Friendship Is Magic: A My Little Pony Birthday Party

You know how it is when you're three. 

Every pint-sized person you cross paths with is your friend. The kids at preschool, the ones you swim beside at lessons and twirl beside in ballet class. All of them, true friends. 

Our youngest daughter—the least shy of our lot—takes this to the extreme. 

She would move every friend into our house if she could. The more the merrier, as far as she's concerned. 

So planning her fourth birthday, and her first more-than-just-family party, put us in a bit of a situation—namely that we don't live in a stadium. 

School friends, dance friends, family friends?

I kept tossing around the logistics, until JB finally said Why don't you just invite your friends? 

Thanks to some beautiful fate, a handful of my womenfolk had daughters around the same time as me. We get together often, and we rely heavily on one another for support (and humour) over coffee cups and smartphones (hello, texting!).

Every one of them, and their daughters, have spent time in our home. 

Friendshipquote

The party was a success because of the people who came, yes, but it couldn't have happened without the talent and enthusiasm of women in my community (and greater parenting village).

I want to take some time, and space here, to thank them.

Leahfour

{Thank you Jennifer for finding this custom t-shirt from XandersWorld on Etsy}

We had already settled on a My Little Pony themed party. The franschise's motto that friendship is magic made a lot of sense to me, when it came to pulling this day together.

Several months ago, I saw my friend Alexandria's post about her daughter's pony-inspired party. When the planning finally got underway, I emailed her to ask some questions and she offered to help me with some games. Just like that I had beautiful posters and wonderful ideas sitting in my inbox. 

Ponygame

Then my creative friend, Dana, posted about her daugther's Doodlez Alive pony party and happily shared their information and her recommendation. Dana has an eye for beautiful things (really, go visit her blog) and I knew it would be a great group activity. I had hoped to capture a photo of all the kids and their pony creations, but they wouldn't stop galloping all over the place. Thankfullly, Doodlez Alive owners, Angela and Daniella, sent me this collage.

Doodlez

Next came the sweets for my sweetie. A friend of mine recommended local mom and baker, Lisa, from Little Cakes Bakery. She made these adorable (VEGAN) cupcakes, including a special Rainbow Dash for the birthday girl. 

Ponycake

And while we're talking sweets, how was I supposed to resist these homemade cookies by The Sugar Gals, Leanne and Kerri - yet another duo of wonder moms from our community. They were custom-designed and smelled and tasted like buttery heaven. Watching the partygoers' faces when they saw them was priceless. 

Ponycookies

Long after the end-time on the invitation had passed, we sat laughing and drinking coffee, while the kids chased balloons and worked off their cupcakes. Two of my sisters and their kids were here, too. I was surrounded by my friends, whose children have become my daughter's friends.

I'm glad our kids saw us there together—they don't know how much we've carried each other through the sweet and sad moments, but they did see that we share a friendship, and I hope they will know the same unconditional acceptance in their lives.

As each of them headed to the door to say their good byes, we gave them a memento of appreciation.

Ponybags

Handmade by Joanne from Litterless Lunch Lady, these gorgeous snack bags with a Chapter's gift card and delicious pony cookie were well-received. In fact, one of the moms has since decided to use it for herself. 

Birthdaycollage
It hasn't been easy getting myself to this day. And JB had it right when he said I should surround myself with the friends who have been there with me and this little girl for the past four years.

Friendship really is magic.

 

 

 

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The Fickle Fours

She's pushing forward and I'm pulling back. 

There is so much ahead for her, and she can't wait to get to it. 

There is so much behind me, and I find myself wanting to hold on to it. 

It's different with this kid. Sure, there were pangs of sadness as each of my three older children emerged from the days of being wrapped around my hip. But there was always another baby to distract me and give me another chance to soak it up and do it better.

This time I am treading water in a melting pot of emotions. And it's been threatening to boil over the past few weeks. 

 

When my mom was 40, I was in my final year of high school and filling out applications for university. She was working full-time outside the home by then and leaving me and my sister to our own devices. The tumultous early teens were behind us, and we had settled into an easy co-existence. 

Here at my house, I'm still spending a good portion of my day with a pint-sized playmate. I am cutting food into bite-sized pieces and reminding her for the umpteenth time to stop what she's doing to go to the bathroom. 

She's stubborn and determined to do things her way. And I am too.

This makes us the best of friends and sometimes the worst of adversaries.

Her recent fourth birthday, and the SEE YA THREE, DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT attitude she's been flaunting has left me feeling off kilter.  

It feels uncomfortably like a mini identity crisis of sorts. And, yes, I've become a bit needy because of it. Blech. I've never cared for neediness. 

With the first three kids, there was always the hope of another baby to fill the outgrown booties, and in fact, there was already a baby doing just that by the time each of them turned four.

Now there are no more and I feel unhinged, unmoored, unsure. 

It's time to take more of a sideline approach to parenting. Of course, I'm here in the thick of things still: overseeing, counselling, listening on top of the day-to-day feeding and washing that goes on. But I am not needed as much anymore. 

I'm 40 years old and clawing my way out of the baby days, where I've spent 12 years.

I moved towards her birthday with heels dug in and turned into an emotional vaccumm, sucking the air out of every room and wearing it like a heavy rug around my shoulders.

Despite never being a couple to celebrate Valentine's Day with any kind of fanfare, I was quite put out that JB didn't get me a card. Gifts don't matter. But this year I wanted/needed to read words about being a good mom and fantastic wife.

What does he see when he looks at me now?

If I'm struggling to see who I am now, I needed him to tell me. 

And because he accepts me wholly and flawed, he left this homemade card on my pillow three days after Valentine's. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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GETTING READY

We've just come through one of those weekends that don't feel very restful. We were in full divide-and-conquer mode. I hardly saw JB as we swapped kids in driveways and hallways. 

And so it was that I ended up standing at the kitchen counter last night—just before midnight—making a banana bread for this week's lunch boxes. In a haze of exhaustion, I ended up pressing the go button instead of the release on my electric mixer. 

Banana bread batter went everywhere and splattered all over the cupboards above the space I was standing. I didn't bother with them and headed to bed instead.

I know it's going to be one of those weeks—when I've got an impossible list to accomplish and a heart that wants to be somewhere else. 

I felt it first thing this morning as I swiped a cloth across the caked on batter and thought about how we really had to do something about our peeling kitchen cabinets, which then set off a rolling list of to-do, to-do, to-do that left me dizzy. 

This is the what happens to me when there's something I don't particularly want to deal with or face; I let my mind get cluttered with lists and distractions. 

My baby girl is turning four this weekend. I've been feeling a swirl of emotions for a few weeks now. And her building excitement has me near tears. I don't feel ready. 

Grateful?

Yes, deeply so. 

Sad?

Yes, that too.

Normally, JB throws me a good-natured eyeroll when I get like this, but he's feeling the same. 

Four is officially outside the baby days, isn't it?

No longer a baby or toddler, and well on the way past the preschool days.

Too big for the crib.

Too fast for a lift on the way to ballet class each week. 

Leahruns

She's leaving these days behind, which means we are too. 

This birthday will mean the early days of parenthood are over, and my heart hurts with the thought of it.

There are so many moments from the last twelve years that I want to remember, to hold on to, to go back and do again—because they gave me so much joy. 

My girl came along as I was stepping out of the haze of three kids in four years, as if to show me that I had figured it out. She has been on the receiving end of my best parenting and has filled a space we didn't know was there. 

She is the clasp that loops the very first days of parenthood to our present day life and holds it there, reminding us of the "remember whens" for each of our children. 

Last week, she caught me with my eyes closed, my mind somewhere else.

Why do you have your eyes closed, Mum-mum?

Oh I was just thinking about something.

I think you were making a wish, Mum-mum. I hope it comes true.

I opened my eyes and looked at her standing in front of me, eyes round with delight, dimples flashing on her slimmed down cheeks. 

And she reminded me again. Banana bread, peeling cabinets, homework, dance class, swimming lessons, date nights in the family room. 

All of it...my greatest wish already here. 

 

 

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