Monday, July 14, 2014

Do you remember when "Birthday Parties" were Birthday Parties?

I have such great memories of birthday parties from when I was growing up.  My parties, my friends parties, family parties, they were all the same.  They were great.  Back then, a birthday party was simple.  Generally, the whole class was invited for simple food and a homemade cake, maybe some pin the tail on the donkey, and if you were really lucky, a pool party.  The parents would drop the kids off and not have a worry in the world.
Back in the day, the birthday party actually revolved around the child whose birthday it was.  The children played, ate, and then gathered in a circle while the birthday boy/girl opened his/her presents.  It was a momentous occasion.  The child would coo over the gifts, and the party made them feel that on that day that they were special.  The other children, having been taught manners, would sit and admire the gifts politely (even through envy) and clap with joy with each unveiling.

As any current day parent knows, things have changed.  This is how "birthday parties" happen now:
1. Meet at bounce house place
2. Set presents on a table, never to be seen again
3. Kids play, moms chat
4. 15 minutes of pizza/cake/singing happy birthday
5. Everyone leaves
6. If you are lucky you get a thank you card, if not, you can assume that your gift was lost on the table.

What happened to birthdays?  Where in this schedule is the birthday boy or girl supposed to feel special?  I don't get it.  Aren't birthday parties supposed to be about the child whose birthday it is?  Did somebody write a law saying that children shouldn't open their presents at the party?
I have had moms tell me that it's rude to have the child open gifts at the party.  My response to this is usually "Really?! Because at your bridal shower you made us sit through every stinking one".  Oh, I get it--that was "your day".  Well your child's birthday is just as important.  The point of celebrating a child's birthday should be just that - to celebrate.  Instead, we spend the time worrying about the perfect decorations and location, while the child is ignored.  For 90% of the party, they could be at anyone's party, not their own.  The 10% where we sing happy birthday and cut a cake doesn't really count as an actual birthday party.  It makes me feel sad, even if the children do not - after all, this is all they know.  Most of them have never been to an actual birthday party where the child opens gifts and is celebrated.  I know my son has yet to see this, and he is 7.

Until now all of my son's birthday parties have been family only.  Sometimes that means 5 or so family members, sometimes it is just the 3 of us.  Each one has been memorable.  I decorate and bake him a cake, or order one if that is what he wants, and we all sit and watch as he opens each gift.  It is magical, because it is all about him.  After all, it is HIS birthday.  He is a child and this is his day.  He has been asking for a "birthday party" like his friends have, and I may give in, but I have a feeling he won't like it as much as he thinks he will.  If he does, that's fine, but in the meantime I think that we are cheating our kids out of authentic birthdays.

Perhaps if we had smaller birthdays, with smaller cakes, gifts that were actually opened, and loved ones surrounding us, we would provide our children with memories, not just parties.

If you think I am wrong, just take a moment and reflect on a birthday when you were a child - opening your presents with your friends in your living room.  Think about it.
***Edited to add: IF we have a "big" birthday party this year, he has decided to ask people to donate to a charity of his choice instead of gifts, so the opening of gifts wont be an issue anyway. NO, I don't know where he got such a kind heart from, but it's probably not me!**

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Teacher Appreciation Week

Hooray for teachers!  This week is teacher appreciation week, and let me tell you, I sure do appreciate them because it is a job that I know I could never do.  At our school each day has a theme with something special that we do for our teachers.  Today was $5.00 gift card day.

As many of you know, I am that Pinterest mom.  You know the one- the one that makes the handmade stuff and gives them to the class.  Before Pinterest, I just considered it being crafty.  Crafting is my hobby and for me being room mom was code for "I can spend more money on hoarding craft supplies and justify it to my husband".  I also love making fun of myself.  So when I went to Pinterest in search of a cute idea for how to package the gift cards, I fell in love with these free printables from Chickabug.  The joke of giving them to teachers who know how addicted I am to Pinterest was more than I could resist.
They are so cute, and all you have to do is print them out, trim them up, and attach a gift card.  When you print them out, just glue the striped side to the back of the front side with the words.  I loved the stripe so I modified it a bit to make the stripe present on the front as well as the back.

I printed each card twice, so that I could trim the front (the spot where you put the gift card) a bit smaller and allow the background to show.

This way I had one striped sheet for the back, so it looked professional and used the other sheet as a border for the front. 

I used pop dots to add a bit of dimension, both on the white card with lettering when adhering it to the background, and on the actual gift card.  I then tied it up with some twine (after all, I had to make it more "pinteresting" - I couldn't help myself) and sent them off to school today. 

I am so excited to have discovered the Chickabug blog via pinterest.  I love free printables, and these cards only took about 5 minutes to make.  It also is a good idea to poke fun at yourself once in a while.  After all, there are only so many pencil covered vases a teacher can use. ;)