Planning a Party

My sister in law asked me for some tips on planning a kid’s birthday party. I had never really thought through my planning process so decided to do it here.

First, I usually ask my child or myself the chose theme. Ex. Lightning Mcqueen, Lego, Owls, etc. For myself when planning my adult parties I usually have a feeling I want to capture. Something from Paris, romantic, sweet, etc. Something Asian, something Italian, etc. I like to spoil my girlfriends when I get the chance with pretty desserts and go overboard with a lot of variety on the dessert table to make it an OCCASION to remember 🙂

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The exception to this is when we have parties at other locations. My kids sometimes have their parties at a local indoor play spot where there are slides, balls, etc. If this is the case we usually keep everything really simple and just take the snack foods or pizza to the location.

Once we know the theme we want to go with I brainstorm a menu. For kids, I like to keep it simple, do some finger foods for young kids. If it is a summer party we usually have a cookout/picnic with food that goes along with the season: shish kabobs, hot dogs, or hamburgers.  Typically I let the birthday kid choose their menu and add to that (of course this depends on the age of the child)

 

The cake is usually a combination of what the birthday kid wants or the theme combined with some new experiment I am wanting to try out or a new recipe I have run across. You gotta remember around here I am the cake lady and love getting a chance to try something different.

As for games if it is a summer party my husband plans the outdoor games. Our son’s birthday is in June and over the years he has had some amazing parties. When he turned 5 he had a Cars party where each kid decorated/painted their own car to “drive” in. Then there were car races with the kids running around the house and yard. The food was all coordinated with the Cars theme and it was a total blast!

Other parties he has had in the summer were a rocket/space theme. Where the kid’s made plastic bottle rockets and shot those. Another year they had a huge squirt gun war, with teams and all.

This year he will be 10 and I am glad we still have time to plan all that. He is getting rather picky.

Our April birthdays are more difficult because our house isn’t large enough for a big party. Two of our kids have birthdays 3 days apart in April. Up till now, we celebrated several times together at other locations and they were fine with that. Before our 3rd child was into parties we had a Cinderella party for our daughter. That time the girls made foam crowns, that they got to decorate with sticker jewels and played other princess themed games.

Now that our daughter is in first grade she wants to celebrate separately from her younger brother. So this time she is having an all girl’s party (no boys allowed this year, not even brothers). She wants to have an owl themed party as she is crazy about owls. We are still in the planning stage. We like to have a game or two and will have a hands-on/crafty sort of activity for the girls too. They will most likely get to decorate large owl sugar cookies.

So there is quick a rundown of how we do parties at our house. I look for menu and decorating ideas on Pinterest sometimes, but that can get a bit overwhelming and intimidating.

How do YOU plan parties?

 

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Just a spring rain

 

Spring rain, Paris, France

Photo Credit

You know that feeling when you step out into that first spring rain? The one that just a spring rain knows how to portray?

The streets sparkle with a shiny sheen, the lights seem to have a special starry effect.

The first spring rain has an aroma that it alone possesses; so fresh, and full of coming life.

That gentle rain, with no rush or hurry with a gentle dropping so soothing to the soul.

You know the rain, the first spring rain, after a long and snowy winter. That rain that speaks spring as it alone knows how.

Aw, what bliss. Could this first spring rain mean spring is truly here to stay?

 

 

This is my job

It’s Monday again and so rolls the world in the ho-hum hundrum of everyday life.

I wonder at times if I am accomplishing anything.

Being a Mom of 4 kids ages  8,6,4 and 5 months means a lot of repeating myself. I have even started making a list of what I accomplished on some days next to my to do lists so that I can see I did alot- even if not what I had planned or hoped.

The kids were delivered to their lessons nearly on time. The baby was well cared for. Meals were prepared. Homework was finished. I ran his aunt to the store as we do once a week. . .

Yet somehow I get this lingering feeling that I could have, should have done more.

I didn’t have time to work on my online business, there was no time for marketing my products, there was no time for painting. I long to be selling more, but how does one build an online business? Others seem to do so effortlessly- for me it is sort of hit and miss.

And yet when the day winds down and the kids start drifting off to sleep and I am left with perhaps a couple of hours of quiet I am reminded that this is my job. Mothering is what I need to do now, here, today.

There were will be time perhaps someday for building a business more thoroughly, and chasing those dreams.

But for now I will delight in the sweet scent of my baby- and his cooing and babbling. I adore babyhood and it is such a fleeting time. How I wish there was some way to always have a baby in the house 🙂 But since there isn’t I will capture these moments in my heart, and on paper and photos.

And I will read Laura Ingalls books when my eyes are weary. And pray and talk for so long my arms go numb on the edge of the top bunk while my 8 year old shares his heart and thoughts about ozones, and life, and friends.

Because this is my job. . . . and I love it!

A Woman in Amber: Book Review

For Christmas my husband had ordered me the book, A Woman in Amber by Agate NeSaule. Of course it didn’t make it by Christmas, despite having been ordered early. ( I knew he ordered it since he happened too use my ebay account). But it was worth the wait…

My husband got me this book because I had started writing about my Grandma’s childhood in Latvia in the 193os and he thought I needed some inspirataion.

First of all this is a biography. It is well written. It is raw. It is real. It is heartbreaking.

Reading this book I so wished that he had given it to me a year ago. I could have asked my Grandma much more specfic questions about her years in the camps in Germany.But Grandma is gone, 3 months too late I recieved this book.

I know my Grandma’s version of the wartime, of leaving Latvia, of the camps in Germany. But Agate’s exeriences is far worse/more horrible than anything my Grandma ever mentioned or perhaps she never told us how bad things really were.

My Mom reminded me that Grandma was  never able to watch movies with war scenes or fleeing the enemy and ones country, like Sound of Music. These scenes were always too real and painful for her.

Agate Nesaule writes well;  clearly telling her story and the way it impacted her life . And the way war changes and effects anyone who lives to tell about them.

So desite the utter horror this book aroused in me during many of its scenes I am thankful more than ever that my Grandma escaped, lived and thrived so that we too could be born!

 

Because of you . . .

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Dear Daddy,

Happy birthday! I want you to know  how much I admire you and don’t want these words to be said when it is too late to hear them.

From the time I was a little girl I remember you reading to us; stories fo missionaries, stories of Danny Orlis, mystery stories and the like. It is because of you I learned of Gladys Aylward and because of that God planted a seed in my heart for missions.

Your blessings of prayer with your hand on our heads as kids was and is one of the most special prayers that has ever been said for me. I will always treasure and long for your prayer of blessing!

 

I am so glad you taught me to care for the eldery by taking me to nursing home services with you. I miss singing with you and playing the piano for those services. I learned from you the great meaning a hand-shake,  and a kind word can mean to an elderly stranger.

I loved caroling with you and our church and hearing your big, beautiful, booming voice.

Thanks for getting us out in nature by taking us on hiking and fishing from the time we were little kids- how much fun we had looking for crawdads in the creek, and hiking in the mountains!

Thanks for believing in my dreams of being a missionary and always supporting me both spiritually and finacially!

I have always  been partial to your preaching, and someone every pastor has been measured in the light of you. I miss hearing your matter of fact, simple, sincere sermons (in English). And always look forward to them when you are here or I am there.

Dad, I admire so much about you- from the way you care for the hurting, to your pitching in with dishes, babies and more. Anywhere you see a need, you are willing to help! Thanks for showing service in action. How I hope I can teach my boys/kids to be like their Grandpa!

Don’t ever stop walking hand in hand with Jesus! Don’t ever let your faith grow stale or your message dilluted!

Stand firm like your forefathers- in the face of all trials!

I love you Dad!

Happy birthday!

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Dear Grandma

Dearest Grandma,

Over the last few years I always liked to try to write to you a real note and then. I learned that habit perhaps in part from you. You were so good at writing notes and sending birthday cards to all of us- something so many people don’t do anymore- but that is so appreciated when it is done. Thanks to those of you who still do send REAL cards and letters!

My earliest memories of you were of you being my “Grandma in Wheaton.” We loved going to your house at Thanksgiving which was a placed so packed to the gills with grandkids that we usually stayed at your friend Arija’s house.

I loved getting to help you in the kitchen when I got interested in kitchen work- making those countless dishes for Thanksgiving with a Latvian flair- complete with sauerkraut and piragi 🙂

How I loved when we switched from Thanksgiving to Christmas and we grandkids got to put up your Christmas tree. You had the most amazing lights- bubble lights and bird lights and such unique ornaments.

One could feel the excitement in the air when you would disappear and then come clomping down the stairs in costume- every year you surprised us with you new persona that you were dressing up as. You would give each of gifts you had made, and some you had bought. Your creativty and resourcefulness were amazing. . .

Over the years you made us so many special gifts; circle skirts, stilts, engraved Bible stands, trinket shelves, quilts, dresses and I am sure more that I cannot at present remember.

Then there was the next morning when we would come downstairs or into the dining room area and the mantle was busting at its seems with all those stockings filled to overflowing- how we loved those mornings. Our last mornings with the clan before hitting the road again. Those warm feelings have stuck with me my entire life and are something I am attempting to pass on to my kids. It wasn’t so much about the gift- but about the giving, the caring, the being together.

How much fun we always had at your house. . . so much laughter.

It was from you I learned to eat mushrooms. . . After we got back from our year in Latvia we spent several months living with you. You loved mushrooms- and since no one else wanted to I started eating them with you. . . and learned to love them too.

You were the one who taught me to knit- I remember sitting on your couch in Wheaton as you taught me how to do it- Latvian style- (different than the American method)  and I made my first scarf.

Oh how I loved the treasures and delights of your attic- and how we older girls loved getting to go up there and be allowed to find and take home some of those special items of days gone by- I still have such lovely things you let me have. Thank you!

You have always been so transparent- moved to tears by music- I get that from you. Speaking your mind- loudly– sometimes when it needs to be said- other times when it embarrassed me.  . . (ha ha)

I could go on and on. . . all night about all the memories I have of you and with you.

And how I would love to hear the stories of all of my other cousins and siblings and their kids. An entire book could be filled with all of our memories of you. . .

Love you!

Goodnight till next time