Monday, February 21, 2011

A Green Valentine's Day

I was especially inspired to throw a green Valentine's Day bash since green is the color of the heart chakra. Making the decision to have the party with just a couple of weeks to plan, I scoured the internet for ideas on how to throw an eco-friendly age-appropriate Valentine's Day party for toddlers. I was actually surprised by how little I found to help me. What would two year-olds like to do at the party that would go with the theme? I also wanted to use materials I had vs. buying new. I settled on three crafts: Card Making, Pasta Necklaces, Felt King and Queen of Hearts Crowns.

For the cards, I cut out heart shapes from newspapers and magazines that were on their way to the recycling bin. I then cut hearts out of paper Isla had colored on, which was also on it's way to the recycling. I glued the un-colored-on side of the heart facing out onto the newspaper heart, and set up a table with eco-friendly, non-toxic paints (I used the Clementine brand from Lazy Acres), glue by the same brand, and some feathers I had left over from other crafts.

For the pasta necklaces, I found some all-natural food coloring from Whole Foods. The red was made with two ingredients: beet root extract and hibiscus extract. The purple was just purple carrot extract. I used spinach pasta, un-dyed, and whole wheat pasta, un-dyed, and then dyed some "regular" pasta with the red and purple dye. To do this, put some pasta in a plastic baggie. Add a few drops of the food coloring, and a few drops of white vinegar. Smoosh around until evenly coated. (Isla loved this project!) Then spread out on newspaper to dry. I used some yarn I had lying around to string it, and I dipped the ends of it in some paint so that it would harden, and be easier for little hands to string it.

The felt crowns were easy: cut crown shapes out of felt and sew together at the sides. Cut out hearts, leaves, flowers, etc. out of felt and cotton fabric. I also put out paints which were left over from Lyra's baby shower, and also happened to be pink! Since I was crunched for time, I didn't sew on buttons and make slits in the shapes like I did for Isla's birthday party. Instead, that was a "mama-help" station, where the kids could pick out the shapes they wanted to use, and the mamas sewed a stitch in the middle of them to keep them on.

Isla made the goodie bags. We used brown paper sacks and I drew heart shapes with the non-toxic natural glue. She then sprinkled them with candy sprinkles we were given a few years back, but don't cook with ;). Another option for this would be to sprinkle the glue hearts with sand, and decorate the bag with a feather. In the goodie bags were some trinkets Isla had picked out from my craft materials bin: polished abalone shells and feathers. Her grandmother also came by with some musical treats we threw in the bags. We left the goodie bags relatively empty, figuring the kids could fill them with the crafts they made. Some of the kids brought valentines for everyone, and the bags were perfect to store those in.

For treats, Isla and I made little mini carrot cakes, dyed purple and pink with the beet and carrot extract dyes, with frosting using the same dyes. We decorated them with dried goji berries, cranberries, and blueberries.

We made Love Potion out of coconut water and the purple carrot extract dye. I had wanted to make little heart-shaped ice cubes using the red dye, but ran out of time. Some of our guests brought fun things like apples cut in the shape of hearts, open-faced strawberry cream cheese heart-shaped sandwiches, no sugar added oatmeal treats, etc. We also put out some totally unrelated green spinach dinos, pretzels, and whole wheat pasta with cheese.

As for what I'd do differently, I definitely should have had some full-body activities. Our little pink plastic car outside could have had a tag on it: The Love Bug. Tunnels could have been put out and dubbed: The Tunnels of Love. Our swinging chair, always a toddler favorite: The Love Seat... Maybe next year <3

The Birth of Lyra

We were so happy to be able to have our second baby born at home, just like her big sister. We were beside ourselves to be able to have the experience of being the only ones in the house when Lyra was born. Of course we didn't plan to deliver the baby on our own. We had a plan, and the best team of midwives around. They were waiting by their phones, and sped over the minute Ryan called. They were there in less than ten minutes!... but Lyra was out of my womb and in my arms in less time than that! It was the most perfect, intimate experience either of us had ever been a part of. And the first midwife, Anna Bunting, was there within a minute or two of Lyra's birth to make sure everything was perfect, and to deliver the placenta.