Silas’ Birthday

I absolutely hate games that give out tickets.  In fact, hate is probably not a strong enough word. Everything about them is terrible. You play this not fun game in the hopes of winning some measly amount of tickets.  After you get these tickets you wait in a long line to redeem them for some silly prize you could have bought from the grocery store for at less than half the money you just spent on tickets. Combine that with the fact that children never know what they want when they get to the prize counter, and you have one terrible afternoon.  It’s like the kids in line are surprised every time that they need to pick out prizes. “Oh, I can get something? I had no idea!  I thought this was just the line ride.  Let me think about it for an hour despite then 100 people behind me.”

Silas, on the other hand, loves them.  He will spent hours pulling the wheel to see if he can hit that big jackpot.  He loves holding the tickets, spending the tickets, putting the tickets in machines, etc.  Everything about tickets is super exciting for him.

Guess what we did for his birthday?

No – we didn’t go to the zoo.  And Silas is way to young for hang gliding. Instead, we went to Provo beach resort. There, we played laser tag with five of his friends against a team of teenagers.  The poor children (who were all 9 and 10) were fed like lambs to the slaughter.  I don’t think they understood the concept of “not dying”.

After laser tag the kids played games and collected their precious tickets and after waiting for an hour for them to spend those previous tickets on items that promptly ended up in my garbage, we went home to eat cake and sing songs of gladness.

Birthdays at my house have lots of fun traditions surrounding them.  First, I try to decorate the house the night before.  For Silas, I choose a shark theme, mostly because everything else was sold out at Walmart.  I don’t really plan these very well so a lot of the “tradition” depends on what Walmart has at 11:00 the night before.  Sharks were on the menu, which Silas is always okay with. That kid loves sharks and monsters more than anything.  He used to tell us they protected him from wild animals.  Now, I think the extract vengeance on those who’ve wronged him.  I can only imagine how many times I’ve been viciously devoured in his mind.

The next morning, we eat a breakfast of the birthday child’s choosing.  Ever since the kids discovered that donuts and chocolate milk can constitute a birthday breakfast, that’s the been the b-day food of choice.  Amber is the sole bastion against a super sugary breakfast on the special day.  During breakfast we sing the Johnson family birthday song – which is happy birthday sung out of tune, off key, and at the top of your lungs.  Silas interprets this as screaming happy birthday at someone.

The kids favorite part of their birthday is their freedom to do whatever they want.  Chores are waived on their b-day, and all tv and video game restrictions are lifted.  They still have to go to school other activities, but everything else is free game.  Silas was very upset to find out he had a trumpet lesson early that morning.  He really wanted to sit and play video games all day.

For kids 12 and under, we give them the option of having a party or taking the money.  Milo always takes the money.  Silas always takes the party.  After the party, the kids are treated to any dinner of their choosing. Milo usually chooses shrimp. Silas chose homemade pizza.  I hate Hawaiian pizza so he made sure to specify homemade pizzas with Canadian bacon and pineapple. I made my own pizza with pepperoni. After dinner, we open presents and sing the Rowley version of happy birthday (although we opened presents earlier for Silas since it was a Saturday).  The Rowley family happy birthday song is VERY long.  It consists of Happy Birthday followed by Somebody’s  Had a Birthday followed by Put Another Candle on the Birthday Cake followed by the German version followed by the Finish version followed by Happy Happy Birthday Children Dear followed by You’ve Had a Birthday Shout Hurrah! Followed by We Three Kings of Orient Are.  No idea why the last one got included.

Overall, it was a very fun time.  There was stress since the party went long and people were expecting to pick up their kids.  Plus one of Silas’ friends ate the doughnut he was saving for later.  Still, I think Silas had fun as shown here:


Gally did not have fun.  I wouldn’t ride in the chair on the merry go round (instead electing for a horse next to her).  She was sad.


Christmas 2014

Christmas has come and gone.  This year was interesting, to say the least, for reasons I’ll get into in a separate post.  I really wasn’t in the Christmas seasons, which is weird since I’m always up for Christmas.

We started the holiday bright with some house cleaning.  Nothing says Christmas like emptying every drawer in the house and cleaning it out. Yay for traditions!  Every year we do the same thing: I make a delicious roast chicken and invite Amber’s family over to share in the fun.  After dinner we clean up the mess, then have a talent show.  The talent show is followed by a reading of Luke 2 and singing every Christmas song in the hymn book.  Once we finish the hymns, we move into secular songs, ending with Invader Zim’s “Bow Down Before the Power of Santa”.  I don’t know if that’s the actual title, but it’s what we sing.

Once Santa’s praise is complete, we have a mini gift exchange where we practice being thankful for junk.  Each person has to give someone a gift, say something they like about the gift, and give the giver a hug.  The game is followed by a reading of the Christmas rules.  We have one for each year Amber and I have been together. Most of them are pretty basic, like don’t get up before 6 am. Some are more interesting, like every leap year Christmas is Hawaiian shirt day.  Once the rules are read, we watch the Muppet Christmas carol while eating donuts and drinking hot chocolate.  Usually this puts the kids to bed around 10, giving us plenty of time to get gifts under the tree and go to sleep.

Thanks to the late bedtime, the kids usually don’t wake up early.  In fact, I usually get them up to open presents. Often because we are running late to somewhere else.  This year was different. Silas actually woke up at 6 am!  I’ve waited my whole career as a father for this to happen.  Turns out it’s not as exciting as a thought.  We sent him back to bed and said the new rule is 7 am.

Silas returned promptly at 7 am, forcing us to roll out of bed and groggily proceed downstairs. There we opened wonderful gifts brought by the Claus family, my parents, and each other.  We make our own gifts for each other (usually).

This year I made book safes for the kids out of old Russian novels I had laying around.  I made Gally princess finger puppets.  I’m not a great seamstress, but I think they turned out cute enough.  She’s a sweet girl. Unfortunately, not sweet enough to not tell me that she no longer likes finger puppets.  Ouch!   Hopefully she eventually decides she likes them, just like the octopus with overly sized eyes.