all the projects we were doing I knew something would have to give at some point and it turned out to be the chimney sweeps. That said, despite the lack of dirty dancing men, I still think it turned out amazing.

Kite Banner:
Let’s Go Fly a Kite is one of the most famous songs in Mary Poppins and so kites had to make an appearance somewhere at the party.  Originally I had planned to have kite making be the “craft” for everyone but I couldn’t find any kite making kits in my price range.  So I decided to make a kite shaped happy birthday banner instead.

I bought cardstock and used a letter template to cut out each letter.  To make the kite template itself I took a letter size piece of paper and drew out the shape from edge to edge.  When the kites were done I glued on the letters and added ribbon as the ‘strings’.  It was a lot more work than I envisioned – mainly the cutting out the letters part – but it was also the perfect addition to the party.

Cupcake Toppers:
My cousin always volunteers to make cupcakes for the girls’ birthday party and I am never one to turn down free baked goods. I looked at many different decorating options for the cupcakes and decided in the end that some simple cupcake toppers would be the best option.  So I designed some basic squares using Publisher and then cut them out and matched them up.  I decided on three basic graphics to use – Mary herself, chimney sweep and the Jolly Holiday Penguin.

I glued them together and added a toothpick in between the papers.  When they were dry I trimmed them down as needed.  It was a bit time consuming but they looked great in action.

Little Touches:
I had bought these awesome little frames from Michael's last year and realized they would be perfect little additions to the d├ęcor.  Again…I created the content for each of them in Publisher and kept them simple in black and white.  They were placed on the food table and cake table.  
And I painted a wooden sign from the dollar store and turned it into an address marker:

Food & Drink:
As the party was planned for the afternoon (just post lunchtime) I knew I didn’t need to worry too much about food options.  We had a basic veggie and fruit tray as well as chips.  I did want to do something to make the food and drink table a little more Mary-ish so I brought in a drink dispenser to serve ‘Raspberry Ice’.  Which was really just Cran-Raspberry juice and Sprite...but it looked prettier on the table than juice boxes.

Goody Bags:
This is the one party item where I wasn’t 100% happy.  I had grand ideas about what to include but in the end time and money were against me.  I was thrilled with the actual bags I got – I found them at Michael's and they were paper bags that all stood up perfectly even when filled. 

Each bag had the following – sidewalk chalk, fruit juice gummies, pencil and ‘tuppence’. The ‘tuppence’ were actually plastic gold coins that I put in bags and labeled “Tuppence to feed the birds…”.  As we had a range of ages the older kids got bookmarks and the younger kids got notebooks.

We labeled each goody bag with the child’s name (so I could make sure the older and younger kids got the right item) and this message: “Thank you for coming to my party and making it “practically perfect” in every way.”   I may not have been thrilled with the contents but they did look uniformly spectacular on the table:
I created these labels in word and just printed off a sheet. Easy peasy...

Games & Activities:
Without a main craft idea (like kite making) we decided on three other activities/games for the kids:

Chalk Drawings – hubby laid down more of the magical roofing paper and we put out a box of sidewalk chalk for the kids to do their own chalk drawings.  Most of the kids started out the party with this activity and they all came back again and again.

I had originally wanted to create separate frames labeled with every kids name (to keep them all civilized) but time and space made that impossible.  Had it not been raining I would likely have moved this activity outside.  We did also let the kids draw on the London Skyline (gasp!) on the wall and they liked that as well.

Carousel Horse Races – in a separate room hubby laid out a horse racing track.  We created three “obstacles” including a hedge (plastic plants stuck in a florists block) and a fake water hazard (blue paper).  Hubby constructed two jumps out of plastic flower bed fencing (thank you Dollarama) and used balloons like cones in a soccer drill.

We had two horses (one girl horse and one boy) and each kid went around the course and I timed them.  This was by far the most popular activity.  The timing really didn't matter in the end - because the littlest kids could never outrun the older ones - but they all loved the spirit of competition.  They also really loved screaming "On your mark...get set...go!" at the top of their lungs!

Spoonful of Sugar Race - I probably should have put a little more thought into this one...had I been more organized I think it would have gone a little smoother.  Basically we divided the kids into 4 teams of 4 and the goal was to carry sugar cubes on spoons to fill up cups at the other end of the room.  I had wanted to use tea cups but forgot to buy any so we just had the drink cups from the party.  The kids had fun - anything that is a competition they seem to enjoy - but I do think it could have been better.

And there you have it - our Mary Poppins Party review.  Hubby and I were absolutely exhausted by the end of the night - as were the kids...but it was worth it.

My biggest regret is that I forgot to take a picture of my little birthday girls on their party day.  I should always try to do that first thing otherwise its too easy to forget it.  We also didn't get a family picture...oh is what it is. 

I will have to settle for the following shots....

How is my baby 4 already?

It truly was a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious good time…

Monday, April 22, 2013

Little Victories

Tonight I ran for 5 minutes. Straight. Like without stopping. And I didn't fall down dead after.

In fact while that 5 minute stretch was the longest I had ever run I also managed to run two other 4 minutes stints tonight as well. That's 13 minutes of running total.

Flashback 6 weeks ago and I was straight onto my couch as soon as the kids went to bed. Now I can't wait to lace up my shoes and head out.

What a difference a few weeks can make.

Even more amazing than my small victory tonight is the fact that my fabulous running partner Jaime ran for an incredible 11 minutes straight. She actually did it by accident - her app was on mute and she missed the order to walk - so she just kept running.

And seeing her face after she finished up tonight made me realize that I can do it to. Just keep running, stop when I need to catch my breath and then start running again.

One foot in front of the other.

One minute at a time.

One small victory after another.

Tonight 5 minutes...soon 5k.

when I first started this week scared the daylights outta me...tonight I (almost) crushed it.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Lunchtime Sugar Rush

I took the girls to McDonalds for lunch today and since we had some extra time to kill before gymnastics I gave in to their pleas of "Mummy....can we have an ice cream? Pleeeeeeeaaaaassssseeeee?"

Below is a photo chronology of what happened 10 mins after they ate aforementioned ice cream. Their laughter and smiles were so infectious...I am totally giving in to the pleas again next time.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Mary Poppins Party Prep

It's birthday party time at our house - both my girls have April birthdays (6 days apart) - and thankfully they are still young enough where they don't mind sharing a party.

Last year it was all about Disneyland since we had just returned from our first trip to the happiest place on earth. This year when the discussion first turned to party theme they were once again in agreement - both wanted a Barbie party.

I - on the other hand - was not feeling that one at all. So I not-so-subtly made another suggestion - how about a Mary Poppins party? And luckily...they went for it.

First stop in the planning process was Pinterest. My goodness there are some seriously crafty and imaginative people out there.

We had a few ideas of our own but the awesomeness of what we found on Pinterest just rounded it all out.

So for the past several weeks I have been in full planning and prep mode. My oldest daughter has definitely had more input on the planning this year. She has very specific ideas about games and decorations and food.

Today is 2 days before party day and both hubby and I have taken the day off to do last minute prep. And by last minute prep I mean we still have a giant to-do list and I'm afraid there is no way we will get it done.

I have about 5 crafty, decorations projects started though and they look half beautiful.

I see much cutting, glueing, taping, goody bag stuffing, label printing and list making in my future.

Check back on Sunday to see how it all went!

A sneak preview of a few of the projects:

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dear Daughter,

Tomorrow is your 7th birthday and I have to tell you...I am struggling with that number.

I am struggling with the fact that you - my first born - are now closer to being a teenager than you are a baby. It feels like only yesterday I held you in my arms for the first time.

That first cuddle we shared was made even more important because I waited a very long 12 hours to do it. After dreaming about having a little girl for so long and feeling you grow inside me for 33 weeks I didn't want to wait a minute to hold you...let alone 12 hours.

You were so small I was scared I was going to hurt you. But I underestimated you my sweet girl because you were already so tough. You were a fighter from the start.

I was amazed by the strength I felt and saw from you during those 17 days in the NICU. And you continue to amaze me every day.

Tonight - as I tucked you into bed on the last day of your 6th year - I was trying to find a way to tell you all that I was feeling.

That I feel blessed everyday that I get to be your mama. That you are one of the two best things I have ever done in my life.

That I think you are beautiful inside and out. That nothing makes me happier than when you slip your little hand into mine and smile up at me - with all those missing teeth.

That I know I can be too hard on you and that my expectations of you are high. But that's because I know you can do amazing things. And I want you to do amazing things.

That I will always let you forge your own path and make your own mistakes. And when you fall down I will be there to help you up.

But as I stood there on the top step of your bunk bed ladder tucking your in with your blankie and your bear the only words I could come up with were "I love you."

Because baby I really do. My love for you is special and we have a special bond. You made me a mother. And your first cry and every one since has had an impact on me.

We will have our moments. Our relationship and bond will be tested - of this I have no doubt - but we will endure those few rough times and be better for them

My darling daughter - on this your 7th birthday - I want you to know how proud I am of you. Of the person you are now and the person you will be one day.

Thank you for every hug, every kiss, every "I love you mummy." you have ever given me. I hope you never stop holding my hand.