Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Paris Party: Child labor

After the party, we expected to have meltdowns, whining, exhaustion, etc. But all three kids pitched in and worked like crazy. Their reward was hot cocoa at home--really just an excuse to use the whipped "creme" we'd forgotten to use at the party! In spite of crepes for dinner, cake and ice cream, we let them go crazy with the stuff...they finished the entire can. (OK, I helped a little.)

Paris Party: The arch of (my) triumph

Stacy ventured out with me to locate the box, which sat on the porch for many hours while I pondered how we'd manage turning it into the arch! Finally, I chopped out a hole in the middle and taped on a couple of details, and we put two coats of spray paint on it late Saturday night in the backyard. The paint was a total waste of time and six bucks: No coverage! Aggravating. It was also toxic and stinky and horrible and it made our button-pushing fingers sore! So we desperately found some old tan latex paint in the basement (partially dried up but FREE) and slapped on a coat of that which covered beautifully and dried fast. Sunday morning I used pastel chalks to sketch on some details and we painted the back plain tan. I was so thrilled with how it turned out that I don't know how I'll bear to get rid of it. Which I must, of course--it's huge.

This might be a good time to gush about what an amazing help Stacy was! She isn't pictured because I was too absent-minded and she was behind the camera for most of the party. So full of ideas...she'd call me early in the morning in the month before the party because she'd gotten a new idea for a game or decoration she couldn't wait to share. She arrived on Thursday and slaved away pretty much all weekend. Her only break was a few hours on Saturday! She even stripped the sheets off the guestroom before her 6:30 a.m. return to the bus station with two exhausted children. Everyone should have friends like mine; I don't deserve them, but I'm not complaining.

Paris Party: Art studio

The blank canvases were only about a dollar each, and I already owned way too much paint for someone who is not particularly artistic, so this activity was a bargain. We hung photos from a couple of art calendars on the wall behind the "studio" for inspiration (and when we realized they were a bit too complex to be inspiring to beginners also printed a few examples from the Internet that might seem more "do-able"--Mondrian, Kandinsky, Matisse). The only hitch was that some paintings weren't dry at the end of the party, and carrying them out to the car was quite a challenge. One child asked for a piece of paper so that he could make a checklist for what to put in his painting, and we found it later--he had followed it to a T. Adorable.

Paris Party: Fashion show

Yes, this ran the risk of turning Ethan's fête into a Fairy Princess party, but it was a lot of fun. I know, because one team needed an extra member so I joined in.

Paris Party: Le Tour

The Tour de France relay race went through the room and out in the hall with each kid finishing down the Champs d'Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. (OK, it was a couple of potted plants that happened to already be in the room and an arch I made out of a furniture box from Freecycle.) The "yellow jerseys" were an amazing find. We dashed into the Dollar Store for a couple of things and found Bright. Yellow. T-shirts. One. Dollar. I kid you not. They only had two colors, and one of them was the perfect addition to our relay. Don't you love it when a plan comes together?

Paris Party: French school

We couldn't have had a French party without Claire, who taught us to count to 9 and sent Ethan off on an errand with her brother James to get the cake while she taught the rest of the kids to sing "Happy Birthday" in French. They were really fast learners; she told me later she was quite impressed by their accents.

Paris Party: The food

Even with the World's Greatest Husband, there's no way I could have pulled off this party alone. Thank you, Chef Extraordinaire Becky! (And her also-great husband Clint, who had to leave after getting the crepes started.) I've heard it's the friends you can call at 2 a.m. that matter, but it's really the friends you can call on to make 36 crepes for your Paris Party!

Paris Party: The perfume

Are you a "Master Perfumiére"? (I have no idea if that is spelled right or if it's even a real word. But it sounds like ze French, non?) Nine different scents--some pleasant, some decidedly NOT--awaited the guests in the perfume boutique. This game admittedly leaned toward the girly side, but the garlic was pure nasty. My favorite guesses were seeing eucalyptus identified as "Vaporub" and "car-sickness medicine," and having two kids whose parents work at a company called "Coffey" recognize the scent of "Coffey beans."

Ethan's Paris Party: The Museum

As the kids arrived, they entered through a hallway with an exhibit of little art reproductions. During the meal we hid the 13 artworks in the courtyard and left clues--puzzle pieces telling them the art was hidden in the courtyard. Then partway through the party, we sent Ethan out to get the Mona Lisa (for an "art lesson") so he could discover the theft. The kids assembled the puzzle and ran out in the drizzle to hunt. The highlight for me was a boy opening his eyes very wide and telling me "This is a little bit scary!" (We assured him it was just for fun.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Crazy Hair Day 2008

Since Ethan's godsister was visiting his class, we had two heads to decorate! Getting the paint out was quite an ordeal. Next year we'll find something else for the color effects. Shortly after this photo, they both got haircuts. Claire lost almost 15 inches of gorgeous hair for Locks of Love. (What she gained: Freedom from tangles and a super-cute posh new do!)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Family birthday

Finally, the kid got some presents. The RC helicopter he's been talking about since before Christmas, some übercool Überstix for really tall buildings, fun books, Moon shoes.... He also got a couple of science projects that we're forcing him to wait on. (You can't just go building a volcano on the dining room table without some advance planning!) And the crystal-growing set will be great for tomorrow when the post-visitor letdown sets in. All his grandparents, his uncle and his cousin left today, and there's no school tomorrow, so it's going to be a slow day.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sick day

I spent all day Monday in bed except for a couple of trips to the kitchen for more spicy noodle soup. Yummmmmm. When they got home from school, Cliff and Ethan reminded me about the Valentine dinner we had tickets for. I told them I had completely forgotten about it. Ethan, on the other hand, had been thinking about it all day. So they went without me. A shame two guys this good-lookin couldn't find a couple of dates!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Ethan's birthday afternoon

With the Paris Party postponed, we went pottery-painting at the Carnegie Art Center. Then Ethan got to choose the restaurant (Rosita's) and the dessert (Dairy Queen).

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Where did THIS come from?

Last night, the roads were completely clear and you would have been hard pressed to gather a snowball from the lawn. Oh well, it's an excuse not to work on the deck.

The puzzle from hell

Actually, it was from Dolan Springs, so more accurate to say "The puzzle from a godforsaken hell hole." (Hee hee, just kidding! :-))

Ethan's great-aunt and uncle sent this after they heard about the Paris Party. My first thought was, "This is the sweetest gift ever!" My second thought, after opening the box and trying to fit a few pieces together, was "Aaaaack, this thing is impossible!" accompanied by a horrible sinking feeling that I was possibly being punished for something. But after a couple of afternoons working on it, I was back to the first thought. Ethan and I had a great time, and he spent most of the time either exclaiming about how cool the puzzle was or how cool I was for helping him with it.

We were thinking of putting it out for the kids to work on at the party, but now I think it will make a great centerpiece. We love it!

New toy

Here it is, with more stitches than any normal human being could ever use. Now I wonder if I'll actually get some projects done??

(This is the machine I earned by fixing the roof!)