A birthday at our house is no longer a short event. It appears they are now thought of in weekend segments. Let me explain.
When Tyler turned 13 in October, our 3rd grandson had just been born in New Jersey. We could not think of missing out on his birth, so that happened to be on the 13th, while Tyler's birthday was the 15th. Little Keane Eli was just leaving the hospital, we knew we would have to leave town to return home soon, so Tyler's birthday co-incided with a trip to the grandson's favorite pizza/play place on the night of his birthday. We made sure each of the boys had a small cake and Tyler got his own strawberry delight dessert. We took pictures, marched around the pizza place following a big grey Mouse, and celebrated Tyler's 13th, Kaid's 4th and Keegan's 2nd birthdays. Fun was had by all.
When we left Jersey, the topic of birthday parties came up on the long car ride home, and I reminded Tyler that few of his friends would have spent an extended vacation in New Jersey for their birthday like he had. He is one lucky teenager, Mouse and all. Not quite the party he expected, but he took it like a man.
Then Nic turned 12 in November. I took her shopping for the day, went to a musical presentation at our church, and had dinner out. Nice mother daughter day, and we had cake with the family the next day to celebrate again.
When Meredith was turning 6 just two days after Christmas, we planned another Mouse Pizza Party, mostly because the celebrations over the holidays had left me quite exhausted, and taking the mess somewhere else had alot of appeal to me. Plus, the kids would play, I could eat a salad and drink a diet coke, and watch the fun while Nicole took pictures for our scrapbook.
Now, just two weeks later, Tara turns 8. She determined months ago that her party would be at the local bowling alley, including pizza, a BIG TOP cake, and big sister Ash and her husband Andy would LOVE to join us too.
This is the weekend for the big party. It just happened to fall on the same weekend as the local Ice Festival, and since gramma J. came to stay the weekend with us, the celebrating started early, lasted a long time, and included everything possible that we could fit into one weekend.
We watched a Pirotechnics show last night downtown by the river, called Fire and Ice. A huge ice sculpture of an electric guitar was lit on fire in the center of the sculture, giving the appearance of burning ice. Interesting. But cold standing out in the snow. We left the riverfront park and looked for a restaurant that we could all agree on. The birthday girl was pleased with a buffet in the next town over, but after a long week, a tiring walk out in the cold and at least an hour off our normal evening schedule, we sat for a relaxing dinner to the meals of everyone's choosing. Right.
Tom had broken the Glow stick he got at the ice festival, announcing "My thing broke in half and my hands are glowing green..." We entered the restaurant, admonishing the children that we would mind our manners and enjoy our meal before returning home for a movie night.
Somewhere during the meal Mike announced that our table was going to get the award for the noisiest, messiest one. Tom attacked Bella for stealing his strawberry jello, while Bella screamed at the top of her lungs in revolt. Tara was eating a bowl of ice cream without a spoon, as the three oldest discussed who was the funniest. I looked at gramma J. who kept humming quietly, eating her dinner, when Mere put her head back and began howling. It seems they had just watched "Where the Wild Things Are" and she was mimicking the end where they all howled.
Gramma J. and I shook our heads in disbelief, realizing we could cry or laugh, but laughing seemed the only thing that we could do to get through the rest of our meal.
This morning the birthday celebration began with a huge breakfast with all grandparents joining us at home. By 1:00 we were back at the Ice Fest to check out the sculptures, and to enjoy the Hunter Ice Cream (made with the original recipe from the early 1900's) while we froze our ....well, it was cold, but the kids didn't notice that at all. They just enjoyed the sledding, the ice cream treats, and the plan that we would be meeting at the bowling alley for pizza, cake and two games of bowling with 12 of us.
When my parents got to the bowling alley to share in the birthday fun, dad smiled and said, "I don't know too many people who take 7 young kids bowling just for the fun of it."
I realized the gifts were opened, the cake that I made at midnight last night was devoured, and the birthday girl of the weekend was thrilled that her party had gone off without a hitch. The mess was not at home, and exhausted kids were smiling and not wanting the party to end.
Birthday success. Happy kids. Gramma packed up and headed back home until the next party. A long birthday celebration, but a weekend for the memory books. And in 19 days we get to try to top this one when Bella turns 3.
I think I will sleep on that one and dream of the possibilities. Happy Birthday, my sweet, big girl, Tara.