Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sixth birthday portraits

Friday, April 29, 2011

A royal affair

Not everyone is into royal-watching. I get that. I am not into it all that much myself on a regular basis, but I do get caught up in big events... and if I were on the other side of the pond, I admit it: I could very well be camped out somewhere along the Mall.
As it was, we had to watch the wedding from this side of the pond. We did it up though and made it an event. Mallory wore her Cinderella dress and a tiara, and Liam wore the colours of the Union Jack and a crown. (Yes, his Jaws shirt is supposed to be trumpeting his support of the British empire.) We also invited Mallory's little friend over, thinking the girls would be very into the whole common-girl-turns-into-a-princess theme. They watched Kate emerge and checked out her dress, but then they disappeared upstairs to play dollhouse. It wound up being the moms on the couch, discussing everything from Kate's dress to the processional music to how quickly William has started balding to the craziness of all the fascinators, and Liam watching alongside. He definitely saw more than Mallory did.
We turned breakfast into a tea party. On the menu: chocolate croissants and scones with lemon curd. Tasty! I pulled out as many red and blue dishes as I could find to make things festive.Special cups for the kids' OJ...I did not design these - I found a free printable online, and they were too cute not to print out, punch out, and stick in our food.The full spread, complete with Mallory diving into her strawberries.Mallory is unlikely to marry a prince one day but... you never know, right?? :)Too much fun. I'm glad we celebrated today.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Don't worry, girls...

This is something I use to console myself when my thoughts start going like this:Just kidding, Chad! Smooches!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Back to Easter

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Can't wait til Friday!

I'm interrupting the Easter stream of thought to comment on the royal wedding this Friday. Can I just say how happy I am that my Fridays off line up with the wedding? Because if I'd had to work on Friday, well, I think I might have had to take a vacation day.

Mallory is getting excited too. She is planning to wear her Cinderella dress for the event. Even though I hardly think the Middletons are hurting - I'm sure Kate's story does not have a 'rags' chapter to it...

I remember watching Prince Charles and Princess Diana get married in 1981, and I think it's very cool that now Mallory and I can watch this wedding together (along with Liam, who is only somewhat less excited, and some friends) at roughly the same age. Thank goodness for modern technology, though. We will not be getting up in the wee hours to do it - we will DVR the event and watch at a more reasonable hour!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Coloured eggs

I like crafty things and my kids like crafty things... and one of our very favourite crafty things is colouring eggs. We don't do dozens and dozens, like some do, mostly because I hate eggs and don't eat them and really dislike the way that cooking them makes the house smell. But if those things weren't an issue... you bet I would.
We are pretty plain with our egg-colouring. We don't do the shrink-wraps (well, we did last year, but this year we were back to plain old colouring) or stickers or fancy treatments. Though as a kid I remember making marbled eggs using vegetable oil, and they turned out really well - maybe we'll try that sometime. But for this year, a plain colour wash was enough.
I think, for next year, I will collect some mason jars to do the dyeing in. It was hard to see what colour was what when we used these mugs.
Still, they turned out very pretty. Liam has eaten several of these eggs since then but sadly, I think there will be many that find their way to the garbage. It feels like a waste, but I don't feel bad enough to eat any of them myself.
Thank you Megan for finding me the perfect egg plate! This is exactly what I had in mind but was unable to find for myself. It looks pretty propped up in the china cabinet for the other 364 days of the year, and did the job of holding our eggs on Easter.After we finished colouring the eggs, we made some of these guys. Two successful Easter crafts in a row! The third craft, some crepe paper carrots stuffed with Easter treats, did not turn out at all. I should have known, since that one was from the Martha Stewart website.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Liam's big day

I would be remiss if I didn't give a tribute to Liam's big day last Wednesday. The recap got away from me last week, when we were in the thick of party prep, but we did what we could to make his day fun and I got some photos along the way. As I mentioned, Liam had school on his birthday, so we weren't able to make it a day-long celebration the same way we did with Mallory. He seemed pretty excited to go to school on his birthday, though, and I remembered from the previous year why. Sure enough, he came home that afternoon wearing a birthday crown, showing off a little gift from Mrs. Garrow and telling me about the 'little chocolate cake' she gave him at lunch. (I think she hands out Wagon Wheels. Remember those? No wonder he was excited!)I slipped away from the office early and picked Liam up directly from his classroom, rather than sending him down to the after school program. We went home together and whipped up some chocolate cupcakes for dessert. I asked him a few times if there was anything special he wanted to do on his big day, but I think hanging out in the kitchen with mom, mid-afternoon on a weekday, doing some baking, was out of the ordinary enough to make it special.We had dinner at his request: hot dogs, corn on the cob, and cheesies. Again, not the healthiest week of meal planning I've ever done, but getting to choose your own dinner on your birthday seems only fair. After dinner, Gramma and Grampa dropped by to give him his present and to join us for some cupcakes.We gave him a Morphibian for his birthday, a remote-control car that can go from land to water. We thought it would be fun for him to play with in the pool, though on closer inspection, it says it's not suitable for salt water. Oh well. He can still have fun driving it through puddles and maybe even down in the creek if it ever warms up.He definitely got a big kick out of it, which was good, because we asked him several times what he might like for his birthday and he never came up with anything. He wanted us to pick something for him. Mallory gave him a puzzle - and it's a nice coincidence that that is something she can enjoy, too.I hope this little guy grows up to fully understand one day just how crazy I am about him. Happy birthday, dear sweet Liam. The past six years have been the best ones of my life.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Calling all party animals, part 2

So... party day arrived. Liam was feeling a little under the weather - a low fever, loss of appetite, just not feeling himself. But there was no vomit involved and we had friends coming over, so we decided to go ahead with the party. Besides, we were expecting a special visitor.
Unbeknownst to Liam and Mallory, we had booked a guy who runs a business called Zoo2You to come entertain us. Back when we were throwing around party theme ideas, I was pushing for a western party at the local stables and Chad wanted to hire the snake and lizard guy. My first instinct was, no way! Guess who won out?
As our guests arrived, we sent them down to the playroom in the basement to amuse themselves. When everyone was here, and when the animal guy showed up - he was a few minutes late, and those were a few sweat-inducing minutes, because we had no other party entertainment to speak of - Chad handed out the safari hats and binoculars and led the kids on a hunt around the basement for animals. Liam and Mallory knew about and expected this, and they had arranged a bunch of their stuffed animals in the basement as part of the show. Chad led them past the stuffed animals, wondering whether they might be able to find the real thing...
...and they came up to the living room to find Zoo Guy and his critters.
I would totally recommend this guy - he was great with the kids and they loved it. He also did a good job of singling out the birthday boy and girl for some special attention (e.g. letting them pet/hold each animal first)... even if he did keep calling Mallory 'Marilyn'.This is a honey bear... so cute! The kids were able to feed him some banana. They also fed the chinchilla below marshmallows... not sure how many wild chinchillas eat marshmallows as part of their diet, but ooooookay...And then, the big moment, the grand finale - the full-size red kangaroo! I loved this guy - he was definitely my favourite. Here are Liam and Mallory feeding him Tostitos. (I'm really hoping that he only got to eat chips because he was at a party, and that his typical diet is much healthier than this.) Funny side note: I hadn't planned to buy the kids 'theme' clothes for the party, but the t shirt Liam is wearing caught my eye at the grocery store, and for $6 I tossed it into the cart and thought, why not? But then I had to get something for Mallory. I found the dress on eBay - new with tags from the 2010 Gymboree line. I told Mallory there was a giraffe dress coming for her in the mail. She was so excited - she loved going to the mailbox every day to check for nearly two weeks. Finally it came and we opened it... and she burst into tears. She had expected a dress with a picture of a giraffe on it, not a giraffe-print dress.

So I promptly got back on eBay and ordered ANOTHER dress from the same Gymboree collection. Pink, with a picture of a giraffe on it. But not really my taste, and not coordinating with the rest of the party.

Luckily, Mallory didn't take long to decide that this giraffe dress is actually pretty cool, and it's what she wound up wearing. But now I have another 4T giraffe dress... to relist on eBay, I suppose.After all those animals, we had 13 kids wash their hands, and then it was time to eat. A couple of the kids didn't eat a thing and one refused to sit in the dining room with all the other kids - he sat on a stool at the kitchen counter. Ooooooookay.

The reason I wanted to call the party theme 'zoo' rather than 'safari' was that Mallory had her heart set on penguin cupcakes, and penguins do not really fit into the 'safari' theme. Thanks to the book Hello, Cupcake!, here are her cupcakes:And, Liam had his heart set on 'Old Swampy'. I guess you could pass him off as a crocodile and call it 'safari' but really, that's splitting hairs.We had about five minutes left to open presents before all the parents came to pick their kids up. Never before have so many parents just dropped their kids. Knowing they'd be lined up at precisely 2 p.m. for pick-up, I didn't mind that the kids tore through the gifts their very generous friends had brought.And with that... Birthday Party 2011 was over. I felt like taking a nap, but instead I went out for a night on the town. Then I collapsed in a heap. Not sure how we're going to pull off two of these next year instead of just one, but already looking forward to it. Don't tell Mallory, but I already have her theme all picked out, and an entire board at Pinterest devoted to it!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Calling all party animals

It's that time of year... Birthday Week. I know we said last year was the last year we were going to do a joint party, but when the time came to ask Liam who he wanted to invite to his party, he didn't want any school kids. So we decided to invite our usual crowd, a mix of daycare friends and my friends' kids, boys and girls, and then right before the invitations went in the mail, Liam came home one day and said he wanted to invite four kids from school. We definitely want to encourage these friendships, but that meant we had to scramble at the last minute to figure out the max number we could accommodate and shift the guest list accordingly. So, I really mean it this time: next year we are doing separate, smaller parties. I mean it!Then came the job of coming up with a gender-neutral party theme that would entertain our guests and make both Liam and Mallory happy. After some back and forth, this is what we came up with. Chad calls it 'safari' and I call it 'zoo/generic animals'. (Mostly because, as you will see, the cakes didn't wind up being safari-themed.) The good news is, animal-themed stuff is pretty easy to come by! Hats courtesy of eBay, binoculars courtesy of the dollar store, and loot bags courtesy of Oriental Trading but ordered from eBay to save on the outrageous shipping fee.The colour theme was set by the napkins I found at Winners. (Modified slightly for the invitations... the pea green changed to more of a sage green, to match the green envelopes they went out in.)Luckily, the Superstore had a whole line of tableware in the same colours... the tablecloth, plates and cutlery are from there. Right next door to Winners - I picked it all up immediately after buying the napkins! Liam used his mad paper chain-making skillz to help me turn a stack of animal-print scrapbook paper into some festive swag for the dining room. They are still hanging there. I am kind of reluctant to take them down.Then, a few potted plants from the grocery store to be the 'jungle' and some plastic animals to set the scene...Finally, some fun animal-print balloons. I learned my lesson last year and elected not to buy any giant mylar balloons... our balloon bill was half as much this year as last!That was it... the stage was set. I was glad to have taken these pictures the day before the party, because on the day OF the party, it poured rain and it was dark as a cave inside the house. Anyway, I assume the presence of the kangaroo makes more sense now?? Up next: party day.