Rumble in the Jungle

The first year of one’s life is quite momentous. Going from a squishy faced newborn with a bleating cry to a standing, cheeky, arm-waving, sweet-talking, tantrum-throwing toddler is no small feat, and it deserves a celebration to match, in my opinion!

I just read Ivy’s birth story again. While it was the most ‘straight-forward’ of my labours, the intensity was unmatched in that last phase. I remember all too well the sensation of my body struggling to catch up to what had just happened to it! Most of all, I can’t believe that my youngest child is now one year old. Now, the three are often off in cahoots together, wrestling, playing outside or playing finding games. The days were long and emotionally draining at times, but the year feels a complete blur.

Ivy was only six months old when I spied the cute black and white striped cupcake wrappers in Aldi. I snapped them up and determined to come up with a theme for her first birthday party that would tie in somehow. Enter the ‘Jungle Safari’ (heavy on the Zebra) theme.

I have a feeling that my party planning days might be numbered. The week before the party I switch into super-focused Event Planner mode. All the food in the fridge and pantry is somehow tied up in party preparations and every meal contributes somehow into the prepared feast. We decorate the house days before the celebration and all the chalkboards in the house are transformed into the relevant theme. Dave ends up escaping with the kids to give me space to cook and create and comes home exhausted from the switch in roles.

This time, though, he got a small taste of the satisfaction and excitement that comes with the joy of creating, by helping me assemble and construct the zebra cake. After the fire engine cake debacle, I admitted that I may be in need of some assistance in the structural area. So Dave scrutinised the template, brandished his knife and fashioned a zebra shape. The fondant icing was more forgiving this time around and we ended up with a cake to be proud of and a shared experience to celebrate.

I have a thing with wasting food. I hate doing it, and I also struggle with spending too much money on catering. Every recipe must be cost-effective and crowd-friendly, and preferably tie in somehow to the over-arching theme. I went with homemade pizzas (Chicken, Feta & Bacon, Salami & Marinated Zucchini and Greek Lamb) as the main event, with Tuna & Cucumber Sushi, Cheese Burek, snake sandwiches (ham and cheese offerings arranged in a spiral), Sausage Rolls and Antipasto. For sweets, Zebra Strawberries (dark chocolate dipped, with white drizzled stripes- thanks to Pat!), Fruit Skewers (courtesy of Laura), Chocolate Dip (Loren’s creation), Rocky Road (my Mum’s secret recipe with Clinkers as the surprise ingredient), Banana Pudding, Marscapone Brownies, Chocolate and Walnut Meringues and Jungle Cupcakes. As for beverages, Watermelon Mojito (very clearly labelled this time, after the ‘Barney fiasco’ of Hudson’s party!), Jungle Juice and the usual beer/cider/soft drinks.





Thankfully my Mum and Dad came over to help out about an hour before the party, as my kitchen looked like this:

As for the birthday girl, she had such a good nap in the morning that I thought she was out with Dave and the boys and was surprised when they burst in from the car without her! Ivy did her usual bury her head in your neck move when she saw the crowd, but was very happy to socialise from the security of our arms. She spent much time being hand fed chocolate covered strawberries by Pa, and promptly rewarded him with a nappy bomb. Eli took about five minutes to feel comfortable enough in the crowd to strip down to his undies, and he and Chase tore around the place in their imaginary world, fighting baddies and being superheroes- fueled by pure chocolate, of course! Hudson was stoked to see his favourite friends Nick and ‘Lawla’ arrive, and exclaimed with pure joy when he saw them from across the room. Eli, Hudson and Chase were moved to awe by the ‘Transformer’ convertible car of Loren’s and spent a fair amount of time spellbound in the vehicle.

I spent the majority of the party where I always do- in the kitchen! At one point Jam tried to usher me out, but I really do enjoy bustling about, feeding people, watching the hum and excitement from a little way back. Bringing people together over food, celebrating life together, to a ‘vintage adventure’ soundtrack is pretty close to perfect in my book.










Dearest Ivy,

You make me smile every day. 

When I open your bedroom door and you look up in surprise from playing games with Teddy as though ‘I was just fine here, Mum!’. When you wave your arms vigorously up and down, eye-balling the necessary item, making urgent noises to convey your desperate need. Your love of the outdoors and lightning-fast bee-line for the door as soon as it opens even a crack. You have already figured out how to open the door for yourself because you are independent like that. You have such a look of pride when you loom up from the ground, standing strong in a wide stance like you could conquer the world. I hope that you do someday. 

I love the way you tell us ‘stories’ already, with the proper inflection and facial expressions. I can’t wait to hear more of what is inside your mind. You have an incredible sense of humour, responding with cheekiness and a contagious laugh whenever there is a game of peek a boo or hide and seek. 

You know what you want already, making your acute distress unknown whenever your brothers decide they want to play with a toy that was in your grasp. I think you’ll be able to stand up to them just fine! You three are inseparable, wrestling, laughing, being cheeky together. I hope that you will continue this friendship forever. 

Your Dad and I are pretty smitten by you and so proud of the person that you are already. We look forward to seeing more of the woman inside and celebrating with you at every step of the way. 

Love always, 





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