Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Final Meet - Fall Cross Country

Tonight was the final meet for the fall cross country season for running club. Both May and Irene ran hard and finished with pink cheeks. It was chilly out! They got metals and were THRILLED! It was so great to see the kids all running and all the families out to yell and cheer! I really enjoy running club SO much!

Everyone asks Janie if she wll be in running club next year, when she is in Kindergarten (the first year kids are eligible to participate). She calmly responds, "No." You gotta love a girl who knows herself! LOL!

Right before the races started, they announced that the girls who were to sing The Star Spangled Banner had decided not to sing. I was a HAIR away from standing up and heading to the announcing booth and volunteering to sing it myself. I can sing it really well (if I do say so myself). The trick to it (besides knowing ALL the words, people!) is to start off the song on a note that is 3 notes higher than the lowest note you can sing ON-KEY (people).

When we got home, I told May I had nearly sung it. She said, "You know how to sing The Star Spangled Banner, Mama?? Then, SING IT!" I sang it out in my kitchen, and got teary-eyed (and slightly and chokingly off key) at my traditional point (" ... oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave ...). May, Irene and Jane LOVED my singing and asked me to sing it again. I told May there was a trick to NOT choking up. You had to sing it without paying attention t0 the words. So, I sang it again and while I was singing, I read the school papers she had brought home from her day. LOL! She was amazed! LOL! The girls had me sing it AT LEAST another 8-10 times. I had to explain the entire lyrics to them. Repeatedly. It was pretty cool.

My three daughters, born in China and now American citizens, went to bed singing the Star Spangled Banner.

Pretty cool.

I am so proud of my girls in every way! They ran hard in cross country this fall! I cannot wait to see them in spring track!!

Jane's party for her 5th birthday

We had a birthday party to celebrate Janie's 5th birthday on Sunday, September 28, 2008. Her birthday was September 18th and she turned 5. I can hardly BELIEVE my baby is five. Sigh.

We invited 21 kids and 16 came. Cool! We asked them to each wear a costume, if they wanted. Janie dressed as a ballerina. Irene was a princess. May was Cinderella.

For several days before the party,together, the girls and I MADE the pinata. I decided I was sick of $25-35 pinatas from the store that took FOREVER to break and hardly held any candy and toys. I would make one that would break in just a few hits. It would hold LOTS of candy and/or toys. It would be FREE!

So, I gathered newspapers and we tore them into 6-8" long strips that were about an inch wide. We made a huge pile. I made a shallow tray of a mixture of Elmer's white glue and water (3 parts glue to 1 part water). I blew up a red balloon. The girls and I dragged the newspaper strips through the glue/water bath and wiped the drippiness off with our fingers and placed the strips onto the balloon base. We were supposed to do 3 layers and let each layer dry thoroughly before placing the next later. We live in DRY Colorado. It dried "enough" between layers. We just kept on going.

When we had 3 layers of newspaper on the balloon, we cut white tissue paper into 4" squares. We gathered the 4 corners of each square together, and bunched them together, gluing the center to the newspaper base. (The 4 corners stuck up) After we put about a BILLION of these onto the newspaper-covered balloon (seriously, a BILLION of them) May suggested that we add squares of colored tissue paper randomly instead of adding dabs of paint in order to decorate it. BRILLIANT! I love it when I can learn from my kids. Before finishing off the balloon with the tissue paper globs, I cut a door in the end and removed the balloon from inside. Cool. It worked! We let it dry overnight and then we filled it with candy. OH! Before we filled it, I poked 4 holes in the top and threaded two pieces of twine through in order to hang it.

The pinata was done! It was FUN! It was a craft and a game. It felt very fragile. Like it would break open in 2-3 hits. I mean - it is made out of glue and newspaper and holding up a BILLION pieces of tissue paper. How strong can this thing be anyway???

So, I threw one of the dog leashes up and over a drywalled bridge/arch that is above our home's formal diving room doorway (we use this room as our office, not a dining room). My sister Ricki hung the pinata from the end of the dog leash for the kids to hit. I let them use Chris' wooden practice sword from Japan. It was SO MUCH FUN to see lovely little princesses, ballerinas, and princes hoist this big wooden sword! HYAH!! I made a big speech about how we MADE the pinata and it would SURELY break in 2-3 hits. Wellllllllllllllllllll ... each of the 16 kids took 2-3 turns. They really whacked it! Finally, the oldest kid (my niece Phoebe who is 10) took it down and stabbed it. Ricki (my oldest sister and Phoebe's grandma) even ripped it open a little more. Then, May hit it a couple more times and it was persuaded to share it's wealth of candy!

My friend Lael stood to the side and scattered a bag of candy to the kids who were farthest from the pinata. It was FUN! I just love this part!

I tell you - I was SHOCKED that our silly hand-made pinata held up so well. When it was broken open, I could see that the part up against the balloon had dried to appear similar to plastic! Wow! Elmer's and water dries STRONG. Please contact me if you want to make a pinata and need any more details. It was fun! I would start sooner, though. It felt stressful and pressured.

With Chris away, I had made the cake all by myself (gasp!). Normally, I do the baking (based on the birthday girl's wishes) and he decorates the cakes (based on the birthday girl's wishes). Jane wanted a My Little Pony cake. So, I made a green field with purple flowers and several ponies running through it. That is my story, and I am sticking to it! As I was placing the "hill" atop the rectangle field, I realized that this was the perfect form for making a car cake (note to self for possible future use). The cake was strawberry and the icing was buttercream. Yum. Very colorful with pink cake and green icing when it was cut.

I put a few relighting candles on the cake, and so Janie got to blow A LOT. The kids were amused by this.

May made it VERY clear that NO ONE was to lick off HER ponies. She took the away and placed them on a plate. After everyone had left the party, she brought them back out and let her sisters have their choice of which one to lick off (Jane first, then Irene, and May took the one that was left for last). May said, "I didn't want anyone to lick them at the party because there were only 3 and lots of kids would be left out and not get a turn." She amazes me sometimes in her generosity.

Janie got such wonderful gifts from her friends and family! I am always amazed at people's generosity. And, each gift was just perfect to Janie's eyes. She had a blast opening them, and our living room looked like Christmas for 2 days after that - till I gathered the energy to clean up! LOL!

I loved that most of the kids came dressed in costumes - dancers and princesses and heroes and princes! Love it!

For a quick craft (as you know from the How To Remove Sharpie From Wood post) they decorated crowns. I loved seeing their individual tastes, styles, art and design come out on their own crown.

For a game, we had a tray of things that Cinderella might have or use. Each child guessed the missing item and then took a turn in doing the hiding for the next Guesser. I loved this.

A lot of the Moms stayed, which I am always HAPPY about! For one, I am thankful for the help. And, for another - I just love being around Other Mothers. I truly love building my Community, and strengthening the bonds that flow from one event to another. I think I have an Inner Fifties Mom inside of me, where I would love a weekly Coffee Clutch (sp?) where we sit and chat and drink coffee. Just we mommies.

These days it would probably be margaritas over Bunko or Poker! LOL! Make mine a virgin. I have become a committed tea-totteler. (sp??)

ANYWAY - I really had fun at Jane's party, and I hope the kids did, too! HEE! :-)