Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Tale of Two Cakes and a Solar System Party

My second girl, the lovely Miss E, turned 9 in the middle of the week before last.

E had some very fixed ideas about what she wanted of this birthday. She wanted a science-themed party - specifically, a solar-system themed party. She wanted a Samsung tablet. She wanted loom bands. And she wanted to repeat the treat that she and I shared 18 months ago, when we spent a night away together in a fancy hotel, just the two of us.
It is fair to say that Talks Were Had about expense, about being a privileged person, and about how very unlikely it was that all the things she wanted could be had simultaneously without her own contribution. We settled in the end on getting her a loom band kit from the $2 shop, going halves in a Samsung Kids tablet (she chipped in $100 from Christmas and chore money), and stalking Wotif until I bagged a supercheap deal for a night at the Windsor Hotel.

Nonetheless, I still expended more than one might necessarily expect for a child's birthday gift, once the room service dinner and breakfast were factored in (*cough* no change from $400 *cough*), so I was determined to do her solar system party as inexpensively as possible, and there I think we pulled it off nicely.

We started with two cakes, made by me, one a gluten free chocolate mudcake and the other a butter cake. My cake-making superstar friend K came over on the Sunday before the party, and we transformed the bases into a solar system, with fondant planets painted with food dye, and a coloured sugar rainbow to serve as her school birthday cake (keeping, loosely, to the "skies above us" theme).

I took a day off work the day before the party, and this was a very smart move, as it let me hit all the local $2 shops for solar system themed candy, knickknacks and whatnots to fill the Pass the Parcel, stuff the (sun shaped) pinyata, serve as prizes for Pin the Earth on the Solar System and Musical Comets (aka musical statues) and stuff the party bags.

I also bought one little luxury item that I found in the bookshop at my work - rocket balloons, which you inflate then release, so they squeal merrily around the room. They weren't cheap but they were worth it for the fun they engendered.

At the party, we served:

- Marshmallows
- Mars Bars, Starbursts and Eclipse mints
- Cupcakes with the planets written on them
- Pretzels and chips, labelled as space dust
- "Rockets" (mini hot dogs)
- Martian slime (green jelly)
- Star and Moon shaped fairy bread
- Donuts (wormholes)
- Party pies and sausage rolls

E and her elder sister made all the signs for the food, which amused them greatly and saved me a lot of time too.

We did the Pass the Parcel, Musical Comets, Pin the Earth, the birthday cake,  and the pinyata, which proved difficult to break (aren't they always??) but eventually showered the kids with a satisfying rain of sweets and trinkets.

I had deliberately underfilled the party bags, on the basis that they would self fill from the pinyata, and this turned out to be a good move, as they all left with bulging packs anyway.

Altogether, we has 17 kids here including our own three, and the day was a great success. E loved it, the guests all seemed to really enjoy themselves and be tickled pink by the loose theming we applied to everything. It wasn't an expensive party, it was just an old fashioned kids' party at home, but I think it was fun and well doable by anyone who could invest the time in trawling the cheap shops for theme-worthy stuff.

I will post soon about the night at the Windsor, which was last night, but I am a bit tired so I am off to bed now :-) If anyone wants details on how either cake was made, please say so in comments and I'm happy to provide.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

... is the name of a wonderful book I am reviewing today at Global Comment, but could equally well serve as the hashtag for my family's life at the moment. Hectic would be an understatement of epic proportions. There is barely space to breathe, never mind blog, even though I do have posts I want to write. So while I am constrained from being here, come read with me over there instead.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Books you hate, that most people love

I'm over at The Shake today, talking about books most people love, but that I just can't come at. Join me over there for a chat if you please!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Día de la Madre (Poem)

to all the mothers -
the teenagers in gym clothes, pushing prams
the lady down the road who had IVF twins at 45
the woman with the lonely-only at playgroup, and the tired-looking one
with the seven kids, eight on the way, in the schoolyard

to the sepia mothers in whalebone corsets, solemn in old formal family portraits
the open-hearted grinning mothers snuggling delicious babies in shopping centres
the mothers walking the floor with colicky infants, singing themselves hoarse
the mothers waiting up for reckless seventeen year olds who think they're immortal

to the mothers who keep vigil on the sick,
the mothers who children are missing, and yes,
the mothers whose children have gone ahead of them into the night
to them, in their grieving hearts, especially -

to the mothers facing down terrors with and for their children
the women who live with war and famine and poverty
walking miles and miles for water
to the mothers living behind bars with their children

and to the stylish mothers of the chubby-cheeked little Princelings that grace the gossip mags
to the mother of the celebrity baby with the geographical name
and all the women of the great and the good,as well,

to the army of loco materna
the grandmothers, aunties, friends, cousins
stepmamas, them too,
the women who may not have birthed, but love all the same, with a quiet steadiness

to the women themselves motherless
left, by circumstance or otherwise, bereft

to Prosperina in her fields, awaiting Persephone
to Mary, holding her son close
and Gaia herself, mixed up though that story may be
(but when is this ever as simple as all that)?
birthing the world from her womb

to my mother, tá lár an domhain
most certainly to her -

I wish you some knowing, tomorrow,
every day,
of what it is you do
you remakers of all that is;
you potters of the future.

I wish you joy of it, this commercial feast; I wish
warm blessings on you, every one,
hands and hearts and lips to lift you
and shout in sharp staccato the life you allowed
to flow through you to the world.

Happy Mother's Day, all :-)

- Kathy, 10/5/2014