Sunday, August 15, 2010

Erik celebrates his 3rd birthday!

Hmmmm, not sure why all the pictures uploaded small so the layout is messed up and not very aesthetically pleasing. Okay, I'm over it. Get ready for more party details than any of you care to hear!

Erik sort of liked dinosaurs, and we had this dinosaur tent, so I decided to prod him toward this theme for his birthday party. Thankfully, he is too young to understand when he's being manipulated, and became very excited about all things dinosaur and volcano (PBS' newest show Dinosaur Train didn't hurt my cause).

It's not the most original theme, but I tried to approach it from clever or at least homemade angles, which makes it seem clever, and I snagged a bundle of bargains on dinosaur merchandise in the months preceding the party. So actually, minus the food, I probably spent less than $20 on the party, including favors. I also probably spent more than 20 hours on the party. Definitely, if my sidekicks' hours are included.

Dinosaur tracks led up to our front door and into the jungle...

Our diaper genie served as the perfect volcano.

Dinosaur tracks also framed pics from Erik's first three years of life.

The menu was simple and kid-friendly: 1. meat and cheese cut-outs (if you ever attempt this, try not to use flimsy cookie cutters or expect to lose a few dino limbs)
2. muddied fossil shortbread cookies (kids making them shown above) --they were cuter than the pic shows, and yummier than they looked!
3. no prehistoric shin dig without a volcano cake! my friend actually offered to make this for me and I heartily accepted help (my unconditional policy) so I say without vanity that I thought it turned out adorable and perfect!
4. Oops, Erik grocery shopping there was supposed to be the rest of the spread. Well, it was dino chicken nuggets (from Costco), lava bites (mini pizza pockets), strawberries, and strawberry lava sauce for cake and ice cream.

Okay this format is getting ridiculous because none of my blabberings will be next to the corresponding pictures. Still too lazy to fix it. Sorry.

Probably the main reason I wanted (and therefore Erik wanted, heh heh) to throw a dinosaur party was for the fossil hunt. I still have this childhood memory of wanting desperately to dig for treasure at a birthday party. I have no idea if this was in relation to an actual party or just some secret desire, nor do I recall if my fantasy was ever realized. Just in case, I had to live it through my child. Classic parenthood, right? I mean, you think I'm pushing Ellie through ballet and piano lessons for her sake?

So the dig. Loved it! All of us did. I boiled two chickens worth of bones, bleached them, and buried them in a very make shift sandbox arrangement. Also Kjerstin was generous to offer up a rodent skull of an unidentified species (by us, that is) that she found in her garden. I also buried dinosaur eggs the kids and I made from sand, flour, water, and food coloring. In the off chance that someone actually cares, I'll mention that I searched high and low and the local party supply chain did have the best price on mini dino figurines. I did get a bit giddy as the toddlers took turns busting open their eggs with a hammer and discovering the baby within. Miracle of life, you know. Love that stuff.

Oh yeah, I skipped all the preceding activities! We're already messed up with this format, though, right? While we waited for all the kiddos to arrive, we colored headbands and played in the tent, also riding these sweet dino-head-on-a-stick toys (like the horse variety... I just realized that sounded like some grotesque delicacy, sorry) I scored at Dollar Tree.

Pin the horn on the triceratops went well (Bob free-handed it, by the way), except for the part where I caught Erik peeking through his blind fold and tried to make him redo his perfect placement, at which point he started bawling and continued in that fashion until all the other kids had placed theirs and the game was over.

Toss-the-dinosaurs-into-the-flaming-volcano went better. Aforementioned diaper genie proved the perfect receptacle for dinosaurs, especially donning this ugly, wool skirt I've never worn that was serendipitously lying around on my closet floor.

Kyle read dinosaur tales to the few kids who cared. One was Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct, by Mo Willems, a fave of mine. Side note: it seems so rare to find a children's book written in the past couple of decades that was actually written well! Lots of pretty pictures have been painted, but picture book authors seem to be performing at an all time low. (Mo Willems is one exception.) I always appreciate a good recommendation on kid books because I can never find enough that are actually clever and/or interesting to read. Or just not super lame. Okay, back on track!

Then came the dino dig and lunch, and then there were three candles blown out of the top of an erupting volcano, lots of sugar consumed, and then a meet-and-greet with dinosaur posterity in the form of Mish's reptiles, a turtle and a bearded dragon. The turtle does swim in his own poo, so I hope no one contracted salmonella. Parents started showing up after that, and we sent Erik's friends off with goody bags containing dino fruit snacks, dino stickers, dino magnets, grow-a-dinosaur toys, and lots of sand and chicken bones, of course. I'm sure the mom of whoever went home with the skull loves me.

Erik did eventually get around to opening his presents, which were all fab. I never sent out thank you cards, so to anyone who gave him a gift, thank you. He loved it! (Sorry to be that way, but I just can't get over how silly a custom it is to write thank you cards for gifts you opened in front of them and already thanked them for profusely in person.) Oh yes, later we used some Target gift money to buy Erik a train set as our birthday gift to him, which is something we never do because, hello! Have you seen the kind of parties I throw for my kids?! They are worth at least two presents. Anyway, the train set was on a great sale and there's always guilt there with the neglected, introverted, misunderstood middle child, so there you go. He loves the train set daily, pretty much.

In conclusion, I feel (and I think my slave labor-- Mish, Kjerst, and sometimes Kyle-- will agree) that this was my best party yet in terms of effort and reward. I mean, as we're decorating and baking the night before the party, I'm always thinking, "This is totally not worth it. I have an illness." And then usually after the party, I'm always thinking, "That was totally not worth it. I have an illness." But this time after the party I was thinking, "That was totally worth it! And I have an illness." So I think I'm making progress.

Plus, Erik still talks about his dinosaur party all the time, and that makes me feel pretty justified.


Joe and Christie said...

Awe-inspiring as usual! My monkey party needs some TLC, that's for sure.

nimbus said...

Wish we could have been there. But we saw some of the decorations in Erik's party.