So, today was The Party, the event that we have been counting in sleeps for 10 days now. We knew the day had arrived when Bean bounced into our room at 3.30 this morning, telling us he was excited and asking that we immediately tell his brother that today really was The Day.
At this point, I had been in bed slightly more than hour, having put into action my party planning strategy. It goes something like this:
Persuade husband to go shopping for party food, armed with a strict list of what is needed, the day before the party. The evening before the party, plan the games and print out the necessary bits and pieces needed for the games. Find out soon after that the ink cartridges need replacing and also remember that PVA glue is still required for the craft activity (not technically part of the plan, but you have to be flexible!). Wait until everyone has gone to bed and then decorate The Cake. There are two reasons for this: firstly, there is no-one around to get under your feet or offer “helpful” advice and secondly, there is no-one around to hear you swear when things don’t go according to plan.
Finally get to bed sometime after 2am, mention to husband the plan for the following morning: that he should get up with small child and immediately go shopping for PVA glue, ink cartridges and wrapping paper for pass the parcel and let me sleep in ever such a tiny bit. Go to sleep.
The being woken up an hour later was not part of the action plan, it has to be said. But Bean did go back to bed and back to sleep. Husband did get up in the morning and go shopping with small child. Another slight deviation from plan when husband called to ask what he was supposed to be buying. Again.
Back to the plan. Whilst husband and small child are out, and older ones are still in bed, make the rest of the party food and get it ready to go, and then finally get on with printing stuff out and wrapping pass the parcel. Worked like a dream – no-one under my feet and everything organised!
The party went well, games were played, jungle masks were made, prizes won, animal songs danced to, party tea eaten and cake revealed.
Ahh, the cake. Did I mention it was a monkey? With a body? And that it took 3 hours just to decorate it? Right, well it did.
I chickened out of making arms and legs and a tail from cake. I don’t have a cakeboard big enough and life is, frankly, too short. So, a background of jungle leaves cut from green paper. Arms, legs and a tail cut from brown paper (all of which happened to be in a cupboard already bizarrely). I’d make the cakes on Thursday – two eight inch round chocolate cakes, so I unwrapped them and fastened them together using cocktail sticks. Where the cakes had risen in the middle, the extra has been sliced off to make them flat, and then reassembled into ear shapes, stuck together with jam, and then fastened to the top cake with cocktail sticks.
Then the decorating began. I have to confess at this point that I cheated a little. I’m a coeliac, the only one in our family, and as a result we do not have gluten-bearing flour and such in our house. At all. And much as I love my son, I didn’t fancy spending loads of time making a cake full of this stuff. So I bought cake mix – I still technically made the cake, but all the dry ingredients were weighed and mixed – and it also meant we didn’t have flour hanging around the place. I also decided that there was no way I was making all the buttercream needed for this monkey, so I bought that too.
However, I still had to mix two colours of buttercream to get the colours needed for the monkey, so I did. Man, that stuff is gloopy. Then I piped all the lightest of the two colours on and thought things were going well. When I began the dark brown piping, I realised how much there was to do, since all the sides needed doing as well. And the piping bag thing broke. But it was OK. I managed. It took forever, and at the end of it all I had (I think) a fantastic monkey cake for the birthday boy. One I couldn’t eat!
Bean didn’t see the cake until it was presented at the party for him to blow the candles out and he was blown away by it. He had come and checked with me several times during the day that I had remembered to make the monkey cake. He was quite happy for it to be a surprise, as long as the surprise was not that there was no monkey cake. Anyway, he loved it. The body was devoured by various people at the party, and cut up for guests to take home. The head will go to nursery on Monday for his friends to eat after tea.
We had a great, if very long and tiring day. Thanks to those who came to the party, thanks to those who helped with various bits during the afternoon. Thanks to those who took us out to eat this evening so I didn’t have to cook – and thanks for the lovely presents given to Bean.
And here, as requested, is the cake …..