Monday, August 27, 2012

Fourth Birthday Party

G had a big party on Saturday. We invited 4 kids and their parents to join us, so there were 6 kids in our house for the big day.

G is in love with My Little Pony these days (as are Paul and I), so she requested a My Little Pony themed party. I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on commercial-stamped Hasbro-approved birthday stuff, so I mostly just went DIY.  This is the first time we've had a "real" kids party with friends invited, and it was pretty fun.

The kids that came were all younger then G (a three year old, two two-year olds and two 20-month-olds) so I knew I couldn't go too nuts on complicated games or have too long of a party.
We made a pony puppet craft, played pin-the-tail-on-the-pony, did a bean-bag toss and Paul juggled a bit and made balloon animals (thank goodness for a clown in the family!). We ate food, we ate cake.
And, of course, opened presents.

I thought I'd give a little run-down of how I did it all. It was fun to plan and, actually, not all that hard!

For the craft:
I printed and cut out pony colouring sheets, which the kids then coloured and taped popsicle sticks to. It was a really easy craft that even the littlest of kids could do.

The games:

I made Applejack out of some orange and yellow bristol board.
It's hard to tell by the picture, but she's about 2 feet tall. Here's my trick for getting an image that big: I look online for an image of the pony I want, then zoom in on the screen till she's the size I want it to be in real life. I take white paper, put it right up on the computer screen and then (very gently) trace out the image. When it's a large image like this one, it takes some tracing-then-scrolling to get the whole thing. I'm sure you could also try and print it out magnified, but I don't own a printer!

Then, I take the tracing and cut it up into colour elements and cut out the outline onto the coloured paper.

Then I assemble all the pieces together and voilà! To tell where to line things up, you can just hold it up to the computer screen again to make sure everything lines up.

I then made 5 copies of her tail so the kids were able to try and tape it onto the correct spot. 

The cake was a similar process:

Except I made it with marshmallow fondant instead. Which, obviously, is a bit harder to work with then paper!
The great thing about making something like this is that I made Fluttershy (the pegasus pony on the top of the cake there) several days before, so I wasn't panicking at the last minute.
I made her entirely, then just stored her wrapped in wax paper in the cupboard.

I don't have any photos of it, but the other food was pizza rolls, pigs in a blanket and two trays: one with a rainbow of fruit and one with a rainbow of veggies.

Lastly, the décor:

Honestly, it looks pretty awesome in this picture, but it didn't hold up well. It was pretty much gone by the end of the party.
What is it? Tablecloths. 3 plastic dollarstore tablecloths and 6 balloons. I cut each of the tablecloths lengthwise and taped them all to the ceiling.
Really, the tape was my downfall. Scotch tape does not like to hold things, even lightweight tablecloths. My original plan was going to be staples, but our stapler failed. If I were to do it again I would either use really small nails or some kind of double-sided foam tape. Also, I wouldn't have it be the last thing I do!

So, there you have it! My beautiful oldest girl had a very fun fourth birthday party. And, well, about an hour after the party, this is what she looked like:
It's over. Sigh.

Go Fish

As I may have mentioned before, G loves animals. she has a large collection of stuffed animals - all with names and backstories. Live animals send her into a frenzy. She adores and chases our friends dogs, tries to pet any cat she sees and our daytime activities include trips to a local petting zoo or even the pet store.
She has been asking for a dog or cat for about six months now, but we haven't been able to honour that request. Despite the fact that both Paul and I would love to own a dog or cat someday, our current living situation just does not make that possible. Our apartment is small and while it allows pets, we know that if we rent a different place in the future, they may not.

So, our compromise was to get G a fish. We chose to wait until her birthday so it would be her present from us.

So, late the night before her birthday, Paul drove off to the pet store and bought a red and blue Betta fish.
We wrapped a ribbon around the bowl and G was thrilled when she woke up.

Since he was red, she said "I'll name him Reddy!" then, noticing that he had some blue as well, she added "I'll name him Reddy Bluey!" We were a bit sad that our normally creative girl had chosen a fairly silly name, but we figured we could shift the name slowly over to "Freddy Louie" instead.

That was Wednesday. On Thursday, he didn't eat his food. Thursday night, Paul changed the water, not knowing that he was supposed to take out the chlorine and be cautious about temperature.
Friday morning, Reddy Louie (as he had come to be known) was hanging out exclusively at the bottom of the bowl. By Friday evening, he had passed onto that great fishbowl in the sky. Paul was pretty upset. He blamed himself and felt horrible for killing a living thing. I remain convinced that he was kinda sickly to begin with and annoyed that the pet store sent him home with no instructions whatsoever.

We were nervous. G would have to be told, but we knew we would soften the blow by getting her a new fish immediately.
Saturday morning dawned, and before she noticed that the bowl was empty, I gave her a big hug and said: "I have something to tell you. Reddy Louie died during the night. I'm really sorry. But Daddy will take you today to get a new fish from the store."
G, bless her 4 year old ignorance, was completely unphased. "We'll get a new fish! And when it dies, we'll get ANOTHER new fish! We'll just keep getting new fish!"
Later on, she asked if she could see the dead fish's bones. She's a very morbid child sometimes.

So, now we have a new fish.
He's blue, he has rocks and bamboo and a fake plant. He's much happier and will hopefully live a long and full life.

His name is Bluey Louie.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Hectic Morning

It started off well.

The three of us (G, M and I) had a happy morning, we got dressed and I decided that today would be a great day to go to the playground. I told the girls we were going to a playground and while they played, I gathered up their bathing suits and a towel to bring with us, in case they wanted to go to the spray pad as well. It crossed my mind that maybe I should bring a little snack, but I thought "No, we'll just come home if we get hungry."

By the time we got to the park, it was turning into a beautiful day, and G was very excited to see the spray park.
"Can we go in?" she begged.
"Well, actually, yes. I have your bathing suits."
She cheered and we made our way to the washrooms to get changed. The moment we stepped into the bathrooms, G started whining about the smell. It wasn't your standard "This is a stinky bathroom" smell, it was the overly-chemical smell of "we don't want this to be a stinky bathroom". G has a super-sensitive nose lately, so I asked if she'd rather get changed at one of the picnic tables in the park. She quickly agreed. It's nice that my kids are young enough to have no modesty whatsoever.

Once they were both in swimwear, I sent them to the spray pad. G's general approach with spray pads is to run to the water, barely touch it, then run out screaming. For M, this was her first encounter. Unlike G, who tends to be timid about new things, M has no qualms about just going for it.  She ran in, full speed and giggled like mad.

G took M's hand, like the dutiful big sister and tried to lead her around, but in reality, it was M who was doing the leading. Every time G tried to bring her out of the water, M pulled her back in.
Soon enough, G was running to me, shivering. The sun had gone behind a cloud and she'd had enough. I wrapped her in the towel and she demanded to get dressed. Her spray park time had lasted 3 glorious minutes.
M, on the other hand, would not come out. She stood in the water, shivering, but enjoying her self. Her little lips started to go blue and still she wouldn't come out. I stood at the edge, fully clothed and not looking to get wet calling her name. 
Finally, out she came and I dried her off and got her dressed, which was much like dressing a greasy eel. A greasy eel who is crying because you took her out of the water. All the while, G is at my side saying
"Come ooooooon!! Let's go to the plaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayground!!"

Finally, the two of them ran off to the playground as I hear my cell phone make its non-annoying-but-still-audible notification noise. I check it.

Oh. Crap.

G has a gymnastics class in twenty minutes. Across town.

I yelled to her. She is excited for gymnastics and came right away. M is in the middle of a tunnel, so I wrestled her out and onto my back in the Ergo. We ran to the car and got in.

Now, St. John's is not a big city. It doesn't take all that long to get from one end to the other. However, where I was (Rotary Park) and where G's gymnastics class was (Torbay) are about as far from each other as you can get and still be in the city.

We hit every single red light on the way there.

As we pulled into the parking lot, it hit me. The class started at 11:45 (it was now 11:50), it ended at 12:45 and we had not eaten since breakfast. Why did I not pack that snack? I had no food on me, not even my emergency car food (note to self: replace emergency car food). I turned to G and gave her a choice "Do you want to go somewhere and eat, or do you want to do gymnastics first?" She chose gymnastics, so in we went. My stomach growled while I watched her, M was a bit cranky, but somehow we managed to make it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

4 Years ago

Four years ago today, this little girl came into our lives.

We've watched her grow.
And grow.
And grow
And Grow

 And gain a little sister

And keep on growing!

To the big, big four year old girl she is today!

Happy Birthday, G! Your Mommy and Daddy love you so much. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

On Loneliness

Early motherhood can be very lonely. It's something that's been said to me again and again and it's true. Being home all day with young kids is exhausting and makes it hard to get out there and make friends. While conversations with a 3-4 year old can be interesting, they are not stimulating in the way adult conversations are.
So, how do I combat this?
A few ways. For one, I try to get out as much as I can. For me, that means playgroups, the park, the gym, the library... any free activity I can find. Sometimes this gets me into conversations with other adults and that's really helpful.
I heard advice that listening to CBC radio helps, since you always have an adult talking, and I do that, though G now has an opinion on what she hears! 
I also try to see friends in the evenings, which is not all that often, but when I am involved in a home group, it is once a week.

But the major thing I do is connect with people online. I'm on twitter and facebook, I have a few message boards about parenting I frequent. I have a sci-fi message board I've been involved for over 10 years now (many of the people from that board have become good friends, even though we've never met in person!).
I love the internet. It opens doorways and conversations with like-minded people and it feeds into my love for information and knowledge. In the world we live in, there isn't the same level of friends and family to help you out with parenting. It used to take a village to raise a child, and now my village is online support.

However, it is a double-edged sword. While I love connecting with people who have similar views and philosophies as I do, it sometimes gives me a skewed view of the world.
One of the few things I remember from my Intro to Psych class is the Availability Heuristic - the way in which our brain makes leaps from anecdotal evidence to the probability of it happening again. When we hear a few stories of the same thing happening to different people, our brains make the leap of "this is something that happens to people".

For me, it's a perception of judgement.  For example, when I read stories online of people who hate babies in restaurants, I start to assume that everyone does. If two people mention it, or if there is a group of even 1000 people on facebook that say "all restaurants should ban children!", it leads me to think that every childless adult I encounter thinks this way, even though 1000 people out of the billions of people online is a tiny, tiny amount. When I start assuming that everyone is judging me for my choices (cloth diapers, breastfeeding beyond a year, not spanking, being cautious about princess culture), I start being judgmental right back. It's easy to tweet a snarky comment about a mom I see instead of actually engaging in conversation.
So, I'm trying to stop. When I find myself looking at an article or anecdote online, I'm being deliberate about stepping back and saying "This happened to one person, not to me."

Because, when it comes to connecting with people, the positive outweighs the negative. I really appreciate all the advice and expertise that the internet can provide.

Monday, August 13, 2012


On Sunday, Paul celebrated his 30th birthday. He has been making fun of me for a year and a half about being in my thirties, so I'm glad that's over (until I turn forty, I suppose).

We didn't really do much to celebrate, mostly because I dropped the ball (sorry, sweetie!). Between friends leaving, in-laws visiting, a trip to Twillingate and thinking about/planning G's fourth birthday, I just didn't get around to planning something.

However, I made a cake. I really love cake decorating and I've been trying to get better at in the past few years. I made a castle for G's first birthday, a bunny for her third birthday and cake pops (which I would not do again, despite their trendiness) for M's first birthday.
I've never been all that interested in fondant, I find it pretty gross tasting, even though it looks cool, so I was VERY interested when someone on twitter mentioned marshmallow fondant.
It's super-easy to make and much more delicious then regular fondant.

I made a Superman cake:

The girls helped blow out the candles. The shirts were...mostly coincidence.

We each had a slice and that's when it happened.

M transformed into this:
via: hyperboleandahalf
If you haven't read Hyperbole-and-a-Half, you should. She has a hilarious story called "God of Cake" (seriously, go read it right now, she's the funniest thing on the whole internet).

M was desperate for a second piece of cake. She sat in her highchair and reached for more cake, so we took her out of her chair and put the cake in the kitchen. Paul and G moved to the living room and before I could clean off the table, M climbed up on a chair and started licking her sister's plate.
I put her back on the floor and she started to cry. "Cake!" she said, using her brand-new word skills. "Cake! Cake?"
She went into the kitchen and pointed up at the cake, just in case she thought I didn't understand. "DIS! DIS!"
I put the dome cover over the cake, hoping that would dissuade her. No such luck.
I know it's in there.
She did not calm down... pretty much until bedtime.

Day 2: Still cake.
Now it's the next day and she's still aware that there's cake in the house. G cares, but amazingly has patience to wait for an appropriate dessert time. M wanders around the house, randomly saying "Cake?"

*I kid you not, as I was writing this post, M came up to the computer, saw the photo of the cake and started yelling "Cake! Cake!"

Friday, August 3, 2012

It Was a Rather Large Hint

"Look at my picture Mommy!"
"That's great! Who is that?"
"I...I...don't want to tell you. I will tell you tomorrow."
"Here is a hint: the story is called The Little Mermaid and Her Dad Save Some Fishes"
"Is that a picture of the Little Mermaid, then?"

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

When Grandparents Visit

" I am unsure what to do with this giant pink thing."

"Oooh, I get it now."