Monday, October 22, 2012

Hobbit Party {or what happens when both your parents are nerds}

Last weekend we celebrated Jack's sixth birthday. Love that kid. 
In the last three years we've read The Hobbit (twice) and most of The Lord of the Rings 
(we're half-way through The Return of the King). He has an awesome attention span 
and he loves to snuggle up and hear a good story.

(Please excuse the ridiculous number of photos in this post. 
I wanted to provide some details for all you Hobbit party-planners out there.)

Scott and I had a great time coming up with how to have a Hobbit party. (We're nerdy like that.)
I penned (with my fountain pen--nerd again) invitations using the text from the note Thorin leaves on Bilbo's mantle, inviting all the burglars on the adventure.

When they arrived at "The Green Dragon Inn" we fed them a hobbit-y kind of a lunch: 

sandwiches on freshly baked biscuits, 

fruit, pumpkin scones with cream and jam, and cups of root beer.

Over lunch, I gave the kids a little summary of the story ~ 
a quest to defeat Smaug and win back Thorin's treasure. 

Each "burglar" received his own map with the trail marked in red. 
I labeled each of the challenges they would face on their quest.

Our party activities were as follows:
  • Stone Troll Tag
  • Riddles in the Dark
  • Spiders and Flies
  • Barrels out of Bond
  • The Black Arrow
 After each activity we consulted the map and I had the kids figure out what came next. Then I explained a bit of the story to go with that activity.

Stone Troll Tag: We played a game of freeze tag. Scott was the "troll" trying to freeze the kids by tagging them. They played until I announced that the sun had risen and Scott was turned into stone. Then I gave each child a blue glow-in-the-dark sword ("Sting") from the trolls' treasure trove. (Gotta love the dollar store.)

Riddles in the Dark: We asked the kids riddles which gave them the right to go into Gollum's cave. Scott constructed a cave out of six large black garbage bags, opened up and duct taped together to make a giant bag. (This may qualify him as the biggest nerd, or coolest dad, you decide.) 

He left a large hole (child-size) at one end for the entrance. He left a small hole (the size of our fan) at the other end. Duct tape the small hole around the edges of the fan and when it's turned on it should fill the "bag" with air, inflating it into a giant cave.

Disclaimer: I thought this idea was insane when he described it to me--it sounded like a death trap. 
(What? We're going to have a bunch of kids crawl in to a giant garbage bag?) 
Once he had it set up, it made perfect sense and didn't seem risky to me. 
That said, make the evaluation yourself and do this activity at your own risk.

We put the gold rings (on brown ribbon) around inside the cave and I painted a gollum to go at the far end. The kids had to crawl inside with their glowing "stings" and find their rings.

I found a package of the gold rings in the jewelry section at Michael's. They are key-chain-type rings.

Spiders and Flies: Halloween cobweb decoration and dollar store spiders 
made a spider tunnel for the kids to break through.


Barrels out of Bond: I picked up Arrowhead water bottles to serve as our barrels. I wished I could have found something that looked more barrel-like, but no luck. The kids had to get the barrels from the elven king's hall (the spa) to the end of Long Lake (the pool) using pool noodles and other tools (no hands).

This required some good teamwork, and luckily no one fell in.
The Black Arrow: The final challenge was defeating Smaug by shooting him with Jack's archery set. (Not a nerd to be seen here--this is just cool!)

Each child had a few chances to shoot at the target.
And after the thrill of victory . . .
each child got his share of the treasure (a bag of chocolate gold coins).

I'm hoping these hobbits are inspired to read Tolkien's great book 
now that they've had a little taste of the adventure. 

Jack had a great time. I'm so thankful for his wonderful friends 
and for the sweet six year old he has become.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Why I like Fridays {thoughts on margin}

Fridays are our catch-all day. We use them for finishing up schoolwork, chores, 
piano, P.E. activities, parks, and picnics.

The laundry gets done and the bunny hutch gets cleaned.

And we have time.

Fridays are the built-in margin of our week.

As I learn better how to manage school and kids and classes and home and friends and church and my marriage and myself, I'm learning that I really need more white space than I would think. I have to consciously build-in the margin in order to leave time for rest and focus and peace

and light saber fights.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Elephant Baby

Last weekend I painted outside the box. 
I mean, I didn't paint a landscape; I painted an elephant. 
A baby elephant. Sitting down.

I used watercolor and pencil.

It's my little contribution to a soon-to-be-assembled gallery wall of elephants 
in my friend's soon-to-be-arriving-baby's nursery.

Don't look too long--you'll discover that elephants look weird!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tupperware Organization {with full disclosure}

Um. I have to admit something to you. 
I have a discipline problem. 
I'm great with intentions and planning and envisioning the perfect _______ . 
(Just fill in the blank.) 
But I'm not very good with follow-through. If it's a short term, projecty, 
boom-and-then-it's-over kind of a thing then I really shine. But the laundry . . .

Coming to this realization has been really helpful. 
Any new attempts to get my life in order are made with more realistic expectations, hoping for modest gains, and once I find a system I can maintain I feel a real sense of achievement.

Enter my tupperware problem. Does this look familiar to you? 
It occurred to me a year and a half ago that the frustrating experience of never being able to find a matching lid and barely being able to close the tupperware drawer could maybe (maybe?) be remedied.

So I took everything out, stacked like shapes, and threw away any lids with out bottoms and vice versa.  I came up with the brilliant plan (via google) to keep lids in a separate container and I found an old plastic crate in the garage to corral the bottoms.

Then I waited to see if I would follow through and keep up the system. 
A week passed. A month. A year. 
And so, it is with great pride that I present to you my tupperware drawer a year and a half later ~


Ta da! I have a new and improved green crate and (you may notice) 
my super-organization has resulted in some color-coordinated decorating pride.

{Full disclosure: This is what the other counter looked like when I took this picture.}

And, my little helper . . .

Three cheers for self-awareness, low expectations, and little victories!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fun Find

As you probably know, I love plants and I love a Mediterranean / coastal vibe ~ 
the slow pace, the old-world charm, the wine . . .

This week I happened upon a fun find at Ralph's (of all places) ~ 
a cute little olive tree topiary.

It will go outside soon, but I'm loving the look in my dining room right now. 
There's nothing like real plants (except really good fake plants).

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