Well we finally had Parker's 8th birthday party. Josie is over the chicken pox so no worries there. It was completely easy-peasy as far as illnesses go. What was difficult was keeping Josie away from people when I was trying to get ready for a birthday party and Rob was working late (some nights until midnight). We had so much planned, but had to let go of some of it. Parker wanted us to make the chocolate raspberry cake we made for his fifth birthday, stuffed grape leaves, black bean tamales, vadas with sambar, scallion pancakes, and mangoes w/sticky rice. There were a couple more things, but you get the idea. It is all about the food and presentation for him. Presents or no presents...fine, but he wants people and he wants a party (decorations and a spread).
Since we put everything off to the last minute (including inviting people...I wanted to make sure Josie was going to be past the contagious time in the pox), Rob and I had to divide and conquer. Rob did all the cooking (50 black bean tamales for starters...what a guy!!) and I did the menu and cleaning the house (not an easy task after all the time the kids have been cooped up in the house this month). I missed doing the cooking or at least cooking with him since we haven't had much time together lately, but it was good since it all came together somehow. It takes a village.
Our friend Kris made this beautiful vegan train cake for my train lover. Dema was in love with it as well. Parker was very impressed, although he thought it would be bigger...don't know how big he was thinking...it was perfect size if you ask me. I like to bake, but I could never even attempt something this artistic. Kris is very talented and didn't blink an eye about making it vegan. Since we weren't sure how many people we would end up with, I asked her to bring some cupcakes too which were also very pretty.
Our friend Stef made a super cool CD for the kids the other day so music was provided by her. I have to say my life is better having a CD with Mahna Mahna. I drive Rob nuts going around the house singing it now. How can you be in a bad mood with this song. Unfortunately, the din was so loud with 25 children in the house that we really didn't hear much of it.
My dad saved the day by running out and buying some balloons (biodegradable ones...go dad!) and crepe paper for the decorations. Our neighbor Vicky heard Parker was a little disappointed I didn't get a banner made and you just do not say things like that lightly around Vicky because five minutes later she was back with a birthday box with banners and more cool balloons which blow up into different shapes and had stickers to decorate them with...a big hit! See our little friend Sam with one of the heart-shaped balloons. Vicky is one of those people who is completely organized and together (think Martha Stewart, but without the stint in jail so perfect). I feel like a completely lame mom compared to her, but her kids are adults now and she always says I am doing what I should be doing spending time with my kids and not worrying about the other stuff. Her husband Greg took a bunch of pictures at the party and brought them over on a CD for us two minutes after they left. I tell you they are on the ball.
This is Parker's most "mainstream" birthday. He was quite amazed by all the gifts since we tell people not to worry about gifts and he truly means it, but it is nice to get gifts too...one of those balance things. We did the traditional opening of the gifts which I am not sure about. On one hand, some people like to see the recipient open the gifts it also seems sort of like torture for the other children. You know, watch your friend open a cool gift which you can't touch. Parker is very into drawing and all sorts of art and he received the coolest handmade gifts. I was very impressed. He loves the drawings and cards made by his friends. Isabella even made Josie a "get well" card and her sister Ceccily made Dema a card...very sweet! The homemade play dough ("Parker's Party Dough") is already being used. I love that it is okay for Josie too. Kaila made this cute story called Parker and Diego. I like how her "Parker" does kind of look like him and it is a cute story about helping baby jaguar. I am always amazed by the creativity of all these kids.
He also received his first Legos. He plays with my old Legos at my dad's house once in a great while, but we have now entered the world of Legos in our house as well. It is probably about time. His friends Leo and Owen were so cute giving him the ins and outs of Lego-ownership. You know, only open one set at a time so you don't mix up the pieces...I really like that one! Parker said Leo warned him about sharing them with Dema, but he assured me that they will be fine and he has already made Dema a train and a helicopter. I hope Dema doesn't prove him wrong. I can tell the Legos will provide hours of enjoyment.
Parker can't wait to read all the books he received and I can't wait either. We love books! Stuart, my sister's boyfriend, put a note in "Alia's Mission Saving the Books of Iraq" by Mark Alan Stamaty which almost made me cry. Stuart wrote, "To Parker, age 8 May you always know what and whom you love and protect them." I feel for certain Parker will.
Parker is also psyched about using all the art supplies he received. He draws every day for hours a day and is fanatical about keeping all his art stuff nice and neat (not so easy with a little brother). He is in heaven with all the new sketch pad and pencils, etc. He also has a couple gift cards which makes him feel oh so grown up (for some reason cash doesn't do that for him) and he really enjoys going shopping and picking out that something special.
The menu ended up being very simple:
Black Bean Burritos from Vegan Lunchbox (simple, but 50 takes a while to make!)
Artichoke-Sunflower Spread from Vegan Planet (I've had this cookbook forever, but hadn't made this for some reason until a friend made it...thanks, Christie!)
Gigantes (Parker loves gigantes and I will post the recipe called Kuru Fasulye from our friend Susan soon)
Chickpea Hummus (no recipe, Rob just wings it and I add the finishing touches of olive oil, paprika, and kalamata olives)
Jerusalem organic whole wheat pita
Bearito tortilla chips
a bunch of organic juice which in itself is a special treat and enough sugar to keep the boys hopped up (Parker went with Rob to pick it out and of course he comes up with the Pomegranate Acai juice...that's my boy!)
and of course the vegan vanilla train cake and vegan chocolate cupcakes
Many of our friends have succumbed to this terrible flu which has C-U in its grasp so we only had 25 kids and 15 or so adults (last year was over 30 kids and 20 adults) and we did not get everyone invited which we wanted to invite (we also sent several email invites which bounced without our notice) and Parker missed them all. He did have a wonderful time and it was deemed his best birthday "so far". Thanks to everyone for coming and making it a very special day! Parker is already helping Dema plan his menu and decorations for his birthday in April.