Tuesday, February 20, 2007

because what toddler doesn't love grape leaves?


Have I ever told the story of Iris' name?

I liked it because it met my three criteria. Our child's name had to be:

1. Easy to spell;
2. Easy to pronounce (my own name being neither of the above); and
2. Unusual but not bizarre or un-heard-of. Bonus points for not having been in the top 100 names for at least 100 years... although I drew the line at naming her after my grandmother, Irma. Somehow it was not too difficult to seperate my feelings for my grandmother from my feelings about her name.

For J, the name Iris met his sole criterion: derived from Greek literature. If we’d had a boy, my husband insists he'd have wanted to name him Telemachus (after Ulysses’ son in The Odyssey). Fortunately I didn’t have to call his bluff, if it was a bluff (!!), on that one.

The reason I mention this at this particular moment is that Iris' third birthday is coming up and we have just done a 180 degree turn in planning her party theme. Totoro, the original plan, has been shelved in favor of her current passion, Greek goddesses.

That's right, Greek goddesses. Kind of a weird preoccupation for a preschooler, you might be thinking, but you wouldn't think that if you knew my husband.

J has loved Greek literature all his life – he dressed as Odysseus for Halloween when he was in the fourth grade, people – and he is doing his best to pass on that love to his daughter. He is succeeding. So far he has been unable to find a children's book of Greek stories that is up to his exacting standards, so he tells Iris his own versions, glossing over the age-inappropriate parts with phrases such as "Medusa and Poseidon disrespected Athena in her own temple." (How long, though, before she starts demanding details about that, and how Clintonesque can J remain? I wonder.)

These stories have completely captured her imagination. She recasts them with her dolls and stuffed animals ("Mama, Daddy! Kiki fell from Mount O-woopus [Olympus]!"). Requests them night and day. And retells them in her own inimitable way at school, which I'm sure is a treat for her teachers. "Iris told an interesting story about Medusa," read her weekly report recently. Yes, I'll bet she did!

So, there's really no question as to what will make Iris happiest this birthday (not to mention her father). We'll be having a Greek goddess party for her in a little over a month. Time to get planning! But... what exactly does a Greek goddess party for preschoolers consist of? I must have missed that issue of Martha Stewart Kids. So far, here's what we've got:

   Toga (though J disdains the word, preferring peplos)
   costumes for child guests to don over their clothes

   Plaster of Paris model of Mount Olympus (nix)

   Cake shaped and decorated like a Greek temple (some
   trepidation on my part here)

   Somehow outfitting her rocking horse with wings and
   offering Pegasus rides

   Greek food for grown-ups; capitulate on serving pizza for
   kids

And, well, here's where I could use your help. Greek goddess theme party ideas, anyone?

And even if you don't have any of those, how did you name your kid(s)?

11 Comments:

Anonymous Sarah said...

Hmmm. I was going to suggest Baklava but that's really more Ottoman Empire than Greek, isn't it? Plus you'll have your temple shaped cake which I'm sure will be plenty of sugar all by itself.

I gotta say, this one's really a thinker. Pin the tail on the Trojan horse? A pinata shaped like a cluster of grapes? I'm stumped.

12:51 AM  
Anonymous meg said...

good luck w/the party - i'll let you know if i think of anything brilliant..

our naming criteria was...
-after a relative
-easy to pronounce
jane was supposed to be helena after my grandma but we feared it was too hard to pronounce. i heard the bnl song (jane) on the way home from work on day and had one of oprah's "aha moments". (jane is the middle name of just about everyone on john's side of the family).
charlie was harder. there are lots of charles's on my side of the family but we both knew how trendy it was/is. john wanted to name him carl after his grandpa but "carl rooks" sounded like hitler youth to me. so in the end we came back to charlie...

7:57 AM  
Anonymous Ellen said...

No party ideas, but Laura's name was Gary's choice. Part of our problem was that we didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl, and so had even more names to argue about. He hemmed and hawed and was completely unhelpful, even when I gave him a suggestion list, and finally I told him that I was going to name the baby either Thelonious or Hephzibah if he didn't give me any help. He finally settled on Laura, which was not my first choice, but I was so glad for input that I went along with it.

8:44 AM  
Anonymous kirsten said...

we studied ancient greece last year. my daughter loves myths as well. let me think about it and get back to you - i'll bet i can come up with something.
-
i didn't like the idea of naming our kids after anyone. i just liked how their names sounded - they're all irish names.
we didn't tell anyone what we were naming the babies before they were born. don't care for the opinions!

9:02 AM  
Blogger amy h said...

My husband just finished illustrating a book of light, humorous verse that tells some of the myths. We know the guy that wrote them -- he's really good. Unfortunately it isn't in print yet, and may not ever be -- it's in the hands of a large, beaurocratic corporation...

That party will be such fun! The Greek restaurant in my college town had baklava ice cream (vanilla with chunks of baklava in it). It was so yummy.

Our daughter's name, Elise, came about partially because my husband loves Beethoven and we like "Fur Elise." But, I just liked the name -- no special reason. I just wanted it to be a little different (I grew up as Amy E because there were so many Amys.) And none of my family liked my alternate: Mathilde.

5:17 PM  
Anonymous erin said...

can't think of any great greek goddess ideas...sorry.

before i was pregnant with jane, i always thought that if we had a girl, we would name her kate. i wanted our kids to have one syllable, easily spelled and gender specific names (i.e, no pat). while i was pregnant, the name jane kept popping up in unusual ways so we went with it. and kate was either going to be anne or kate, i was leaning towards anne, but when she was born, fatty really wanted kate. and he was right. she could never have been anne.

10:16 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

I entered "games kids greek ancient" into Google and came up with some surprisingly cool stuff.

Here's a game of "memory," featuring ancient Greek characters, available as a free download (there are quite a few other supercool things on that site as well) http://www.abc.net.au/arts/wingedsandals/makedo5.htm

Here are some "activity sheets from a museum
http://www.schoolsliaison.org.uk/kids/preload.htm

And on this site http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/Homework/greece/dailylife.htm
they justify a possible dance party: "Dance was very important to the ancient Greeks. They believed that dance improved both physical and emotional health. Rarely did men and women dance together. Some dances were danced by men and others by women. There were more than 200 ancient Greek dances; comic dances, warlike dances, dances for athletes and for religious worship, plus dances for weddings, funerals, and celebrations. Dance was accompanied by music played on lyres, flutes, and a wide variety of percussion instruments such as tambourines, cymbals and castanets."

Hope those are useful, or lead you to other useful things. Now I want to come to the party! Look forward to seeing pics : )

12:39 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

Make your own olive leaf headgear?

How about a 'circus maximus' with discus throwing (frisbee) and a few mosaic pictures to make (strips of coloured magazine pages cut up to stick onto pre-drawn outlines of greek motifs).

And of course, you have to eat reclining on the floor with only one hand.

Cool party theme. And kids names? Mine are Mark and John (Johnny) so I went for traditional, safe, short but not too common (at least in the UK).

9:38 AM  
Anonymous kirsten said...

okay, angelique - i have no amazing ideas (at 3 the best parties really are less structured, more freeplay - but it's fun to have an activity or 2), but here are a few:

play a relay game as Atlas - they have to hold a big ball (Target - 3.99) over their head while running or something.

playdough medusa's - because kids can usually make balls and snakes. put them together and voila!

make mosaics. it would be really easy with stickers on paper (plain colored square stickers?).

building temples out of blocks or sugar cubes (temporary - too hard to glue them with 3yos)

make wings (icarus)

act out (a version of) her favorite myth

coloring pages (kind of a lukewarm idea - but would make a great opening activity as people arrive)
here's some: http://www.coloring.ws/greek.htm

have fun planning!

3:11 PM  
Blogger angelique said...

Fantastic ideas! Thanks all!

1:07 PM  
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10:45 PM  

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