Fall is definitely here, Erin's birthday has always marked that transition for me, and the funny thing is that I guess it does for Allison too. For one recent homework assignment Kate and Allison were to draw three signs of fall, and one of the things Allison drew was Erin and a birthday cake. Allison will inform you that her own birthday, which is only 19 days prior to Erin's, falls at the end of summer.
No sooner did we clean up and recover from the twins' birthday than it was time to celebrate for Erin's 7th, on the weekend before her actual birthday. Luckily, I planned a party for her away from home so my effort in the day would be pretty minimal. Nearby is a cooking school for kids and on weekends they host birthday parties where the kids can make and then eat a meal. For Erin's age group the suggested meal is mini-pizzas and each child would make their own from scratch.
When the kids arrived for the party they all were given a plain white chef's hat to decorate. An interesting phenomenon started to develop as the kids arrived and sat down--boys very distinctly sat on one area and the girls sat in another. I hadn't observed this at any of my kids' or my kids' friends' previous parties. One boy arrived, took a quick look at the surroundings and the activity getting underway and made it clear to his mom that he was not interested in staying, and they left. John chuckled at that. "R. has definitely turned that corner," John said, "And I don't blame him. If I were 7 I don't think I'd want to be here either."
After hat decorating the kids assembled around two big tables to start making the pizza dough.
And then each child was given a portion of dough to knead. Some of the boys were getting pretty violent with the kneading and pounding, and one started karate-chopping his.
"If you want to karate chop your pizza dough," the lead instructor announced,"it's fine with me but I want to hear some loud HI-YA! yells to go along with it!" Then the kids rolled out their dough and shaped it. The girls tried making perfectly round circles for the most part, a couple of them made hearts. I think a couple made squares.
But the boys had different ideas and all of them made very careful and specific non-shapes.
"Mine is shaped like a swamp! I'm having swamp pizza!"
"Mine is a golf course and I'm going to make a sand trap with pineapple!"
"Mine is a blob monster pizza!"
After topping their pizzas and getting them into the oven one of the instructors had all the kids assemble and she got a white board out and she asked the kids to let her know what topping selections they'd chosen with a show of hands for each. "Make a bar graph!" said one of Erin's friends, and then she did, but she didn't create a title for the graph or label the X and Y axis at first, so the kids reminded her to add those in.
Next the kids sang to Erin and the cake was cut up and prepared to serve while the kids sat down to eat their fresh pizzas for lunch.
The circles were tasty, the hearts were yummy, and despite the one boy's horror at this particular birthday party setting, the other boys seemed to have a lot of fun and the swamp pizzas disappeared too.
Erin's actual birthday was a thursday and a school day of course, but her birthday was broadcast for the whole school to hear in morning announcements, I packed some surprise little treats and a card in her lunch box, her teacher gave her a birthday pencil (they don't allow kids to have birthday parties in class, takes up too much time), and she reported lots of special comments and attention from other kids all day long.
Several days before her birthday I was picking up the girls from their after school care center when I learned that the director there, a super cool woman named Julie who the kids really adore, would be leaving her job and a goodbye potluck dinner was being organized for her last day, the evening of October 1st. The assistant director asked me if we'd come to the potluck and with Erin at my side I mentioned that thursday was Erin's birthday and she may want to go out to dinner or something, when Erin interjected, "NO! We HAVE to come to Julie's party and tell her goodbye!" Okay, I answered, it was her birthday and we'd spend it the way she chose.
Erin made a really pretty, thoughtful card for Julie and we all had a nice time at the potluck. As that wound down the and we were saying goodbyes the asst. director told us that we couldn't leave until everyone sang happy birthday for Erin.
Back at home Erin finally got to open her presents, including a new outfit from Grandma and a Irish dancing teddy bear she asked for, and a animal clinic and surgery center play set, since Erin sometimes talks about being a veterinarian someday and likes to tend to her animal toys. She was delighted with everything and with the way she chose to spend her evening.