Friday, July 20, 2007

And so it begins...

It's July 20 and I have officially entered the time of year known in Jenworld as Birthday Madness.

Elegant's birthday is in a little over six weeks and Graceful's is two weeks after that. Each child will be having a birthday party. Each child has certain expectations of what that party will involve. Luckily, my girls' hopes, dreams, and wishes aren't huge. I, however, seem to go off my nut every year at this time, in spite of all my best attempts to retain my sanity.

Some examples:

In 2003, Graceful decided to have a mermaid-themed party. Four days before the planned event, Hurricane Isabelle roared up the East Coast with a fury that left thousands of people without electricity for days. We were lucky and didn't lose our power, but our yard was a mess of soggy earth and downed tree branches. The party went on. On the morning of the event, I created a "mermaid grotto" out of the girls' swingset. During the party, the children decorated treasure chests that I had already painted gold, got candy from a mermaid pinata, and went on a treasure hunt to find a chest (made by me) filled with their goody bags (appropriately themed).

In 2004, the girls decided to have a joint Care Bear party. I spent days on my hands and knees painting a backdrop for photographing the girls. I also searched high and low for goody bag items and decorations that fit the theme.

Graceful as her favorite Care Bear

In 2005, the girls decided to again share a party; this one was rainforest themed. We spent the summer creating props out of cardboard and paint, including animals to place around the backyard: a full-size reticulated python (hanging in a tree), a jaguar peeking out of the bushes, birds and amphibians in the bushes, and so forth. We also used streamers to create the Amazon River, complete with a crocodile peering from the murky depths. I hot-glued bugs onto explorer's hats and collected cardboard toilet paper tubes for weeks for the children to make binoculars. The party included lunch, so I found out each child's food preferences in advance and created around 16 individual bag lunches. Insanity.

Elegant with her bug hat.

What's that animal stalking the children?

In 2006, the girls talked about having a joint Ancient Egypt party, complete with a tomb to explore. At that point, I decided that this was too much and left a Birthday Express catalog lying open to a page about fairy parties. The girls took the bait and I ordered everything for the party. Having a simpler party made my life easier and I actually enjoyed the day, even if I did go overboard on Graceful's and Elegant's costumes.

This year, we're keeping things simple and, for once, setting a budget that I'm working hard to stay within as a way to keep my grand plans in check. So in early September, Elegant will have having a fancy schmancy tea party here at the house with a few of her friends. Two weeks later, Graceful is hosting a horse-themed sleepover. It should be easy, as long as I stick to my notes and don't go crazy.

In between all this, we have a quite a few other things going on. We have four other birthdays within the family in August, plus the start of school. Pete's birthday is the day after Elegant's and our wedding anniversary is two days after that. From September 1 - September 21, we have three other family birthdays, as well as numerous other friends and neighbors with birthdays. It appears that, through the years, lots of people seem to really enjoy themselves from Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve.

So I recently ordered invitations for the girls' parties and yesterday sat down in front of the computer to start looking at decorations, party favors, and craft supplies. I'll be reminding myself almost daily to keep things simple and not go overboard.

Do we really believe this will happen?

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