Sunday, February 17, 2008
Well...one of the birthdays. Birthday season 2008 has officially started in our house. My father-in-law has the distinction of the first birthday of the year. His wife threw a big party in Fresno, as you may remember. My very low profile birthday was next, but it's rapidly followed by Smunch's birthday, which is far more exciting for everyone in the family.
We started the celebration by having Gram and Grandpa pick Aunt Karen and Spencer up at the airport, so they could join in the fun. They arrived on Friday while Smunch was at school, but Aunt Karen made a surprise guest appearance in the kindergarten room as the storytime reader for Friday. Smunch wasn't sure what to make of that exactly, but he seemed happy and the kids liked the book she brought.
The party continued on the real big day, Saturday, with breakfast at the restaurant of Smunch's choice. He chose a nearby coffee shop-style place that worked well for everyone. Karen, Spencer, Gram and Grandpa joined us. Grandpa even brought a candle and matches for Smuch's waffle. Cute!
The birthday party didn't start until afternoon, so all the kids went over to Gram and Grandpa's to play while Daddy, Karen and I set up for the party. Fruit salad, check. Cheese cubes, check, Balloons, check. Green table cloth with soccer field markings in masking tape, check. Hidden treasures in the yard, check. Spoons and plastic eggs, check. Pinata filled with candy and such, check. Yikes. These are a bunch of kindergarteners!
In a way, this was a strange birthday party...in a good way, I guess. It's the first time I felt like Smuch really created the guest list. He had some definite opinions. I had some opinions too, like I didn't want to spend a bucketload of money and rent out a big place to invite everyone he knows. So, the guest list was limited to a number I was comfortable having in my house. It meant that a lot of kids I really like weren't invited. It also meant I invited kids I don't really like a whole lot. I didn't necessarily know their parents and for the first time, most of the parents didn't stick around.
In another first, Smunch's NICU buddy, Austin, wasn't able to join us this year since his family recently moved to Alabama (Alabama?!?!), but Austin called on the phone to wish Smunch a happy birthday. It probably didn't come through on the other end, but he was really thrilled with his first phone call from a friend.
We got lucky with a really beautiful, sunny February day. Smunch wanted a soccer party...or just a sports party. I was unclear, so it was a sports party with a soccer emphasis. And, as usual, I put most of my effort into making a cake I thought was really cool. It was almost exactly what I'd set out to create, so I was very pleased.
The kids arrived in their own sports jerseys (as requested) or approximations of them. I wore one of Daddy's old orange jerseys from some college reunion. It wasn't pretty, but it was festive. I borrowed a real whistle from my dad and taught the kids that when they heard the whistle, it was time to "huddle" and receive instructions.
We had the kids hunt for hidden treasure (different types of sports balls - pencil sharpeners, erasers, bouncy balls, soccer player figurines, chocolate soccer balls, etc.) in the backyard as our first activity. Mam screamed and cried through much of this since most of the kids were bigger and faster than she is and she wanted all the treasure for herself, of course.
We sat them down for cheese, fruit salad and drinks.
We did the pinata...definitely a hit.
We attempted an egg and spoon race, but it turned out that Daddy and I didn't know what the heck we were doing and we were all confused. There were no winners. There were no prizes regardless. However, picking up the ropes Daddy had used as a finish line turned into an excellent excuse for an impromptu game of tug-of-war and all the kids pitched in. Pretty hysterical. Daddy was pretty surprised at just how strong 10 kindergarteners and one Mam can be!
We did cake.
And I realized there was still about half an hour of the party left. Yikes. Clearly I need to plan a lot more games for future parties. But the kids seemed anxious for some free play in the yard, so I let them do that for a bit. And then I took the unusual step of having Smunch open his presents. We usually wait 'til the party's over, but I have to admit that the kids were enthralled with Smunch opening his presents right there and then. And the ones who weren't enthralled could still play.
The party over, we wrapped up the big day with dinner at Smunch's favorite restaurant, TGI Fridays. Because, somehow, plain spaghetti with no sauce always tastes better when it costs $6 and has a side of canned mandarin oranges. He got a birthday song and one last birthday candle to blow out on top of his "Cup of Dirt".
Even Smunch agreed at the end of the day that it was a good birthday. "I think it was the greatest one," he said. Better be even greater next year, huh?