Spring break is OVER

And I for one am definitely NOT feeling rejuvenated in any way, shape or form. Having two children home over an 11-day period, sandwiched between Easter and one of their birthdays simply does not make for a time of relaxation. Sure, we had fun together, we always do, but Spring Break provided me with more work than even I am normally accustomed to, and I’m happy to see the back of it. What was I thinking when I posted about Spring Break – WOOHOO! The only binge drinking taking place was in response to stress, and where’s the fun in that? There was no beach, no hot sand, no thong-sporting me (thank goodness), oh well. At least this morning my older daughter’s gone back to school, and life can resume some semblance of normalcy.

A big thank you to all of my patiently waiting Daily Dish readers. I have once again resumed posting, and today’s recipe – a low-sodium version of cheesy restaurant-style potato soup – is DELISH. So try it, if not tonight, then soon. I spent some time this past week in the kitchen (of course) and you can look forward to recipes for No Salt Added Bagels, homemade hot fudge, and more.
All very YUMMY.

I wanted to take a minute to reflect on my older daughter’s birthday party, since I know some of you also have kids. Having undertaken several parties the past few years, one thing really stood out from this year’s festivities. You do not have to spend a lot of money to have a great party. Let me repeat for all you skeptics: MONEY DOESN’T BUY HAPPINESS. We have done a couple “Big Parties” before, and by “Big Party” I of course mean expensive. One was at (PREPARE YOURSELVES) Chuck E. Cheese. Yes, I am still recovering from that one. The other was at a local bowling alley. NOT the mom & pop type establishment you’re probably accustomed to, but one of the new-fangled urban hipster bowling joints. A completely different animal. While neither of these commercial parties *Did Us In* in terms of expense, both of them did require a decent outlay of cash. Decent enough to make me question the expenditure in future. This year we were in fact thinking about holding the party at an ice skating rink, but decided against it. And I’m really glad we did.

This year’s party was modeled after those of yore. The Olden Times Children’s Birthday Party. Like from the 70s, and the 80s, and pretty much back to the dawn of civilization. Where you make some simple invitations, invite your closest friends, play games, have cake (YES for once I did NOT MAKE THE CAKE – see complaint about 11-days with 2 kids above). We had goodie bags. We had balloons. We had fun. And it did not throw our financial statement into arrears. My older daughter, as well as her friends, declared it THE BEST PARTY EVER! And in order to give our friends (the other parents) a REAL break, we made the party FIVE HOURS LONG. This is the only part of the whole thing I found particularly taxing. The length. B/c we planned everything well. Pizza lunch, a whole array of games, a craft, outdoor playtime, cake, present opening, free play.

But (as my mother warned me would happen), everything flew by – except the time. The games were over in a heartbeat. The kids loved them, but finding enough games to fill 5 hours would have taken preparation well beyond my level of skill. We played Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Duck Duck Goose, Hot Potato, Simon Says, Sock Toss, and more. No expense, other than the prizes. We threw everything together with stuff we had around the house, including the Donkey, which my daughter drew. We bought prizes at the dollar store, things like Silly Putty and Slinkys, and all of the guests won something. The craft entailed each child making their own t-shirt. I found nice heavy-duty tees at the dollar store for a buck a piece and bought a big assortment of those squeeze-tube fabric paints at the craft store. Couldn’t have been simpler, and the kids loved it. A couple of them went hog wild with the paint of course, so much so that the paint literally slid off their t-shirts when we picked them up at the end of the party. But they had fun. and that’s what matters. All of the kids really got to enjoy each other’s company, which can be surprisingly hard when you hold the party at a venue where attention is focused elsewhere. It made a nice change of pace, and I truly recommend this kind of party to all of you parents out there. With one exception. Learn from us and LIMIT THE LENGTH of your party. 2-3 hours will be MORE THAN ENOUGH time for fun and will allow you to retain every ounce of your sanity.

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