The Under the Sea Birthday Party

Sometimes I feel like, for a couple of years there, I completely dropped the Mom ball. Between just-getting-through-the-day depression, soul sucking work at a series of jobs that brought me no kind of joy, and just being tired, and poor, and overwhelmed generally, I wasn’t able to do the type of things I wanted to for the boys.

In past years, instead of throwing them a birthday party, I instead gave them experiences. We went to NYC and we did some day trips, and we had fun. But this year, John was turning 11, and when he said that what he really really wanted was a birthday party with his friends, I took a deep self-collecting sigh, and agreed to whatever he came up with.

Every day with my boys is a reminder that time is constantly marching on. They are 11 and (weeks away from) 13, and I see my relationship with the boys is changing daily. I’m entering new territory as a teen/preteen mom. All the things I loved doing with them in their young childhoods are soon to be things of the past. Like birthday parties at the house. Sooner than I would like (or am ready for) such things will be passe.

John wasn’t sure what he wanted to do for his birthday, but for what is probably his last party like this, I wanted to do something memorable for him. One of the things we really enjoy doing together is paint and sip. And he’s incredibly good at it.

John’s version of Van Gogh’s Poppies

He painted this last summer when he was 10.

I happened to go to a paint and sip locally, and Nicole, our leader and painting guru, from Paint Parties by Nicole mentioned she did home parties. When I suggested a painting party to John, his eyes lit up. Winner, winner chicken dinner. Nicole sent me some pictures of possible paintings we could do, and John picked this one.

Under the Sea

So we had a theme. I’ve mentioned before how much I love a theme and the planning that goes into a party. So I fired up Pinterest and John and I pinned a bunch of images of food, cakes, and decor that he liked. Then later, I went back through the images and selected the things I knew I could pull off. I live in fear of becoming a walking, talking Pinterest fail, so I try to be realistic (okay, sort of realistic).

This is what I did:

Something fishy is going on…

And I decided that since my days as birthday party planner extraordinaire were numbered, I would go whole hog and make the cake too.

I am not a baker. I have never not been a buy-the-cake-from-the-bakery kind of girl. But I was feeling nostalgic and wanted some of my doting Mom street cred back. So I made one myself.

Yeah….

Yes, it’s lopsided, the icing isn’t smooth, and the decorations are, how do we say this nicely… underwhelming. But it is a cake, and the girl who never makes cakes made it.

The layers look good

I am particularly proud of how the layers turned out though. I had to figure out how to dye the batter myself, and I nailed it! (I added one drop of blue food coloring to the batter, mixed it, and put it in a pan. Then added another drop to the remaining batter, mixed, and put it in the pan. I did this for each successive layer and as you can see it worked perfectly!) Plus it was pretty tasty, and the kids didn’t complain. That is a marker of a good cake.

The kids all seemed to enjoy painting as well, and John was in his glory. Here are his and Sam’s finished products.

They turned out great!