Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Construction 6th Birthday Party

On August 17, Todd left us for a four-week class at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. I've done the single-parent thing before, but never for that long. A week here, two weeks there, sure, but a whole month with no backup? Nope, that was something entirely new.

To be fair, I chickened out and took the kids up to Nashville to see my parents for Labor Day weekend, so really I only had two weekends on my own. But even so, I was completely unprepared prepared for the reality of working full-time while simultaneously parenting two children. By week four, I think we’d finally fallen into a sustainable routine, but that second week nearly killed us all.

Anyway, Todd didn't get home until late on the evening on Micah’s birthday. Earlier in August, I had thought that even with Todd gone, we could manage some sort of birthday party on the 13th. I pretty quickly came to my senses, though, and when the 12th rolled around, we made do by celebrating with the usual birthday party animal tradition, a candle in his morning pancakes, and dinner out with my parents and my sister’s family. Micah’s biggest birthday present was having his dad walk through the door right before bed.

The next weekend was the real party. This year, I decided on a construction theme. Since we already have a million construction vehicles and I work in construction, I figured the decor would be pretty easy to pull off. I wanted to keep things as simple as possible, and keep the cost below what I would have paid to have the party somewhere else.

I ended up purchasing four small construction signs, party favors, some construction tape, and plastic hard hats for the guests. Everything else we either already had, borrowed, or made.


To make the invitation, I downloaded a couple construction icons from FlatIcon, and threw them onto a slope with some text in Photoshop. (P.S. If you ever need vector icons, FlatIcon is definitely the place to go!)

Micah's Invitation


I found several construction signs online and made a few more for the cupcake toppers. Everything else was kept as simple as possible. I set out some toys, threw around a lot of construction tape, and called it a day.

Hard hats






Wrecking Ball:

We dragged Todd's pull-up bar outside and tied a soccer ball to a rope using garbage bags. We scrounged up several boxes the kids could stack up as high as they could reach.

Wrecking ball

Wrecking ball

Wrecking ball


A while back, a friend gave me two under-bed Rubbermaid storage boxes that she was going to throw away otherwise.  For a while, they contained Micah's collection of stuffed animals, but I dragged them back out for the party. A few bags of sand plus several small construction machines, and we had an activity that entertained all the guests WELL beyond the end of the party.  Micah, Aerin, and the neighbor kids played in them the rest of the weekend.  I think we finally emptied them out three weeks later.





Obstacle Course:

Todd used some old lumber we had laying around to build a small wall and a balance beam. Using some cones borrowed from work and some warning tape, we laid out a course that took the kids up the ladder into the play structure, across the bridge, down a slide, across the balance beam, around the yard to the wall, then under a tarp. The kids really enjoyed it, especially the wall.

Obstacle course

Over the climbing wall


The same friend who provided the Rubbermaid boxes also brought us a couple Styrofoam coolers. I set up a table off to the side where the kids could use one of Micah's toy hammers to hammer golf tees into the Styrofoam.  This game was also a big hit, but I totally forgot to take any pictures of it.

Cake time!

IMG_6107 copy

I was really torn this year, trying to decide if we wanted to have a party at home or pay to have one somewhere else. The costs, after food, were not all that different between the two choices.  But one huge advantage to having it at home was that everyone could stay as long as they liked. The party was supposed to end at 5, but the kids were having so much fun that none of us had the heart to pull them away. The last guests departed at 6:30, simply because they finally got hungry enough for dinner. 

Micah really enjoyed his party, and it was actually a lot less stressful to pull together than I would have expected. Happy boy, happy mama.

Birthday boy!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rocking Chair Photo 2014

Look at this great big 6-year-old boy.  I think we're going to need a bigger chair.

2014 Rocking Chair Photo

Such a long way from this:

2008 Rocking Chair Photo

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Three months later...

Wow, so my last post was in May. Okay, so a few things of interest have happened since then, like:

Todd finally got to play hockey with his child, something he's been looking forward to since he found out he was going to be a father.

Hockey with Daddy

We started our garden and watched it grow and ended up with a lot of vegetables I don’t have time to cook.

Helping with the watering

This one turned 3.

Birthday Girl!

We went on our very first beach vacation since having kids.


We celebrated the last day of summer break.

Last day of summer break

This one started First Grade.


But overall, it’s just been a non-stop hamster wheel of get up, take kids to daycare, go to work, come home, go to bed, rinse, repeat. There haven’t been a lot of interesting anecdotes or funny stories. It’s just life with two working parents and two small kids, and sometimes that results in near-total radio silence. To the friends and family who check in periodically for kid pictures and updates, I'll try to do better!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Last Day of Kindergarten

So the 23rd of May was the LAST DAY of kindergarten (which also happened to be Pajama Day).

It's been a good school year, and Micah has learned so much.  He can sound out words and write his own sentences (the phonetic spelling is always hilarious and adorable). He's happy to have chapter books read to him at night before bed, and right now we're making our way through The Saturdays. He loves math and drawing, and his skills have taken off in both.  He makes clever paper projects, my favorite of which was a little 3D playground for bugs, complete with swing set.

The one complaint Micah had all year was how little play time he got.  He was jealous of his best friend, who stayed behind in Pre-K, because "they get to play ALL DAY," while the kindergarten class had to work.  The end of daily nap time was also a hard adjustment.  But for all that, Micah was happy (if exhausted) most every day.

After talking with his teacher, we've decided to continue on to private first grade, rather than have him repeat kindergarten at the public school.  Next year, he'll be back in the same classroom, with the same teacher, but this time he'll be one of the big kids.  Some of his friends will move on to other schools, some will stay, and there will be a while new crop of kindergarteners.

Micah was very sad to leave his teacher and friends, until I pointed out that most of his friends were enrolled in the same Summer Camp, and his teacher was the one running his camp group.  After that, he was just excited to be done with work. Yay, summer!

Last day of kindergarten (also Pajama Day)

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Working Mother's Decorating Guide

You know how it starts.  You walk through the door after a bad day and deposit your purse, your jacket, the kids' jackets, a handful of papers from kindergarten, a couple art projects from preschool, some mail, and four of the fifteen sippy cups from your car on the dining room table.  Three hours later, the kids are finally in bed and at last you have the chance to  rest for the first time since everyone woke up at 5:30 AM.  You look over at the pile of crap on the table, and you think, "yeah, no."

A couple days later, you do laundry.  By the time you get the 10 millionth tiny sock folded and all 180 pairs of toddler underwear tucked away in the kids' drawers, you look at the pile of adult-sized clean clothes on your bed, and you think, "yeah, no."

On the weekend, while sitting at a swim class, maybe you look at Pinterest or a Pottery Barn catalog, and you have all these IDEAS of how you'll finally print off all those family photos and arrange them in an elegant gallery wall, or create that baby book you've been meaning to put together for the last three years, or paint this room that gorgeous color and hang some beautiful drapes and...yeah, no.

And so it goes.  Until one day you blearily look around your house and realize...it's a total fucking nightmare.

Then you have two choices:

1)  You can start cleaning.

2)  You can start laughing.

I love design blogs as much as the next person, but come on.  Those people are either lying or living a completely different life from me. And since I still didn't feel like cleaning, I set out to document our mess in this helpful style guide for working parents:






Sure, I could have used the time I spent taking pictures to, I dunno, START CLEANING MY HOUSE. But this was much more fun.

(You'll notice there are no pictures of our dining room or bedroom here.  That's because there is a limit to how much of my shame I'll put on the internet and those rooms were way WAY over it.)