Jack’s Bowling Birthday Party

Sometimes Jack gets the short end of the stick with birthday parties.  He gets parties, but they don’t get quite the time and effort that Casey’s do.  Of course he hasn’t noticed a difference so in the end it seems to work out for us.  Casey is still asking what kind of crafts we’re going to do at Jack’s party though.
One year we thought we wouldn’t have a big party until all my friends convinced me to have a little playdate party for him.  This is the one where Tugger ate the cake and I had to make a last minute call to a friend to pick up a cake.  Last year we had just moved into the area and didn’t really know anyone.  On Jack’s birthday we went to a Hail & Farewell for Pat’s office and the Captain’s family got him a cake and some sweet people who didn’t even know him brought presents for him!  
This year we were trying to work around friends being in and out of town, so we decided to have an early party.  Jack originally wanted to take some friends to a baseball game but the schedules didn’t work out.  When I suggested bowling, he thought it was great.  So we invited three of his best friends, I grabbed some Star Wars themed plates, napkins and balloons at the store and we planned a party.  
It also happened that Jack’s party was in the middle of Vacation Bible School week for us and after I spent a morning with incoming 1st graders, I was not feeling ready for a bowling party.  But I pushed through, got some brownies and ice cream made, blew up some balloons and Jack was happy.  
As soon as the boys got here, an epic Star Wars battle began and there was a lot of energy in this house.    I was kind of afraid to take that energy to the bowling alley by myself, but once we got to the bowling alley they all settled down and started focusing on getting strikes!  I really had fun watching the boys bowl.  (But I’m going to have to join in next time I go!)

After 2 games of bowling, we headed back to the house to make pizza and eat cake.  Jack was so impatient to open his presents that he didn’t even want to blow out the candles on his cake.  Then he didn’t even eat a piece of cake until after all his friends left.  He was too busy putting Legos together!

Nana bought some great cake toppers for Jack’s Ocean City birthday celebration back in May and Jack wanted to use them again.  General Grievous and Anakin Skywalker battled it out on top of the brownies.
I think Jack was pretty happy with his birthday party.  He really liked bowling so we’ll have to go back a few more times this summer.  And I was happy that everyone seemed to have a good time without me trying to recreate anything from Pinterest.  I didn’t even have party favors – gasp!  
Only 2 more days until someone officially turns 7!
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Jack’s Birthday

Thankfully, Jack didn’t ask us to get up early to try to surprise him this year for his birthday.  Last year we were at the shore and unwrapping presents by 6am after his “surprise” party.

Instead, Jack decided to try to recreate the sleepless night before he was born minus the contractions.  He was obviously very excited about his birthday and wasn’t sleeping well.  I ended up in his room at some point, tossing and turning with him.  Then he woke up at 5:30.

So it was a rough start to the morning but once he dug into his presents, he was much better.  This year I bought only things that he wanted instead of buying things that I thought he would like.  It worked out pretty well as he was very happy with everything.

We had a special birthday lunch for which he chose the menu.  He wanted pizza and when I asked where he wanted it from, he told me Domino’s with a little attitude as if there were any other place from which he would want pizza.  And then he wanted a watermelon, feta and mint salad.  It was really good and he actually ate it.  He asked for a blueberry upside down cake for his cake.  I was very happy to oblige with a cake that required no decorating.  (He was sitting beside me during packing a couple weeks ago while I was looking at some recipes which is why he picked these certain things.)

We had a birthday lunch because for the afternoon and evening we went to a pool party at the Captain’s house.  It was a Hail and Farewell for some of the officers at Pat’s work.  The kids were in the pool for a good 4 hours.  There was also a little impromptu surprise birthday party for Jack while we were there.  He got a few gifts from some very nice people who barely knew him and a big cake.  He thought it was great and was very excited about his toys.

It was a pretty good birthday considering we got our household goods less than a week before and knew very few people here.  

A Princess Leia Birthday Party

On Saturday we held Casey’s birthday party for family and friends.  She decided on a Princess Leia themed birthday party.  And why not, since her first movie quote was a Princess Leia line (directed at Han Solo) – “Why you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy looking nerf-herder!”  It took a while for me to decipher that about a year ago when she said it, but once I did all I could do was laugh.

Since there apparently aren’t a lot of 4 year old girls who request Princess Leia parties I had to be a little creative with my theme.  Casey greeted the guests at the door in her Princess Leia ensemble – dress, belt and Princess Leia buns headband, but I don’t have a picture of her in complete costume.

I visited a lot of websites and blogs for inspiration but it was actually Walmart’s party aisle that gave me the decorations I needed.  We went with some black and pink colors and found some generic Princess paper plates.  I put a black tablecloth on the dining table and sprinkled it with pink stars.  I found some blue and black sparkly tulle one day and thought I would drape it somewhere and decorate.  Turns out I didn’t get much tulle in one roll – enough to decorate two chairs and the top of the china cabinet.

I wanted to have some crafts and games for the kids to do while they were here.  I found a cute paper craft on this blog and used her idea to make my own pieces.  I set them up at the table so the kids could make R2-D2, Yoda and/or Chewbacca.  I also printed out some coloring pages from starwars.com.  

 Then we played a rousing game of Pin the Bun on Princess Leia.  Jack was able to peek through the back and see what he was doing so he managed to get perfect placement of his bun.  I thought about playing Princess Leia Says but the kids were distracted by the toys and they were all playing so nicely.

For lunch I made Thai Chicken Wraps and Mediterranean Veggie & Hummus Wraps from Rachael Ray.  Instead of grilling the chicken I made a Teriyaki Chicken in the crockpot the day before.  The kids were welcome to eat these wraps but I also made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and peanut butter and banana rollups…just in case.

I made the same chocolate cake that I made last week and ordered a special princess Leia topper from it from an Etsy store called CrumbyArt.  She did a great job crafting Princess Leia into fondant and it was better than any form of Princess Leia that I could make or would want to make out of a cake.  I also made some cupcakes and decorated them to look like Ewoks.

Casey was very excited about her party and as I was frantically trying to finish everything up in the kitchen in the minutes before it started she stood by the door and asked me how many minutes until her party started at least 50 times.  When everyone got here she crafted, she colored, she pinned the bun on Leia, she played, she ate and she definitely blew out her candles.  She had a great time with her friends and with Nana and Pop Pop who came to celebrate too.

I figured that the kids were old enough to watch the present unwrapping and Casey was very excited to do that.  She got some great gifts from her friends and made sure that she thanked everyone.

For party favors I went with notebooks and markers.  The boys got Star Wars notebooks and Superhero markers and the girls got pretty pink notebooks with Disney Princess or Fairy markers.  I printed out a cute Leia picture and label to put on the bags.

At the end of the day, Pat thought it was a good party because there was good food, good cake, a happy birthday girl and it didn’t cost too much.  And that was my goal.

Happy Birthday to my Princess!

Star Wars Birthday Party

We had a birthday party for Jack on the 3rd and invited all of our friends.  My goal was for a simple but mostly homemade party.  A lot of the work I wanted to get done a couple weeks before the party didn’t happen because I was sick and then we went on vacation.  Thankfully, my goal of simple allowed us to get everything done on Saturday and Sunday morning.  
Jack originally asked for a Darth Vader cake.  I was going to buy the Wilton cake mold but I procrastinated.  Every cake I looked at on the internet looked so elaborate and I really didn’t want to put a lot of effort into the decorating.  While I was looking around the blog world one day, Jack saw some Star Wars cupcakes that had little plastic toppers.  I was going to order some but then I found some free printables (at Skip to my Lou) and as soon as he said he liked them, I printed them out and cut out the circles.

Jack asked for strawberry cake with chocolate frosting so I found some recipes.  They both turned out pretty to be pretty tasty!

I made lightsabers out of foam pool noodles and some duct tape.  Actually, Pat made the lightsabers.  I envisioned a big lightsaber battle in the back yard but mostly there were occasional duels.  These were also the parting gifts for all the kids along with some Lego shaped candy that I found at a candy store.  You can build with it and then eat it!

Lightsaber Arsenal

 A couple hours before party, I texted everyone to bring bathing suits.  It was really hot so we set up the slip’n’slide.

The boys were having fun with Jack’s car wash

Pat worked the grill to cook burgers and dogs.  I picked up some fresh corn on the cob from the farmers market, made a broccoli salad, sliced up a watermelon and made some lemonade to complete dinner.  Simple, easy and delicious.  Especially since Pat did the grilling.

 We also had a pinata.  I wish I could capture how Jack says it.  It’s very enunciated – pin – yata.  I guess I have no pictures of it.  Jack wanted a Death Star.  My original plan was to find a soccer ball pinata and paint the white spots grey.  But the party store had a disco ball that happened to look like a Death Star…maybe just a little bit shinier!  Pat filled it with Star Wars fruit snacks and the kids took turns pulling strings until it spilled its goodies.  (I originally had no idea that you have to fill your own pinata.)

We sang a little happy birthday tune and Jack blew out all his candles.

He then proceeded to eat his cake like it was his first birthday instead of his fifth!  He said it was too crumbly and that’s how he had to eat it.

And I couldn’t not post this picture of Casey and her beautiful smile as she gets ready to eat her cupcake.

I was tired (and so was Jack) by the end of it but I told Pat it was my favorite birthday party that we’d had.  The next morning Jack said, “I’m really lucky that all my friends got me such great presents!  We’ll have to send them thank you notes.”

Casey’s 3rd Birthday Party

Yesterday was Casey’s birthday party.  We held it at a place called the Bounce House, which is exactly what it sounds like.  The kids run around and bounce on all the big inflatable objects and get all worn out.  Then they get very hungry, eat lots of chips and wait patiently for the pizza to arrive.  Then they eat pizza and go bounce some more.  Then they eat cake and bounce a little more.  By the end of the two hours, hopefully they are exhausted and ready for bed!
I struggled with this party a little bit.  Pat would have been happy if we’d just ordered pizza and bought a cake.  I wanted it a little more personal and homemade.  It was also a princess party, but there’s not much princess-y when you’re at a bounce house and 2/3 of the guests are boys.  I wasn’t sure what to get/make for party favors that was somewhat gender neutral.  So a lot of things ended up being a little more last minute that I would have liked because I simply couldn’t make a decision, couldn’t find the right balance between getting junky favors and not spending way too much time making something. 
Somehow I stumbled onto making homemade marshmallows.  I almost didn’t make them because everything else I made on Saturday (day before the party) didn’t turn out right.  I was surprised when the marshmallows turned out to be the easiest thing I made.  And they were so cute.  I cut heart shaped out of them and put them in little bags.  
    
Leftover marshmallows after I cut out the hearts

Cute little marshmallows

These are the marshmallows all bagged up along with a chocolate covered pretzel.  Jack and Casey helped make the pretzels and had a great time.  They weren’t quite as polished as I might have liked, but I’m guessing they still tasted good with the 3 to 5 year old crowd.  Then I added some Play-Do and stickers and put them all in a party favor cup.  A cup because that’s what I had and I wasn’t making another trip to a store.

Pat took Casey to get a princess dress for her party.  She was so excited to put it on and put a pretty headband in her hair.  She wanted to wear the princess heels but she had to suffice with just bringing them in the car.  And that’s Jack, who doesn’t like you to take a picture of him unless he thinks he being deliberately excluded.  Then he jumps right in.
 

And here is the princess cake.  I was terrified to decorate this lady, but I thought she turned out pretty well for my first foray into princess cake decorating.  And it turned out to be easier than I thought.  As long as you remember to put the decorating tip into the bottom of the piping bag before you put all the icing in there, it’s not too bad.  Once I started making all those pretty little flower bits, it was kind of fun. Casey was completely confused as to how the doll got clothes and how I made her dress.

Of all the guests at the party, Casey probably spent the least amount of time bouncing.  She just wanted to hang out in the party room and look at all the pretty plates and decorations.  I guess she was just being a princess.  I even brought pants because I wasn’t sure she would want to bounce around in her dress but  she preferred to stay in character.

There was some intense air hockey.  Jack loves this game.

Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday dear Casey, Happy birthday to you!

I had a great time at the party, and Casey did too.  It was great to see all our friends and all their children having a fun time.

When we got home,  Casey opened her presents and she is one lucky princess who now owns every princess accessory she could want or hope for.