Friday, May 04, 2012

Peter Turns Four

Peter turned four this week. Melanie is extremely good about making birthdays special, and Peter’s fourth was no exception. Melanie made sure he woke up feeling loved and celebrated. Not only did she hang up a homemade birthday sign proclaiming just some of the wonderful things about the birthday boy (a tradition stemming from Melanie’s family of origin), but she had us lay balloons (green—Peter’s favorite color) all over Peter’s bedroom floor. She also made Peter a birthday crown and had it sitting on the kitchen table, where he would easily find it. Melanie did all of this after Peter had gone to sleep on the night before his birthday. Thus, for Peter, the birthday festivities started quite literally the moment he opened his eyes.

We let Peter dictate most of what happened on his birthday. He wasn’t very demanding. Melanie and I asked him what he wanted to do for breakfast, thinking he might choose to go to Chick-fil-A or go get bagels or muffins or donuts or something special. When we told him he could have whatever he wanted, including going somewhere, he asked to have cereal. FiberPlus cereal. The cereal I almost always have on hand because it helps me get my daily allotment of roughage. Yup. That was Peter’s birthday breakfast.

After breakfast, Peter opened some of his gifts. Melanie had found some cute wrapping paper with race cars that were Corvette-like. For whatever reason, Peter is very into Corvettes lately. He points them out when we’re driving around, and he often asks to print coloring pages of Corvettes. (Eddie also likes Corvettes, but Peter seems a bit more obsessed.) Well, the wrapping paper Melanie found was reversible and had colorable cars on one side. It was perfect.

The first gift Peter opened was from Eddie (via Mom and Dad). It’s some sort of powder that you can put into your bathtub to turn your bath water into goop. It safely turns it into some sort of gelatinous blob, and then you have another packet of powder that will make it all turn back into liquid H2O. Peter hasn’t tried it yet, but it should be quite fun. He and Eddie have loved using water-coloring pellets in the bath in the past, and this will kick things up a notch.

Next up was a pair of inline skates. Peter has greatly enjoyed the scooter he received for Christmas, and we thought he’d enjoy the skates. So far, all three boys are a fan of them.

Braving one foot.

Double the fun.

Peter is a big fan of Play-Doh. He’s also a big fan of going to the dentist. (Okay, that last one was a lie.) The next gift Peter opened was “Doctor Drill ‘N Fill,” a dentist-themed Play-Doh set that allows you to create Play-Doh teeth, to fill cavities in Play-Doh teeth with Play-Doh fillings, to brush those Play-Doh teeth with Play-Doh toothpaste, and to floss the Play-Doh teeth with Play-Doh floss. Oh, and it comes with instructions for making Play-Doh bowling pins.

In case the Play-Doh dentist set doesn’t do the trick of inspiring Peter to enter the medical profession as an adult—(look, someday somebody’s going to have to pay off my student loan debt, and I know it won’t be me!)—Melanie and I also gave Peter a doctor kit. The kit includes a doctor’s bag (have you ever seen a doctor carrying a bag?), a stethoscope, a syringe, a blood-pressure-taking thingy (sorry for the medical jargon, folks), a thermometer, and even a bandage. The doctor kit proved another hit with all three kids, especially the stethoscope (because it’s all about the bling-bling).

It’s never too early to learn, or to teach, good health habits.

Good grief, this table is flatlining!

Edison, taking a little too much pleasure in administering shots.

We asked Peter what he wanted to do on his birthday for fun. “Can we go to the gas station?” he asked. Who made this kid? We assured him we could go to the gas station at some point. “Can I get a Slurpee, or a snack?” he wanted to know. Melanie told him he could get both, since it’s his birthday. “I’ll just get a Slurpee,” he said. Does this kid not get it? Finally, we told him to choose something for lunch, crossing our fingers that we wouldn’t be asked to eat saltines out of our kitchen pantry. “Jason’s Deli,” he responded. Melanie and I were both surprised that Peter would think about that place, but we were joyously pleased with his selection. We forthwith wended our way to Jason’s.

Peter, already drunk on complimentary gingerbread muffins, and his pudgedly ruggedly handsome father.

After lunch, the presents continued. First, we introduced Peter to Angry Birds in Space, the latest game in the hit Angry Birds franchise. We had downloaded the game to Melanie’s Kindle as a surprise for Peter, who is a big fan of the preceding Angry Birds games. Next up, Peter opened the package that arrived from UPS from his maternal grandparents. It included, serendipitously enough, a package of Angry Birds in Space stickers, an Angry Birds t-shirt, and some “Alien Invasion” Shrinky Dinks. The collection of gifts couldn’t have been more ideal.

What could it be?

Angry Birds stickers!

What could it be?

Angry Birds shirt! (I love the sincere delight in Peter’s face here.)

The shirt reads “This is my angry face!” I asked Peter to show us his angry face, and this is what we got. I guess if he had a chainsaw, that expression would actually be pretty darn freaky.

In the afternoon, Peter wanted to go to Zoinks. Zoinks (which actually changed its name to Fun Station Jr. a little while back, a fact I will now ignore) is kind of like a Chuck E. Cheese that specializes in bounce houses. They don’t have an animatronics band that performs and I’ve never seen anyone eating pizza there (although they do sell it), but Zoinks does feature an assortment of arcade games, a few coin-operated rides, and bumper cars in addition to the bounce houses. But, really, the bounce houses are where it’s at. We didn’t arrive at Zoinks until 330pm, so we expected that several school kids might be there. As it turned out, only a few other kids were there, and they soon left. We had the place to ourselves a good deal of the time. It was kind of cool. Also, this was the first time we’ve been to Zoinks when Creegan has both been awake and old enough to join in the fun. He too had a blast.

Most of the pictures we took at Zoinks are of less-than-desirable quality. I’ll share some of them anyway.

Peter chose to eat at Hurricane Grill & Wings for dinner. When Melanie asked Peter what he wanted for dinner, he asked for ideas about where we could go. Melanie listed off several places, including Hurricane, and Peter seemed extremely excited to think we could go there. I’m not entirely sure why. We’ve been there before on kids’ night and they had a guy going around giving away balloon animals, and I fear Peter may have been expecting that. I didn’t think about it ahead of time, but Peter asked about the balloons when we were going inside the restaurant. He didn’t seem overly concerned when we said that there wouldn’t be any balloons that night. We offered a conciliatory prize of having the wait staff sing “Happy Birthday” to him, but Peter didn’t want any part of that.

One more gift awaited Peter at home. It’s a bullhorn-shaped microphone that changes the pitch of your voice. Melanie had originally wanted to find Peter a normal-style microphone for his birthday, since Peter loves to sing along to songs and frequently pretends to hold a microphone as he does so. We had a hard time actually finding a microphone like we wanted, so we decided upon this voice-modulating bullhorn. We knew he would love it, and sure enough, he does. So does Eddie, and Creegan tries it out from time to time, although he has no idea what he’s doing and usually just grunts into the speaker.

The last hoorah of the day was Peter’s cake. We didn’t do a traditional cake this time around. Instead, we had “rocket” cakes. Basically, you take several ice cream cones and fill them with cake batter and then bake them. You then decorate each individual ice cream cone cake to make it look like a rocket. It didn’t work out so well. The frosting we were trying to use as glue simply didn’t hold anything on, at least not for long. We all tried to make one, but it was mostly an exercise in humility. The wisest of us all, Peter kept his rocket extremely simple, with some decorative frosting and a cookies n’ cream Hershey’s kiss as the only adornment.

Recognizing it as an utter technological failure, I attempted to inscribe “Made in Mexico” on my rocket.

And that was Peter’s birthday. No, we never got to the gas station like he wanted, but we’ve since made it up to him. A couple of times, in fact. I can’t believe Peter’s only been in our lives for four years. It’s hard to imagine us as a family without him. He’s such a fundamental part of my joy as a father and as a human being. Happy birthday, Peter! I love you!


  1. Oh my gosh...what fun!!! I have laughed all the way through this. I wish we could have been there with presents. You and Melanie are very creative with things. Love the rocket cakes...good idea. Maybe we'll have to make some for Jeff or Junior for their birthdays. "Made in Mexico" !!! I will laugh for a week on that one.

  2. This is SO great. You guys are so good at birthdays. I love how you make it an all day thing. I really want to find a plae like Zoinks here. It looks awesome. My kids would be in heaven!