The 3rd Annual Oliver’s Birthday Play

A few years ago, at Ollie’s first birthday party, a spontaneous performance of the Wizard of Oz broke out. Longtime readers of the blog will be quite familiar with the fact that Evie loves nothing more than a performance of some kind, and she quickly turned this into a yearly tradition.

As the tradition has grown (and as she herself has grown), the play has turned into more and more of a production. This was the first year that she has taken it into her mind to really “direct” the play as well as star in it. She had very firm ideas about who would play each part, what the costumes would look like, etc. She has been preparing for four or five months.

This year she decided to perform “The First Christmas”, after her successfully reprising her performance as an angel. She had a line to speak in the play, so I was not surprised that she wanted to include that line in her play. What I did not realize was, Evie being Evie, she had also memorized *everyone else’s* lines in the play. Keep in mind she participated in the play in December, and it is now April. This is what she dictated to me for her play:

Fear Not, for behold I bring you good tidings of joy which shall come to all people.  For born this day, in the city of David, there is a savior which is Christ the Lord.

And this will be a sign to you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

And suddenly with the angels, there was a multitude of angels praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth, peace.”

Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing which has happened.

I don’t think it is exactly word for word, but I still think it’s pretty good for a 5 year old who heard something 2 times 4 months ago.

When writing the script, Evie was VERY specific. Who should go first, what they should say, where they should stand. She had me write:

Silent Night (2 verses)
A little bit of silence
Angels We Have Heard on High

I will spare you the video, but Evie’s directorial debut more or less went off without a hitch, and she successfully shepherded (no pun intended) a dozen actors through their roles. Don’t mention it to her though; like any true artist she was ultimately disappointed despite her success. I think she was mainly disappointed because she wanted it to last longer (specifically, she wanted it to last an hour).

In Evie’s exuberance, it is easy to forget that it was actually Oliver’s day. She graciously allowed him to be Baby Jesus. However, Oliver insisted his baby should be Baby Jesus, and he himself would be a “manger”. Of course, Baby Jesus needed to “lie in a manger”, so he originally planned to lay in the crib with the baby on top. That wasn’t quite comfortable, so he ultimately settled for hiding in his magic box, popping out for the big birthing scene, and then sitting next to the crib holding the baby’s hand.

I’m sure Evie has already begun planning for next year. It’s a good thing, because we’ll probably need the entire year to prepare the costumes and scenery. Anybody know what union scale ought to pay?


So Sara planned a surprise party for me on Saturday, and I think a good time was had by all. The star of the party, of course, was the tower of homemade cupcakes in lieu of a birthday cake. These weren’t just your average cupcakes either; the green ones were chocolate mint, the orange ones had orange cake, the strawberry ones had strawberry filling. The schnozberry ones tasted like schnozberries. They were amazing.

Now the first question you’re probably asking yourself is, was I surprised? Well, I’ll have you know that I am extremely brilliant, and you have to get up pretty early in the morning to fool me. And by that, of course, I mean that I’m so oblivious that most people pretty much stopped bothering to even pretend around me, and I STILL probably wouldn’t have caught on if it hadn’t been staring me in the face.

I knew my mom was coming this weekend. So the first clue was when I called her to see if she had received my email about bringing her snow pants (Evie wanted to play in the snow). The conversation went something like this:

Me: “Did you grab your snow pants?”
Mom: “Yes, and I already called Rachael to tell her to bring hers.”
Me: “Oh, is Rachael coming too?”
Mom: “No.”

Despite this, I still wasn’t suspicious yet. Not suspicious enough to not notice the 6 lbs. of beef thawing in the fridge or to think anything was amiss when Sara proceeded to make 45 cupcakes while I was in the kitchen (to be fair, this doesn’t mean that I didn’t notice all the cupcakes, only that I didn’t see a problem with someone making me 45 cupcakes).

However, on Friday night I was opening up some presents from my mom, and the card said, “I hope you were surprised!” “About turning 30?” I asked (I quite expected to make it to 30, thank you very much). I thought maybe there was a surprise in the present. “Was I supposed to open the present first?” So I opened the present and it was jeans. My mom tried to play it off. “Aren’t you surprised I got you the same present for Christmas and your birthday?”

This was decidedly odd, but before I could even think about it, I opened the birthday card from my dad that came in the mail. “Sorry we couldn’t make it to your party.” “I don’t know what he’s talking about,” said Sara. Now I might be oblivious, but when you put the word “surprise” and “party” so close together, combined with all the other weird stuff (I thought of some other odd stuff later too, in retrospect), you’d have to be pretty dense not to get it.

Not to take anything away from anybody though, there were several highly successful ruses. For example, Tom and Barb calling to wish me a happy birthday when they were really in the car a couple of blocks away. Rachael also calling to wish me a happy birthday and talking to me for a long time, even though she was going to see me the next day. And also my mom making me go the long way around to backtrack and see the people on the ice rink for like 10 minutes. I did not detect that I was being delayed (though I may have been a little exasperated about it!)

One final word about birthday parties, I think it is hard for Evie to imagine any situation that is not all about her. This is not entirely her fault. I remember at one point, she was sitting at the table eating a cupcake, the only one, while she held court with about 8 people crowded around her. From her point of view, there wasn’t much difference between her birthday party and my birthday party.

People are turning 30

A friend of mine from back home was having a birthday party and, since we didn’t have any plans, we decided “why not?” and hit the road. It also gave us a good excuse to grab some pumpkins from my dad’s house. Unfortunately my mom wasn’t home, but it kind of worked out for a relaxing weekend.

Despite the fact that it was really cold outside and we were little  under dressed, we had a great time. Evie in particular was going a mile a minute. She refused to come in from outside, forcing Sara or I to run around after her in the cold outside. She did not feel the cold at all, saying “I do NOT need to warm up!”

If you ask Evie what her favorite part was, she’ll say, “Cake!” Quite frankly, I can’t blame her. The frosting was some of the most delicious cake frosting I have ever eaten. It was fun to see old friends I haven’t seen in a while, but unfortunately, none of them brought their kids! So Evie was the only one.

There was still plenty to keep her occupied, most obviously, feeding the fish. They have a pond and the fish are trained to eat bread, in the scariest possible fashion. They had bread available, so we walked out onto the dock. “Hey, there’s a fish!” I said. Then I sort of looked at the wider picture in a horror movie style camera pan, and I realized that there were a lot of fish. All sitting in the water, silent and motionless, waiting in lines like soldiers. Very creepy. We started to throw little pieces of the bread and the water turned into a bubbling, seething, piranha-style mass. Soon the big fish came in from the deep, tossing the smaller fish out of the way and sometimes jumping out of the water to nab one out of the air. “You swim in this??” we asked incredulously. It looked like every water based horror movie I have ever seen. Evie loved it, couldn’t get enough, even though she mostly dropped her bread close to the dock where it was too shallow for the fish to get.

The fun didn’t stop with the fish either. Evie was obsessed with their golf cart, so they let Sara and me take her for a ride. We ended up by the highway teaching Evie to pump her arm and get semi’s to honk. We swung on a porch swing by a fire and ate smores looking out over the lake. We also ate some good food (other than the cake).

It wasn’t a perfect day, however. Shortly after we got to the party, we got a call from our security service saying our alarm was going off at home. Obviously this was a little scary because we were far, far from home. They sent the police and I never heard back from them. They told me they would call back if there was anything to report, so hypothetically the fact that they didn’t call meant there was nothing to see. In practice though, I would rather have heard, even if they didn’t find anything! Obviously nobody broke into our house, or else I would have run immediately to the computer and blogged it of course. But it was a little nerve wracking to come home a few days later, not knowing what we would find. Chances are Nala set it off (even though she never has before) and if that was the case, I’m sure it scared the crap out of her enough that she won’t do it again.

Birthday parties are fun

Over the weekend the big event was going to a birthday party for my boss’ daughter. Evie had a blast! It is all she could talk about ever since then. When we asked her right after we left what she did at the party, her only answer was “share”. Since then though, she’s discussed all of her favorite aspects of the party including watching the birthday girl open her presents (“Sit in chair! Watch!”), watching her blow out the candles, eating, seeing doggies and playing pretend with the kitchen and plastic food in the basement. No mention of the other kids, the piñata, or the lady who was hired to play music, other than to complain that it was “loud”. Her other complaint was, “Doggie kiss face. Keep her safe!” (by “her” she means “me”) She’s not a fan of dog kisses. She also got a gift basket with many exciting gifts such as bubbles, a froggie and her very first jar of play-doh. As far as the play-doh is concerned, she likes it a lot but all she wants to do is rip it into tiny pieces. Then you are expected to roll it all back together so she can start ripping again.

Other highlights of the weekend included:

  • Some child was making us plates of plastic food at the party. One plate had one tiny petit four in the center of it and the other plate was covered in food, barely containing it all. “This one’s for the big guy!” he said, handing it to me.
  • Evie likes to have songs sung to her while she eats. She won’t tell you what song she wants to hear, but as you try to sing different songs she says no to every one. So finally, after innumerable rejections, she was saying no to the song I was singing and I ignored her and kept singing. She said to me, “I’m shaking my head no!”
  • Now that the weather has been nicer, she wants to go outside all the time. She has many tricks to try to get you to take her outside, but I guess she decided to try the straight forward approach.  She said to me,  “Good bye, see you later, I’m taking yankee doodle and the purse!” and then walked over and tried to open the front door.

We also tried to get Evie to fingerpaint, but she wasn’t very into it. As soon as the paint got on her hand she started yelling, “Wipe it off!” I guess I should have seen that coming since earlier in the day she refused to stand up in the sand box because she didn’t want to use her hand to push herself up since that would require touching the sand.