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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cardboard Box Birthday Party

When my little boy told me last summer that he wanted to have a cardboard box birthday party I was initially stumped - what is a cardboard box party? Over time my creativity began to flow, and I became really enamored with the idea. A cardboard box party - why not!

We put out the word, and our friends and family happily cleaned all of the boxes out of their basements, businesses, and garages for our event. We even received a stack of colorful soap boxes that I was able to make a simple banner out of.

It was a bit of a pain to store everything until the big day, but when we pulled them all out it was spectacular to see the excitement on my little boy's face.
The great thing about this party theme was that is so open ended. The kids were thrilled to be turned loose with our big pile of boxes. They played inside them, knocked them down, climbed over them, sorted them, stacked them, wore them, and imagined them to be everything from trucks, to houses, to space ships. Even the babies got into the game.

When it looked as if they needed a bit more direction, I handed out markers and the kids happily colored all over the boxes. One little girl even convinced her parents to drag her box-art home with them - works for me. That's one less box I'll have to recycle.

The most organized activity of the day was an obstacle course. You can't really tell from this picture, but they had fun cheering for one another as they ran over, under, and through the boxes, ending with finding their name on a pop-rocket which they had to shoot into (what else?) a box.

Of course, there was lots of cake and plenty of presents - it wouldn't be a birthday without these two elements.

So now I have a 5 year old - And he wants me to make sure to let everyone know - that is a whole hand-full!

Happy Birthday my quickly growing, funny joking, rhythmic dancing, green wearing, sweet wonder of a boy!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The declining value of medals

With the opening ceremonies of the Olympics being held tonight, it felt appropriate to spend our morning at our final soccer practice of the season.

On our drive home we talked about the opening ceremonies, the games that are held in the winter vs. the summer Olympics, and the medals that the athletes will win. "Oh, I've got lots of those" replied my 6 year old proudly holding up her new soccer medal.

Too true. She has been given a lot. I find them on the floor of our playroom, used as bookmarks, and hanging on bedposts. They are fun trinkets to her, but nothing more. They don't signify years of hard work. They are simply something that every child receives at the end of each sports season.

This frustrates me. Why do we think it is appropriate to reward a kid who doesn't even yet have the skill to compete (we didn't play one soccer game all season) with a medal. I'm okay with recognizing their participation, but why not hand out water bottles or tee shirts or even *gasp* simple high-fives? Why medals?

Our Olympic athletes have been training for their whole lives to make it to these games. They have struggled, fallen, sacrificed, learned, and achieved, but most will still leave the games without a medal. Even so, we hear the same phrase from everyone "Just being at the games is an honor."

I would like to teach my kids the same thing. Enjoy the game.
PS. I'm completely okay with a few Olympic medals coming home with our athletes.
Go Team USA!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sunscreen Helmets and Hotdogs

As I was slathering sunscreen on my son before the ski race this morning I got to thinking about my obsession with this one particular thing. I am the sunscreen police. (and yes, it is winter, but that doesn't mean that I'll send him outdoors for a 6 hour race without protection)

Everyone has something that they worry about, but it is impossible to worry about everything all the time. Really - you can't protect your kids from everything, so we all just pick and choose which safety items to stress and which to let go. It is a completely random and rather amusing process when you think about it.

I am hyper-vigilant about sunscreen. It is just the way I am. I know that other moms are able to send their kids outdoors without thinking twice about it, but for me - it is important.

On the other hand, I really don't bother with worrying about playgrounds. My kids run, jump, climb, and use equipment improperly all the time, and it just doesn't bother me. I've even gotten flack from other moms for putting my babies on the ground at the park. I'm watching - I can pick the rocks and sand out of their mouth each time they try to taste the ground. I know some of you are sitting there reading this completely horrified, but what can I do? It is the truth.

Some of my friends are okay with putting their babies to sleep on their tummies. To me this one is dangerously taboo - I wouldn't dream of it. (But I'm okay with the rocks - see I told you it was random)

Another friend is great about monitoring her kids food. They eat only organic, locally grown, free range, best of the best food. She would probably fall over and die to watch my kids dance around the house when they learn that they will get hot dogs for lunch.

Helmets seem overkill to me, but I'm good at following rules, so we wear them. I fall into the "we-never-had-those-when-I-was-a-kid" category on this item. And by the way - I am laughing at how similar I am to all the old ladies I used to work with at the nursing home. They loved the "when-I-was-a-kid" phrase.

Now, although I'm unconcerned about bike crashes, I am very concerned about car crashes. Car-seats are all important. I'm willing to spend an extra hundred dollars for a better safety rating. Seriously. Is it really that much safer? I don't know, but I'm not willing to take a chance on this one.

So, I'm okay with my weirdness. The hard part is not judging other moms when their weirdness doesn't match my own . . .

What? You allow your baby to . . . that's so Weird!