Archive for November, 2009

Memories of My Son’s birthdays – Part 4 (Age 6)

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Click here for Ages 1-3
Click here for Age 4
Click here for Age 5

Age 6

As I mentioned when I started this series of posts, my son turned 6 last week.  After the fairly big and elaborate celebration of last year, we decided to keep everything very low key this year.  We even decided to limit the birthday celebrations to just the immediate family, although that really had more to do with logistics and scheduling than anything  else.

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As our son’s main birthday treat, we decided to make a trip down to Disneyland on the Saturday before.  We have an ownership interest in the Disney’s Vacation Club timeshare and looked into the possibility of getting a reservation at the recently opened Villas at the Grand Californian, but there wasn’t any availability that night so we decided to simply make it a day trip.

We live only about an hour away from Disneyland and have passes for admission, so we do make reasonably frequent visits down there, although not nearly as often as my wife and I did when we were younger and childless.  Our last visit had been only about a month before, but was primarily for the celebration of an adult friend’s birthday.  Since that day had a bit more of a scheduled agenda, we decided to make this visit an “Andy’s choice” day, where he would pretty much get his pick of rides and activities.  For this reason, we also chose not to try and meet up with any other friends, but instead just make it a family day.

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One special activity we included that day was lunch at Goofy’s Kitchen, the character dining location at the Disneyland Hotel.  Andy is still a huge fan of the Disney characters and gets a bit kick out of these meals where some of his favorites come around and visit the table.  During our meal, we had visits with Goofy, Chip & Dale, Mulan, Jasmine, Baloo (from The Jungle Book) and Brer Fox.  We also got to visit with Pluto for a couple photos before we went to our table.

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The restaurant also has occasional kid participation activities and Andy had the chance to get up and do The Twist with the characters as well as to help Goofy with baking of a cake (which mostly involved kids playing noisemakers and pretending to help clean up). 

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Toward the end of our visit to the restaurant, the waiter brought Andy a cupcake with a birthday candle on it and Chip plus a few of the restaurant staff members all gathered for a short birthday celebration.  It wasn’t anything overly fancy, but Andy definitely got a big kick out of it.

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After lunch, we headed back into the park to visit attractions.  This included a visit to see Mickey Mouse at his house in Toontown, where everyone did give Andy a bit of extra attention for his birthday.  The birthday visit was during the first weekend that Disneyland had all of their Christmas activities up and running, so we took that opportunity to see the Christmas parade and fireworks show.  Overall, it was a fun day and Andy seemed to really enjoy himself.

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For the evening of Andy’s actual birthday, he picked pork chops and mashed potatoes for his birthday dinner, a bit of a surprise since we had never really thought that pork chops was one of his favorites.  We then had the traditional ice cream cake for dessert and then let him open presents.

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While he got a lot of really nice gifts, it was kind of funny that possibly the biggest hit of the bunch was the birthday card that I had picked up for him the night before.  The card is the type that has a chip in it that plays sounds when the card is opened.  It features the characters from the Disney/Pixar movie Cars and plays the song “Life is a Highway” from the movie, which has been Andy’s favorite song for quite a while.  Even though my wife had already bought another card for him, I couldn’t resist buying this one when I spotted it while shopping for a couple other items at the local Walgreens store the night before.

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The main gifts this year included a couple Thomas the Tank Engine toys from my wife and me and a shirt and Mickey Mouse wristwatch from one of his sets of grandparents.  The watch was a pretty exciting gift for him as it is his first and he was pretty proud about getting a big kid’s gift like that. 

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Andy’s other set of grandparents were a bit late in shipping out his gift from them (a Mr. Potato Head and full set of parts), so he had a little extra gift opening event later in the week.  That turned out to be a bit of a nice opportunity to prolong his birthday celebration a bit longer.

There was also a little celebration of his birthday in his class at school, but I don’t have any photos as neither my wife nor I were there for it.  My wife brought along a couple packages of mini-cupcakes that were distributed around to the class and the teacher gave him a small gift as well.

While this was probably a much more low key birthday than many of his past ones (particularly the year before), it still was a fun time.  Happy birthday, Andy!

Memories of My Son’s Birthdays – Part 3 (Age 5)

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Click here for Ages 1-3
Click here for Age 4

Age 5

5th Birthday Family Picture 

By Andy’s 5th birthday, he had completed his first full year of pre-school, as well as a couple years in a weekly Gymboree program.  Between the two, he had made a lot of friends and had also had the opportunity to attend quite a few of his friends’ birthday parties.  This led us to think that it was a good idea to celebrate his 5th birthday (something of a milestone) with his first real birthday party with other kids.

We live in a townhouse that doesn’t have a yard or an overall design that would really be suited to having a large group of kids over.  While there is a party room available for rent in our condominium complex, it isn’t really overly kid-friendly either.  We realized that we really needed to find a kid-appropriate venue for the party.

Our first thought (and Andy’s first suggestion) was Farrell’s, having spent his birthday there the two previous years.  We looked into it and found that the price wasn’t too out of line, but we had major reservations about whether or not it would really work all that well for a big group of pre-school aged kids.  Other than the little merry-go-round, Mountasia really doesn’t offer much for kids that age and we were picturing a party that was little more than the kids all sitting around a big table eating ice cream and pizza. 

Farrell's at Age 5 Farrell's at Age 5

Andy was still kind of pushing for having the party there, but we were able to placate him by promising a family visit there not too long after his birthday.  We ended up going up there the weekend after his birthday for dinner and ice cream, inviting a few of our adult friends to meet up with us there as well.  Of course, Andy again got in a bunch of rides on the little merry-go-round.

Andy's 5th Birthday Party at Gymboree Andy's 5th Birthday Party at Gymboree

Having recently been to another kid’s birthday party that was held at a local play gym, we realized that it would be vastly preferable to go somewhere that the kids could run around and play.  As I mentioned, we had been taking Andy to classes at a local Gymboree Play & Music location since he was really young. 

Andy's 5th Birthday Party at Gymboree Andy's 5th Birthday Party at Gymboree

We checked into it and found that their prices for birthday parties were within our budget and that they had availability on Andy’s actual birthday (which was on a Sunday that year).  During his weekly class, we mentioned that we were considering having his birthday party there to his teacher, who is an outstanding teacher that Andy, and we, adored.  The teacher responded by offering to host and run the party if we booked it, which pretty much instantly sealed the deal for us.

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Memories of My Son’s Birthdays – Part 2 (Age 4)

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Click here for Part 1 (Ages 1-3)

Continuing my look back at my son’s previous birthdays in celebration of him turning 6 this week, here are my memories of his 4th birthday.  As he has gotten older, I have found that I had a tendency to take more photos, so the remaining posts will cover just one year at a time.

Age 4 (2007)

Andy's 4th Birthday Andy's 4th Birthday

Opening presents at Farrell's Opening presents at Farrell's

Andy’s 3rd birthday was the first that he still remembered pretty well a year later.  Because of that, he decided that he wanted to do pretty much the same thing as the year before, returning once again to Farrell’s.  This time, we decided to forgo the formal birthday package and instead just let everyone order whatever they wanted off of the menu.

Bite your nose! Shark attack! 

Opening presents at Farrell's Opening presents at Farrell's 

As with the previous year’s visit, we included some play time in the game area at Mountasia.  Once again, Andy used the majority of the game/ride credits that we got for him to ride on the little merry-go-round.  During this visit, he did also give skee-ball a try for the first time, although I really was doing most of the work.

Farrell's Merry-go-round Skee-Ball with Daddy

A couple months before his 4th birthday, Andy started his first year of pre-school.  For birthday kids, the teacher had a short celebration where the child was given a birthday crown and allowed to put candles onto a felt birthday cake. 

Andy's 4th Birthday at Pre-school Andy's 4th Birthday at Pre-school

Finally, we did also do the now-traditional cake and gift-opening at home on his actual birthday.  Once again, the cake was an ice cream cake.

4th Birthday Cake 4th Birthday Cake

Eating Cake Eating Cake

He had received most of his major gifts during the party at Farrell’s, but we gave him a toy fire truck that I had found at a really good sale price between the two parties and he also had gifts from his grandparents to open.

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Opening presents at home Opening presents at home

 

To Be Continued with Memories of Age 5.

Memories of My Son’s Birthdays – Part 1 (Ages 1-3)

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Today is my son’s 6th birthday!  As a celebration of that big event, I thought I’d share some memories of his past birthday celebrations in posts over the next few days.

Age 1 (2004)

Disneyland Plaza Inn Birthday PartyAndy's First Birthday Party at Plaza Inn

To celebrate his first birthday, we attended the Disneyland Birthday Celebration that they offer a couple times a day at the Plaza Inn restaurant on Main Street.  At this event, everyone gets an undecorated cupcake along with small cups containing frosting and sprinkles to use to decorate them.  A character named Pat E. Cake hosts the event and Mickey and Minnie Mouse also pay a visit.  Quite a few of our friends were able to join us at the park for the party as well.

Family with Mickey and Minnie at Disneyland Plaza Inn Birthday Party Andy's First Birthday Party at Plaza Inn

The first birthday also started our now usual tradition of going out somewhere for a bigger party, but also having a little family-only party at home with cake and the opening of his presents from us and various relatives.

Andy's First Birthday Party Andy's First Birthday Party 

Andy's First Birthday Party Andy's First Birthday Party

This was also the one time that we attempted to make his birthday cake instead of buying one from the store, but we found that we generally lacked much cake decorating talent.

Andy's First Birthday CakeAndy's First Birthday Cake 

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