Movie Theater Birthday Party!

Time for another birthday party. Our son turned 10! Yes, it´s a big one. Two digits. He has been counting down for 101 days, so there was certainly no lack of neither expectations nor planning… ;-).

Birthday party preparations. :-)

Birthday party preparations. 🙂

As soon as he started talking about wanting to do a Movie Theater theme for his birthday-party, we were supportive. We liked the non-competitiveness of it, the togetherness. And it seemed like something we could do and control. We got to borrow a huge screen from a friend here in Jerusalem, we already have surround sound set up in our living room, and there has been a projector sitting in our storage room for a long time already.

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I found fun movie-theater themed things like popcorn-cups at a local store, and our son went ahead and designed little movie-theater tickets which served as invitations to his party.

birthday party

We chose Donald Duck movies to be shown at the party, because those are in general clean and ok with everyone, it is a classic that most people like, and it was less likely that kids would complain that they had just watched that movie.

Fun decorating the cake.  Thank you, tante Raggi for the non-stop! :-)

Fun decorating the cake. Thank you, tante Raggi for the non-stop! 🙂

It turned out they all loved it. And it seemed to be helpful that we kept bringing more and more food as well! 🙂 For this group of 9 children I made 6 large pizzas, and 7 bags of popcorn, – oh, and carrot sticks… And, of course, – birthday cake! We chose a really yummy chocolate mousse cake, and they ate almost the whole thing! Several came back for seconds! Growing boys!!

birthday party

It was such a joy to look over at the group of kids, and see happy faces, – and most of all such a content expression on the face of the birthday boy. At the end of the night, he said this was the best party ever! Now, I have to admit, – I think he has said that every single year at his birthday…

Make a wish...

Make a wish…

But I think for me, – this really is one of the favorites. We were never even close to a melt-down. In spite of all the excitement and all the expectations, everything just sort of went along relatively calmly. And for that I am thankful. It was a good experience in every way. Guests genuinely thanked for being invited, and also said it had been the best party ever… (It really is a kid thing, this “best ever”-thing…). I guess for them, life and everything, just keeps on getting better and better. 🙂 Not all bad, really. Not all bad.

birthday cake

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Birthday Party Trip

In our house we start planning birthdays months in advance, and the plans change several times along the way. I dream along with the children, and then when we come across something that I really want to encourage, I do just that. This time, it was when our little princess started to talk about wanting to do a trip as her birthday party. We had fun planning where to go, what to bring, whom to invite etc. etc.

girls in the carAnd off we went! The party of course started already in the car! It was a real joy to listen to the excited girls in the back seat! We had two cars, – thank you, Savta (Grandma), who was willing to come along and drive the other car!

The place we were headed to, was En Gedi, a beautiful oasis in the Judean desertEn GediWe hiked from waterfall to waterfall.

En GediIt was actually warm enough for the children to really get into the waterfalls.

En GediThey loved it.

En GediAnd we enjoyed the hike in between as well.

En GediAlong the way we came close to interesting wildlife.

And afterwards we did our birthday picnic by the Dead Sea, – or the Sea of Life, which it is also called.

Birthday picnicI had bought all this fun stuff to make it all beautiful and festive, but by the time we had our picnic, the (warm) wind was so strong that I was glad it did not all fly away. (So, – we told the kids to hold on to their plates…)

birthday cupcakesThe main thing is, – the birthday girl was happy.

birthday girlAnd so were her guests.

birthday picnic I had made Cookies and Cream Cupcakes, upon request from the birthday girl.

cookies and cream cupcakeWe had pitas with various spreads and vegetable sticks in addition to the cupcakes and other sweets.

birthday picnic

I think that from now on, we will do our birthday parties as trips! Great experiences! Very bonding. You get to know each other better, and you get to learn about places in the country you live in. (And, – you don’t have to clean up at home afterwards…)

By the way, her friends were also saying they wanted birthday party trips for their next birthdays! Now, that is a good measure of success, isn’t it??

My 100th Post.

Wow… I have already gotten to one hundred posts on this blog of mine!! And 99 followers!!!

Today is also a special day for me in other ways, – because, well, it’s my birthday! 🙂

blossoming almond tree and me

And I am telling you, – I am VERY thankful for LIFE! To be given this opportunity to LIVE, it is the greatest of gifts! I want to use every day to its fullest potential! I want to be present in every moment!

nuriot

The other day I was pondering what is my most favorite time of the day. The freshly brewed morning coffee scores high, as does the glas of wine with my husband in the evening. But I even enjoy the efficient work mornings, it feels good getting things done. And really, when I think about it, I enjoy the homework-time with the kids in the afternoon, taking them to their various activities, reminding them to clean their rooms etc. etc. – because this was always my dream! Being a mom is one of the greatest blessings in my life! So, no complaints about how that works out in practicality! And I love the sweet times of doing crafts with my kids or reading with them, going for hikes with them or just talking with them and spending time together. I want to hold on to those times, at the same time as I don’t want to complain about all the other things that comes along with it.

my birthday coffee. ...well, one of them. :)

my birthday coffee. …well, one of them. 🙂

I am reminding myself to not just rush through my days, as if I am always wanting to get to the next stage. I want to be present and enjoy every moment, – because each one is such a gift!

Celebrating my birthday with a good friend this morning.

Celebrating my birthday with a good friend this morning.

And for me to get to live my life in Jerusalem, to raise my kids here in the holy city, it is just so amazing that I have to remind myself that I am not dreaming. And at such a time as this! To get to be alive at such an exciting time! To witness the state of Israel being built, the city of Jerusalem being rebuilt, to be a part of it all, – WOW! And to think of what our generation may be blessed to see! To prepare for the coming of our Mashiach!! (And to have front row seats to witness that….!) I am excited about life, guys!!!

birthday morning

Baseball Birthday Party.

This is a party that has been planned for several months. He had only been in little league baseball for a few weeks this fall, when he decided that this would be the theme of his birthday party. Not long after that I found paper plates, cups, napkins and table cloths for this theme on a great sale at a wonderful store I know, – so of course I picked it all up, even though the party was still four months away. Always good to be ready.

baseball birthday party

The birthday boy made a count down calendar for the last two weeks before the birthday. (Hey, that is really good compared to former years, when it has been more like two months!) During the last week we have been following the weather forecast for the birthday, because, – what is a baseball party without a baseball game?! We have had some quite stormy and very wet days lately, but wouldn’t you know it, today showed up bright and clear, absolutely perfect for a baseball game!

birthday boy

The birthday of course started long before the party. At two minutes to six a very excited boy woke me up, and told me he had been waiting for two or three hours (!) already! Outside of his room he had found this huge present, which was too big to even wrap, so we had just thrown a blanket over it, and he was wondering when he could open it. We waited for another half hour, and then the whole family was gathered as he opened his gift.

birthday gift

And boy, was he happy! He has been trying to guess what it could be, but he has never even come close, and it was so nice to be able to really surprise him. I don’t know how many times today, I have heard him say “It is just PERFECT!”.

baseball cupcakes

He took enough cookies to school to share with all of his classmates, so that he could celebrate with them too. And then at the end of the school-day I picked him up bringing him a big helium balloon. That is always a hit. Pure happiness. So simple.

helium balloon at school

The party started soon after we came home, and the first thing on the program after the guests arrived, was the actual baseball game. It was lots of fun. Most of it. Admittedly it had its difficult moments when the game did not go according to the expectations of the one who has been excited about this for four months (but, hey, we’ve been to birthday parties before, that is to be expected!). And still, at the end of the day, he says it was all absolutely perfect. So it can’t have been that bad.

baseball gameAfter the game, when everyone had built a healthy appetite, we came in for fresh home made pizza, – all you can eat! Another sure success. The pizza was followed by cakes of various kinds, – a chocolate cake decorated as a baseball field and lemon cup cakes decorated as baseballs. Fun stuff!

baseball field cake

As gifts had been opened, party favors had been handed out and guests were leaving, I felt the fatigue set in. I put the kids to bed, and found it extremely rewarding to have a new nine year old who just couldn’t keep the smile off his face, – it was all so absolutely perfect!! The best birthday ever!

birthday candles

Then I hit the couch with a bag of candy, put my feet up on the table and enjoyed some me-time. Reading, communicating, blogging, relaxing. There is a time for everything.

Make a Personal Pillow with Text.

My father in law had his birthday a few days ago. So again we were faced with, – what do we get him for his birthday…?!

I must say, I think women are a hundred percent easier to buy gifts for than men! One could just get a nice cream or shampoo, candles and napkins, vase, teacups or cookie-jars, – the list is endless! Not so with men.

And I like getting people gifts, something that will show them that we thought of them, that we appreciate them, care for them. But, – what to get??! It’s not easy! For this man in particular, we normally get something related to wine, as that is something we know he likes. We have gotten him cool wine holders to display his wine-bottles, nice wine glasses, fancy wine openers and so on. But let’s face it, – how many of those can one man have??! So I was really hoping to come up with a more creative idea this time around. And wouldn’t you know it, -during one of my runs, a creative idea for a gift for my father in law came to me! *Another good reason for running! 😉

The idea was a personal pillow with the text: “There is no one like GRANDPA” in Hebrew written on it. This is how it came out in the end:

personal pillow

And considering it was quite quick and simple, I thought I would share the steps for making it. 🙂

Start by cutting your material to fit your pillow. I basically did it almost three times the height of the pillow, so that it is partly doubled over in the back. (Too bad I forgot to take a picture of that before I gave it away!) It basically means that where the opening is, there are two layers of cloth so that a strip of the inner pillow will not accidentally be seen. And it is very convenient to have an opening, so that you can take the pillowcase off to wash it easily. Leave an extra few centimeters around the edges for seams.

Next work on your text. Mark off where the center of the front of your pillow will be, and get started on writing. I just write with a permanent marker through some letter-shapes. (Tip: Always keep a piece of paper underneath to protect your table.)

writing on pillow

To help protect the writing and keep it from being ruined when getting wet or during a wash, it is recommended to iron it with a hot iron. (But even so, I think one should be careful when washing it, especially the first time. I recommend washing it by hand.)

ironing permanent marker text

Now is the time for the actual sewing. First sew a zigzag-seam around the edges of the whole cloth, to keep it from loosing threads and coming apart. Then sew a nice double edge at the edges that will be on the back of the pillow. (*Hmm… Didn’t take any photos of this part either. My confidence level with the sewing machine still needs to grow a bit, I guess.) Next, you pin the whole thing together inside out and sew the sides together. Turn it back to the right side, and walla, – you have your own personal pillow case! Stuff it with a comfy pillow and you have a nice and personal gift!

The receiver of this pillow seemed to like it, which is of course very rewarding when you have made something for someone. The children also brought him beautiful paintings that they had really invested in, – and that were highly appreciated.

personal pillow with text

P.S. Of course you can add more to the pillow as far as different fabrics or lace or something, but I wanted to keep this one simple, and in that way more masculine.

Half Way Through Hanukkah.

third night of Hanukkah

Could someone please stop the time?!? The beautiful moments and wonderful days just pass by way too quickly! Even the long-burning candles burn down too fast! I try to hold on to the moments, the relaxing mornings, lazy days, the good times with friends and family, the beauty of all the hanukkiot (hanukkah-menorahs) that grow brighter every night, the wonderful flavors of all the sufganiot, the feeling of the hot cider in my mouth, – all of it! There is just so much to enjoy!

On the first night, the children got some new really cool dreidels, which were very popular. We have quite a collection of dreidels, as we add a few new ones every year, and still keep the old ones.

playing with dreidels

On the second night we celebrated our princess’ birthday, and after the very girly party we did a walk in the streets Jerusalem by night. It is always beautiful as all the hanukkiot shine so brightly through the windows and in the doorways.

hanukkiot in the old city of Jerusalem

The walk ended by the Western Wall, and that is always a special sight by night as by day!

hanukkiot by the hotel

We were already together with some good friends, and ran into another good friend at the Western Wall, who also joined us home for some hot cider and sufganiot and another lighting of the hanukkiot. Oh, life is so good!

sufganiot

The day after came bright and beautiful, and we did another fun walk in the streets of Jerusalem, – by day, and this time in the new city. the refurbished windmill in Yemin Moshe

It was a wonderfully crisp winter day, and just perfect for a stop for some yummy hot chocolate.

time for hot chocolate

Oh, I so enjoy these days free of the regular pressure of every day life. Just time together. Moments. Walks. Lights. Memories.

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During our walk we went by an impressive exhibition of hanukkiot done by some amazing artists. Look at this one with Jerusalem in it for example!

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Or this one with a star of David in it!

Star of David Hanukkiah

As it was becoming dark outside, we ended up at home again, where we lit three candles on our hanukkiot, in addition to the shamash, the servant candle, that lights the others. It was just lovely to rest in the warmth and brightness of our home after our long walk and all the fresh air during the day. The children went to bed early, as the night before had been really late. And the grown ups got to have a fun movie-night. I love how relaxed hanukkah is, compared to many other holidays!

third candle of Hanukkah

On the day of this third candle, our family got to do the mitzvah of visiting the sick, as we have someone in our community who is recovering from a fall and a broken leg. It was a blessing for us to be able to be a blessing and come there with a bit of hanukkah-joy to those who are not as fortunate as us, and don’t get to celebrate the holiday in the comfort of their home. I think they especially enjoyed it when the children sang some happy hanukkah-songs.

On the evening of the fourth candle, started the birthday celebration of our dear Abba, as our family has two hanukkah-birthdays! (Just think how convenient it is if we had forgotten to get birthday candles, – we can just take from the abundance of hanukkah-candles!) My in-laws live just up the street, so we first lit the candles with them and had a little celebration there, – of course with sufganiot! (This time with Irish Cream filling! Yum!) Well at home we had homemade pizza and the cake of his choice; chocolate cheese cake! (We hadn’t planned a big party for this evening, as he was not even supposed to be home, until something changed last minute.)

fourth hanukkah candle

Tonight will be the fifth candle, which brings us into the second half of Hanukkah. I am sure glad we still have four days to enjoy this wonderful Hanukkah-atmosphere! The hanukkiot just keep getting more and more beautiful as more candles are lit, and we try to hold on to the moments and make the most out of all of them!

Birthday Girl.

my girlThis sweet princess of mine has been counting down days for many long weeks, and finally in the beginning of this week, – her seventh birthday came around!

And as she woke up in the morning, this is what she saw above her bed…

balloons….and I was smiling to myself in my own bed, as I heard her waking up and rejoicing over the balloons and over the fact that it finally was her birthday! (Within fifteen minutes she already told me this is her best birthday ever… ;))

The fun thing with having your birthday during a holiday, is that you get to spend the whole day at home and helping to get everything ready. Oh, what excitement! The gift-bags for her guests she put together the day before already, so on the day itself she focused mostly on the setting of the table and decorating it, while I put the cake together. We prepared games, set up a detailed program and she put on the dress she had chosen and put out already a week earlier!

birthday cake

Her guests arrived, and with them a noise-level that is hard to imagine before you have experienced it… But really, they were just all very happy and excited and full of energy! So, – as long as everyone was having a good time, and no one got hurt in a any way, I tried to just go with the flow, even if we didn’t really stick with the said program… And my princess, – she totally loved the whole thing!

blowing out the candles

One of the activities that we had great success with, and that I am recommending to anyone looking for ideas, is to make edible necklaces. I provided them with candy and snacks with a whole in them, and the children would thread them through and end up with a fun edible necklace! (I got this idea from a blog called MudpiesandSunshine.com, and she has many other good ideas over there as well.)

necklace making

I am thankful it all went well, happy that the birthday girl is happy, and in a way relieved that we have about eleven months till we start the countdown once again… 😉