Sunday, October 11, 2009
Happy OktoBREAKfest/Birthday Parties in the Time of H1N1
It seems like the McGlincheys can't catch a break lately (well, we caught one - see the photo above). First, Connor broke his elbow in a freak jungle gym accident. GP who was the first to look at it was fairly sure that there was a break in the growth plate but couldn't with 100% certainty pinpoint the extent or exact location. Orthopedic surgeon (same doctor who treated Daddy after the "Christmas Light Incident of 2008" - we've asked him to consider implementing some sort of "frequent patient" punch card program and grandfather us in, as we think we're well on the way to a free visit!) had the same problem. An x-ray of the healthy arm revealed that what looked like it COULD be a break was just a quirk of Connor's anatomy. So it was on to the imaging center for a CT scan . . . and, after three doctors and three images, the elusive break finally was found - VERY small, and in a location that will not arrest growth of the arm in the future. (The radiologist called it a "fortunate break" - like there IS such a thing? But I do realize that we dodged a very large bullet - and for that I am so grateful, all kidding aside.)
Connor was a trooper, as per his usual. This was not his first broken arm rodeo - buckle break to the same arm at age three - and that fact, coupled with his incredibly easygoing personality, made the ordeal much easier to endure. An hour after the accident, he advised the nurse that his pain was "a 5.5 or 6 on a 10-point scale" (drama child Parker probably would have reported pain at a threshold of "a bazillion") and by our ortho visit two days later (accident happened on a Saturday - of course!) he was down to a 1 out of 10. En route to having the CT scan done, I asked him if he understood what was going on: "Yeah, either I broke my elbow or I just dislocated it and it popped back in. I'm hoping for a break, because the last time I had a cast none of my friends could write, so no one signed it." The CT scan itself was the source of minor drama - but only because he had his heart set on a full-body scan! ("Mom, I thought it would be like an MRI, with a tube and all, but it was just this little donut." When I explained that most people dreaded "the tube," he said, "Well, that's just dumb.")
Permanent cast (at Dad's request, the ortho's office tracked down some bright Halloween orange casting material) was put on on October 5th and comes off in time for trick-or-treating. In the interim, we decided it was only fitting to restyle our Oktoberfest dinner party as an "OktoBREAKfest." (Why an Oktoberfest party? Because the party store had Bavarian flags on an end cap. Yup, $3.99 worth of plastic is all it takes to motivate me these days . . . .) Connor's baby cast temporarily was given a place of honor on the mantel, next to some jack o' lanterns (see picture above).
OktoBREAKfest was second in a series of silly parties for the McGlincheys - we also had a "Happy MAXiversary" party for our (big) feline baby Max, who joined the family in the fall of 2007. This is a pic of Max checking out his cat food "cake":
Also celebrating a big day in October is our Parker James. His actual fifth birthday is the 29th, but various considerations (the Texas/OU game, the Junior Woman's Club's annual "Minor League" softball tournament, our annual kids' Halloween party and miscellaneous other Halloween events) mitigated in favor of an early October party date. I broke out the way cool Batman foldover notes that I bought at a Papyrus store eons ago, and shamelessly borrowed the text from Connor's "Justice League" fifth birthday party (yes, my kids continue to make lockstep birthday party demands - Purple Cow at three, Chuck E. Cheese and Thomas the Tank Engine at four, JL at five - I'm beginning to think that there's actually a list, like the list of traditional anniversary presents that appeared in the back of the little pocket calendars that they used to hand out at Hallmark).
Naturally, three days before the party the thunderstorms moved in . . . and Parker announced that his arms and legs really, REALLY ached. H1N1 test came back negative, but we were advised that he could still be "swiny," and certainly SOMETHING was going on. We put him to bed, cancelled plans to have Connor's friend Garrett sleep over, and cancelled at the last minute a scheduled appearance at friend Bennett's birthday. (Mom was as upset about missing this one as the boys were - theme was mad science, and they did the "Mentos in a bottle of Coke" trick, which I have always wanted to try!) We decided to leave the actual decision as to whether to have the party until the very last minute - and then I went into full-on contingency planning mode. How to throw a party for five year-olds in this time of swine flu? (By the way - points to those who got the Gabriel García Márquez reference in the title to this post.) Well, we were helped by the fact that the party was scheduled to be held at my parents' house (away from any Parker germs), and we also had planned to do most of the activities outdoors. "Pin the Bat Emblem on the Batmobile" was scrapped in favor of "Heroes Versus Villains Trying to Kick a Bomb Into the Other League's Headquarters, Which Bomb Will Detonate If Touched By Your Hands." (Any resemblance between this game and small-sided soccer is entirely coincidental.)
Plans for chip, dip and bowls of snacks also scrapped, in favor of pizza and Chex Mix served in individual, name-labeled cups. I bought Super Target's entire stock of hand sanitizer. I broke the bad news to Parker that he might be making only a very brief appearance at his own party - and I reminded him that Batman frequently wears a full-face mask with rebreather. And then I prayed . . . . Sunday morning I woke to the sound of a good, steady drizzle outside the bedroom window. Lovely. Nana assured me that it was only "misting" at her house. (Given that she and Granddad live eight minutes away, I have to believe that she was lying to preserve my sanity!) But, glory be, the little patient woke up fever-free and back to his chipper self. And the clouds parted - literally and figuratively.
How you know that you've thrown a good party: the kids were having such a good time just playing and being kids that most of the scheduled "structured activities" went out the window, and most of the snacks went uneaten. Here's a slide show of photos of PJ's big day, along with some random Oktoberfest photos. Click on the slide show to bring it to full-screen size and to view captions:
I had a lot of fun with the decorations, and I was pretty pleased with how the party favors turned out. We poured glycerine soap into cupcake molds and topped each with a "super duck" (Batduck, Green Lantern Duck, Flash Duck, etc.), and I put my spirit stick-building skills to work making Kryptonite party crackers:
I find that it gets easier to go with the party planning flow with each passing year - the benefit of experience and perspective, I guess. I also think that I'm becoming ADHD in my old age. The day before the party, I ventured out to purchase refreshments and other last-minute items and found myself shoe shopping instead. The festival of "fiddling while Rome burns" continued up to the eve of the party: as I drove into the parking lot to pick up the balloons, I saw a woman wearing a really cute newsboy cap, and suddenly I REALLY needed a newsboy cap. And I managed to get both the cap and the balloons with minutes to spare.
Coming up next - our annual "Little Cooks Tricks and Treats" Halloween party. This year we are going with a mummy theme. The kids and I made these invites featuring mummies made from paper tags and purple plaid Duck tape . . . .
More mummy crafts on the horizon - but first this "mummy" plans on taking a little break from party planning!