Monthly Archives: April 2013

Pirate party on a budget.

I just hosted a pirate themed party for my 4yo and realized it can totally be done on a budget. Admittedly I didn’t have a super strict one, but all accounted for I could’ve done it for under a 100 dollars IF I hadn’t splurged on the cake. I did that, but someone who wasn’t too picky or had cake-baking skills could absolutely make it work without breaking (into) the bank. 4yos are easy that way.

I kept the decorations simple. A pirate banner ($5 for a 100 feet!), some flag toothpicks and cupcake wrappers (24 each for $2, on sale at Jo-ann), some red/yellow balloons, themed plates and napkins (if you check out the dollar store enough times you’re sure to find some cute designs), and you’re all set!

Piratey snacks and deco.

To streamline the party a bit I organized a simple treasure hunt for the wee guests. I made clues on recipe cards along with a picture of where the next clue was hidden (they aren’t reading yet), enlisted the help of parents, and let the little ones loose in the yard. The kids had a great time running from post to mailbox hunting for clues that culminated at a treasure chest piñata filled with loot – dollar store bead “jewels”, chocolate coins, confetti. There’s something visceral about breaking open a piñata, and I’ve never met a 4yo who’s not into showing off his or her muscles. What better way to let off some of that sugar steam than let them whack a cardboard box to shreds trying to get at more candy? Especially when there’s cake still to come?

Clue in the mailbox! Bat meets pinata!

Our cake wasn’t pirates (the birthday boy changed his mind when he saw a “How to Train Your Dragon” option available, but one could easily bake a customized cake if needed; there’s tons of inspirational images available courtesy of Mr. Google.

For goodie bags, instead of going the junk toy route I opted for a pirate book along with a home baked cookie for each kid. It cost about the same (about $5 for a hardcover from Amazon) as a bagful of plastic would’ve, and felt much more personal and useful. What kid doesn’t want to read a book before bed and what parent wouldn’t want to at least read them a new one instead of one they (parents) know by heart?

Top left packed and ready to go.

At the end of the day, the guests left happy, the birthday boy had a wonderful time with this pals, and all it took was a bit of planning and ingenuity on my part to make this one of the best birthday parties I’ve hosted. The props may not have been perfect but the day absolutely was.

Happy 4th birthday, R.


Birthday Preps.

I haven’t been writing much but I’ve been busy. R’s birthday was yesterday and in lieu of a present (that his nani bought for him nonetheless), the boy asked for a trip to Chuck-E-Cheese’s. For those in the know, kids ADORE this place as much as the parents dread it. Especially on weekends. More so because you end up spending $20 for less than a dollar worth of toys that end up in the trash before the day is out.

Oh, well. It was his birthday, and thankfully it happened to fall on a weekday. So off we went for this annual pilgrimage. I did end up forking out the requisite cash, but at least the kids didn’t have to wait in huge lineups to waste it.

The Mouse and the Boys.

Come to think of it, it wasn’t a total waste of money. The kids behaved as if they got to go to Disneyland. It was definitely way cheaper than that. So, I guess, thank you Chuck-E. When’s your birthday? Maybe I can invite you to my madhouse one time. Return the favor and all, y’know.

I’ve also been preparing for R’s party this weekend. Wrapping party favors, making grocery lists, cramming my brain with ever-changing, arbitrary timelines for the smooth running of the day, etc., on top of everything else. Everything else including making and decorating 30 cookies.

Superheroes & Pirates: 2 of R’s favorite things.

I’m quite proud of my effort. I’m even happier that I’ve been successfully able to keep the armies of ants that have invaded other parts of the house this season away from these cookies. Not to mention my own kids (I had to make another batch of cookies to foil their attempts at consuming these before they ever made it to their intended party!). So. It has been a busy few days of dodging obstacles while burning the proverbial 10pm oil. (Hey, after a full day, 10pm does feel like midnight.)

I’ve made a promise to myself: I’ll treat myself to an uninterrupted hour of TV on Saturday. While folding laundry, of course. 🙂

PS: If you’re interested (please be!), you can check out a detailed post about these cookies and more here.

Spring onslaught.

The title of this post may have you believe that I don’t like spring all that much and that I’d rather live through a drab, grey winter all over again. Not so. After a delayed and particularly gloomy winter I just don’t want to jinx it. Spring has sprung in these parts, definitely, but I don’t want to talk about it and have the kids grumble about wearing their thick jackets again.

My mom’s visit has done more than provide me with free babysitting. She’s made me slow down and appreciate the things around me that I’d otherwise have been too jaded to notice. It’s not like I haven’t tried before. Whenever I’d point out a particularly pretty natural spectacle (like, say, the arrival of red cardinals) to my 7yo, he’d mumble a disinterested “So?!” I must have been discouraged enough to stop pointing it to him and eventually failing to notice anything myself. Since she’s been here we’ve been keeping track of which tree has new leaves blooming on which day and which blossoms are changing colours as days go by.

Sound impossibly yawn inducing? It isn’t! That’s what I’m trying to say! Here’s a few pictures from our walk around the neighbourhood this morning. And by neighbourhood, I truly mean it — a radius of approximately half a mile. Check it out.

Only missing a true white, perhaps.

I feel like I need to invent new names for some of the colours we saw in these tulips, especially for the purple-yellow shindig up there. Mammal blood tinged with marrow, maybe? 🙂

Notice the white bark start to be invaded by the brown. I’ve walked by this eerie, bare skeleton of a tree all winter marveling at the, well, starkness of it. And here it is now starting to gradually pull up its pants as if suddenly realizing that you’d better dress if you want to look presentable upon waking up.

Laden with pine cones
Notice the grades of pink — from blush to rage.
Whiter than teeth on tooth-whitening product overdose.
An owl house? A bird nest?

Spectacular, innit folks?