Marisol's birthday is always a little tricky since it is 2 days before the 4th of July. But somehow we always manage to pull together a great group of people to celebrate! Also she always seems to manage multiple celebrations - and who can complain about that!
This year, we started over a week early with a celebration with some of her best playmates - the neighbors, 3 sisters that live just over our fence (and they hop it often!) I took them all to see "Inside Out" (which we all LOVED!) and then we had dinner, icecream cake, and presents.
Last weekend we went to Ohio to visit family and celebrate Mike's grandmother's 91st birthday. So Marisol got some gifts there too. Then on her Birthday there were a few gifts from family (everyone is so good about sending things!) and some of our best friends came over to play. Plus we had lots of party prep going on!
So Friday the 3rd was the day of the big 9th Birthday party. We set the time for 5 pm (I was thinking that some people would be working or kids at camp - in retrospect I think we could have made the time earlier because most people started their holiday weekend yesterday. But honestly, we were getting ready all day, so the time was perfect!)
The theme was Minecraft and everything came out so cute! We made our piñata again this year, which we've done many times, but we've always just had a plain old balloon shape. Since our theme was minecraft, we thought "outside the balloon" and "inside the box" (as Marisol said!) and made a block shaped piñata. I wasn't sure how it would work out, but it turned out great!
Normally we get our cakes from Wegmans or Safeway. Mike checked a couple of weeks ago and they didn't have a Minecraft themed cake (what the heck??) So we decided to make our own. It was so simple and came out great! We just got chocolate cake, vanilla frosting and dyed it green with food coloring, and then used all of our own minecraft toys to decorate. Voilà! So simple and so cute! I was very happy and so was Marisol.
It has become a tradition for us to paint a mural for Marisol's birthday. It started on her 5th birthday so this was the 5th year running. This year I did the sketching again and she painted all of the minecraft characters - then she got tired and said I could do the blocks. I painted them the day of the party which was actually a nice relaxing break from all of the other preparations! I find painting so calming. I also added the words - I thought I was pretty clever making the words go behind the people!
There were a few frustrating moments making the mural like usual. We usually have a "fight" or two and then I wonder if it's worth it. This year, she didn't like how I drew the blocks at first (the characters looked like they were floating because I didn't have any blocks under their feet originally.) She wanted just flat blocks across and I was tired/grumpy didn't feel like erasing all my work and starting over. She also didn't understand when I tried to explain how I could make them look like they were standing on the blocks - but eventually agreed to that. (We both apologized and made up quickly!) She loved the end result and once again - it was worth it! Look how awesome it is!
And so we were ready! Marisol's best friend Sophia and her mom and little sister came about an hour early which helped her. And then our other guests arrived too (and the ones expected to be late were late - no names though! haha). The kids did some of the craft activities we had out - painting heart pendants for necklaces for the girls, make your own minecraft block (only Gerry and I did that!) and some coloring. Mostly they were just happy to play on their own - and they all got along so well.
And of course the trampoline was a huge hit as always. Even with the adults - Joe hopped on right away and then Jennifer wanted to try too! I think this was our record for number of people on at one time!
After a little bit we convinced most of the kids to come in to eat some dinner (except Gerry and Vivi who were too busy playing and looking adorable.) Actually most of the kids barely ate - but the adults ate well!
All of the kids got along so well and played together without a single incident (and that is saying something - the party lasted about 3-5 hours from first arrival to last guest leaving!) We had such a great mix of kids, ages 4,5,6,7, 9,9,9 and 11! Our gatherings are always a bit eclectic - our best friends that we made when we first moved to DC and lived in a tiny condo in a HUGE building, and home-school friends - old and new. We didn't have a whole lot of "organized activities" planned. I kind of thought between the piñata, cake and ice cream, and the trampoline that we wouldn't need much - and happily I was right! They really just wanted to play and make up their own games! Here is a short clip of a Minecraft inspired game they made up where they are zombies trying to get each other. (There was a bit of "hide and seek" type play going on too. Very fun.)
Although the piñata looked great I wasn't sure how it would be when it came time to break it. Well, it actually was perfect! Strong enough that each kid got exactly two turns to wack at it, but not so strong that they couldn't break it open. Yay!
But the most brilliant thing about this year's piñata was what we filled it up with. When we saw how big it was, I was like, "What are we going to put in this thing??!" I mean of course we put some candy in - Marisol chose hard peppermint candies and Hershey's milk chocolate bars, Gerry got smarties. Then we put packs of Pirate's booty in for another yummy treat.
But for stuff we looted our own house! Marisol managed to find enough stuffed animals she was willing to part with and then we looked through her toys and found tons of "treasure" - beads, rings, tattoos, little plastic toys, rubber balls, necklaces, headbands, bows etc. We talked about how it was nice not to buy new things to give away because it's better for the environment and our wallets. I mean really, did we really need to buy NEW plastic toys and baubles to give away?? Marisol dubbed this "The Circle of Crap" that comes from parties. It was so great! (Not sure if my friends feel the same way, haha.) The only thing that we bought to put in was a couple packs of pencils from Target's dollar bin (Marisol told me this is where the Circle of Crap begins. Haha. She is so right.)
Please don't get me wrong - it is WORTH having the treasures for the kids - they get so much joy out of it! But it also felt nice to do it in a (more) environmentally friendly way.
Finally, around 8:30 or so, parents started to prepare to leave. But first we opened gifts! Kids actually really love this part.
Nothing could have been better - the company, the food, the kids, the fun. Even the weather cooperated - it was actually kind of cool out for July - only in the 70s! And although it sprinkled, it never rained hard enough to discourage anyone from being outside. And another great thing is that Gerry is REALLY enjoying these parties now! This is HUGE! He had so much fun and participated in EVERYTHING - this is a new development and I cannot overemphasize how much I enjoyed him having fun with all the other kids.
So that's why I made this post so detailed - I want to remember it all. Marisol's 9th birthday was just about perfect. Every year I get a little stressed leading up to the party and we wonder if *maybe* next year Marisol will want something different... easier (outside our home??)... more low-key (fewer people?) And every year we have such a blast and I can't blame her for wanting to keep this streak up! We've already started to plan our next party - and we won't be waiting till her 10th birthday next year. ;-)
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.