Monday, May 6, 2013

The Sweetest Thing

In life? Seeing your child smile out of pure joy. It could be the first smile from your tiny baby, bundled up in your arms and they're just beginning to realize that you are the nice mommy person that is always there to make everything all better. It could be the drippy drooling chocolate covered smile with wide surprised eyes when you give your toddler their first snack size Snickers bar and they suddenly know what they have missing for all of these years. There is always the first day of school, standing at the bus stop with ants in their pants grin, random teeth missing and stretched from ear to ear. So proud, so excited, feeling so big. Even the smile they try to hide but can't. Perhaps they just got home from hanging out with their favorite girl; cheeks flushed, twinkle in their eyes, lips twitching but taught, trying to conceal the surge of happiness coursing through their veins. Maybe he kissed her. Good for him. For me, this weekend, it was watching my son run around playing games with his friends and cousins, on a complete sugar high, chilled to the bone without a care. DA turned thirteen and his carnival themed birthday party was a success. His smiles were huge.

Luckily, it had stopped raining right before the party started. It was still quite chilly outside but all went well.  There was plenty of fun food. I always make too much. I am always worried that there won't be enough; I was sending bags of popcorn and mini donuts home with anyone who would accept them. I love to cook and bake. It is fun for me and it is also a way that I show my love. It was a lot of work but DA was more than worth all the time it took to prepare for this party. We do not always do a big party for the kids' birthdays. Some years it is a quiet dinner of their choice at home or a restaurant, sometimes we have family over for cake and ice cream. But, how many times in life do you officially become a teenager? We like to make that fun.

For both of my older children's thirteenth birthdays, my Ex and I have come together and thrown two great parties and included both sides of our families and friends. We do not always see eye to eye on things, but we make sure to keep our differences away from the boys. When our oldest, R, turned thirteen we gave him a baseball themed party out at the baseball field. We grilled out burgers and hot dogs, ate popcorn and a ridiculous number of cupcakes. We had two fields going and it was a whole lot of fun. These two parties made me feel very proud of both myself and their father. I can not even begin to express how important it is for the boys to see us working together from time to time. Just because we are no longer together does not mean that the boys should suffer some life experiences they could have. We do our best and so far I feel we have done so quite successfully.

Sugar and fat! That is a carnival. We all ate ourselves silly...or sillier. I had forgotten how truly delicious a caramel apple was. What a fun and nostalgic treat. Sticky fingers, sticky face; it was like being a little kid again. Candied Apples are a crowd pleaser, too. I found a fairly simple recipe but they took much longer to make than the recipe said. Maybe it was because it was my first time. It seemed like the cinnamon imperials took a very long time to melt. Other than that, very easy to make and very hard to eat, which is probably a good thing or we would eat them all the time.

Caramel & Candied Apples

I also found a recipe for baked mini donuts and they were a hit.
The only thing that I did differently was to omit the two tablespoons of butter for dunking at the end. The recipe said to allow the donuts to cool for five minutes and then to dunk them in butter followed by the cinnamon and sugar mixture. I knew that if I did not let them cool, that the moisture from the heat would allow the cinnamon and sugar to stick anyway. It worked and they were delicious. I didn't waste my money and purchase the mini donut pans I had been considering, $10 each on for a pan that makes twelve at a time. I already had two mini muffin pans at home and those worked out just fine; more donut hole style. I accomplished twenty five dozen.

25 Dozen Baked Mini Donuts

My husband and I decided not to buy microwave popcorn ever again at Christmas time last year. We had bought a jug of kernels from Costco for approximately $12 and made homemade caramel corn and popcorn balls as gifts last season. It was so easy and much tastier than microwavable. We still had the same giant jug of kernels so I used it and made home popped salted popcorn and homemade caramel corn for the party. I like to add dry roasted peanuts to our caramel corn. Then it reminds me of Crunch N' Munch. Yummy!

Popcorn Treats

I rented a cotton candy machine for the first time ever. It was quite a bit bigger than I expected and I had NO idea what I was doing or how to assemble it and start it up. Thank goodness for YouTube; my sons' father was able to look up a quick video and Voila, cotton candy! Cotton Candy is a child magnet, by the way. If you are ever looking to attract a pile of children, fire up the ol' cotton candy machine. Works like a charm.

I can figure this out...I hope!

All this along with corn dogs, giant pretzels and a crock pot of melted Velveeta, grilled corn on the cob and tons of fun flavored soda pop and bottled water to wash it all down. A fun menu for a kid friendly party. Sugar and fat, sugar and fat!

The Spread

Games, games and more games. The chilly weather didn't keep the kids from having a good time. Tug-O-War was a hoot to watch and the little ones loved the fishing game in particular. Lower an ice cream bucket tied to a fishing pole over the deck rail and repeatedly get cute little cheap plastic toys. Who knew? The face painter did a fantastic job, too. She was so sweet and dedicated to come and sit in the back yard, freezing her tushy off just to make my little guests happy. My daughter was set on getting a spider for days, and she did, right away. Cute! If you're ever in need of a face painter and/or crazy hair maker, please give Kristen's Kolorific Kids a try. She is great at what she does, the kids loved her.

Jamison the Juggler! What a great show. I lucked out when I happened to meet him last December. He won a talent show that my husband and I attended in Minneapolis and I knew he would be perfect for my son's party. Jamison actually travels all over the United States performing in Renaissance Festivals and such. He was so funny and entertaining. I am pretty sure he was my son's favorite part of his birthday party. DA could not stop smiling during the show; even the adults were laughing out loud. Magical!

And lets not forget those precious moments in life where you get to harmlessly embarrass your child, all in good fun. You may have noticed in some of the previous photos that I was dressed like a clown. I did not tell my son I was going to do that. I know that he likes clowns but hates all of the creepy make-up that they wear. I also know that DA and I are kindred spirits when it comes to silliness and our sense of humour. This was a good kind of embarrassment. We were surrounded by our family and closest friends, no harm done. I know where the lines are, for example, at his recent cast and crew party after the play he was in, Gulliver's Travels, wrapped up they had karaoke available. I asked DA if he would be embarrassed if I sang a song and he said yes he would. I respect that. He was at school with some friends and more acquaintances. I did not want to embarrass him in that way. But sometimes, a fun opportunity presents itself and you, as a parent, have to snatch it up. It is our right. Be silly and have fun. Show them that side of you whenever you get the chance.

Mission accomplished. I have almost ten years until my next child turns thirteen. I am such a dork; I already have ideas rolling around in my brain. I will keep them to myself for the time being. She will change a lot between now and then and I want her party to be completely "her." Just like this one was "DA." I love my kids so damn much!

* Please take a moment and click on the TopMommyBlog button to the left side of you screen. I really appreciate your vote!


  1. I am always trying to come up with new ways to celebrate my kids birthdays. This is a great idea! I just followed your blog too! It's awesome :)

    Jessica Scott