Spelling bee…

Hallie came home from school a couple weeks ago with her good news minute: She won her class spelling bee and would be moving on to the school wide spelling bee for grades 4th-6th. She was excited (as she should be) and we were excited for her. But then it started to get a little closer and I could see her nerves start to set in. She had a list of words from the national level that they may pull from but she wasn’t spending time looking at the list. She started joking that she may be sick that morning and the replacement girl would have to step in – that’s when I realized although it was fun to win her class, she really didn’t want to stand in front of the school and I don’t blame her.

The last two nights she spent some time looking over the list which I think made her even more discouraged because there were some hard words – words I didn’t even know how to pronounce, let alone spell.

Today was the day. We went to the school to watch and when I walked in the gym and saw her sitting on the stage my stomach dropped. She looked miserable and scared to death up there. I made eye contact with her and with all the emotions of my face, tried to reassure her she would be great. Her face told me that she wanted off that stage!

Spelling Bee

Hallie is a smart girl. She’s kind. She’s loving. But she’s also a perfectionist and I knew standing in front of a large group with the potential to misspell a word would be embarrassing. So I waited on pins and needles for every round she stood up to the mic. It was nerve-wracking – not because I wanted her to win but because I wanted her to feel good about how she did. I hoped she wouldn’t miss a word that she knew and was just too nervous to spell it correctly. And in one of the last rounds she was given the word balloonist – in which she spelled it b-a-l-o-o-n-i-s-t. And the bell rang, she was out. She returned to her seat until the round was complete and then she walked off the stage with three others, leaving the finalists to duke it out.

Hallie was disappointed in the word she missed but I was a proud mom. We want to pretend that kids don’t share the same fears and anxieties we feel which is why it’s easy for us to tell them to do stuff we would never do ourselves. But in all reality – her fears were real and it took a lot of strength to stand up in front of her school today. I love that she did it. I love that she was nervous and didn’t call in sick. I love that she tried something that she’s never done before even with the fear of not being perfect. I love that her brother got to see her participate (in which he said he will make sure to never win his class spelling bee!). And I’m happy that she made it far enough to be happy but not far enough to move on to the district level and have to experience those emotions all over again!

Spelling Bee

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The Christmas magic…

The Christmas spirit is thick already and I love it. I know it can get chaotic with all the things we “need” to do and all the things we want to see. But Christmas is simple. There is a spirit about this season that seems so fleeting. One day it’s with me and it causes me to pause and the next I’m grasping at it. But one thing is for sure – it is a magical season. Everything Christmas touches is better, especially within the walls of our home. Makes me wish the season was just a little bit longer.

Christmas waves a wand

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Piano Duo…

We moved the piano when we added a rug to the room and suddenly everyone has interest in the piano again. Funny how moving it from one corner to the other can do that. These two have been playing the same simple duet over and over again and whenever I try to sneak a video they immediately stop. I was able to pull off a picture though!

I love these simple childhood moments.

piano duo

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Glow birthday party…

Hallie had her last themed birthday party this year. It was tricky to come up with a theme that was appropriate for the teenagers that were going to be attending. But Hallie seemed to have a clear vision from the start – she wanted a glow-in-the-dark party. Which took me longer to figure out than I thought it would – which meant she had a party two weeks after her birthday.

Originally I was thinking glow in the dark games in the backyard with glowsticks. Somehow that morphed to using a gymnasium and black lights and it was awesome.

Here’s a couple things I learned while planning this. I looked at renting backlights and they were a little pricey. I then started looking at buying them but a quick search on Amazon will tell you that the options are endless from all sorts of vendors and the prices range from cheap to expensive. I bought a set that had great reviews – only to realize, they weren’t really black lights, they were purple lights and they are not the same thing. I returned three spot lights and bought 4 bar black lights. They were more than enough for the space we were in and they made things glow great.

Glow Party Birthday

Here’s a little tip: When you go out shopping for things for the party – take a small black light so you can see if they glow. Some things seem bright and fluorescent and yet it didn’t glow.  For those of you not in scorpion country, you may not have a black light readily available – I noticed several things at Party City noted that they would glow under blacklight.

I found bright fluorescent fabric at Joanns and my black light proved it would glow. It was by far the brightest decoration under the blacklight and Hallie made the fabric banner. We also used those strips of fabric and tied them around the girl’s head or waist to help them glow in the dark. (We also suggested all the girls wear fluorescent or white clothing to make sure they would glow.)

Glow Party Birthday

Glow Party Birthday

Glow Party Birthday

We started by painting UV friendly finger nail polish on all the girls and they each made a sign with their name using highlighters. I found that yellow and orange highlighters glow really well and I bought a huge box to make posters. When making the posters, the girls realized that highlighters used on their bodies would also glow. They used up a large box of 24 highlighters by drawing all over their bodies. I looked at buying UV face paint and I’m so glad I didn’t waste the money. Buy highlighters!!

Glow Party Birthday

Glow Party Birthday

Glow Party Birthday

Coming up with games in the dark took some thought. Here are three games that were a hit.

Cupside Down: A game where one team tries to turn all the cups upside down and the other team tries to turn them right side up. At the end of the time, whoever has the most their way wins. If you want to play with more than 2 teams, you can buy each team a different color cup, and the team with the most of their colored cups turned right side up when the time runs out wins. We played with four teams and four different color cups. After playing some rounds as individually teams we started pairing two colors together to form a single team. We set the clock for one minute and the girls ran around frantically flipping cups. These cups are UV friendly and were perfect for this game.

Glow Party Birthday

 

Hungry Hippo: I’ve seen these life-size versions of hungry hippo floating around the web and recreated it in a black light setting which was hilarious. It was hard to get any decent pictures but we used four long boards (skateboards), a couple of buckets and a whole lot of tennis balls (which are great in the black light). The girls took turns laying on the skateboards and their partner pushed them in and out of the center of gym grabbing tennis balls with their bucket. We had those girls screaming and laughing the whole time.

 

Ball Toss: Because the tennis balls were so fun in the black light so centered another game around them. We had multiple baskets worth different amounts of points and the girls tossed balls to try and gain the most points as a team.

Glow Party Birthday

Glow Party Birthday

The girls had the best time and Hallie was so grateful for such a fun party – a party which she played a major role in the preparation. I created a glow in the dark party bucket for the garage and I’ve got a feeling we’ll be pulling it out a few more times.

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Happy December…

It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving was a week ago.  Our home has been transformed into a winter wonderland and the outside lights are shining nightly. Presents have been purchased. The kids have drawn names for sibling gifts. We’ve watched Elf and the Grinch. We’ve read our favorite book – the book we start with every Christmas season, Christmas Day in the Morning. And it’s only the first of December.

We’ve got our first party this weekend where Bennett and Hunter are  participating in the nativity. Hallie participates in a nativity on Tuesday and somewhere in there we’ll make a visit to Santa. We’re really working with the kids every day to focus on someone in need and we’re filling a manger with straw every day for acts of kindness. (Here’s a great website for ideas of service every day – love this program, especially this time of year.)

It’s still high 70’s and low 80’s so despite Bennett’s pleadings we are holding out for cooler weather before we start drinking hot chocolate. I told him when he stops wearing shorts to school or starts taking a sweatshirt in the morning it may be hot chocolate weather!

This month is already shaping up to be my favorite month of the year. 😉 Bring on December!

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