It's birthday season in our house.
My oldest turned 9 about a week ago and his younger brother will be 8 in another couple of weeks - and lucky me, I convinced them to have a joint birthday party this year. Way more work at the party with so many kids, but actual prep hours were cut by half, at least, considering we cut out an entire party. It also helps when you live in a small community and the different ages play well with each other.
We did something else different this year. We made a birthday party in the evening. We're big morning people and by 6pm, we're usually winding down for the day, but this party was at 5pm. For dinner. And a campfire. And water games. And bingo and a treasure hunt.The boys all felt very grown up, which they kind of are.
The plan had been to make a real campfire but we had to nix that when it started raining and thundering and lightning in the afternoon and all the sticks we had planned to collect got soaked.
But otherwise, the party went off as any boy party would - crazy, loud and somewhat out of control. My friend who lives on the block behind us reported that she heard the party from her backyard. That's kind of far. And loud. What can you do.
Instead of a campfire, we barbecued hotdogs on the grill and then we roasted marshmallows on sticks on that same grill. The marshmallows tasted faintly of meat, but no one complained.
The party started with a coloring session - we made paper people, using markers and cardstock people cutouts I had made the night before. The boys weren't so into the project but I made them do it anyway. I needed 50 of these paper people for the Welcome Back to School Bulletin Board and I certainly wasn't coloring fifty of them myself. Am I horrible? (I don't care.)
Then we moved on to the barbecue. We grilled 49 hotdogs. For 18 boys. Was that too many?
So, something that always annoys me - wasting plastic cups. Not cause we're that into recycling - although we do recycle. It's more because Costco is just so far away. To try to combat the need to go to Costco (again), we wrote each kid's name on a cup. It only kind of helped in the cup-wasting department. On the bright side, we scored big with these army-ish paper plates at the dollar store.
Once the hotdogs and french fries were ready, we had the kids eat on the ground. They didn't seem to mind.
After eating, we had a backyard treasure hunt. We handed out brown paper bags and a list of things to find. Grass, twigs and rocks were on the list, as well as plastic bugs and gold coins.
A good friend recently threw a birthday party with a treasure hunt and told me that the boys searched for a good twenty minutes. This excited me because holy-time-waster-batman! Twenty whole minutes!
We lined them up, handed out the bags and let them at it. Four minutes after Josh yelled Go!, the kids were back. Hmmm. What did I do wrong?
Moving right along, we all returned to the garage where a game of water balloon pinata was ready to go - it took us a few kids to realize that perhaps the hitter should be swinging the bat towards the other kids so that when the balloon bursts, the kids get wet as opposed to Josh who was refereeing from behind. Live and learn.
First we kind of lost control of the whole water balloon situation.
So then we played Bingo.
Josh liked this game because he got to sit down and use his Bingo-Caller-Guy voice.
We ended with some campfire inspired cupcakes with pretzels as the logs and licorice as the fire.
And then we realized that either our watches were wrong or all the parents were late picking up. So we turned the hose on the boys and they had a blast. Free games are always the best.
Happy birthdays to my favorite boys on earth!
My baby is four. I won't go into the weeping that this fact caused on my part, but I will tell you about the party we threw her.
In all honesty, I've never thrown such a laid back birthday party before - and it was awesome.
In the past, I've spent weeks with each kid, planning their birthday parties down to the nth degree. We would have a theme with matching paper goods, decorations, party bags and parting gifts, games, a project and, really, at this point, only G-d himself knows what else.
This time, a quick trip to the 99 cents store, a super fast in and out in Walmart and we were set.
I won't lie, the party did have a theme, but it was totally chilled, like the party itself. Ready to hear what the totally-made-up-by-the-four-year-old theme was?
CupcakesHeartsBalloonsSnowmenChocolatelolliesAndCircus. With such a broad theme, I felt comfortable with the leeway I had in picking up the supplies.
We started by handing out blank paper and crayons to the kids. Cost: free. ( At the time, we had it all in the house although now it's looking like it's going to cost me $50 for a new case of printer paper; it seems we're all out now.)
From there we moved on to playing in the backyard - a major benefit of a winter birthday in Florida.
We played, we did some Pin the Sprinkle on the Cupcake, and some more running around the backyard.
There was a piñata, probably the biggest expenditure of the day. And because we're huge nerds and because we could still get away with this with a bunch of four year olds, we stuffed the piñata with granola bars and fruit strips instead of real candy. I know. We're awful people.
The woman in the party store steered me towards a piñata that had pull strings. That way, she explained, you don't wind up with any crazed kids running around with a bat. Sounded good to me.
This was to be the chilled out version of a regular piñata. Apparently, every kid is supposed to get a turn pulling a string off the piñata and one string will open the whole thing up. Sounded like a plan to me.
Except that's not what happened. After some prodding, the birthday girl stepped right up to pull the first string and she did a bang up job. The next little girl stepped right up - but instead of daintily choosing a string as girls tend to do, she grabbed ALL the strings and yanked as if she was trying to keep a hot air balloon full of Hershey kisses from floating away.
The rest of the kids were horrified, as was I, and we watched as the whole thing came ripping off the handle that tied the pinata to the tree.
By now, you'd think there'd be granola bars everywhere! But no, the piñata itself was still intact. So Josh picked it up and kind of shoved it back onto the tree by impaling it on a branch and one of my boys ran for a bat.
And those kids tried so hard to hit the piñata but it would not open. Finally, all the little kids backed away and it was Josh and my boys hacking away at it until finally, finally, thank goodness, a piece if Minnie Mouse gave way and it was fruit strips for everyone!
Towards the end of the festivities, everyone made birthday crowns and wore them for the eating of the birthday cupcakes. And then they went home.
Two things I learned here:
1. I'm obviously an idiot for always going to great lengths for birthday parties when the kids were just as happy to play in the sandbox and climb on the climby toy.
2. My fourth child is no different than my other children - they all hate being the center of attention, evidenced by the fact that the little girl spent most of the party on Josh's lap.
And I can't say I blame her or that I don't understand my kids. Cause I do. I hate things like this. I begged my mom to let me wear any color besides white to my wedding, so horrified was I by the thought the everyone would be looking at me.
And I've passed that lovely gene down to my poor children. When my second kid turned five, we made him the exact party he described - a donut birthday party. And when it came time to sing about how old he was, he almost melted into the floor. He was lucky; his big brother was standing behind him and sang for him. And the big bro was able to do that for him, only because it was not his own birthday. Don't ask, we have issues.
Josh, on the other hand, loves being in the middle of everything and thinks we're all weird.
Some party pics: :
Happy happy birthday my four year old princess-ballerina-minniemouse-icecreamcone!
I love Birthdays. Yesterday, mine. Today, the State of Israel.
My kids came home from school all sugared up, humming Israeli songs, dressed in hand-painted Israeli flag t-shirts and smelling faintly of falafel, telling tales of chumus and pita and apple cider. I have not yet figured out the significance of the apple cider but the rest of their day sounded awesome. These are the kinds of days when I kind of wish I was still a little kid, going to school everyday.
Today is the kind of day that calls for a big thank you to the teachers for turning Yom Ha'atzmaut into a joyous and teachable day, where love of The Land is reinforced in kids who might forget why they sing the Hatikvah on a day to day basis.
Happy 65th, my friend. Oh how I wish we could celebrate together. I mean, I'm not knocking the giant blue and white cookies for they are indeed tasty and celebratory, but it would be nice to celebrate together, thousands of miles away from where I sit now.
(And just in case you're really interested, right now I'm sitting on a little stepstool next to the bathtub while the girls fight over who gets to come out of the bath second...)
The lovely chocolate-covered fruit arrangement from my brother. This is BEFORE the kids fondled all the fruit and ate all the chocolate off the sticks. See the cupcake lookalikes with sprinkles in the picture? I told the kids there was a fruit hiding underneath all that chocolate. They disagreed. They insisted it was an ice cream bar. It wasn't. And it turned into a bite and spit party. Fun for everyone.
Another year, another birthday, another day to eat way too much sugar.
The day started well with a nice Whole30 breakfast and then went downhill from there.
Well, downhill and uphill.
Everything was very tasty - the falafel at my birthday lunch, the surprise Edible Arrangements chocolate covered fruit thing and Dunkin Donuts with the kids. All delicious. But now I don't feel too good.
Sugar is not my friend and that makes me sad.
Tomorrow, we go back to eating like a grownup.
My youngest, my little one is turning three in a week or so and this Sunday, we are throwing her a birthday party. She is beyond excited and asks every single morning if her party is today. It's not, but she shrugs it off and goes about her day. She's that kind of kid.
I asked her who she wanted to invite to her party - and after she listed every single family member that she knows and loves, she said she wanted to invite her friends. I was kind of surprised, because as she's not in school yet, she doesn't really have a posse with whom she plays on a regular basis. So we talked:
Me: Who are your friends?
Her: Um, people. I don't know their names.
It was kind of sad and kind of very very funny at the same time. Then we talked about going to nursery in the fall and how she would meet all her friends there and then invite them all to her birthday party then. And she was okay with that so, you know, phew.
We've been getting ready for this party for what feels like ages. We took a trip to the party store where she picked out Strawberry Shortcake paper goods, even though she has never heard of Strawberry Shortcake before. And the butterfly pinata she picked out in Target has been hanging in the living room for a good week already. And today is party baking day.
We are serving brunch food at the party and so this morning, we made cranberry-orange muffins and coffee cake muffins, both of which made the house smell amazing.
And now the little one has decided that the time has come to bring the Birthday Chair* up from the basement.
Birthday Chair? Yeah, years ago I made a birthday chair out of one of the un-needed kitchen chairs from my grandmother's apartment. And it was that chair that started this blog. It was the subject of my first post ever and was quite terrible.
I had still not gotten the hang of my camera at that point and I had no clue as to what was appropriate blog material and what was not. You can look back at that Birthday Chair post and laugh at me. I just did.
Anyway, here is the recipe for these very delicious cranberry-orange muffins. The coffee cake muffins are as yet untasted so I can't share those yet. I mean, you know, they might be gross. But the orange ones are delish, I make them all the time.
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1.5 cup craisins
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients and then add in the craisins. Stir the craisins into the flour mixture. The reason you do this, as opposed to adding the craisins at the end like you would add chocolate chips to cookie dough, is because the flour coating keeps the craisins from falling to the bottom of the muffins while they are baking. See? You learned something today.
Next, add the egg, orange juice and oil and mix with a spoon, just until it's all combined. But really, please, mix until just just combined. Don't keep mixing or you will wind up with hard muffins and you don't want that. You want light and fluffy muffins.
Next, spoon the muffin batter into a paper lined 12 cup muffin pan, dividing the batter evenly between all the muffin paper liners. Bake for 15 minutes and then check to see if they are done with a toothpick. Mine needed another minute or two, but be careful not to overbake them.
Remove the muffins from the pan and let them cool completely. You can eat them right away or store them in a ziploc bag until you need them. They also freeze very well.
*The Birthday Chair - used only on birthdays, not half-birthdays, even though my children have tried to persuade me otherwise - was spray painted blue and decorated with rhinestones and painted letters spelling the words, Happy Birthday. The thing is, it's been through quite a number of birthdays so far and so now the chair reads: AP Y BIRTHDAY. So if it's your birthday, then AP Y BIRTHDAY to you! And if it's not, then hurry and go make a birthday chair before the next family birthday rolls around!
Winter break. The kids wait for it all year; a whole ten days off from school and finally and thankfully, we're all better. No more tissues floating around the house and just enough coughing left over so that the daily hot chocolates still make sense.
The other day we found ourselves in Rockland County with some extra time and nothing to do. We headed over to the Palisades Park Mall and even though I am not a fan of malls*, do all my shopping online and only enter a mall when I absolutely have to, I have to say, it was
Not only will you find a Disney store, a Lego store and a carousel, but a ferris wheel. Inside. Oh, and there's ice skating, a movie theater and an arcade. We considered spending the night.
Because my kids are my kids, they were terrified of all the rides, but they went on them anyway, and were so proud of themselves afterwards. So a day at the mall and a shot of self-esteem. What more can I ask for?
Actually, you know what else I can ask for - a life lesson in using your money wisely. And, oh my goodness, did we find ourselves with a teachable moment in the food court.
My kids asked (and asked and asked) for ice cream and because it was kid#3's half birthday and because we like any reason to justify having a treat, we went to check out the ice cream. Alas, the only kosher ice cream available was Haagen Daaz. We waited on line while the kids seriously discussed their orders. Josh listened patiently while they each described their
flavor and sprinkle color and cone vs. milkshake requests. And that's when we noticed that there was no price list hanging behind the counter. And you wanna know why? It's because a small cup costs $3.50 and a small milkshake, a whopping $7.00. Seven Dollars. And while we slowly backed the kids and the stroller away from the ice cream counter, we took that opportunity to explain that seven dollars is an obscene amount to pay for ice cream and that if each kid indeed got their preferred shake, we would have spent $28 on ice cream.
And the kids just looked at us. I explained that they were welcome to return the $7 box of lego we just bought each of the boys at the Lego store and use that money to get ice cream and that's when I saw the light go on in their eyes, understanding that it's so much better to spend that money on a toy than on ice cream that would be gone in a few minutes. Instead, everyone picked a chocolate bar treat from the vending machine.
Josh went on to explain that for $28, we could buy enough ice cream in Shoprite to throw an ice cream party for them and all their friends. They asked when the party was going to be.
Huh. We need to learn when to stop explaining things, be quiet and just eat chocolate.
*My mom loves to shop. I can't even italicize the word 'love' enough to get my point across. She shops for sport, which works out well now because my kids always have enough clothes, courtesy of my mom. When I was little, though, I didn't find this shopping hobby to be that great. In fact, I hated it. I hated being shlepped to malls, I hated the walking around and I hated it that the malls were all so hot in the winter and there was nothing to do but carry your own coat. I mean, what is that? But I digress. My point here is that my best friend from preschool (hi Esti!) loved to shop when we were younger and her mom, as the fates would have it, hated shopping. So we traded moms on a semi-frequent basis. Esti would go along with my mom and they'd do their shopping thing and I would stay with Esti's mom, who, luck would have it, was very into creating intricate designs with chocolates and chocolate molds (yum!) so I got to see the inside of Brooklyn's chocolate shops on a regular basis. Bliss - for everyone.
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)