Celebrating Joy's birthday is always a bit of a scheduling juggle. Often her birthday falls during our annual Memorial Day trip to the lake. This year, the following weekend already had a bar mitzvah celebration in it. So we ended up having her party yesterday.
Yes, even with JoyDad on crutches.
The past two years, we've been blessed with glorious weather for our Joy-birthday parties. One year we had the guests help pick our strawberry patch. Last year we spent almost the whole party playing in the yard, with Uncle Schnirelmann and Auntie K helping out with Joy. This year, we were going to have a backyard barbecue. Including the four of us, we were planning on about 20 people.
We got the people, a lovely turnout! Only, we didn't exactly get the weather. It spattered rain on and off all day, and the temperature never even hit sixty. So we went with a sandwich platter setup instead, and planned to shoe-horn everybody into our modest little house. Which meant I kinda had to clean. And call ALL our chairs into service, and figure out how to get the food served and everyone seated, etc. etc.
JoyDad did quite a bit of food preparation, for having to stay off his feet. I had to shuttle ingredients and supplies around, but he produced an excellent macaroni salad and put together the sandwich and veggie trays.
I know I've said this before, but we have such wonderful community going on here. We invited families, and it was a delight to have both moms and dads show up with their kids. Rose picked off the older kids and led them away to play independently, while the parents helped the younger kids play with Joy in the basement. We did several turn-taking games, where we had every child tap the push-button communication device, which was programmed to speak the words "my turn!" before taking their turn with the crash pillow or the ball or whatever. Joy had been playing crash-pillow with her therapy-barista just before the party, where she would crash and then lead him by the hand and "make" him crash too. So she was "making" me take my turn crashing at the party as well!
Then we went upstairs for presents. Joy was definitely more engaged with present-unwrapping than she was at last year's party. With some support, she was able to pull paper and presents out of gift bags, and enjoy textures of presents and ribbons. Some of the presents will figure into their own post later. But here's the ribbon...
Then dinner, with lots of scrambling by parents around the "buffet table" (actually laid out across our countertop & range!) to feed the children who were already seated around the dining table. Joy ate a good meal without much assistance. Then we brought out the Jello cake and vanilla ice cream. I decided not to do the candle-blowing-ceremony, just in case Joy should take it into her head to grab big handfuls out of the middle of the cake. We just sang while presenting Joy with the first serving from the cake. But then I looked at her face at the end of the song, and was surprised to find her with pursed lips. As if to blow out a candle... We seriously do not give her enough credit sometimes.
After the meal the party continued on our deck, which was just dry enough for bubble-blowing and hula hooping. Joy navigated the chaos remarkably well:
What a delight to see her enjoying the toys, among her peers. She even submitted to birthday hugs from her friends at the end of the evening.
And while I was out on the deck, and JoyDad was holding court in the living room with his foot propped up, our friends put all the food away and did all the dishes.
Many, many birthday blessings!