In between MY cold, MY laryngitis and MY flu, we celebrated Karen’s birthday in full pomp and style becoming to a young lady of seven years.
The gorgeous princess cake was created by my friend, and expert cake designer, Hagit Avital. The party was designed and executed by Maly Mivulbali, who brought decorations, giveaways and a sound system. The party was a huge success. Karen said it was her best birthday, ever. One of the moms told me her daughter told her, “mom, you wouldn’t believe it, but there was a REAL princess there!”.
Today we had our half year parent-teacher meeting. The report was as good as we could have reasonably expected. In spite of the behavior problems that seemed to me overwhelming at times, Karen is a very good student, and generous with her classmates, freely lending her coloring materials, pencils and other personal items to other students who may have forgotten to bring theirs. She writes very well and is exceptionally good at math. While her reading is still halting, she does read, and simply needs to improve the fluidity. She reads better than I did in first grade!
Overall, a good report card. The teacher reports communicating with our psychologist once or twice for guidance, and there has been a great overall improvement in Karen’s behavior. Most importantly, she now knows immediately that she’s acted inappropriately. She quickly recognizes that what she’s done is unacceptable, and she usually apologizes quickly. The school, and in particular her teachers, have been very understanding and willing to adapt to help Karen overcome her impulsiveness and control her acting out in anger. She’s also working with an animal therapist once a week at school. She’s managed to overcome her fear of small creatures and is enjoying the activity.
I see Karen maturing week by week, and I’m really impressed with her growing ability to accept and adapt to more socially acceptable behavior.
Fifth Birthday Cake
Less than a week to go before our Princess Party on Friday. Karen is excited, but balanced about it. She will be 7 years old next week!
Our last two birthday parties went reasonably well. Last year I don’t even recall any meltdowns. We had our first party for her at age 4, with only 6 children. She had 3-4 meltdowns. We had our first party for her girlfriends from preschool at her 5th birthday party. I recall only 1-2 meltdowns. Last year was the first year we had a semi-professional run the party, and I don’t recall a single meltdown. This year, we are inviting 20 girls, more than ever before. But I hired a very professional “Princess Party” entertainer, someone Karen had really enjoyed at another girl’s party recently. This is the entertainer Karen requested.
Our Princess entertainer is expensive, but we do get added value. She arrives early, decorates the whole living room, brings giveaways for all the participants and promises personal attention for all the girls, while maintaining Karen as the centerpiece for all activities. Anyone who knows my attention-seeking daughter will understand how important it is to her to be #1.
Her need to be the best, the first, #1, is frustrating, but may be useful to her later in life. While her competitive spirit makes it very hard for her to socialize and keep friends, it also ensures she excels at school and the sports she’s chosen for this year. I need to read up on highly competitive people to see whether there are any tips and tricks to help her file down her sharp edges when it comes to her need to win all the time, against everyone.
Last year Matan turned 2 after being home for only two months. It was too early for even a low key birthday party. This year was different. He has been in pre-school (gan) since September and has seen several birthday parties celebrated for other children in his class. He knew the moves, and his teachers reported that not only did he fully participate, he actually participated more maturely than many of his peers in class. Here are some photos from gan. Parent’s aren’t allowed to attend, so one of the teachers took all the photos.
Just a short plug for Ronny our fairy godmother of successful birthday parties. She’s experienced, young, and loves kids. She spent time getting to know Karen, and asked me a lot of background questions. She was super organized and helped me organize my own, “to do” lists for Karen’s sixth birthday party. If you are in the central region and want someone to host a small group of up to 20 kids, give her a call. She can do various themes appropriate for both boys and girls. Here’s her card.
A couple of weeks ago it was the tooth fairy, and this week we had a visit from The Birthday Fairy, Ronny. Ronny used to teach Karen English, but has done children’s parties, on and off for several years. I already knew that Karen had good chemistry with Ronny, and she turned out to be a fantastic choice for our party.
One thing we’ve learned is that a complete surprise doesn’t always sit well with Karen, so I “leaked” some details to her. She knew I had planned for a fairy to visit her birthday party. She also helped me by handing out the invitations at kindergarten. We invited only the girls, which kept the number of participants to a reasonable 10-14 girls.
Ronny, decked out in fairy gear, showed up a little early so she had time to play with Karen and get her warmed up by giving her an overview of what games they would be playing. Karen clearly recognized Ronny, and told me she knew all along because she had overheard one of my phone conversations. By the time the girls started arriving we were all starting to relax. DH was the most stressed out, as usual. Biggest fear of all parents > no one will show up. All but 2 girls attended, and some of them came up to me on Monday to tell me how much fun they had.
Ronny managed the whole event, leaving DH and I to putter around with bringing out the cake, filling juice cups and generally hovering and taking photos. Unfortunately, the photos this year came out terribly. My new camera does not appear to like taking indoor shots. I should ask DH for a new one for my birthday, and pass this one on to Karen. She really loves taking pictures, and would love to have her “own” camera.
The theme included lots fairy magick. Ronnie lost the fairy magick and the girls had to complete several steps to return the magick. They made wands out of bread sticks covered in chocolate which they each decorated with all different colors of candy and sparkles. We had a pinata at the end. It was lots of fun, but was the only time we had a minor meltdown. We’re doing really well with only ONE meltdown on her sixth birthday. For number four, we must have had at least 4-5.
All in all, a success. Now we can begin worrying about what to do next year…..ideas always welcome.
Fairy of Purim Past
Less than two days until Karen’s SIXTH BIRTHDAY PARTY!!!!!
We adopted her just after her second birthday, so her first party was her 3rd. Each year it’s a balancing act between giving her the spectacle she thinks she wants, and the small size that she needs in order to retain some semblance of sanity. She is easily overwhelmed by too many people, noise, and the unexpected.
We’ve told her the bare minimum to help her get to the starting point relatively intact. She knows it will be a “Fairy” party and that her own personal fairy will be attending. She’s big into the fairy theme since losing her first tooth and getting a surprise present in exchange for her tooth. But she has already voiced skepticism and thinks I may have planted the gift. But then I pointed out that her tooth was missing, and so the tooth fairy MUST have taken that. She seemed to buy it, but maybe she just wanted to spare my feelings. She’s very wise, and notices all kinds of small details that she will use months later!
So we’ll be having a Real Live Fairy manage the party, which takes a lot of the pressure off us. We’ve got pretty much everything prepared. This year will also include a pinata. Fortunately, they are now fairly easy to buy at local party stores. We bought a rainbow design. They didn’t have fairies. Girls will arrive and begin decorating their own set of fairy wings. Later they will also make magic wands out of breadsticks and melted chocolate. The girls will have a mission, to help the fairy find her lost magic. I love our fairy, and Karen has good chemistry with her – she was Karen’s English teacher 2.5 years ago. Did I mention, I’m VERY excited. Please, please let everyone stay healthy, at least until Friday night….
Karen's first view of the exciting decorations for her b-day party
Karen was forced to spend her 5th birthday, not celebrating with her best friends, but stuck in a tiny Ukrainian flat with only her parents for company. She understood that she would be missing her actual birthday date, but we promised her to make it up with a party once we returned.
A major challenge is Karen’s own shyness when standing up alone in front of a large group of people. She had meltdowns at most of her school parties because she was too shy to participate with not only her classmates, but also her parents and all the other parents watching. For this reason, we decided against an extravaganza party for her whole class of 35 kids. Some parents throw these large parties for their children at age 4 and 5, but for Karen, I felt it would be overwhelming. Last we year had a small family style party with only her closest, oldest friends and their parents. Only one of the 5 children was in her class.
This year, she insisted on at least inviting all of her best friends from school. She wanted a pajama party more than anything, and while we explained that a pajama party did not necessarily mean that her friends would stay the night, it was still a cool theme, so we agreed to go with it. Our apartment was filled with mattresses and pillows and all the girls were invited to come in their pjs.
The party was on Friday evening. I survived!
P.S. Jono, the pinata was a huge success.
And the wait is tough. We were really hoping to be home by next Friday, but at this point it looks like a longshot.
Beautiful boy with a bit of drool showing
We visited Matan today, and he seemed really excited to see us.
I’m working on a longer post about the history of Ukraine. Not today. She-who-will-not-be-denied wants to play Tarzan and it is best that let her. This adventure has been hard for her, and it’s even harder now that we are nearing the end. She can’t stop talking about the birthday party she wants when she gets home.
First, the video from our visit today:
And now, some advice, please. Karen’s 5th birthday was yesterday. We promised her a party after we get settled in back home. She really wants to have a pajama party.
We want to keep it small for several reasons. From past experience, she is easily overwhelmed and her last birthday party with only about 7 kids included at least 2 tearful tantrums.
We live in a typically small Tel Aviv flat and we don’t have room to invite her entire class of 35. In fact, we don’t even have room to invite all the girls. I was originally planning to invite only her closest girlfriends from gan (5-6). But she also wants to invite some of the boys, so I was thinking we can have as many as 10 of her best friends from gan. But this means that we exclude a lot of children, and other moms have told me that this is may be seen as rude.
In addition, I would prefer to hire someone to engage the kids, perhaps with some magic tricks or other activities. One party we attended had the kids dipping cookies in melted chocolate, I like that! I would also LOVE to have a pinata, but can’t find any vendors who ship to Israel, so we may try making our own.
Karen is expecting a pajama party and a living room full of mattresses (not a sleepover, just pajama themed). Apart from that, anything goes. I’d love input and ideas. References for a “mafila” (clown or person who referees the party) would also be much appreciated.