It was my son’s birthday last week. Birthdays are so exciting when you are a child. It is one of my great delights in motherhood making birthdays special for the children so that they will be some of the golden memories etched into the memoir of childhood. I find having the particular date gives me focus and ambition – kind of like a due date. I’m the type of person that needs the due date in order to do the work. Give me an open ended assignment and I cannot guarantee it will be achieved.
I had a bit of trouble this year trying to decide what to buy Jonty for his birthday. He has so many toys, and even though he plays with them constantly and is not the type of kid to neglect his toys, he really doesn’t need any more. In the end, we decided to give him an experience. We have promised him a trip to Australia Zoo to celebrate his 8th year with his family. We’re happy with the concept that it is a present to be enjoyed as a whole family, it encourages a sense of community rather then being focussed on self and fosters a feeling of belonging. We will make it special for him by paying extra for him to have an animal encounter. (Although one of the cheaper animals, although it would have been nice if we had a few hundred dollars spare to let him pat a tiger.) He will also be in charge of deciding the itinerary for the day and all decisions will be deferred to him. Unfortunately he is going to have to wait until September when soccer season is over before we do the trip to the Sunshine Coast for this special day, so we had a few gifts of a DVD, CD’s and his first ‘real’ Bible. The kids gave him an Iron Man toy also.
This year Jonty had a Pizza Party. Strictly it was not a party. The Accountant was very clear about this. However, Jonty disregarded his father’s restrictions with the secure knowledge that extended family always celebrate one another’s birthdays. He also knew that this meant his five cousins would be showing up. Party. Right there. He also knows that his mother is amiable when it comes to inviting people around, so he politely asked months in advance if his best friend could come around on his birthday. Which I agree to. Fully knowing that because of the nature of the “Not Party” affair I would invite his best friend’s whole family and not the child alone. (As a side note, it is most convenient when your children befriend your friend’s children. This is the first year I have known Jonty’s friend’s family, and it makes life so much easier!) Once again knowing that I am a soft touch, he also requested that his kids church leaders come and since they are an absolutely awesome young married couple who have established a great relationship with Jonty and Trent. Let’s just say that encouraging solid role models in my children’s life is worth cooking an extra pizza for.
So, before we knew it with aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, child friend plus sibling and grown up friends we had clocked up 12 kids and 15 adults invited to his 8th Birthday celebration. (Not Party!) The Accountant is not known for his culinary ability, except for making Pizza. In this family, pizza making is a Daddy domain. Last month after hearing the children declare that “Mummy can’t cook pizza”, I determined to show them that of course I could cook pizza. Thanks to an expired batch of expired yeast my efforts were sabotaged and Daddy still wears the golden pizza crown.
And so, Daddy was requested to make pizza for the crowd. The Accountant and I were up until late the night before getting everything ready so that when we returned from church we would have as little to do as possible. The Accountant made all the bases and loaded the pizzas, I did the chopping. It was actually a really nice evening chatting away to one another as we did this.
|Pizza making in progress|
After arriving home from church the next day, The Accountant made some more pizza dough up so that the children could roll their dough and create their own pizzas.
|The triplets at work.|
This was a great activity for the children and they were really excited and loaded it with veggies they may not have eaten if anyone else had put it on their pizza.
|The birthday boy and Daddy|
It did also create a bit of a late lunch because the kids pizzas went in the oven first, so it took quite some time before there was enough room to start cooking the pizzas for the adults.
|One small girl watching her pizza being cooked.|
I think it all worked in the end with everyone being patient. (Although there could have been a few hungry adults who were just being polite.)
The best thing about being a “Not Party” was that I didn’t need to worry about party games, the kids just disappeared outside and were happy playing in the yard for hours. (Truthfully, the most stressful thing I find about children’s parties are the children who demand entertainment and structure.) In fact I had a bowl full of lollies for the kids, that I didn’t put out for them, they were just so busy that it didn’t happen.
For those familiar with the Australian classic, the original Woman’s Weekly Party Cakes book, Jonty chose the jelly pool out of that. In my children’s cake making career, (now spanning 7 years starting at Jonty’s first birthday), I have never completely followed a picture of any one cake. This year it was no different. When I was trying to think what figures to put swimming in the pool, I came up with the idea of having Lego characters. I bought a small box with a shark, jet ski and surfer, and ended up coming up with the idea of doing a beach rather then a pool.
Jonty didn’t care whether it was a beach or a pool, just so long it had chocolate biscuits on the side and jelly in the middle!
|The shadow is a kids hand, this is the only photo I could get without a kids hand in it. They kept on pointing and trying to touch. Very popular cake!|
So voila! A beach cake, blue icing on the outside since the ocean doesn’t have edges like a pool, crushed up biscuit for the sand and Lego characters drifting around or lounging on sour strap towels. It was a little hard to take a photo of the cake unfortunately. Normally I would take a photo when I finished icing it, but because this cake wasn’t finished until I put the jelly in just before serving, I had a crowd of children around the cake while we tried to take some pictures. I must say, jelly with cake is a huge hit with the kids!
|See, look at the hands. They just couldn’t help themselves!|
So, do you put limits on parties? Have you given your child non-toy presents? I’d love to hear how you make your children’s birthdays special. Did you or your siblings ever have the jelly pool when you were a child? (My sister had it.)
I am linking up with Essentially Jess for I Blog On Tuesday.