Anna celebrated her 7th birthday with a Fall Fairy Party. It took a while for her to settle on a party theme - her choices ranging from fairy to Junie B, from art to dance. And because she was so all over the place - and I've been so scattered in the ever present UNKNOWN in our life - I didn't get around to planning anything until very late in the game. Truth be told - I just wasn't into party planning mode this birthday. I suppose a lot of that had to do with not knowing if we'd be here or there - and living with one foot in the door and one foot out is schizophrenic to say the least.
However, Anna was turning 7, and we needed to celebrate.
One theme that remained constant throughout her various 'Mommy I want a (insert theme) party' was the tag-on statement of 'a slumber party.' She's been dying to have friends over to spend the night - to have a true slumber party of her own. So we caved. We allowed it. We did set some ground rules - no more than six guests (no more of this inviting everyone she knows bit) - and when mommy and daddy said lights out - it meant go to sleep.
I'm sure I sound like a mean ogre parent - and I do want our kids to be kids and have fun giggling the night away. But I also know the ramifications of said giggling - and how vile my child can be on lack of sleep - so we laid down the proverbial law.
It was really hard for her to invite people - because she really wanted to invite everyone. I made her sit and think really hard about the people she really cares about and who she really wanted to help celebrate her birthday. And it didn't help that I waited so long to really start planning and figuring out a date - so she wasn't able to invite dear friends that live out of town - something I already felt awful about - that she compounded with her constant barrage of 'Mommy - this just isn't a party without Anna Reece.' Thanks kid...
Anyway - she finally narrowed down the list to two friends from her class at school, her bff friend from pre-school and her little sister, and two friends from church. And then the fairy frenzy began...
To set the scene - I quickly wrote up an invitation - asking fairies to come and frolic in the autumn air - while completing a very important task. I had little fairies stuck in various hiding places around the house - in and out of our regular fall decorations. I didn't know if any of the girls would even see the fairies or get that they were in hiding - but they did!
On the front door - I typed up this sign and stuck it in the fall gourd and leaf wreath. (Can I just say how much I heart Photoshop?)
As the fairies arrived, they were given supplies to make wands (sticks Anna collected from the backyard that I spray-painted glittery gold, ribbons, sparkly things, and berries) and were given the opportunity to have their faces painted.
Following that - they dined on a selection of fall fairy treats including Harvest Salad (apples, dried cranberries, goat cheese, candied pecans, and greens), Petite Pumpkin Pasta (my favorite fall pasta recipe ever), Gnome-made Pizzas (English muffin pizzas in your choice of cheese or mini-pepperoni), sliced Honeycrisp Apples, and Nymph Knots (refrigerated bread sticks that were tied into knot shapes and topped with Parmesan cheese.) Of course, everything was doused with a healthy sprinkling of edible gold glitter (pixie dust.) Sweets included Autumn Acorns (Hershey's kisses topped with miniature vanilla wafer cookies and chocolate icing stems) and birthday cake.
I had a lot of help with the birthday cake. I intended to make an elaborate three-layer cake with Swiss buttercream icing tinted orange and yellow and piped in the popular ruffles up the side of the cake. Um - yeah. I called 'Uncle' - and Publix came to the rescue. I did manage to make the white candy melt leaves for the top of the cake - but that was about it.
Following dinner - the fairies got all decked out in true fairy mode - including autumn leaf wings and crowns made of leaves. It's amazing what you can do with some pre-made orange wings (bought in bulk for dirt cheap), a bunch of fabric leaves, some gold glitter spray paint, and a glue gun. Ditto for the crowns - they started as cheap orange flower headbands with a lot of curly ribbon - add in leaves and berries and sticks with a lot of hot glue and voila! Fall Fairy Crowns!
The girls had a special treat - a visit from their Fairy Godmother! Anna and one of her teachers from school have become the best of friends. We happened to be chatting one night about her upcoming fall fairy party - and somehow she offered/was coerced into being the Fairy Godmother. Anna had no clue she was coming - they came down the stairs to the back deck with no idea of what was to come - and all of a sudden Fairy Godmother appeared!
The first order of business was to provide each fairy with her true fairy name. I found this ridiculous website where you can type in your name and a fairy name pops out. So each girl had an actual fairy name. So cute - and the girls loved it.
Next - the fairies received their task. The Fairy Godmother read this story I wrote - and the girls were off on their task to find the missing fall leaves and the magical pixie dust required to help them change colors.
And then they were off - in a flurry of wings and ribbons, wands and glitter. Along their journey - they discovered various jars of colored pixie dust (sugar sprinkles), icing, off-set spatulas, and the final item - a basket full of un-decorated leaf sugar cookies.
The pictures don't do it justice - but I can't seem to figure out how to get good action shots - especially in low lighting like it was at dusk. But you get the idea - lots of fluttering and flittering, squealing and laughter filled our yard, front and back.
I have to pause the story for a moment and point out the picture of Anna and her Fairy Godmother. How many teachers do you know that would take time away from family and friends to dress up in sparkly makeup, crown, jewels, and cape to attend a 7 year old's birthday? Not many. Ms. Craft has truly been like a godmother to our family - and all of us, ALL of us, are thankful beyond words.
Now, back to fairy programming...
Once the fairies had collected their loot - they had the very serious and very important job to help their leaves turn colors. You can see from the concentration on these fairy faces that this was serious stuff.
We followed the sugar ingestion with birthday cake (because you can't have too much sugar at a slumber party, right?) and then had everyone change into pajamas and set up sleeping bags to settle in for a movie (Thumbellina) and Fairy Snacks (popcorn, pretzels, and M&Ms served in individual chinese take-out boxes).
Now, I had a lot of help. Nici (mama to two of the fairies who attended) stayed the night. The WHOLE night. I kinda told her that a third of the guests were hers - so she had to stay to help by default. (But I think she would have stayed anyway.) Two of the other fairy mamas (Nicole and Catherine) also stayed to help make wands, serve dinner, keep the fairies on schedule, get them into (and out of) their fairy gear, and eventually settled into bed.
I had the above sign printed and stuck to the mantle underneath the fairy ornaments that would later become favors for the girls to take home. I hoped the girls would get the idea ... not so much. But after a good bit of giggling and whispering, they settled down a little after 10, and slept quietly through the night until 7:30 the following morning.
The person who had the most issue was Jack - who got his feelings hurt when he realized he couldn't sleep in the den with the girls. I think he was deeply insulted that he had to sleep in his bedroom - alone, no less - because James was at a sleepover himself. But once he settled down with a few lullabies and snuggles from mama - he was good to go.
Nici ran out the next morning to get doughnuts and chocolate milk (I again called 'uncle' and did not fix the elaborate pumpkin pancake and sausage breakfast I'd planned) - and all girls were collected around 9.
A lovely way to turn seven - and what I think was a pretty good first sleepover.
I do think it'll be at least a year before we do that again though....
Things that were missed - my mom. Anna hasn't mentioned it - but I think she is keenly aware that she didn't even receive a card from my mom and stepdad this year - that her birthday went by completely un-noticed by them. I don't have a lot to say about that - except that it sucks. And that I'm doing the best I can to shield my daughter from the horrible mentality of my stepdad.
My sister Logan - okay - so she's not really my sister - but she's the closest thing I have to one. If you're reading this L - you were missed a LOT. It didn't seem like a birthday without you and your girls. And B.
My dad. But there's a valid excuse for that - and I'm confident he was watching over us from Heaven - smiling down at the fluttering fairy wings and laughing his big Daddy laugh. The one that made his eyes twinkle.