Saturday, January 14, 2012

Wherein I finally talk about birthdays.

WARNING: This post is going to be rather photo heavy.

We have a lot of birthdays in this family. Of course, this is to be expected when you have as many people in your family as we do (at last count, our personal calendar had 60+ family birthdays on it - that's not including any of the friends and coworkers who might make their way on there). We have a steady stream of them all year round, it seems, but fall and winter seem to be particularly heavy on the calendar. I blame New Year's (let's be honest: it's not a day well-known for the making of good decisions) and Lent (many in our family are Catholic ... and if you can work out my rationale behind that, then you have my sympathies). Jude celebrates in September, Scout's b-day is in October, and mine rolls around in January. Toss Thanksgiving and Christmas in the mix, and I've got myself a party to plan five months in a row, which is just the way I like it (and yes, I usually plan my own birthday party... and yes, I am pushing 30... and no, I don't care that I "shouldn't care" about my birthday anymore because I'm a "grown up" ... I care. I care very much).

Party planning, as many of you may not know, is an area of expertise for me. Picking themes, blowing up balloons, designing and/or making cakes, putting up decorations, planning menus, putting together favor bags ... I love it all. In 2010, when Scout turned 3, she wanted a "Peter Pan Pirate Party," so we dressed like pirates, went on a treasure hunt, walked the plank, passed the pirate parrot, listened to maritime music, ate Caribbean skewers, and drank grog (aka: root beer and ginger ale). She even had a little girly Jolly Roger on her ice cream cake. It was pretty much amazing. My biggest regret is that I wasted such an epic party on a three-year-old. She probably won't remember 90% of it by the time she's an adult.

Photographic proof that we are pretty much the best parents ever.

The pirate princess herself.

Of course we busted out the cannon at our three-year-old's birthday party. Didn't you?
What? You don't even have a cannon? What a sad life you must lead.

For Jude's first birthday party (earlier that year),we went to the zoo, and of course I made cupcakes for the occasion:

I might have stayed up until 1am the night before decorating these bad boys, but they sure were beautiful,
even after the sun made them a bit drippy.

Of course, after the epic bashes of 2010 (and Scout's equally-epic harvest-themed first birthday party, complete with hay ride and carved pumpkins spelling out her name), I had to aim high in 2011 to outdo myself. I have to hand it to my kids: they sure made it easy on me. Jude loves dogs. I mean LOVES dogs. He is madly in love with our dog Missy (who, to be honest, merely tolerates him). But his love is not limited to our dog. We see a dog anywhere, and he needs to pet it, talk to it, and otherwise love on it. So for his birthday this year, it was obvious that we needed to have ourselves a dog party. We sent invitations telling people to expect a "howling" good time. I made puppy chow, a pasta salad that looked an awful lot like Missy's dog food, hot dogs, and homemade corndogs and hush puppies. We served the food out of (new) dog dishes. B's mom made cookies shaped like dog bones. We made (and subsequently wore) dog ears and painted puppy faces. The kids got goody bags with "kibble" and puppy stickers and Scooby Snacks in them. There ended up not being any time for games, but we had planned for a rousing round of "Pass the Puppy" (basically a modified version of the aforementioned Pass the Pirate Parrot with "Who Let the Dogs Out" playing instead of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme). It was a great time.

Scout and her "Aunt" Kristi (who never misses a birthday, despite living in Virginia)
modeling their cute puppy ensembles.

I always make complicated cake orders (and have kids with weird names to boot), so I always dread delivery day, thinking I'll have to send pics to CakeWrecks ... but our local DQ always pulls them off flawlessly.

Hot dogs and hush puppies... no nutritional value,
but high in deliciousness.

Scout started planning for her birthday this year in August. She repeatedly told me that she wanted a "rainbow party ... and possibly also My Little Pony ... or Strawberry Shortcake." Sometime in the two months prior to the party, I introduced her to Friendship is Magic (I swear it's not just for kids!), and the party ideas came together to form the perfect storm: A Rainbow Dash Birthday Bash. We had rainbow EVERYTHING. Rainbow fruit skewers. Six different drinks. Tacos with the toppings arranged in rainbow order (tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, avocado, purple onion, etc.). Balloons. Everything. And our activity? Well, we tie-dyed, of course. What else would you do with a group of 2-6 year-olds at a rainbow party?

The birthday girl sporting her Rainbow Dash-esque hairpiece.

Drinks, plates, napkins, cups, silverware ... EVERYTHING was rainbow, you guys. We were not messing around.

The rainbow and the pony were made from hand-painted (by me) fondant.
Please also note that the candles are tie-dye. Because, seriously.

Oh,and did I mention that the cake was actually six different layers of color, so when you cut into it, it was AMAZING?

It would have looked about 20% cooler if I had used synthetic dyes, but Scout doesn't do Red#40 (yes,we are THOSE people),
so I had to use all natural dyes.

And of course we sent all of the kids home with crayons and Skittles.

So there's the birthday post I promised you several months ago. And then some. Let me know if you need some help with your kid's party (or your own for that matter - I'm not here to judge). I don't want to brag, but I am a veritable fount of party ideas. Sometimes I wonder if I'm in the wrong line of work...

I'll talk later this week about my own birthday. It seems slightly less exciting in comparison to all of these festivities; plus, I'm about out of energy for the night.


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