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Dec 12, 2014

Sam's 7th Birthday Party

Sam's actual birthday is just a few days away from Christmas, so we usually end up having his party early to accommodate holiday schedules.

We decided to go more low key this year - just his three best buddies and Lori's family at a great old timer bowling alley.  No themed snacks or handmade decorations or long guest list this year (we did, however, still make a theme cake - we can't lose all of the awesomeness).  Sam got a few gifts, including the incredible gift of bowling alley pizza and soda.  Strikes and spares and fun were had by all.

It was a great little party.

We scaled back this year for a couple of reasons.  One, obviously, is because throwing our version of the perfect all-out bash for our kids and 20 of their closest friends every year is exhausting.  I can't do it without busting out about 13 pinterest ideas - charming homemade decorations, themed foods and snacks, games, favors, presents, the I'm-not-quite-sure-how-we-pulled-that-off cake.

It makes us feel good to do that for our kids and they enjoy it.  And we'll probably do those bigger parties for milestone birthdays.  But honestly, our kids don't care if there are homemade and creatively themed snacks.  Or that we spent 5 hours sculpting tissue paper into perfectly scalloped pom poms and making tin can robot utensil holders.

The bigger reason we decided to scale back birthdays is spoilage.

There is not one good reason on earth that my kids need 20+ gifts for their birthdays!  Their toy bins are shamefully full as it is.  The days my babies were born should most certainly be celebrated, but there has to be a limit.  Because our kids are entering dangerous territory where they're starting to expect stuff instead of appreciate stuff.  And I'm not down with that.

Part of that is just human nature.  We all want to accumulate stuff, especially as kids when our worlds are infinitesimally small and the idea that there are others out there with much much different lives is inconceivable.  We try to teach this at home - they have chores and expectations and consequences, we count our blessings, we explain that there are kids out there who have nothing and no one, we're involved in church, we pray, we volunteer...they listen, but I don't know that anything sinks in.  I mean, how do you teach your kids how special and unique and loved they are without making them think they are the center of the universe?

Maybe they're just too young?  Maybe we're not consistent enough in our attempts to teach them this?  Maybe we don't incorporate this enough into our everydays?

Shaping these these little humans into good smart faithful compassionate big people is a tougher job than we ever expected.  But so worth it!  And this scaled-down but still special birthday business is hopefully another step in that direction.

Soooo, that was a very long windup to post some photos of my son's 7th birthday party, I know.  But that's how I roll.

Sammy and his buddies.

The minecraft cake.

All smiles.

They all looked so tiny out there on those sprawling lanes.

 Close game!

My best game ever...of course Rich beat me, but whatever. :)

A very happy special day to celebrate this sweet crazy boy.  

Dec 2, 2014

Buddy Has Landed

Buddy, our elf on the shelf, has finally arrived!

The kids searched everywhere for him this morning and just couldn't find him.  Yeah...well...that's because Rich and I completely forgot to set him out last night.

Ugh.  Parenting fail.  I'm blaming it on the fact that we're in denial that it's December already.  Yep.  That's why.

We redeemed ourselves, though.  While the kids were upstairs getting ready for school, I sneaked down to the basement, Rich told me where he had stashed Buddy and suggested a perfect place for me to put the merry little elf where the kids probably hadn't looked this morning.

Teamwork!  High five!

The kids were surprised at what they found when I told them to get their vitamins out of the cupboard.  Buddy! They pieced together a theory that Buddy was probably very hungry after his long journey to our house from the North Pole, so he busted into our Frosted Flakes and set up camp in the cozy cupboard.

They even drew some pictures for him and asked me to draw his portrait on the chalkboard.

I love how all in they are, that they don't for an instant doubt any of the magic and spirit of Christmas - Jesus and Santa and snow and trees and nativity scenes and decorations and family and friends and gift giving and getting...they love and appreciate every aspect of everything.  Experiencing Christmas through the eyes of your children and watching the joy they wallow around in all season long is one of the greatest perks of being a parent.

Now let's see if Buddy's magic can keep their joyful little bums in check this Christmas!