Posts Tagged ‘family’

Linc and Finn’s Superhero Birthday Party!

Monday, August 20th, 2018

Lincoln turned 4 on July 23rd and Finnegan is turning 2 on August 30th. Since they’re only 5 weeks apart, they get joint birthday parties. I asked Lincoln what kind of party he wanted, and since he’s totally Batman-obsessed, his answer was A SUPERHERO BIRTHDAY PARTY! Finnegan has no objections because a) he’s still 1 and b) he also loves superheroes. I had a hard time narrowing it down to which superheroes – generic Super Hero stuff? The DC Universe? Just Marvel Comics? Am I a monster for mixing it all together? I decided I didn’t actually care and we went with every kind of Superhero from all the worlds. Fight me if you think that’s a crime.

After years of throwing Evan cold spring parties and Caroline cold winter parties, it is SO FUN to throw a party where 90% of the activities are outside. This was also the first party where I planned actual activities for almost the entire time – we had 2 straight hours of games before we did cake, then the grown-ups all got to sit down while the kids burned off some of their energy. It was the most fun I’ve had at one of my own parties ever, even though the noise level was insane.

Previous parties for Lincoln and Finnegan: 2017 Children’s Books, 2016 Camping Party, 2015 Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

There is a ton of superhero stuff available everywhere from party stores to Target, so I grabbed stuff whenever I saw it. The pinata was from Walmart, the napkins are Party City, the backdrop and banner are from Amazon. All the crepe paper and regular balloons and silly string came from the dollar store and the quick-fill water balloons have been purchased for the last year every time I saw a pack on clearance (although they are available online as well). Let me know if you’re looking for anything and I can be more specific.

The party wasn’t just a party – it was Superhero Training School. The kids had to complete their superhero tasks in order to get a certificate (my husband had all the parents fill in the name once the kids were here).

The training stations included:

Hulk Smash Bricks
Laser Maze
Bomb Disposal
Web Slinging
Bad Guy Capture
Leaping Tall Buildings Practice
AND
The Infinity War

We used jumbo cardboard blocks to make smashable tours for Hulk Smash practice.

Almost all the kids at the party fell between age 12 and age 2, and they all loved all the activities. Once they picked out their mask they were ready for training.

These masks I got from Amazon were GREAT – 2 of each hero so there wasn’t any fighting over who got to be the only Superman or whatever, plenty of “girl” heroes, and they held up through a lot of wear without falling apart.

After we finished the training, we celebrated with the pinata. I hate the pull-strings, so we did it the old-fashioned way. We lined the kids up by size and they each got two hits. It survived all the way to the last kid!

Of course, all these superheroes needed plenty of energy to save the day. I’ve always loved doing themed food at parties, but I’ve learned over the years what is popular and what just ends up as leftovers. I definitely over-estimated on the cake, but I’m not even that sad because I love leftover cake.

superhero birthday food

superhero birthday food

superhero birthday food

superhero birthday food

You can buy a 40-count box of individual Fritos from Amazon for around $15, which works out perfectly for portable, fun taco salad. At the camping party we called them walking tacos, today they were “ready for action” tacos, since you can eat them while running to stop bad guys.

Two bottles of red wine, a bottle of lime selzer, some fresh fruit. It was DELICIOUS.

We also had favors (bubbles, tattoos and a toy) as well as a tattoo station.

Finnegan did not understand how to blow out his candle, but he definitely liked the cake and the part where everyone sang. Linc just loves everything about birthdays.

At the end of the day, we even managed to get some family photos of us all in our on-theme outfits. It was just a perfect day with amazing weather and SO many great friends. A huge thanks to my parents who did an enormous amount of work for party prep and clean-up and all our Ohio relatives who made the super long drive to help celebrate the babies! Having cousins here for their birthday was such a treat.

(Finnegan isn’t dripping blood, it’s ring pop. He’s obsessed.)

Happy Birthday to Lincoln and Finnegan! We love you!!

 

 

Lake of the Woods 2018

Monday, July 30th, 2018

This year, my parents moved full-time to their lake house. That means my mom officially retired and my dad sort of kinda almost retired except that he still works almost every day and has to commute up to Washington D.C. a couple times a week. I sort of doubt he will ever truly retire, just because he literally does not know how to relax. He needs stuff to do. The lake house was a good purchase because it always needs something done – fix a leak, build a garage, mow the lawn, do boat stuff, go to Home Depot three times in one weekend. It’s also an incentive to get us to visit – lake houses are much more fun than the nice but boring house they lived in when I was in high school. The kids beg to visit and cry when we have to leave.

Our visit this year was extra exciting for Caroline, since the week included pony camp for her each morning at the community’s equestrian center. The boys didn’t seem to care that she got to go to camp and they *only* got to swim in the lake, kayak, tube, boat and hang out with my folks. Unfortunately, E couldn’t get out of work that week so we went without him.

Here are way too many photos from our trip. You’re welcome, Mom!

This is Fancy saying “HI”, not being mad. Caroline and Fancy are BFFs.

My children are incapable of making normal faces for photos.

Finnegan was nervous about jumping the first day. It didn’t last long.

Blue Star Museums Summer: Springfield Museums

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

The Springfield Museums are located in Springfield, Massachusetts. There are 5 different museums located on one campus, including the fairly new Amazing World of Dr. Seuss. The kids and I had actually been once before last year, right after the Seuss building opened, and it was pretty busy. I was expecting it to be busy again this time, since it was a summer weekend and the weather was pretty good. But it was significantly less crowded than it was last year. We ended up spending the entire day in Springfield, with a quick walk for some Pokemon hunting, but then went back to see more museums. We were literally the only people in the entire art museum building besides the staff.

Everyone in the family had a good time, with a good variety of stuff both grown-ups and kids can enjoy. It’s definitely worth the drive if you’re in this part of New England.

 

Balancing Busy

Friday, July 6th, 2018

This is my (and your) affirmation for today:

Just because something works for other people, doesn’t mean it has to work for you.

My Facebook has been flooded with think pieces, sorry not sorry posts, and memes decrying “kids these days” and their need to be constantly entertained. Mostly they’re complaining about Pinterest Moms who schedule their summers so kids are always doing an organized craft or attending a camp or attending enrichment activities. “Kids need to be bored!” they shout, “It’s good for them to learn to entertain themselves!” “When I was a kid, my mom just locked us out of the house all day and told us not to get back until dinner!”

OK, first of all, your mama did not lock you out of the house when you were 4 and 2, which is how old half of my children are. Second of all, do you know how quickly kids get bored? 5 minutes. They’re bored all the time. They live in a constant cycle of dragging their poor, neglected bodies between horrible available options including millions of legos, dozens of ride-on toys outside, the sprinkler, unlimited Netflix, fort-building supplies, and their playing with the siblings I have generously grown with my own body as friends and companions.

Our summer calendar includes a lot of scheduled activities. I’m constantly watching Facebook for community stuff or checking the library calendar to see if there’s something at least one of my kids could go to. We do daytrips, late nights, meals on the go, ice cream for dinner.

I refuse to feel bad about any of it. No, I don’t *have* to fill their summer because I’m a stay at home mom (and judging people who do heavily schedule their kids during summer because they need childcare is some privileged nonsense – I’m VERY lucky “doing nothing” and “being bored” are even options). No, Caroline probably doesn’t NEED to go to 4 different kinds of camp. No, I don’t hate my kids and want to get away from them. We’re just trying to find a balance that works for us. So yeah, it probably does look like we’re ALWAYS doing something and ALWAYS going somewhere and my kids are NEVER bored.  But literally right now while I write this I’ve taken away their tablets, left them on the floor with a box of My Little Ponies and a bin of Magnatiles and told them to amuse themselves. It’s been 2 hours since they woke up and so far no one is fighting. I just know that won’t last forever, so pretty soon we’re headed out to the library.

NOTHING is as exhausting as refereeing bickering children all day, so yes please sign us up for some more stuff. When we need a stay-home-day, we’ll stay home. When people on Facebook feel bad about their own summer schedule, it’s about them, not me. I’m not raising or lowering a bar for anyone else (except for that trip to Disney World, because every month we’re not at Disney World is another month I disappoint my children).

So to be clear, the following options are ALL allowed:

Doing all the things
Doing none of the things
Making a long elaborate bucket list of must-do activities for the whole summer
Abandoning a long elaborate bucket list completely
Doing some of the bucket list but then taking time off
Going to no camps
Going to all the camps
Fulling intending to sign your kids up for camp but forgetting
Taking tons of pictures of everything
Taking no pictures at all
Letting the kids watch Netflix all day
Throwing out the remote and the tablets and declaring all technology off limits
Feeling like whatever you’re doing is wrong
Feeling like maybe your life would be better if you were just doing it the way that one Facebook friend is doing it
Giving up and not caring what other people are doing

And because I am the mom who chooses take all the pictures and do lots of things, here is some of our summer so far:

5 Tips To Survive Summer With Little Kids

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Blog disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation on behalf of The Breastfeeding Shop via SoFluential Media. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Guys, summer is here!

You can read that in a super happy, excited voice: Horray! It’s summer! No school! Beach days! Ice cream for dinner!

Or you can read that in a slightly panicked voice: Summer is HERE. You are out of time to find camps or activities and I hope you like making 17 separate meals a day.

I have a million children. Technically, the actual number is four, but let me tell you reality means absolutely nothing when all of them are hungry/bored/tired/mad/have a tiny hangnail/thirsty/fighting at the same time. Four kids at four different ages means four different sets of needs and ability levels and nap (or no nap) schedules. Did I mention I also really hate having to feed everyone all the time? I really hate that part.

After 9 summers as the parent of at least one baby I’ve learned a lot about how to survive – and enjoy – summer, even with a million kids, even when I’m solo-parenting, even when I’m running on empty by lunchtime and still have a long way to go before bed. Here are my top 5 best tips to survive summer with little kids.

  1. Add more children. OK, this seems counterintuitive, but hear me out. Some of our easiest playdates are with my friend Sarah, who also has four children. Her kids + my kids = so many kids there’s always someone to play with or talk to or rope into your particular imaginary world. My babies love having big kids to play with who aren’t the regular big kids they see every day, and then when my big kids see the babies getting attention from other kids they remember that they love their babies too and then everyone just seems more fun.
  2. Find your happy place. Our happy place is The Lake. The Lake is a local beach club we pay a membership for each year. It has lots of big trees for shade, picnic tables, grills, a big grassy field for running around, a beach for digging and swimming, a dock for fishing, swings and a playset for climbing and it’s awesome. The Lake requires some supervision, but not nearly as much as you might think (see tip 3). If you don’t have a lake, think of somewhere your whole family enjoys – somewhere kid-friendly, where you might run into other kids for your’s to play with, where you can SIT DOWN and relax. It might take a few tries, but one you have a happy place it can be your go-to all summer long when you can’t stand to stare at the inside of your house any longer but don’t have the energy to do something new. Go every morning. Go every afternoon. Don’t worry you go to the same place too much, your kids don’t mind.
  3. Floaties. Listen, kids are going to try to drown themselves. It’s just what they do. If you have a tiny baby who can’t walk or crawl yet, your summer will be fine. If you’ve reached the mobile stage, going anywhere near water is beyond stressful. We have the floaty rule: if you are near the water, you wear a floaty. The baby wears one 100% of the time at the lake. The toddler wears one 85% of the time at the lake. The big kids – who are 9 and 7 – had to pass a swim test last year and this year before I let them give up the floaties. If we go to a pool, anyone who can’t touch the bottom wears a floaty. Our friends enforce floaty rules with their kids, my parents enfore floaty rules at their house, it’s just non-negotiable. We have found that the Speedo brand Splash Jammers are ideal – they have shoulder straps as well as arm floats, they’re approved by the Coast Guard as life jackets, and even my 1-year-old can’t get it off on his own. Target sells them. WEAR YOUR FLOATIES.
  4. Lower your standards. For real, set that bar at a level you can achieve by noon every day. Did your children eat something? Does the baby have a clean diaper? Did you remember to eat something too? Is your house clean enough that you could escape in case of a fire? Then you’re fine. Tomorrow you can put away some laundry or do the dishes. Next week you can plan a fun outing to the zoo or the splash pad. But right now, you’re doing fine. It’s fine. You’re a good parent.
  5. Have fun. This tip is sort of like “treasure every moment because you only get 18 summers with your kid before they’re old enough to leave home” but that is bad advice no one needs. The days are long but the years are short is the same thing, but again, the days are SO long it’s not helpful to remind anyone it won’t last forever. But we can try to have fun, even when we have small humans to take care of. Put on a bathing suit and get in the water with them. Have ice cream for lunch or dinner (or lunch and dinner). Roll your windows down in the car. Play music really loud and have a dance party. My kids get such a kick out of me being Fun Mom, they act surprised and delighted every time. It’s like when Fun Dad chases them around pretending to be a dinosaur or Fun Grandma lets them pick out candy at the grocery store. You can be fun too! You’re the boss, even if you bend the rules a little bit for a special treat. It won’t ruin your children forever, I promise.

Military friends! One way to make your life easier when you have a baby is getting a NO COST breast pump from The Breastfeeding Shop. If you have Tricare, all you need is a prescription from your doctor and The Breastfeeding Shop will ship a pump right to your house. If you or someone you know is pregnant or has a new baby, be sure to tell them about this program, because having a pump is a lifesaver when you’re nursing. My baby will be 2 in August and I still need my pump occasionally (yup, still nursing, nope, no plans to stop). Check out The Breastfeeding Shop’s Tricare page for more information.

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