Tuesday, November 15, 2011

But, I'm not ready yet

Mason is having his first drop-off play date tomorrow and I am having a minor, ok, Major panic attack over it.

Mason has had a bunch of play dates over the years, and even a few with new families we have met through preschool. They have always been with me present, mostly because me and the other Mom want to chat and get to know one another. But seriously, I have never had a Mom ask me to drop off my child at their house. Until now. And well actually, she never really asked, but more assumed.

For about a week we had been playing phone tag in trying to set up a play date with our sons. Finally we met up at a school function. This was where she said, "so do you want me to just take him to my house after school or would you prefer to drop him off?" I'm pretty sure my mouth dropped to the floor and my eyes bugged out. I felt blindsided as I struggled to regain my composure. We had already agreed to the play date and even though I am not at all ready to let my son run off without me, how could I back out now? I feel really uncomfortable sending my son to the home of someone I barely know. He is only five years old. I know most of the parents in Mason's class have multiple kids and the ones in his class are usually their second or third so they have been there and done that. But he is my first, my baby, and this is a HUGE step for me. I'm sure they are a wonderful family and from the brief moments I have talked with her, I've determined she is very nice. The fact remains, we've only had a few brief encounters, so I don't know her all that well yet. I don't know any of the parents in his class very well for that matter. At least not well enough to let my son go to their house alone.

Mason, of course, is thrilled about going to this house because he says they have Legos and he is really into building with Legos right now. I explained to him that I will not be there and it would be a long time without Mom (2 hours, and that was me cutting it down). Still he doesn't seem to be apprehensive about it at all. I seem to be the only one with reservations and suffering from fear, panic and worry. What if he gets hurt and I am not there? What if they allow him to do things that I find inappropriate? What do I do if their discipline methods are completely different than ours? Will she let them play outside unattended? What if he gets uncomfortable or upset or bored and wants to go home, will she call me and let me know? I told him that he should tell the Mom if he wants to leave and have her call me and I'll come pick him up but still, I have all these horrors running through my head. I've never been to their house, I've never seen my son and her son interact or play with one another, so I have no idea how well they get along. This is all so new and uncharted territory for me and for him. I have no idea what to expect, nor do I know what is the protocol in these situations.

I mentioned this on Mason's birthday, with all the parents wanting to drop off their 4 and 5 year old children at my house for his party, and this wasn't the first time I ran into this. At what age is it appropriate to expect other parents to watch our kids for two hours while we run off? Even more, is 5 too young for a drop off play date? Especially if you do not know them that well? I want my son to feel independent and confidence in not having me around but at the same time, he is only in preschool. I have such anxiety and feel so uncomfortable about the whole situation, yet I feel I can't insist I be there or back out for fear of being seen as rude or over protective. I'm almost trying to find any excuse, like bad behavior, to call up and cancel. Ahh! Please tell me I am not the only one who feels this way?

So how do I deal with this anxiety? I'm not sure. I could very well be that Mom who sits in her car for two hours, parked across the street.
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011



Mason turned five years old last week. FIVE! Oh my gosh I cannot believe it has been five years since I first became a Mom. How fast the years go by and even faster, how you settle into your new routine. The ease at which you transform from a daughter, to wife to a mother and never look back. So it is only fitting that he chose to have a Transformers themed birthday this year.


I had quite a bit of fun planning this party. O.K., I have fun planning all my kids parties, but this one was especially fun. Mostly because of the age of my son and his party guests. I was able to do so much more, be more creative and actually plan some fun activities to go along with our traditional pin the tail, pinata and cake. Even more, it was fun because I kept it simple.


Yup, that's right, I said simple. The decorations, the favors, and the food, all quick and easy. It really helps to make early preparation a priority. Establishing that theme early on and then buying things like streamers, balloons, and tablecloths weeks before the party; even before I made the invitations. I scored them pretty cheap thanks to sales and coupons. Of course I could not go shopping for any of this stuff without my co-planner. He has been a part of the process from the very beginning. Since he could talk (which was two) and had an opinion, I've respectfully run my ideas through his approval. He usually agrees, but every once and while we butt heads. Still, it's fun to get the kids involved.

Having a Transformers theme, it was pretty easy to pick the colors. I assumed we'd pretty much be doing black and yellow for BumbleBee, Mason's favorite character, but he insisted we have blue, red and grey as well. Representing Optimus Prime and Ironhide, respectfully. We split the five colors up between the streamers (Red, Blue, Black) and balloons (yellow, black and silver). I then made two banners. One that says Happy Birthday, replicating the yellow and black stripped Camero that is BumbleBee. The second, a blue and grey banner to represent Optimus with alternating Autobot and Decepticon images. I hung them up the night before his birthday so when he woke up that morning and came downstairs he saw them and immediately said, "I love it Mom. Especially the Transformers letters."

For the favors I made yellow and black playdough. After having made my first batch of playdough last year, I have never looked back. The batch you get is huge and it a lot softer and stays moist for way longer than the store bought brand name dough. I packed them in cheap tupperware containers, printed out the recipe on sticker paper and wrapped them in ribbon.

That night after everyone was in bed I stayed up way too late and decorated the house. I am a bit of a night owl. I work best, creatively, when I am alone with no distractions and it is quiet except for my music or latest podcast I listen to while working. I think it was 2am by the time I finally crawled into bed but I had the satisfaction of having everything that could possibly be done, done. Weekends are my days to sleep in so thankfully I got to sleep later than everyone else after pulling the all nighter. I missed Mason's reaction when he walked downstairs, but my heart soared when Fred told me that he went on and on and on about the decorations and how, "this was the best birthday ever!!" And "Daddy, isn't this great? Isn't this the best birthday ever? How are you not more excited?!" I guess I got it right. If everything else fell apart or didn't go as planned, I could be happy anyway.


The most exciting part of the planning, and the party for that matter, was the activity I had planned.

Are any of you familiar with a show called Dino Dan? It is a show about a boy who is really into dinosaurs and you get to learn all about them and see them in action. It's a neat show as we have stumbled upon it a few times. On one particular day we watched an episode in which Dan was having a birthday. As one of the activities, his mother created a hunt for the kids with clues to find out which dinosaur was on the cake. Mason turned to me and immediately suggested a hunt to figure out which Transformer was on his cake. For months, he would mention this idea to me. However, I soon realized that finding a Transformers cake, much less getting a say as to what character was on it, was extremely difficult. So the plan had to be altered. I thought back to my childhood and remembered the summer reading programs my Mom would drag my sister and I to, as her helpers. One summer, the program had a pirate theme and she did a treasure hunt with the kids. I remembered how much fun that was for the kids, and despite the fact that at the time, I hated being there, it was actually a lot of fun for me too.

So our cake clue idea became the Hunt for the Allspark. Mason immediately thought this was a cool idea. However, we needed a way for each kid to get their own Allspark to take with them and how in world would I make 14 Allsparks? As I searched for ideas, we found ourselves at Walmart, shopping for who knows what, and ending up in the party isle where they have all those little trinkets for favors. You know the ones that are like $1 or less. There we found these cubed erasers, that are a puzzle, and immediately said, "this is our Allspark". They were perfect.

I then spent the next week leading up to the party, creating and coming up with clever clues to hide around the house leading the kids from room to room and ultimately the Allspark. The morning of the party, I hid all the clues in their appropriate places and anxiously awaited for the time to start the game. Below are the clues I created.


I started off by explaining the deal with the war between the Autobots and Decepticons, for those who are not familiar with the Transformers. I then explained that we needed to "find the Allspark before Megatron and save our planet from the evil forces of the Decepticons. Who is with me?" All the kids started jumping up and down, raising their hands and screaming, "me! Me!" The funniest part was after all the kids got quiet as I was about to read the first clue, Sophie runs up to the group and yells, "me too! " (Have I mentioned how much I love this girl?) This actually might have been more fun for me, but I think I got the kids excited enough. I watched as they ran from room to room, looking for the clue and getting so excited once it was found, ready to hear where they were heading next. Once they found the cubes, they were rewarded with a pinata. What an excellent way to get rid of excess Halloween candy.

After some more playing, it was time for cake. Being the family documentarian and always having my camera, my only regret was not having taken pictures throughout the party. No images of the kids all hitting the mark on the pin the symbol on BumbleBee, no images of me reading the clues to overexcited kids, no images of them pulling the strings on the pinata, no images of them them just all around having a blast and playing. However, I did grab my camera long enough to take a photo of the cake and Mason blowing out his candles. Which was a fun event, because jokingly I told Mason was going to use those trick candles on his cake and he then convinced me to actually use them. So two of them, no one knew which ones, were the trick ones and it took him a few tries to blow them out.


All in all, it was a fun day. I think it could have potentially been more chaotic, especially if more people were invited. I am learning that at this age most parents assume parties are drop off. I ran into this last year with Mason as well. I don't know about you, but I would not drop off my 4 or 5 year old preschooler at someones house for two hours, especially when I do not know them that well. Though this does not seem to be an issue for the majority of the parents at our preschool. A few of the kids got dropped off, which was fine, as we had a sufficient number of parents who did stay, but if it had been all 12 kids in my house just me and my husband, I would have lost it. Knowing this, and knowing it was only going to be expected for next year, Fred and I decided that future parties for Mason will be held somewhere other than our home.

I'm glad Mason had a great time with his friends, I'm glad he loved all the planning that went into it and I am especially glad I have gotten to see him grow from year to year. When it comes to transformations, this past year has been the biggest for him. Baby fat is gone, and his skills are expanding. With that, since he is learning to write, this year I am having him write his own Thank You notes. I created fill in the blank cards and he has been busy writing them out this week.

He has been doing such a great job, though I know even those few words are a challenge for him. I am so proud of my little man and the progress he has made in such a short amount of time. I'm not sure what I would do without his smile, laughter, sense of humor, logic and reasoning and all around truly caring spirit.

Thanks for Transforming my life buddy.
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Fa-BOO-lous Halloween!!

Our Halloween started off with the class party and parade at Mason's school on the 28th. This year they came to school dressed in their costumes. Sophie, of course, had to be just like her brother and dressed in her costume that day as well. Being a room parent again this year, I helped plan, prepare and execute the party. The kids made an eyeball snack out of carrots, cream cheese and either a blueberry or an olive. I didn't think about how this snack would taste at the time of planning. Unfortunately it wasn't that great, based on the faces of some of the kids. However, these kids are pretty smart and ended up just eating each piece of fruit/vegetable on its own.

I also learned something while in the classroom. The white part of the eye, represented by the the cream cheese on our snack, is called the tapetum. It reflects light and helps nocturnal animals, such as bats, see in the dark. See even I am learning something from preschool!

After clean up, Sophie and I headed outside to join the rest of the Bears parents while we waited for the kids to parade by in their costumes.
Mason brought up the rear for his class in the role of caboose for the parade. It was pretty cold that day so coats were a necessity. He was pretty bummed though that they would not allow him to wear his cannon for the parade as it was considered a gun and no weapons were allowed. Still, I got so many comments on how much he looked like BumbleBee.
After making their way through the parking lot, the older kids (JK and Kindergarten) got to parade around Bloom grocery store across the street while the parents waited for the kids back in the classroom.

That evening we went to IHOP for free scary face pancakes. A special treat for the kids and night off of cooking for me.

I swear Halloween night could not come fast enough for these two kids. They had been chomping at the bit ever since Friday. This year was exceptionally special due to Fred and I hand making either all or parts of the kids costumes.
Mason was BumbleBee. This was a given from early on. In fact, he has been so into Transformers that when I saw the BumbleBee costume at Costco a month before Halloween, I didn't have to think twice before putting it in my cart. My only concern was whether it would fit. Which it did perfectly. After I had the idea to make Sophie's costume, thought it would be cool to make Mason a canon fully equipped with LED's. Mason, of course, LOVED the idea and would talk of nothing else till it was done. I have to say it came out awesome and really made the costume. Fred used a shipping tube for the canon, painting it yellow to match. He then programmed a micro controller to have the blue LED's blink in a circle like it does in the movie, as if he is about to shoot you. There were many compliments of his canon throughout the night.
Sophie was so hard to figure out. We had gone to Target, Costco, Walmart, etc. as soon as the costumes were being displayed to find one for her. At first I thought she would be TinkerBell, but the costumes were all either too baby or too adult or had elements like the wings and such which we already had. My next thought was a princess, she has been liking Ariel lately, but wouldn't even try on any of those costumes. She tried on Wonder Woman and wore it around the store, I was thinking we found the costume until she got bored with it. Mason and I were both at a loss. That's when Sophie started to really get into Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony.

It all started because we watch Transformers Prime on the hub and one day stumbled upon the newest Strawberry t.v. show. So one day while picking up some supplies at Target I had her try on the Strawberry Shortcake costume. For what it came with, it was a good price. Unfortunately the sizing on these costumes in not accurate. Even though it claimed to be a size 2T-4T it barely fit her and Halloween being a month away still, I was apprehensive about buying it. So I started to wonder how hard it would be to make.

Next thing I know I am searching Pinterest for homemade Strawberry Shortcake costume ideas and buying pink polka dot fabric and searching every store for green and white striped tights. Little by little the outfit came together and while I had some redos with the outfit, I think for my first attempt it came out really good.

Following a tutorial I found online, I just took one of her dresses, folded it in half and cut the shape out of the pink polka dot fabric. I then chopped of the top part and sewed the bottom half to a white T-shirt I bought at Walmart. For the leggings, I found the green stripped leg warmers at Target and ended up sewing them to the shorts of an outfit that she no longer fits into. Voila, leggings. For the hat, I used this tutorial, except I bought a cheap visor at Walmart for $2 as the base. I took the leftover green felt from making the peter pan hats for Sophie's second birthday party and covered the brim. Then I used the leftover fabric from making the dress and made the hat, using a hot glue gun to attach it to the visor. I piped the edges, covering the frays, with white ribbon from my stash and after trying it on her attached some elastic to the back of the visor to help it stay on her head. For the Strawberry Shortcake emblem, my friend, Kim from Hammers and Fire, made it for me and I then just printed it out on special paper and ironed it directly onto the t-shirt. Kim is the one who Fred collaborated with to make my one of a kind necklace for our 6th year Wedding Anniversary. I encourage you to click the link and check out her work on her blog. It is absolutely stunning. I am thinking of commissioning a ring to match my necklace. The pink sparkly shoes I found at Target and had to fight with her to not wear until Halloween.

I am quite impressed with myself and will be attempting to make more outfits and other crafty things. First on my list is to figure out how to make a memory quilt. I am feeling more comfortable with my sewing machine and am glad it is getting a lot of use these days, for more than just my scrapbook pages and albums.

After getting my pre-requisite photos of them in their costumes, we headed out into the night to accumulate as much candy as possible.
It was a cold evening, thanks to the freak snow day we had Saturday. Which also ruined our pumpkin patch plans. While Mason was fine in his outfit the whole night, Sophie only lasted the few houses on our cul-de-sac before wanting her coat.
Mason is a seasoned pro at Trick or Treating. It being Sophie's first real year, Mason was teaching her what to say and after the first few houses she caught on quickly. Putting her cuteness to work and milking our neighbors for all they were worth. At one point she fell, pretty hard. Tripping over her shoes and her pumpkin of candy rolling down the street. We made it to the next house, me carrying her and Sophie, using her tears to her benefit. For each whimper the lady but more candy into her bucket. I cut it off after the third or fourth handful. By the end of the evening Grandma and I had to carry their buckets for being so full of candy they were too heavy for the kids to carry anymore.

I think they really made out this year, as Mason's school assignment clearly indicated. He had to count the number of candy bars, lollipops and gum that he got. We counted 48 candy bars!
Well at least I now have enough bribes for them to last me through the new year. Either that or they might get so tired of candy by December they won't want to eat the rest. At least until next year.
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