Next week Jack – our eldest son – turns 10. I don’t know if it’s all the Facebook posts floating around about kids finishing school today, or just something in the air at this time of year, but I’ve been feeling all nostalgic which had me spending a good hour or so this morning just floating through our iPhoto albums on the computer and looking back on all of Jack’s past birthday’s. I’ve written about a few of them here and here.
As I flicked from year to year, I had to giggle a little about how his birthday cakes are a bit of a reflection of our family journey to date and so I thought I’d write a short post to share today, just because that’s the kind of mood I’m in! If anybody out there has a somebody finishing high school today – CONGRATULATIONS! It is such an exciting time for all involved – so much adventure, learning and life ahead!
Anyway – I hope you’ll forgive this little self-indulgent trip down memory lane – it’s just that I feel like in the blink of an eye my baby who is nearly 10 will be finishing school and leaving home – how fast, fast time does fly!
The First Birthday Cake
I was given the Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake book by a lovely work mate (thanks Bec if you are still following our blog!) at my baby shower before Jack was born. Leading up to his first birthday I spent hours flipping through it and trying to decide what the easiest birthday cake I could attempt would be – I eventually settled on the ‘Dragon Cake’ above. We invited all of our friends and family to come along to celebrate and I looked forward to hosting my first birthday party!
The day of Jack’s birthday party arrived and saw me up before 5am with Jack as was usual, but on this day – totally freaking out about all the things I had to get organised for the afternoon party – what had I done?? I’d never really thrown a party before and now I was petrified! I’d never even attempted to make a birthday cake before! What if we didn’t have enough food? What if nobody came? What if nobody talked to each other? What if everybody came and thought it was a lame party??? Aaaaaaaaaargh!! By 9am Jack was screaming and I was in tears over the cake that wasn’t even nearly ready, the baby who wouldn’t let me get anything done, and feeling like all of our friends would arrive to find my house a mess, me still in my PJ’s and no party food or drink to eat!
Thankfully my Mum was on hand for Jack’s 1st birthday and took him off me and out for a walk in the pram (out of my earshot!) to get him to sleep. Matt took over the birthday cake decorating and I proceeded to pull myself together and get the party organised.
This chaos opened the door for what has now become the ‘birthday cake tradition’ of Matt cutting and decorating all the kids birthday cakes!
I can’t say the birthday party was a roaring success, but we survived, people came and there was fun, food and photos!
Jack’s 2nd Birthday
By the time Jack’s 2nd birthday came around, we now had a 4 month old Toby on the scene, and with the trauma of Jack’s first birthday still pretty fresh in my mind – I decided to keep his 2nd birthday low key with just some close friends and family over for afternoon tea.
I did again search the ‘Birthday Cake’ book for a suitable cake and decided to try the Pinata Cake – it was a complete disaster which saw me having to throw a plain chocolate cake in the oven just an hour before the party – aaaargh – again there were tears! Matt saved the day decorating the cake with the lollies rescued from the piñata mess and shoving a train candle on top – sorted!
We still had a birthday cake and have some photos to prove the 2nd birthday party was a success!
Jack’s 3rd Birthday Cake
By the time Jack’s 3rd Birthday came around, I was pregnant with Lexi and to be totally honest – not feeling very much like doing much more than buying a cake from the local bakery, throwing some candles on it, with some lollies and chips thrown in and making sure there was plenty of wrapping paper and balloons thrown about!
Grandma (Gayel) came to the rescue this particular year and made Jack his very own Echidna birthday cake which he choose from the birthday cake book himself. Thus another new tradition was born in the Fealy Family – of the kids drooling over the birthday cake book for months before their actual birthday and regularly changing their mind on ‘their bestest, most favourite birthday cake ever’ and putting a request in!
Jack’s 4th Birthday
By the time Jack turned four, Matt and I were totally exhausted! Lexi had arrived earlier in the year and 3 kids under 4 was certainly testing our time, patience, energy, financial and emotional resources!
Again, we were very fortunate to have Grammy and Grunda visiting this year and Grammy came to the rescue with an awesome Robot cake to match Jack’s 4 year old obsession with robots! Another birthday cake success and a fun afternoon with the neighbours and cousies! I am pleased to report there were no tears from Mum this year, although Jack went down with a fever halfway through his party and slept out most of it!!
Jack’s 5th Birthday Cake
By the time Jack’s 5th birthday came around, we were starting to find our feet again. We managed to make the birthday cake ourselves and host a small family and friends birthday party with a minimum amount of stress – wahooo!
Jack’s 6th Birthday Cake
Ok – I’m going to pat ourselves on the back a little here, because in our minds – Jack’s 6th Birthday party was our ‘crowning glory’ of birthday parties hehehehe! Bolstered by the success of Jack’s 5th Birthday party, we decided that in Jack’s first year at school, his Prep year – we would love to have a ‘whole class’ birthday party for him. We liked the idea of meeting all of the other families in his class, letting them get to know us, and giving Jack a big birthday party childhood memory to remember!
I will admit that this party was a little stressful – especially as we had decided to have a waterslide going as our ‘entertainment’ down our very steep hill in the back yard – however, we were fortunate and the party went off without mishap! It was a really, really nice afternoon – we got lucky with great weather, great kids, great families and maybe just the stars and moons aligned!
Jack’s 7th Birthday Cake
For Jack’s 7th Birthday he had a ‘halloween theme’ birthday as I spotted a whole stash of halloween stuff in the ‘reduced’ bin at the cheap shop just a few weeks before his birthday – so too easy! Some gentle co-ercing into a castle cake from the birthday book and it was all organised! We were really getting the hang of this birthday party thing now!! This was the year I also discovered the hours that could be spent on ‘birthday party’ research via google on the internet!!
Jack’s 8th Birthday Cake
Jack’s 8th Birthday was all about family. We had only recently moved back home and settled in at Blue Sky Produce and we were super excited to be able to host our first birthday party with great grandparents, both sets of grandparents and lots of extended family around! This was the year I discovered Pinterest for birthday party planning – oh so, so good!
I have to admit to being a bit stressed for this one and being pregnant with Kipp didn’t help either as I was very tired and nauseous! I did drop – coming out of the oven – one of the frangipani pies I had made as a birthday cake for Matt’s grandma – which, yep you guessed it – lead to birthday party tears again – but I’m blaming hormones for that one – not a birthday party relapse!
It was a lovely, lovely party with celebrating some combined family birthdays all together. Definitely a great ‘Welcome Home’ event!
Jack’s 9th Birthday Cake
Last year Jack turned nine and this was the year that we realised he was growing up! There was no flipping through the birthday cake book this year, instead just a request for a simple chocolate cake and a few friends over after school. Phew – it was a relief not to have some crazy big party to do, but bittersweet to know that those days were all but over now!
This year, we are doing something really different and heading to Sugarworld as a fun family outing with a couple of friends to celebrate Jack turning 10.
I love how our family has evolved over time. I love that our birthday party photo albums are a real ‘snapshot’ of our family life at that point in time. I love looking back and seeing how lucky and loved we have been having our family and friends helping us and surrounding us at our kids birthday parties. I love seeing the growth I have had as a mum and that Matt and I have had as a team, come through over the years – I can’t promise that there won’t be more birthday party tears in the future, but there is certainly less stress and crankiness in the lead up to them these days!
My parent’s think I am over compensating with my kid’s birthday parties due to the fact that I never had a ‘real’ birthday party until I was 21. I don’t know – maybe subconsciously I am. However, my mum always made our birthday’s special with little traditions like a birthday party tablecloth, always a lovingly laid out table full of goodies and a home made birthday cake. I never felt I missed out at all. Birthdays are special because of the stories and traditions that surround them – I don’t think they have to be big or extravagant at all – I love being able to give our kids a new birthday memory each year and the tradition of Matt decorating the kids cakes has stuck (very lucky!).
My Dad also says that we are ‘ruining our kids’ with all of their birthday parties as this then takes away from the significance of the big birthdays – the 21sts etc – that by the time the kids get to them – they don’t mean as much as they have had a party every year and always soooo many presents! I agree he has a point, but I love our kids birthday parties – no matter how big or small they are each year, for a couple of reasons. Often – especially in the early years of babies and small kids – the birthday parties were our only real chance to socialise and see our friends – an excuse to catch up- to have a bit of fun! Not only that – I think anytime you can make a loved one feel special on their birthday surrounding them with family and friends – taking the time out of our busy lives to be together, slow down and enjoy the moment – surely that can’t be all bad?
I don’t know – so many choices made in parenting and we just have to hope they are the right ones for our own individual families 🙂
So – now back to Pinterest for me in search of a simple birthday cake for our soon to be 10 year old – Jacko. Gee – I’m not sure what the next 10 years will have in store for us, but boy I hope it’s as great as the last ten years have been!
Anybody got any great birthday stories or traditions to share? A disaster or an awesome memory? What about ideas for a tenth birthday cake for me? Anybody??
Love The Fealy Family xoxoxo