Harry Potter Birthday Party

Our kids get a friend themed birthday party when they turn 5 and 10. This was Ariana’s year as she turned the big 1-0. She has recently finished the Harry Potter books, so this was the theme she went with. Which made this mom and dad swell up with pride. *sniff*

14 awesome girls were¬†part of this special day, and I’m never sure if I have more fun or if they do. Here are the party details, and as usual, many things aren’t pictured because we’re terrible at taking pictures during events like this!

Decorations:20161105_130242000_ios20161105_130310000_ios20161105_130424000_ios20161105_130518000_ios20161105_130604000_ios20161105_130630000_ios20161105_130656000_ios20161105_130739000_ios20161105_130908000_ios

Pictures of our guests. Four came late, and I completely forgot to get this shot of them, but oh, these faces were epic!20161105_190015033_ios20161105_190037483_ios20161105_190127019_ios20161105_190154754_ios20161105_190226877_ios20161105_190305172_ios20161105_190341631_ios20161105_190409452_ios20161105_190440741_ios20161105_190519369_ios

Food in the Great Hall. We almost forgot to get photos of this, but there was still some left by the time we remembered.20161105_192302974_ios20161105_192313507_ios20161105_192321624_ios20161105_192330274_ios20161105_192334623_ios20161105_192339340_ios20161105_192354791_ios

Before the “students” began school, they took a trip to Diagon Alley to get supplies, beginning with Gringotts to withdraw some Galleons.20161105_192404159_ios20161105_192412198_iosThe wand chooses the witch! We made these with dowel rods, hot glue, beads, and spray paint. We were super pleased with the results!20161105_192427443_ios

20161111_214149330_ios

Our sweet little witch running Honeydukes!20161105_194237332_ios20161105_194649122_ios

Of course you can’t start classes until you’re sorted into houses20161105_193732317_ios

The activities were in the form of classes. Mainly real Hogwarts classes mixed with a few grammar level ones for the sake of having enough.
Care of Magical Creatures where they designed dragons20161105_210536423_ios20161105_210527144_iosHistory of Magic where they studied Harry’s scar by trying to pin it in the right place20161105_130539000_iosHerbology where they painted planter pots20161105_200032254_iosQuidditch! Bill made these hoops and they were fantastic!!! We had the girls bounce a ping pong ball on the table, trying to get them through the hoop.20161105_203256570_iosFlying Lessons where we did several broom relays. Many of our awesome neighbors let us borrow their brooms for this!20161105_215602382_ios20161105_215723008_iosGrammar, complete with Mad Lib20161106_141220649_iosGeography as a Horcrux scavenger hunt. I printed the clues on the back. Bill made these maps, too! This man is creative, ya’ll!!!20161111_211358098_ios20161111_211408844_iosPotions where we mixed baking soda, dish soap, food coloring, and vinegar. The girls had more fun with this than anything else! They could have stayed with this activity for an hour, I’m sure. I got these adorable little cauldrons on Amazon, and they made cute party favors.20161111_211825993_iosOther activities we forgot to photograph:

  • Dueling in the form of freeze tag
  • Charms using Wingardium Leviosa to keep balloons in the air with their wands
  • Defense Against the Dark Arts where the girls fought a dementor (black tablecloth pinned to the wall) with wands (shooting q-tips from straws)
  • Vocabulary as Harry Potter Bingo

The birthday girl’s ice cream cake20161105_212642215_ios

Sillie selfies!!20161105_192255399_ios

Advertisements

Kids and Sleep

20160724_160613000_iosOur sweet friend, Leia, who we made a makeshift bed for during our gathering one Sunday.

When I first had Liam, my mentor gave me the best advice on practical parenting I’d had before or since–make sleep the biggest priority for your kids.

Thank you, thank you, oh Yoda. Your words have served our family well.
(Her name isn’t actually Yoda…)

Her philosophy was that most behavior problems in children come from a lack of sleep. I’m far too lazy to look up any research to back her up, but trust me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, she was right. OK, OK, theologically their behavior problems come from sinful heart issues. But we’re body and soul together, where our flesh affects our hearts and our hearts affect our flesh. It goes both ways.

For instance, there are many times my physical body is broken down, maybe from hunger or fatigue, and sometimes the gift God gives you to fight temptations that invariably increase during those times is to simply eat something or take a nap. Same for our little ones, even though they can’t quite evaluate this for themselves. Sleep is an important tool to help our kids, even the littles, fight the temptations that come from living in our sinful flesh.

Now, before I tell you how the Bells have handled sleep so far, remember that kids aren’t robots. None of our children fit into a perfect box here. I know you’ll hate this, but you just have to use the instincts God gave you according to each child’s needs.

Also, as I’m preparing to write this, I’m thinking, “Oh crap! I don’t actually remember what we did with babies!” I’ve done the baby and sleep thing six times, and my youngest is only four, but yeah–you really do forget. This should let you know how helpful this article will be. Please excuse me while I refresh my memory a bit…

And I’m back! I’m sure you noticed my absence.

(The recommended hours of sleep are in parentheses beside each age, according to WebMD)

Newborns-4 Weeks (15-16 hours): During these first weeks, we do a mix of feeling out baby’s rhythms and helping them adjust to ours. We typically do a feed-keep awake for a short time to play-sleep routine. If baby wakes up before three hours, I feed them and start the cycle over again. If they try to sleep longer at this age, I wake them up at the three-hour mark from start of the previous feeding. We do the same through the night, too. Our experience has been that baby stretches closer to the three-hour mark if we really try for the play time right after the feeding. I have no idea why (WebMD should totally hire me to write for them with all my research), but baby just seems to sleep better when they’ve played a bit before naptime.

1-4 Months (14-15 hours): There’s a slow transition that begins here to let baby begin sleeping through the night. We gradually allow baby to have longer stretches during the night until their body adjusts to full nighttime sleeping. For our six kids whom we raised from birth, 10-12 hour stretches happened between weeks 9 and 11. That’s not right or better or anything–it’s just what our kids did. If your kids don’t, they’re still awesome and so are you. We still wake them up in the daytime if need be, we just switch to more of a four-hour instead of three-hour cycle.

4-9 Months (14-15 hours): At this point, our kids were on a schedule of three naps during the day, usually sleeping between 1-2 hours at a time and 10-12 hours at night. We still kept the same eat-play-sleep cycle with them. Dropping the third nap is different for each child. Two of my kids have always LOVED their sleep. Honestly, my ten-year-old could still nap every day if I wanted her to. They tended to hold on to that third nap longer than the others. If over time they simply don’t sleep, stop acting tired before the evening nap, or stop sleeping well through the night, it’s often an indication they need fewer naps. Dropping the evening nap can also means a bit of an earlier bed time for a transition period.

6-12 Months (14-15 hours): Our children still take two naps during this phase, and often we let this phase go longer than the 12 month recommendation, sometimes as late as 18 months. Again, it depends on the child’s needs. Twelve-hour nights of sleep are usually the sweet spot for Bell kids at this point.

1-3 Years (12-14 hours): Like I said, we often keep two naps past the one year mark, but most kids can switch to one nap a day not long after their first birthday.Our kids still sleep around twelve continuous hours during the night.

3-6 Years (10-12 hours): This is the point we usually start to look a bit different from other families. It seems like most families are anxious for their children to drop their afternoon nap so they can have more freedom to run errands, explore, whatever in the day. We typically don’t drop it until they’ve made it through this phase. Threenagers’ little bodies are changing so much, and it’s rough to make it 12 hours with no rest. Now, a couple of my kids did stop napping consistently when they were three, but I haven’t had one who was ready to drop completely at this age. This is where “rest time” becomes more the norm. They would read books in bed for an hour or two. A few days a week, they fall asleep, and a few days a week they don’t. Currently, one of my four-year-olds could take a four-hour nap each day if we’d let him (we don’t!), our other four-year-old sleeps 5-6 days a week, and our five-year-old sleeps 2-4 days a week.

7-12 Years (10-11 hours): We gradually let our children stay up a bit longer during this phase, pushing bedtime back by 30 minutes as the child grows. Our 11-year-old goes to bed around 9 and wakes up on his own between 7 and 7:30. He did recently get a late Friday night bedtime of 10:00, and he’ll usually sleep a bit later on Saturdays. This basically means he stays up later than me most Fridays. Dang, I’m a party animal…

12-18 Years (8-9 hours): No words here. I haven’t raised a cub in this age range yet. I just thought it was fun to include it like I have a clue what I’m doing.

One last thought here. I don’t believe in a child-centered home. Nor do I believe in a parent-centered home. I believe in a Jesus-centered home, which entails giving up your own desires as your Big Brother did. I mentioned this briefly above, but the biggest reason it seems parents push their kids out of the sleep they need (I do it, too!) is because we’re just weary of revolving our schedules around our kids. We’re ready for an easier season where we can add in activities we’ve missed or look forward to. Or we want more freedom to do things on our time for our convenience. Sometimes, the right thing is to blow off a nap or drop naps for necessity. But I think more often we need to remember that rest is a precious gift from God. It’s good for our kids, and it’s good for us. Sit and be still, knowing this season is from him and for him. Use their rest time to be content in this season. And if you do this well, let me know in the comments. I would love to learn from you.