Zoë's birthday heralded Heiss Family Birthday Season. Be prepared for so many pictures because although 2018 was technically a party-free year* we decided to have a "small family gathering" anyway. The problem with that (or benefit of that, depending on how you look at it) is that our family is ginormous and we ended up with our family of seven plus "just a few" sixteen others:
- Andrew (my nephew, for clarity's sake)**
- and Nicole (Andrew's girlfriend)
With 23 of us splitting a 12-serving cake, no wonder we were able to eat every last crumb! I might need to make a bigger cake for Benjamin's birthday (it's on Sunday) because he's already invited Aunt Linda and Uncle Trevor, too!
At any rate, all I had to do was make a cake, really. I didn't plan any games. There was no theme, no decorations, and no one really expected me to play hostess (or maybe they did and I just did a terrible job...). They all just made themselves at home like family does, visited with each other, and played hard in the backyard. Oh, and helped with clean up (seriously, I think my mom spent a half hour scrubbing strawberry stains off Alexander's onesie—thanks, Mom!).
So, here are pictures of everyone playing in the backyard:
|Zoë and Grandma|
Kayl got pretty serious about popping those bubbles...
Here's Riley riding a trike:
And here's Carter going for a spin with some help from his mom:
Here's Benjamin playing some velcro ball with Shayla:
Shayla's family is really into baseball, so it figures that Shayla has some pretty awesome catching and throwing skills (at least compared to our clumsy lot):
Here's Uncle Jacob walking across the lawn to join in the fun:
Then Daddy started playing with Uncle Jacob and things got pretty intense:
Here's Auntie Kelli snuggling my boys:
And helping Alexander go for a spin on his ride-on toy that the kids already broke:
Here's are a couple group-ish shots:
|Auntie Katharine spent a good chunk of the evening pushing Zoë and Riley on the swings|
|Benjamin and Grandma are sharing a funny joke in the foreground|
Here's Josie snuggling Alexander:
And here's Alexander hanging out with his grandpas:
Zoë was spoiled rotten, receiving far more gifts than I imagined she would.
All of her siblings prepared gifts from her in addition to the ones I'd planned on giving her from our family. And then she got presents from aunts, uncles, and grandparents on top of that! She was opening presents forever, slowly and carefully ripping off pieces of paper and handing them to me bit by little bit while everyone patiently watched.
Why watching the birthday child open presents is a tradition, I really can't say. But although it took Zoë forever to get through her pile of presents, her reactions were well worth the wait. Here she is thrilled to pieces with Benjamin's present:
He had been nagging me about finding a present for Zoë for days on end. A couple of days before her birthday I finally told him what his options were. He said, "Meh. I don't like any of those options. I'm going to hunt for things in our room," and he came back with this camera (that he snagged at Trading Tables) and demanded to wrap it up for her. See, he'd been using it the other day and she wanted a turn with it and he wouldn't let her have it, so he really knew that she wanted it.
She got several books—a set of Fancy Nancy books from us; a Llama Llama book, a pirate book, and a Frozen book from Grandma; and a fairytale anthology from Naanii.
She got some sparkly pink shoes from us and her sisters gave her Frozen pyjamas (they'd found both a nightgown and some footie jammies at Trading Tables). Katharine and Kayl gave her some Beauty and the Beast stuffed animals and when she opened them, Benjamin declared, "Hey! You can share these with me!"
Kelli gave her a gift bag full of goodies: a pineapple purse and sunglasses, a hot potato head game, a skirt, and a few other things (she was having trouble figuring out Kelli had wrapped them (all individually within the bag) which is why I stepped in to help her).
Oh, and we also got her a fire hydrant sprinkler, which she carried around like a baby the minute it was free from its packaging, which made Josie and I laugh.
After presents we had cake and ice cream and strawberries and then visited and played some more until it was time for bed (because back when it was last week we were still being somewhat strict about bedtime since school was still in session).
Here are a few goodbye pictures...
Auntie Josie and her little nephew Andrew:
Naanii holding Alexander while Zoë pinches his cheeks:
Auntie Kelli playing Round and Round the Garden with Zoë (she loves that game):
And here's Kayl checking out Allen's motorcycle:
And Benjamin sitting on the motorcycle with Uncle Allen:
I think everyone had a fun time, though when Andrew was prompting Zoë to tell Aunt Linda how her birthday was she could hardly remember (we walked over to visit Aunt Linda last night because Miriam had forgotten one of her piano books there after her lesson; initially she said, "I guess I'll just pick it up at my lesson next week!" but when she saw my face she said, "Or today. I mean we can just go pick it up today.").
"How was your birthday?" Aunt Linda asked.
Zoë said nothing, so Andrew said, "Go on. Tell Aunt Linda what you did on your birthday."
"I...turned three?" Zoë said, looking up at us for approval.
We did our best to stifle our laughter (I'm not sure we succeeded).
"Yes, and what else?" Andrew asked.
"Did you have...cake?" Aunt Linda guessed, correctly.
"Yes! I had a Llama Llama cake!" Zoë squealed and then let loose the whole birthday story.
** I have an irrepressible urge to make a