Cristina had been planning for Jared’s birthday party for nearly three months. She began to plan it before the school year ended, because she wanted to find out how many of the staff’s families with young children would be around for it. Jared’s birthday falls on July 25th, which is right in the middle of summer vacation.
After several families responded that they would be available to come to a party on Friday, July 24th, Cristina sent out invitations and began to plan out the party theme, “Let’s Have a Ball.”
One of Jared’s favorite toys is a ball. It doesn’t matter the size or type. Jared loves to play with circular objects. When Jared was first learning how to say the word, “ball,” he would wake up in the morning whispering it to himself.
“Ball….ball….ball,” we could hear him say through his baby monitor.
Naturally, Cristina wanted to create a theme around this fascination. She purchased goody-bags and put basketball, soccer and football stickers all them. She found little hacky sacks in the shapes of different balls and little toys that matched the theme.
She ordered a birthday cake that would have gumballs around the edges and little sponge soccer ball stuck in the middle of the cake. This matched the little soccer ball candles she had purchased in the U.S. during their summer vacation.
She was also able to find a piñata in the shape of a basketball. Since Jared would be celebrating his birthday in Ecuador, she wanted to follow the Latin custom of having a swinging piñata that the kids could attempt to hit and break. Breaking it open would allow the treats and candies inside to spill to the ground.
When the day arrived, Jared helped his mom put up balloons and streamers all over the house. Then, dad took Jared out to the playground to wait for his birthday party guests to arrive.
Although some families had to cancel at the last minute, two families brought their children over in time to join the fun and games. They played with Jared’s wide collection of plastic balls in the playground, before coming inside for a snack and an “inside game.”
It was very interesting for Cristina to try to teach toddlers how to play “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.” A few of the children were too shy to make an attempt. In that case, Jared took their tail for them and stuck them up randomly on the poster. Jared had a hard time understanding that you were supposed to put the tail ON the donkey’s rear end. He just liked to stick them anywhere on the poster.
After admiring the donkey with nine tails, we all went outside again for a few more games. We had a little race around the dorm building. Every kid who crossed the finish line received a metal around his neck, because “anyone who finishes the race is a winner!”
Then, the kids took turns trying to hit the piñata. The two and three year olds weren’t even able to make a dint in it. Finally, the last one up, was a four year old who figured out exactly where to hit the piñata to make it slip open in the middle. As soon as all the candy tumbled out, the kids began to pick up the candy from the ground and added it to their goody bags.
It was hard to keep them from eating too much of their candy because we were about to eat lunch. I believe Jared got to taste a chocolate bar for the first time in his life.
As the older children at their lunch, Cristina took care of her baby, Luke, and put him to bed. He was tuckered out from all the morning’s excitement. Lunch was followed by the lighting of the candles on the birthday cake. Jared managed to blow out some of the candles on his own, but had some help from little friends to help him finish.
While Cristina cut the birthday cake, Jared opened his birthday presents. He received an art kit from one family and a play dough set from the other family. After the boys were given their piece of cake, their parents began to pack up to go home.
By then it was nearly 1pm and everyone (guests and hosts) were ready for an afternoon nap.
As for Cristina, she is still trying to grasp the fact that her baby is now a full-blown toddler. Jared has reached the “tremendous” twos. His vocabulary is expanding more and more every day. He is gradually learning how to eat by himself and communicate more clearly to the people around him.
Being two is sure to provide plenty of adventures and excitement for both Jared and his parents.