Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to Throw a Hamster Birthday Party (Yes. Really.)

I never thought I'd say this, ever, but...
Internet? You failed me.

When E came home and announced she wanted a birthday party inspired by her favorite literary character, I Googled "how to throw a hamster birthday party" and came up with nothing.

Really, nothing. Nada.
Not one single post.

How can that be? Do I have the only kid on the planet who's obsessed with all things hamster? (OK, I probably do...)

Ninety billion hours on Pinterest, Etsy, Amazon and various and assorted craft websites later, I'm pleased to present the Internet's very first hamster birthday party how-to post. So if anyone else's kid falls in love with Humphrey the hamster and wants to party like a rodent? You'll be all set.

Hamster Party Craft

This was by far the most important part of our hamster party (and also the one I'm most proud of.) A craft table activity that doubled as a favor, these DIY hamster balls were the hit of the party and an absolute blast to make. Using real hamster bedding (available at pet stores or on Amazon) and an assortment of hamster accessories, we created individual hamster balls that each child took home as a "pet." Since the party, we've gotten a ton of texts, emails and pictures of the hamsters in all sorts of cool places. I guess they were a hit!

What you will need:

140mm clear acrylic fillable ball ornaments (available at Factory Direct Craft)
Small stuffed hamsters (we used this one from Amazon)
Hamster accessories: mini wooden blocks, miniature carrots, baby bottleshamster snacks, miniature teddy bears
Baker's twine (we used purple)
Kraft paper hamster-shaped tags (check out these from Etsy)
Sharpie marker (for labeling)

We put everything into bowls on the craft table and let the kids create their own perfect hamster habitat. (Note: adult supervision is really helpful here, since the ornament balls can be a little tricky to close. Huge thank you to my rock star cousin Natalie, who was the best Hamster Station manner ever.) When the kids were finished creating their hamster balls, we wrote their names in Sharpie on hamster tags and used baker's twine to attach the tags and keep the ornament balls closed.

Hamster Party Entertainment

Hamster-themed birthday party entertainment was a tough one. I found these giant inflatable hamster balls on Amazon, but that seemed sort of not safe and maybe a personal injury lawsuit waiting to happen. So I begged our local puppet show guy to perform (he's amazing) and incorporate a hamster into his script. I provided the hamster puppet. The puppet show was a BIG hit with the kids, and E got to keep the hamster puppet at the end of the show. Double awesome.

Hamster Party Snacks

For snacks, we went with stuff E thought hamsters might like, based on her knowledge of hamster from obsessively reading Humphrey the Hamster books. Knowledge which may or may not be accurate...but whatever, we went with it and it looked super cute! Pretzel sticks, popcorn, carrot and celery sticks...all easy stuff to arrange in mason jars so the kids could grab what they wanted. For both the craft and snack tables, I hand-lettered signs using purple paint and cardboard. We also did an "adult food" table and switched out the carrots, etc for a tower of mini purple and brown cupcakes (red velvet and chocolate-chocolate, E's specific request) when it was time for cake.

Hamster Party Candy Station

The final touch to our hamster birthday party was a candy station customized with all of E's favorites (and some of mine!) We wrapped wide mouth mason jars and some glass vases we had around the house with baker's twine and filled them with an assortment of small candies. E and N had a blast stamping kraft paper bags with a hamster rubber stamp and the words "Happy Birthday." As each guest left the party, they got to fill a bag with some sweet treats.

Hamster Birthday Gift

Confession: I may or may not be the worst mom ever for refusing to get E an ACTUAL real live hamster for her birthday. Which she really, really wanted. But with two jobs and two kids, not to mention a husband, a dog, and a whole lot of other things on my plate, adding a rodent was Just. Not. Happening.

So I did the second best thing I could: I made her the coolest faux hamster set up, ever. It's got a water bottle, a feeding station, a hamster wheel, plus all the cute wooden chew toys a (stuffed) hamster could want. Check it out!

E was really happy and excited about her "real" Humphrey and his hamster much so that she's been "feeding" him, giving him water, reading to him, and sleeping with the whole thing right next to her pillow every night since her birthday. Which, if you think about it, is even BETTER than an alive hamster...because no way would she be sleeping with a rodent next to her pillow.

(Just saying.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Interview: E, Six Years Old

And the tradition continues.

I can't believe my baby girl is turning six years old. Time is flying by. Every moment feels more precious than the one that came before it. This year, we did our traditional birthday blog interview on the couch after school, E curled up on my shoulder, reading her words out loud as I typed them. When on earth did she get SO BIG? 

So much is changing, but her sweetness and kindness and compassion and curiosity about the world remained unchanged, and I am grateful.

The Interview

Favorite color: silver

Favorite dessert: melty mint candies

Favorite fruit: orange melon (cantaloupe)

Favorite vegetable: carrots

Favorite food: tacos

Favorite song: On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons (god I love this kid)

Favorite thing to do: snuggle with my dog

Favorite restaurant: the Persian restaurant

Favorite thing to do at school: read

Favorite thing to do on the weekends: have playdates with my friends

Favorite movie: The Sound of Music

Favorite TV show: Garfield & Friends

Favorite book: The World According to Humphrey

Favorite animal: koala

Favorite place to go: the beach

Favorite game: Candyland

Favorite flower: bougainvillea

Favorite thing to do with friends: jump rope

What do you want to be when you grow up? a librarian

What are you afraid of? not bees and bad guys

What makes you happy? C (her best friend), Mommy, Daddy, N, Tucker, when the rainbow comes out.

Tell me about yourself: My name is E and I like having playdates and playing with my dog. I like to imagine. I like playing with my brother. I am an American. I like going swimming and climbing trees.

Do you want to make a six-year-old statement? Nope.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Listen to Your Mother OC: April 27th, 2014

I'm excited and honored to be part of the cast for Listen to Your Mother OC. This incredible show is "giving motherhood a microphone"...literally. The show, produced and performed locally in cities across the nation, features live readings about motherhood--the trials, the triumphs, the side-splittingly funny moments and the ones that shatter your heart into a million pieces.

LTYM’s mission includes supporting parents and communities in both creative and tangible ways. The benefits of LTYM reach beyond the audience and cast, with a portion of the proceeds from all productions going to a national charitable cause and local community charitable causes supporting mothers and families. Ten percent of the Orange County LTYM ticket proceeds will benefit WISEPlace – A Community of Housing and Hope for Women.

Performing on stage in front of (gulp) hundreds of people is far, far outside my comfort zone. But I'm humbled to be joining a truly outstanding, talented cast and very proud to be part of such a powerful event. If you're in the SoCal area, I'd love to see you there!

To purchase tickets for Listen to Your Mother OC, visit And if you're feeling lucky, check out my friend Kim's awesome LTYM ticket giveaway here!