I spent a lot of time on the decorations. I cut out sixteen of these big dinosaurs silhouettes and then made hats for them. I really love how they turned out. At 1 am Saturday morning, it seemed crazy to be twisting streamers instead of going to bed. But on party day, after a few hours of rest, I was glad I stayed up. Spending a lot of time on decorations might seem silly to some... after all, there are so many other things to do: clean the house, make food, prepare activities. But I willingly invest time in decorating because it pleases me enormously to see the party space looking bright and festive.
Here the birthday boy sneaks some popcorn before the party starts.
This year was the first time I planned a game for the kids, and it was a blast. About a week before the party, I cooked up a batch of homemade play dough. Then I formed eggs around some teeny plastic dinosaurs. I left the eggs sitting on a desk all week, turning them on occasion, so the play dough could dry out. At the party, the kids hunted for the eggs, then took them into the kitchen to the special archaeological exploration corner. There were little hammers and brushes to crack the eggs and clean off the discoveries. The kids loved it. I was excited that it worked so well.
My brother brought this old Halloween mask, and it was a big hit. Click over to Janna's blog and check out the amazing pictures she posted featuring the cutest little dinosaur head ever.
During the week before the party I talked to Simon several times about saying "Thank you" for each gift he received. I'm probably hyper-concerned about this because in my own childhood, on at least two occasions, I remember my mom expressing great disappointment in my level of gratefulness at a party. Anyway, after a few conversations and a quick reminder on party morning, I still imagined Simon would be a crazed gift-opening beast, tearing through each package, tossing it aside, and yelling, "Next!" I was so wrong. He only needed a few nudges to remember to say Thanks, and, more impressive, he let his friends help him unwrap his presents. He didn't have an ounce of "gimme, gimme" or "it's mine" in him. I was incredibly pleased and proud.
Here was the cake, not homemade, but delicious. We forgot to do candles on the cake, so this morning we had some birthday pancakes, candles, and a quick song.
I'm about to mist over now, thinking about my little baby, growing up. Saturday was a great day, and so was today, his actual birthday. And of course days like these make me think of a day four years ago, when the Chicago sky was grey and crying rain, and I was exhausted in a hospital room. Only four years ago, but I was a different person then. Young, scared, and unsure in the midst of transition. In a way I grew up while Simon grew. He began to crawl; I crawled away from a faith that wasn't working for me. He started to take steps that were small but confident; I developed self-awareness and confidence like I'd never had before, not to mention becoming a confident Chicago driver. All this blather to say something simple and completely unoriginal: my life changed the day that baby boy was born. The places he has taken me were ones I never imagined possible. Imagining where he will go in the future is both terrifying and exhilarating.
Future Simon, if you are reading this, I love you, kiddo, more than I can say, and I'll never love you less. Only more and more. Happy birthday dinosaur.