Sunday, October 21, 2012

Flying High

Someone turned SIX this weekend! And even more excitingly, M. and I FINALLY managed to throw an (semi-) outdoor birthday party that was blessed with nice weather. But let's not make this all about ME and my weather issues, let's focus on the birthday boy, who by all accounts, had a very excellent birthday weekend.

There were presents and friends and cake and hiking and LOTS of angry birds - what more could a boy want?

The theme of Finn's birthday party was, in fact, angry birds. I don't normally "do" themes for parties, but Finn picked out angry bird party invitations (none of which were actually sent out because I ended up e-mailing all the parents instead, owing to the fact that I did not know most of their mailing addresses), and we just kind of ran with it. It helped that a friend of mine at work had recently thrown an angry bird birthday party for HER son, and she gave us some extra decorations that really spiffed the party up.

Plus, those angry birds are pretty darn addictive and fun.

This is Finn's impression of an angry bird.

He spent a lot of the day acting silly. And wearing a crown.

His actual birthday AND the party were both on Saturday. We had just a handful of kids and their parents over - nothing too overwhelming for our little townhouse. It felt like exactly the right number of people, and exactly the right amount of planned activities vs. free play time.

Some photos of the house before the onslaught of guests:

Angry Birds birthday banner

The "craft" table


We set up a mini angry bird game, with styrofoam cups decorated as the king pig, and ping pong balls painted to look like the birds.

Aren't they ridiculously cute?
Unfortunately, many of them are now eyeless. Next time I'll use superglue.

The goody bags. I did the cutting, and Finn and Lucy did the gluing. And Finn helped me stuff them. It was very much a team effort, and the kids loved helping.

The craft table was set up with some angry bird coloring pages I printed out from the Internet (free!), beads for making necklaces/bracelets, and a little "make-your-own-monster-on-a-popsicle-stick" kit that we got at Michaels.

Only the girls did the crafts. The boys just played with some of Finn's new toys.

Then we brought them out back for a little bouncing. We used a timer, and the two groups of kids (girls and boys - they self sorted. I think there is something to this "gender identity" thing...) took turns alternately bouncing

and playing in our "sand" (actually full of pea gravel) box.

Then there was cake. I didn't go all out and bake Finn's cake myself, unlike the one I did for Lucy's last birthday. M. was out of town most of last week, and I knew better than to get myself in over my head while he was out. Instead, I bought a sheet cake, and then decorated it to look like a scene out of the angry birds game using bird and pig figures I bought from Amazon and Twix bars:

Both kids thought it was awesome, and didn't care at all that it wasn't homemade. In fact, given how they react to most of my baking projects, they probably preferred it because it wasn't.

Finn was all over the singing and blowing out candles bit:

All in all, it was a great time - low key enough that I wasn't too stressed about prepping for it (a little more arts and crafts heavy than I'm used to, but thank god for free online printables because they made things MUCH easier), and fun enough that Finn didn't mention going to a "Pump It Up" or other big box birthday place once.

Then today, after M. left me sleep in until ALMOST 9 (I felt like a teenager again!), we went for a hike at a state park. It was a park we've never really been to, other than to drive through the Christmas lights display they set up every year, so we didn't really know what to expect. We started walking around the lake, which looked deceptively small on the map we were holding (a map that did not have mileage noted, by the way). Three and a half hours later, we finally made it back to the car. Needless to say, there were a lot of hidden coves and elevated areas that really added up. Lucy told us she was tired and wanted to be carried about 30 seconds into the walk, but somehow we kept her on her feet the whole time. We looked up the distance online once we got home, and learned that we had walked 3.7 miles. With a three-year-old. What a trooper!

Since 3.7 miles is a long distance for a 35-year-old to walk, too, I'm tired. So please excuse the lack of captions on the following photos:

Finally, just because I can't let the birthday of a child of mine pass without reflecting back on the day they were born, I leave you with a link back to Finn's "birth story" (air quotes to allow for the fact that it was written about 4 years after he was born, so some facts may have been altered by fautly memory and lack of sleep...). Hope you all had as nice a weekend as we did!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Weekend(s) Update

Some things, some photos:

1) I tried my very first Zumba class ever this past Friday. I've been tired of jogging (and thus, haven't been doing it), and looking for some new activities to supplement/take its place. Zumba is something I've wanted to try for a while - I like music, I like dancing, and this combines both of those with calorie-burning purpose. During the class, there was little to no instruction, just a solid hour of me doing my best to watch the instructor and make my arms and legs do what her arms and legs were doing. I was only semi-successful. I'm sure I looked unhappy the whole time, but it was really just my intense concentration on attempting some form of coordinated movement. I liked it, but it kicked my butt. Also, with the exception of one other person, I was the youngest participant by at least 15 years. And I ain't no spring chicken anymore - in fact, my half birthday was yesterday (come on, it's a thing), putting me officially closer to 36 than 35 (and also closer to 40, and also death).

2) I may have neglected to mention that I downgraded my Weight Watcher's membership several months ago... not because I achieved GOAL WEIGHT, but because I just wasn't going, and it seemed a waste of $40 a month. Well, this weekend, I signed back up again, and today I attended my first WW meeting (I tell the kids they are my "learning how to be healthy" classes) in at least 6 months. It is needed. I have fallen WAY off the "eating responsibly" bandwagon. I'm trying a new meeting day and time, because my last one was at 8:45 on Saturday mornings, and after a while, lounging around drinking coffee began to win out over getting dressed and scooting out the door to step on a scale in front of someone. We'll see how it goes. As with the Zumba class, I was younger than most of the participants by a LOT. I may not find a new "couple" or "mom" friend among the group, but I'd probably do well if I was in the market for a bridge partner.

Also, there was a man in a kilt there.

Side note: I must say, I still tend to feel "young" a lot in general. When will that stop? I've been with my office for almost 7 years, and yet a lot of times I still feel like a kid fresh out of grad school in the eyes of others. I'm not the youngest, but I FEEL that way a lot. Will that ever end?

3) In a final fitness-related note, I bought a copy of Jillian Anderson's 30-day shred - in fact, I ordered it the same day I re-signed up with Weight Watcher's, the morning after I spent a couple of uncomfortable hours in my "but these just fit me a couple of months ago, I swear" jeans. I previewed it this morning, because Finn insisted he wanted to try it (he saw the DVD cover in the kitchen, and when I evaded his questions about the midriff-baring photo on it by telling him it was a workout video to help me "get stronger so I can do more fun stuff with you," he became obsessed with doing it himself). He begged to watch it at 8 am, and since I hadn't had even a drop of coffee yet, I put it on and let him go it alone. He did pretty well, actually, though his form could use some improvement :-). Lucy was there, too, but dropped off to go color after about 3 minutes. Smart girl. Dude, I wish I had the stamina of a nearly 6-year-old. M. and I did the workout tonight after the kids were in bed (yes, I am making M. do this with me - he's been complaining of so many aches and pains that his old-man-ass clearly needs to work on regaining some core strength and flexibility from his lost youth), and it completely kicked our butts. I'm surprised I'm even able to type this many words, as all of my arm muscles are exhausted. I guess the finger muscles are not a target in level one.

The gist is that it's a 20-minute workout that you can do with only a set of small arm weights. My thinking was, if I can't fit in 20 minutes to workout, something is wrong with my lifestyle. But it is called the "30-Day Shred," so I'm guessing that I'm supposed to actually do this every day for a month. Wish me luck - I have a feeling that Days 2 and 3 are going to be excrutiating.

4) We went apple-picking last weekend:

5) We also bought an inflatable bounce house. Perhaps not the most practical purchase for a family with a postage stamp-sized backyard, but we did it anyway. Why, you may ask? In our area (probably in LOTS of areas), we have been invaded by a number of inflatable bounce house businesses. These places are all the rage with the 8 or 9 and younger crowd for birthday parties - we have been to at least 10 in the last 2 years. They are all pretty similar - two separate rooms with different things you can bounce in/climb on, plus a couple of party rooms for pizza and cake. Finn and Lucy have both begged at various times to have birthday parties at one of these places. The catch? They are over $300 a pop for a 2-hour party, and that does NOT include the pizza and cake.

Um, no.

So for $199, we bought our own bounce house. One that we can use as many times as we want (or until the kids break it).

Finn DOES have a birthday coming up (my baby! Is turning 6!), so we will hopefully use it during his party. Though my track record with weather and outdoor parties is terrible. But the nice thing is that this is a gift for BOTH kids, and even better? It actually ENTERTAINS both of them. For a REALLY, REALLY long time. It's a total jackpot. Yesterday M. and I sat outside on our patio and watched the two of them bounce for nearly two hours, while we drank Octoberfest beer, read, listened to music, and did other generally adult things. There was some minor policing of conflict, but all in all, a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

And now we have lots and lots of pictures that look like minor variations on this:

I've already written more and stayed up later than I intended to. Time to get these sore muscles off to bed!