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Friday, November 7, 2014

IT'S ABOUT TIME!!

Yes, it's for sure about time I got to some blogging!  I've been busy doing this and that and taking pictures and having thoughts of things to blog about.  But nothing.  Nothing blogged.  BUT  I am going to catch up on everything (ok, not everything because most things are just boring) but I'll catch up on the fun stuff in the next few weeks!  What's important is that I'm taking the first step... getting back into the blog saddle.  And I'm going to talk about birthday parties.  In our family, we decided to do really big parties for the kids each year until they're 10.  (or their 10th birthday party is their last "big" one).  After 10, they can have a small party - a late night or a friend spending the night or we can take one or two friends to the movies, etc.  We have reasons for this and I'm not going to get into them here - but we're not being mean parents, just trying to keep things super fun when they're little and more "tight friends" when they're older.

Now we have 9 kids, so we've done birthday parties.  Lots of them.  We ask the kids what they want to do and we do it (mostly - within reason).  We've been to Chuck E Cheese, Amazing Jakes, Jungle Jim's, Bounce U, the park, Our house, Our house, Our house, many, many times our house.  And know what?  Tomorrow we will have another birthday party at our house.

I long ago I decided that having birthday parties at party establishments was much easier, more relaxing, and when we're done - we come home.  No mess, no lingering anything, just grab the kids and the gifts and come home.  Easy, the kids have a blast, everything is right with the universe.  There's even been a few parties that I was smart enough to buy a cake or some cupcakes from Costco or Sam's Club.  After today I'm going to say that buying the cake/cupcake is a most excellent idea.  One that all of you should remind me of when one of our birthday's is coming up!  ;)

You see, last year the twins had a party at home.  We hired a company to come with their laser tag stuff. They set up some small super cool tents all over our yard (front and back) and set the kids up with some majorly awesome laser tag equipment.  Including our 3 littles, we had 20 kids running around shooting each other and having a blast.  (get it - shooting, a blast - ha ha)  But they really did have so much fun.  Most of the kids left telling me they had more fun than at any other party they've been to.  The twins had a great time.  In fact, we had a hard time gathering the kids for cake and ice cream so they were still eating when the parents came to pick them up.

- Side note, we don't let the kids open their presents at the party.  They open them with the family, after the party is over and friends go home.  Some parents thing it's rude, and I really don't know if it's rude or not.  I should probably check with a manners website or something - but we have had some awkward moments I prefer to avoid.  Like our kids don't really like what someone gave them and they actually tell the kid they don't like their gift...  and a chaos of all of their friends wanting their present opened first, and then there's the party guests who want to play with the kids presents and something breaks or gets lost or something.  It's all happened, and it's not worth the drama to me.  So we don't open presents at the party.  Sorrynotsorry if it's rude. -

Back on topic.  You see, there's an easy way to have a birthday party and there's a hard way.  There are parents who are so amazing they have all of this cool stuff and decorations and put on amazing parties.  I've seen them done in person, and I've seen them on Pinterest when I look for ideas to steal for our at home parties.  I'm not that parent.  Not that I don't try, because I do.  I just have no idea how they do all of that stuff because though I try, I spend hours and hours and dollars and dollars but I'm still not that parent.  Perhaps it's because our kids are super creative and can't just have one theme to their party.  For example Rachel's party....

It was Rachel's 10th birthday party last May.  She wanted a "Frozen/Minion" themed party.  Two awesome themes on their own.  Together?  Holy smokes I wondered how on Earth I'd put that together.  First off, Rachel wanted Anna to come to her party.  Fortunately for me I know an actual Princess and in exchange for an Anna dress, she came and helped with Rachel's party.
 
 
And, as you can see, I got some cute pictures with Princess Anna at the candy table and with the adorable grand kids.  I just didn't get a picture of Princess Anna with the birthday girl.  Another gold star for my worlds worst mom award.  Whatever.  Back to the party...
I was happy to make Princess Anna's dress, and I loved doing the embroidery and all - but I ran out of time and couldn't do the painting on the bottom of the skirt and the collar was way funky.  And the embroidered bodice (that I copied after extensive research online) came out looking like a Hawaiian Tiki man...
Ooga Booga Shaka Laka Boom Boom Tiki Man... that made me look like this when I looked at it after sewing it all together...
AARRRGGGGGHHHH!  and, of course, no time to change it.  

Then, I found these amazing printables on Pinterest so we could make our own Minions.  And I found some yellow paper plates and yellow lanterns at Hobby Lobby.  And then I spent hours cutting out these silly goggles and faces and making minions... 
   And, the birthday girl wanted a "candy bar" like she saw at someones wedding or baby shower or something...  So I went on a hunt for these cute little old fashioned candy jars and serving things to put the candy in.  Things in the Frozen colors and theme (like the rock candy on a stick).  The candy bar turned out rather pretty!
 
 I was able to plan the party ahead and ordered a bunch of matching candy and stuff from Oriental Trading Co.  There was lots left over, and know what?  We're so classy that I passed the extras out for Halloween this year and saved the actual Halloween candy for us...  greedy?  Tacky?  Whatever.  I don't have leftover party candy in my pantry and saved $$ by only buying a couple packages for the family (the good stuff, ya know?).
  
And then there's this adorable little cup I found in our cupboard... and this extra tiny but oh so cute scoop.  So adorable.  And on the left?  Store bought cookies.  Because I didn't have any more time/energy to bake the cookies.  Lame.  See?  I I'm not one of "those" moms.  The Martha Stewart moms.  I try, but... well...  I honestly do not know how these women do it.  If you're one of them, You're awesome (Honestly, awesome)- and thanks for raising the bar...  (sarcasm)...  because someone came up with the idea that Rachel found online.  The one with the blue jello in the ice trays?  Yah...
  They're weird, but hey - I made them, unlike the store bought cookies... AND THEN THE CAKE.  Who do I think I am?  I mean honestly.  What the heck is going on in my head sometimes?!?  Because I needed to make a Frozen/Minion cake.  And I chose to make fondant... and broke my precious Kitchen Aid mixer... then used the Bosch mixer and it didn't break so we had fondant.  All the time I really had a general idea of what I was doing but mostly I was making it up as I went along... and it took FOREVER.  And, because I'm cheap, I used the little toy Minion that sits on our Kitchen shelf with the chickens... that's another story... and then I used Anna and Elsa from our Disney Infinity Game... after covering the base with plastic wrap... and here you go.  The awkward finished cake...

Hours of work for something that is so weird. But it was yummy, Rachel was a very happy camper and everything was super fun.  Success.  Of course she pointed out everything that I had to take off the list because of time, ability and/or resource.  But whatever.  I did my best, which is why we should always buy a cake and have a party somewhere other than home...  

Which (finally) leads us to today.  Oh, and yesterday.  Because I figured I could still make the cake and just use regular homemade frosting and check out ideas to steal on Pinterest.  Um yah.  Eye roll because WHATWASITHINKING?!?  

The twin's have their birthday right after Halloween.  Each year I'm scurrying around getting everything together for Halloween.  Then it's like WAKE UP!  You've got to plan a party!  So last Saturday we asked the twins what they'd like to do for their birthday party.  Of course they wanted different things - and honestly they kinda get jipped a bit having to share their party, compromise on what to do, share a cake (because a couple years I made 2 separate cakes but seriously? Not any more...) and then I noticed that sometimes they get a gift to share instead of something for each of them (for the record - that's kinda lame... even if it's an amazingly huge gift).  And, in this I mean no offence and I'm really not greedy here - just talking like a momma bear - but because there's 2 kids I noticed that they often get cheaper or smaller gifts than the kids who have a party alone.  And I get it!  There's 2 in 1 and it's expensive!  But I think sometimes they get jipped, so I'm sharing the examples I've noticed.  Go ahead, hate me now - whatever.  I already told you I'm not a Martha Stewart mom.  

SO!  The twins decided to have another at home laser tag party.  I asked them what their theme was and I got two separate answers... and I decided I'd rather not ask what they wanted on their cake... and aside from cleaning up a bit I'm not really decorating... (yes, probably racked up a few gold stars for that award I told you about).  And, since I decided it would be super easy to just make their cake I made a trip to the Cake supply store in Phoenix (first time ever) and spend an HOUR, yes a whole hour slowly walking around and looking at everything.  Because I was thinking I was a Martha Stewart mom and all, I picked up some melting candy and some lego brick molds and some lego men molds.  Because the boys like legos.  And wow, I could make some candy for party favors and treats!  Yup.  I was still in that "of course I can do that" mode.  I'm like that.  With everything.  Always.  Until I get started.  Then I wonder what was I thinking??? Oh, and I printed out some cool laser tag invites for the kids to pass out to friends.  I was still in that Martha Stewart Mom mode so I gave them enough invites for their entire school class, their Cub pack, their Karate Class and some neighbors they play with.  They gave out over 30 invitations.  We usually don't get more than one or two people who RSVP.  This time I know, for sure, that 13 kids are coming. Because their parents RSVP'd.... we're thinking we will have close to 25 kids here tomorrow.  I'll let you know.  If I survive.  Last night, for the first time ever, I made candy lolly pops shaped like lego's, and candy lego men.  And there wasn't any good lego yellow at the store, so we have orange lego men.  Whatever.  And today I spent 6 hours - 6 HOURS - frosting and decorating their cake.  A Star Wars cake.  Because there's really no theme here - just stuff they like.  Another gold star?  Perhaps.  
 I decided it would be best to frost the cake with white before making the colored frosting and putting it on.  That way I could make sure I didn't get any cake mixed into the frosting when I was frosting it.  Um yah.  
That didn't work out so well, and I wasn't going for a purple cake.  So I grabbed the pastry paint brush and the food coloring and started painting.  Little by little, painting and painting. 

Here's the painted cake... 




And here's the painted cake after I sprayed the black edible spray paint on it.  I was going for a galactic outer space look.  I also made a half sheet cake with a round cake on it, to add levels and interest.  Yah - I thought up that when I was still thinking I was a MSM (Martha Stewart Mom)

Then I wrote on it.  FOUR TIMES.  Letters, seems easy, right?  well, I kept messing up and picking them off and starting again.  I finally left this writing on it.  Though it's far from perfect.  It says, "Happy Birthday Aaron & Benjamin".  With Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker fighting on the round cake, next to the weird looking death star.  Then there's the x-wing parked on the other side.  The kids added some amazing edible glitter in greens, purples, silvers and blues.

 


And then... then... a whole container of green glitter hit the floor.  And I actually looked around and saw the kitchen... and looked at the time... and realized I spent 6 hours on this bizarre cake and have a disaster of a kitchen that needs to be cleaned up... because I HATE messes, and yet no one else seems to realize so I'm always cleaning up after me, after the kids, after Sophie and her toys.  After all, if I can't train the kids to clean up their toys I guess I shouldn't think I can train the dog to clean up her toys, right?  Ok, mess rant over.


And here are some of our Lego suckers and orange lego men.  Oompa Loompa lego men.  They're hard to see here, but they're honestly really cute. And yummy!
And the moral of this ever long post?  Buy the cake.  Stop thinking I can do everything myself, and keep the xanax on hand because a zillion kids are coming over tomorrow.  And I have to go clean up the kitchen now.  Don't worry, I have more to catch you up on and I'll be blooging again soon!  Stay tuned because I've been fixing up the house!  DIY baby!