Monthly Archives: July 2014

sno-cone party

We woke up this morning to find the air a thick, steamy sauna – classic July in the Midwest. We loaded up the truck and car and headed over to one of our favorite parks to set up for the party. We kept things really simple this year – you might laugh at me for saying this – but we really did. No baking, no ice cream making, no elaborate crafts or activities – just a laid back party with her classmates before they all head off to various kindergartens around the city. (We all got a little misty-eyed talking about it.)


Last night we rounded up the materials we needed to host an hour of relay races and activities – M did a fabulous job of planning frozen / ice / sno (beach) ball type games for the kids. He filled water balloons and froze them, creating large ice balls to transport on spoons like a traditional egg and spoon race. The kids strapped cups onto their feet to transport ice to fill buckets, and they did several relays with pool noodles and beach balls that M assembled using wooden dowels. We even had a relay planned where the kids would dress up in oversized clothes and shoes (M’s), but we nixed that one because – again – hot.


We served sweet and savory kolaches, powdered (snowy) donuts, fruit salad and yogurt. We kept the favors simple – summertime sidewalk chalk in bright sno-cone colors – and F passed out prizes throughout the games – ribbons and bracelets and pencils. (Prize awarding is her favorite pasttime.)


At eleven we rounded up all the kids, headed across the street to How Sweet Is This and snapped a group picture in front of the candy shop window. The kids headed next door to the playground while E brought in a few kids at a time to pick out sno-cone flavors. (They were technically shaved ice treats, which are far better than icy sno-cones in my opinion!) The owner of the store hung a Happy Birthday sign in the window for F, and made the flavor of the day “Birthday Cake” (wedding cake flavored syrup with sprinkles) in honor of her birthday.


I thought the kids might be a little nutty in the candy shop (like the old saying, you know), but they were so very good – standing in line (in the air conditioning!) watching the syrups being selected and poured. The sno-cones were a huge hit, and were a perfect end to a hot and steamy party morning. 


We continued with our tradition of a “no-gifts” party, but her friends still surprised her with some of the most thoughtful cards and letters and homemade pictures. (And a Frozen sticker book – they know her well!)


It was a pretty relaxing event, and we tried to capture the kids as much as possible in photos. Five feels like a big deal, like a big new step up in the world. I hope she’ll remember these early fun days with her friends, and the ways we’ve tried to celebrate these friendships (and summer) along the way.

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This afternoon your dad asked me if I would pick up the balloons that we’ll sneak into your room tonight while you sleep. He reminded me to add in a special balloon to the mix – some over the top, shiny character balloon that will send you squealing down the stairs tomorrow morning. His message to me said “If it makes you sort of cringe, then it’s probably the perfect choice,” which made me laugh out loud when I read it. That’s because he knows me well (slightly princess,-, character-, commercialized-Disney-averse), and he knows you so well (delighter in all of the above).

So I walked into the floral department at a nearby grocery store, bypassed the regular round mylar balloons on display, and selected a 31″ high, double-sided, pink crown and ribbon encrusted Frozen themed balloon featuring Elsa on one side and Anna on the other. I picked out five (of course) latex balloons to go with it in all your favorite colors from reds to pinks to purples. The woman helping me bagged them up and handed them to me, telling me that someone special was about to have a really sweet surprise. I agreed, and tightened my grip on the enormous bag of helium.

I write you these letters at every big milestone, and I’m never at a loss for metaphors to wrap the words around. But occasionally they land there in my lap in such a way that I’m forced to really think about you, my relationship with you, the way you fit into this family and the world around you. I say black/you say white, I say shorts/you demand dresses, I say five more minutes/you respond back with fifteen and plug your ears to any further negotiations. Some days these arguments stack up so high that it’s easy to forget how many things we agreed upon, how the day still ends with you and a good story, how you make silly faces out the school window and pantomime the words “I love you” in exaggerated hand motions and dimpled smiles. You say princesses!/I say please, no! and yet I’m holding onto curly pink balloon ribbons and it’s the best part of my whole day. Your dad has seen them, your sister too – we’ve all laughed and smiled together because we know you, we love you, we get  you.

You sent off ‘four’ today with confidence, announcing to everyone you met the significance of this transition. I’m still laughing, six months later, at the way you responded to your Nana when she asked you how old you were – were you now four-and-a-half? You responded with your own take on that milestone that was anything but a declaration of an accomplishment to rest upon for a bit.  I’m halfway to five! you announced in a manner that said you don’t slow down or take the night off. You approach everything you do with confidence, often mistaken (or not) as stubbornness and impatience. You are a girl on a mission, and I have to remind myself (frequently) that this is a good, good thing. A mission gives a person focus and clarity and tenacity – and the confidence to stand up for the right thing, and in time, for others who are unable to do that on their own.

I think five is going to suit you perfectly. You’ve got a big year ahead of you, and I know you’ll sparkle.

Happy birthday, my sweet, sweet girl.

sparklers and sno-cones

I hope you had a nice holiday – it’s always a bonus when it falls on a Friday and makes a nice long weekend for travel and visits with family. And the obligatory sparkler shots, of course.


I spent the majority of both five hour drives we had this weekend studying (even by flashlight), and I read one chapter by the pool – but other than that, I stayed away from the books for a few days which was nice. That also meant filling in some of that time with other things that I haven’t been able to get to these days. I made F’s invitations which you could say are a little bit late in coming out – but they are being delivered into the cubbies of her classmates this morning which is probably more than enough notice for a casual Saturday get together.

Sno-cone invitation4

This loose “theme” came about because F really wanted a Frozen party, and I, well, I really didn’t want a Frozen party. I’m quite sure we could have run with that theme (despite the fact that it is summer) and we are hosting the party on the lawn of a park, which means no birthday table to cover with Frozen themed paraphernalia, no movie screening, no Frozen soundtrack playing in the background. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I wondered for awhile if that made me a bad mother – she is the birthday girl after all, and she’s mildly obsessed with the movie. But when I really drilled down into what she wanted to do during her party – have games and award medals, play on a playground, eat sno-cones – well, none of those things really needed to be branded by Disney to work. I asked her if we could have a (Frozen) Sno-Cone Party instead, and she agreed. As long as there were games. And medals and trophies. And she would be getting Elsa colors on her sno-cone, naturally. Deal.

Sno-cone invitation1
Her one request for the invitation was sparkles, so that’s where the giant sparkly sno-cone came from. I found a really cute sheet of red, white and blue striped paper at Artmart that seemed perfect for the paper cone wrapper, and then I went to Michael’s for the red, white and blue beads and glitter. I was going for sparkly ice in the three traditional sno-cone colors, and I think it turned out pretty well. I made the backgrounds red because that’s F’s very favorite color, and she approved. I thought she might want to help me glitter them up, but after obliging me for five minutes or so, she opted for cousin play instead. I added some red and white baker’s twine five’s to the back, and hand wrote the party information.

Sno-cone invitation3

It’s kind of tough for me to scale back the preparations this year, but I’m doing it. I had so many decorated cookie ideas floating around in my head when I was working on those invitations. But this will be simple – I’ll make her party hat (an annual tradition), we’ll pick up breakfast foods and coffee to go, and after games (and medals and trophies), we’ll all get sno-cones from the candy shop in the park and enjoy them on the sidewalk.

And there just might be a Frozen balloon in the mix somewhere…