Having no extra money to spend on a birthday party for the girls after their Walking with Dinosaurs Live birthday present (as an experience of pure awesomeness, it was worth every penny), we walked over to the park less then a block from our house and spread several blankets in the shade of the girls' favorite climbing tree. We laid out a ton of yummy yet easy food out on the blankets--
--and we brought a few toys:
For those who grew tired, of toys, of course, there was a huge playground to run around on: At first we meant to invite only a few people:But when somehow the number of invitees tripled, we weren't broken up at all:I never can be the parent who writes "no presents, please" on the invitations, even though I know it's the thing to do. Making or buying a small present is actually my favorite thing about shepherding a daughter to another kid's birthday party, and being Southern, it's nearly an impossibility for me to refrain myself from taking something to one of those "no present" parties--that's how five-year-olds end up getting things like bouquets of flowers from us, because I'm busy just thinking of ways to thwart the rules. And the girls' party was blithely free of that draconian policy, and so the girls got lots of wonderful, creative, very thoughtful gifts, and they adored every one.
I did not sew matching party outfits for the girls (I know--gasp!). I did not applique their ages onto T-shirts. I did not make favor bags for the children, full of homemade art supplies and small sewn teys. I did not construct any games or activities for the party, no beanbag toss game with home-sewn beanbags or pinata done with glue-y newspaper dried over a balloon. I did not bake an elaborate birthday cake, nor did I decorate the brownies I did bake.
And that is how, although for the rest of the time until we leave for California very shortly I intend to be a total wreck--this morning, for instance, I have to make the house at least look like we live normally in it because a guy is coming at nine o'clock to install basic cable (the girls and I could not care less that we lost all our network channels during the switch to digital, but my dear heart needs to watch sports for his birthday present), and then I have to finish these crayon rolls to ship and sew dresses for the girls to wear to the wedding and finish my own skirt and go shopping for a wedding present (I can't stand to shop from the registry but I'm also not stupid enough to make something for the bride and groom, so my standard gift is an assortment of local jams, soaps, honey, and wine) and write a billion more Green Options posts because in my head I've already spent that substantial bonus and, you know, do stuff with the girls all day, and then find time to pack, which I'm actually looking forward to, because it will mean that basically all that crap is done--for the birthday party of my dear girls, who please me with their pleasure and delight me with their delight and fill me with joy at the sight of their joy, I was able to honor their carefree happiness with my own:
And now, back to work.