Adventures in entertaining

Last weekend we had our monthly dinner date with friends: 6 adults and 6 kids under four. A bit chaotic but tons of fun! It was our turn to host (we rotate houses each month), and although getting ready for it was a test of my patience, I’m happy to say that I survived and was actually able to enjoy the evening.

Due to unfortunate circumstances, my husband had to attend a funeral the same day as our dinner. I offered to cancel, but he is great at time management and said that we could make it work; he would be home in time for the dinner party. Normally we’re a really good team and work together to throw fabulous (or at least semi-fabulous) dinner parties, even with 2 small kids in tow. However, today, it was up to just me to get things ready. I can do this. I can simultaneously manage 2 small kids AND get everything ready to entertain. Take a deep breath….. aannnnnd GO!


Step 1: Make sure the girls are well rested to avoid any meltdowns at the party.

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Ok, nap time! All 3 of us climbed into the big bed (a special treat) and I hoped we would all have a nice nap — I even set an alarm to make sure that I still had plenty of time to clean up the house before hubby got back. Well apparently I was the only one who wanted to nap. Both girls were fussing and playing and accidently bumping into me so much that I decided to pull the plug on that idea.

Next attempt: Offering to take Bean for a drive (which she usually jumps at when she’s tired and can’t shut down for a nap). Here’s how that went:
Me: Let’s go for a drive.
Bean: No.
Me: You don’t have to nap, but El needs to nap, so let’s go for a drive.
Bean: El doesn’t need to go for a drive. Just put her in the carrier mummy and she can nap on your left shoulder.
Me: Ok… yes, she will nap in the carrier, but mummy wants a coffee. Can we please go for a drive so that mummy can get a coffee?
Bean: You don’t need a coffee.
Me: But I want a coffee. Let’s go for a drive.
Bean: Daddy has coffee here, you can have some of Daddy’s coffee.

Since when did my kid get so smart? How can a 3-year-old win an argument with logic? Sigh… so I guess that means no nap. Ok Bean, if you’re not going to nap, you can help mummy clean up the house.


Step 2: Clean up the house

As per usual, there were toys everywhere. Corralling Bean to clean up her toys was an effort in patience…

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I think she made a bigger mess “cleaning up” than she did playing beforehand. You know how it goes: she’s cleaning up, picks up a piece of duplo that managed to fall under the coffee table and then inspiration hits: “Mummy, let’s build a house!” While building the house she decides she needs people for the house, so back into the toy cupboard for some little people and she sees her Little People birthday party set and then wants to play with that. The birthday party needs more cake so back into the toy cupboard for some of her play food…

Ok, let Bean amuse herself for the moment while I tidy up. El was having a rather fussy day and just wanted to be held. So I put her in the carrier and then proceeded to clean up. I did the dishes, tidied the kitchen, fluffed pillows on the couch, put stray items back where they belong, and even cleaned up the boots, etc. in the front hall to make room for our guests.

Check in on Bean: She had decided to dress up for the birthday party her dolls were having. Umpteen necklaces had now joined the mess of toys on the floor as Bean wiggled into a fancy outfit from the dress-up box.

Ok, do a quick vacuum and wipe down the table, counters, etc.

Check in on Bean: at this point it was safe to say that there were more toys on the floor than put away. You almost want to shake your head at it all…

Knowing we were on a time limit and that I was dealing with someone very skilled in stall tactics, I *might* have suggested that any toys not cleaned up be put into a box in the basement. A shocked little face peeks up at me from the mess of toys on the floor. Bean, you can pick ONE thing to play with. Please put everything else back in the toy cupboard. Success!!! She chose to play with her tea set and started putting the other toys away. I seized the moment and helped her out, hoping that if we worked fast enough, she would forget she wanted to play with everything at once.


Step 3: Get dinner & drinks ready

Dinner was easy: we’d already decided that we were ordering pizza. As for drinks… with El still in the carrier I went down to the basement and lugged up the beer and then set it outside in the snow to get cold (thank goodness it’s winter!).

Check in on Bean: Playing with her tea set. JUST her tea set. I smile.


Step 4: Get me ready

Hmm… how exactly does one get changed while wearing a baby strapped into a carrier? Quick answer? She doesn’t. That’s right folks. Our friends arrived and I was wearing leggings and a t-shirt, compared to my friends in their stylish outfits, their husbands in button-down shirts and jeans. No make-up. No fancy jewelry. I can’t even remember if i brushed my hair. But you know what? It doesn’t matter; friends will love you no matter what you’re wearing. (And it’s a good thing too! These ladies know that I sometimes wear track pants to drop Bean off at school, the horror! haha — but my lack of fashion is a post for another day.)


The dinner party

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Not much to say here other than us adults had a great time! So did the kids. Who wouldn’t? They had pizza, cake, and a chance to play with their friends.

You can tell that us parents don’t get out much when the kids are all whining and clearly it’s time to go home for bed (at the oh-so-late hour of 8:30pm — said tongue in cheek) and us parents are the ones asking “Do we have to go home now? Can’t we stay a little longer and play with our friends some more? Pleeeeassssse?”

All in all it was a great evening and I look forward to doing it again soon. (Especially since next time, it’s at someone else’s house! 😉  )

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Homemade with love

This past weekend (with Valentine’s Day just around the corner), I decided that Bean and I should make some valentines for her friends at school. Making the valentines would give us some quality time together and besides… it’s been a while since I had some good crafting time! 😉

First, I needed a little inspiration. Specifically something easy enough for a 3-year-old to do on her own (or mostly on her own). A quick search found this:

 

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(Picture from DigitalResult.com)

 

Easy enough, yes? Of course, I would do the words, but surely she could manage most of the rest of it. I started by showing her how to dip one finger in the paint and make a few fingerprints to create a caterpillar. Well… that was fun. So much fun, that one painting finger soon turned into 2. Thankfully I had the good sense to put an apron on her at that point, because 2 fingers in the paint soon turned into 10. Paint everywhere! Few of the caterpillars actually looked like caterpillars, but I’m creative enough that I knew I could rescue it somehow. We made a few extras just in case.

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Bean’s gotten fairly good at drawing faces lately (that actually look like faces), so I thought that adding some eyes, a smile and a few legs to the caterpillars would be easy for her. I underestimated her own creativity.
“Look Mummy, this is a sad caterpillar.”
“This one is wearing a necklace.”
“This one has a really big mouth.”
“I gave this heart a belly button.”

 

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“This one is wearing a necklace.”

 

 

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“I gave this heart a belly button.”

 

I absolutely love how she brought her own individual touch to this project. I had long since given up hope of perfect Pinterest-worthy homemade valentines, but I’m so glad I did. What resulted was more fun and creative than what I had originally planned, and you know what? Bean is so proud of her valentines, I just know that she will be thrilled to hand them out to her classmates at school today.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

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You can do it, momma!

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This meme used to be my reality. As a first-time mum with a newborn, being dressed and showered before dinner was a major accomplishment. Thankfully, things got better and were much easier the second time around. I have survived those days when you’re so sleep-deprived you can’t even remember if you’ve brushed your teeth and I have made it to the days where there are more and more small accomplishments to celebrate. I am here to tell you that you can do it momma!

When El was only 2 weeks old, I took her with me to pick up Bean from preschool all by myself for the first time. It might not sound like much, but at the time, that one small success made me feel like superman; like I could conquer the world!

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And mommas, we need to celebrate those successes! Because there will be days when your house looks like a tornado has gone through it; there will be days when you feel like if your kid has one more tantrum you’ll join her on the floor; and there will be a day when your husband comes home from work to find you exhausted and asleep on the couch while your 2-year old is busy unrolling an entire jumbo-sized roll of toilet paper, one fraction of a square at a time, so that she can clean up her dolly’s imaginary poo. (Then again, maybe that last one is just me. 😛 )

When you have those moments (or days) when you just want to scream, you need to remember your successes, no matter how small, and celebrate what you CAN do. Take the example above when Bean unrolled the toilet paper while I slept.  Yes, there was a big mess to clean up, but on the plus side, she didn’t colour on the walls, destroy any of the furniture, or hurt anyone. In fact, she found a way to quietly play by herself and let her tired pregnant mummy sleep. Clearly, I must have done something right. 🙂 And you know what? Between you and me, having had that blessed 20-minute nap made me rested enough to laugh about it instead of getting upset about the waste of TP and the mess to clean up.

So when things are going sour, just remind yourself of the good moments and learn to laugh at the oops ones. To quote @theMomsNetwork, “a bad day doesn’t make you a bad mom”. Take that to heart mommas! Sending love to all of you, especially those of you having a bad day. xoxo

Make “library, ho!” your adventure call this weekend

 

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(photo by Barney Moss)

Ah, the library. I loved going there as a kid. Still do. There’s something calming about all of those books surrounding me, comfy chairs to snuggle up in and read, and tables at which you can do your homework or some research. I have fond memories of trips to the library as a kid: picking out my own books, seeing a puppet show, going to story time, and once I even saw a kid puke in the front foyer… greeny-beige and all over the floor. Gross. Funny how those things stick with you.

As an avid reader myself, I love reading books to my girls. True, at 5-months, El just wants to eat them, but I know that soon there will come a day when she’s just as hooked on the content as she is on the way they feel in her mouth.

Bean loves story time and will often bring me piles of books, asking for me to read them to her. Yes, there are times when reading her the same story over and over and over can get a little tedious, but that’s when I just memorize the book so that I can read it at bedtime with my eyes closed. Of course, I have been known to fall asleep once or twice while doing this, but Bean is sure to wake me up with a “next page Mummy!” Still, I really enjoy those moments when I can curl up with my daughter and spend some quality time reading together. She even takes after her grandpa and enjoys reading a book while on the potty.

Every three weeks we go on a special outing to the library (or as my 3-year-old would say “lye-berry”) and have some fun there together. She gets to pick out some books to borrow (although I usually add a few new ones to the pile as she tends to go for her favourites) and she’s even quite helpful when it comes to using the self-checkout (we use the wheelchair accessible one so that she can reach) — she does most of it herself! We make time to snuggle up and read some of the books while we’re there, and there’s usually some time for her to play with the library toys too; one of her favourites being the duplo table.

So this weekend, in honour of take-your-kid-to-the-library-day (Sat. Feb. 4th), I think that everyone should make an outing. Even if you don’t borrow any books to take home, just curling up together in an armchair to read a few new stories can be a great way to spend some quality time with your kids.

 

Looking for something new to read? Here are a few of the kid favourites in our house:

  • Anything by Sandra Boynton (try Blue hat Green hat)
  • The Ladybug Girl series by David Soman and Jackie Davis
  • If you give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Joffe Numeroff
  • Grandma and the Pirates by Phoebe Gilman
  • The Thomas & Friends series (Thomas the tank engine) by W. Audry