Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Eco, Ovo, Fun!

If you've ever seen a Cirque du Soleil show, you know it's a feast for the senses. Amazing performances, fantastical costumes, and theatrical music. And now Cirque du Soleil has come to Chicago once again with a new show called Ovo.

Ovo means "egg" in Portuguese and the show features the world of insects living under the radar as we humans go about our business. Cirque says this about Ovo, "The show plunges the audience into the hidden universe alive at our feet; an ecosystem teeming with life and unseen beings - insects that work, eat, crawl, flutter, feast, fight and court among each other in an ongoing explosion of energy and movement." The cast of Ovo is made up of 53 performing artists from 13 countries, comprising jugglers, contortionists, acrobats and more. The story is about a lonely Ladybug who is excited by the possibilities of change when a Foreigner arrives with an egg.

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum teamed up with Cirque du Soleil for a free mini-performance recently and it was super fun! The Firefly awed the crowd of children and adults with his diabolos, as he spun and juggled as many as 4 at a time, never missing a beat! The Nature Museum's entrance offered the perfect performance space with it's vaulted ceiling which allowed the diabolos to fly high into the air. The Firefly, Ladybug and Master Flipo were all there to mingle with the audience afterward in full costume. It was really cool to see them up close, giving high fives, fist bumps and waves to the kids. Master Flipo even interacted with my son making a lovely "zurburt" sound when we poked his tummy... The Nature Museum also had several cool insects, bugs and arachnid on display where the audience could get a close-up view. My son particularly liked the walking stick!

Here are the characters in their awesome costumes and makeup.

Ladybug saying "hello" to some little cuties.

Firefly ready to give my little man a high five.

Master Flipo miming, "poke me!"

And then my son and some of the other children got to feel his "feelers" as he bent over to show them his costume up close.

I have not seen the show yet, but my husband and I are planning to get tickets and take the children. They say that some parts are loud and others are dark, but parents are the best judge of what their children can handle, in my opinion. For instance, my daughter is 2 and she loved watching from a distance, but she was not interested in talking to or touching the characters and clung to me as her older bro happily interacted with them.

Overall, I thought the theme of Ovo was a great one for kids. They bring a story to life while touching on topics like the complexity of ecosystems, respecting all creatures great and small, and love & friendship. Sounds like a cool experience to me! I'll update this post if we are able to get tix and go to the show! If you want to experience it for yourself, here is a link to the Ovo site.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Recycled Castle Craft!

For my daughter's recent 2nd birthday party, we decided to keep it small. We invited only a few friends and planned it for when the "big kids" would be busy elsewhere so the little ones would have some nice relaxing tea-party action without being bowled over by the lego construction fleet. A small party meant less stress, less preparation and fewer spills...but it also meant less cake.

Baking a big cake seemed a bit like overkill for a party with 4 little 2 year old girls, so I decided to bake cupcakes. But even if I included one for each mom too, 8 cupcakes sitting on a plate seemed kind of lame. Well, since I wasn't running ragged the night before getting 'everything' ready, I decided to try to make the idea that had been forming in my head over the last few weeks materialize. As I set about with paper, tape and a bunch of recyclables on my living room floor, my husband asked, "what are you doing?", to which I replied as if it were the most obvious thing, "ummm, making a castle!". Well, when all was said and done, here's how it turned out.


To make one of your own, you can modify and embellish as you see fit, but this was my low-key method:

Raid the recycling bin and collect...
Paper towel and toilet paper tubes, which are the perfect size for supporting cupcakes!
Tissue boxes. I used the cube shaped ones, but either kind of even a combination will work.
Paper. I used construction paper since I wanted a color-block look, but you could use any paper that goes with your theme. Wrapping paper would be perfect too.

Make the flags and windows.
Cut as many little tissue paper or foil triangles as you have cupcakes and tape the narrow side to one end of a toothpick. It's OK if they are a bit wrinkled since that adds to the effect!
You can also cut out little squares or arch-shaped pieces of paper and glue or tape them to the towers and boxes as small windows.

Start assembling.
I covered the tubes and tissue boxes with the paper and taped the seams. Next I arranged them on a large tray until I liked how they looked, and then used the tape again to tape the tubes to the boxes and a little more tape to affix them to the tray.

Add your cupcakes!
I frosted the cupcakes and then just sat them on the top of each tube. But after trying to add sprinkles to the cupcakes while in place, I recommend you place them after frosting and decorating them! I also learned it's best to put the castle where you'd like to display it before adding the cupcakes to the castle. Then all that's left to do is add your candles and sing the Birthday Song...and eat!

And here's my little princess happy as can be with her cupcake castle. :)