My only daughter just turned three years old and so I did what I always do when it comes to my kids. Too Much. Too much that usually ends in some kind of disaster, or at least the syndrome known as The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Birthday. I try to be all things to all people, and what I wind up is cranky, or sometimes with a sprained ankle. Although that got me out of Chuck-E-Cheese one year, so I consider that one to be an act of God. This birthday was no different. Alice had 2 birthday parties previously, but they were family only, and her brothers had twice had parties with friends. This situation needed to be remedied. Alice is still a little young to have real friends, so I invited the daughters of some of my friends who she had occasionally played with. I only had one concrete premise. There must be a doll cake. A doll cake, for those who don't know, is a cake baked in a dome shape that serves as the skirt for a Barbie-type fashion doll. You shove the doll in up to her waist, cover her injection-molded breasts with frosting and voila, a doll wearing a southern bell dress made of cake! Every little girl's dream!
I had always heard you could use a Pampered Chef batter bowl to cook the skirt in but then I was warned that it was just a hair too short to accommodate an 11 1/2 inch fashion doll. "You have to cut the feet off," my friend advised me. That seemed like a perfectly awful waste of Barbie feet so I asked around and found there was an even more gruesome solution. A Doll Pick.
A doll pick is essentially a doll head, torso and arms, only it looks like it has been impaled on a pike. I tried to hide it from Alice partially to surprise and partially because it was so darn creepy but she discovered it. "What happened to the doll's body?" she asked, which was a question I found I could not answer.
I only realized after I had invited the little girls to the party that oh my lord my husband is working 60 plus hours a week plus going to school two nights a week plus OH MAN I just had a baby. What was I thinking? To get this house in party order would require not just cleaning but a total reorganization. For instance, why are there piles of cardboard in my kitchen and 2 bags of plastic styrofoam peanuts on top of the book shelves? Not only are there things piled onto every flat surface in human reach but my three older hooligans have been known to dismantle a clean room in a matter of moments. Even if I got the house clean enough for guests there is no guarantee it would stay that way.
So in a moment of desperation I decided to have the party at a local park and prayed that there would be no rain, although secretly I also prayed that there WOULD be rain so I could cancel this madness, which was giving me more and more anxiety the longer I dwelled on it.
I am not a detail-oriented person. Selecting food and decorations are fun for me, but it when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of making sure to have enough utensils and not forgetting to bring a pitcher for the beverages and such, I slowly spiral downward into the fetal position. I was coming to terms with the fact that I was having a party at all when I found out my mother and father could not come, nor could my grandmother. Enter party number two, or party number one, since we held it on Friday night, the actual date of Alice's birth.
I stayed up for hours the night before making homemade fresh strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, one batch for the end of school picnic that our homeschool co-op holds every year, and one for the family party. This was completely unnecessary of course, but I have an unreasonable need to be liked and the quickest way to do that is to feed people. And it works. I am very popular.
The party at my Mom's went off without a hitch, except for the fact that Alice COULD not blow out her candles. I finally snuck up behind her and added a puff of my own or we would have been there all night. The cupcakes were delicious, every present was delightful, and Alice thoroughly enjoyed her moment in the spotlight.
Enter Party #2. I was nervous about getting to the park early and setting up, but my insanely-loyal-to-his-terrible-job husband was working from home until the last second. I left about half of the party accoutrements at home, which ended up not mattering because LORD was it WINDY. Apparently those blue arrows on the weather forecast? WIND. The sky was bright and sunny, but the wind was outrageous and cold. If I had brought bubbles they would have popped the minute they left the wand. Alice's china tea set that her great-grandmother made would have been obliterated. As it was my husband had to go back home for a roll of duct tape when it became clear that there was no way the tablecloth would stay on the table without it.
Slowly the birthday guests arrived and it became apparent that no amount of well-meaning mothers could salvage my original intent for the party. Plates and napkins and coffee cups and gifts were flying. One sweet girl dumped sparkling pink lemonade on herself (aided by the wind) and cried "Mommy! I am unhappy!" My friend Jesika pointed out that the shelter house was effectively acting as a wind tunnel. She did save the day in one respect: since she never cleans out her car (her words!) she had enough jackets for all the little girls to borrow.
We did manage to eat the doll cake, which turned out decently despite the fact that I am no cake decorator and I had to bake the darn thing for over an hour just to get it to cook through. I am sort of known for ruining cakes, so at least that brought me some comfort. I actually remembered to bring the candles. I have a habit of buying birthday candles and then leaving them in the junk drawer and then having to borrow a pillar candle or something at the last moment, so this was a real win for me. Until I went to light them, and WOOSH. There went the wind again. The one time I actually remembered the candles they were completely useless.
I brought foam tiaras and hand mirrors for the girls to decorate with stickers and jewels, but those were sent home with the goodie bags. It was not crafting weather.
With gifts and snacks out of the way, and all other activities called off due to inclement weather, we finally decided to just let the kids play on the playground. The runny-nosed birthday girl with her tulle skirt drooping and wings askew opted instead to sit in the van and eat her birthday cake. When my husband climbed into the van he turned and said "Well, sweetie...did you have a good birthday?" Alice replied matter of factly,
"I think it was stupid that I had two parties."