Bee Do Bee Do! Minion Party!

My middle baby turned three over the summer, and what with Baby J’s arrival, it got a little hard to post about her party.  Here we are in the end of November and I still haven’t told you all about it.  Keep in mind I was 1800 months pregnant when I pulled this off, so it was a feat of strength.  I had been dreaming up and pinning ideas for months, so not going big wasn’t an option.  Did that sentence make sense?

Anyhoo…  Despicable Me is one of the few movies I like and let my kids watch.  I love Steve Carrell (the voice of Mr Gru) and I adore his adopted daughter characters.  They are quirky, smart and fearless and that is something I want my young girls to see.  Also, just knowing that Russell Brand does the voice of Dr Nefario makes me happy.  PS – I want a shark to live in my house.

K is a hardcore Mr Gru fan and loves minions and all their gibberish and hilarity.  I asked her months before this what theme she wanted and it didn’t even take her a second to scream “Minions!”  We may have been watching the movie at the time…

I started a Pinterest Board and looked first at cake and loot bag ideas.  Those are my main ways of tying a theme together.  Food is a huge component of my planning and I like to get food that not only ties in the colours of the movie but little ideas that are part of characters and plot lines.  Here are some pictures to get us started:

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The cake was a feat of nature.  I used four 8 inch rounds and then a half-ball mould to make the rounded top.  I used confetti cake mix, which I have to say is not the most stable cake mix in that it is soft and crumbles easily.  I find that if you refrigerate or freeze the cake it is easier to ice.  I did two crumb coats and froze the cake for five minutes in between icings to help things set up nicely.  I shoved three dowels down the top of the cake (measure beforehand so you can cut the dowel to size and avoid having wooden sticks poking up the top of your cake) for stability.  I iced the cylinder first and then the round head separately with yellow fondant.  There ends up being a seam in the middle of the minion’s head but that is conveniently covered by his goggle band.  I did the goggles with a combo of brown, black, grey and white icing.  If you buy white icing and have good gel food colouring (I use Wilton), you can dye small pieces of fondant however you want.  Pro tip:  Use gloves!  Otherwise you end up with black hands.  His overalls were blue fondant rolled out and cut to size and then I used a rolling tool with teeth on it to make the stitches around the straps and bib etc.  I think he turned out really well.  Did you notice the Minion cupcakes!  So easy and so funny. They were my favourite!

If you are making your cake more than a day in advance, be careful.  Cakes always settle and move so if your stability is at all off you could end up with cracked fondant or dowels sticking out.

As for other food, there were lots of marshmallow bananas (minions love bananas), fruit shaped candy (from the second movie when they make jam and jelly), a fruit tray, Twisted Pasta Salad, Nacho’s Nachos and we served hot dogs for an early dinner.

The loot bags were a hoot and so easy to make.  I just got yellow bags from the dollar store and cut blue card stock into overall shapes and used minion goggles I got at a party supply store for the eyes.  I had to cut out paper and draw in the pupils as well as the pockets on the overalls, but they were easy.  In the loot bag were candy bananas, a minion t-shirt, a minion cup and a bunch of party supply minion things like stickers and bubble wands.  I was lucky in that the second Despicable Me movie had recently come out so there was a lot of stuff to be had in the stores.

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I recently got myself a juice dispenser and have been using it to create characters from my themes.  I made a minion with yellow and blue card stock and those handy dandy goggles from the party supply store.  You’ll see this technique in lots of parties to come, I’m sure!

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I made minion banners, labels, signs and other silly things to put about the house and on the table to make sure the theme was seen everywhere.  Yellow and blue table ware and balloons helped as well.  I also always make labels when I give funny names to foods so people can appreciate the tie-ins of the theme.

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Since K was born in August, her birthday parties usually are blessed with nice weather and we are able to eat outside and play games.  In the past I have done hunts in the backyard but this time I decided to do a water balloon minion game with yellow and purple balloons.  The kids were each on a team divided by colour and had to get the balloon in the minion’s mouth.  I also had yellow bubble wands for the kids to play with and it was so nice to have lots of the action outside.

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Inside, I had pin the pocket on the minion (a pre-bought game).

REAL MOM PARTY PLANNING TIPS

When I am planning the party, I usually start a few months in advance and follow these steps:

1.  Choose a theme. I consult with the kids about this and make sure they choose something they like and that it is something I can actually make happen.

2.  Record ideas as they flow.  I usually keep a list in notes on my phone and I also keep a Pinterest board for each party.  I also usually do a simple Google Images search and that helps me put ideas together.

3.  Make shopping lists.  My main go-to locations for party planning and shopping are Dollarama, Michaels, Bulk Barn, Walmart or Target, Party City and the Dollar Store that isn’t really a dollar store near me because everything is more than a dollar.  Dollarama has the good, basic things like balloons, plates and cutlery, streamers, tissue paper, card stock and sometimes some random loot bag fillers in the book aisle or the craft aisle.  Michaels is great for the more specialty items like fancy paper, craft items like feathers and eyes, wreath forms, cake decorating supplies, fancy decorations, pretty bags and seasonal items.  Bulk Barn has amazing pinatas, cake pans, icing galore, candy for loot bags and pinatas and specialty drinks.  Party City, Target and Walmart round things out with colourful items and loot bag finds.

4.  Shop.  Do this over the course of a few days or even weeks.  Plan it out with a detailed list.  I make a list of crafts I want to make and the supplies I need to make them in order to make sure nothing is missed.  I hate going back for return trips.

5.  Start crafting.  I usually start with the loot bags and then move on to decorative elements and I end with the balloons and streamers and paper-based decorations.  These things are all simple to make but take time.  I have three small kids so I do most things during nap times and at night.

6.  Make the cake.  I do this the day before the party.  Give yourself time in case of mishaps and always have extra mix and icing on-hand in case!

7.  Make the food.  I usually have themed food so this has to be planned and shopped for much like the decor.  Those are separate lists!

7.  Set it all out.  The day of the party is when all the magic comes together and I am usually on a bit of a high watching my vision come together.  I set up my table and put out all the food, make drinks and clean the house.

8.  Enjoy!  I truly love having these parties for my kids because it is a fun and special way to get family and friends together to play and celebrate.  My kids love it and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here are a few more snaps of the fun day:

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Taking children to Mexico is hard work. It was worth it.

So, last week we packed up (and by that I mean I packed) and flew the kids to Cabo San Lucas to rub elbows with Jennifer Aniston by the pool.  Except that Jennifer Aniston never showed up.  WTF?  Anyhoo, we showed up and had tons of fun.  There were a few bumps along the road, but aren’t there always?  Here is how it all went down.

We woke up at the civilized and not at all excruciating hour of 2 am to get the kids in the car and to the airport by 4 to catch our flight at 6 am.  It all went remarkably well.  We assumed the kids would sleep so we could doze on the 4 hour flight, but that only happened half way.  The littlest, most uncooperative one never complied and was wide awake the whole time.  Awesome.  We arrived in Cabo excited but exhausted.  She slept for about 25 minutes in the car on the way to the resort.  That should do it, right?

We got to the resort at about 11 and were told we couldn’t have our room until 4.  Faack!  We were able to  use the guest change room to get in to our bathing suits and go to the pool to pass the time.  So, it was the hottest part of the day, we had exhausted kids, and there were no cozy beds to be had.  Oh well.  We made the most of it, started ordering pina coladas and guacamole and chips STAT and played in the kids’ pool for FOUR HOURS!!! There was an amazing towel guy/waiter who made our afternoon feel pampered and relaxed.  He supplied toys for the kids and lots of drinks for us.

We made it through the afternoon, but then the wheels fell off:  My parents, who had organized this whole trip (to include us, them and my sister as a family getaway), emailed to say that their flight had been CANCELLED!!! Oh no!!!  I was devastated.  It was like Santa Clause not coming to Christmas!  R had so been looking forward to seeing them, had been counting the days off on her Fancy Nancy calendar, and was promised her grandparents damn it! I was so sad.  But, we soldiered on, finally got our room and took naps knowing that when we woke up Auntie J would be there and more fun could ensue!

Well, some fun ensued.  Something I learned about R on this trip is that she doesn’t deal with transition very well.  She was out of her element and didn’t like the idea of going from one place to another.  This was hard on most days as we often had multiple things planned.  Once she got used to the idea of being in one place, we moved her to another activity.  She coped with this by asking, very frequently, to go home.  Nothing could have pissed me off more.  More on this later.

Auntie J arrived in the late evening and we went to dinner at a lovely rooftop restaurant at the resort and we ordered nummy Mexican delights for us, and chicken nugget for the kids.  They didn’t eat anything.  This would be a recurring theme.  The restaurant had lovely mexican blankets on the backs of the chairs in case we got cold – a very civilized and pampering touch!  Loved it!  I was thrilled to see my sister and we had a good time in spite of the whining, crying, overtired kids.  We went to bed after dinner and hoped against hope that our parents would show up the next day.  We hoped in vain, people!

Next day.  Cabo has a Walmart.  Seriously people?  It actually has two.  I wasn’t prepared for this.  Anyhoo.  We took a cab to Walmart and stocked up on breakfast and lunch stuff that we could prepare in our rooms and came back for naps and fun in the sun.  We went back to the kids pool for a bit before dinner.  We went to another dinner at another lovely restaurant, this time with ponchos on the backs of our chairs.  See video and pics of that dinner.  My tired baby was dancing happily on the lap of her daddy for most of the dinner.  She was happy as long as she could stuff her gob with bread.  Also, check out the view.

K dancing in Cabo

Dinner 1 Cabo
Dinner 1 Cabo

After our first full day, we were ready and almost trembling in anticipation for Gma and Gpa’s arrival the next day.  They arrived at about 2 pm and then the party really got started.  Here we are enjoying drinks and snacks pool side!

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With everyone finally here, we planned a variety of activities including a dinner for M, Auntie J and myself at a restaurant in Cabo proper that featured authentic Mexican dishes.  We may or may not have polished off 12 churros and two pieces of quatros leches cake.  I’m not going to tell.  But, it was delicious.

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Here are a few more pictures from that dinner.  We watched the sun set and a cool pirate ship come in to the marina all lit up and glowing.  Those seem to be present at any vacation destination where there is water.  What gives?

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Mike and my dad went deep sea fishing – no pictures of that trip as I was not on board.  By this time, poor K had developed what I now know was a doozy of a chest cold, maybe bronchitis or even croup.  She had started wheezing at night the night we went out for dinner and my parents were watching her.  By Wednesday night she had to sit up with one of us to sleep as she couldn’t breathe lying down.  It was scary.  We thought she was developing asthma or allergies and were on the verge of taking her to a doctor, but some cold medicine was purchased and seemed to keep her somewhat happy for a few hours at a time at least.  Poor muffin.  And poor us – it made for some crappy sleeps which made it harder to enjoy the days and to be patient for the inevitable meltdowns.

We went in to Cabo as a whole family to see the Arch (or El Arco de Cabo San Lucas).  It was breathtaking.  It is located at the southernmost point of the Baja Peninsula, also known as Lands End.  It is where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez and it makes for some rough seas but beautiful sightseeing.  We were dropped off at a beach where we snorkeled for a little bit and saw some amazing fishies.  See if you can see the rock known as Scooby Doo.

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The rest of the trip consisted of sightseeing in San Jose Del Cabo – a quieter town featuring the typical roadside shops and local artisans.  A nice church from the time of the missionaries in the area – the 1700s.  I bought too much stuff.

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We went out to dinner for my sister’s birthday to a five star restaurant, Pitahayas, which was part of the resort.  It was amazeballs!  Four courses, amazing wine, palate cleansers, waiters draping your napkin for you and everything.  We were feeling pretty special! Check out the roof of the restaurant!

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There were a few things that threw a wrench in to our vacation.  I don’t want to dwell on the negative, but those things often bring out the best in us, or the worst and the snarkiest.  You be the judge:

  • There were never enough towels.  We had to use towel cards to get towels at the pools and we often had to wait until we were done swimming to receive towels because the other guests were hoarding them.  Assholes.  
  • We tried to rent a car for our day out in Cabo and they promised us a 7 seater but we had to make do with 2 smaller cars that showed up two hours too late.  When I was sweating my ass off trying to put in the car seats in a small VW Passat my sister asked if I needed any help, and I responded by saying ‘no thanks, but I am sure all the bell boys can see my entire ass’.  Oh well!  My sister stepped up and braved Mexican traffic and drove the second car.
  • R was not convinced that she was enjoying being there.  She took the opportunity many times a day to say that she didn’t want to be there and wanted to go home to Calgary.  I actually heard myself saying “You are going to have fun dammit!” There is nothing more frustrating than planning and paying for an extravagant trip and then having your three year old bitch about it the whole time!  She actually had a lot of fun and almost learned to swim by herself!
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  • There was a policy that was posted EVERYWHERE including on all lounge chairs that patrons were not permitted to reserve chairs for longer than 45 minutes.  This didn’t stop most people from coming down at 7 am and putting towels (that they had undoubtedly been hoarding) on the loungers with a hotel magazine and leaving them there for hours until they got their lazy asses out of bed to come down and laze around in the sun.  On our last full day in Cabo we were looking to spend some time in the pool and had been trolling around for almost 2 hours looking for a spot to sit.  There was a pair of chairs that hadn’t been used since 9 am and it was 10:30 and we thought it was high time someone made use of these chairs.  No one at the hotel was enforcing the policy so we asked around to see if anyone had been using the chairs and the general consensus was that no one had been, so we moved the towels and set up camp.  Lo and behold, an hour later (which makes 2 hours away from the chairs) a crazy bitch came strutting down the stairs and said “Dude, we have a problem here!”.  What came after that can only be described as crazy and demented.  This woman was putting her finger in my mother’s face and my face telling us that we had disrupted the status quo, and it was an understood practice among the patrons that this was the way things were done.  She wanted me to acknowledge that I had crossed the line and had been rude in displacing her two towels.  She was upset that she and her husband now had to find another place to sit and was essentially bitching me out in front of my family and my kids.  Well, most of you who know me can imagine how that went.  I calmly sat in MY lounge chair and held my ground.  I may or may not have called her “rich and self-entitled”.  Well, turns out she wasn’t rich, but I stand by the self-entitled comment.  What a biatch.  I let her have it, told her to get her hand out of my and my mother’s faces and told her that just because everyone was doing it doesn’t mean that she should too.  If she wanted me to assuage her guilt and give her permission to break the rules and for me to admit that I was wrong, she was barking up the wrong tree.  Crazytown.  She stomped off and my day was officially soured.  It took me a good few hours to get over it, but I was fine by dinner that night.  My dad rightly pointed out that she was just one person and that there had actually been a few families that had given up chairs for us when they noticed us hunting around for a spot to sit.  Those people are lovely and represent the norm.  That crazy bitch was an ass and needed to fall in the pool.  Notice I didn’t say “get pushed”?

Our last dinner was at the Cortez restaurant on the property and I had Lobster Two Ways and almost died on my plate.  It was fantastic.  We saw the moon rise as an orange globe floating above the horizon.  It was a once in a lifetime sight.  Rebecca loved the jazz singer that was performing and Kate ate bread.

Overall, we were lucky to have been there.  We had a wonderful time, all glitches aside, and we look forward to doing it again in a few years.  Here are a few more snaps:

Rebecca in the tube
Rebecca in the tube

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