Thursday, 27 June 2013

Dr Seuss Themed Birthday Party Decorations and Activities For Toddlers, with Free Printables

June 29 Marks Hunter's 2nd birthday, we chose to celebrate with a Dr Seuss themed party. Hunter loves Dr Seuss books, and following on from the enormous success of last years Where The Wild Things Are Party I decided to try my hand at a similarly over-the-top themed experience this time around.

Rather than focus on one Dr Suess Character, we took our favourite aspects of all of his works and used them as the basis for our food, decorations and party activities.

I drew up the covers of five of Hunter's favourite books to be used as wall hangings in each of the party areas. The Cat In The Hat, Fox in Socks, Green Eggs and Ham, The Lorax, and Oh The Places You'll Go. I bought thin MDF sheets from Bunnings and used acrylic paints and Posca paint pens to get crisp outlines.

I scoured the $2 shops for themed bits and pieces, saving a lot of money compared to the prices at Party Supply Shops.

Spotlight had 3m packs of red and white spots and stripes bunting for 0.79 cents each (I bought all they had!); packs of 25 cupcake liners in red and white stripes for $2 each; and streamers, paper straws, coloured card, balloons and napkins for under $2/pack. I then went crazy customising them all. I went so crazy I broke the handle of my scissors!

I turned the horizontally striped cupcakes into Cat In The Hat hats, and the horizontally striped ones into Thing One and Thing Two's.The straws became Lorax moustaches or Cat In The Hat whiskers.

In Photoshop I edited some existing Dr Seuss images to make a postcard sized invite, much cheaper to post than last years oversized gold foiled ones. I also made a variety of other printables to be used during the party. I then took advantage of every colour printer I could possibly take advantage of...

I was very pleased to find the Dr Seuss website had a variety of free activity sheets, these became one of my main party activities.

The other activities were pass the parcel, a great game for kids of all ages, and a Lorax themed planting station. I even made a little poem for the plant care instructions.

Sewing together strands of coloured card circles created cheap and cheerful colour splashes, which looked fabulous dropping from the ceiling.

I used a built in alcove to display the party hats.

A while ago I posted about a Giggle and Hoot themed party in which Marion from Switcharoo Face and Body Art created many fabulous balloon sculptures. To thank me for the coverage she received as a result of the post she very generously made Hunter some AMAZING Dr Seuss themed balloons: A giant Cat In The Hat and a super cute Thing Two. Its almost a week later and these sculptures are still going strong, providing endless hours of entertainment for Hunter who still can't get over how fabulous they are. I love it when I hear his little voice sing out "BALLOONS"!

If you are looking for a special and unique way to add flair to a party or event in the Brisbane or Gold Coast area, Switcharoo Face and Body Art is your best bet- affordable, remarkable, amazing!

So that is all the decorations, I will be back shortly with another post on Dr Seuss themed party food and drinks.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at the pictures of Hunter's Dr Seuss themed second birthday party as much as I did creating the day.

Cool cats in party hats,
Sandi D

Friday, 14 June 2013

How did I prepare for my baby's birth? My personal birth preparation and delivery story.

It has almost been two years since giving birth, and yet when my pregnant girlfriend asked me the question this afternoon I was instantly back in 2011.

"What did you do to prepare for your baby’s birth?"

This is, more or less, what I told her.

I barely finished the pre-natal classes at The Mater Mother’s Hospital. Lee and I finished the last session at 9pm, drove home excitedly chatting about the great unknown we were about to journey into together, and at 2am that night my waters broke.

I had read a lot of baby books during my pregnancy. I had a lot of information floating around my head, and as i lay down on the hospital bed and the midwife injected me with the drug that was to induce my breech baby I felt like it was more complex and more simple than anyone was letting on.

Before that moment though, back when I found out I was pregnant, I was so upset to be working at an all male place. I thought I needed female encouragement, after all, 'only a mother can know', right? I wouldn’t change a thing now. 

Over the duration of my pregnancy I spoke to each of the men I work with hoping to get a hint, just a taste of some birth perspective (I worked with men and one childless woman at the time of my pregnancy). I was surprised at how, of all the preparations, their stories helped me the most. 

Each man told me the story of their child’s birth, the oldest child having been born at a time where ‘Dad’ sat in the hall outside a general hospital ward in which his wife was labouring beside men and women recovering from various afflictions. He sat there, reading the newspaper, smoking a cigar, and was told a few hours later he had a boy and could go home. He went to the pub instead and was shouted beers all night. The newest baby was born to a man who nine months earlier had held his wives hand and had his heart shattered into frozen shards of helplessness as together they watched the midwives bring their first born back to life there on the blood soaked hospital bed.

One man spoke about coming to terms with having a child born with a disability, another spoke about his “bonny baby boy” with tears in his eyes- just months prior his 21 year old son had died after being hit by a drunk driver. These men’s stories helped me prepare too, because I could see that at the root, each of these men's life stories had been profoundly touched by the power of birth.

Seventeen dads in all, and all of them told me it was going to be fine. That birth was natural, beautiful, and to relax and go with it because no amount of preparation will really prepare you for the birth, you just get swept up in it. A lot of men laughed about it, like it was a cause for joviality (not crass laughing, the way some boys in high school had screamed insults at us girls that we were one baby off being 'ruined', haha). One dad told me “the honest truth is that one night you're sitting there wondering when baby will come; and the next time you sit in that same seat you have a baby”.

Each of them spoke with the look of a man recalling true awe. Amazed at the interminable strength of the human body. Still marvelling at the miracle of life even fifty years later. Surprised to have been part of something so grand- as though for one (or two, or three or more) sparkling moments the veil of everyday drudgery was torn back to reveal the true glittering nature of life on this majestic planet.
In sharing these tender parts of themselves, they gave me a gift worth more than any other - seeing it from the other side. Sex after birth, womens' bodies after babies, life after kids, the view of the burden and honour stress and delight from an 'outsiders' perspective. Dad’s often get a bad rap, especially if, like me, you grew up with one (or two, or three, or more) step dads, or a dad who loved you but wasn't very hip with the whole parenting thing. 

They helped put some things in perspective for me, and this helped me get my head in a good place from which to undertake the task of birthing my first child. For example, I was afraid of all the hard work falling on me. Of being consumed with the burden of being a mum. I was afraid of all the failure falling to me too, of being "ruined, haha".These fears rolled into the fear of that bitter old chestnut, that the pain of birth is beyond anything else on the pain spectrum, that mothers get filled with a hormone to make them forget, that delivery will see me treated like a calving cow. These fears snowballed, and until I spoke to the blokes at work I hadn't realised that I was in fact terrified. 

So terrified I was unable to hear the full depth of any story about what birth is really like, even though many females outside of work had told me of their triumph: the feeling of power, the feeling of being able to conquer all challenges, the feeling of dominating their physical self and letting their spirit fly unchained for perhaps the first time ever. Or that other bit, about how amazing it is to, for the first time, experience the sensation of your life no longer being solely about you anymore, and how strangely, this is a wonderful privilege and delight.  

With their honest words my work mates took my fears and helped me realise I was just a simple conversation away from profoundly changing my world. 

Their proud (and not proud, some dads were not there for their kids and their regret spoke powerfully to me too) words made me feel like I would never have to do anything alone if only I had the nerve to ask for help. So I did. I started MilkEyes, and MumClub. And I started conversations with my husband, my friends, my family and my neighbours about my needs and how they could help. I have never regretted these conversations.

If these men, these work hardened jackasses could inspire such confidence in me by their very own inspirational tales of fatherhood then any time I needed help, anyone I reached out to would be there for me. And in that frame of mind I delivered my ‘breech-not breech-ooops breech again-phew not breech now’ son vaginally, induced, with minimal pain management intervention.
It’s going to be fine,
Sandi D

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Best Indie and Alternative Music List

While Triple J was blasting its Hottest 100 of the last twenty years, a bunch of music nerds were celebrating their own hottest 100- The Raddest 2000. A list of the best 100 songs from 2000-2009 (colloquially known as the noughties).

Lots of amazing songs that were forgotten by the hoards of middle value Triple J were captured by this amazing poll, and I was honored to ask to write a few words on a couple of songs that I voted for.

One of the songs was Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Seeing the Yeah Yeah Yeahs tear up the stage with The John Spencer Blues Explosion at The Arena (RIP) was a fresh ecstatic punkrock blast- like seeing The Birthday Party destroy themselves for a set, or Iggy and the Stooges rip it up in praise of lust and life and energy and catharsis and confrontation and joy. Touring on the back of their first EP (self titled) the band introduced themselves with a Bang! Karen O was a powerhouse: riotous, raucus, ravashing. They played Maps and I remember my friends and I being close enough to her to see she had tears in her eyes. So did I. I held my boyfriends hand and we both fell in love with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
My friends started a band. The band got noticed. It got home town big, and then it got bigger. Suddenly the lyrics of this song meant so much more to me than they had previously. “Wait, they don’t love you like I love you…”

Eventually my boyfriend and I broke up. After many years of being my best friend, he started seeing someone else. Suddenly the lyrics of this song meant so much more to me than they had previously. “Wait, they don’t love you like I love you…”

It felt like I was going nowhere fast. I felt like I had been left behind.

Just recently two of my friends from the band got married. I was helping them set up the night before when this song came on the stereo. I looked over at my husband (yeah, the boyfriend/ex-boyfriend) and experienced a realisation: Maybe this song isn’t about being left behind, shouting at a closed door long after the person who left you in the room alone has gone; because it also works if you think about it in terms of leaping up from self-inflicted loathing and misery, thrusting open the door fully prepared to chase after the person you love - only to trip over them. Maybe it is about growing up and realising the people you love so strong have been waiting for you to come out so they can tell you, reassuringly ‘my kind’s your kind, I’ll stay the same’.

Read more wonderful interviews with music fans and see how many of your favourite tunes made the grade at 
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