Happy birthday to…..

I seriously can’t believe it is only Saturday night. This weekend has been so full of so many good things…but oh so full. I will go ahead and recap because believe you me, we won’t be doing much of anything tomorrow besides church and recovering.

As soon as the girls got off the bus Friday afternoon, we swooped them up to the apartment, got them changed, re-did hair, and then hauled everybody into Manhattan to get pictures taken in Central Park. A couple who are professional photographers and family members to another staff family in the city happened to be in town this weekend and offered to take pictures for staff families at a discount, so we said yes! We went to this place in Central Park called Gapstow Bridge (good ole’ Google said it was one of the best places to take pics in Central Park and they were right!). The kids did phenomenal, the weather was super nice, and the photographers were awesome and the best part is that no kids fell in the water or scraped themselves up on the rock. I have a love/hate relationship with coordinating outfits, but I think I did a pretty good job and can’t wait to see how the pictures turn out. Heres a preview of what the kids looked like:

Funny story – we walked to the bottom of the bridge to this super popular spot to take pictures. While we were waiting for the person ahead of us to finish, they posed us in another spot to take pictures, right beside the water. As we were trying to take pictures, a tourist started feeding the geese in the water next to us. The geese started coming onto the land to get more food and surrounding us, while the tourist kept feeding them, laughing, and videoing it. While it was funny, it was a little scary that they were that close to the kids because geese can be mean and these geese were not scared of people at all. Once we finished the shots, we continued to be surrounded by geese and one of the geese actually started pecking at our photographer. She said “I just got goosed!” Eventually, they started feeding the geese at a different spot, we moved into the “perfect” picture spot, and all was well – but I seriously have never been almost attacked by geese while taking pictures.

Last night, after pictures, we left the kids with a sitter and went to Sarah and Erin’s apartment (our teammates here in Queens) for dinner and hang out as a team social. We had yummy steaks, a mushroom sauce for the steaks, hash brown casseole, a yummy salad, and amazing apple crisp for dessert. It was also Doran (our team leader’s) birthday this week, so we celebrated with candles in the Apple Crisp and singing “Happy birthday”.

Then, this morning, we had Emerson’s birthday party. You may remember that we have spent a lot of time asking for opinions and processing amongst our family what we would do for birthdays since we couldn’t realistically do big parties for every kid for every birthday every year. We landed on promising them a big party with their friends on big birthdays – like 5, 10, 13, 16, etc. and just doing a family activity/meal/cake every year in between. So, since Emerson is turning 5 this coming week, she got to have a party!

She chose to have it at a plaster painting place – which I was great with because you pay them and they provide food, drinks, paper products, games, dancing, and painting a plaster piece they can take home. We had a great birthday party there! There were lots of great memories – here were a few:

Taking an Uber there and back – this was much different than how we traveled to parties in the past. Yes, in NYC, kids don’t have to be in car seats when they ride in Ubers or taxis. Crazy, right?

The cake. Emerson decided she wanted a PENGUIN party – why penguin? Your guess is as good as mine. During the party, they asked her what her favorite animal was and she said “Bunny”, so not sure why she was insistent on a penguin cake and theme. But, Pinterest came through and I tried to produce this cake as a recreation of one I saw. This cake was almost the death of me. From finding out after I had made it that my cake dish wasn’t big enough for the double layer cake, from the cake cracking down the middle while trying to stack them, and from the icing not smoothing on it, it was almost a disaster. Definitely not my best cake, but the penguins I ordered from Etsy saved it, and the kids loved it.

Painting their pieces. It was so interesting to see what they chose. One of the girls that came chose a telephone because she said that was what she liked. Blake, of course, chose a firetruck (which he proceeded to only paint in ONE spot). Kinsley, sweet Kinsley, chose a Friends Forever plaque that could be hung on the wall (and that she is insisting she wants hung on the wall – how does that fit her decor 😉 ).

Pizza was included and we also brought carrots, ranch, and penguin crackers to match the theme.

This was Brynn’s first time eating pizza but you would never know it by how she demolished her piece.

And the party included lots of dancing and games like the limbo. They played the “chicken dance” and Blake cracked us up by shrugging his shoulders instead of flapping his arms. I had to show it so I uploaded it to our You Tube channel – you can view it by clicking HERE. Seriously, that kid. So, so cute. Emerson said the chicken dance and her friends coming were her favorite parts.

Another funny moment – So, we didn’t know all the kids Emerson invited as some were classmates that we hadn’t met yet. At the end of her party, we got the kids together for a group picture. Can you spot the difference between the two?

Yes, there is another girl in it!  She walked in while we were taking the picture and her dad encouraged her to hand us her card. We just assumed she had got there late and asked her to come get in the picture. It did seem weird to me that Emerson didn’t go up to her and looked confused. After the picture, I asked Emerson who she was and Emerson didn’t know her! The party hosts said to let her know she could pick a piece and take home, to which we responded that we thought maybe she was there for the next party. They went to ask her and sure enough, she was early for the next party that was coming up. How funny that we have this picture with this random girl and she just joined in without knowing anyone!

After the party was over, we returned home to open gifts and this girl (and her siblings!) was in heaven playing with all her new toys the rest of the afternoon/evening.

Tonight, we ended the night with a few family games. The kids are loving Jenga right now and we love that it is a fun game that everyone can play.

And little Brynn loved the balloons, dancing, and all the new toys. She is mobile now so she was everywhere. She doesn’t really crawl, but she does pull up and scoot her butt everywhere she needs to go. It is pretty funny to watch so I am including THIS video so you can see her doing her butt scoot.

Like I said at the beginning, you will find my introverted, home-body self chilling at home tomorrow after church, but gosh, this weekend has been full and so fun!

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