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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Happy birthday Katie

My middle daughter, Katie, turned 11 this week. We celebrated with a brief birthday dinner on Wednesday night at Genghis Grill in McKinney. The real fun, however, took place last night. For many years, I planned elaborate parties for my children at which they were generally miserable. I finally figured out a few years ago that going low key and opening up our home is what makes the kids happier.

Katie invited several friends to spend the night, but only two were able to come. Her three things that she desperately wanted to do at her party were: have a water gun fight, bob for apples, and glamorize teddy bears. So that's exactly what we did. As the night progressed I tried hard to freeze frame the moments in my memories. There were many magical moments to process and having a bad memory means that I have to work hard to store information for later.

Early in the afternoon, I stood on our deck and watched the girls spring into the air on the trampoline, squealing as they squirted one another with the water guns. Apparently for preteen girls squealing is their trademark sound. Then the bobbing for apples made me laugh till I cried. The girls finally started sticking their entire bodies into the tub of water to chase down the apples. As they raised up dripping like drowned rats with apples hanging from their teeth, I couldn't stop giggling.

Glamorizing the teddy bears was a much larger project than I anticipated. I spent most of the evening cutting open bears and sewing on tummy patches, paw patches, and large flowers. Imaginations bloomed as they picked out jewels and fabrics. We giggled lots trying to decorate the bears to the girls' satisfaction.

After darkness fell, Shawn built a small fire down by the creek to roast smores. We used the super-sized marshmallows for the smores. The girls couldn't even get the smores into their mouths. The magic of the evening was complete as we laid on the trampoline with sticky faces and fingers watching the trees blow in the wind and the stars twinkle in the distance.

Katie is a beautiful gift to our family. God blessed her with a kind heart and a gentle, loving spirit. It was an amazing treat to get to be a part of her party and hang out with her friends. What a magical night!