For as long as I can remember, I have always loved birthdays. My mom likes to tell a story about how as soon as I was old enough to understand how a calendar worked, I would circle my special day in the month of October (its the 11th, just in case you’re interested) and begin a countdown reminding those closest to me just how much time was left until my special day. As true with
everything most things, birthdays took on a whole new meaning when I became a mom. Literally overnight, my birthday made a permanent move to the back burner while my babies’ birthdays took centerstage. While there is no season I love more than Christmas, every year I look forward to planning the boys’ annual birthday bash. That’s right: two boys, one bash. One of the (many) blessings of having two sons with birthdays just ten days apart is it affords me the opportunity to throw just one party for the both of them. As much as I love planning a party, I can think of few things I’d rather do less than throw two kid’s birthday parties within two weeks of each other. Furthermore, I can think of few things other parents would rather do less than attend two parties for kids from the same family within two weeks of each other. So, one party it is and one party it shall be until the end of time — or until they can finance separate parties on their own. So let it be written, so let it be done.
Second only to my love of shared birthday parties for siblings is my upmost devotion to the good old fashioned backyard birthday party. Year after year my husband
begs asks me to find any location but our house to hold the party and year after year I just keep saying no. Part of me wants to argue that I’m simply addicted to entertaining. But, in full disclosure, the real truth is that just walking into typical children’s party venues (all those bouncy-house-trampoline-park-arcade-fun-houses lit up with fluorescent lights) instantly raises my blood pressure. I think all parents are specially built for certain kinds of chaos — but that is not my kind. So, we stay home. The boys and I pick a theme, a date, and I spend the next 4 weeks sweating over inevitable items I’ve forgotten and — most of all — the weather forecast.
I started throwing backyard parties for the boys in the year of their 1st and 3rd birthdays, respectively. Since then, we have been on a lucky streak of picture perfect New York summer weather on party day. With this year being our 4th party, I had this feeling that this was the year our number was going to be up and Mother Nature would show us who was boss. Just a few days (and then hours) out from the party, it appeared as though I was right. After a flawless week in the mid-70s with little to no humidity, Operation B-Day was calling for 80% chance of strong thunderstorms right as the party was to begin. The company I rent tables, chairs, and inflatable fun from requires over 48 hours of notice to cancel without penalty. Still, I decided to take a leap of faith (and say more than a few prayers for the intercession of St. Medard, Patron Saint against bad weather) and decided I would place my bet on the likelihood that the weather folks were wrong. Remember, I live on the edge. More on the weather later.
One awesome thing about having a beach theme is how abundant the party supplies are! The biggest problem I had was prioritizing the decor in a way that would not make Doug feel like he was living in a scene from the Little Mermaid. It is so easy to go overboard with these theme (no pun intended)! The bright colors and fish net accents are just really, really fun. Plus, carrying 65 colorful balloons out of the party store also makes you feel like the old man from Up!, especially when you get to do it a second time after you awake on party day to see that all the balloons you picked up the night before had deflated overnight. Another party tip: always pay for the extra helium in the balloons. That extra $0.30 per balloon is worth a million dollars of sanity when you don’t have to run back to the store on B-Day when your to-do list is always a mile long and you’re always an hour short.
|Back to the weather. The photos I’ve shared thus far might indicate that we somehow escaped the day unscathed from the scheduled storms and, truthfully, we almost did! But just as we lit the candles on the cakes and prepared to exercise our best singing voices, the rain arrived. With it just being a slight drizzle, all the adults decided to power through and let the rain act as cleanup for the frosting mustaches sure to come from the cupcakes. I have a great video of the boys listening to their birthday chorus with the rain coming down; in the background is a score of giggling from their friends, one of whom exclaims, “I’ve never eaten a cupcake in the rain before!” Oma, my sweet mom, was the voice of positivity to the end, so sure that the drizzle was “going to pass” — right up until the skies completely opened up. It was a mad scramble to grab all the phones and other perishable-by-rain items around us in a scene that resembled a cross between Survivor and Supermarket Sweep. Still, I’m not sure what the kids enjoyed more, racing each other to escape the rain or watching all of their parents do the same thing. Their squeals and giggles are never to be forgotten.|
So, to Plan B we went. Plan B called for indoor piñatas held on the end of my husband’s hockey stick. At this very moment I thanked God for his 6’4 frame and 38″ arms. Just tall enough and just long enough to pseudo-simulate a tree branch for 20 kids clambering for their shot at the final blow. A huge thanks to a dear friend who managed to snap this picture of one of the birthday boys taking his whack at it while I was passing out towels to our soaked-to-the-skin guests. The irony of the sunshiney indoor piñata was not lost on me, trust me.
When the clouds parted and the rain had dried up, our sweet, soaked party guests wished the birthday boys a final wish and headed home. I cannot overstate what a great group of party goers we had with us this day. When I had seen the forecast earlier in the week and began prepping my backup plans, my number one concern was for how to keep our friends happy should they end up rain showered in their clothes and freezing in an air conditioned house. But I underestimated the spirits of this group. When that rain opened up, it was instantly all hands on deck. I saw dear friends of mine risking the soak and grabbing anything they could get their hands on (except the kids, we let them fend for themselves) to save my party efforts from rainy ruin. They shook off the raindrops and laughed at how crammed we all were in the basement watching drenched kids shuffle in the piñata line and
hide shove as much candy as they could in their cheeks. It was a wondrous sight and allowed me to take a sigh of relief and laugh to myself, knowing that it is scenes like this that truly make a party memorable; so much more so than any centerpiece or perfect picture.
And just when I thought the moment had passed for me to grab a couple of quick snaps of the birthday boys. . . I saw the balloons that one of our superhero dads managed to drag inside had survived just long enough for me to capture a couple of smiles and goofy grins. The perfect birthday bow tied on a perfectly imperfect day.