Marcus's Fourth Birthday

Part 1: Kids' Party in Johnson Park (Green Street Playground, Jamaica Plain), Sunday, August 19th

Though we've had small family celebrations for Marcus's 3rd and 2nd birthdays, and a big, mostly adults, Korean first birthday party for him, we'd never had a kids' party until now. We invited all the kids from his former preschool, plus their siblings, and then a few kids from karate class and some from church as well as the children of our friends. All in all, we had 31 kids, 4 babies under a year, and 43 adults at this party--wow! We set up on a grassy spot in the shade under a tree between the sprinkler park and the fenced-in playground, just off the Southwest Corridor, so there was lots of space for the kids to run and play, but it was still pretty easy for parents to stand around and chill and keep a casual eye on them. The "group" picture above represents about half the kids--everyone mentions the expression "herding cats," and it's true that getting even this many together was quite a challenge, but we're glad we have at least an approximation of a picture.

It was a busy day for the baby sisters there: Sabrina, Clarinda, Samantha, and Nikah exhausted themselves.

Meanwhile, the bigger kids enjoyed bubbles, sunglasses, hats, and balls from the goody bags.

There was also some serious cupcake-eating happening.

A willing dad could usually be found to give some extra-high pushes on the swings.

Most of all, grown-ups and kids alike just got to relax in the park and enjoy the day.

Grandma and Pop-pop were visiting for the party week, and they helped bring things over to set up, play "Happy Birthday" and other tunes on the mandolin, and assemble and wrap the 88 cupcakes (made on Saturday) and 64 sandwiches (made on Sunday). The cupcakes were whole wheat chocolate cupcakes in an ice cream cup, with a vegan "buttercream" frosting scooped on with an ice cream scoop, then some hard melted chocolate looking like hot fudge, then a gummy raspberry/cherry, and then sprinkles, all individually wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbon. The sandwiches were hummus and black olive tapenade, cucumber and goat cheese, turkey and cheese, and peanut butter. We also had a five-gallon thermos of pink lemonade, some homemade kettle corn (courtesy of Sarah and Sean), and two big watermelons. Everything went except a gallon of the lemonade, a quarter of one watermelon, about a dozen extra cupcakes, and 6 peanut butter sandwiches, but we found homes for the cupcakes, ate the watermelon over the next day, and turned the leftover sandwiches into yummy stuffed french toast the next morning.

Part 2: Birthday Day (Spectacle Island, Boston Harbor Islands, and our house), Wednesday, August 22nd

On Marcus's actual birthday, Robert took half a day off work and we all took a ferry over to Spectacle Island, part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Park, for the grand finale of the ReadBoston Storymobile we've been going to all summer long in other parks around the city.

Marcus asked to go up on Mommy's back, so I jumped at the chance to wear my big four-year-old boy. The fact that we'd already had his party confused him a bit. "Wait wait wait," he said, when we wished him a happy birthday this morning. "I'm still four! I'm already four, because I had my party, and I'm going to kindergarten!" Close enough.

We got to Long Wharf with just a few minutes to spare. Marcus is wrinkling his nose saying, "Too sunny!" here. The ferry on the way over was a short, gentle ride, and then we went into the visitors' center, used their lovely composting toilets, and joined the storyteller under a big tent beside the building. After the stories and songs, we got lunch from the Summer Shack outpost there (Robert recommends the $5 steak and cheese wrap, which had a lot of good, rare steak) and talked to some Aquarium staff and volunteers who were showing off local sea creatures in buckets.

Robert and Marcus took a little walk up one of the drumlins on the island, and then it was time to take the ferry back again.

With Sam asleep and Marcus close, Robert ran off to work and the rest of us took the subway home from State Street. I kept Marcus awake with snacks on the train ride home, and then he fell asleep cuddling on my back once we were safely home. I put him down on our bed and he napped for over two and a half hours, waking up as we were midway through dinner. We had the rest of dinner, and then some lemon poundcake with banana-whipped cream topping, and then Marcus opened two birthday presents: a baby doll from Grandma-in-New-York and Pop-pop and a doll stroller from Grandma Judy and Papa Bill. He was thrilled with them, and immediately named the doll Fifi (or Cece--it was hard to tell, we were laughing so much) and started carrying the stroller around and talking to the doll proudly. He'd been trying to borrow strollers from little kids in playgrounds all summer long, so this was definitely something he'd wanted.

Part 3: Visit with Great-Grandma (Lynn, Massachusetts), Thursday, August 23rd

The next morning we went up to Lynn to see Great-Grandma and Grandpa Richard, bringing more lemon poundcake, and opening an exciting Playmobil fireboat from Great-Grandma and transformer from Grandpa Richard. At home that afternoon, Grandma and Pop-pop gave Marcus a motor to add onto the fireboat, and he took a two-hour long bath with the boat zooming around the tub.

It seems that birthday #4 for our boy was, after all, a happy one--lots of food, fun, friends, and family, above all else.

Birthday Outtakes: Getting the kids ready for a party picture


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Created: 8/20/12. Last Modified: 8/23/12.