Category Archives: party(ies)

summer girls, summer parties


Party 1

As I work my way backwards through our very full summer, I thought I’d highlight the birthday celebrations the girls planned this year. You might remember some of the more elaborate birthday parties when the girls were younger. I loved planning and throwing parties for them both, and we did this consistently for their first six birthdays, culminating in a shared party when they were six and twelve. But after #6, the parties got smaller, simpler, and sometimes were just celebrated with family or with a friend or two. And as the girls have grown, we’ve also let them take a bigger role in the party planning.

Since we didn’t have friend parties last year, we encouraged both girls to plan a group event for their friends. E and M looked around at several laser tag / arcade / go-kart places before settling on a new one out in the suburbs. E put together an agenda for the party, and the kids (and dad and granddads) did a couple of races and a couple rounds of laser tag. Since F was too little for the racing, she tackled the ropes course WAY up high in the space.

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E had a blast. She said a lot of her friends thought she was a little crazy to host a party like this, and they weren’t certain that they were going to enjoy it. But E loves these kind of adventures, and is really competitive and brave, and it meant a lot to her that all of her friends showed up for her and tackled some of their fears to help her celebrate. The special things they brought with them were equally amazing. It was fun for me to see her really enjoying her time with friends, and how much they all adore her.

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My summer girls, eight and fourteen.

When we were on vacation for Spring Break, F saw a preview for the movie Despicable Me 3 that was opening just a few days before her July birthday. She announced that she’d be hosting a DM3 party for a few of her friends, and she never wavered from that idea.

As the time drew closer, we put her plan into action. She found some old minion goggles from the original movie when we did the big cleanout of the third floor. She also found her minion stuffed friend, and started picking out clothes to match her theme. She wore the glasses all summer long.

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I picked up some black and white striped tissue paper and treat bags, and F decorated large round labels to look like Minion eyes for the bags. We filled the bags with small little movie themed trinkets, a big bag of banana shaped candy, and some minion tic-tacs. They were a big hit.

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F invited five friends to the show, and the kids sat in their own row with booster seats (apparently those are cool!) and little snack packs and lemonades. They giggled and laughed throughout the whole movie, and afterwards her friends presented F with homemade cards and letters – one friend even wrote and performed her a song. It was all very lovely, and sweet, and funny, and just exactly what she wanted.

We talked about the parties we might throw in two years time again – a big summer of birthdays – TEN and SIXTEEN! Yikes. Just like summertime, the years are flying by. I’m glad we took some time out to celebrate this new year in the way that we did.

celebrating seven

Party 4

In our family, we typically throw big birthday bashes in the early years. For both girls we did them for the first six years before scaling back to small scale older parties. Last year was a special year because the girls were six and twelve (half and double), plus it was E’s golden birthday (12 on the 12th), so we did a big combo party. But once seven rolls around we let the girls choose a few friends and plan out their own special day.

Party 2

F chose a pretty perfect afternoon, if you ask me. We met up with friends and saw the movie Finding Dory at the Chase (one of my favorite theaters). Then we walked a few blocks to Jeni’s for ice cream before spending a half hour or more browsing the shelves of Left Bank Books.

Party 3

It was a perfect afternoon, and the girls promptly fell asleep in the car on the way home.

The weekend before was the great grandparent hand-off – we met them in the middle of nowhere Indiana, and opened some family gifts with them on the porch of a restaurant there. F got quite a few new books, some cute fall outfits, some legos, some Harry Potter figurines and checkers set. Plus that pogo stick I mentioned before! She also got the item top on her list this year – a travel neck pillow (in blue, of course). She’s wanted one since she first saw them in an airport gift shop years ago, but this year she was particularly enamored with them.

Party 7

Party 6

Party 5

Party 8

Party 9

I’m calling birthday week a success!

scenes from a party: six and twelve

6-12 Birthday

We did it! We pulled off a party for both girls at the same time, and last night they both said they had so much fun, so I’m calling it a success.

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The week before the party was pretty busy – I mapped out a plan for the evenings and that plan included a lot of party prep.

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I made F’s last birthday hat (I’ve made them for both girls’ birthdays up to six), and even though they rarely actually wear them at their parties, they like having them on display on a shelf outside of their rooms. Other than the whole six / twelve thing, our theme was pretty loose. We stuck to gold / metallics and dots, and we found these colorful sixlets for decoration and eating, and gold plastic coins (not chocolate for a July melty mess) for game tokens. The girls requested dark chocolate cupcakes with dark chocolate icing – I took these photos of them because the outdoor ones were just a little melted by the end of the party. Or as F called them – perfect.

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I had planned to have the girls’ names spelled out in cookie pops in these cupcakes, but we failed to remember that we had used a styrofoam base for the flower pops we did ten years ago – the cupcakes just weren’t strong enough to hold them. So we let that idea go, and it was fine. We had more than enough sweets to go around.

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As the kids arrived, they filled out prize bags with their names, and then filled them with treats and blowers and rock candy pops.

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Then the games began. M organized the games by age at the beginning.

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And he even made this yard sized version of “Kerplunk” for the little ones. This was definitely their favorite. They were really into figuring out how not to drop the balls into the bucket. This will be fun to set up on our Thursday Night Blues hangouts.

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After the kids earned some gold coins they got to cash in for some prizes. F is demonstrating that you can wear all of your prizes at once. Her friend D is demonstrating being a six year old boy next to a girl in a photo.

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We served four different kinds of sandwiches that M’s mom and I assembled the night before. My dad sliced up a ton of watermelon that we served on ice in our big white bin. We had big bowls with the girls’ favorite chips, red grapes, and water and lemonade to drink.

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We did our best to assemble all the kids behind the birthday girls at candle time, and we succeeded in getting most of them.

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E had twelve golden candles and F had six. E’s went out in one big breath, while F’s took just a little more effort. I love this series of photos – especially the first one. After the first blow, F’s checking out E’s status.

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The older kids took over the tables, and the younger kids…

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…well, they seemed just fine on the ground next to the trash can! The grandparents dished up a lot of ice cream too. You know, to cut the chocolate a bit.

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Then it was time for the final challenge – this one pitted the twelve year old’s against the six year old’s. E and F were ready – they had already planned this water challenge out, and came prepared with beach towels and swim goggles. Each girl balanced an empty water bottle on their forehead and each had a funnel inside of it – big for F, little for E.

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The kids lined up in age groups and had to run, relay style, with a filled cup to each girl. With arms outstretched, they had to pour the water into the funnel and then tag the next player. The first team to fill the bottle would win.

I know the pictures below are a little blurry, but I loved seeing how excited the kids were, and I also loved how my girls were such good sports about it. I kind of thought F would bail, but she was all business.

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The six year old’s pulled off the win! And then Dad celebrated by dousing E with the rest of the water, much to the amusement of everyone. A few people questioned his sanity, but he pointed out that E’s a good sport and they do this sort of stuff to each other all the time. He also pointed out that he did NOT dunk the little one. Different kid, different ballgame for sure!

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After the party was over and we took four carloads of stuff home, we opened family gifts together. There might have been some confetti in one of them.

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There might have been Taylor Swift tickets in another!

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It was a big day, but we weren’t done yet. We all braved the crowds and the mugginess to see the lanterns at the garden.

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The lanterns are really beautiful all lit up, and the china sculptures are incredible too. I’m glad we went, but the kids were pretty wiped out by the end – and the grownups too. I’m ready to get back to quiet mornings there later this week!

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On Sunday morning everyone started to say their goodbyes. The girls’ cousins stayed for a quick trip to the zoo, and a send off lunch in the CWE. We headed home to a quiet house, just a little bit of laundry, and a lot of leftover cupcakes. No complaints about any of those things.

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To SIX! To TWELVE! Hurrah!