The “kids” in Jon’s family – meaning his brothers, sister-in-law and the two of us – realized ahead of our Rosemary Beach trip that it was likely to be our best chance at having everyone all together close to his mom’s birthday, which comes at the end of October. It’s a big milestone year for her, and we didn’t want to let the opportunity pass. She is a remarkably hard-working lady, who pours attention and care on the people around her and rarely has the opportunity to be cared for herself. It took some doing, but we managed to pull off a surprise birthday dinner at our rented beach house on Thursday night. The Sharp boys and their wives are all good cooks, and the team effort resulted in a bang-up Italian feast. There was homemade chocolate cake, a group gift and a reading of 60 reasons we love our mom and Mimi. The best part was her astonished delight at the whole affair, and the sense that we had managed to communicate a little of the love and appreciation we feel for her.
I spy someone who wasn’t paying attention to the prayer…
My baby turned five last week. I could say a lot about that, but I want to share some photos from her party, so I am going to hold my peace with the emotional musings for now. I settled on a super star/karaoke theme this year, because this girl loves to pretend pretty much anything is a microphone and put on her own little performances. Our gift to her was a karaoke machine, which she has proved more interested in using after the party than she was during the mayhem.
-Printable invitations and back stage passes from Etsy seller SIMONEmadeit
-Strawberry cake and strawberry whipped cream frosting recipes from Serious Eats (more on the cake below)
-Music and star garland made from patterns on thingiverse with daddy’s 3D printer
First: Birthday weekend with family
And then: Party!
Fresh strawberry cake and strawberry whipped cream frosting, per the birthday girl’s request. To be honest, it looked better than it tasted. The flavor of the cake was good and very complex, but it was dense and not very sweet. The light whipped cream wasn’t sweet or sturdy enough to pair well. I did appreciate the Serious Eats tutorials on leveling layers and crumb coats.
Walking the red carpet!
Baby’s first birthday party!
Getting pink super star hair
So, the star of the show may not have been all that into the karaoke action during her party. It’s okay, baby girl; even super stars get stage fright sometimes.
He called himself Mustache Man.
We had a yogurt parfait bar for the girl who would eat yogurt for every meal.
Armed and dangerous
And so our girl has begun another year of life, and we got to celebrate the immeasurable joy she brings to our lives every day. We love you, Lina Bean. Happy five years.
Corin turned seven on Saturday. I wrote my mushy post on Facebook, so I’ll skip the sentiment and get right to the good stuff: his Narnia party. We’d been reading Prince Caspian when he chose the theme, so he requested a Caspian costume that also worked for “favorite book character day” at school and will likely make a reappearance at Halloween. He put it on as soon as party day arrived and didn’t take it off until bedtime.
You may remember that Corin’s room is Narnia themed, so we were able to repurpose plenty, and some of the party decorations will live on upstairs. Inexplicably, I wasn’t all that on it with photos this year, so I missed documenting some things, including the little snow covered trees inside our wardrobe entrance, transported all the way from Georgia by my long suffering in-laws. But, here’s the best glimpse I have of our Narnia adventure.
Corin’s favorite feature (that’s him lying on the pillow) – the tent, a.k.a. the pavilion at Aslan’s How
We tried story time in the tent, but a few paragraphs of A Horse and His Boy was all we could manage before attention waned. Let’s face it, everyone just wanted to get to the gifts.
As Narnian a menu as I could conjure: cheese platter (clockwise from left: blueberry stilton, dill havarti, brie, English aged cheddar, mild goat), “venison” (rolled veggie turkey slices for our mostly vegetarian crowd), apples, berries, nuts, dried figs, raw veggies, lots of bread, butter and jam, and, under the dome, my first stab at Turkish delight.
Corin was pretty stoked about the “royal cups.” It was high times drinking from stemware, even the kind that has to be assembled.
Brownies and mint chocolate chip ice cream, as requested
My mom learned to read with the Dick and Jane books. I learned to read with the Dick and Jane books. Corin’s first experience reading out loud was with – you guessed it – a Dick and Jane book. Lina recently went through a phase where she carried our big book of collected Dick and Jane stories everywhere, calling it the “Oh, oh, oh” book. (As in, “Oh, oh, oh. Look, Jane. Look and see.”)
And thus, the idea for this year’s costumes was born. We donned them yesterday evening for a fall festival at a church near us.
Oh, Dick, oh, Jane, it was fun. Fun, fun, fun. But oh, Mother, oh, Father, were those kids ever tired when it was over!
My son is obsessed with superheroes. He recently read the first book in the Captain Awesome series by Stan Kirby. As a result, his first project this morning, on our first day back from vacation and the last day of his fall break, was to make a superhero cape using paper, markers and tape. (This is far from the first such project.) He decided to name himself Captain Ninja.
I was busy with post-vacation unpacking, laundry and grocery list making. He showed me his cape, and I smiled at his phonetic spelling. A little while later, we loaded up for the big grocery trip. Corin was wearing his homemade cape, which, though it looked more like a strange sign than a cape, didn’t seem like a problem. I gave it no more thought.
That is, until we were leaving Costco with an overloaded cart, and my son announced to the woman marking receipts at the door, “I have a superhero cape.” He turned to show her, and she read out loud, “My name is Capten Nega.” (Go ahead, read that out loud. I assure you, it didn’t sound like “ninja.”)
Sudden horror washed over me as I pushed the buggy toward the exit. I threw a remarkably calm, “He was trying to spell ‘ninja!'” over my shoulder and hustled us out of the store, praying no one else had bothered to read the sign on my son’s back. As I loaded the food into the car, I told my son that he probably shouldn’t wear his cape at our next stop. “Why not?” was the predictable response. And that’s how I found myself explaining the n-word to my son today in the Costco parking lot. I’d love to tell you that quickly ended any discussion, but in fact, I spent several minutes trying to convince a six-year-old that the letters on his project would not result in anything sounding remotely like “ninja.” I was eventually semi-successful, resulting in a compromise that he could wear the cape under his shirt. To the disappointment of all (ahem), the cape tore in the process.
I leave to your imagination the fate of that particular project once it arrived home and the former Captain Ninja’s imagination found a new direction.
I love my kids’ birthday parties. I love planning them, I love watching everyone enjoy them, I love the photos and memories afterward.
The theme for Lina’s 4th birthday party pretty well chose itself. You’ve never met a kid who loves books more than she does. A quick Pinterest search dug up a fantastic PBS resource for a book party, and we were off and running.
Lina understood what was happening much more this year. She talked for days about who was coming, and a party is just the thing for a girl who loves to be the center of attention. She loved the birthday song and blowing out her candle. She was able to do more with opening gifts, though she still needed lots of help. We served some of her favorite foods, and let me tell you, girlfriend can put away some chocolate cake and ice cream.
But enough talk. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.
Story time with the Village People
Trying out a birthday present
Anyone who’s seen Corin in the past couple days will have noticed his massive black eye. This is the exact moment of origin.
We’ll be celebrating Lina’s birthday this weekend, so those photos will be forthcoming. But she’s not the only kiddo in the family to have a birthday in September. My oldest nephew turned six a couple weeks ago, and we headed Chattanooga-way for the celebration. The cousins are close in age and have such fun together, which I like to think is building the foundation for a lifelong bond.
Happy sixth, Ben!