Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Birthdays. Blugh.

As Saint Irene would say while shaking her head: “Yo, yo, yo”. I truly suck at that ultra-competitive suburban wifey phenomenon that is the kiddie birthday party. But Travis, he just INSISTS on turning a year older at the end of August. Brat.

The aptly-named Winnie the Pooh 1st birthday
Tears of hilarity roll down my cheeks when I see new moms organising that first birthday party. “Sets the tone,” they mumble for weeks, grinding their teeth as they assemble ludicrously expensive party packs. Oh, I fell into that trap too... The clever theme! Winnie the Pooh plates, cups, hats, masks, with blue-and-yellow balloons and tablecloths, and the R350 Disney character cake.

At 1am the night before the party, all three of us were on our knees in the emergency room at Flora Clinic. Poohing and puking our guts out. Trying to stuff poor Trav’s pram in the hospital bathroom before exploding from both ends. IVs all around! (I’d like to thank House of the Chicken Pie for this incident; eat their frozen pies at your peril...)

We cancelled the party at 5am via SMS. But I still had to collect the pricey cake, which turned to yellow-frosted rock in my fridge until we presented it the following Saturday, ablaze with novelty candles, at the hastily reconvened party. We had to rent all the tablecloths TWICE. And I found out that helium balloons stay floaty for about 12 hours, so I paid for two lots of those.

Travis slept through the whole party, awakening only to scream in terror at the flock of strangers that had descended upon our teeny tiny townhouse, which was promptly trashed by sugar-crazed toddlers.

The Teddy Bears’ picnic-slash-screamfest 2nd birthday
I’d learned lessons aplenty from Hellish Birthday No.1... so this time around I decided to move the party to the great open plains of the Walter Sisulu botanical gardens for a whimsical teddy bear’s picnic.

I came so-o-o-o-o close to nailing it. The sell-your-one-kidney expensive cake (which is just a vanilla sponge with cheap butter frosting and a rice-paper print of a Disney character, innit?) was replaced by cute, sparkly cupcakes. Screw the stupid helium balloons. I made each kid a picnic hamper in a straw basket complete with red-checked cloth. We set up a Make Your Own Ice Cream bar, with sprinkles and nuts and different flavoured syrups, and even roped in a face-painter.

Winner! Except almost no one came. And we had forgotten to hire an elephant to help us transport all the equipment between the race car ya-ya and our shady spot which felt like 200km into the gardens. And Travis screamed for four straight hours because he didn’t know what the frack was going on.

The oh-so-chilled (not) 3rd birthday and the infamous toilet cake
Okay. Take three. We’re back at home... and last year I kept it small and intimate, and hells bells – even made a birthday cake that looked like Trav’s favourite thing in the world, a washing machine. Because I’m all about the personal touches (and delusions of fantasy)!

Except the birthday cake looked more like a toilet. Really, click the link, it's worth a look-see. And it turns out that Travis the Lionheart yodelling his way through every birthday party has become a must-see social event, because GAZILLIONS of our friends arrived (bless their sweet socks). We ran out of seats, snacks and glasses in 30 minutes.

So jip, the impromptu casual party doesn’t work so well either.

Back to the military-style drawing board for this year’s fourth birthday party for the Lionheart, taking place in the tranquil, familiar surroundings of his school, with a bubble machine thrown in for shits and giggles. I'm calling it Under the Sea. May the Big Guy Upstairs have mercy on us all.

(The votes for South Africa’s Best Mommy Blogger award over at close on 18 August, if you'd like to give a virtual thumbs-up to our tales of Living Lionheart.


  1. Yoh - sounds like fun :-/

    The cake isnt that bad - I totally knew it was a washing machine :)

  2. Man. I also see people go crazy in birthday party planning. Noah's first birthday: We went to Spur. Second birthday: Garden party at home with lots of sweets, a splash pool and a cake. That is as far as I take it. I refuse to spend more than R500 on their parties... really... Ben's birthdays will follow the same suite. One day they will be begging for their own beer kegs at their birthdays... at which point I will empty my wallet provided nobody drives. I am going to take them to Spur for as long as they are willing. Little naughties :) xx Good luck chicken xx

  3. I hope this one will be the best of all with lots of yummy cake that doesn’t empty your wallet, with lots of guests who bring cool presents in tow and lastly but more importantly with lots of smiles and fun for the birthday boy!

  4. Eek. I've just entered planning phase for...wait for it: the launch of the annual "McCormack Spring Picnic Party".

    In other words I've sent an email invitation and that's about it.

    The thing is, all four of us have our birthdays within 3 weeks of each other (yes...that's four Virgos under one roof!). Ethan and I even share a birthday (and no I didn't plan that...he was already 8 days overdue when I eventually went into labour...different story).

    So the party is set for Saturday the 10th and I'm trying to find a balance between manic first birthday (for Ethan), calmer 3rd birthday (for Ella) and relaxing chill out for James and I. We'll see.

    Good luck with your're due a great one. Hope the universe gets the memo! :)

  5. @Laura... you are too, too kind. I blame watching too many episodes of The Cake Boss. Plastic icing is NOT easy to work with!

    @Natasha... R500 a party! *this is me on my knees worshipping you*

    @Fiona... Thanks so much! I'm holding fingers and toes and thumbs that this will be our year!

    @Catherine... Four Virgos! Oh. Em. Gee. I'm thinking that your group birthday party is a great idea - as long as your guests aren't stingy with the presents, lol!


Thanks for sharing, Lionheart readers. ROAR!