We have a huge Percy Jackson fan in our house. He answers to the name of Connor, and I, for one, think that his Percy obsession is fabulous: it inspired him to beginning reading Greek mythology, AND it also inspired him to suggest to his father that we take an educational trip to Greece and Turkey (the latter being the actual locale of Mount Olympus). And his father is considering it.
And his hummus-lovin' mama is overjoyed that his father is considering it.
So, this Lightning Thief-themed table at Reading Rocks really caught my attention:
The gold-plated chargers were edged in blue, and in the centers were the symbols of the different Camp Half-Blood cabins and other images inspired by the book. The giant glittered lightning bolt in the middle of the centerpiece is surrounded by white lights on little filaments. The whole thing was very sophisticated and "big kid." Love it!
Magic Treehouse never caught on in our house, although we own some of the books, and Connor used two of them (The Knight at Dawn and Mummies in the Morning) to justify his costume selections for Storybook Parade, in kindergarten and first grade, respectively. Our school is pretty strict about Storybook Parade. You have to have on your person the book that explains your costume, and the book has to be a REAL book - you can't show up dressed as Hanna Montana carrying "The Unauthorized Hanna Montana Biography" and not expect to be sent home to change. We already had a kick-booty knight costume, procured from Bombay Kids - RIP, BK - and an equally awesome mummy get-up, and it was Connor's idea to tie them in to the Magic Treehouse books. And, yes, he did read them before the parade.
I am hoping that the Treehouse series catches on with Parker. We already moved them into his room, so, you know, there's that. If he does end up loving them, then I know what's coming to a birthday party near him: this table.
With these placemats.
We already have an original painting of the main MT characters, created by one of the teachers at our school the year that I was PTA president. See, we have this thing called Patio Party. It's an annual spring affair, and it works like this: each grade level is assigned a type of furniture (kitchen stool, side chair, Adirondack chair, outdoor kids' picnic table - selections vary from year to year), and each teacher has to figure out how to decorate his or her piece of furniture, with help from the students, and then the finished products are auctioned off to the parents. The bidding is brisk, because we hold the Patio Party in late May. On a patio. That is outside. Where the ambient temperature is in the high 90's, if you're lucky. People are movitated to buy, because the quicker everything sells, the quicker you can get into the air conditioning.
Some classes decoupage their pieces, others paint - a few woodburn and stain. Thumbprints are popular. These get turned into bees, or ladybugs, or fish, and the kids sign their names under their critters.
An integral part of Patio Party, I discovered during my tenure with the PTA, is the airing of grievances. The teachers kvetch that the furniture takes too long to prime, the shellac is too sticky, they don't get their unfinished pieces early enough in the year, and there's not enough time during the school day to complete their designs. Et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam. The parents (myself included) complain about having a house overflowing with kid-painted furniture. And everyone complains about the heat.
We have purchased four Patio Party pieces: a kitchen stool (not painted by my child's class, but it was the same Martha green as my retro countertops, and, also, the bidding had stalled, and I wanted to see the auction do well, and, also, I wanted to get out of the heat); a chair that my son uses for a desk chair; and a picnic table that is too small for my children to use anymore, but we still have it in the backyard, where it serves as a de facto plant stand. Yes, I know I said four, and I also know that I just described three things. Number four was an adorable chair decoupaged by Connor's (and now Parker's) kindergarten teacher. One of the highlights of being in Ms. Sylvester's class is the second-semester hatching of the baby chicks (tons more fun than the airing of grievances). So, it is not surprising that Connor's class opted for a baby chick theme. The decoupage involved images from a kids' book about chickens (I forget which one), and surrounding the decoupaged areas were thumbprint chicks signed by the kindergarteners as well as kid-drawn chicken feet. We bought the chair, after a very spirited bidding war - and then we gave it to Connor's classmate, Annie, who was moving to Austin, as a farewell gift. Don't think me too much of a humanitarian - did I mention that my small house is overflowing with kid-decorated furniture as it is?
Being an occasional painter of canvases, the year that I was president, I said, stop the madness already. Here are some canvases. They dry in, like, a nanosecond. They don't involve a lot of surface area. The bids might not get as high as they did for some of the furniture, but the profit margin will be the same, because canvas is cheap. Parents will like them, because of some of the aforementioned reasons - smaller, cheaper, etc. Oh, and because there's always that one parent who leaves with a bad taste in their mouth because they REALLY wanted their kid's class project and got outbid, we'll photograph all of the art and print notecards, which we will sell in assortment packs.
Yeah, I was all about mixing it up as PTA president. Note to file: PTA folk don't like mixing up, particularly when the mixing up involves actual improvements or refinements. Improvements and refinements (and, Lord forbid, outright corrections) deprive them of their God-given right to complain. This should be the PTA motto: "If it's broke, don't fix it. If you fix it, we will have to stop complaining. If it ain't broke, THEN you should fix it. In the sense of screwing it up. So we have new things to complain about."
So the canvas thing only lasted my year. And, also, I swore off being PTA president. But a number of teachers and parents told me that they did appreciate the respite, however brief it may have been. One of those teachers is a fabulous artist, and she painted the Magic Treehouse canvas that hangs in Connor's room. It features the Girl Main Character and the Boy Main Character, and also a mouse which I assume is the Mouse Main Character. Again: we never really got into these books. But I loved the painting, and Connor enjoyed it for awhile. He's pretty much outgrown it, and I have thought about donating it to the school library, but now I'm thinking I need to hold onto it, for a tablescape to be styled later.
Speaking of Storybook Parade - which I vaguely recollect that I was, before I went off on a MAJOR Patio Party tangent - Parker was the protagonist of "How I Became a Pirate" this year, so I took a photo of this table for him:
Easily implemented (particularly if, like the McGlincheys, your closet overfloweth with Mardi Gras beads and doubloons), high-impact and super-cute.
Like my Patio Party canvases. Which. Did. Not. Catch. On.