Happy 6th Birthday, Ben!
We celebrated this extraordinary day with a bike-themed birthday party, Ben's request in honor of his fantastic new two-wheeler skills. As a result, the party set a new record for scraped knees and crying children, but in the end I think everybody had a good time and, after all, chicks dig scars.
The focal point of the party was the bike obstacle course that Steve created. You know that when we commit to a theme, we go all the way (see An Adventurous Birthday Party or Sasha's First Birthday Party for a few examples) and Steve was as serious as always about sticking to the bike theme (we also served only round foods to go with the tire-shaped invitations: Bagel Bites, round tortilla chips, Ritz crackers, M&Ms, cheese cut into circles. You get the idea).
The obstacle course included a see saw, ramp jump, rumble strips (pipes taped to the blacktop), a river crossing (a board to cross over a "river"), and cone weaving. The rumble strips gave the kids with training wheels some problems, but then they had quite the advantage in the game of Musical Bikes, so it all evened out in the end.
Here you Ben demonstrates some quality ramp-jumping on his brand new bike, complete with new bell, bike bag, and helmet! Yes, the bike is ginormous for him, but as long as he's near a curb he can get on unassisted and once he's on the bike there's no stopping him! Hopefully he hits a growth spurt soon and grows into it. You've gotta admit, he looks pretty fricking awesome perched atop that baby.
After the hot and sweaty bike adventures it was cake time! Sharon and I were particularly proud of this year's cake - a bike design made exclusively with candy. We found the idea online (God bless Google) and then modified it a bit to make it our own. And the kids loved it - they had a ball fighting over which candy bits everybody got on their cake slice ("I want part of the seat!" "Can I have the streamers?").
We ended with a bike treasure hunt all over the park, with the last hint leading to the pinata. This part sounded better when we planned it... I printed out maps of the park and drew an X on each where the kids could find the next map. Apparently I hid the maps a bit too effectively, however, because the kids (even with Steve's help) could only find two of the maps. In my defense, I was worried that the maps would blow away or get picked up as litter, so I tried to put them in "safe" places. Oh well, I'm pretty sure none of the kids remembered the failed treasure hunt once their bags (and cheeks) were full of Tootsie Rolls. Besides, at least this year they didn't have to dig the pinata out of the garden!
We had a great time celebrating our favorite six-year-old. As we were eating our cake, Ben asked if each of his friends could share something they like or appreciate about him (they do this at school on each kid's birthday). Watching our boy glow as his friends told him that they thought he was nice and funny and silly and fun to be around was just priceless. Ben, you are all of those things and so much more and we are so excited to celebrate another year with you!