Thursday, December 16, 2010

...and the Birthday Celebration Continues...

Dane's birthday is December 15. Every year, for the rest of his life, he will have a birthday that falls right in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a mere 10 days before Christmas, the busiest time of the year for many people. We decided pretty early on that when he was old enough to understand, Dane would never feel "jipped" out of a birthday celebration because of the unfortunate date. We would make it a point to celebrate, even if we had to do it a week or two away from his birthday. We would never do "combination" gifts ("Dane! This is for your birthday AND Christmas!"), and for the last several years, we have planned a big birthday party every year.

For these parties, we hook up with one of Dane's best friends, another December Boy, and invite all of their friends for one big bash. We know people are busy this time of year, so we invite way more people than we actually expect to show up. I think we invited 10-15 families from church, and then I invited another 8 kids from Dane's class at school. We ended up with close to 30 kids at the party, and a bunch of their parents too.

We don't plan the date of the party around extended family, because we spend time with extended family over both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our families are welcome to come if they want to travel, but these parties are kid parties.

We keep it cheap by splitting costs with a friend, keeping decorations and snacks to a minimum, and doing a "goody box" instead of goody bags. Instead of goody bags, the kids each picked one of an assortment of treats found on the dollar aisle at Wal-Mart. Bubbles, noisemakers, whoopie cushions, fake Silly Bandz, bouncy balls, etc. My kids care less about fancy decorations and themes, and more about having fun with their friends. We've also figured out that when you have lots of people at a party, they entertain themselves more and fewer planned activities are needed. Throw a moonwalk and a couple of footballs in with 25 little boys, and they will be just fine for at least an hour.

Other than the birthday party, we just have a low-key "family night" on the actual birthday, with dessert and an activity within reason chosen by the birthday boy.

For Dane's birthday on Wednesday, he picked chocolate chip cake for his birthday cake.
Now, I want to pause for a moment and offer my apology. This chocolate chip cake has made numerous appearances on this blog, and I have yet to offer an explanation regarding this ugly, icing-less cake. The only cake (other than cookie cake) that Dane will eat.
You see, it's amazing. Incredible, really. The greatest chocolate-type cake on earth. Moist and sweet, without being too rich, and requiring no accompaniment other than a glass of ice cold milk. And, frankly, the only cake I know how to make.

And today, December 16, 2010, I will share with you the recipe for the magical cake that I have been known to make for every birthday and holiday gathering celebrated at our house.

1 box yellow cake mix
1 small instant chocolate pudding mix
4 eggs
8 oz sour cream
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
6 oz chocolate chips

Dump all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly until the lumps are gone. Pour batter into a well-greased bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes. Let cool in pan for about 20 minutes before removing from pan. Best served when slices are reheated in microwave for about 10 seconds, with a glass of milk.

You're welcome.

Now, let's continue the birthday celebration. Dane opened his birthday gifts with gusto,
exhibiting an appropriate amount of excitement over a small Lego set, an outfit, and some good looking books (he's already started in on Swiss Family Robinson)

Then we got to the final gift.

Let me explain for a moment. At some point several years ago, Brandon decided that seven years old was an appropriate age for a boy to have his first pocket knife. What a seven year old needs with a pocket knife is beyond my comprehension. Are there bears in our neighborhood to defend himself from that I am not aware of? I know about the goat next door, but I'm sure our homeowners association would have serious problems with bears roaming the streets. Does my son frequently find himself alone in electronics-opening emergency situations, where he would find a pocket knife especially handy when trying to get frustrating plastic packaging removed? Does he oft think to himself, "I really could use a handy portable nail file right about now"?

Anyway. Yesterday Brandon set out and picked up a little Swiss Army number. Dane was a little excited, to say the least. A pocket knife is the equivalent to a Man Card to a seven year old little boy. The knife comes with lots of rules, the first being that it is stored out of reach, and only daddy may get the knife down and use it with Dane.

Dane was most interested in the little toothpick that comes on the knife, and declared that he simply cannot go on until he frees the piece of cake from his teeth with his little toothpick.

After presents, we enjoyed some yummy cake, and then headed out to look at a Christmas light display nearby and take some bad pictures.

Here's another one that will hopefully not be gracing our Christmas card:

I need to explain a couple of things here. Harper is wearing last year's Christmas legwarmers with her boots and a girls' t-shirt that I bought last year, mistakingly thinking that it was an infant t-shirt dress. It is not a dress. It is a shirt intended for a five-year old girl, and this year it was a bit short to be worn as a dress so I stuck some of Emerson's shorts underneath it. She looks confused by the whole thing as well.

Aidan dressed himself, obviously, then when we got to the display, he picked up a discarded knit glove off the ground and insisted on wearing it for the next half hour. Is there anything grosser than seeing your child walk around wearing someone else's glove that he found on the ground? I guess I should be thankful it wasn't a hat. And though they look like blue tights, he is actually wearing thigh-high soccer socks. Of course.

And please pretend that you can't see Aidan's underwear. Thank you.

Brandon with his two girls, Rough and Tumble. Harper is Rough, and Emerson Tumbles.
And Mandy forgot to turn the flash on.

We walked for a bit, and visited the giant Christmas tree before heading to Johnny Rocket's for a little birthday dinner.
After dinner (at this point, Dane has had three desserts: birthday cake, a root beer float, and birthday ice cream at Johnny Rocket's) we headed home for a late bedtime, and the official end to Dane's birthday festivities.

Hope you had a great birthday Dane-o! We love you so, so much and are so proud of our biggest boy.


Adrienne said...

That is one happy 7-year-old with his Swiss Army knife! Congratulations on this milestone, Dane-O! Happy Birthday (again!)!

Catherine said...

Thanks for posting the cake recipe! I am going to have a happy Wes after I go to the store and get some sour cream and cake mix!

Jana said...

Happy Birthday Dane!!! I'm going to have to try to make that cake. It sounds yummy!

Anonymous said...

By the way Mandy.... If that is your real name.... From the looks of Harper maybe Aidan should start dressing her.... He couldn't do any worse...

CathyBB said...

Hi there! I came here from Kelly's Korner and just had to see the "ugly" cake. =) It sounds divine, so thanks for sharing it!