Mission Birthday Party Part 2 : 6 things I Have Learned from Planning a 5 year Old’s Birthday Party

The invitations are out, the RSVPs have started coming in, thanks to Pintrest I have all the decorations ideas on my “board”, and the decoration materials (for the most part) have been bought. I have the cake on order and even secured a face painter. It’s been a very busy few days and here is what I have learned that hopefully you can learn from should you ever find yourself in a similar situation.

  1. It’s possible to spend over $120.00 at the Dollar Store
  2. Everything looks easy on Pintrest specially when you’re making decisions after 11:00pm
  3. Don’t share what your ideas are for the party with the birthday girl until you’re sure the ideas are actually as easy as they look
  4. Taking your birthday girl shopping with you for the birthday loot will only end in tears when you refuse to spend $40 per child.
  5. Don’t promise the birthday girl a piñata when you have absolutely nowhere in your home where a dozen little girls can swing a bat.
  6. Take good care of your dishwasher. Mine has suddenly decided to stop working, and I have been sick all week so there is a pile of dishes in my sink and 27 hours until the party. ( Cinderella washed dishes didn’t she? Maybe it can be a fun activity…….)
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What coffee Addiction ?

I love coffee. I really love coffee. I had never realized how much coffee I drank until my doctor asked how may cups I drank daily and I stopped to do the count.

  1. When I wake up
  2. On the train on the way to work
  3. One at the office as I check email
  4. Right after lunch
  5. With my mid afternoon snack
  6. Right after dinner
  7. While watching TV.

I have also been  known to bring a cup up to bed with me on occasion.  I love the smell of coffee and I love the feeling of a warm cup between my hands. And on reflection, I’ve always gone to great lengths to get my morning coffee ( refer to Floor Mats and Coffee).

The first thing I taught The Plan to make in the kitchen was a cup coffee which makes all the parenting frustration worth it. He’s the one who makes me my morning coffee and then after dinner makes coffee for both  Mr.LibertyDee and I.

The Plan had started bugging me and asking to drink coffee himself but after turning him down a few times he tried a different tactic, he came to me saying that because he is part Colombian,  it is in his blood, a “basic instinct” to drink coffee. I laughed and told him, “Its’ not in your blood to drink coffee it’s in your blood to grow coffee. If you want to spend the summer at your uncles Jose’s farm helping him pick coffee beans just let me know and I’ll make the arrangements.”  You should have seen the look on his face, but that was the end of that. He hasn’t asked since. For the record, we don’t have a cousin Jose and all Colombians aren’t coffee growers / drinkers but he doesn’t know that (yet).

I have tried to cut down on the coffee a few times but I have finally come to terms that my love of coffee and yes some will call it an addiction is not something I want to change.  I moderate my sugar intake, my alcohol consumption, how much fat I eat and make sure I exercise regularly. Do you have any idea how exhausting it is to keep track of all that? Adding coffee limits to that list would just be too much.

Cheers!

Mission: Birthday Party – Part 1

I don’t like to think of myself as a procrastinator, instead I see myself as working well under pressure, thriving in a fast paced environment and a just in time opportunist. This time however, Baby Girl’s birthday has snuck up on me and because she’s turning 5, and is old enough to have opinions about her birthday party, she has been talking about it for months. And for months I have been agreeing to her suggestions.

“Sure we can invite all of your friends”

“Sure we can have rock star birthday theme”

“Sure we can have balloons”

“Sure we can have a Frozen cake”

“Sure we can have a bouncy castle”

“Sure…sure…sure”

It felt like there was so much time to plan, so much time to get the whole thing together, so much time to make this the perfect 5th birthday…until this week I realized that the birthday party was 14 days away and I hadn’t planned a thing. The only thing I had done in advance was that I had asked Baby Girl’s teacher for a list of all the kids in the class so that I would  know who the invitations would be made out to, but I hadn’t really looked at the list in too much detail. When I realized I now had to move into planning mode, the first thing I did was look at the list to see how many invitations were needed.

I needed to get those invitations out ASAP and then we could figure out the rest. However , when I looked at the list I noticed that there were 27 kids in her class. There is no way I could invite 27 kids. What if they all came? Where would I put them? How would I entertain 27 kids?  I had originally contemplated having the party anywhere but our place but now I was stuck because there was no time to do all the necessary due diligence to book a place . The invitations, including a location, had to go out NOW.

Mr. LibertyDee came to rescue and suggested we have a princess themed birthday, only invite the girls in the class, and ask them all to come dressed up or they could borrow one from Bay Girl’s extensive gown collection (she once left 3 gowns at a friend’s cottage and didn’t even notice) .

I whipped up some invitations using PowerPoint with some princess pictures; got them printed and had them in Baby Girls backpack with 12 days to go ‘till the party.  Now, did I mention that there are 15 girls in Baby Girls class and that once you add in close friends and family I will be expecting 20 4-8 year old girls at my house? And that,  as of this very moment I have no clue how I’m going to keep them entertained?

Stay tuned as Mission: Birthday Party continues.

Step Moms Aren’t Spies

I have been amazed by how much Baby Girl has learned in her year at Junior Kindergarten.  We find ourselves at the dinner table on a nightly basis having conversations about science, religion and current events with the boys but Baby Girl always has something to contribute.  I love her view on all things. She reminds me of how complicated I have made the world for myself and how simple it really is.

For example, she explained the skeletal system to me.

“Mom, Mom, MOM!”

“Yes baby girl? “

“The Skeletal system is all our bones put together.”

 “Yes it is sweetie.”

“Do you know why it’s important?”

“Tell me. Why is the skeletal system important?”

“Because if we didn’t have it, we would be all squishy on the floor.”

That’s it. That’s really all there is to it. Now, if you are in the medical profession you may need to know a little more than that, but for me, your run of the mill HR professional, that’s about all I need to know.

She also explained the Circulatory system.

“Mom, Mom, MOM!”

“Yes baby girl.”

 “Do you know what the circulatory system is?”

“I think so.”

“It’s all the veins in your body that carry blood everywhere and your heart pumps it boom..boom..boom.”

(I wish Baby Girl had been my grade 5 science teacher.)

The other night she also gave us a big talking to about how Pontius Pilot killed Jesus because he didn’t want Jesus to be King and she thinks Jesus shouldn’t have trusted him.

I love the fact that she is learning so much in school and that she is eager to share that information. Where I do have a concern is that if she’s absorbing and learning this much at school, she is obviously absorbing and learning at the same rate from the environment round her.

So far, the facts she has brought home from school are pretty accurate, she seems to have a good memory for the words the teachers use as I can hear their language when she tell us about the Dinosaurs,  the Solar system and a myriad of other topics.

Yesterday as Baby Girl and I were waiting for The Life to get a haircut she suddenly asks.

“Mom when you die will I get a new mom?”

“Sweetie, when I die I’ll still be your mom but if Daddy gets married again that lady would be your step mom.”

She looks pensive for a bit.

“So if you die, I would have a spy mom?”

“No honey not a spy mom, it’s called a step mom?”

“But in the movie Spy Kids, their step mom is a spy. Right?”

“Yes, but not all step moms are spies”

“Oh” she said looking very disappointed.

I have to remember that baby girl is only 5 and that her brain is absorbing all kinds of information around her both formally (in school and in books) and mostly informally (what she watches on TV, hears on the radio and listens to other say) She is not yet aware of the difference between the resources that are teaching her facts and those that are purely for entertainment purposes.  Based on her thinking, the idea that step moms are spies is equal to the fact that the earth revolves around the sun.

Although I have to be more aware of what she’s “learning” and assuring that I help her to sort out fact from fiction I can’t help but think, wouldn’t life in general be more fun and so much less complicated if we could keep the simplicity of a 5 year old? And wouldn’t  the world just be a much more interesting place if all step moms were indeed spies?  

That Cookie is How Much?!?

There are an endless and shall I say needless number of chocolatiers and gourmet bakeries in the Toronto underground. I usually just walk past and marvel that there are line ups to buy $6 chocolate bars, $5 cupcakes and $12 candy apples. That was NOT a typo; yes there are $12 candy apples.

Today, I don’t know what came over me but I entered a new store that had quite a large selection of pastries, cookies and chocolates.  I slowly perused the glass display cases that looked more like they should be encasing diamonds than cake. The slices of cake, tarts and pastries were beautifully crafted and looked very tasty. For an instant I thought about buying one and then noticed they ranged from $7 to $12 (for one). Nope. No way. I should not be eating the stuff anyway and no way was I going to spend that much when there wouldn’t even be enough to share with the kids.

I kept walking and came to a display of “cookies” turns out they were macaroons but "cookies"to the untrained eye they just looked like cookies. This display was absolutely beautiful too with cookies in all colours of the rainbow with all sorts of exotic flavours and names.  I decided I would bring some home for the family. The kids are not vey adventurous with exotic flavours so I ordered 1 vanilla, 3 chocolate and 2 cappuccino(for Mr. LibertyDee and I) I had originally ordered 5 but the girl talked me into the additional one as to avoid the tax. So all in all I ordered 6 “cookies”

“That will be $13.60” Again, that is NOT a typo. Yes. $13.60 for 6 cookies. I know that I probably could have refused to buy them or perhaps I should have checked the price before committing to make the investment but I felt I was at the point of no return and politely paid for my “cookies”.

So here I now sit writing this on the train on my way home and my mind keep going back to the cookies I have been carrying oh so carefully so they don’t get squished and my mind keeps thinking “those better be some F&*%$g darn good cookies.”

The question is, do I want to share these cookies with the kids?  Do I take the risk? Not because I want to keep them for myself or that I don’t think the kids deserve to indulge in some expensive cookies but what I’m afraid of is that they are going to put their sticky hands all over the cookie, take one bite and then yell ’’ugh gross” while they slobber the piece in their mouth all over the piece left in their hand rendering the cookie inedible by anyone.

Alas I’m about to find out.

Lock Down

Plug with lock attached

Lock Down

“That’s it. You’re both grounded!”

“What? What do you mean we’re grounded?

“No electronics. Nothing!”

“What??? For how long?”

“For the rest of your lives.”

This is what I was hearing. I was in the kitchen (as usual) and something bad happened with the boys. I had heard Mr.liberyDee give the warning, then some more bickering and then  the punishment was handed down.

“No electronics for 60 days”

“What????” My head spun. “Is he crazy? Has he totally lost his mind? Why is he punishing me??? 60 days without electronics?” That meant no TV, no phone, no Xbox. Nothing. Those are the things I have come to depend on to keep them busy when we’re home. If there’s no electronics that would mean I would become the entertainment centre. It wouldn’t be Mr. LibertyDee. No. Nobody wants to bother dad.

It was too late though the punishment had been handed down and now it had to be enforced.

Mr. LibertyDee removed all games from The Plan’s phone, changed the main Internet access password, put locks on the charger plugs for the laptop and hid the Xbox controllers.  I tried to reason with Mr. LibertyDee, tried to tell him he was being too harsh, I even pleaded a little bit for leniency on the boy’s behalf but truly I was pleading for myself.  I was certain the next few weeks were going to be hell.

Here’s how the first few weeks played out:

No Electronics Week 1 – Sad…Just Sad

The first week was right down sad. Not sad that the boys were sad or that I was sad for them. It was sad to see that they really did not know what to do with themselves. They sat around before and after dinner with nothing to do. Mr. LibertyDee and I did have a good laugh about it,  as the boys sat around with their long faces feeling like a world without electronics would never be fun again but we also talked about how we really had allowed the electronics to take over their lives so much, that they truly, honestly did not know what to do without them.

No Electronics Week 2 – No Choice

They stated reading. The Plan picked up Harry Potter and The Life turned to sports magazines and the World Records books. But still they were miserable and whenever I made a comment about what they were reading I would be quickly reminded that they had no choice and were not enjoying it.

No Electronics Week 3 – A Breakthrough

Week 3 was a bit of a breakthrough. The Plan was hooked on Harry Potter and started going through the series very quickly; he even asked to have his bedtime extended so he could read. I had gone to the library with The Life and he had gotten some books on building paper airplanes and how to draw vampires. After dinner we started playing cards.

No Electronics Week 4 – The Great Outdoors

Week 4 the weather had was better and they started going out to play basketball on the driveway.  They started riding their bikes, pulled out the old lacrosse sticks that had not seen daylight in at least two years. The Plan kept reading, The Life kept playing cards with either me or Baby Girl. Suddenly the whining and off handed remarks about no electronics had stopped.
No Electronics Week 5– Parole for Good Behaviour

In week 5 we introduced family movies, this was an exemption to the grounding. The boys were allowed to watch TV if the whole family was watching. But even then, the playing outdoors continued.  The countdown to when electronics would return stopped and they even lost track of the amount of days that had passed. So did Mr. LibertyDee and I.

Last week Mr. LibertyDee decided to let the boys play some Xbox until I got home from work but when I arrived at the house they were putting on their bike helmets and were on their way out. Needless to say I was shocked. When I asked them about it The Plan simply responded that they played for about 30 minutes and that it had felt like a really long time to just be sitting there so they were going out for a ride.

I hate to admit it but Mr. LibertyDee was right. This “punishment” was exactly what the boys needed and not just the boys but all of us. I too was guilty of spending too much time on my phone either playing games or checking Facebook and much of that came to a stop so that I could play cards, draw a vampire or help fold and advanced paper airplane. I finally decided to delete all the games off my phone and suddenly have found the inspiration to start blogging again.

Tonight The Plan is upset that he has to stay in and study for a science test instead of playing basketball  on the driveway with The Life. And Mr. LibertyDee and I are finally basking in a parenting win.

LibertyDee

Who Do You Love?

Last night I  watched this video that is making the rounds on Facebook by Jimmy Kimmel. The premise is that families are stopped on the street and young children are asked who they love more. Mommy or Daddy? In most cases they choose mom. In the cases were they choose dad they are asked a subsequent question about if they had to choose something  “bad” to happen to one of them who would they pick and those same kids save their moms and let the dad take the fall.

I shared the video with my boys and they thought it was funny. We’ve had the who do you love more topic come up before and it always differs. It depends on which parent has been the nicest that particular week. It’s funny though because in our family although I’m the one that yells the most and the loudest I’m still considered the “nice one” (most of the time)

I though the concept of who they would pick to have something bad happen too was kind of funny but since I didn’t want to make it too morbid I asked “If only one grown up could have Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) tonight who would you choose?” Now let me explain that the fact we were having KFC is a very rare thing in our house and the kids have had it maybe twice in their lifetime so it’s considered a big deal.

Baby Girl immediately says that dad is probably ordering a lot and there will be a lot for everyone. The Life chooses dad to eat the KFC (I’d like to think that he chose dad because he knows how unhealthy it is and does not want his mommy subjected to such a bad nutritional choice..NOT).

The Plan however had a completely different approach, he chose to give the KFC to mom.  Yes me, moi, yo. That’s right my eldest chose me, his mommy.  My eldest will always want what’s best for me right? WRONG! When The Life suggested that he should choose dad instead on me, The Plan explained that the question was which GROWNUP could eat. This meant the kids were still eating and that dad eats too much and that mom probably wouldn’t want KFC anyway so there would be lots for him. You see, for The Plan it’s not about mom or dad it’s more about mom vs dad and his choice is based not on how his decision will impact mam and dad, but on how  the outcome will benefit him.

I think he’ll get far in life.

Check out the video: 

My Top Ten Completely Unexpected Benefits to Weight Loss

It’s been about a year now since I lost 50 pounds. I still have 20lbs to go but it seems the less I have to lose the harder it gets.  Since losing the weight I’ve seen a big difference in how I look and how I feel health wise. However, there are a few things I have experienced which I had not expected when I began my weight loss journey.

And so…….. here is my Top 10 list of completely unexpected benefits to losing weight.

10. Being able to see the tip of the bike seat during spinning class.

9. Fitting behind the kid’s seats at the dinner table when I serve the food.

8. Not having to hold up the ride at the amusement park while I figure out how to make the seatbelt bigger.

7. Help by strangers – this one makes me angry but I have noticed people tend to help me out more now that I am not as heavy.

6. Hanging around the house without needing to put a bra on. (No pun intended)

5. Parking in really tight spots and not having to manoeuvre myself out of in the passenger side.

4. Walking in my Velcro strapped shoes and not having them bust open as if I was transforming into the Hulk.

3.Taking my socks off without having to sit down.

2. Zipping up my knee high boots without breaking a sweat nor popping a blood vessel in my head.

AND The number 1 completely unexpected benefit to losing weight…

1. Running up the stairs in a skirt and not hearing the loud clap of my thighs slapping together. ( they still clap but its a polite “at the ballet” clap and no longer an “urging for an encore” at a rock concert clap.

LibertyDee

We Yell, We Cry…Part 2

Continued from We Yell, We Cry…Part 1

We drove home in absolute silence. We now had one hour at home, before we had to leave for a birthday party. I decided I would make macaroni and cheese so the kids could eat quickly and I could drop The Plan off at the party by 3:30pm. Now here came the next argument. This time it was about tuna. Yuppp you read that right. Tuna. The Life wanted tuna in his mac and cheese, Baby Girl and The Plan think it’ s gross so of course the whining started again. (I don’t know what it is about that whiny voice that just drives me nuts!!) I was feeling guilty about losing it on Baby Girl earlier so, to keep the peace, I offered to add tuna to some and leave the other plain. No big deal.

After lunch was served, we had about 20 minutes before we had to leave for the birthday party. Baby Girl really wanted one of those drinkable IOGO yogurts for dessert so I gave it to her because, after all, what harm could yogurt do? The  kids went off to keep themselves entertained while I cleaned the kitchen. (As much as I hate the seemingly never ending kitchen cleaning, sometimes it’s the only time everyone gives me a moment of peace) Then I heard the arguing. It was between The Life and Baby Girl. The next couple of minutes are a complete blur. I was so overcome by rage emotion that I don’t even remember it all very clearly. It turns out that Baby Girl had taken something The Life was playing with and wouldn’t give it back so The Life took Baby Girl’s yogurt and spilled it out on the driveway.  They were both telling me their side of the story simultaneously and although The Plan had not been involved, he maneuvered his way into the argument by taking Baby Girls side in an attempt to dig The Life deeper into trouble. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I went over the edge and began to yell at all three of them. I don’t remember the specifics of what I said but I do know that I ended it with “and be assured we will not be going to Wonderland tomorrow!” We had been planning to go to the opening day of our local amusement park for months, we had been counting down the “sleeps” for two weeks and this particular day was going to be the beginning my count down to 40 (more on that in another post).

The kids fell silent and I stomped back into the kitchen. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! It was time to leave for the birthday party. On the bright side, the kids were smart enough to not complicate things and they got their shoes on and into the car much quicker than I would have expected. Considering the day I was having, I was happy that we were running on time and arrived at the party a few minutes early. So early in fact that the birthday host wasn’t even there yet. We waited around and when it was 10 minutes past when the party was supposed to start, we asked the front desk if perhaps the party was already inside. Turns out we were at the wrong location! The party was actually 15 minutes from my house in the opposite direction.

In an attempt to make this very long story short, by the time I got home that evening I had completely broken down.  I was frustrated that the kids couldn’t get along, I was tired from running around all day, I felt guilty that I had yelled at the kids, and  I was disappointed that we were not going to Wonderland as I too had really been looking forward to it. And so I cried. By this time Mr. LibertyDee was home and he has gotten better at reading the cues and so he made sure I got my space but boy did I cry. I felt selfish that I wanted time to myself, I felt torn and thought perhaps we should go to Wonderland after all, then there’s all that motherly guilt about the lack of patience and having The Plan miss half the birthday party. It was awful. I felt awful. I went to bed.  When I woke up Sunday morning I remembered a saying I had recently heard on Downton Abbey “We yell, we cry, but in the end we all die” and with that I woke everyone up and off we all went to Wonderland. It was amazing.  A day I’m sure the kids will remember forever .  I only hope that it was so great it over shadows the day before.

P.S The Plan read this post today and I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to have him read it but he thought it was hilarious. He actually said I should thank him and The Life and Baby Girl or else I would have nothing to write about. He also said that he now understood why I snapped and why I wasn’t going to let them go to Wonderland.  He initially thought I got that upset because there was yogurt on the driveway.  SO it looks like I may not be screwing them up as much as I think (for now)

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