Tuesday, May 08, 2007

8th Birthday Party Luau

My oldest daughter just had her birthday part this past Saturday. I actually scheduled the party from 4 PM to 8 PM. Yes, I broke the holiest of birthday party rules--never schedule the party for longer than 1 1/2 to 2 hours. I'll give you a run-down of our schedule and you can see why it was just barely enough time!

  • Arrival
  • Play on the see-saw and bounce house (a small one we already own thanks to very generous grandparents).
  • Tie-dye (really not a bad activity at all! The worst that happened is one girl found a way to get dye under her gloves and the yellow ended up a wierd light greenish-brown shade from mixing). For the tie-dying I picked up bulk packages of undershirts (t-shirts for the boys and camisole tops for the girls), rubber bands and five colors of dye. We had yellow, hot pink, light blue, red, and regular blue. The kids donned smocks or my husbands old t-shirts, latex gloves and then twisted or folded their shirts, secured them with rubberbands and then used cups to pour dye over different areas. We let the shirts sit until my husband could go out later and rinsed them off.
  • Limbo--everyone was excited for this game.
  • We brought everyone inside to make necklaces using hemp cord, barrel clasps, and beads with a seashore-theme. Even the boys made necklaces--only one charm and using the cord made it a good unisex craft.
  • Pizza!
  • After pizza everyone retired to the family room to watch Scooby Doo (the first live-action movie which is set on a tropical island).
  • Then it was time for the cake. During the cake, I handed out party poppers to all the kids. After the Happy Birthday song was finished, they all opened their poppers and confetti went every where!
  • We gave out the goody bags to be prepared for the next activity.
  • The pinata!
  • We then roasted marshmallows and made s'mores.

It was a very full time. Occasionally some kid (including the birthday girl) belly-ached about doing the next activity, but I was very firm in letting them know this is what the plan is, and everyone is going to do it. Otherwise you end up with kids spread all over your house and not enough people to watch them. After getting such a firm response to the requests, or whining, they settled in.

Decorations and centerpieces were a large part of the expense. I went overboard. Most the kids were just impressed with the bounce house and didn't notice the decor. Soemthing to keep in mind for the next one! We spent about $150 on pizza, sodas (which the kids devoured as an extra-special treat), juices, water, chips and dip, various cut fruits, and the cake. Tie-dying was $2 for each dye, an entire container of salt, and $30 for shirts. I already had the latex gloves, and smocks. The necklaces were $5 for the cord, $2 for the jump rings, $7 for the beads, $4 for the barrel claps. The pinata itself cost $10 and I think I filled it with $16 worth of candy.

And this is still less expensive than the outside parties we've held at minimum of $250 for the entertainment without including food, cake, or decorations for the party room.

The luau was a lot of fun and the kids had a great time. We're still cleaning up!

Ask an Astronomer

This site has a cool video podcast for kids. The questions are exactly the types of things most kids want to know. I think it's interesting, but I wouldn't say that the children will truly understand the concepts. Being limited in time and the kid's current context of knowledge, it answers enough, and truthfully and can kindle additional questions. Check it out for your kids who love to ask questions, or love space, or whose interest is just a tick away from becoming motivation to delve further.

Connecticut Family Science Expo

The whole family loaded up for a trip to Hartford a couple of weekends ago. We made a day-long visit to the Connecticut Public Televisions Family Science Expo. It's a yearly event that is like a science convention for kids. We watched two live stage performances: Dr. Quinton Quark and Bubblemania. Dr. Quinton Quark was horrendous as he introduced concepts and terms that only a high schooler would have a chance of understanding and proceeded to use them with a slap-dash explanation. Bubblemania was incredibly entertaining and my 13 year-old, eight year-old and five year-old all got big laughs out of it.

We saw a display of carnivorous plants from the UConn. Some of the pitcher plants had traps large enough that I would definitely refuse to live in a place where the pitchers could catch bugs that large.

NASA was also on hand. They demonstrated how to put on a space suit, gave away a lot of different posters, and much to my delight (though not so much to my kids), they had astronaut ice cream! Now we all remember that freeze-dried neopolitan selection that probably never made it into space. I think I remember getting some from the Smithsonian for an outrageous fee and here they were distributing samples for free! You'll be happy to know that it is just as dry and oddly textured as you remember from childhood--and it's still cool. The other NASA activities included having your disembodied photographed head placed into a setting of a space suit and making a pipe-cleaner bracelet from beads that change color when exposed to UV radiation.

Vacation in Historic Cape May, NJ

Some lovely photos of our trip to Cape May, NJ last June. We had a great time. We only went for an extended weekend, but it was full of fun activity. Cape May is known for its historic Victorian houses. The kids went to the beach in the morning where they could see dolphins swimming. We enjoyed a dinner-theater, fun shopping, and a dolphin-watching cruise, which also included a tour around the cape. We also collected Cape May diamonds from Sunset beach and visited the Cape May County Zoo. The Cape May County Zoo is just phenomenal. It is large and has a number of different animals with an African Safari. The most amazing thing was the price--whatever you feel is fair. We did not get to visit Historic Cold Springs Village or Leamings Run because it was too early in the season.

My husband enjoyed the World War II history. On our last day, we took a horse and carriage tour of the historic Victorian home area. Most of the homes are bed and breakfasts--warning--many of them do not have air conditioning. We stayed at the Hotel Alcott, which was really quite nice. The major downfall at the time of our visit was a lack of an actual parking lot. We parked on the street with meters.

It was our first over-night trip with our two girls. They fared rather well given our full and hectic schedule. Their favorite activity by far was collecting pebbles from the beach. Swimming was fun as well.

If you're looking for a fun vacation, I couldn't recommend Cape May enough.

Into the Dark Recesses of the Pit

That is where I have relegated my other blog--the one specifically geared for homeschoolers. I should have researched the owners first, but once I realized that the owner was some Christian homeschooling movement, it has hit the road.

Speaking of other Christian homeschooling movements that I've decided to kick to the curb, let's talk about HSLDA for a moment. HSLDA is the Homschooling Legal Defense Association. There are two very famous legal consulting groups designed to help homeschoolers for a minimal fee. One is National Home Education Legal Defense started by a homeschooling mom in Connecticut. The other is HSLDA (note the lack of link--I won't be making it easy for people to find). HSLDA has hard-core theocracy in mind. They are pushing for a home education amendment to the constitution primarily to get the word 'God' into the constitution as the source of rights.

Every person with an inkling of freedom will understand the danger that this type of organization could pose.