The most ridiculous attempt at a family photo in the history of photography. And families.

My sweet precious firstborn baby girl turned eight years old last week. Holy crap I’m getting old. One of the disadvantages to having kids so young is that I don’t get to lie about my age. Um, yeah, I was 12 when I had her, that’s it…

But this post is not about me, or the wrinkle between my eyebrows that I’m pretty sure Thing 1 is responsible for. Nope, this post is about my newly minted eight-year-old, her fantastic party, and her wonderful friends.

All summer long, Thing 1 proclaimed her desire for a) a Pump It Up party and/or b) a surprise party. Pump It Up is this awesome party place filled with those giant bounce house and obstacle course inflatables, then they give the kids pizza, and when it’s time to go, you gladly hand them a small fortune and one of your kidneys because you get to leave and they clean up the mess.

In order to accomplish both of these tasks, I told my 7-and-three-quarters-year-old that she could not in any way, shape, or form have a Pump It Up Party unless she got a job and paid for it herself, and that she probably wouldn’t be having a fancy a party this year, since I had a trip planned and wouldn’t be home until the day before her birthday.

A few weeks before the Big Day, I booked the Pump It Up party for the day OF her birthday. Then I sent out an evite to the parents of her entire 3rd grade class, telling them to ohmygosh please keep it a secret because Thing 1 was dying for a surprise party. Altogether we had eighteen third graders and one little sister.

On Monday morning, I reassured the birthday girl that I’d be coming to her class at snack time with cupcakes, and that Daddy would be home early from work, and she could pick where to go for dinner. She seemed ok about not having a party. My kid is awesome, y’all.

After round one of Operation Sugar Kids Up, the kids all headed out to recess, and the teacher quietly and excitedly asked me, “Is she really having a surprise party after school? The kids keep coming up and whispering to me not to tell her about her party!”

I did a mental head-desk … I wouldn’t even have told my kid about it, worried she wouldn’t be able to keep the secret. Oh well, nothing I could do about it.

Thing 1 and Friends

A few hours later, I was back at school, picking up the sweetie pie. I had gone to the store with Thing 2 to pick up cake and ice cream, which I stowed under some beach towels in the front seat. Thing 2 (age 3) happily proclaimed to her sister, “We got you birf-day cake!” And then she looked at me like I was insane when I said that we had not, but we could maybe later. “But we got dah cake,” she insisted. I ignored her and turned up the Kids’ Bop.

When we got to the party place, Leif and my mom were already there waiting for us. Thing 1 took it all in slowly… “Wait, why are we at Pump It Up? Is that Gramma? And Daddy? What are they doing here? Mommy…?”

I parked and looked at her and said, “Happy birthday, baby.”


“Yup. AND all of your friends will be here in a few minutes for your birthday party.”

“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!” I’m still a little deaf in my left ear from that scream. And will forever be amazed that her friends all kept the secret. Chickadee had no clue what was up my sleeve.

No way was I going to miss out on the fun!

So basically, I’m like the coolest mom evah, and Thing 1 died from happiness, came back to life, and then died again. But again, this post is not about me, and it’s not even necessarily about a birthday party.

It’s about how our everyday interactions affect those around us, and how living a Christ-centered life is a witness to the world.

When the kids were playing on one of the climbing inflatables, they started to get a little bit rowdy. The referee/party supervisor looked on with what looked like a worried expression. “You can totally blow your whistle at them if they’re being too rough,” I reassured him. I’m not exactly what you’d call a helicopter parent.

“No, they’re fine,” he said, “It’s just strange… I’ve never seen anything like it before… they’re helping each other climb to the top.”

“Well what do kids normally do?” Inquiring minds wanted to know.

“Pull each other down!” He said with good humor. He asked, “These kids are classmates?”

“Yup. The go to the private Christian school over the hill. They’re a pretty tight group.”

I’ve mentioned before that Thing 1 goes to a school that we like very much and sacrifice quite a bit for in order to send her there. It uses a classical approach to learning that you can learn all about by reading Dorothy Sayers’ The Lost Tools of Learning.

Anyway, there was that exchange, and one later in the ‘party room’ after the pizza had been handed out. Someone asked if they could eat, and the party supervisor said yes. “Wait!” I shouted to the kids, “what do we do before we eat?”

Time for Pizza and Prayer

“PRAY!” said every single one of those eighteen children. So we bowed our heads and blessed our food while the employees of Pump It Up looked on in amazement. I heard more than once that afternoon that this group of kids was one of the greatest they’d ever had in. I was glad they got to see the fruit of parents raisings kids in a Christ-centered life.

Parenting is rough, and some days I hold on by tenuous threads, but days like Thing 1’s birthday give me fuel to keep on trucking. They remind me of why I do this thing called motherhood – because God trusted me with these kids (for some strange reason), and it’s my job to teach them to love and honor Him in all that they do.

How we treat others and how we raise our children are our constant testimonies to the world. Show people that faith in Christ isn’t weird or backwards or inhibiting, but a way to live so that our children build each other up instead of tearing one another down.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” –JC

One Comment

  1. Pamela says:

    Oh my, blinking them back, babe.

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