Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mall Scavenger Hunt birthday party....I survived!

I have written about this on both the girls' blogs so that they will have (my version of) a little bit of detail to come back and reminisce on....But I wanted to include this on my blog, too.  This was a very important night for me.

My girls are 6th and 8th grade.  That's 12 and 14 years old.  They are mini adults.  They are making bigger and bigger decisions all the time.  They are growing up and I have nothing to do about it.  Except make memories while it happens.

When they were little I went all out with birthday parties and the planning that went into them.  We did princes  more than a few times, we did spa parties, cooking studio parties, fancy tea parties, bowling parties, roller skating, horses, safari scavenger hunt....the list goes on.  We talk about them every year at their birthdays and try to remember the theme to each one.  But the last couple years, they kind of dwindled.  Or were replaced by bigger gifts like summer camp or expensive concert tickets (great memories!).  Moving from NM to CO also factored in because it has taken a while to build up their friend base which is what a party is really based on.

This year Emma did a little searching on Pinterest and decided she wanted another scavenger hunt.  And though the Lion King 5th birthday party was pretty awesome, she wanted to do one in the mall with her friends.  And oh yeah, it has to be, like, hard mom.  Okay?  For 14-year-olds.

Great.  No pressure.

In the meantime, as kind of a long time wish of mine, I talked Karly into joining us and combining her party with Emmas so both groups would be in the hunt.  Karly's situation is a little different as her friend base is pretty volatile (read: inconsistent).  It changes quite often.  But as the time neared, she was able to formulate one of the four teams that would be in our Scavenger Hunt Party.

I got a lot of my ideas off of Pinterest but here are pictures of the stuff I ended up making...I did two versions.  Turquoise for Emma and Pink for Karly.  Everything else was the same for each girl.
Invitation and envelope, goody bag, water bottle, hunt rules and scoring sheets.

Again, I found these on Pinterest but instead of purchasing them, I made them myself in Photoshop.

For the "credit card" I used business adhesive 3M card protectors.

The goodies were big size candy bars and some candy from the candy store, beauty items from Forever 21, glass bottle of soda and straw, and face mask/mud from Forever 21.  

The party was from 4-7pm as the mall told me it starts thinning out in the mall after 5pm on a Saturday.  I had asked the stores (and the mall) that I was including on my hunt before hand if it was okay to send my girls in.  There were a couple stores that said no so I steered them clear of those.  The hunt part was from 4-6pm.  Then they came back to the food court and ate, had cake and got their prizes.  I learned a lot from this experience and unfortunately, I wouldn't have know if I hadn't tried it this way.  But the girls loved it and we talked about doing it every year.  I had a lot of fun with it because it was a fun "girl" thing to do. 

As my girls get older, I see them growing into the adults they will soon be.  I am absolutely loving talking to them and spending time with them as they grow.  They are such cool, neat little spirits. They are so much like they were when they were 5 and 3.  In some ways they haven't changed a bit and I just smile to myself when I think about those times.  As I get older and my kids reach the age that I wished I had done things like this, my brain sends me back to that time in my life.  The things that my parents did or didn't do to make my childhood the way I wanted it to be.   Teenagers usually go through a phase where their parents "ruin their life" and I expect that.  But I fully intend to make the best of my time with my "big girls" now that they are old enough to do things that I like to do (and wear the same clothes, ha!).  Our relationship is growing with them.  We are learning from our mistakes and they know I will make mistakes, too.  I have already shown them that.  But I have owned up to it and admitted where I went wrong and how I will try to do things differently next time.   We talk about the decisions we make and how they affect the rest of the family.  About being happy with who you are and what you are doing.  And this all goes for me as well as them.  As long as they know I'm not perfect but I'm honest and am not hiding things from them, I think I have a little less chance of ruining their lives forever.  ;-)  Things are well right now.  I  know there will be ups and downs.  But I intend to make it through those times and come out holding hands on the other side.  Or I will die trying.  Here's to the many more memories we will be making.....

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A new birth

My sister had her baby and we welcomed this little guy into our extended family yesterday but it has been bittersweet.  Though not in the way I would have expected.  His little body, so fresh and new, to tiny, is a reminder of my sweet little boy.  But I can look at this little one and separate him from Chase.  I don't hold him in place of what I'm missing.  We've had Owen and been through this stage with him and we are beyond that.  And that was a huge, very huge part of my healing process.  I think an hospital, and any baby ward I walk into will always bring back first my memories of Chase, and secondly, my memories of birthing my other children as well.  I wish it wasn't that way because my healthy births are the happiest moments in my life and and I wish those were the first images in my mind when I see those things.  But that is not my life.

What is bittersweet about the welcoming of this new little soul is my niece and nephew.  I look at them and I see my own kids and that is when the sadness rush in and I struggle to hold back tears.  Beckham is almost the exact age (within a couple months) of what Reese was when Chase was born.  That is so hard to believe because we see my nephew Beckham, and Owen, as the babies and they seem so little compared to what I "remember" Reese being five years ago.  Reese just seemed older and it's one of those thoughts that I really try to push away when I think of losing Chase.  That Reese was still a baby himself and that he had to comprehend death and carry those feelings in his little heart that day and those days after.  The questions he had…I remember holding him next to me during Chase's funeral and Reese listening so intent to the preacher and then looking up at me and asking me if it was Chase on Jesus' lap in the picture and if he was in Heaven now.  He was too little to have to bear that and go through all of it.  It wasn't fair.  And when I see Beckham's eagerness to see his new baby give him his present and hold him, I see Reese and what should have been happening when Chase was born.  And  my niece Gracie is just a year younger than Karly was when Chase was born and it seemed like Karly was so much older.

I don't know why our minds trick us this way, maybe to protect us.  I want to believe that they were "grown up" and old enough to handle what was dealt to us--because they did and the were all amazing through it all and they still are.  But the truth was they were just babies themselves.  They never should have had to travel the paths they did.  Children should not know that kind of pain and tragedy.  It breaks my heart today just the same as it did five years ago.  I failed them because as the parent I am supposed to protect them.  And not only did I not protect Chase that day, I watched them get hurt, too.  It devastates me.   I am so sorry.  As parents, we make mistakes and I think we realize we're not perfect.  But this was something that was never supposed to happen and I couldn't fix it.  And I never will be able to.  And I don't think they look at their new cousin thinking these things, but I can't help myself.  My kids were hurt.  All of them.  And that's the worst feeling in the world for a parent.

April is knocking on the door and I know I'm getting emotional about that already.  I can't believe how the years are flying by and I feel like Jan to the end of April are full speed downhill ride.  I don't want these years to fly by.  I want to enjoy them and while I'm trying to do that with Owen, it's just as important I do with the older kids.  I want to remember these elementary and middle school years as fun and amazing.  I love them all the same, regardless of age.  I hope they know that.  April is just a reminder to when our world shattered into a thousand pieces while we watched everyone and everything else go on around us as if nothing changed.  But we had.  We had to pick ourselves up and start over, at the same time we continued on with our lives as best we could.

So I look at this new birth as a beautiful miracle….but also as a reminder that we all were kind of reborn.  Not in a beautiful, everlasting, enlightening kind of way but in a you-have-to-keep-going kind of way.  And we made it.  We are here.  But we will never forget our little boy.  He is deep in our hearts and there he will stay.   Missing him more today than yesterday and feeling his presence in each other and in our beautiful surroundings.  I love you, little man.  Until we meet again….