25 August 2005
Today our #1 son turns 38. We don't do the big birthday celebrations that we used to when the kids were little. I listen today to tales of the vast amounts of money being spent on kids' birthday parties and I wonder how parents afford it. I remember going to Dr. G's house one time when his 4 year old son was having a birthday party. The house was filled with children and their parents, there was an enormous "bouncy-house" out in back--a castle, as I recall. It was a far cry from the parties that I remember as a child, or that I remember throwing for our kids.
Not that we had low-key birthday parties, but we also didn't mortgage the house to throw a child's birthday party either.
Even before I learned cake decorating, I was always into making fancy cakes for the kids, cutting up sheet cakes to form into fancy shapes.
Paul's and David's birthdays were only a week apart, so occasionally I made them matching birthday cakes and we had a joint family party. Ironically, these cakes were smiley faces, with the smile being each child's name--little did I realize what a big role "smiley faces" would play in our adult children's lives!
We always tried to have have unique birthdays, geared to the kids' current interests, but kept it within the reasonable price range.
For Ned's third birthday, I got the bright idea to have a "painting party." We gave the kids tempera paint and let them go to town on the back fence, and then they got to play in the plastic wading pool when they finished, which washed all the paint off. It seemed like a great idea. The kids had a marvelous time. It wasn't until the next day that we realized that tempera paint doesn't wash off of dry wood! I think all the decorations were still on that fence when we sold the house.
Another one of Ned's parties was when he was attending nursery
school. We held the party at the school and made it a "pirate party."
Everybody got kerchiefs and eye patches. We had a treasure hunt, where they
went digging in the sandbox for
Tom's birthday was usually easy, because it's July 5, so a patriotic theme often came in, but I remember when Star Trek was big around the house and we had a Star Trek party for Tom, where the kids played "pin the ears on Spock" and I baked a "tribble cake" (a bunch of cupcakes, each frosted in a different color and sprinkled with a different texture).
When we moved to Davis, I took a couple of classes in cake decorating and my cakes started looking a bit more professional.
But we still tried to keep the parties within reasonable financial limits. A favorite party was the "make-your-own-pizza" party, where I supplied the dough and a selection of toppings and the kids all created their own pizza, and played in the back yard while waiting for them to cook.
One of the most memorable (for me) parties that we had was Jeri's party the year that I learned how to do sugar eggs.
It had been my idea to make small sugar eggs for each of the girls to take home as a party favor. Jeri decided she didn't want one of my eggs, but wanted to make her own. So I set up a "sugar egg making lesson." There were a handful of girls and they had a wonderful time and produced some pretty good eggs...but I joke that I am still sweeping up sugar from that party (though now that we've covered the floor with Pergo, I suppose any sugar left over is now gone.)
I guess the point of this is that I think the kids didn't feel slighted by not having us spend hundreds of dollars on their parties. I feel sorry for parents today who feel the pressure to top the last party, or to go overboard just for a kid's birthday party.
I liked the way we did birthdays around here just fine--I hope our kids did.
Happy Birthday, Ned! If you want a Superman cake, let me know!
If you'd like to sing along with our special family birthday song, click here:
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Every kid needs a bear skin rug picture, right?