Today was Julian's birthday party. Julian's own birthday party, with his friends -- despite his challenging actual birthday on the 26th.
After last year's "playdate party," which was fun but really wasn't his birthday party, I wanted to make sure this birthday was memorable. Julian did his own invite list, though it wasn't easy because many invitees we have no way to contact other than Julian handing his friend a paper invitation. I was surprised that the first kids he wanted to invite were from preschool, not kindergarten. We had a fairly large invite list, expecting many nos -- so close to Christmas is tricky, would most kids be travelling? In the end, 11 kids RSVP'd yes.
I did this one as simply as I know how. I didn't make anything. I bought all the food, and the cake, and hired a gymnastics guy that goes to Betsy's preschool and she used for Andrew's party too. That was tricky too -- the weather and our un-landscaped yard could be a real liability, but we got lucky. The ground was dry enough and the skies were clear, so we pulled it off.
And, I succeeded! It was a terrific party, and all the kids had SO MUCH FUN.
It worked all because of the gymnastics guy. I couldn't believe how good he was! He brought a jump house too, and I first thought the gymnastics idea would be lost -- what kid wants to get out of a jump house? But, noooo problem. They warmed up in the jump house, then he did some exercises with them, then back in the jump house while he re-arranged stuff, then back in. It was a perfect balance of free and directed play, and he was great at dealing with a large group of kids.
First, a demo of all the equipment and how to use it, starring the birthday boy.
Then, everybody go!
Even Katrina got into the action.
Julian's friend Alex from preschool arrived late, but in style!
More jumphouse time -- this time, with Mr. Nick and a set of reindeer horns.
After two rounds of gymnastics, the teacher found a great way to remove the jumphouse as a temptation: have the kids deflate it! They loved this.
But they weren't done yet. They did a game where he swung a rope around their feet, and they had to jump to avoid it.
Then they all bounced a big ball in the air.
And finished off with a dance.
(I wanted to join the dance, but this was for the kids...still, in retrospect, they might have gotten a kick out of seeing Mom in there!)
Only one way to get kids inside again after so much fun -- cake time! I tried an ice cream cake, since Betsy has found they're very popular. This one was chocolate and mint chocolate chip -- no complaints!
Though it sure was messy to cut. Luckily, I had the help of a few parents who stayed.
Later, the boys spent hours poring over a new building toy Julian got. I sure wish Gabriel would just leave Julian alone, but Julian welcomes his help, 90% of the time. I think Julian would be a lot better off without his domineering older brother, but, alas, that is his life. They (mostly) had a great time working together.
This was completely worth it. Going through the photos for the blog post today, Julian is beaming in every single one he's in. He had SO much fun. It sounds so corny, but really what makes parents the happiest is to see our children happy. That's why we do these parties, spend a lot of money and take a ton of time -- to make them happy. What is childhood for if not to have a fun birthday party?
SIX! (well, in one week). I can't believe it. My most precious Julian!