When Liam turned one, he had pretty much no party. I was living and working apart from my family, staying in a hotel and seeing them only on weekends (or every other weekend). The Professor brought the boys to me during the week of Liam’s birthday so I could see him, and on that Wednesday summer eve after a long day of work, I joined the boys for a dinner at a restaurant, and then we blew out candles on store-bought cupcakes at twilight in a mosquito-ridden park near my hotel. This year we made a little better of an effort – in fact, Master Liam enjoyed not one but TWO parties in his honor, one at each of his grandparents’ homes. (We are dividing our time among the two households during this nomadic summer, and we made sure to put a “seam” right on Liam’s birthday so that both sets could share in celebrating with him.)
It’s funny – til this year we never really did anything special for either boy, besides a nice dinner, or maybe inviting friends over for a general party. For whatever reason, 2012 marks the Year of Creativity with Birthday Parties – probably because Jack is at an age at which he can appreciate it. I love creating magic for the kids – it’s not too hard to create a Huge Life Event for preschoolers, and it’s really fun to do. Anyway, Liam enjoys the benefit of having an older brother in this regard – he got a lot more coolness at his party because I knew Jack would notice and enjoy it.
For party numero uno – South Carolina edition – we did a shark/water theme, as the festivities were to take place at my in-laws’ backyard pool. One afternoon a few days before Liam’s Friday birthday, I took advantage of extra brain space during a particularly boring barbri lecture and went crazy on pinterest, searching and pinning while listening to a lecture on Sales and Contracts with half an ear. I normally approach pinterest with a skeptic’s eye – I don’t have time or any interest in collecting 50,000 pinned pictures of stuff I’ll never look at again, and I really don’t need other much craftier (and richer) people making me feel bad about my inability to make perfectly smooth cake pops that correspond to the colors of my child’s birthday wardrobe. But when I have a specific job to accomplish and I’m feeling self confident enough to wade in without losing my sense of proportion and my own limitations – well, it’s pretty darn useful, and I totally dig it. For example, my pinterest search yielded this fabulous idea, on which the rest of the party’s accoutrements were hung:
Carving a watermelon shark takes about half an hour and very little in the way of skill or money, so it was an obvious choice. I had also pinned a cake made in the shape of a shark, but wisely decided it was beyond my limited cake-decorating skills, and opted for the simpler shark-fin cupcakes. Which totally looked like shark-fin cupcakes . . . so long as you knew that’s what they were supposed to be.
A few buckets and shovels -as-serving-pieces completed the theme. I also cut hot dogs into octopi – another easy pinterest idea.
The crowning glory on our preparation was taking every blow-up inflatable that we could put our hands on and filling the pool with floaties.
Kids and friends arrived, and we had a blast. Since the Professor grew up in this town and many of his friends didn’t venture far from home for long (although most left for a significant time period before returning), we are lucky to have lots of close friends in town. Some of them have procreated – some have not – but they all came to celebrate my little dude, drink some beer, and get splashed by raucous children.
It was a beautiful evening, and I’m really glad that we did it. Mad props to all of our friends and helpers for celebrating Li Li in style!
In my next installment, I’ll describe the birthday boy’s second party, held on Father’s Day in a totally different state. For now, I’ve stepped away from bar bri long enough! (Planning and executing this party put me way behind, gotta catch back up!)