Great expectations

January 15,2010
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath( )

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

Several months ago, when T. was already laying down plans for her sixth birthday party, she announced that she wanted the theme to be "snow animals". I didn't put much stock into that at the time because surely, I thought, she would change her mind between then and January. After all, last year she flip-flopped between fairies and mermaids for several months before settling on a dragon/princess theme. But the snow animals persisted, all through November, and December, and now much of January. I like planning parties and my kids, perhaps sensing this, like to throw a challenge my way. Last summer L. decided he wanted a Hardy Boys themed party, which was a challenge to say the least. I spent an inordinate amount of time last summer looking for two plastic figurines who could pass for Joe and Frank Hardy and had to settle instead for some plastic soldier-type fellow who, when the hat was pried off, at least sort of looked like Frank Hardy. I can do snow animals, I thought to myself back in December. But now it's January 15th and at the time I wrote this post, yesterday in-between classes in my office--I had none of the legwork done. Oh, I had googled penguin cakes (Look! A whole website devoted to penguins!) and snow-themed crafts and polar bear party favors. I had ideas swirling around in my head, visions of sugar cube igloo cake toppers and fondant penguins, or even a diving whale on T.'s cake (is that a snow animal?). Part of the fun of an out-of-the-ordinary theme is that it IS out of the ordinary. Free from the constraints of traditional party themes, your imagination can soar--anything is possible, if you have the time, that is. T. and I researched snow themed crafts and came up with an idea we both love: making snow globes! I bought a supply of baby food jars at the grocery store for a mere .40 cents each (stay tuned next week for a post on what to do with the contents), and found several tubes of plastic arctic animals at the craft store. I'm planning on doing a trial run and making a snow globe with the kids tomorrow, mainly to iron out any bumps in the road before we turn a dozen kids loose with glitter and water and high expectations. My dreamy plans of making T.'s cake have evaporated, and instead we'll buy a plain sheet cake, and decorate it with the snow animals T. loves--polar bears, penguins, and a white wolf. ...And maybe I'll have time to make a sugar cube igloo to put on top. Just a tiny one. Maybe. Happy Weekend!