Monday, January 22, 2018

Jareth's Harry Potter Themed 11th Birthday Party

It's no secret that I am raising little nerds to carry on the mantle, just as my mother and grandmother did before me. Dudes, I am a legit third generation Trekkie and proud of it. So there was never any doubt when I looked at my son and suggested that he have a Harry Potter/Hogwarts themed birthday party the year he would be receiving his letter to Hogwarts. My heart smiled bright when he enthusiastically agreed. What followed was straight out of my best dreams!

To prepare we watched all of the Harry Potter movies, starting on Dec 29th, a day after ABC Family aired the first movie for their final marathon before turning the series over to HBO. We ended the marathon with the last 3 movies back-to-back on Jan 3rd thanks to HBO Now. I cried, Jareth cuddled with me and rubbed my back, everyone had a great time.

At this point I had already been planning the party, but had to get down to business of actually doing things. So things were ordered on Amazon Prime, Walmart was raided for crafts, and invites were printed off. Because Jareth is a New Year baby, we always wait for school to be back in session before throwing the party so that he can invite classmates. This year, twice as many kids as usual attended and it was a blast!

Oh, before I talk about the party, I want to celebrate my little man. When I suggested that Jareth throw a party centered around an orphan hero, I went ahead and threw out the idea that he pick a charity, to give to those in need, in kind of memory of Harry and his second chance and becoming something great despite his beginning. It took Jareth a week to decide before he smiled, agreed, and listened to the charities I had to suggest. His birthday was then dedicated to New Leash On Life which takes in dogs facing termination and pairs them with inmates seeking a second chance. We were thrilled to get to raise money for them.

So, leading up to the big day I asked Jareth to take the Buzzfeed Sorting Quiz, to find out his Hogwarts house. But then I wouldn't tell him which house he was in. Because I wanted to sort him. Sadly the Sorting Hat was not to be, along with the Dementor Pinata. But Jareth was ok with their absences. As the kids arrived I had the ones who didn't know where they belonged take the quiz on my phone and I wrote down their houses and glued pins on the ties. Finally we were ready!

Before a student can attend Hogwarts they need a few things. So the kids had to pick out their wands:

And choose the animal they would be taking with them:

Then we had the kids line up and I got to call out their houses. At that point I had an adult from each house standing there to pin a tie on the kid now in their house. I got to pin one new Hufflepuff! We are besties now!

My sister, Vicky. is a Gryffindor. She was over the moon that her nephew is now part of the house she loves so much!

Then, CAKE!

We also played Pin the Nose on Voldemort, but I failed to get a picture. Our one Slytherin, pinned by her very proud Slytherin mother, won the game, despite taping the nose on sideways. It was very comical.

I think of it as a person win, not only because everyone had fun, but because EVERYONE had fun. I did a job well enough that my Harry Potter fanatic of a sister, who got me into the series way back in the day, was loving it. And my non-Potter fans, the kids I thought would remain muggles agreed to take the test and join in the fun. I was very rewarded by that since one of them turned out to be my Hufflepuff. I hope they take that excitement home and discover the magical wizarding world themselves. 

It's been a while since I sat down after a party and felt more giddy than drained, but this was one such day. When everyone had left and I had cleaning to do, I just couldn't stop grinning. That's something amazing for me these days. And I love being able to share it all with Jareth. Livia, who is only 5, is eagerly awaiting her own Hogwarts party. And so am I!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Obligatory New Year Post

I am sure if I were to look back each year I could regularly find posts claiming that I will be updating my blog more, posting more about all the things my family intends to do over the year. And there is a very strong chance that while I mean well, each year I fail spectacularly. So I won't make those promises. I will say that I have the goal in mind to post more on my social media, this blog included. I'll say that my plan for this year is to focus on reclaiming who I am, as a person, as a mother, as a wife. And I'll say that I have already started a few things to help get me in that direction. So, I am hoping to update more to share with you my plans and path.

The beginning of which is my new bullet journal. I have been using a journal for a few months now to help keep me focused and on track, and I believe it has been working well. So I got my new one started up early on, drawing out collections, agendas, dailies, to get me year rolling. And I can't wait to share it all with everyone. For assured updates, check out my Instagram.

For today I will leave you with the sentiment inside the cover of my newest journal and I hope you take it to heart.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Jareth's 10th Party

I realize that I have been very lax in posting about my children's birthdays. And for a family that does incredibly random themes, I feel this is a major failure for me. With all the trouble that I have with finding things to fulfill themes my kids pick, I think I really need to share the ideas I come up with for these themes for others to use. I'll try to do better in the future.

This year my son decided he wanted to do a birthday centered around Miyazaki, the Japanese film maker that our family absolutely adores. So here is what we were able to come up for the party.

First off, my sister-in-law saved me by agreeing to do a cake at the last minute because I completely blanked on the that front as I got caught up in the fiasco that was the invites.
Cakes De La Vega came through for us and made an absolutely amazing strawberry cake that my son just loved!

In case you do not know, this is Calcifer from Howl's Moving Castle. It became a funny joke that Vega saved my bacon from burning.

For a game we played "Pin the face on NoFace." Unfortunately my son thinking rationally and used a trick to figure out where to put the face on the black figure, so he won darn near right off the bat. But still, it was fun and the kids were able to take the masks with them after it was over.

If you do not know, NoFace is from Spirited Away.

The goody bags were the easiest to manage as we simply put things that we enjoy in them. Including a pair of chopsticks, some pocky, Swedish fish, bookmarks, and glowstick bracelets. The bookmarks I made from red cardstock to look like the bath tokens from Spirited Away. I love them. I am keeping a few for myself!

This party was so much fun! Even though nearly none of the guests knew anything about the films we took our inspiration from, they enjoyed the things we did and had. And once more my son was thrilled with the whole thing. And after all, that is what matters to me most!

Pork Cutlet Bowls!

Recently I discovered the anime Yuri On Ice. It is the story of a male figure skater who in considering giving up after a particularly bad loss. But then in struts the man he has looked up to his whole career, offering to be his coach and take him to gold. What follows is an incredible story about a man finding his inner strength along with love.

The night Funimation streamed the season 1 finale, my son and I binge watched all 12 episodes. This was a bad parenting move since it kept him up past 11 on a school night and the show-hangover I had the next morning had me sleeping through my alarm and waking just in time to rush him to school right before first bell. But it was one of the best nights he and I have had since we accidentally binge watched all of the first season of Stranger Things last summer. We have a problem, we know, and we love it.

So what did that experience have to do with our family cooked meal? Pork Cutlet Bowls were a big part of the show (you have to watch it to fully understand) and it led to a sort of obsession. So guess what we made for dinner this past week?

We found the recipe right here. But since none of us like onions we did change them out for noddles, something we will leave out in the future. The only other change we made was making our own pork cutlets. My husband bought a pork loin which he cut into small cutlets that we breaded with panko. He says they were a little bland, but I enjoyed them none the less. Plus it was fun watching my kids coat the meat in the panko together.

We had so much fun talking about the show while we cooked up this dish! And it will definitely be something we have again in the future!

Please, if anyone knows where we can get some good Katsu bowls, let me know, because we would love to have these made by professionals as well! Meanwhile, we have found a Ramen place next to the HMart where went for the kombu (and party favors for the party I will posting about shortly) that we will be visiting at the end of the month! We loved our trip into Japanese cuisine!

Next month, my son wants to try piroshki! Another Yuri On Ice reference. You should really watch the show!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year, New Plans

How many of us have made New Year's Resolutions that don't go anywhere? Plans to do things like eat better, work out more, clean out the negative, and then two months into the year they are gone, forgotten, labeled as actually unobtainable and why did we even bother? I did it every year until about 2014 when I decided that I would give myself 1 thing to change and that would be it. In 2015 the only changes I made were lists in my journal: a spot to list what I was reading, a line for what I was thankful for each day, what I thought of the new movie I watched. Things I could write or not write but that I saw daily because of my journal. I still didn't stick to these things through the year, but when 2016 rolled around I put all the same captions in my journal and tried to fill them all in once more. Because these are little things, notes about my daily life that I feel that I can admit to. I won't be able to work out every day because I don't always have the energy. I can't say I will eat healthier because there are days that I don't eat at all. I don't make resolutions because when my depression hits and I don't want to do anything at all, I feel like more of a failure for not doing something I told myself would stick this time around. But I can give myself permission to leave a page blank in my journal because that is my safe space. I make resolutions that I tell myself I am allowed to stutter on because I can always try again tomorrow. Because I am trying to give myself a little slack.

This year is more of the same. My main personal resolution is giving myself a set of goals for each day, things that I want to get done before I go to sleep that night. Most importantly they are things I believe are possible to manage in the day to day, like finish reading the book I have been working on for two weeks and only have 10 pages left. Write that blog post about said book. Do that load of laundry all the way through so nothing wrinkles. And more than likely there will be days that "Get out of bed" is the top goal. Because I give myself permission to have off days, to struggle, and to make getting to a better place a top priority and something to acknowledge. Daily goals rather than something I am expected to do every day for the next year.

My other big goal for the year is pictures. I read in Health Magazine that the University of California did a study on taking pictures: smiling selfies, things that made them happy, or something to make someone else smile. After taking the photos the students felt happier. And I thought, that's easy! I take pictures, I love taking pictures, I wish I took more pictures! And I want to do this. So over on my Instagram (had it, never, ever used it) I am going to take a picture every day that fills this study, and maybe, for a few moments every day I can be a little happier. Feel free to come follow me @mommachristy2 to see what makes me happy and share your own pictures. I am using the label #happypics for this series.

I also have smaller goals that I would like to manage this year, things I can do sporadically enough that maybe I can manage them. Like writing letters to people I don't get to see, because it's great to know someone is thinking of you and everyone gets a little excited these days when they get snail mail! And I want to write daily again, even if it's just an outline for a story idea I may never get around to, it will get my creativity working. And blogging! I am going to try to post on this blog more. 2016 saw 58 new posts on my book review blog and nothing here since March. I want to change that since so much of my world revolves around me as a parent.

What will I be posting here? What do you have to look forward to in my parenting adventure?

Once a month my family and I will be cooking up a new recipe for our family night. All four of us in the kitchen, trying our hand at creating something new together. It should be interesting, to say the least! I will try to have pictures along with these posts.
We will also be trying to do something of a service project once a month. Whether it is helping out at a local shelter or taking dog food up to Noah's Ark. We want to teach our children to pass on the love, and we think this would be a great way to start. I don't love the idea of sharing these projects because it feels like bragging about what we are doing. BUT I want you all to see what they kids do, what they learn from these events, and maybe give you an idea of something to do with your own kids. So I'll be sharing these days as well.
We also ambitiously plan to have a family night out once a month. Maybe discover new things in our area through changing our nights up. So pictures and notes about the places we go will definitely be shared.

It seems like we have a lot planned for this new year, and maybe we won't stick with it all, but I look forward to trying. This year is going to be about getting back to our happy place as a family and for me as an individual. I invite you all to join me on the journey!

Our first #Happypics of the New Year! The birthday boy is ten!
Starting the year off right! #birthdayboy #parenting #newyear #happypics
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Monday, March 14, 2016

An Epic Nerf Battle!

On Saturday March 12th, we got the awesome opportunity to participate in one amazing event!

Jared Guynes is a resident of North Texas who saw the damage done in December 2015 to the Garland and Rowlett neighborhoods by a particularly bad tornado and decided to help out where he could. He had been trying to get together enough people for a couple years to break a world record and then he thought, why not do this record thing and help my friends and family with their problem at the same time. So he worked tirelessly for months, pulled in all the right people, and organized the World's Largest Nerf Gun Battle.

Hosted at the Dallas Cowboy's AT&T Stadium in Arlington, the event was attended by over two thousand people. Let me give you the numbers right quick:

Verified Participants in the Battle: 2,289
Verified Guns Used in the Battle: 4,394
Guns Donated to local Children's Shelter: 112
Donations to Tornado Relief Funds: *Yet to be completely counted*

This was a huge event in so many ways! 
My friends and I saw the event and thought, this is awesome, we want our kids to have a chance to break a world record. We did not expect this. Not only did we break a record that is going to be really hard to beat again, we made an impact. Thousands of dollars are going to go to helping people rebuild their lives. Over a hundred guns went to kids that probably don't have much to their name. We made some awesome new friends. And it has inspired us to get together our own group for a Nerf Club so that we can continue meeting up and having battles. Plus, I went to an even with way too many people, got down on the turf amidst these strangers, and so did not have a single panic attack as my son continually got lost in the crowd, so there's my personal win!

A huge shout out to Jared for doing this. For the people getting the donations. For the families that got to experience it. For everything!

Here are my pictures of the event. Although I am sad to say my phone died early on and I didn't get as much as I wanted. But here is the Facebook Page of the group if you want to check out other's pictures of the event. 

I will also be posting a separate post when we get Jareth his Guinness World Record certificate. So check back for that!

 Pre-Game Carb Loading at CiCi's!

A Little Target Practice!

People Getting Ready for the Battle in the Parking Lot.

AT&T Stadium!

 Loki Made An Appearance! 

Getting Geared Up!

 A YouTube-r There for the Event. This is Kolton.

Obstacle Set-up on the Field!

T-Rex showed up!

 So. Many. People!

Making Our Way Down To The Field.

Waiting for the start of the Main Battle.

This was part of the group picture that you can't see us in.

The Guinness World Record Official!

After the Main Battle. So many bullets!

Kid's Only Battle.

There were more battles. The Rival Only. The Elite (Or traditional guns) Only. The Jolt (Single shooters) Only. Someone from our group participated in each one, and actually I think Jenn was in all of them! 
At 10 we started to pack up our guns and get out of there. And it wasn't until the next day that I saw the announcement. We broke the current record! We will get our official certificate soon, one with Jareth's name on it so he can hang it on the wall to show off. We did this! And it was one of the greatest things we have done. Now I just have to find something similar for Livia to participate since we elected to have her stay with Gamaw for the night. If you hear of another record to be broken, let us know!

Friday, September 11, 2015

I Will See You Tomorrow. World Suicide Prevention Day

Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day, and it was the best one I have had yet.

I don't do anything too big for the day. Because of schedules, the kids, no driver's license, I can't go to any events or even get to hang out with the people that helped me through my toughest struggles. But over the past few years I have used social media to try and connect where I can. For the duration of National Suicide Prevention Week, I take the theme and update my status or add a photo that coincides with it, reasons I am going to keep fighting, things that make me strong. This year was no different, and I still have three days of reasons on why I will be here tomorrow to post. Yet yesterday was a great day for me.

See, I don't have thoughts of suicide, not any more, not really since having my son, because that uber rational part of my mind tells me I just couldn't leave him alone. I am lucky to have that part of myself even though it tends to drive my husband crazy. I don't do self-harm any more either, thanks to two kids and two dogs and living in the country, I tend to get hurt enough on a day to day basis that it hits my limit in a day and my thoughts have wondered to the activity only a handful of times over the past eight years. It's not completely gone, but again, I am lucky. My biggest fights are anxiety and depression. And yesterday was a good day; not perfect, but really good.

For me, a tough day is any day that I can't get the energy to move.As the stay-at-home parent it is my job to get Jareth up for school in the morning and make his lunch, and lately I have taken to sitting with him on the porch until the bus comes. I would really love to curl up in bed with my husband and daughter and go back to sleep, but I know I won't get up when she does, the bed is too comfortable, I am too sleepy, my husband is there recovering from the night shift and he always makes everything better. But I get up. And lately I have stayed up. Yesterday was a good day. 

After my only cup of coffee, thank you addictive personality that takes away all the good stuff I am too scared to enjoy much of, I actually got to moving around and working! I cleaned the kids' room, cleaned my room, did dishes, did some laundry along the way. Sure I sat down for a little here and there because I am reading a good fanfiction and my feet love a break now and then, but I got stuff done! I fried up some eggs to go on burgers for dinner even though the hot grease kinda makes me freak every single time. I even got some stuff done after dinner when I usually am just done with the day! It was a good day!

Sure, I had one moment where I apparently snappishly told my husband to leave my stuff alone (I thought I said it nicely, was perfectly reasonable in tone of voice, but then we always think that, don't we?). But it was quick, we were quiet for a moment, and I apologized and explained. Of course he understands why I did it. I left the kitchen grinning like a fool because we handled it! No big fight, no screaming, I won't be on edge for days any time someone even looks at my things. Yay! I remained calm(ish).

Then to make a good day even better! I went to bed at 10:30! With insomnia it doesn't matter what I do all day to wear myself out, at the end of the day I am just not tired. I stay up until 2 or 3 reading, rewatching M*A*S*H, writing a little if I am lucky, thinking if I'm not. I have laid down in bed with my eyes sore from keeping them open and still tossed and turned for an hour unable to shut of my mind. On a really bad night there is also a lot of waking in middle of the night. Last night was a good night! Sure I kinda opened my eyes when Tillie (our blue healer) came to bed, and it was kinda a shock when Brewster (our pit/lab) joined since he has taken to sleeping on the couch, but neither time was enough to keep my awake. Of course I slept through Livia ninja-ing her way between Gary and I, that only wakes me on a really bad night. And I only woke up once before my alarm in a mild panic over missing it and making my son late, it was only 6, everything was fine. I slept well!!

But the best parts of yesterday weren't the ones I lay thinking about right before dozing off and realizing that it had been a good day for me and my issues. The best parts were the ones I got so giddy about that I got to enjoy in the moment.

This is the third year I have actively taken part in the campaign, and each year I try to make sure that Jareth knows why it is the day is special. After all, he has had to watch first hand what these issues do to people; I am far from the only one suffering in my circle of friends. This year we decided to give him his own "Love" tattoo to match mine. If you don't know, mine says "One Love" in religious (and one gender equality) symbols, a testament to my greatest struggle and core beliefs. The kids love to ask what means what and to find the same symbols in everyday life. So Jareth decided to go with symbols that stood for his personality too. Video games and Superheros. Of course Liv had to have one too!
I love opening the door for talking about issues with the kids. Before he went to school we had a very brief talk about the subject, mainly so that he could explain it to his teacher if she asked why he had a drawing on his arm. It wasn't much, he is only 8 after all, but it is more than last year, and that's what counts.

They did this. They cuddled with me on the porch waiting for the bus. He stayed home after school so that we could put up his laundry together. He couldn't stop saying "wow, mom." over his room when he saw how clean it was. They joined me on the couch to watch Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (only teared up near the end for Robin, an improvement for me. I miss him.) for some family time during and after dinner. There were plenty of goodnight hugs and kisses. There was surprisingly little fight over actually going to sleep and by 10:30 I was tired and done with the day with no reason to stay up. 

Eight years, nine months, and nine days ago I restarted a New Year with a little boy. It didn't hit me like lightening as I held him for the first time that I would never consider suicide again. The drugs were good, but not that good. It was gradual. It was moments like yesterday when Jareth lay on my bed while I folded sheets laughing as I told him all the bad bits of his birth and why he so owes me a hug and kiss when I want one. It was moments like 6 AM when Liv grabbed up my arm and snuggled it, because like me she needs contact to sleep, and nine times out of ten I am better than a Merida baby doll.

I am so incredibly lucky. Yesterday was a great day. And I will see you tomorrow.