Monday, July 9, 2007
Landon's Birthday Party
We love throwing parties in our family. We are known to celebrate any and every holiday on the calendar just to have excuse to get together and eat good food, be loud and laugh. Since Tuesdays are good enough excuses for a Granger or Pfaffl to celebrate, imagine how much fun we've had planning Landon's birthday parties! Last year, for Landon's first birthday, we hired a steel drum band and had a luau. Andy and I catered the whole thing ourselves (I know, I know-What were we thinking?!!!) with traditional luau foods (yes, we were up roasting a giant ham at 6:00 in the morning-ha ha ha!) and Landon spent most of the party as you see him in the picture, in a grass skirt and diaper (exposing 100 rolls that would make any baker proud!). It was fantastic!
This year, for his second birthday, we opted to go with a Dora the Explorer/Diego theme. With fingers crossed to ward of the predicted rain, we planned a backyard adventure for about twelve of Landon's "nearest and dearest" (ha ha!). When the kids first arrived, we sat them around a table in the front yard and had them decorate visors with foam stickers. Then we handed out homemade fleece backpacks (filled with little water bottles, battery powered fans and maps to guide the way) to each child and led them to a blanket on the lawn where my sister (dressed as Dora, of course) read a Dora the Explorer story to them.
Just as the book was coming to an end, my dad started a bubble blower behind the gate and the kids went nuts running around and jumping through them! We lined all of them up and led them into the backyard through the thousands of bubbles. The first stop on our adventure was "Crocodile Lake". I made the "lake" out of a piece of blue satin and had the kids hunt for "stones" (sticky felt) to help them cross to the other side. I couldn't believe how much they played along! It was so cute to see their serious expressions as they carefully made their way across the "water"! After Crocodile Lake was tackled, the next stop was the "Tickly Tunnel".
We filled Landon's tent with fuzzy balls and feather boas and fake fur (Landon's choice) and had the kids crawl through it to the other side. We noticed at one point, that the kids were going in, but not coming back out...and when we looked inside, we saw that they were all stuffing their backpacks with the little balls!! Ha ha ha! Just past the Tickly Tunnel, we set up a pinata, and had the kids put all their treats into their backpacks before going to the last stop. We rented a giant blow-up jumping castle, but we didn't inflate it before the party. Instead, to surprise the kids, we had them scream "Salta!" (Jump in Spanish) to solve the backyard adventure mystery. When all of them were screaming "Salta" as loud as they could, my brother, Brian, plugged in the castle from inside the garage and within two minutes, the kids were all bouncing happily inside it. After the kids exhausted themselves jumping and playing in the backyard, we all ate Mexican food and cake and then watched Landon open presents. A few people stayed after the party was over to hang out and all of the adults (Mostly my crazy siblings) got rowdy and jumped in the castle, screetching and laughing louder than the little party guests had! The weather was great. The kids were ADORABLE. Everyone had a blast and I WAS EXHAUSTED!! Landon was, too, poor little guy! We had him in PJ's (half asleep) by 5:30 thinking he'd be out for the night at an unusually early hour....but instead, he was wired!
His little mind was racing with thoughts of magic castles and new toys and all of his buddies and he ended his day running around the backyard with his new bubble lawnmower at top speed (wearing his new sunglasses, to give you the full picture ;o) while the rest of us watched him in envy of his energy! PHEW! I was thinking about the party after everyone had gone home...about the messy countertops that got overlooked by our little guests after I'd been stressing about them all day...about the simplicity of the activities I (painstakingly!) came up with and the great joy I saw on the kids face in spite of my lack of creativity. I tend to overdo things, over-book and over-worry trying to make sure everyone is happy and I wind up unable to enjoy myself at my own parties. This one was different, somehow. A little piece of discount satin really became "Crocodile Lake"--The Tickly Tunnel provided a secret hiding place for the little children with big imaginations. I realized how important it is for someone like me (who is so easily absorbed into the habit of trying to please everyone) to spend quality time with children--They're not judgemental, not yet jaded by society or hardened by the world. They just enjoy running through a thousand shiny bubbles or sitting on the lawn to hear a good story...no scrutiny and no expectations.