Monday, November 29, 2010

Ellie's 5th birthday party, Fancy Nancy style!

When October 6th rolled around, my mama was in town detouring from a visit to Utah. Everybody knows that when Grandma's in town, life is pretty much one big birthday party. Ellie knows just how to coax goodies and gifts out of Grandma at every distinguishable opportunity. Yes, it was a deliciously sweet week. For instance, a birthday trip to Yumberi, Ellie's dessert venue of choice. Auntie Noelani joined us for frozen yogurt.

Grandma also thought to capture some footage of Ellie in action on the dance floor. Family and friends are not allowed in the dance studio while class is in session. However, there is a small crack in the door to be used for peeking in with a camera lens, all discrete-like. I'm usually too embarrassed to do so, but of course Grandma wasn't. Little girls learning tap and ballet is pretty much as cute as life gets. The only thing better would be getting to watch them learn tap and ballet. Thankfully, Ellie is hammy off the dance floor as well, as seen here with bffs Zina and Ellie T.

Oh, and by the way...

... to a tres posh birthday soiree, a la Fancy Nancy!

Yes, I felt a little hypocritical advocating the flamboyant ways of Nancy Clancy, given my vehement disapproval of divas as role models for girls. There's no disputing that Nancy's a diva. Still, in my book she's partially redeemed by her intellect (she's got to be well-read with a vocabulary like that!), creativity, and love of life and people, rendering her somewhat more tolerable than other divas dominating children's literature (eg Olivia, Lily the mouse, Disney princesses, etc.). At the very least, Nancy accomplishes her shenanigans using resourceful originality, not her parents' bank account.

I actually find her style quite endearing-- free-style fancy, I may call it. Very eclectic. Very much like my own style.

More to the point, Ellie loved Fancy Nancy for a while there and enjoyed brainstorming her party's extravagance with particular attention to each glittery detail.

With such a theme, "less is more" simply doesn't apply. And yet, the life perspective I'd gained from my month of party insanity last spring compelled me to reduce the o-t-t (over-the-top) quality of this party considerably.

For instance, I started crafting for the party only a few days prior to it. The decor was simple and mostly came from our holiday decor boxes. The menu was limited and the cupcakes were as plain as jane. The party planning and execution were not at all exasperating or exhausting as in all previous cases. AND I did it all myself-- no sucking innocent bystanders into my schemes against their will-- and that is a lifetime first for me! Mom still insisted several times that I was ridiculous for doing so much, but I was too busy feeling proud of myself for how little I was doing to give her much heed.

The party itself went spectacularly. While we waited for all the guests to arrive, the girls decorated purses (I'd constructed from cardboard) with pretty paper, stickers, feather, jewels, and glitter pens.

Next, we had to acquaint (or re-acquaint) everyone with the whimsy and spunk of Little Miss Fancy Nancy Clancy. I had the entire series checked out from the library and the girls sat patiently through about 1.5 narratives of Nancy's adventures.

Manicures were next in order, and while nails were wet, I doused them all in glitter, which sounded like such a splendiferous idea... and between that and all the glitzy decorations, I am still sweeping and vacuuming glitter from the upholstery.

With wet and glittery nails, outside was the best place to send them. I don't know how I missed photographing the ghetto ice cream pinata I made, in all its sugary splendor, or the act of the girls deconstructing it with their bare fists, but trust that that was a treat in and of itself. (A bonus was that filling the pinata cleansed my cupboards of candy while helping me avoid that heinous crime of tossing edibles.)

The girls continued filling up their purses with goodies once inside, scavenging for fancy accessories in the living room. If we managed it correctly, everyone ended up with a wand, sunglasses or plumed-pen, jewelry set, lacy gloves, and jewels in a silky pouch.

The trickiest part of this party was including Erik without feminizing him beyond Kyle's approval. Boys can be fancy, too, but it's just not nearly as much fun. Erik was more than a little disappointed that no wand or tiara ended up in his loot bag, although he was thrilled to have his nails painted with clear nail polish (which he now considers a "boy" color, as opposed to the purple he originally selected).

Loaded up with party favors, all that remained was to load up on delectable delicacies, of the toddler variety.

These chocolaty merged pretzels were supposed to look like Bonjour Butterflies.

One of Ellie's primary requests was that each of her friends be given their own candle and therefore their own special wish. Somehow we got eight flames going at once and stole eight wishes from a single birthday!

The only activity we ran out of time for was decorating Grandma. She was going to sit in a chair, looking all plain and therefore unhappy, and then I'd supply the girls with a box of fancy accessories and let them go wild on Ma. I was looking forward to a stunning before/after photo shoot, but as it was we didn't get around to opening presents until all the moms had arrived to pick up their daughters.

And then, as evidenced by Mom collapsed on the couch down there on the right, we were un-fancy, plain worn out. I was more emotionally spent when I coaxed out of Ellie her regret that I hadn't decorated more and that she hadn't received more presents. Granted, I did ask if there was anything she would've changed about her party, so I'm partially to blame, but the ingratitude was still shocking and intolerable! I sulked about it for days, swearing off parties, presents, and privileges forever.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before the massive amount of love and effort that goes into my parties was taken for granted. I sensed all day and throughout her party that she did not feel the magic she did for her previous parties. Though her complacency was sorely disappointing, it was important for me to witness, and will certainly affect the manner in which future parties are conducted.

Lest we all leave disgusted, I happily report that all manifestations of Ellie's spoiled-birthday-girl attitude quickly dissolved in the following days. Ellie cried sincere tears of regret after we explained to her the faults of ingratitude and selfishness.

She wrote genuinely appreciative thank-you cards to her friends and had to earn the right to open each of her presents (and one still remains to be earned). Ellie is a sensitive and perceptive little girl-- I think she understands what she did wrong, as do I understand my own portion of the blame. It was, after all, my party extravagance that sustained her high expectations.

For now, all is well on the gratitude front. We are toning down Christmas this year quite a bit. Seeing that sparkle in their eyes is what makes doing special and expensive things for my kids worthwhile. I'm not afraid of doing less of them until we regain that sparkle.


Mary said...

I love how creative you are. I can't wait until my birthday!

Marilyn said...

Your ability to see and respond correctly to mistakes makes you a number 1 mother, as far as I'm concerned. You are awesome!!

sara said...

Woa, THAT was toned down???? You're too amazing for words! I want you to throw my party this year. Fancy Nancy will be fine so you can re-use the decorations. I'd really like to sit on your lap though during the story reading.

This is your 2 month notice since my Birthday is mid January!

You're the bestest!

nimbus said...

You are the party queen. I sure like the Chinese pirate with car slippers.