An op-ed by Charlotte

By Charlotte Coker, age 9, third grade

Kids should be able to vote. Kids should be able to vote because kids are mad about the people who are running for president. Kids are also mad about the decisions that our leaders make. I’m mad about building a wall between Mexico and U.S.A. I think kids should vote at age 13. Age 13 is a reasonable age to vote. 13-year-olds should have the privilege to vote because it is their first time being a teen and they are responsible enough. Some people may be frustrated to wait for the original age limit. I think there should be a poster that says “ages 13 and up.” It will help people know their time to vote is soon. I think this is a good idea and it will be good for the public. Do you want to vote?

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Super Charlotte turns 7!

charlottefliesCharlotte dressed up as Wonder Woman for Halloween last year, and she has been fascinated by superheroes ever since. For her seventh birthday, we celebrated with a superhero bash in the back yard. It was freezing here in upstate New York, but that didn’t stop these first-graders from having a good time.

One of the coolest things we did was to set up a photo booth so the kids could have their picture taken while “flying.” We put up two pieces of this cool paper (intended for school bulletin boards, I think) on the wall, plugged in a fan and let the kids strike a pose. Dollar store capes and make-your-own masks (thanks, Oriental Trading!) completed the look.

For games, I turned to Pinterest for some inspiration. We ended up doing Pass the Kryptonite (based on hot potato, always a classic). Then the kids practiced using the Lasso of Truth (a yellow hula hoop) to capture Spiderman (silly, I know, but we couldn’t find a punching bag with a bad guy on it!). After that, they rescued some superheroes who had been captured by Mr. Freeze (this involved warm water in water guns). Finally, they had a chance to practice shooting their webs (silly string; I wish I had bought a can per kid because they went through it so quickly).

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Here’s the silly string in action!

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Mr. Freeze didn’t stand a chance!

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There goes the Lasso of Truth!

I didn’t photograph the food or party favors, but I will say I was pleased with this great set of paper products from Birthday Express. It allowed us to include a variety of superheroes while still expressing the party theme nicely. A roll of matching stickers let me dress up the favor bags and doubled as seals for the invitation and thank you notes.

An interview with Charlotte the Kindergartner

Charlotte began kindergarten today. We’re so proud of this smart and affectionate little girl with amazing comedic timing. Here’s a snapshot of her current likes and dislikes, as well as a few photos from the bus stop.

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My favorite food is: mac and cheese

My favorite sport to play is: baseball

The best show on television is: “Good Luck Charlie”

The coolest person on Earth is: Laurel

My favorite thing about school is: learning

The thing I do the most awesomely is: play

If I could change my name it would be: Charlie

My favorite color is: purple and pink

If I could go anywhere in the world, I’d go to: China

My favorite toy is: my Leap Frog Text and Learn

When I grow up, I want to: be a mom who works at a zoo

Three words that describe me are: funny, cute, playful

My favorite season is: winter

The snack I could live on is: cheese sticks

One food I really don’t like is: mashed potatoes

My favorite book is: “Ladybug Girl”

My favorite movie is: “Despicable Me”

My best friend is: Laurel

If I had one wish, it would be: to be a butterfly

Olympic Antics

We’ve had such fun watching the London Olympics with Sophie and Charlotte that it almost makes up for the terrible, disjointed way in which they’re being covered here in the States. Eric and I know most of the big results by the time we tune in for the evening broadcast on NBC, but the kids are so funny and the athletes are so amazing that I don’t really care.

Here are the girls showing off some gymnastic stunts and a few judo moves. They also made a valiant attempt to hum the song NBC uses as the Olympics theme:

 

 

I dare you not to laugh!

Want to read a beautifully written piece of journalism that captures the spirit of the games? I recommend Anthony Lane’s blog for The New Yorker.

A Seusstastic birthday extravaganza

The birthday girl

The birthday girl

A few months ago, I joined Pinterest. It’s a social bookmarking site with an emphasis on visuals, but what it has become for me is an outlet for my love of holidays, birthdays, cooking … and planning. Want to make a Valentine’s Day card? You’ll find a zillion ideas here. Same goes for birthday parties, Passover seders and so on.

When Charlotte, who turns 5 tomorrow, told us she wanted to have her party at the local second-run movie theater, her dad and I were thrilled. No kids at the house and a simple movie plus lunch for her friends? Easy-peasy.

We made a plan to see The Lorax, with the option of bringing a DVD of Horton Hears a Who if The Lorax didn’t move to the second-run theater in time. Then I set about looking for some fun Dr. Seuss party ideas. Little did I know what I’d find! Pinterest took my previous amateur-level party planning to new heights (or should that be depths?) of insanity.

From the food to the favors to the decorations, I found such cool and creative stuff online that I couldn’t execute a fraction of the ideas that I had. (You can see my Pinterest board for the party here: http://pinterest.com/rae607/dr-seuss-party.) I also found an Etsy craftsperson who made a dress with a variety of Seuss-themed fabric for the occasion!

Here’s a quick look at our fun day:

Noodles for Poodles

Noodles for Poodles

We planned a menu, being sure to include some of the birthday girl’s favorites, and then came up with Seuss-inspired names for almost everything. We served Noodles for Poodles (Mark Bittman’s fabulous mac and cheese); Roast Beast Sandwiches (ham and turkey subs that I made the morning of the party); Obleck and Jelly Sandwiches (PB&J); Pink Ink (and other drinks); Yot in a Pot (Buffalo chicken dip from my favorite recipe blog, Skinnytaste) and even Green Eggs and (No) Ham (deviled eggs with the filling dyed green).

Dessert table

Dessert table

The theater provided a drink and popcorn for each of the kids, but I figured there would be some who didn’t like popcorn and others who’d prefer something sweet. So we set up a candy bar and provided little bags so people could take their treats into the theater with them. Favorites included Truffula Seeds (Nerds bumpy jelly beans) as well as pretzel sticks and dried fruit that I dipped in chocolate. I decorated the table with a banner I made using color copies of Dr. Seuss books.

Estimation jar

Estimation jar

Sophie’s second-grade class has had great fun with estimation jars this year in school. I thought it would be a fun sort of contest for the kids plus a cool way of giving someone a little prize. I had no idea how big a hit a jar of gummy fish would be! The kids were crowded around the table writing out their guesses.

Sophie poses with The Cat in the Hat

Sophie, the birthday girl's big sister, poses with The Cat in the Hat.

The other activity we set up was a photo booth where people could have their picture taken with The Cat in the Hat. Michael’s had a great display of Dr. Seuss stuff in time for Read Across America. I bought some things that were designed for teachers, including a pack of 32 red and white hats and this great 5-foot-tall Cat in the Hat, and stashed them away for the party.

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Proof of an awesome party? When your kid tackles you out of sheer joy after everyone sings "Happy Birthday."

Charlotte and her friends had a ball, as evidenced by the way she tackled me after she blew out the candles on her cupcake!

We love dinosaurs

I guess it happens in every family. One day your kids have many interests, and the next there’s just one passion: dinosaurs. We’re living through that era now, with frequent viewings of “Dinosaur Train” on TV, discussions of paleontologists and so on. Today, Charlotte even had a dinosaur-related art project at school. The girls were so excited about it that I decided to do a mini-interview with them. Here it is!