Joining the Circus

What is it that compels me to pour all of my heart, creativity and energy into hosting themed birthday parties for my kids? To spend weeks leading up to the event thinking, dreaming, creating Pinterest boards of my ideas? What is it that drives me to the kitchen as soon as the last head hits the pillow – baking, mixing, stirring – so that when the party morning arrives we will have an excessive array of delicious food?

For some this would be close to a definition of personal hell, and I won’t lie, there is usually one moment prior to every party when it just all gets a bit overwhelming – I wonder if we have enough food, the ever increasing task list threatens to capsize me, or Dave asks innocently if we have any plans for the Saturday that I have just spent almost every night for the past week cooking for.

But then there are the moments that can’t be measured. The look of pure wonder in little eyes as they walk in to see a ‘big top tent’ mirrored in colourful streamers, the pleas of ‘Can we help you, Mummy?’ when the kids see that I am in the middle of baking party related treats…the constant queries of ‘How many more sleeps until the party?‘ and the excited squeals when they realise the day has arrived. I love the hum of guests arriving and the patter of feet racing to the door, the thrill of seeing an idea that has been brewing in my mind come to life, watching people joyfully consume the food that I have been working over days to bring together.

We decided on a Circus themed party for this event. Hudson and Ivy are both born in January and the thought of pulling off two parties within three weeks of each other whilst in the clutches of pregnancy seemed a little beyond me. Hudson lives for parties, and it was hard work for him to wait patiently, but he did an admirable job and seemed to relish the idea of sharing the occasion with his sister (or ‘Girl’ as he still insistently calls her). Also, we figured that while both of them are at home and there aren’t any Kinder or School friends to speak of, we can keep the party relatively simple, with pretty much just family invited.

The menu is always the part that gets me into the mood of the event. This time around I went for finger food that was easy to create and consume – Buffalo Chicken Wings, Burek, Spanikopita Chicken Meatballs, homemade Sausage Rolls, Eggplant Dip and an antipasto spread. Inspired by our recent attendance at the Hotel Windsor’s High Tea, I tried to emulate their Ginger Poached Chicken Ribbon Sandwiches and the Egg Mayonnaise Sandwiches, though I did add some elements of my own to both recipes. For sweets, we enjoyed Yoghurt and Jelly Cups, Chocolate Dipped Marshmallows, Chocolate Sprinkle Cupcakes, fresh fruit, popcorn and M&M Cookies.

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As for the cake, I went for a much more simple design than previous events, with a four layer Chocolate Fudge Cake iced with Vanilla Buttercream and topped with coloured bunting. I lined the base of the cake with blue M&M’s and yellow and red Skittles.

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Decorations were kept to a minimum, with the red, blue and yellow streamers, some burlap bunting, and chalkboard surfaces re-purposed for the occasion.

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The morning of the party arrived and the kids were so excited. Ivy picked out her special pink sequined party dress and selected a necklace to match (she is just a little obsessed with jewellery). Eli dressed up in his special suit jacket and was so keen to help with any tasks – “I’ll straighten the cushions, Mum“, and “Can I help you with the popcorn?” Dave took the birthday boy and girl to get some more balloons and before long it was time for the party to begin!

Seeing Hudson and Ivy’s faces as guests arrived with presents and hearing their squeals of pure pleasure was pretty amazing. Ivy unwrapped her Cinderella doll and dragged her older cousin straight to her room to play with it. Hudson spent 20 minutes reading his new Rescue Bots book, carefully turning each page. Dave launched into gear as the Games Master, getting the kids playing balloon games and dancing games and then he turned it over to Ivan for a Juggling demonstration and some magic tricks. Hudson was completely enthralled with each game, particularly the coin tricks, responding with shock and awe when Ivan pulled a coin from behind his ear.

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As usual, I remained firmly in the kitchen for most of the party, though not without offers to take over from most of the family. I find my perch to be a perfect vantage point to watch the magical moments, catch up with people as they savour the food, and ensure all the trays are placed into the oven right on schedule.

There was disappointment on the faces of both Hudson and Ivy when they realised later that the party was over as the decorations began to come down after the last of the family had gone. “No! Colours up!” Ivy said when we began untying the streamers and putting the house back into place. When I think about the magic that parties create – the anticipation, the enjoyment, the savouring and the reflecting – it seems crazy that all it takes is a little planning, shopping, cooking and organising to make a memory that will last forever.

We went on to celebrate Ivy’s actual birthday yesterday, with a day at Myuna Farm, and then an Open House Summer hang out by Lysterfield Lake. I can’t believe that our little girl is now two… Time really does fly by.

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Dear Ivy,

You are a sight to behold. I love to just watch you as you meander around the house – singing to yourself, talking to Teddy, leaving your shoes in random places along the way.

Already you know who you are so keenly – not content to let others direct you if it conflicts with your strong instincts of how you think things should go. You tell your brothers how to play games with confidence, though you are happy to go along with the flow if you think you have been heard. They relish in your company, inviting you into their imaginative stories, and giving you enthusiastic cuddles at bedtime. 

You have such a big heart – asking kindly even if we so much as sneeze “You OK?” with a compassionate look in your eyes. I sometimes wonder if any more toys and dolls could fit in your bed, as you throw them up over the cot rail to join you for the night. Your look of concern when characters in stories are being mean is priceless and you always point out with a downcast look when someone looks sad. 

My personal preferences aside, your love of pink, sparkly, sequined items is quite endearing. It is quite amusing to watch you adorn yourself with necklaces, crowns and bracelets, then careen around the house with a fierce look on your face, declaring to the world that you are a ‘warrior princess’. 

We delight in you, my girl. You bring us so much joy, humour and satisfaction. We love your fire, your sweetness and your imagination. You are so much more than we could have ever dreamed. 

Love always,

Mum

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