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Archive for October, 2012

Birthday Party

October 18th, 2012 at 11:32 am

We are usually pretty low key about Daisy's birthday. We have a family dinner (includes some extended family), cake, ice cream and presents. Daisy likes to decorate cakes and usually decorates her own each year. That's about the extent of it. But this year was a big number birthday - Daisy has entered the teenage years. She wanted to have a Star Wars themed-party, and so we did. She drew up a guest list and we invited everyone on it. I thought, we're less than two weeks away from party date – we'll probably get about half of our guests. We had over 20 guests, not including adults who stayed. The only two invitees that didn't come now live in another state.

This can't really be a post about how to do a Star Wars party on a budget, because I spent way too much money on it. But we had fun, and I learned some things that could help me in the future.

The internet is full of Star Wars party ideas, and we borrowed a few. One idea, not specific to Star Wars parties, was to focus party decorations on a wall behind the table where most of the food will be placed. We covered the wall with black paper and attached glow-in-the-dark stars to it. I made a banner, using a Star Wars font, that said "Happy Birthday Daisy". We also decorated ceilings with black streamers and silver balloons. The limited, yet focused, decorations worked well.

The kids (mostly girls, plus a couple of younger boys) came dressed in costume. That provided excitement for this particular event. We played three party games – two were Star Wars themed. One is the game where you get a Star Wars character name taped to your back and you have to figure out who that character is. The other was a Death Star piñata (soccer ball piñata painted gray – we attempted to make a piñata but it was a failure. I did several piñatas in my youth but I must have lost my touch). Dinner followed activities. Our dinner was a make-your-own burrito bar ("Greedo Burritos") and lime punch ("Yoda Soda"), and some cut up vegetables. Then cake and presents, and that was the party.

What I learned:
I used the "Ellen's Kitchen" website to calculate how much food to make. When do I ever cook for 30? But I added too much extra to Ellen's excellent calculations. Running out at the last minute, and overbuying, really sunk my budget.

Start earlier – much, much earlier. I think our original piñata would have worked if we’d started on it earlier. The balloon I bought to make the piñata center cost $10. (Yes, it’s a rubber balloon – but it's huge – I think 36” in diameter if you blow it up all the way. Special purchase at the party store.) That $10 was basically wasted.

If the party is huge, enlist help in advance. Some of the adults who stayed helped out - a lot - maybe even too much. But it's more pleasant to help out a lot if you know in advance you are going to do that. I did not ask for any specific help from Mr. H, but he did dishes after dinner and vacuumed after everyone left.

In order to keep myself out of financial denial, I wrote down all expenses on a spreadsheet. It wasn't pretty but I'm glad I did it. If I had a spending plan first, expenses would probably have come in under the budgeted amount.

Something I already knew:
We can host a lot of people in our house (1200 sq ft) if we can use the back yard and everyone is kept busy with engaging activities.

Our party was basically pretty simple – party games, food and presents. Oh, and costumes. With fun guests and a good theme, I think it was a good party.

Petunia in a Flower Garden

October 16th, 2012 at 08:47 pm

Wow, it's been a while since I've been here.

I've come to the realization that, despite all my efforts, Mr. H and I are unlikely to ever be on the same page regarding finances, or a lot of other things. When we got married I believed that we had much more common ground than we actually do. I had hopes for many years that we would eventually come together on things, in a way we could both live happily with. Now, after almost 20 years, I think it's unreasonable to keep thinking that. I've spent the last six months developing a sense of peace about this. It's a thin peace, but still it's peace.

I'm in a denomination that discourages divorce, and I've had the opportunity to observe a number of marriages over the course of many years. Some people have great marriages that are sources of joy and pleasure for them and some have difficult marriages that create lives of patient endurance. It's a comfort, really. My situation isn't all that different from many women (and men).

We are still together, and likely will continue so (divorce is expensive!). . . but it's a different kind of together than I worked so hard for, for so many years. Frankly, I don't think anyone would get married and hope they would have a life like ours. But it is what it is, and I've decided to put more of my energy into things that will be fruitful, instead of trying to influence a situation that will not.

As such, I'm going to rename my blog to Petunia in a Flower Garden. . . . when I figure out how to do that. The French onion soup was helpful, but I'm moving on emotionally.

Daisy continues to grow, and our financial situation continues to be stable. We aren't rolling in cash, but we've weathered the current economy pretty well so far. I've kind of checked out of our finances for the last year and a half or so - now it's time to check back in.

I have achieved none of the goals I have on my side bar. . . still there's two and half months left in the year. Probably some time to make some progress on them. . . or rewrite them entirely.