{FAMILY} 9 Reasons Why 9 Is Going To Be The Best Age

I’m going to preface this by saying that every age seems to be the best age – especially with your first child. Every time my oldest has a birthday, I quietly wish that time would stop. I don’t want her to get any older, this year was the best age ever – I think to myself. And every year, it seems to only get better.

Best Age

Yes, the level of sass seems to grow faster than her feet. But with the added sass comes so many other wonderful qualities in my daughter. Here are 9 reasons why I think this new age – the age of 9 – is going the best age (yet):

1) Goodbye booster seat! One less piece of equipment taking up space in my car. No more worrying about carrying along a booster when taking cabs or planes or riding with friends. One down, two to go!

2) Still mom’s biggest fan. She may be too cool to kiss me goodbye at school, but she still looks up to me and values my opinion. She loves spending mother-daughter time together and openly looks up to me. I’m going to soak it up while I can cause I know this one will fade as she becomes a preteen.

3) She’s developing her own personality. She’s funny, creative and kind. She’s at an age where she does what she wants – and thankfully (so far), she makes the right decisions.

4) We can hang out. Like, for real. We can go out for lunch, go for pedis, or enjoy a day of shopping, and I don’t have to worry about bringing a diaper bag full of tricks, interfering with nap times or competing with friends. She loves hanging out with me, and I cherish every moment we spend together.

5) She listens (well, most of the time). When I give her advice, she listens. She trusts my instincts, opinions and experiences, and values my input.

6) She tells me her secrets. It does take a little prying sometimes, but I’m doing my best to establish a trusting relationship with my daughter. It can sometimes take a lot of work, but I know establishing trust is vital as she approaches her teen years.

7)  She’s becoming her own individual person. When they’re younger we decide how they dress. We often create miniature versions of ourselves, dressing them up in clothes we love. But now that she’s older with her own personality, she’s developing her own style (with my gentle guidance of course).

8) She has her own interests. Until now, I’ve taken the lead on the selection of her extracurricular activities (with her input on new things she’d like to try). This year, I’m shifting gears. I think she’s now tried enough of a variety of activities so I’m letting her take the lead in making the picks for next year.

9) She still believes. While she’s proven to be her own person, she still maintains that childhood innocence – and this may be the last year. She still believes in the tooth fairy and Santa, but she asks a lot of questions. I fear for the moment that she realizes the truth, and savour the moments of magic while they’re still here.

{FAMILY} 5 Awesome Birthday Party Ideas For Kids

I really should have planned  it better. I thought having 2 children with birthdays only 5 days apart would be fun! I thought I could even get away with joint birthday parties for a few years (you know, save a little money). Little did I know, having 2 children with such close birthdays actually means a full month (or two) of complete and utter double birthday party planning chaos. Every. Year. Forever.

I guess it makes sense that my 8 year old doesn’t want to share her special day with her 1 year old sister. So two parties in one week will just have to do – despite my disdain for party planning.

One of the biggest challenges that I have every year is figuring out what to do for each party. Now that I have successfully thrown 14 birthday parties (and counting), I thought I would share with you 5 of my favourite birthday party ideas for kids.

Birthday Party Ideas

 

FOR THE ANIMAL LOVERS: A WILD CRITTERS BIRTHDAY PARTY 

My oldest daughter has always loved animals. When she was younger, she talked nonstop about wanting to one day become an animal rescuer, so I thought it would be fitting to have a visit from some wild critters at her 5th birthday party! 20 critters (including a skunk, a flying squirrel and some tarantulas) had the children sitting perfectly still, awestruck and amazed. Instead of the usual dollar-store-stuffed goody bags, each child went home with a monogrammed strawberry plant. This was the perfect indoor party idea, definitely one to add to your birthday party bucket list!

Wild Animals Birthday Party

FOR LITTLE EXPLORERS: A NATURE BIRTHDAY PARTY

My girl has always loved the outdoors, literally hugging trees and cuddling bugs whenever she can, so I thought a party at our local Ecology Centre would be the perfect venue to celebrate her big day! The party included a circle time, which covered the anatomy of creatures of the creek, a group craft where the kids each made bug characters to take home (goody bags!), and a nature walk where the kids were shown how to capture the bugs and larvae living in the natural environment that surrounded us. Everyone enjoyed exploring the outdoors!

Nature Birthday Party

FOR THE CAPED CRUSADERS: A SUPERHERO BIRTHDAY PARTY

For his whole second year, my boy was rarely seen without a hood on his head, and he often only responded to the name “Batman”, so it seemed fitting to throw him a superhero party in celebration of his third year. With a birthday in February, outdoor parties for him were not an option, so I invited his friends over for an indoor party at my home. Each child made their own customized superhero capes (another unique and successful goody bag idea!) and fun was had by all!

Superhero Birthday Party

WANT YOUR KIDS TO THINK “YODA BEST” PARENT: A STAR WARS BIRTHDAY PARTY

Thanks to his dad, my little dude has become obsessed with everything Star Wars, so when he pleaded for a Star Wars themed party, how could I resist? Dressed in a stormtrooper costume (of course!), my son and his friends enjoyed an action-packed party at our local Laserdome. The kids loved playing lasertag and dancing in the light space room, and these homemade make-your-own Yoda kits were a huge goody bag win!

Star Wars Birthday Party

ADVENTUROUS KIDS CAN REACH NEW HEIGHTS – ROCK CLIMBING BIRTHDAY PARTY

I was thrilled when my oldest daughter asked to have her 8th birthday at our local indoor rock climbing centre. She had only tried it once before, and was eager to make it to the top of the wall. It was so fun to watch her friends lift each other up, conquer their fears and cheer each other on as they scaled the walls of the indoor gym. It was an awesome way to celebrate indoors while keeping the kids active.

Rock Climbing Birthday Party

I have so many more birthday parties to plan in the upcoming years, and am always open to new ideas, so please share!

 

{FAMILY} A Star Wars Birthday Party

Much like many five-year-old boys, my little dude is obsessed with everything superhero and Star Wars, so a Star Wars themed birthday party was at the top of his wish list this year. And while in past years I had hosted his parties in my home, this year I was looking for something fun, but easy for me to host – because when you’re a busy, self-employed mama of three, convenience is key.

His first request was for a Star Wars Stormtrooper costume to wear on his big day, and let me tell you, finding a costume when it’s not Halloween season is pretty tricky! After several unsuccessful searches at local costume shops and big name stores, I took it to the net and thankfully found the perfect suit, just in time for my little guy’s special day. He awoke on the morning of his birthday to a crisp, white, Stormtrooper costume and a bundle of black and white birthday balloons hanging by his bed. He was thrilled and woke me up fully dressed in his Star Wars best.

Star Wars Kids Party

For the venue, we went with a local favourite – Laserdome Plus on the North Shore. An all-inclusive amusement centre, the Laserdome offers a variety of engaging and interactive stations, including a giant laser tag arena, rock climbing walls, a space jungle (Go Bananas on steroids), and a light space room. Their birthday parties include invitations, a party host (perfect for parents who could use some extra hands!), supplies (plates, cups, napkins), a pizza lunch, and juice/water. You can also add handmade goody bags for a small add-on fee! They also have superhero-themed party rooms which provide the perfect backdrop for those obligatory birthday party photos.

Party Room

Star Wars Birthday Party Kids

I had big plans for the cake – which had included mini Star Wars figurines topping each deliciously home baked cupcake, but when my little Stormtrooper laid eyes on the toys, plans quickly changed – he of course wanted to keep them all, and how could I say no to the birthday boy? So I went with a much simpler plan:

Star Wars Birthday Party Kids

Darth Vader and some black and white candles did the job just fine – and the guests gobbled up the cupcakes so quickly, anything fancier would have been a waste of creativity!

I completely lucked out when it came to the goody bags. I had browsed the shelves of dollar stores and party shops, and had been unable to find anything Star Wars themed. I was ready to give up when I put out a call for ideas to a private Facebook group – and a local, family-owned toy store known as BC Playthings replied with the best party favours ever – make-your-own Yoda goody bags!

Star Wars Birthday Party Kids

Handmade with customized labels for my little birthday boy’s party – aren’t they adorable? There’s nothing I love more than unique and creative goody bags.

The party was a success and my boy left grinning from ear to ear. We returned home for dinner and a movie – Star Wars of course! And as always, we wrapped it up with a family photo:

Family

One birthday party down, two to go!

Other Kids Birthday Party Ideas:

Nature Party

Superhero Party

Wild Critters Party

Thirty Five.

For some of you, it’s a distant memory.

For some, it’s a dreaded reality soon approaching.

For me, it’s a (half) milestone, a new beginning, a fresh start. As I’ve mentioned in previous birthday posts, I don’t “do” New Year’s resolutions, however I do like to set goals/aspirations for myself each time I add another notch to my belt of years lived.

So in honour of the start of my thirty fifth year, here are 10 things I’d like to do before I’m 36:

1) Read a book. A real one made of paper. For some reason over the last few months, my love for reading has fallen to the wayside. I have 2 brand new books sitting on my night stand, and I plan to finish them both by my next birthday.

2) DIY something. Anything. I might try to make an advent calendar so I can save some coin on those ridiculous chocolate-filled cardboard boxes I’ve been investing in for so many years.

3) Have another baby. Last year brought some sad times for our family in the baby department. I’m all healed up now and ready to make it a party of five  in our little hive.

4) Keep dancing. I’ve recently reconnected with my love for ballet, and hope to continue with my adult ballet classes right through the year.

5) Go somewhere. Anywhere. I’m itching to get away (as I’m sure we all are). I’ll go local. I’ll stay in a hotel downtown if that’s all I get this year. But mama needs a vacay.

6) Get Sporty. I used to snowboard and I haven’t since I’ve had kids. I’d love to make it up to the slopes after a long hiatus!

7) Swim in a lake. Last Summer came and went and I didn’t get one day of blissful lake dipping. This year I hope to have at least one full day of sun and swim lakeside.

8) The write recipe. I love writing and hope to construct the perfect post that stays true to my personality and goes viral (because I love knowing that people are actually reading what I write!).

9) Add a new dinner recipe to my repertoire. I love to cook (okay, I like to cook, and love to eat). I have a tendency to stick to the same old recipes and would love to discover a new and delicious recipe that my whole family enjoys.

10) Do something that scares me. Take on a new challenge, sing karaoke, jump off a high diving board – something that takes me outside of my comfort zone.

Can you think of anything that I should add to my bucket list for 35? 

Thirty Five

35 and feelin’ alive

Creatures of the Creek Nature Party – My Girl’s 6th Birthday

It’s been a rough month for my little trooper, so when she requested a nature party for her 6th birthday, this mama wanted to deliver the best nature party ever.
My girl has always loved the outdoors, literally hugging trees and cuddling bugs whenever she can, so I thought a party at our local Ecology Centre would be the perfect venue.

 

Complete with a nature leader, the party included an educational circle time, which covered the anatomy of creatures of the creek, a group craft where the kids made bugs, and a nature walk where the kids were shown how to capture the bugs and larvae living in the natural environment that surrounded us.
Circle time
Creatures of the creek crafts
Learning how to capture bugs and larvae around the creek
My bug-catching birthday girl
Because the party started right after school, I thought I would prepare some healthy snack bags for the kids to enjoy while they learned and explored.
Snacks included Pirate’s Booty, an apple, yogurt raisins, gummy worms, and granola bars
Once the scavenger hunt by the creek came to an end, we hiked back to the Ecology Centre to explore our findings under a microscope. The kids’ eyes lit up as we viewed the little May bugs and creek larvae up close.
Then it was time for cupcakes! I’m lucky enough to have a talented baker for a mother, so she put together this beautiful nature-themed cake for my little birthday girl:
Carrot cake cupcakes with bug chocolates and butterflies, flowers and birds for each child to take home
And of course, no party is complete without the obligatory family photo in front of the birthday cake:
Each child went home with bumblebee or ladybug bubbles, a flower or butterfly balloon, a homemade craft, and a newfound enthusiasm for the nature that surrounds us.
Little explorers
Another successful party that my little girl will hopefully never forget!
To see what we’ve done for previous parties, check out these links:

A Superhero’s Party

My boy is rarely seen without a hood on his head, and will often only respond to the name “Batman”, so it only seemed fitting to throw him a superhero party in celebration of his third year.
I paid a visit to my favourite party store and scooped up everything Batman-themed I could find. Superhero POW! and ZAP! invitations were sent to email inboxes, and the party planning was underway. But I was stuck on what to do for the party favours, and what was I going to do to keep 13 children entertained in my house on a rainy Sunday afternoon?
Through my day job, I came across this lovely Canadian company called Spark Play, and was immediately intrigued. In a world where children seem to be so focused on movies, apps, and computer screens, it was refreshing to see a company focused on imaginative play – the old school way! I loved the idea of their MiniSpark Birthday Packs, and placed my order for superhero-themed party packs for my little guy’s party.
When all the kids arrived, I asked them to sit in a circle, and announced that I had a special gift for each of them.
Voices raised with excitement as ribbons were untied, glittery papers were unveiled, and beautiful capes in several patterns were unravelled by each child. Each little package came complete with a list of directions, encouraging the children to dress up and play in their new costumes.
Each cape was created with uniquely different fabrics, each mask equally as colourful. The kids flew around my house, pleased with their customized outfits.
And I was so pleased to send each child home with a a unique gift, something they can play with over and over again.
It was a great party, complete with the perfect rainy-day activity. And my little superhero? Well he’s passed out in his bed, wearing new Batman jammies, and of course a brand new cape.
Obligatory birthday party family photo
What’s something new you’ve tried for your child’s birthday party?

Quotable Bits #7

“There are exactly as many special occasions in life as we choose to celebrate.”

– Robert Brault

On Sunday, we celebrated the 2nd birthday of my sweet little baby boy. 2 hours of cleaning, 2 hours of grocery shopping, 4 hours of cooking, and a whole lot of decorations later, and party day had arrived.
My boy was crazy excited about his big day, and rocked his custom birthday outfit like the sweet little man that he is.
My mom made a beautiful train-themed cake, which my Thomas-loving boy was thrilled about. And when it came time to blow out the candles, my boy rocked it! No tears, and no second tries necessary.

When it was time for his friends to head home, my little guy was a little bummed. “More party mommy” he repeated over and over again for the rest of the afternoon.

I was pooped at the end of it all, but all the hard work was totally worth it. We were even able to get the perfect family birthday photo (well, almost).

One birthday party down, one to go. Girlfriend turns 5 in May, and it’s going to be a huge Strawberry Shortcake celebration!

Now over to you my fabulous bloggy friends! Pick a quote, write a post, and link up with us!

Thirty Three.

For me, birthdays are like New Year’s Eve – a time to look back on the year I’ve had, to think of new goals, priorities, resolutions for the year to come. Tomorrow, I start a new year, my thirty third year, and I’m excited for the new adventures this age will bring.

As I embark on this next year in my life, I thought I’d celebrate by sharing with you 33 random pieces of advice – things I’ve learned over the years:

1) Don’t rub your eyes after having eaten hot wings.

2) Don’t mix beer and chocolate milk (especially when you’re allergic to chocolate).

3) Never pull down a pull-up on a potty training toddler without first doing a check (poo-valanche!).

4) Despite what you think, you are not always right.

5) When hemming pants, it doesn’t work to measure by lying on the floor and drawing a line where you want to make the cut.

6) Don’t ask a woman if she’s pregnant, unless the baby is hanging out of her yahoo.

7) Don’t make fun of names unless you are sure the people you are talking to don’t have close relatives/friends with those names.

8) Four year olds are smarter than they look.

9) It’s not cool to use big words when trying to sound smart, especially when you use them in the wrong context.

10) If you’re going to brag about your spelling skills, know that raspberry is spelled with a “P”.

11) Try on pants before you buy them.

12) Two year olds are stronger than you think.

13) It’s not funny to re-enact the opening scene from Harold & Kumar when at an important corporate event.

14) If you don’t know something, pretend you do and then Google it later.

15) Not everyone likes poo jokes.

16) Don’t take any wooden nickels.

17) When picking up dog poop, make sure there aren’t any holes in the bag.

18) Don’t laugh when someone is holding a gun to your head.

19) Don’t try to make jokes to avoid the awkwardness of a serious conversation.

20) Never brag about your baby who sleeps through the night.

21) When mixing drinks, know that 151 does not make an equal substitute for Malibu Rum.

22) Don’t buy your daughter a snow globe if you have a toddler in the house.

23) If you have unruly bushy eyebrows, listen to your friends and let them pluck them.

24) It’s not nice to pin your best friend’s brother down and fill his mouth with Orajel.

25) Don’t compliment someone on their Halloween costume unless you know for sure they’re wearing a costume.

26) Make sure you’re right about someone’s name before using it when addressing them.

27) When going to a high school dance, dressing up as a carrot, or a dice, will result in you dancing alone all night.

28) Don’t tell a long joke unless you’re sure you know the punch line.

29) Don’t make jokes about your love for meat when talking to serious vegans.

30) Be careful what you say in front of toddlers – they will repeat everything, especially when grandma is listening.

31) When doing an impression of someone, make sure they’re not standing behind you.

32) Don’t piss off a cat by buying a puppy unless you want him to shit in the middle of your white comforter.

33) Don’t try to make a list with 33 items unless you have more than 33 minutes to do it.

Enjoying my final days of 32

Is anyone else enjoying the ripe old age of 33? Do you have any tips for a newbie like me?