Thursday, March 6, 2014

Minions, Maple Syrup, and Merriment

Last weekend we celebrated C's fourth birthday.  I envisioned a quiet evening at home with homemade spaghetti, some store-bought cake, and a few new books to unwrap.  We'd invite the grandparents, have a fun time, and keep the regular 8:30 bedtime in tact.  But Charlie had other plans.   As in, he made it clear that he wanted a "friend" birthday party.  And this "friend" party had all sorts of stipulations.

Although I did my best to encourage a quiet grandparents-only party, the seed to this "friend" party was firmly planted and had taken root in C's mind.  From the beginning, the party was to be all about minions (Despicable Me movie), and that never wavered.  On different occasions, he would tell me which friends would be coming to his party, and what they'd be doing.  He had several requests, some of which included: All his friends would play outside on his swingset,  everyone had to bring a minion present, our house would be painted yellow, and nobody could dress up like a minion or any of the Despicable Me crew (my idea-- I still think I would've been a pretty cute minion.  I have the perfect costume.)  He became slightly obsessed with looking at minion cakes on Pinterest-- I became considerably more obsessed about my inability to decorate a cake that would even remotely resemble a minion--let alone something that looked close to the beauties found on Pinterest.  He requested minion treats and minion decorations and minion games.  Quite frankly, I was a little minioned-out even before the party began.

But, since I'm still in the running for  2014 Mother of the Year, I agreed to host a friend party that would be completely minion-themed.  And in Spahnville, if you ask for minions you get minions. Here's how it went down:

Friday Night:
My parents and my sister & Miss N came for the evening. The weather all winter has been terrible each and every weekend, and March 1 was no different.  Because of this, they drove down early to miss the storm.  Unfortunately, Grandma Carol couldn't make it from Dubuque the next day  :(.   We ate noodles and grapes and put four candles on top of the Pepperidge Farm 3-layer cake.  C was thrilled and his mother thought he couldn't have been cuter.

Then, we finally opened some presents.  I love the way Charlie gets SO excited about every gift he's given.  Every time he opened up a gift, his face lit up and he made a comment like, "Oh! I've always wanted this!"

C's friend party fell on a Saturday.  It was simple enough-- kids, pizza, minions, games, presents, done.  And for the most part, things went exactly according to plan.  Although I wondered if the weather would hinder any of our tiny guests from arriving, all eight children arrived on time and ready to party.  And party we did.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, but really, it takes a village to host a four-year-old birthday party.  So here's my shout out to the helpful villagers who made this party such a success!

When I was a kid, I loved looking at the photos from my pre-school birthday parties and picking out my friends.  I even graduated with several of those same friends who had been at my Ronald McDonald birthday party, so many years earlier.  I feel like this photo will be special to Charlie in that same way, someday.

I love this picture-- The rest of the kids abandoned their cake and ice cream to play with Charlie's toys in the basement.  These two die-hard sweet toothed kids savored their cake and ignored the toys. 

Then, we let the games begin!
Pin the goggle on the minion. 

The marshmallow gun was perhaps one of the favorites.  Here, one of the "big kids" (a 6 year old) shoots 7 marshmallows at a time!  What talent! 

Others needed a little assistance. (And still others, a'hem Miss N.... were only interested in eating the the handful.)
 And though I felt kind of uncomfortable with the whole presents-thing, what party is complete without some gifts?  (More about my dilemma on this another day)

This dinosaur that walks and roars and lights up with red eyes kind of stole the show.

The senior villagers.
Though I didn't take any photos, we headed over to Hartman Reserve for the annual Maple Syrup Festival in Cedar Falls.  Honestly, it's a little pathetic about how happy this event makes me, and I was bound and determined not to miss it.  As always, it did not disappoint.  We caught pancakes on our plates, doused our pancakes in real maple syrup, and our little four year old minion ate six sausage links.  (He sadly gave one away to his cousin and one to his mother, or he would have easily eaten about a dozen more)

Once our bellies were full of pancakes and sausage, we killed some time at Scheel's before saying goodbye to our guests.  Our Spahnville afternoon was spent relaxing, putting the house back together a bit, and reflecting on the great weekend.  And every once in awhile, I caught a glimpse of that little boy playing on the carpet and my heart swelled as I thought about how he's blessed Spahnville in the past four years.