Monday, April 4, 2016

This Is Party You're Looking For!

Ellie's 4th Birthday Party!

I realize that I've posted about Ellie's celebration on her actual birthday, but I still haven't posted about her birthday party! As with all past birthday party posts, I'll divide this bad boy into two installments: all the general fun will come first, and details will come next.

Ellie's party was held on Saturday, February 27th at Lake Seminole Park. We had her party a month before her birthday this year, because my sister was leaving to go back to Japan on March 4. Heather had not been able to attend any of the kids' parties before, thanks to job schedules or being on the other side of the world or both, so we figured rather than have the party over spring break as usual and exclude Heather again, why not go early and have her be able to come? And so, we did.

Of course, having the party in February introduced a new element we had not yet encountered in all of our four years of throwing parties at Pavilion 3 at Lake Seminole Park: cold. The temps were pretty chilly! Sorry, my northern friends, because when I say "chilly" I mean low 60s, but still. The Floridians in attendance came bundled. I had thought, "sure, we're having the party about two weeks earlier than normal, but how big of a difference can two weeks really make for the weather?" As it turns out, a rather significant difference. And, of course, it was literally the last cold day of the year and I don't think the temperature has dipped out of the 70s since, but whatever. We've now handled wind, rain, bugs and cold. Let's see what the park throws at us in July!

Ellie requested a Star Wars themed affair this year, which was a shock to all of us. For months and months she was asking for a Little Mermaid party, but once the Great Star Wars Obsession of 2016 hit, that quickly changed. More specifically, she requested a droid party, with no "Dark Vader." I did the best I could to focus on droids and keep the bad guys at bay, as you'll see in my next post about party details. I guess I did an acceptable job because Ellie loved her party.

This party was also different from others in that we held it at 4:00 in the afternoon, as opposed to our usual morning parties. That meant that we put the kids down for their naps that afternoon, then left them in the care of Papa and Aunt Heather while Eric and I went to set up. Papa and Auntie then dressed them and brought them to the party with perfect timing, and Eric and I managed to get set up right on schedule. We're getting this down to a science!

So, we were ready to party!

We're ready to celebrate Ellie!

As people started to arrive we just sort of mingled about, eating and chatting. I had a bubble machine running and pool noodle light sabers for the kids to play with, which was a big hit!

Ellie and cousin Charlie at play

Charlie taking a breather

My happy Ellie!

When everyone had arrived, we began our Star Wars Relay. I will go into more detail in my next post, but we divided our guests into four teams and each team competed in four legs of the race. Everyone was such good sports! It was really fun. Even Ellie got into it!

Top: Eric explaining the game; Middle: everyone lining up for the 2nd leg, and working hard in the 3rd leg; Bottom: Final leg!

The Yoda (Green) Team was first to complete all four events and was crowned our winning team! They processed in for our awards ceremony and were given their medals.

Our winning team: Aunt Rachel, Uncle Mark, E.J., Papa and Aunt Heather

Processing in!

E.J. sort of lucked into victory - he wasn't assigned a team, but became a Yoda Team member by default on account of he wouldn't let Papa put him down. But hey, He still gets a medal!

Shortly thereafter, it was time for cake! Ellie was as sweet as ever when we sang to her and happily ate her R2D2 cupcake.

Happy birthday, dear Ellie!

Singing to the birthday girl

VIDEO: Happy birthday, Ellie!

After cake, we just let everyone hang out and chat for a while. The kids played with the bubbles and light sabers some more, and everyone took pictures with our photo props. It was so nice to visit with everyone! We always love having the opportunities to catch up. I got to meet an old friend's sweet new baby girl, and Eric got to visit with his friend Eric who came to the party dressed as Darth Vader! We also got to welcome a few more family party rookies to the mix: Eric's Aunt Patty and Uncle Steve (bless them for coming even though they didn't feel well), my Aunt Rachel and Uncle Mark (in town from Pittsburgh!) and new baby Summer. We love that all of you come to celebrate our kids with us!

Photo prop fun!

E.J. was ready to duel Darth Vader!

E.J. and Papa, out for a walk

With Heather and my mom

Charlie having fun in the bubbles

Colton and Patrick perfecting their light saber skills

Proud parents of the birthday girl

Even the grown-ups had some fun with the light sabers!

We did take some time out of our visiting for Ellie to open presents, and she got some really nice things! Thank you, friends, for being so generous! Ellie loves her new toys!

Gifts for the birthday girl!

Of course, in addition to the cool weather, one thing I failed to anticipate when planning a 4:00 p.m. February birthday party was sunset timing. We closed the place down!

Park closes at dusk—better hustle!

Most guests cleared out except for the usual few who stayed to help clean up (thank you!), and that was a wrap on Birthday Party No. 4 for Ellie!

Happy birthday, Ellie-girl!

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