Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Royal Children's Ball

If you were to ask Nora and Emily what would constitute the perfect fairytale evening, they would tell you that it would include dressing up like a princess, wearing a crown, eating cake and ice-cream, visiting a castle, and dancing to Disney Princess music at a ball.

Well, the first annual Royal Children's Ball provided that and so much more! At the beginning of February I began to see ads announcing that a Royal Ball was going to be held at Altgeld Castle on the NIU campus. It sounded like fun to me, and I'm an adult, so I figured the kids would love it. The price tag was a bit hefty; $15 dollars per person, but the money was going to help fund after school programs, so really it was a win-win situation.

Getting ready for the ball gave me a little insight into what its going to take to get the girls ready for prom when they're older. Oh my gosh...I spent all day long steaming our dresses and finding the right shoes and jewelry. As soon as Nora got home from school, I did her hair up in rollers. Then it was hair and make-up for the three of us, and I had a hard time remembering where my tiara and gloves were hiding! (I hadn't worn them since my wedding day; it took a bit of effort on my part to dig that stuff out. As for my dress...that had to be dug out also. It was the dress I wore to Lisa and Bob's wedding). Unfortunately it was raining and terribly cold, but Ryan was kind enough to drop us off at the castle so we didn't have to walk through the dreary elements. However, the girls radiated sunshine and excitement during the drive to the castle; it was easy to feel like spring is on the way!

Nora and Emily were overwhelmed from the moment we stepped inside the castle. A red carpet wound its way up an ornate, curved staircase that led to the ballroom. The ballroom itself was built in 1895 and recently restored, so it was all marble and gilding and polished wood. The Victorian atmosphere, which could be daunting for some kids, was lightened up quite a bit by balloon sculptures and twinkling lights. A grape juice fountain greeted us, as did a pile of Sweet Dreams cupcakes. Everywhere we turned, little girls dressed in head-to-toe frills danced about, young knights and pirates ran through the crowd. It was so cool. Of course the girls wanted cupcakes, so we sat down and ate those first. We danced a little, and then Nora stood in line (for ever!) to get a tiara. I have to admit she looked beautiful when she was done, but during the wait, Emily became very comfortable coloring at the table next to the beauty booth and I spent most of my evening with her there from that point forwards.

They really did a great job making everything kid friendly. There were crayons and fruit snacks at all the tables. Waiters came around with mini hot-dogs and chicken nuggets. Emily and I made crafts while Nora ran off and danced with some of the girls from her school. (That, I admit, was a bit hard. Letting her run off to dance while I stayed out of the way seemed strange, but I have to get used to the idea that she has a life outside of me!)

The evening went very well until about 8pm. At that point they put out the "all you can eat, build your own ice-cream sundae" custard and candies. Oh NOOOO. Major mom dilemma! Within minutes there were hundreds of people standing around us stuffing their faces with Culvers. So tempting, but dairy is so bad for the girls tummies! What to do, what to do??? My heart ended up trumping all common sense when the girls starting begging for a sundae. I wanted to make them happy, I wanted then to fit in, and so we all ate very delicious desserts. Emily had eaten about half of hers when she started complaining that her tummy hurt; Nora managed to eat her entire serving before deciding she had had too much. Oh dear. The evening started to go downhill from there, because they didn't feel good, it was past their bedtime, and they didn't want to leave! Nora continued to run around with some friends while Emily and I tried to walk off the tummy ache.

The evening's festivities came to an end at 9pm, not a moment too soon! I was happy to have an excuse to leave, because the girls were DONE. We left in exhausted tears. At the time I wasn't too happy myself, but in hindsight it was awfully predictable and somewhat funny. These little girls had too much of a good thing and it showed! I've never seen someone fall asleep the moment their head hit the pillow, and after all of our fun, I witnessed two little girls fall asleep in less time than it takes to snap your fingers. I'm sure they dreamed of dancing and sweets.

To view the pics of us all dressed up, click the image below.

Royal Children's Ball

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