Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Festivities

WOW! How is it the 18th of February already? I can't believe how busy its been. But then, it seems to always be busy around this time of year. With Valentines Day, my birthday and Sweetpea's birthday all within a week's time, we generally have a lot going on. this year I've been extremely preoccupied with planning three parties for Sweetpea. That's right. Three. Yes, she's spoiled. (Although it wasn't really my choice to have three.) But since my family lives in Wyoming and my husband's family lives here, it's kind of a given that until she gets older, she will have at least 2 parties every year - one here and one there. This year, though, she also wanted to invite her friends to a party. Originally I had wanted to have one party here, with both friends and family. But then I decided I really didn't want to cause anyone, including myself, a mental breakdown. So then I decided that we should have the kids' party first, followed an hour or two later by the family party. All the festivities (or most of them) over with in one day. Unfortunately I was planning this over the long President's Day weekend, and since Valentine's Day was a Saturday, that only left Sunday or Monday for the party. Also unfortunately, we couldn't seem to get everyone's schedule to gel. So, we ended up with the family party on Sunday night, and the kids' party on Monday afternoon.

Oh, and did I mention that we had tickets to tour the new LDS Temple? Its dedication is sometime in March, I believe, but right now it's open for tours. My husband secured 20 tickets for 2 separate dates so all the family could go. Unfortunately the first date ended up being on a day my friend and I had a road trip planned to go to a Passion Party my sister was co-hosting. So that just left the second date - Valentine's Day. Yep, I toured an LDS Temple on Valentine's Day. With my in-laws. And my daughter. LOL! Well, it was definitely an interesting experience. But that's a story for a different day.

As you can tell, my life was insane there for quite a while. Sweetpea decided she wanted to invite 25 kids to her party. Well actually, she wanted to invite 21 kids to her party, but I felt bad that there were only four she didn't want to invite from her whole class. So I talked her into inviting them. There was one particular boy of that group that is especially mean to Sweetpea. Really, he's especially mean to all the kids, and I believe he might have some emotional/mental issues. Sweetpea really did not want to invite him. I pointed out that he would be the only one she hadn't invited, and she wouldn't want to hurt his feelings, would she? She got this very serious, contemplative look on her face, and said "Well, if he is good for the rest of the week, we can invite him." Ok.... I invited him anyway. As it turned out, it didn't matter since he didn't come to the party. We ended up with 16 or 17 children, ranging in ages from 2 to 14. And I just have to say thank god for my friend and her boys (ages 9 and 14) for coming over and helping with the party. They were truly a Godsend. Thank you, Jen! Love ya!

So Sweetpea's thing right now is Hannah Montana. So we had Hannah Montana-themed parties. Here are a few pictures of the set-up I did for the kids’ party:

Just a word of advice for all you party planners out there: if you are considering a themed party for your child, and considering store-bought decorations for said party, and are also considering a centerpiece from said store-bought decorations, look very, very, VERY closely at the picture on the centerpiece packaging. If it looks like a puzzle that you will have to put together, don’t buy it! I guarantee it will be the hardest puzzle you’ve ever done. I swear, I spent more time trying to put together that damn centerpiece than I spent decorating the cupcakes, filling the grab bags and probably filling out invitations combined! And do 5-year-olds care about centerpieces? Not in the least. But, at least Sweetpea liked it. She was very excited about all of her decorations, and really had a great time getting ready for her parties. I have to say, overall I think her birthday was a success. She did cry several times during the kids’ party, but I think that had more to do with being just plain tired. It was a busy weekend with a lot going on, and lots of excitement, so she was pretty well worn out. As for me, well, by the end of the weekend I was hammered, too.

Anyway, as I said, Hannah Montana was the theme of the festivities. What that meant more than anything else was lots, and lots, and LOTS of Hannah Montana themed presents. By the way, I’d like to send out a special thank you to those who purchased for Sweetpea Hannah Montana makeup kits (there were several), earrings, learn to dance-a-long dvd game, and microphone. You know who you are. Just know that you are responsible for: what will come to be many mornings and many evenings of fights over when and where makeup can be worn – and by whom (I never thought I’d ever hear myself say “don’t put lipstick on that cat!”); half of a single song echoing over and over and over and over in mom’s head (along with images of a lip-syncing Sweetpea pretending to sing into a blue and purple microphone); the monopolization of the T.V. for use of “learning” how to dance like Hannah Montana – or, more appropriately, for use of jumping around like a monkey while wearing a blond wig and head-worn microphone, pretending to try to “learn” how to dance like Hannah Montana; and long discussions about whether it is finally time to get Sweetpea’s ears pierced. I’m really learning to hate that girl. Hannah Montana, not Sweetpea. :-) *groan* So really. Thank you. Thank you all soooo much.

The kids’ party was insane, and began with many small children running around like heathens while screaming like little banshees. If my friend’s kids had not been there to help, I’m sure the little ones would have completely destroyed something, or many things, in my house. I was able to get them calmed down briefly to open presents and have cupcakes and ice cream. Let me rephrase. They calmed down to have ice cream and cupcake frosting. I think only one or two actually ate the cupcakes. After that we had a magician who put on a show a little over an hour long. This man was fabulous! He managed to entertain all of those children and a room full of adults for over an hour and no one got bored! Here’s a picture of him with Sweetpea:

If anyone in our area is interested in hiring him, just let me know. I’d be more than happy to hand out his info. He costs tons less than the local businesses as he is just doing this on the side, and he is 150% worth it!

I also made a Hannah Montana cake to match the napkins, invitations and decorations for the family party. The kids get cupcakes, but grown-ups must have real cake! Here are some pics:

The cake was a double-layer, strawberry, with strawberry whipped cream with fresh strawberries mixed in for filling, strawberry buttercream icing and fondant accents. All by Sweetpea’s request. As it turns out, the flavor got many compliments. I made the topper by cutting out a picture off of a notebook cover, gluing it to a piece of construction paper, and having my husband laminate it, then taping it to lollipop sticks. It worked out really well, and I intend to use it on the cake for this weekend’s party in Wyoming. I will also re-use the fondant stars on lollipop sticks, since no one ate those. That’s a lot of the work already done for me. As for what I learned with this cake, well, the fact is it was actually a relatively simple cake that only took a little bit of creativity with fondant/cookie cutters to pull off. I did learn that I very much like having a cake to do for which I can make a lot of the elements ahead of time, i.e. fondant or paper decorations. That way I’m not in that much of a rush to put it all together. And that’s about it. Not very entertaining, I know, but maybe I have to get good enough at some point to not learn anything anymore. Nah.

As for my birthday, I got a lot of my presents at Sweetpea’s family party. I won’t really go into my dislike for combining birthdays, and just say that I absolutely loved my presents. I got an awesome print that I intend to frame and hang in my kitchen, so maybe I’ll have some incentive to start decorating the bare-walls house I live in. My dear hubby also did not want me to be left out again this year, and was sweet enough to buy me my very own red velvet cake:
What a sweetheart. Love you honey! For my actual birthday, my mom was in town, so we all went out to dinner. I was extremely disappointed in the service, since we’ve never had an issue with it before, but the food was wonderful as always. I also got some new baking toys to play with decorating brownies (which seems to be a new trend), and my hubby bought me a pink sapphire jewelry set, which is absolutely gorgeous! So needless to say, I got spoiled, too. I’m in the process of working on slideshows for all the many hundreds of pictures taken at the various parties, so when I get that arranged, I will edit this post and add a slideshow or two. Now, just one more party to go and we’ll be done with the festivities for this year!!

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