Sunday, March 17, 2013

Simple Birthdays

Mr. Lee turned 8 today. We've had a hand-written count-down on the fridge for a month, along with his birthday list (Chapter books - lots, MP3 player, flannel shirts, soccer ball, Mt. Dew, Ice Cream cake, $10 or $1, Sunny's)

Birthdays are always exciting, but it seems 8 is when it really hits home.

Me, being a huge fan of anticipation, loved all the hullabaloo.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Last week was Busy Extreme. We had plans every night of the week. And Thursday was Cory's birthday.

Somewhere around Tuesday night I had a meltdown (4.5 on the richter scale) wherein I cried about everything I had to do and my certainty that no one would feel loved on his birthday.

Of course the world seemed happier in the morning. So I regrouped and soldiered on.

Thursday night we made it through the day and the evening and the gymnastics and the bedtime and then, in lieu of a homecooked meal, I pulled out Cory's birthday meal: Hot wings from BW3, homemade guac, tortilla chips, salt & vinegar chips, Greek olives, pistachios, blackberries, mangoes, and mint Klondike bars. And gin & tonics. Lots of his favorite foods. We stuffed our trappers while we cackled like hyenas through 4 episodes of The Mindy Project.

Best party ever, but maybe I'm biased or maybe I'm trying to throw the cards in my favor for next year.

 This year was Calv's first friend party. 3 additional 2nd grade homeboys would be converging upon our house for 3 hours.

I'm sorry, I'm just not a party mom. I planned no games. I planned no decorations. I didn't even make a cake because he requested one from DQ.

Here's what I did to prepare: I bought 3 pizzas from Aldi and some little cans of Mt. Dew and Sprite. I bought 2 bags of chips and a tub of sour cream to mix with that dry ranch dip that I hoover up like it's my job in life.

I tidied the house up a little. I bought some helium balloons on a lark. I made Calvin take a shower because he was a crusty sweatball after lunching at the McDonald's play land.


Party rock is in the house tonight.

Exactly 90 minutes pre-party I decided something was lacking, so I fashioned a banner out of white paper plates, left-over yarn from the wreath party, and some paint.

I kept asking myself, Why didn't I do this last night? Why do I make life more difficult than it needs to be? How did I end up being this kind of mom?

I'll be honest, I sort of loved the paper plate banner.

The party ended up a raging success. The boys played rough in the basement, making forts and farts.
They threw me for a maaaaajor loop when they wiped us clean out of ranch dip. They bickered about who got the last yellow pepper! Meanwhile, I wanted it!

Behold: Party favors. Fill your pockets on your way out the door!

Those boys were so fun and cute. They were so easy to please.

Of course, we all closed the day down with a smile, knowing that the fun would continue today on his actual birthday. I fell asleep praying that he would feel extra-special today; that we would somehow bypass the emotional weight that birthdays can carry for kids world-wise enough to understand that they were "supposed" to live in a different place with different people.

I prayed that he would relax his 8-year-old shoulders in the deep grace of his dazzling, exceptional story. And that's what we did.

I can't stop loving this kid. I can't stop staring at him with his shaggy hair and his giant teeth. I caught a new glimpse of his emotional depth and his heart for truth yesterday and it's still blowing my mind today.

I say this all the time to you and I say it even more to him (to all of them!) but I can't fathom how I ever ended up with these complicated, hilarious, soulful, pitch-perfect kiddos.

Happy Birthday, Calvey.
Happy Birthday, Honey.
I hope you loved your parties.
I'm so super proud of both of you.

Right Now Calvin Really Loves:
Lego everything
Korea anything
Tae Kwan Do
Chapter books (Magic Tree House, Jake Maddox)
Liberty's Kids dvds from the library
Soccer at reccess
White rice
Chinese buffets
Toby Mac, Brandon Heath, Jake


  1. That's one snazzy banner. I'm serious. You couldn't ask for better than that. I love the picture of you and him. The way he's cutting his eyes at you. Melts my heart.

    1. Yes, I thought that photo was swoon-worthy, too!

  2. I could not love that banner any more. I think last minute party ideas always turn out to be the best!

  3. Oh how I love your style of mothering! I love that last minute gotta-have-a-decoration. I love the pizzas and little cans of sodas. And oh how I love the stuff um in your pocket party favors.

  4. Love the banner! That little Calvin is a doll! Oh my gosh, he's so stinkin' cute!

  5. i love. LOVE. the banner. i have 6 and 8 coming up in the next 10 days. i might have to borrow your idea...

  6. Happy Day, Calvin. Shannan, you've got this Mom stuff covered, Girl.

  7. Happy 8th Birthday to Calvin! (He is ridiculously cute!) (And LOVE the banner!!!)

  8. Well, Happy Birthday Cory & Calvin! Consider that banner idea stolen, sister. I'll totally give you credit, though, Power Patch Farmgirl, and the kids will love it even more. Sounds like a perfect birthday week! Much love from FL!

  9. This is just every kind of awesome.

  10. It's really my kind of party. I'm sure he felt extremely loved, heck, I FELT LOVED but also very very jealous of CM's birthday dinner, so..
    YOu know when you buy avacados before they're ripe just to be safe and then SUDDENLY you NEED guac and you have to WAIT UNTIL THEY ARE RIPE?
    That's what you did to me tonight.

  11. Happy Birthday Calvin! Sounds like a fabulous Bash~K.Marie

  12. Love it all - totally our approach to birthdays, except it has come to bite me a few times now, but just on friend-party years. Always learning.

    Only my husband and siblings truly understand the depth of my addiction to sour cream and dip mix. And now everyone here at FPFG.

  13. Im so sad I'm half a world away and missed the success of a paper-plate banner, Aldi's pizza and a chip with dip for myself to help celebrate the big 8! I thought of him all day and sis, I'll be darn if I couldn't get on the internet, not even once to try and call or Skype or just email (on the actual day) a BIRTHDAY GREETING to my favorite 8 year old in the whole wide world.
    Happy 8th Birthday Calvin Lee!! .. and many more!

  14. LOVE that look on his face in that picture with the two of you! happy birthday to your little korean man!

  15. I love the paper plate garland! Happy birthday, Calvin!!

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  17. You certainly know how to throw a party!!! That banner is absolutely adorable!!!!! I've never seen paper plates look so stinkin' good!!!!!! You wonder how you ended up being "this kind of mom"....all the best laid out plans in the world couldn't craft up a heart like yours!!!! It's not the plans, or the preparations, the banners or homebaked's just your undeniable love for those that God has placed in your heart and are doing "motherhood" well my friend <3

  18. Great banner. At first glance, I thought, whoa, that's a lot of blanket stitching. And then with my super duper speed reading, I thought, wow, and she did it in 90 minutes. That's MAD sewing skillz. Lol. I decided to read much more carefully and study the photo and then saw that paint as part of your list. Regardless, I still am amazed at the lovely last minute creation which definitely jazzed up the ambiance.

    I love the photo of you and him with the smirky smile— what do you think he was thinking?

  19. Simple parties were always the best with my kids...too much of their lives is planned to the max, right? Your banner is awesome and I plan to steal the idea. It's hard to imagine but they do grow into their teeth. I was seriously worried that my son would grow up and still have gigantic teeth but the face got bigger and the teeth didnt' :)

  20. Happy Birthday to Calvin! (Is it wrong that I covet that thick,shiny hair of his??) What a smile! What a blessed boy he is to
    have found his way to the perfect Mom & Dad.

  21. Love, love, love that sweet banner! And the adorable look on his face in the picture of the two of you! So glad you had fun! oh, and being the mom of two girls, I do appreciate the "forts and farts" comment! I will definitely share that one with the only "boy" in my house tonight!

  22. Awwww....Happy happy Birthday to Calvin! Your party sounds right up my alley! My son turns 7 at the end of the month and he wants a Lego party. When I asked what that meant, he said it meant that he'd have 2 friends over to the house, we'd dump Legos on the floor and they'd build and build till we ate pizza from the take-out place and have cupcakes from the grocery store. Wish we lived closer...Calvin could come build with us. :)
    AND I'm completely stealing that banner idea! Perfect!

  23. Awwww....Happy happy Birthday to Calvin! Your party sounds right up my alley! My son turns 7 at the end of the month and he wants a Lego party. When I asked what that meant, he said it meant that he'd have 2 friends over to the house, we'd dump Legos on the floor and they'd build and build till we ate pizza from the take-out place and have cupcakes from the grocery store. Wish we lived closer...Calvin could come build with us. :)
    AND I'm completely stealing that banner idea! Perfect!

  24. That banner is genius! I can't believe it was a last minute thing!

  25. I find it interesting that ole C has a love of turtlenecks??? How random ;) Hopefully he will outgrow that before high school...although it would be really funny if he still loved them and insisted that he get his senior picture taken in one...tee hee...if that ends up being the case...perhaps you could secretly take a basketball jersey with you and try to get him to wear it over it. (did you like how I just made up an entirely pretend story...) No charge for that one...

  26. well,i for one, ADORE your paper plate banner and i ADORE that you just threw that up on a whim. you are quite something! i love simple things: parties, meals, decor...whatever. simple wins. happy day to your sweetums. my baby is FIVE tomorrow!

  27. Happy Birthday to that cute 8 yo and your honey. The party sounds fab. Who doesn't like a farty fort? LOL
    I loved the banner. I think you should pin it.
    That's my kind of party...low key and store bought cake. amen.

  28. Happy birthday, Calvin! You are an amazing kid, and your mom is a birthday banner genius.


  29. Oh this is JUST my kind of party:) Happy Birthday boys!!

  30. Has his former deep and abiding love for red lobster left him?

  31. I am so relieved to hear that i am not the only one who does not do well planning parties. We had our boy's first 'big party' this January, and people kept asking me what was next. I was like, what do you mean, next? They seemed to think I would know what was going on. LOVE the paper plate banner and will be unashamedly stealing your clever idea. That picture of you and Calvin is perfection. I don't even know the kid and I love him.

  32. that banner is THE best ever.

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