I am not the sort of mom who scours Pinterest for amazing DIY project ideas for my kid’s birthday parties.
I am wholly impressed by those moms and the cute things they manage to create. I will gladly attend their parties, and I will sincerely ooh and aah over their achievements. But me, I’m the sort of mom who heads to Target and neighborhood bakeries for the best money can buy, and sets it all up in the best play place money can rent out.
Unfortunately, though, when you live someplace like Benin, with no Target and a cultural aversion to sweets, and no play places to speak of, you have to turn to plan B.
So Flynn’s second birthday party would happen at our house, which I’d have to do my best to turn into a play place.
Future parties will undoubtedly be better, because after being inspired by a conversation about impressive yet portable play things with some more seasoned Foreign Service parents, Andy and I have already decided that when we get settled in the U.S. we’re investing in a) a bouncy castle, and b) a mini roller coaster. And, let’s be honest, as a tandem couple we can ship a pretty obscene amount of stuff to our next post with us, so my guess is we’ll amass many more large play things during our year stateside that we don’t even know exist yet.
But, for now…
There were a few Target purchased touches after all, shipped in from the grandparents.
We even had a petting zoo!
A few months ago, after admiring a Mickey Mouse cake at one of his friend’s birthday parties, Flynn told me matter of factly that for his birthday he wanted Cookie Monster cupcakes. This was only appropriate since at my own Cookie Monster themed second birthday party I apparently had cookie trees and a real costumed Cookie Monster (whose presence, as the story goes, made me cry). With no neighborhood bakery to scour for cupcakes, off to Pinterest I went. And I threw in some Elmo cupcakes for good measure.
Because I happened to have 16 pounds of baker’s chocolate that I wanted to use up before leaving post, I made the cupcakes from scratch. (Fudge too. And I’m still not through with that darn baker’s chocolate.) And when my two tubs of icing I made Andy ship from the U.S. proved not to be enough, I made the icing from scratch too. Definitely not projects I would have undertaken with a Target nearby.
Last year, there were so few littles ones in the embassy community, I was literally telling people I barely knew to bring babies and toddlers I had never even met. This year, however, with an influx of little ones at post, more than a dozen friends and all their parents showed up to help Flynn celebrate. I won’t publicly post photos of other people’s kids, though, so instead I’ll introduce you to some of our more, well, plush party guests.
I guess I didn’t get a photo of it, but for food I whipped out the big guns: sandwiches made from a real, authentic American honey baked spiral ham shipped in from the commissary at the embassy in Ghana. Super easy yet also impressive (at least in the context of our current hardship post) — this is much more my usual style.
Much to Flynn’s chagrin he had to pose for some obligatory photos before the guests arrived.
Since they’re only two, there were no party games or activities — just lots of sugary goodness making already wild kids even more wild.
Probably Flynn’s favorite part of the party was when everyone joined in a chorus of “Happy Birthday,” a song which he’s been happily singing to himself on a regular basis ever since he heard it at that same Mickey Mouse loving friend’s party a few months back. I was holding him so couldn’t see myself, but I hear his face lit up. And today, the day after the party, he keeps going back into the room where “Happy Birthday” was sung and busting out in song again himself.
It was a good party, though it would have been better if Andy could have been there. Maybe in a Cookie Monster costume.