After enduring RSV, colic, milk allergies, blood clots in my lovely wife’s lungs and crappy lullaby music for a year, I say it’s time to party. The other day, we took Ellison to the doc over a slight rash only to find that it was viral…wait…or fungal. Uh. Viral and fungal. Can it be both? Anyhow, it’s not contagious unless she’s cracking a fever which she hasn’t. It’s a little unsightly, but altogether harmless. Whatever.
Anyhow, the nurse practitioner replies to us menitoning that Ellison was turning one year old on Friday, “Oh, ya’ll are having a ‘princess party’!” Like, she didn’t ask if we were having a “princess party,” she said we were having a princess party. She must not read the blog.
We’re not “princess people.” We’ve resisted the notion that our daughter is a princess, queen, duchess, diva, prima donna, etc. She’s our daughter. A beautiful child of God. Unique, wonderful, extraordinarily gifted and blessed, but I’m no king, my lovely wife’s no queen, there’s no jewels in her shoes and no moat around this house. And if there was, the historic drought would’ve taken care of that. It’s not that we take everything that literally, it’s just personal preferences. We don’t want her to grow up thinking she’s a princess and we don’t want others to see her grow up under the belief she views herself as a princess or that we treat her as so. My lovely wife and I both shook our heads, turned to the nurse and in an nearly rehearsed Clint Eastwood sneer we replied coldly, “No. Ladybug.”
Ladybug. Why? Because she had a small toy growing up that we called “Lucy the Ladybug” that divert or distract her out of her colicky fits. My lovely wife started rolling with it and found that a ladybug theme was fairly common and there were plenty of resources for throwing a ladybug birthday party. Of course, these days, everything seems common because of Google. Google’s autofill function let’s you know you are not alone in this world. Online shopping blows the party planning game wide open.
If you wanted to do a pink pterodactyl theme, you can online. If you wanted to do a three-toed sloth party, you can do that online. If you wanted to do Barry Manilow breathing fire, yes, you can do that online as well. It’s pretty limitless these days. The ladybug theme, then, was a cinch and easier to explain in the future than a fire-breathing Barry Manilow. Plus, red and black resemble something true about our family and that is that Mommy and Daddy both graduated from Texas Tech. Not that it necessarily had anything to do with the decision, but it’s always nice when the theme of the party revolve around the color of your alma mater. Especially when your alternatives include five different shades of pink. So, ladybug it is. Lima provided the cake. Her skills are not to be taken lightly.I was rocking my antennae and my red and black Nikes. And a smile. You’re powerless to the influence of a one year old in a ladybug outfit. Put on your freaking antennae, homie, and get down.It was madness preparing for this event. My biggest concern was the backyard and making sure it was poop-free zone. You gotta comb that back yard with shovel, rake and afro pick. You have to ensure it’s absolutely turdless. If it’s not, you might risk an embarrassing moment, a broken friendship, lawsuit and/or never seeing your nephews again. We spent close to three hours in that back yard leaving nothing but grass, dirt (alot more dirt than grass) and some ladybug bean bags for the kiddos.
I’m here to tell you, there’s no joking about entertaining toddlers and young kiddos for two or three hours. It started with my nephew Dylan who I squared up with on a game of bean bag toss. He quickly mastered it, became bored and begun chunking them at me. Then asked, “What else do you have to play?” That was at about the ten minute mark. Okay, one hundred and ten minutes to go. To save an all-out dirt clod war, I diverted him to kickball. Some more kids showed up.
Before you knew it, we rousing game of kickball going out there complete with twice as many ghost runners as you’d ever need. Dylan cheated. That’s to be expected. I cheated a lot at that age. You can’t bunt in kickball, ghost runners only advance on a force (needed to really help some of the kids with “ghost runner” rules…think one kiddo quit because I said we were playing with ghost runners and he thought it had something to do with the occult) and you can’t go from first to third because someone walked off with second base (which was Ellison…rather Ellison walked off with second base not Ellison was second base). That’s like when I got kicked out of Arby’s for getting soda in a water cup arguing that I couldn’t “find the water.” I was in high school. Cut me some slack.
For kids not of kickball age, we had a table set up with coloring and activity sheets. I think Dylan went over there and illustrated his disappointment by this aggressive and unsettling piece. We sent it to his counselor. It was the right thing to do.We also ate cake. Everyone except for Dylan who made a point to mention to me, “I think this is the only birthday party that I’ve gone to that I’m not planning on eating cake.” He said it was because he already had a donut this morning on the way up here and he didn’t feel like it. Hmm. Well, Ellison felt like it. She made pretty quick sport of the cupcake from the top of the cake, leaving parts of it on her, on the tray and on the floor which is precisely the way that our two beagles pay their rent.After cake, we shoehorned everyone into our living room for presents. My lovely wife asked if I could be the one to open gifts because she doesn’t like being the center of attention. Gladly. Let me tell you right now, that’s a lot harder than it seems. Especially when everyone was so very generous. Ellison got so many wonderful gifts. Don’t worry everyone, personalized thank you notes are coming. I found that, by far, the most difficult part of opening the gifts is reading the cards. You got thirty-plus people watching you, two toddlers fighting in front of you, Ellison who keeps rolling off of your knee and wants to just crawl away and you open a six-panel folding card that has no less than 70 words printed on it and a handwritten message that you have no idea what it says until you read it. You don’t want to read it out loud because you don’t want to embarrass that person (I always thought you write for the reader, not for the audience so I’m never expecting for someone to read out my card to everyone in the room), but then there’s this dead air and people just stand there half-smiling while you read the card and then you, smile, maybe dramatically exhale and break the awkward silence by saying, “Thank you, Greg. That’s so sweet,” leaving everyone in the room totally in the dark as to what was so sweet that it was worthy of a remark. Gifts are easy. Cards are tricky.
One thing you don’t really plan for during the course of the party is dirty diapers and nap time. This is my first one year old party so I’m not used to being sensitive to that except for outings with my brother. You’re on a timeline and if Ellison goes past nap time, the party quickly disintegrates into a recovery mission. At this point, we had our eyes close on Ellison for the warning signs. She put up a pretty good fight for the most part. By the time, we finished opening gifts and guests started to leave, Ellison gave us one eye rub and we made our way back to the crib for some shut-eye. I couldn’t believe she made it that long. Quite the party animal.Guests started to leave and family remained. The kickball was now flat in the back yard and so we moved on to a rambunctious game of wiffle ball baseball. My brother clotheslined his son Parker, Dylan hit a line shot that nearly took out my father-in-law, few players sustained grass stains which made happy because there’s was actually enough moisture in my grass to stain jeans and even my mother and father got in the action. Last time I saw my mother play baseball, it was at a parent-child picnic. She was playing catcher and I was batting. I swung the bat and demolished her outreaching hand, breaking her wrist. Premiered the movie Ellison Jayne’s First Year, Nana started crying in the first minute of the 85-minute movie. That’s Nana, though. She’s a big fan. I’m gonna start working on a way of hosting it out on YouTube for those are that are inclined to watch some of it.Just heard a traffic report for Amarillo at 6:15am. I gotta think that’s not really a safe job. First off, there’s no traffic in Amarillo. Just ask anyone from Dallas, Houston or Austin. And, if you think there’s ever a traffic event, just move over a lane and accelerate and it’s over.
Thanks to everyone who helped with the birthday party and who came to celebrate Ellison Jayne’s first birthday. It was a great party. My lovely wife deserves tremendous acclaim. That girl can put together some kinda party. With all the tension, anxiety, traffic control, logistics that go into planning such a day, she pulled it off with ease. Lucky to have such a wonderful mama in this house and such an incredible wife. Happy birthday, Ellison Jayne.