A Sock-Hoppin’ Valentine Party

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and you know what that means…

party time!

If you’re new to Mrs. Gore’s Diary, let me fill you in on the past 10 years. Since becoming a grandmother, my mom has made it a practice to host fun “class parties” for her grandkids. It gives the kids – all of whom are homeschooled – a chance to celebrate with their cousins, and it is such a blessing to their mamas who usually just have one job: show up!

The parties vary. We’ve had Easter parties, Halloween parties, a Christmas baking party, a 12-12-12 party at 12:12 p.m….

but we always have a Valentine party.

I think it must be one of her favorites, and I can’t remember a Valentine’s Day growing up when my mom didn’t deck out the table with special candies and gifts; because of her, I’m a pretty big fan of February 14th myself! Especially now that I have children of my own.

Last year, she decided to give Valentine’s Day a twist and hosted a simple and fun 1950’s-inspired party. The celebration was at my house, and the children were instructed to dress in whatever 50’s-style clothes we could come up with in our closets. And Mom took care of the rest!

~

Before the party started, we took a few family pictures in the dining room. Gideon’s “costume” was easy: jeans and a white t-shirt. Rebekah (left) wore a shirtdress with a pink cardigan, and Betsie (in the middle) was the perfect size for her cousin Abigail’s poodle skirt from a Halloween long, long ago…

IMG_9869

I have to show this one, too, because when Rebekah saw it as I was going through pictures for this post, she laughed a little and said “Oh, my hair is always flowing like that…”

Confident, much?

IMG_9870

and Amy’s crew (Abel, Anna, Kate and Abigail) looked so precious with their neck- and hair-ties and cardigans!

644215_10151466995243254_1166417931_n

Anna and Gid, Valentines for life…or at least until they realize they’re too related to get hitched. 

10999_10151466992513254_654750541_n

“Best fweinds” Kate and Rebekah.

71767_10151466992383254_1686141922_n

My mom (a child of the ’50’s) whisked Gideon to the back to give him a real 1950’s ‘do. Here’s the front…

IMG_9857

And here’s the back.

(I was already in love with this boy but this hairdo got me all shook up!)

IMG_9858

The kids congregated around the dining table…

IMG_9925

where Amy (playing waitress) came to take their burger orders.

IMG_9906

On the menu was heart-shaped hamburgers (you have to admire a woman who can make shapes out of raw meat), french fries…

IMG_9930

and yummy, beautiful strawberry milkshakes!

IMG_9934

 The meal was served ’50’s style in burger baskets lined with Valentine tissue paper.

IMG_9956

And now a few pictures of children happily eating and slurping…

13181_10151467020173254_785911866_n

IMG_9951

IMG_9945

563562_10151467020858254_2041006980_n

When lunch was over, it was time to play some games.

First, the limbo…

IMG_9988

then, a rockin’ rollin’ dance party…

69276_10151466995873254_2090619006_n

then a hilarious, knee-slappin’ game of spin the bottle…

253028_10151466996403254_2005347877_n

and then we played Valentine Bingo.

Each child was given a Bingo card (free printables here!) and a pile of mini marshmallows to mark their numbers…

IMG_0011

IMG_0005

whoever won got to pick a toy from a prize table my mom set up. And, although this isn’t always our game-playing philosophy, each child won TWICE, until all the prizes were gone. It was, after all, a holiday!

IMG_0008

After Bingo, Amy gave a bubble-gum-blowing demonstration…

IMG_0025Then all the kids were given a piece of bubble gum to experiment with…

IMG_0034

after some perseverance (and maybe a few tears?), Abigail succeeded in blowing her first bubble! Obviously, my mom’s parties are as educational as they are fun.

551561_10151467019223254_923493468_n

And then we wrapped the party up with some more fun pictures…

66633_10151466993338254_1805213670_n

563082_10151466994953254_688407593_n

IMG_0077

Pinterest is full of breathtaking and professional parties, and while they are inspiring, they can also be kind of intimidating; I hope this encourages you to remember that laid-back and fuss-free parties still exist and that you don’t have to empty your college fund to celebrate with the children in your life. Come to think of it, I think I prefer my mom’s parties to the professionals’..

maybe because they remind me of growing up, safe and happy, under her nurturing wing.

Can’t WAIT to see what she comes up with this year!

~

For more Valentine inspiration, click on the Valentine tab in my blog’s menu or visit my Pinterest Valentine board.

December Party Ideas

I’m going to make this post pretty snappy, because time’s a’wastin’!

We had 2 kid parties last year that were so much fun, and there is still time for you to have one of your own before December zooms by:

1. On 11-11-11, my Mom had all the kids out for a weenie roast in the woods. The components: a) At 11:11 a.m., we threw confetti in the air. b) We took a group picture with printed off (and then framed) number 11’s, and c) Mom gave each child $11.11 to spend on someone else. (11-11-11 also happened to fall on Veteran’s Day, so this party had a patriotic theme to it).

All that to say, there is still time for you to plan a 12-12-12 party at 12:12!! It doesn’t have to be fancy, and could require very little thought, but don’t miss this VERY last opportunity to commemorate all those matching numbers. Why is this so important? I have no idea. It just feels super special.

11-11-11 party

2. And about a week-and-a-half before Christmas, Mama had the kids back over for a baking party. I loved this party because she actually let the kids do almost all of the baking and decorating, and she used it to help them learn to serve others. As the cookies were cooling, the children were instructed to decorate paper sacks and write little cards for some of the members of our church. Then we all loaded up into a church van and made cookie deliveries. We also sang “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” at each house. Take a look:

297224_10151305564473254_215464075_n

556664_10151305565833254_210051918_n

315858_10151305564793254_679116151_n

484187_10151305569628254_49424650_n

148232_10151305569838254_1340092710_n

205070_10151305569943254_1517680579_n

484212_10151305570318254_153942194_n

403388_10151305563703254_402724819_n

577984_10151305563853254_1366952200_n

305995_10151305570653254_459473293_n

44908_10151305570908254_1902501745_n

I won’t mention what happened about halfway through our deliveries, but…you can read about how Miss Sunday gruesomely smashed her finger and had to be rushed to the hospital (and later have surgery) here: Mrs. Gore has a DAY

Still…this was a truly special day and one of my favorite parties ever, no bells and whistles and very others-oriented. I want to do more of this with my kids.

Let me know if you decide to try either of these “parties” and how they turn out! And please forgive me if there were any typing or spelling errors in this post – I’m in THAT big of a hurry and had to get this published (without editing) so you would have time to plan your 12-12-12 party. Spit-spot!! Off you go!

Homeschool Field Day – Part 2

At 10 o’clock a.m., our First Annual Homeschool Field Day began! (see Part 1 here).

But before I continue, I’d like to take a moment to share a few thoughts on “homeschool” events. One of the greatest beauties of homeschooling is the freedom and the flexibility that comes in the curriculum, in the scheduling, and, in this instance, the event-planning. There is lots of inspiration and much advice to be found on the subject, but there really is no handbook on “how to create a successful homeschool.” Because that’s the point, isn’t it? To craft a system and a school that meets the needs of your particular (and, in our case, peculiar) family and to fit into your personal lifestyle? For example, we performed our “First Annual Cousin Show” with just our family because the music and drama teacher (ME) is not equipped to handle anymore “performers” at this stage in my life, and the same is true of the homeschool parties my Mom hosts for us (add any more kids to the mix and Grandmother will soon go bankrupt!); however, it just seemed fitting on this day to include our friends. Some of these friends don’t go to our church, and some don’t homeschool, but what we have in common is obvious: love for one another and for each other’s kids, and a friendship that is unified by the blood of Christ. All that to say, there are no rules to days like this, except for one – have fun and glorify God – and after that, anything goes. I encourage you to host a day like this for the kids in your circle, whether you are a homeschooler or not, because, frankly, this was FUN.

So let’s get to the good stuff!

Before we competed in any events, Amy (in a stroke of genius!) chose to start things off in an old-school official manner, just like the old days in P.E. class:

Each child was measured…

weighed…

 and then photographed, standing on an old-announcer’s-type box and holding the antique dumbbells. After Field day, Amy printed off each participant’s photograph and attached it to their information card as a special Field Day keepsake. I can’t tell you what a treasure this is to me!

I especially love how each child’s personality is seen in the following photographs.

First, Katy, fun-loving and sweet…

then Abigail, daring and funny and athletic…

then Gideon, silly and excited and (doting Mother alert) PRECIOUS – (by the way, he was asking when the next Field Day was the minute this one was over)…

then Anna, sweet and tender and day-dreamy…

then Isaiah, enthusiastic and energetic and totally in Field Day character…

then Gabbie, a shy but bold girl (see how she ducks her chin but still manages to look straight into the camera?) who loves nothing more than being with her friends…

then Jamie, with the face of an angel and the personality of an imp…

then Rebekah, finally 3 years old and beyond excited to be included in the big kids activities… 

then Kate, who is impossible to describe in one line. So just LOOK at that face, would ya?…

then Jackson, who can easily be described in two words: All. BOY. …

and then our tiny little friend, Izzy, who weighs about as much as those dumbbells. Please take a moment to appreciate her accessories and her silver sandals, which is our sassy little Izzy in a nutshell…

and although he and Baby Betsie were too young to participate this year, we had to take a quick picture of the heavyweight champ of Field Day 2012, Baby Grey. I think I die a little every time I look at the following picture…

But let’s get this Field Day started, shall we?

Ready…

Set…

GO!!!!

Let the Field Day fun BEGIN.

Part 3…coming up next!

An Old-Fashioned May Day Celebration

After selecting and planting their flowers and delivering them on May Day morning, the children were invited to Grandmother’s house for an old-fashioned May Day lunch and celebration.

I saw a quotation on Pinterest that read “This project started in confusion and will end in disarray.” It immediately made me think of my Mom, who swears she is the worst crafter on the planet. She has a great eye for style and dreams of creating things, but when the finished project does not match what she envisioned, she wants to wad it up and throw it in the trash. She also lacks the patience to fiddle with small parts and supplies (something I think she passed on to me: making tiny treats for Gideon’s birthday party together left us both whining and wanting very much to beat our heads against the wall).

All that to say, she called me with a fit of giggles the night before May Day as she tried her best to create flower crowns for the girls to wear at the party. They were not doing what she wanted them to do and, quite frankly, her disdain for crafting and her past failures caused her to lose her confidence to the extent that she wasn’t even trying (in my opinion). Finally, I said “Mom, do you have any idea how smart you are?! I think if you use your brain you can DO this!” We laughed, even as I knew that by the next day, her crowns would be perfect; even if she doesn’t think she is good at crafts, I know how gifted she is and that her projects usually pan out after all the whining and frustration.

Love that woman.

And I absolutely loved this May Day party, flower crowns and all.

~

Anna and Gideon (wearing a flowerless Greek Olympian inspired crown) share secrets by the door as they wait for the party to begin…

our eldest Spring nymph, Abigail Grace, is about to be 8 years old, but she is mature enough to think that dancing on May Day with a group of little ones is pretty awesome…

and then there is my little fair flower of femininity, Rebekah Sunday…

Lining up for the May Pole…

Gideon, growing up surrounded by girls, doesn’t think twice about joining in…

all you need for a May Pole dance is a pole (duh), long strands of ribbon, a Celtic Woman CD (or anything lilty or Springy or dancey), pretty dresses, flower crowns, and willing participants. We obviously met all the requirements…

I don’t know if anyone got into the spirit of things better than our dreamy Anna Ruth…

We had to keep our eye on this precious girl lest the wood fairies take her away. How I love Kate Belle…

and don’t even get me started on this girl. Sometimes I don’t know what to do with her, but I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her…

Like my Mom’s crafts…

this project started in confusion…

and ended in disarray. 

But what a lovely mess it was…

inspiring laughter…

and happy smiles…

and clapping (gasp! It’s Mrs. Gore!)…

and lots and lots of spinning and twirling.

As usual, Betsie couldn’t join in the festivities, but she had lots of fun from afar…

happily snacking (or more likely teething) on Granddaddy’s fence.

Best “fwiends” Kate and Rebekah pose together after the dance…

they never make it through a day without at least one fistfight, but they are deeply devoted to one another and grow sad when they have to say goodbye.

Grandmother’s flower crowns turned out quite lovely, if you ask me…

but one thing she REALLY knows how to do is DESSERT…

You can always tell if a party is successful by how dirty Miss Sunday is at the party’s close…

May Day success.

~

As ever, thank you to my Mom for her thoughtful and generous love, and for Amy for taking such lovely photos. What a team!

And I hope all of you will consider celebrating May Day next year! I happen to know a lady who makes simply beautiful May Day crowns…