Candles on the cake

When it comes to birthdays, my family has always loved to put the candles on the cake, especially when kids are involved. (And if you dig soulful jazz – jazzy soul? – you’ll want to click on that link to hear Quincy Jones.)

People still talk about some of my children’s birthday parties, and at the time of those parties, some parents suggested I go into the kids’ birthday party business.

Now Liz is throwing birthday parties for her kids and proving herself to be a real momster – Jude’s Harry Potter party this year really took the cake.

My children, who are in their early 30s, were in the first wave of “event” birthday parties, parties held at fast-food restaurants with playgrounds, Chuck E. Cheese, skating parties – you know what I mean. Each of them dabbled with an event party; Ben had one at a newly opened Burger King with a playground and Liz had a skating party, but those were aberrations and both kids chose mom-created parties after that.

We really couldn’t afford event parties anyway, but I’m not sure the kids knew that. They just knew we had fun.

People used to laugh at me for mopping before kids came to eat cake. My daughter does the same thing. It’s genetic and something you have to outgrow. I’ve gotten over it to a degree, but it took two defective rotator cuffs to get me there.

I spent some time this morning scanning old photos, so they’ll tell most of the story, but here’s the scoop:

Ben’s 10th birthday party was a nighttime weenie roast, actually the second attempt. The year before, rain forced us under the carport and we had to roast hot dogs and marshmallows on the grill. The kids were in heaven.

Who's afraid to let kids play with fire? No one even got singed at Ben's bonfire birthday.

Who’s afraid to let kids play with fire? No one even got singed at Ben’s bonfire birthday.

Presents are fun indoors or out, day or night.

Presents are fun indoors or out, day or night.

Liz’s 9th birthday party was at our neighborhood park, Idlewild Park in Park Hill. We played old-fashioned games, like drop the clothespins in the bottle and “who can pop her balloon by sitting on it the fastest” – the kids really loved that one and we played many rounds. Some of the pics are hysterical. We did have a Community Bakery cake for that party, but everything else was totally old-school.

Little Cara Colclasure, our youngest guest, is a dead-eye aim in drop the clothespin in the bottle.

Little Cara Colclasure, our youngest guest, is a dead-eye aim in drop the clothespin in the bottle.

On your mark, get set, SIT!! More than a few kids missed their balloons, but no one complained.

On your mark, get set, SIT!! More than a few kids missed their balloons, but no one complained.

“Where’s Waldo” was a big hit that year.

Ben’s 11th was climbing Pinnacle Mountain and a picnic in the park below. Looking back, that seems kind of daring, taking rowdy, crazy 9-12-year-old boys (and Liz) on such a mission. A couple of parents climbed along and my friend Rhonda manned the picnic site and helped with that part.

Kings of the mountain!

Kings of the mountain!

Liz and I take in the scenery (and steal a moment away from the rowdies).

Liz and I take in the scenery (and steal a moment away from the rowdies).

Birthday boy with his homemade Mississippi mud cake.

Birthday boy with his homemade Mississippi mud cake.

Liz’s 10th was the “You Can Be a Star” party – every guest had to have an act to perform on the front-porch “stage” that Rhonda and I decorated with cardboard and aluminum-foil stars. Kids brought their own music or we furnished it for them.

DJ Murphy, whose performance picture is suspiciously missing from my photo album, was the only non-related boy in attendance. He sang an NKOTB song and the girls screamed. He grew up to be my student in high school, and now he lives in Nashville and has a band. You could see it coming.

Ben and cousin Robert (behind him) either did early rap or Bon Jovi. You can see D.J. waiting in the wings.

Ben and cousin Robert (behind him) perform either early rap or Bon Jovi. You can see DJ waiting in the wings.

Liz and her friend Kaylin Redmond perform a duet. I can't remember what it was – Liz, do you?

Liz and her friend Kaylin Redmond perform a duet. I can’t remember what it was – Liz, do you?

Mom-made cupcakes on the carport – convenient and (ssshh) cheap.

Mom-made cupcakes on the carport – convenient and (ssshh) cheap. Liz is digging her Magic 8ball.

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