Monday, March 16, 2015

On ice skating, turning five, and succumbing to conformity

If you've been around for a while, you know that I love birthday parties.



More specifically, I love to throw them.  I love details.  I love happy smiles.  I love ridiculous cakes that take all night.  I love craft punches and my paper cutter and Photoshop.


I love to think that an ordinary moment will become a treasured memory.  

So far, my little birthday girl hasn't been especially vocal about what type of party she wants.  Of course, she hasn't exactly been given tons of options.  

This year, though, she was adamant.  She decided back before Halloween: she wanted to go ice skating for her birthday, and she wanted a Frozen party.  There's really no swaying her once she decides, regardless of how much time passes.  In fact, she has declared that she wants to be a doctor when she grows up, and I would not put money against the chance that that's exactly what she'll end up being.

Tenacious is the right way to describe her.  

So way back in October I knew that the odds were good I'd be putting together a Frozen party.  And, without a hint of pun, I kept wishing she'd just...  well... let it go. (WHAT?  IT HAD TO BE SAID!)

I wanted to stomp my feet and have one of those toddler-esque fits where I yell NOOOOOO!!!! at the top of my lungs for no apparent reason.  

No!  No Frozen parties!  

Listen, we love Frozen as much as the next family.  But everybody is having a Frozen birthday party.  We like to be unique!  To stand out!  To fight the power!  


...So... that went well.  


Well played, Anna and Elsa.  Well played. 

But, it turned out pretty cute just the same.




The room provided to us by the Ice Centre was actually adorable and perfect.


And one thing I'll say about going with the crowd: there are LOTS of readily available decorations that made my decorating job pretty darn simple.


Although Casey and I couldn't help but make a few things to add to the mood.


Because... well, obviously they wanted to build a marshmallow snowman.


These cute baskets with a ton of fun little goodies.  Coloring pages, pens, notebooks, stickers and tattoos.  All the good stuff.


I think these multi-colored rice krispie treats were my favorite.  I haven't made rice krispie treats in ages, and they turned out pretty adorable.


Pinterest gave me the idea for a fabulous touch that turned out to be an awesome idea for our little skaters.  Hot cocoa bar!


And, of course... the cake.  My favorite of the ones I've done so far.



I have to learn how to better frost that top layer.  It's always the one I'm unsure about... but still.  I was pretty pleased with how it came together.

 And the response from the kids?


 I'm pretty sure they could not have been happier.




 When Leah suggested ice skating, I secretly thought, yeah, that sounds like a disaster!  Sure, we'll take a bunch of 4, 5 and 6 year olds, put them on skates and ice for probably the first time.  What could possibly go wrong?!



Turns out, those little helper things really saved the day.  Everyone could get in on the action!







It was so much fun.  They didn't even want to stop for cake and presents.  That's not hyperbole - we kept trying to bribe them, but what can you use as bribery when cake won't cut it?


But we got everybody rounded up in the end.


Candy and goodies and treats, oh my.


And, of course, marshmallow snowmen.


It was so much fun.  And then it was time to cut the cake.



I truly don't know who was more excited, the birthday girl or her mommy.





And then begins what I like to call the "let them eat cake" series.  You'll see...








Oh my big 5 year old birthday girl.  I hope you loved every minute of your Frozen party. We love you so, and we are so lucky to be your parents!



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The day she turned five.



Casey and I have begun to really evaluate and think about what we hope our children will take away from their upbringings in our home.  We've always purposed to be intentional in our parenting; we don't want to simply let things happen haphazardly.  With Leah turning five, it struck us that we really are at that point where she is going to have solid memories about her childhood - what will those look like?  It made us take another look at how we go about things in the hopes that we can purposefully shape what we do to have a positive impact on who she will become.

Coming up with some new family traditions - more concrete traditions, now that her being old enough warrants them - was a good step in that direction.

So, the night before her birthday, we decorated the door to her room.  When she woke up, it was to streamers and balloons hanging all around the door.

And let me tell you, she was SO excited!

We also decorated the kitchen the night before and prepared a special birthday table for her to come down to in the morning.  It was nothing elaborate, just a few little things here and there to really make her feel loved.


The Happy Birthday banner my mom and I made before her first birthday, which has subsequently made its way out every year (probably because it was a stinking lot of work, and perhaps in equal parts that it looks cool).


The chocolate cupcakes she asked for.  Pink balloons on her chair.  I dug her birth announcement out of the basement so that she could see it.  A couple of very small presents - the only ones we get her.  In our house, her big present is always her party.


My favorite new addition this year is a tradition that we called Love Notes for Leah.  The entire family spent the week leading up to her birthday jotting down quick things that we love about her.  Logan loves playing with her.  Mommy loves her heart for the Lord.  Daddy loves how she joyfully serves her family.  On her birthday, we spent the day reading a few here and there.

By the time kids get to 8th grade, I have watched with horror at how dramatically the world has chewed them up and spit them out.  So often, they have such an unrealistic view of themselves, because the world around them has torn them down and turned their gifts and uniqueness into nothing.  Made them feel imperfect and devalued.  I am not someone who believes that kids should be praised needlessly or given trophies merely for participation, but I am a true believer that part of our job as parents is to root them in their inherent value and convey to them just how loved they are, exactly as they are.  To build them up by telling them about the wonderful contribution they bring to us as a family.  And that's just what this tradition was meant to celebrate.  How lucky we are that God chose us to raise that girl, to be her mother, brother, father and sister, and what a unique and lovely person she is - just as she is.

She will have many years when the voices of those around her threaten to drown out what I have only a few years to instill: that she is loved, that she is valued, that she is worth more than rubies.  That her worth is not connected to her choices, good or bad, but is inherently and irreversibly linked to who she is as a blessed and loved child of God.


Every year, her response humbles me.

She has exactly the right attitude.  An attitude of gratitude.  Of awe.  Of appreciation and joy.  She feels loved.  Not because of things, but because someone took the time to celebrate her.  To stop and tell her that she is loved and worth loving.


Her one present - the one that I was SO excited to give her - is the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  As a lover of literature, I have treasured the days we've spent immersed in children's books.  We love Dr. Seuss.  We adore Fancy Nancy.  We read, tons and tons and tons.  But this gift marks a bit of a turning point into actual literature, and I am so stoked.  Purchasing this collection literally gave me goose bumps as I think about what's to come, and the doors that are open to us now, really for the first time.

And, of course, I again loved her reaction, that sweet, darling girl.


It was such a wonderful morning.  I just love these moments together as a family.


To cap off the day, she got to choose our family dinner.  Because five year olds have exquisite, sophisticated taste, that included: enchiladas, chips and guacamole, and orzo with parmesan cheese.


Livvy Lou helped me prepare the meal.  And she's never going to turn five.


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