Cruz's Birthday Bananza, cont.

I've been visualizing Cruz's first birthday party for a really long time.  Snapshots of friends and family gathered in big and small clusters in the backyard, carrying plates of picnic food, dodging balloons and pinatas, all orbiting around the main attraction --- the birthday boy, dressed in a bizarre birthday hat, awaiting his moment to dive face first in a birthday cake made especially for him.  These snapshots fit securely inside my movie reel of life images I often tucked away as a childhood dreamer.  I tucked them beside that first kiss, flour fights in the kitchen, and a swaddled baby beside a cozy fire.  I've often found that being a mom is a lot like playing house, only there's no pause button, or restart button, or I-think-I'll-put-my-baby-in-my-room-for-the-next-several-hours-or-days-because-I'm-bored-and-would-rather-play-Barbies button.  No, it's playing a never-ending game of house with a whole lot of reality mixed in.  It's Danny Tanner meets The Situation.  And Cruz's first birthday party did not disappoint.

There was a lot of playing house.  Cruz went down for a nap like clockwork, exactly three hours before our first guests were expected to arrive.  While he slept, I added the finishing touches to my carefully calculated details--- added apple slices to my harvest punch, uncovered the monkey lips, aka, hot tamales, and zoo friends, aka, animal crackers from 'Cruz's Monkey Munchies' table, and tied red polka-dotted balloons to my favorite party attraction: Cruz's very own handcrafted puppet show.  I went over the living room floor with the vacuum cleaner just one more time, straightened the red gingham ribbon tied to the favor bags, and added one bunch of bananas to the little red wagon that served as a focal point for the present opening.  Then, I paced, waiting for the birthday boy to wake up so we could give him a bath and spiff him up for his guests.  Like clockwork, Cruz woke up with a smile on his face exactly one hour before his party.  I bathed him, dressed him, and gave him a pep talk.  Have fun, be cute, don't get sleepy before presents, and smile for pictures.  

The birthday boy, pre-party.  He's excited, can you tell?    

Beau built this puppet show with a piece of plywood and old cupboard door he found at his dad's shop.  We spiffed it up with a little chalkboard paint, some ribbon, and a $3 curtain valance from Wal-Mart.  Cruz loves peeking through the window and pulling the curtains shut.  

We couldn't have asked for a better weather day.  Sunny and 70, it was gorgeous outside.  While I threw bags of chips in red bowls and made sure Cruz's favorite mac and cheese was baked to perfection, Cruz entertained his guests outside.  Our little party animals, especially Dash and Jersee, were fully committed to every party detail I so carefully devised, and pranced around the backyard donning their party hats and blowing their noisemakers.  Beau's burgers were cooked to perfection, the candy table was a big hit, and my homemade cupcakes were mistaken for Scratch.  These were the playing house moments of the day, and my heart celebrated every one of them.

But there were also the reality moments, the moments that proved just how unpredictable babies can be.  There was the fact that Cruz was pretty disinterested in his presents, and preferred to watch the very interested toddlers unleash fury on the tower of presents from the comfort of Cousin Charly's pink lawn chair.  There was the fact that I forgot to serve one of my favorite party details, frozen chocolate banana pops, and the fact that not one child sat down to make the homemade sock monkey puppet I worked tirelessly to design.  Oh, and there was the fact that just minutes before Cruz had a chance to try his very own birthday cake, he clenched his tiny fist around the flame of his first birthday candle.  

Yep, Cruz grabbed his candle, which sent the entire crowd into a state of panic.  And needless to say, after sticking his entire fist into the ice-filled beverage bucket, and cleaning his snot-filled face, he wasn't too keen on the idea of going back in his highchair.  So, the party-goers departed, Cruz fell asleep on his daddy, and I filled the void of no birthday cake with my very own red velvet cupcake.  

Thankfully, Cruz woke up hungry and unscathed by recent events.  Party hat and all, Cruz had his first piece of birthday cake and enjoyed every single bite.  

So, with a little playing house and a little reality, we partied and celebrated the snapshots of this past year.  And most of all, we celebrated this little person who has taught me to see the beauty in it all.  

Happy Birthday, little man.  Much, much more to come :)