Changing Focus

When i downloaded pictures from my camera this morning and they spanned easter to end-of-school activities, it confirmed something i had been sensing, our rhythms have definitely changed this year.  While our focus for the past few years has been firmly on our family and close friends, we've shifted a little bit more outward in the last 6 months. 

Henry and Silas are both enjoying close friendships with school friends that have resulted in drop-off playdates (i time i thought i'd never see with Silas).  And with all of our family friends moving to the burbs, we've developed some close new friendships with neighborhood families we've met through the boys' school.

All to say our center has shifted to very close to home, and yet focused more outwardly than when the children were te-niny.  I've gotten very involved with the parents group at the school (check us out, www.friendsofgoetheschool.org) and we find ourselves spending our weekends at the farmers' market, the playground, swimming at Humboldt beach; all things we can walk or bike to.

So check out the April-June photo album for a recap in pictures!

There were the boys' actual birthday celebrations:

May day secret flower deliveries to make.

 Multicultural day--  the preschoolers represented Jamaica and sang "dei-o" and kindergarten did the Chinese fan dance. 


My Superheros are 4 and 6!

Last Saturday we celebrated the boys' birthday with a superhero bash.  It was tons of fun, honestly.  I think i found the perfect birthday-party-at-home formula.  Drop-off for all the parents that aren't your closest friends so you can focus on the party and not entertaining other adults; add 6 family and friends that know their way around your house, pitch in without asking, and have lots of simple but fun activities.

After briefly flirting with a CareBears party a few months back the boys chose a superhero theme for the party.  I started doing some online research and compiled some great ideas that guided our party*.

It came down to the last minute, but the boys finally let me take their picture, outdoors, in decent light, in full superhero regalia.  I used this, along with picnik to create really simple invites which i printed at home on photo paper i found at the thrift store (4 in stack of paper for .80$!)

Guests arrived and their custom capes were draped over the back of their chair.  They could choose any color arm warmers they wanted, along with a mask.  I intended for them to color and decorate them, but not so much.  There was also batman coloring book sheets, word puzzles, etc. on the table which kept 3 kids totally occupied and happy.  The other 9 ran around like superheros of course!

The party started at 11 am and by about 11:30 we headed upstairs for the Superhero Training Academy.  There was the "batcave" of course, in which each child had to crawl through a tunnel and retrieve a glow stick from the inside of the cave (small tent in a closet).  Another spot was Spiderman's Web-Jumping practice and finally there was "spray the villians."  I think all a hit.  We put the kids into two groups-- the younger ones and the older ones and roughly rotated.

Then it was back downstairs for lunch at almost noon.   Hotdogs, fruit, veggies, cheese and crackers.  Nothing cute, just easy finger-food which provided something for everyone.  Because while almost all kids love hot dogs, Silas does not. ("They make my breath smell stinky.")

I believe there was a little free play and then an impromptu dance party which was a huge hit.  We played freeze dance with two songs and the kids had a blast.  Definitely going to work this into all future parties.  At this point i lost track of time but it was about time to head down for the pinata.

 The weather was really terrible and the only upside was that it was predicted that way well in advance, so we didn't even try to set things up outside.  The cape pinata was awesome, but i need to remember that all those kids are stronger than i think.  A few didn't get a chance to whack it, but all was forgotten by the time they were scooping up candy.
A visit from the cupcake thief who claimed to have eaten all the cupcakes, and then it was time to head upstairs for happy birthday and cupcakes.  We had about 20 minutes after the kids finished eating and i realized i had forgotten one activity.  So up the stairs we went again.  Each kid got a unique superhero card, they had to find 3 more just like it hidden all around the room.  I set it up as a cooperative game, there was no prize for finding them fastest, you just got to keep the cards, and help the others that couldn't find there's yet.  Sorry Owen, we still haven't found your 4th card!

Then back down for good and right on time the drop-off parents came to retrieve their precious little ones.  Everyone got a "goody bucket" with their glow sticks, gloves, mask, stickers, little superhero blank book, and their notecards.  They also got to take a balloon-- one or our birthday traditions.  And don't forget the capes!

Superhero images for notebooks and notecards
Goody bag idea
Capes, Hats and Arm Warmers
Invitation idea
Homemade notebooks
Paper bunting
Superhero Training Academy, including spray the villain



Right Now

:: celebrating Silas' last day as a 3-year old
:: anticipating his 4th journey around the sun tomorrow
:: planning a whole day in pajamas with nothing on the docket but playing with new toys, friends, and eating the birthday boys' favorite meal, pesto!


Right Now

Inspired by Soule Mama as a way to come back to this space---

Right now, I am...
:: loving JT being here in the evenings. Managed to go upstairs and to the basement without feet pounding on hard wood and shouts of "Mom where ARE you?"
:: checking the seeds we planted last weekend for spouts, as well as the bulbs just starting to peak out of the ground in the front.
:: making lists to stay on top of my FOGS  volunteer efforts and my project plans that multiply by the day
:: inspired by the butterfly breaths and quiet breathing Silas' preschool class demonstrated Thursday 
:: preparing to celebrate the return of spring
:: reining-in the long posts i compose in my head each night so that i might sleep

Wishing all of you wonderful "right nows" for the weekend.


Deep Winter

Think i had to wait for this post until there was evidence that winter would one-day end. We've had a few amazing days of warmer temps, melting snow, and a hint of warm days to come (not for awhile after this blip, but still).

 Now that i've been out of the tropics for 20 years and in Chicago for 10 i've finally found some rthythm with the four seasons. Having a parka has definitely helped. So has looking for food, and projects, and outings that are special to the season. There has been indoor stuff-- lots of painting, pajamas and having friends over.

There have also been outings to the aquarium (and another one with Silas' class tomorrow) and lots of time spent playing in the snow.  Because there was snow, and some more snow, and finally some weather that wasn't too freezing so we got to get outside, build a snowman, a snow cave and do lots of climbing on the snow mountain that was in our front yard.


Planet Explorers

As i was writing my recap of the late months of 2010 i realized there were quite a few detailed posts i missed in all the hubub of November and December.  Back in November the boys and i went with our friends and their three kids to the planetarium.  We had never been before and it was a huge hit with all the kids, ranging from 2 to 7!  Henry and the girls went to a star show with Cullen and Henry while Silas and Walker explored, made a kite, and put together a craft that explored how the earth rotates and is alternately in day and night.  The latter was extremely useful to me-- a very visual person that just never "got" the why of night and day. 

Short digression.  One thing i looked forward to when dreaming about the babies in my belly was learning afresh along with them.  My goal was around ditching all my hang-ups and failings that i experienced with math the first time around and learning with a fresh clean slate.  Of course the learning hasn't stopped with math and definitely not with formal things like math or science.  But as the boys progress in their schooling, it is pretty amazing to learn things with an open mind.  I'm working on encouraging all of us to seek answers together, and follow the boys lead, rather than jumping to answer the things i know (or think i know.)  Not that all answers are bad but i've been trying to work in a lot more "i wonder..." responses when i'm asked "why....?"

The boys enjoyed the more staid aspects of the museum plenty, but they went nuts over the "Planet Explorers" part of the museum.  They got to put on space gear including flight jackets, backpacks, and hats, launch and dock a space shuttle, drive a moon buggy around the moon and scoop-up space rocks, and drive rovers around the space of planet X.  I think another visit will be in order, and i also think i'm going to work on sewing a space suit for Silas, who sure was loathe to return that flight jacket...


Welcoming Winter 2010

 We've welcomed winter with festivities and family and lots of fun. Now we're settling in to the season-- but i'm not ready to see all the christmas lights come down just yet.  This was the first year we formally celebrated the winter calendar by observing the "advent spiral" that many waldorf families use to count-down to the solstice.  Each night we lit a candle (one the first week, two the second, and on), and said a verse focused on which part of the earth we were celebrating-- rocks, plants, animals and humans.  The boys loved the candles and Silas in particular thrived on the ritual.  Although there were nights sibling bickering continued throughout.

We enjoyed an awesome thanksgiving week which included 3 days of solo crafting and elving time for me, and then a 4-day weekend with the entire family. We loved spending thanksgiving itself with our good friends-- friends we've celebrated almost every thanksgiving for the 9+ years we've lived in Chicago. Pretty amazing to gather together now that there are 5 children where there were none. It doesn't hurt that they can all play together in the basement for a good 20+ minutes without intervention.

I spent the month of December working through all the gifts i decided to make this year. I have to say that it was tons of fun, even though i've discovered that zippers are not my forte. I'll try to share some of the projects i tackled in a future post.

We celebrated the week of Christmas with both JT and i's family and enjoyed our first christmas with JT as an official cook. Someone asked me if JT's cooking has improved since cooking school and while i would say that technically he's definitely better, he has always cooked delicious food. What has changed is his ability to manage a kitchen, a meal, and kitchen clean-up. What used to turn into a harried "all hands-on deck" for the big meals has become a pretty orderly day of cooking. I think JT even took a nap this year before the big meal.

As we celebrated New Years with friends in Michigan, we had a super fun time to toast the year and even some quiet time for me to reflect on how it was not easy but we did make the transition to a family consuming less, producing more, and not all operating on a 9-5 schedule.  Plus there was tons of sledding (the first day at least) and a huge kids room for all the big uns to have a sleep-over in!