Fonticulus Fides

Thursday, August 10, 2006

July Birthday Recaps

So, amidst all the horrible wars and other problems in the world, we managed to celebrate two birthdays in July. Edyn turned 4 on the first and we celebrated with family on the 9th. Zooey’s seventh birthday was on the 30th, and since he’s gone to every-other-year parties now, it was just a quiet day at home with a close friend over to play and eat cake.

Edyn had insisted on a Princess party, and tomboy that I am, it wasn’t the easiest thing for me to pull off. Plus, there are more boys than girls among the grandkids in this family, so I had to have stuff the boys would enjoy. Luckily, princesses kiss frogs and boys generally like frogs, so I had my answer.

We started out with a craft, and Edyn picked out fun-foam crowns in bright colors with stick-on foam shapes and letters. This was enjoyable for everyone, even our 11-year-old nephew and 2-year-old Lola. Great-Grandma M asked Lola to lend her crown, so Lola ran over to me and said we needed to make one more. She did a good job, and there is a particularly cute photo of her and Great-Grandma wearing their crowns.

After the craft, we played a version of “Hot Potato” which involved tossing a stuffed frog from player to player, and when the music stopped, whomever left holding the frog had to kiss it. The frog in question was a brightly patterned corduroy frog my mother-in-law had stitched up for my husband when he was very young, and it had just the “royal” look to it. It was funny to watch the boys try to ditch that frog as fast as they could so they wouldn’t be caught kissing it! (Zooey, of course, was caught and hammed it up a LOT.)

Then was the cake, and Edyn threw me for a loop a week before the party by insisting that the cake had to be a princess. I was planning on making a castle cake, which I’d done when Zooey was four with ice cream cones and what not. So, I searched the Internet for tips on making one of those cakes with a Barbie stuck into the middle of it and rescued Edyn’s cast-off “Ariel the Little Mermaid” doll from the give-away bag. It had dreadlocks by the time Edyn was done playing with it, so I also had to search the Internet for instructions on restoring Barbie hair. Let me tell you, the ladies who do that for fun are bordering on OCD. It took me two and a half hours (2 different evenings) to get it remotely nice, and I cut off about 4 inches of hair in the end, plus braided some bits that just would NOT smooth out again.

Based on instructions for using decorating frosting vs. fondant, I went the fondant route. You can buy that stuff pre-made at a craft store now, and all you have to do is dye it the right color, roll it out like a pie crust, and drape it over the cake. It even looks kind of like fabric when it’s done. Then you use left over fondant to build up a bodice on the dress. I had trouble getting that to stick and look nice, and I’m no dress designer, but Edyn was pretty thrilled with her princess cake. A a lot of people thought the creation was a centerpiece, not the cake, so there were a lot of oohs and ahhs when I stuck candles in the skirt and lit them. (That was a trip, too, because I didn’t want to melt the doll’s hands – I stuck the candles out at an angle. Had I invited enough people, I would have placed the doll cake on a half-sheet, so there would have been a flat surface to put candles on, but our party was small).

As for how fondant tastes...well, it’s a little bit like a marshmallow, but the texture is more chewy than that. Some folks liked it (Zooey and a few others), but the rest of us just set it aside.

When cake was consumed and presents were open, I had the kids put on their swimsuits for outdoor games. The first was the Prince(ss) and the Pauper relay. I had to tell the story because most of the kids didn’t know it for some reason. Then I divided the boys against the girls – the boys had extra players, but they were all older than the girls, so I told them that was their handicap to even the race. For each team, I had a set of royal clothes and a set of pauper clothes. The first person dressed as a prince(ss), ran to a lawn chair, changed into pauper clothes, than ran to the garage, tagged it and returned to start. Then they pulled off the pauper clothes for the next teammate to put on, who ran to the chair to change into royal clothes. And onwards. It was pretty funny!

Then it was out to the driveway to play the Princess (or Prince) and the Pea. Again, I had to tell the story because only my kids seemed to know it. Our kiddie pool was filled up with water balloons. Some of the water balloons contained green plastic pony beads. On “go,” the kids grabbed balloons and sat on them until they broke, then looked for a pea. Once they found a pea, they were out. But it was so fun, none of them wanted to stay out, so they just all kept sitting on balloons. This was a hit – we should have made more balloons! Poor little Edyn, though, she weighs so little, she had a dickens of a time popping a balloon with her hiney.

Then the kids just played in the pool and on the slip-and-slide until the end of the party. I didn’t have time to do elaborate goody bags (I wanted to make velvet drawstring bags), but each got a silver lunch bag with their names written in calligraphy and jewels glued on here and there. Inside was a lollypop shaped like a crown, a ring pop, vinyl frog “squirters”, chocolate coins and a few other treats.

Zooey’s non-party was much simpler, as all it required was calling a friend and arranging a play date. As it happened, it worked out best for the friend to come over on Zooey’s actual birthday...and to bring his little sister to play with my girls. The plan was to play, watch a movie and eat cake.

The cake was up in arms as Zooey kept changing his mind until 2 days before his birthday. He finally settled on Chronicles of Narnia (his current favorite book series AND movie). I tried desperately to talk him out of it because I had NO idea how I was going to make that happen, but he was so confident I could do it, I gave in.

If you know me at all, you know that decorator tubes of icing and me are not a good combination. I like to frost a cake solid and then stick things on top. So bright and early Saturday morning, I started calling all the toy stores and department stores in town, looking for Chronicles of Narnia toys. Nobody had any, because the movie came out last year.

Finally, I thought of a Christian bookstore. They tend to carry that kind of thing no matter how out of date. Sure enough, they had some options. I figured we’d buy a set, and then I’d frost the cake grass green and set up a battle scene. Not unlike Zooey’s Star Wars III cake last year, which was a volcano with Obi-Wan and Annikan action figures stationed on it, light sabers drawn.

At the store, Zooey picked out an Aslan figure with biting action and he told me he wanted Aslan jumping over the rocks to attack the White Witch. Uh...okay...So how was I going to pull off rocks?

At home, I broke several graham crackers into irregular shapes, then stacked them with thin coats of chocolate frosting in between. The more irregular, the better. Then I got out some almond bark and died it grey. (If you try this at home, be sure to use gel or paste food coloring, because the liquid drops will ruin almond bark.)

Grey is a fun color to mix with food coloring. I started with a smidgen of yellow, then added a little purple. That wasn’t right at all, so in went a little brown and I chided myself for not having any black on hand. This mixture was too red, so I put in a bit of green and got a passable grey color. Later on, I found black food coloring gel hiding in my cupboard and smacked myself on the forehead. It would have been much easier to make grey with that! And I could have had streaks of black and brown in it to make it look even rockier.

Anyway, the graham cracker stacks were coated with greyed almond bark and left on waxed paper to set up. They actually turned out well and tasted very good. These were set on the grass-green cake and Aslan was propped up with clear drinking straws so that he appeared to be jumping over them. Zooey added the candles (one #7 and six regular ones so he had seven flames to blow out), and he was very happy with the results!

That’s all for today...

--Sparki

2 Comments:

  • WE're fortunate that our Kids' birthdays are on subsequent days, so we just have one big party every year, and everyone feels special, yet connected. Luckily, our 3 yr-old twin girls like the same type of stuff that our 6 yr-old boy does, so it makes gifts and decorating much easier.
    Big Boy starts kindergarten @ St. Teresa's this week, and he's stoked that a girlfriend/fiancee from pre-school will be in his class.

    By Blogger St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse, at 2:30 AM  

  • Ah, Kindergarten for the first time! Make sure you have fresh film and batteries in the camera. They look so grown up the first time they put on those uniforms! And St. Teresa's is a wonderful school. Hooray!

    By Blogger Sparki, at 11:33 AM  

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