Joy

Harper Turns Nine - A Pandemic Birthday Adventure

Earlier in the fall, we had discussed having a small birthday party in the park with Harper's friends - much like we'd done all summer, with bikes, masks and lots of space and fresh air. Then it became clear that we needed to think different with Covid numbers going up and lock down restrictions in place. So the Drive-By Pandemic Party became the thing. Disappointing to be sure, but so much better than nothing at all. And I think it went well.

The Birthday Girl asked for a Baby Yoda themed party. DONE! (Honestly I thought it would be Harry Potter again! Happy to move on from that.)

So Baby Yoda for the win!

First there was party prep on Saturday and BIG ASS BALLOONS. Because why not.

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Kurt bought Harper some old school gifts.

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We put together gift bags for the kids who were going to come by. We made sticker packs and Harper drew on each of them. There were Baby Yoda cups and stickers and gummy frogs in each gift bag, plus homemade cupcakes for everyone to take home.

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The morning of:

We start with the traditional balloons and streamers on Harper's door.

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Then we moved on to opening presents:

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Did we got a little overboard? Maybe. But to be clear - 3 of these gifts were from other people. We gave Harper six presents: 2 were books, 2 were board games and 2 were items of clothing she so desperately needed as she's grown out of everything! All in all, very practical.
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Then pancakes - Found the batter mix with this on it. When did that happen? I think it was some random school morning a while back - Hilarious.

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Note to self - next year do the numbers backward so they look better when finished cooking.

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Grace sent nice presents and one was this WEINERMOBILE WHISTLE!!!!!! She got to see the WM in person a few weeks ago.

I was so excited! Harper was all: "meh" so I said: GIVE IT. It's mine now. Thanks Grace!
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Then on to frosting cupcakes! We made the cakes the day before and did buttercream frosting the morning of.
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Green for Baby Yoda theme...

Harper did all the frosting herself.

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Kurt worked hard to set up the drive-way drive-by "Party" venue while we were decorating and getting other stuff ready.

Ready to party!

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Street party art:

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Waiting...

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Waiting...

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The party starts!
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We love our friends!!!
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At one point there were about 12-15 people standing around our driveway/in the street (all masked, and all standing at safe distances) and it was so bittersweet to only be able to wave and chat loudly, then send them on their way with gift bags and cupcakes. I'm go grateful for all our friends who were able to make it over!

And then we were tired.

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We cleaned up, then Harper opened more presents.
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Then we had burgers and pie and played LIFE.
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For what it was - Pandemic Birthday with Lock Down regulations in place - not too bad, all things considered.Harper is a lucky lucky girl and I'm so glad we could make it special in its own way.

The days go slow, but the years fly by.

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UPDATE: I forgot to add the invite I made for the party:

Copy of Harper 9th Birthday Invite

 


Halloween Catch Up x2

The week before Halloween we went to a drive through Halloween experience. It was genius on the part of someone, making use of empty shopping mall parking lots and hiring all kinds of out of work people. And it was a bit cheezy. But you know who loved it?

Harper.

She LOVED it.

She got all dressed up, even though we were never getting out of the car. And she talked about it non-stop. That made me happy.

On Halloween itself the after school program had a mini drive through at their main headquarters. It was much smaller but free and super sweet. I'm doing pictures of both here. Then back to the weekly catch ups.

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It was sponsored by a coupe of tv shows...

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Much candy was thrown in the car along the way.

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After the adventure (and a stop at In-N-Out) it was time for the great sorting!
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The much smaller but way sweeter/more charming drive through adventure started with a T-Rex. And MORE candy.

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Today I Kicked Ass And It's Only Monday

And I wanted to document it! (Though now it's taken me until Wednesday to finish this!) It was a day where I felt I accomplished a lot of good things that made me feel proud. I ended the day on a high and felt a lot of joy.

*Did my shift at Open Progress Text Out as Leader/Moderator and got TWO AMAZING compliments by two separate people there that just made my whole pandemic.

*Texted a bunch of potential voters as well.

*Exercised

*Picked up books at the library

*Picked up stuff at Target

*Came home and Harper wanted to watch tv (school day so, no). Instead I had her help me make a snack station and two big calendars as she said she didn't know how to read a calendar. She made an August and September calendar.

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*I made a new log in just for her on the desktop mac and shifted her minecraft account with lots of online search and help from a tech savvy friend. But I DID IT. (there were specific files you had to copy and paste over and it was not so straightforward.)

*I also did revisions on a story and am starting a new story.

*I'm ready for bed!

 


Happy New Year!

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It's been two months. Two crazy months. But now I can finally say Happy New Year! and mean it.

December is always a whirlwind of Harper Birthday and Christmas and holidays and stuff and stuff. Then January rolled around with a teacher's strike and some planned medical stuff for Kurt that was stressful. It all went very well and he's fine - hooray!

As always, I have some goals and some plans. January included two goals: No drinks and No buying stuff on Amazon. I made it to January 11 without drinking. Ha! January 12 saw an afternoon kid's party at an indoor trampoline park and OMG that drove me to drink when I got home. Then the 13th was my birthday and Kurt had a friend in town and we all went out to a fabulous restaurant on my birthday and the cocktails and wine were so yummy. Why did I want to not drink in the first place? More of a reset, really. And while I definitely had a lot of wine during the teacher's strike and medical issues week, I stopped again and have just had a beer or a glass of wine on the weekends since then. And that works just fine. 

As for Amazon, it was really more about stopping the impulse buying. Being conscious of what I was buying and asking myself - do I need this or just want it? Can I make do with what I already have? (98% of the time YES!) It's been a very good change in my thinking and I want to continue being this conscious about what I buy/what I spend. I've gotten better at figuring out how to fix things and actually FIXING things instead of buying new. Or making things like the gauzy flowered canopy in Harper's room*. I am using the library instead of buying books (my biggest amazon pleasure) and am loving the library. I actually started the library using last fall and am so glad I got my head out of my butt and am doing that. It also helps when the book I want to read doesn't really hold my interest and I can just chuck it back to the library and not feel bad that I bought it and only got half way through. (Also, life is too short to finish books that don't spark your interest!)

The only actual 2019 Resolution I have made is: Wear a necklace when I go out of the house. I've accomplished that about 80% of the time and really enjoy it. 

For the rest of 2019 - Oh I have plans. Plans that I'm already moving forward on. Creative, juicy wonderful plans. If we are on Facebook or instagram or twitter together, you've seen some of my projects playing out! Keep watching!

What's new with you??

 

 

 

*I think I wanted this canopy more than Harper. I ALWAYS wanted something like it when I was growing up with fanciful thoughts of romance and castles. Harper doesn't seem to be a romance and castles type. Not at age 7, anyway...


Juice Box Crocodiles and Harry Potter

We've been reading the Harry Potter series out loud to Harper. We have just finished Goblet of Fire. Harper asks us to read all the time, not just at bedtime, but before dinner and on the weekends. We love it. 

The other day, before dinner she asked me to read. Harry and Cedric had been transported to the graveyard of Tom Riddle. SPOILER ALERT - Then Cedric died and now Voldemort was back and wanting to duel with Harry as pretense to killing him. 

So - two things. 

1) The whole time I was reading this very dramatic passage, Harper had been drinking a box of apple juice. As it got more dramatic, I wasn't really paying attention to her except that she was cutting up the empty juice box. I finally glanced up from the stress of Voldemort wanting to kill Harry and Harry with no one to help him and saw that Harper was making this fantastic thing:

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I love it!

2nd Thing) When you haven't read Harry Potter (or seen the movies) in a long time, you forget the details. All I remembered about book 4 is that Cedric dies. What I didn't remember is that when Harry and Voldemort are dueling and they are connected by the golden beams between wands, ghosts start to come out of Voldemort's wands - Cedric, a couple others and then HARRY'S MOM AND DAD!! And they all come to speak to Harry, telling him to hold on, don't give up, they will give him time to run to the goblet/portkey to get back to Hogwarts. 

If you know me at all, you know I'm a big CRYER. So at this point I'm a mess. Harper is still cutting away on her juice box crocodile and she looks over "why are you crying?" and I laugh and beg her for some kleenex, which she kindly gets for me, and say "His mom and dad are here and they are helping him when he thought he was going to die!" She shrugged and kept on with her croc.

When does empathy kick in for kids??? 

She loves the stories and I know she's paying attention because earlier in the graveyard scene Voldemort talks to the Death Eaters who have apparated in to meet their newly reformed master. Voldemort talks to Lucious and Harper says, "I think that's Lucious Malfoy!" and when it is confirmed, she is pleased to have figured that out. I was pleased to know she's been really taking it all in. 

For Christmas I got Harper the Illustrated versions of Books 1-3. Don't tell her. 

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5 MORE Things I Miss About England

I miss my commute. It wasn't always this route, maybe about 50/50. This route would often be a good 5-10 minutes faster than the main roads. This route would also mean a 5-10 beats per second increase to your heart rate. Some days there would be HUGE farm trucks coming at you. Some days a ton of other cars (with far more experience on these roads). Some days no oncoming traffic at all. 

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I miss Pret-A-Manger. Pret became known to me in 2006 when I went to London to work for about three weeks. It was the cheapest, best quality quick lunch or coffee place in Soho. I still love it to this day. Fantastic variety, lots of veggie options, hot food, cold food, kid sized food. I wish we had one here. 

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Speaking of good eats: Wagamama is also a big favorite. Lovingly referred to as "Snobby Noodle" by friends here who have spent time in London and love Wagamama as well, we were so pleased there was one in St. Albans. We must have eaten there at least every other week. Sometimes we'd order it in for lunch when I was working. (In my brief window of working.) My favorite was the Shiitake Donburi. Or the Vegatsu. Or any of the ramens. 

Dammit. Now I want some. 

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Moving on to dessert -- Bakewell Tarts. I'd never heard of them before this trip. (Astonishing) A tart made with raspberry jam and almond? DONE. I haven't looked for any here. I haven't learned how to bake it. YET. I asked someone at a cafe what a Bakewell Tart was. And they were so confused.

"It's a bakewell tart." 

"Okay but what's in it?"

"It's a Bakewell." 

Okay sold. 

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(picture by Brynn from Wikimedia Commons)

These horses who lived on our route to Harper's school. 

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I asked Harper if she wanted to live in another country again and she said yes. And I said, England? And she said, Yes! So. Watch this space. I'm going to figure out how to make that happen.

 

 

 

 

 


You Can Learn A Lot From A Seven Year Old.

IMG_6204On Sunday I did a brave thing. I had two girls from Harper's grade over for a playdate. I was warned not to have three girls at a time-there could be too much drama. Well guess what? No drama! There was one moment, right at the very end of their play time when Harper had a hurt feeling. It last about three minutes. Whew.

They arrived around 11:30, played in Harper's room for a bit. Then I gave them luncheon: quesadillas, apple slices, tangerines and blueberries with a choice of apple juice or water. They also got a small slice of the mistake cake I had baked. (I was baking cakes for a friend's birthday that night and my first cake came out not quite right, so I started over. Bonus for the girls and Kurt. More about cakes and baking in another post.) 


After Luncheon, Harper offered each of her guests a candy from her Halloween bag. Very generous. Then, as Harper said, they did "an activity". I pulled out paint and toilet paper rolls and they made thanksgiving turkeys. I traced feather shapes on construction paper and the cut them out. One of them wanted to freehand her feathers so I said, "Rock on" and she did. I, however, forgot to take pics of their turkeys. Here is Harpers:

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That's a crown and a cape...

While they were working on their "activity" one of the girls got frustrated that it wasn't come out the way she wanted. I said that we had plenty of supplies so she could start over or get new pieces or whatever she wanted.

I said, "Practice makes perfect"

She whipped around and said, "NO!" 

I looked at her and said, "No?"

"No. Practice makes better. Because nothing is perfect." 

I told her I loved that and that I was going to write it down, which I did.  IMG_6276

While the paint was drying they went outside to play on the chair swing and use the sidewalk chalk. 

It got a little rowdy and I caught a couple of moments of the girls almost getting clobbered by the chair as it swung wildly. Fortunately none of them had to learn how to play safely the hard way. 

It was a good time! And I'm pleased it went so well and I learned an important lesson from a seven year old: Practice Makes Better.

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National Novel Writing Month Has Started!

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I am writing a novel. You should too! I joined up with National Novel Writing Month organization. They've been around for a while and this year I'm finally DOING IT. The goal is to write a novel (50,000 words) in the month of November. Totally doable!  A draft is a draft.

Today is my 6th day in a row so I've earned this badge already: 

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My story came to me while we were in England this year. I kept jotting down notes and thoughts and ideas, expecting to get to it sometime. Then I was reminded of NaNoWriMo and signed up. So glad I did! I like keeping score, which is what the group and website encourage you to do, very motivating.IMG_6134

There are challenges. The actual putting words to (virtual) paper is not the hard part.

My challenge is switching back to freakin' Pacific Standard Time last weekend! (I write in the early early hours before anyone else gets up.) But since the time change, Harper has been getting up even earlier than she normally would have. UGH! And she comes right to me. This morning I had been at it for about 20 minutes (My goal is 1 hour) and she came in and sat on my lap.

Mama, I had a bad dream

I'm sorry sweetheart! 

Can you read Harry Potter?

No.

I then made her lie on the guest bed in my office and doze for about 1/2 hour!  I wrote as far as I could before she started sitting in my lap again. And yes, I then read Harry Potter (we are in the middle of Goblet of Fire, FYI).

With all that, I have still written every day, can't wait to get my fingers back on that keyboard and continue! Hopefully she'll settle back into her normal sleep pattern and I can have my full writing time back.

Challenge yourself! You can still get started.