My firstborn child, my son, my little man, my baby boy…he turned five yesterday.
We had a party for him on Saturday, with some of his friends and their parents and some relatives. Of course, it rained. Last summer we had a party for him and some of his friends and it rained then, too. Probably because the main kid activities were to take place outdoors.
They still did. Rain does not stop US!
We had a dinosaur egg hunt – complete with thin plastic safari hats – and then the little kids played in the pool while the older kids filled water balloons. The highlight was the THROWING OF THE WATER BALLOONS AT ALEX’S DADDY. Bill’s not so nuts about it because the little kids don’t quite have the muscle power to throw a balloon hard enough so that it breaks on impact. In my good sport husband’s words "They never pop, and they hurt!" We may not continue the water balloon tradition.
In addition to all this fun – plus all the running around up and down the stairs and in and out of every room in the house – loudly – we had good food.
Bill smoked 4 racks of ribs, made 3 beer can chickens, and grilled up a few hot dogs for the pickier eaters. I made an enormous pasta salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, ham, soybeans, and red, orange and yellow bell peppers sauteed in a roasted garlic/olive oil puree. I also made 3 family-sized boxes of Velveeta macaroni and cheese because I wasn’t sure how many people would want that and because I’d rather have leftover food than not enough. My sister brought a fruit platter, my cousin and his wife brought a vegetable platter…and we put out guacamole and salsa and chips and pretzels. We also supplied juice and water and Bill’s latest batch of beer. Wine was available, but no one had any.
The party ran from around noon until around six. I hadn’t really specified an end time for things…I just told everyone "come on over any time from noon on…." As a result, arrival times and departure times were pretty staggered.
While the majority of the guests were at the house, we did the birthday cake. Here’s a really bad, rushed picture of it:
Please, first of all, excuse the mess that surrounds it – we left the dishes for AFTER the fun. Anyway, in case it’s not completely obvious, this is the "dinosaur cake" that Alex requested. I’d made one last year – I must have a picture of it somewhere…Anyway – this year, because I knew we’d have around 30 people or so at the house, I went vertical with it. That top section is a volcano…sort of. There’s the old, cooled black lava, and the newer, fiery red lava spilling over it. The lighter green blobs (they looked a tiny bit better in person) were clumps of grass or bushes that had not, as yet, been touched by the liquid fire. The dinosaurs you see are most assuredly out of proportion and drawn from every dinosaur period with no regard for timelines.
Alex saw the cake as it was assembled. Inside, it’s layers of pound cake with chopped cherries, strawberries and blueberries smashed in between, and vanilla (canned) frosting mixed with strawberry jam. That stuff that I covered the cake with is called fondant. It’s like modeling clay, just to give you an analogy if you haven’t encountered it before. It tastes like blech, but it’s fun to work with. I didn’t get tidy or fancy with this one – it’s dinosaurs – they rough it.
Anyway, at some point during the contstruction of this cake, probably toward the end, Alex suddenly hugged my legs and told me I was the best mommy in the world. I’m so self-critical about everything…it’s nice to be reminded that I don’t have to be perfect in my own eyes to be exactly right in someone else’s.
Anyway, it was a good party. The best part, for me, though, was earlier in the day when Alex woke up. Julia and I had been up since before six or so…Bill was in the shower…and I could hear Alex starting to wake up on the monitor. I heard him moving around on his bed, and then silence, and then, in a whisper, "party!" He scurried from his room and started down the stairs, and I heard him, once more, still in a whisper, "party!"
The next morning – Alex’s real birthday – I made pancakes and we gave him presents from US, and of course he grew tired of new clothes pretty quick, but he liked the other stuff.
Later in the day Bill took Alex fishing. Big Manly Man fishing in the canoe. Here they are, about to set off on their adventure:
They didn’t catch anything, but Alex learned how to cast from a sitting position in the canoe without whacking Daddy in the head with the tip of his pole or the lure.
All in all, a pretty good weekend.