This year we needed an easy way to celebrate Isobel’s fourth birthday. We were stressed and preoccupied with the layoff and the fruitless job search, and on top of that the three of us all got sick within a two week period. We were short on time and we were short on money, and if family hadn’t come to our rescue Isobel wouldn’t have had the awesome party she deserved.
Sometimes life and all its overwhelming difficulties make it hard to let go and celebrate the wonderful things around you. As I get older I’m realizing that when times are rough it is especially important to celebrate. Our future may be uncertain but the support of our friends and family isn’t, and this party was a perfect example of that.
I am so thankful for my daughter. Isobel is such a wonderful, vibrant being, the light of our lives, and if it turns out we can’t have any more children I’ll still consider myself the luckiest mother on the planet.
We were able to take advantage of Grandma Juani’s ample backyard and patio again, just like we did for Isobel’s second birthday.
Along with being free it has lots of green grass, a play area for the kids, and an ample patio. It’s made for parties. Grandma regularly hosts upwards of twenty people and family gathers there at the drop of the hat. When we asked if we could use her yard, she didn’t even bat an eye. I am so grateful she was willing to open up her yard and home and I was grateful that I didn’t have to worry about reserving tables at the park like we did last year.
My MIL Olivia rented a castle-shaped bounce house which we set up at the far end of the yard so kids still had easy, safe access to the swing set. We brought out a cousin’s small trampoline and Grandpa inflated the giant hamster ball and bowling set that we purchased for Isobel’s second birthday. We were able to borrow three tables and fifteen or so chairs from friends of the family.
I was too emotionally overloaded to create anything theme-related, so we tossed that idea out the window and decided the theme was just for everyone to have a good time. Bounce house, trampoline, and other inflatable toys were just about fun and games, so that’s what we called the party.
We were running so behind I didn’t even ask BFF and stationery-maven Angela to create invites for us because we needed them yesterday and she was up to her eyeballs in orders already. I made them myself but in true totally-behind-fashion we didn’t get them printed in a timely manner. We ended up using Facebook to create an event and get the word out that way. Sometimes I think I maintain my FB account specifically for the events feature. It is so handy, and also, free.
We bought pink vinyl tablecloths, tiny sparkly stars for scattering on tables, and a package of rainbow streamers. My sister in law Alana bought a giant bouquet of balloons and that’s about it. It fit in our budget but was still festive. Isobel especially loved the star confetti.
We have a favorite mom ‘n pop shop that we order pizza from and it’s both inexpensive and delicious. We bought enough food for around forty guests, so we ended up buying a few types so hopefully everyone found one they enjoyed: pepperoni, cheese, veggie, combination, cheese and olive (Isobel’s favorite), and our special pie: jalapeno, crumbled bacon, pepperoni, sausage, and olive. That was a big hit.
We also wanted to provide salad so we went by Costco and bought a few bags of mixed greens, prepared vegetables, and dressing. Whenever I offer salad for a crowd I feel it’s a safe bet to offer a ranch, a vinaigrette, and possibly a low-calorie offering. Between those three pretty much everyone will be satisfied (though if you are feeding guests with food allergies or dietary restrictions you may need to provide other options).
Lastly we bought a flat of strawberries, which everyone enjoyed, but no one so much as the young children.
We also used Costco to stock up on paper plates, napkins, and forks. We had a ton leftovers which we donated to Grandma Juani’s substantial pantry to be used for future parties. She thought that was a great idea. We didn’t end up buying cups because drinks were served in bottles or cans. We bought Coke, Diet Coke, water and a few Fat Tire beers.
Olivia ordered the cake for us. It featured Hello Kitty and Isobel’s name spelled incorrectly despite my MIL taking pains to make sure they got it right.
We didn’t have any structured entertainment. We just gave the kids free reign over the backyard and they had a blast. All Isobel wanted to do was stay in the bounce house all day, and I couldn’t get her to come out to eat lunch because she was having too much fun. Only presents and the promise of cake were enough to lure her out. Some of the kids didn’t like the bounce house as much but they loved the swings and the inflatable toys.
The giant red ball has obviously seen better days and we weren’t sure if it would survive the party, to be honest, but it held up well. Two years ago I had a few people ask me where we purchased the ball but Olivia found it somewhere. The good news is they have nearly identical ones at Costco right now. I think the bowling set came from Oriental Trading Company.
Gratuitous party photo time!
More photos can be found here.
Happy birthday, sweet pixie. You are so loved.