Thursday, February 28, 2013

Kid's Home Birthday Parties in France - Part 2

The 9 Year Old Glamour & Beauty Birthday Party

So this is Part 2 of my birthday party posts.  My middle daughter turned nine on the 30th of January.  Wow, can't believe how time flies - I still remember her as a baby!  She has always been tall, so her early years are remembered by how fast she grew and how she would out grow her clothes faster than I could get out the new season.  She's my calm, pensive child.  She's an observer and loves music and anything electronic.  She's a girly girl with a twist who loves pink and purple but also likes to move to her own beat.

After much reflection, she wanted to have a glamour party.  Now, I have to add here, I had done a party like this for my oldest in the States but I had never experienced such a party here.  I figured the girls would enjoy it, but it would definitely be a new experience.  In order to keep things simple, I created 2 beauty "stations" - one for nails and have a "mini" manicure and the other was for hair & make up.  I recruited my oldest daughter to be the hair stylist/make up artist and I did the nails. (I was hoping to keep nail polish mess at a minimum.)

We set the party for a Sunday afternoon - and figured after we did the hair and nails, we would serve cake.  I knew we had the Wii and music to dance to as diversions for those girls who wanted something to do as they waited their turn.  As each girl was dropped off, I did a little "check in" with the parents to make sure no one was opposed to returning to see their daughter "made up" and sporting some fun color of nail polish.  It was happily met with positive reactions and wishing me luck!  We also kept this party small - my daughter had 5 friends come over.  I figured 6 was a good number to be able to have enough time to do their nails and hair.

We also pulled out some fun hats, scarves, and vests to do a little dress up.  The girls seem to get a kick out of this.  I had been lucky enough to hit Claires (Yes, we have those stores here too!!  Yippee!) during a great sale so was able to buy sparkle headbands, mini brushes & lip gloss for the goodie bags.

We pulled out our nail polish collection and organized it on a tray

Same with hair accessories and make up

Each girl got to decide how they wanted their hair styled.  My oldest daughter straightened hair, put in small braids and clips.  She also added some fun make up at the end.

The Crackle nail polish was the biggest hit of all!
 My middle daughter with her sparkly headband and make up...
They all had fun dance to Just Dance on the Wii..

Of course cake time..

And presents

 I love the French custom of giving cheek kisses or "les bises" as a thank you.
 And of course, many balloons provided much fun for all!

The girls seemed to have a lot of fun at this party.  It was funny to slowly watch them warm up to having their hair done.  At first, only a couple of them had their hair style changed, but then one by one they went back to my oldest and asked if she could straighten their hair.  They loved their nails and their make up - it made for a fun afternoon among girls!  Even my youngest, who dressed up in her princess dress enjoyed watching her sister and her friends have a glamour afternoon.  (We did do her hair and nails at the end so she wasn't left out!).

I always love new ideas for parties and I look forward to planning another birthday  - luckily I get a break now - until my youngest turns 6 in October!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kid's Home Birthday Parties - it's the same in France - Part I

Slumber Party  for her 12th birthday!!

At the end of January, my two older girls celebrated their birthdays.  It's always fun having 2 girls - 3 years apart but their birthdays are only 5 days from each other!  It makes for a bit of a scramble to choose dates, organize parties and figure out themes.  When we lived back in the States, so many of our birthday parties were held at various "party" locations, the bowling alley, the kid's spa, a make your own pizza restaurant, children's museum, dance museums, ice skating rink; the ideas seemed endless.  Our house was very small so having too many kids or people at the house was always a challenge.  Not too mention, it was always nice to have the mess and clutter elsewhere!  I do know it was beginning to change as my girls were getting older - they wanted a party at home - be able to hang out and enjoy their friends in the comforts of their own home.  These were the kind of parties, I remember as a child.

Last year, I've spent a lot of time observing ideas from others as to how parties were done here in France.  Overall, the majority of them are good old-fashioned home parties.  Yes, my girls have gone to a couple parties at the local rope's course or the bowling alley.  But for the most part, these kids invite their friends to their home and have their party there. In nice weather - they are outside, maybe swimming in a pool or playing outdoor games - Inside could be crafts or other activities to amuse a bunch of kids. This I found really refreshing - letting the kids just enjoying being with each other and hanging out.

My oldest wanted a slumber party.  Now, I remember slumber parties when I was young - we were often in someones basement or in our own space where the noise wasn't too bad for everyone else in the house.  A little tricky here in France, we have no basement or extra big space for a bunch of exuberant girls.    So, we did what most sensible parents do - we limited it to 5 friends and told her - that she could use the living room.  We were trying to keep the noise away from the younger girls who would try to get a good night's sleep.  She wanted it low-key, no fuse - no planned games or activities - just a fun evening with girl friends!

Cupcakes were ordered!

Pizza was served!

Party bags were prepared ( a side note here - This fun little design is Barba Papa - a popular preschool cartoon character in France - it translates to Mr. Cotton-Candy.  My daughter was just looking for plain 'Joyeux Anniversaire' bags but after going to 2 stores - she decided to be fun and youthful!)
Balloons were blown up...because "Mom it isn't a party unless there are lots of balloons!"
The girls who arrived early helped to finish blowing up lots of balloons!
Even my youngest helped with preparing the festivities!
It was a fun classic evening - hanging out with girlfriends!

and of course, I had to put "magic" candles on her cake!
They all danced to "Just Dance" on the Wii & played Mario Cart.

They ate, hung out & spent the evening chatting away and did their nails and redid their nails about 15 times! They are girls after all!

It may be 9:30 in the morning - but they were all awoken by the younger sisters who wanted to watch TV!

And it's always great when your father makes Crepes for everyone before they leave!

Overall, my daughter said her party was a success.  Yes, they stayed up most of the night.  My husband and I did get up a few times to remind them to stay quiet.  But, it's a birthday party and it was her 12th!  I think she'll remember this one for a while!

For Part II coming up in a few days - I'll share about my middle daughter's 9 year old Glamour party at home!

Enjoy your week.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Winter Synchronized Swim Gala

Weekend adventure - Natation Synchronizee

I felt like this weekend was a bit of a race - Friday nights are typically running the girls around to various activities - and my oldest daughter unfortunately, due to a re-adjustment of schedules has 2 activities that evening - Her ballet class, followed by a Synchronized swim team practice of an hour and a half. Saturday morning was filled with final pick up of house as my in-laws were arriving for the weekend.  They were coming into town to see my oldest in her synchronized swim gala, which was scheduled for Saturday evening.

This experience is a new one for our family.  This last summer as we were looking for what activities were available here and my oldest talked to some of her friends, she found out there is a Synchronized Swim Team club in our town. She thought this sounded very interesting to her as it's a combination of her two favorite things - dance and swimming. This club has an excellent reputation and fills many teams at various levels and ages.  They had try outs last June and again in early September.  Turns out after her try out, she made a team and each Friday night for an hour and a half she practices.  She has fallen in love with the sport and also found out that it's very tiring (I think this is the only sport we have found which actually exhausts my high energy girl!)

I love how organized this club is - great communication and wonderful team spirit!  It's so refreshing to see.  Since her team is made up of new swimmers to the club, they will not do a competition until this Spring and then that will only be on basic skills.  Other teams of this club have been competing locally and regionally all year.  This Winter gala was a way to showcase all the teams and show their progress.

All the teams began the evening by parading into the pool area.  It was quite a scene.  Each team was then introduced - my daughter's team is above as they were being introduced.

After all the teams were introduced, they all sat on the opposite side of the pool and watched as each team got up to perform their routine.  They started with the youngest girls - ages 4 & 5.  This was so interesting to watch - each swimmer has a trainer to work with them to support them as they showed off the skills they had learned.

The following is a team that incorporates swimmers who have been doing this sport for 3 years - they range in age from 12 to 14 years old.  It was so fun to hear all the girls cheer and support each team!

This following team also has had many years of experience and was made up of high school girls.  One can see their expertise in the sport by both their synchronization and their skills.

It was then my daughter's team's turn..not too bad for their first go at being a team and showing off their newly acquired skills.  I also have to add that they just learned their routine about a month ago - time before that was spent acquiring and learning the skills.  Yes, they were not always in sync - but they had a great time and they all had a lot of fun!!  According to my daughter, they finished their routine and all wanted to do it again!

At the end of the performance, they all looked pretty happy!
Discussing the routine with the trainer after the performance

The finale was very interesting....many teams in the water and others on the sides all doing the same routine together.  It was a lot of fun to watch.

This evening was a lot of fun and I have to confess, I love the fact that my oldest has decided to try this sport.  I was actually introduced to it as a child at day camp.  I remember for 2 weeks learning some simple skills and then at the end of our 2 week session, we did a little performance for the campers and the parents. It was only for a couple of weeks one summer, but I still remember that time with super fond memories.  I also remember for years afterward, showing off those skills to friends.  We never had a synchronized swim team in our town or school so I never continued it.  I love the fact she gets to experience the sense of support of being on a team this year.  There is a commaradery and support they all seem to give each other.

PS - watching it all come together that night and listening to the girls support each other made even the task of painting the waterproof gel into their hair worth it!!  Yes, it's hard enough to do a perfect tight bun - but then so it stays put in the water, one has to mix up waterproof gel and get it the right consistency and then paint it all over their heads!  Needless to say after very warm water and 3 shampoos it was out!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day - French Style!!

Happy Valentine's Day

In France, Valentine's Day is for lovers - ah, so romantic!  It's not the big Hallmark holiday of the States.  Although, being American, I have always given my children cards and small gifts.  I decided to keep this year low-key with the French tradition of giving chocolate or special desserts - so I knew I would look around at the different pastry/chocolate shops and see what looked enticing!  Today I was in the city having coffee with some friends.  Coincidentally, one friend had just been on a walking tour of several different pastry & chocolatiers downtown.  She decided to give us a mini -tour.

I have to admit I was so taken with all the goodies that I know where they shops are located but I don't necessarily remember all the names....each seems to have it's own speciality and some have been around for generations!

These lovely delicacies are only made for Valentine's day by this shop - Chocolate on the outside with Creme brulee and raspberry drizzle on the inside...they are designed to share - slice horizontally - one half of the man and the other for the woman.  (Guess what my husband and I are going to enjoy tonight!)

Chocolate hearts are always nice!

More chocolate...

Loved these hearts...and you can fill them too with more chocolate!

For those who prefer their chocolate with macaroons....

Chocolate shoe..and lady bugs...

Of course what's chocolate without flowers!...I should have gotten a photo of the line of men in this flower store making their purchases!

Very creative bouquet..

A cactus plant for Valentine's Day

Loved the red!

So many colors to choose from...

Again, fun colors

This was one of my favorites, the Chou-fleur or cabbage flower, complete with long stems.

  My friend even showed us a new Patisserie that has only been open for a couple of months - and they specialize is more "American style" desserts....

Happy Valentine's Day cupcakes!

More Cupcakes, key lime pies and notice the cheese cake on the bottom!

So lots of delicious things to choose from...after my mini-tour I decided on cupcakes for our family dessert tonight and I found small milk-chocolate hearts filled with almond paste for each of my girls.  I guess nothing says I love you more that chocolate!  Thank you to my new friend for the great tour - now I know all the delicious places to buy our goodies!  Hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine's Day!

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