Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Grace's 8th Birthday

Just weeks before her 8th birthday, Grace decided that her obsession with dolphins was permanently over and that now she loved penguins.  Only penguins.  When I commented about how cute it is that she was going through another "phase," she strongly corrected me.  "Mom, this is not a phase.  I will always love penguins.  Trust me."

So we started in preparing for the World's Best Penguin Pajama Party Ever!  She'd known for a couple of years that this party could be as big as she wanted it to be.  I think her first planning session (there were many) was sometime in 2011.  And there were several more to be had.  One night a few months ago when we let the girls have a "sleep over" in Grace's bed, they stayed up until 9pm planning all of their upcoming birthday parties.  Nearly every page of Grace's journal was taken up with different themes, different cake ideas, different guest lists and different to-do lists for Mom (which always include "ask mom to please clean up the house").

I think that the birthday cake was the real pull towards having a penguin-themed party.  She found a cute penguin cake in our Family Fun magazine, and I believe it's what launched her non-phaseal obsession with said flightless bird.  She was less than confident in my abilities to recreate the cake.  I was overly confident in my abilities.  The result proved me to be right!  (Why do I so love being right??)

Grace's only real struggle in planning this party was creating the invite list.  She feared nothing more than a girl coming to the party and not having anyone to play with.  So her entire guest list was based off of a detailed friendship analysis.  She immediately mandated that only 2nd graders would be invited, since any 1st or 3rd grade friend might feel "too old or too young."  And then it was simply a matter of matching up each guest to at least one BFF.  This process was even more grueling than you can imagine, and took almost 7 days to finalize.  I sent the evite out 10 days or so before the party, but 6 days later, as things changed at school i guess, she was still making changes to it.   I'd told her she could invite up to 15.  I think she capped it at 12--nice and even.

She decided to do a gift swap because, and i quote, "our house is too small for all those gifts."  Now, I don't really think that 2100 sq ft is too small for a few extra bracelet kits or nail polish sets, but I wasn't about to argue with her.  On top of having less crap in my house, a gift swap meant no party favors--win win!

The main event of the party was that every girl got her own professional manicure.  Laura, our friends' sister, has every fingernail accessory you've never heard of, AND she brings with her a cotton candy machine!!  Can you believe such a person exists? Grace couldn't either, and was so happy that she agreed to come to the party.

So, with a Penguin Pinata, a Penguin Poster, Penguin colored everything and the World's Most Amazing Penguin Cake (if I do say so) we set off to have what would go down in Grace's life history at the Absolutely Best Birthday Party EVER!!!

Grace with her favorite birthday gift--Penny the Penguin
No wait, this was her favorite birthday gift.

Pin the Nose on Penguin
Pedicure time

Grace's nails turned out so cute!! Click on the picture to see them up close--they're penguins!!
Pinata time
Grace having a moment with the pinata, before beating it to death

Cotton Candy
The totally adorable cake! (why must my camera make this white cake look yellow??)
Isn't it adorable?  The penguins are holding their eggs--could anything be cuter??
Happy Birthday Grace!
It wasn't until the end of the party, when so many of the girls were saying "i've had too much sugar, can I take my cotton candy home with me?" that I realized just how polar opposite this party was from her first party, 7 years ago.  Her first birthday cake had been made with whole grain flour, almost no sugar, and as many carrots as i could add to it and still  have it hold a shape.  And that's what I fed the guests, too!  (But theirs had a slightly sweetened frosting.)

Now, seven years later, Grace's party had started out with games where the girls could win candy.   The pinata's 2 lb weight limit was quadrupled with obscene amounts of candy, and the cake was made out of sugar-loaded ice cream, topped with cookies, a little artificial food coloring and glittery sugar.  And last, but not least, was the cotton candy.  Buddy the Elf couldn't have planned a more sugar-loaded event.

But no one tossed their cookies, or their candies.  All had a great time.  And when the last friend left Grace told me that it was the best party of her life!

I loved hearing her say those words.

Oh, and P.S. She's totally over penguins.