Sunday, July 8, 2012

Elliot turns Eight

Today the house is quiet.  The only sound I hear is the occasional tick of the coffee pot and the snapping of Lego bricks.  Sunlight is beginning to stream in through the eastern windows while traffic will soon flow in a steady rhythm of folks headed to church.  We are waking up with hair that sticks up in all directions, tired but happy after celebrating with friends. 

Spaghetti and Meatballs for everyone!  
Elliot took extra time to really think about his birthday wish.  I love that he is thoughtful and I hope his wish comes true.
Note to self:  two hundred water bombs are not worth the effort:  no one got wet during this water game!
Elliot is so thrilled with his gifts that his expressions of gratitude produce ear plugging and cringing. 
What party would be complete without a reenactment of Medieval warfare and the slaying of a dragon? (No one was harmed in the making of this scene)

Despite the heat, it turned out to be a wonderful evening. Everyone whom we invited came and there was plenty of food, drinks and fun.  While it was challenging to entertain two weeks in a row, I'm thankful that my husband understands my belief that building community is important for our family.  This year, we have all been blessed with great friends and kind neighbors.  Elliot is learning that hosting a party involves plenty of hard work and preparation.  He's also learning that a party is really about celebrating the people who have offered their friendship to us.  For the first time in his young life, Elliot really understood the deeper meaning behind any celebration. If it's your birthday, and you have friends to share it with, it's not really about you, or the gifts, or even the cake.  It's about the people you love and appreciate.

 Every year, after the party, we say that we are not going to host a celebration every year.  But his time, while the adults gathered on our deck, enjoying the sights and sounds of the children playing, we were already planning to gather again in the fall.  We imagined cooler air, a campfire and pumpkin carving.

To celebrate today, I'm closing this post with a few quotes.  Thank you friends and family who visit us here, who celebrate with us from far away.  You are appreciated and loved, just the same as those who are able to be here in person.

Melody Beattie: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

 Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Friendship should be surrounded with ceremonies and respects, and not crushed into corners. Friendship requires more time than poor busy men can usually command.”

Hafiz of Persia: “We don't need sugar, flour or rice or anything else. We just want to see our dear ones.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson: “I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”
 Robert McAfee Brown: “How does one keep from 'growing old inside'? Surely only in community. The only way to make friends with time is to stay friends with people…. Taking community seriously not only gives us the companionship we need, it also relieves us of the notion that we are indispensable.”

Anais Nin: “Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back: a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”


  1. Oh, I needed these warm reminders this morning, my friend! What a lovely, rich time you all shared together. Thank you for bringing us in along with you all. I will carry these words in my heart today as I go to a conference I've been reluctant to attend. But after all, celebrations are a matter of the heart, not necessarily where we are.

    1. It was indeed a lovely, rich time of abundance and love. I so wish you could have been here with us. I don't think it's out of the question that one day we will celebrate together in person, Shelly. I hope that your travels are safe, and that something good happens every day while you are at the conference.

  2. Wonderful quotes for us at the end of this post my friend. I always love the Ralph Waldo Emerson ones, and I always think that he must have been a very wise man! Such lovely, happy photos of Elliot's 8th birthday party, and didn't they all have fun. You and Richard obviously put a lot of effort into this, as it all looks so wonderful and colourful. I'm so pleased that the adults all had a lovely time as well. I really like what you said about Elliot (and we all know that he is a very special little boy!) that he understands the deeper meaning behind the celebrations. That is such a lovely thing that you have taught him. Hugs to you.

    1. Hugs to you also Thisisme! We did work hard, but working together as a family was part of the fun. We anticipated that it would be good, and it was! Emerson's quote really speaks to me also, especially the line, "I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends..."

  3. You and Richard are becoming The Party Authority, dear Jenny! I think you should turn these large gatherings at your home into a DAILY event! Ask Richard if he agrees. :) Happy birthday to Elliot! I can see that he and his friends had a wonderful time. With your guidance Elliot is gaining wisdom and getting his values and priorities in order. More than abstract concepts, love and friendship are verbs. They are activities. We need to commit ourselves passionately to our friends and loved ones every day. My spirits are buoyed knowing that you and Richard are taking a "hands on" approach to parenting. You are shaping young lives, Elliot's and those of his friends. You are also getting your neighbors involved and caught up in your excitement, inviting them into your lives and thereby overcoming the inertia of complacency. You are the very definition of proactive, dear friend, and I applaud you!

    1. Hi Shady!
      Hahahaha! Richard does not agree...but he really did enjoy this evening and shares my view that building community is important. Alas, we are not John and Helen Ettline for the young set.

  4. Happy Birthday, Elliot! (I hope your wish comes true, too)

    What a wonderful lesson you are teaching your son about the true meaning behind these celebrations: those we love and care for are our greatest gifts and need to be treasured.

    Thank you for sharing the pictures, the story, and the wonderful, meaningful quotes.

    With smiles and happy thoughts, Jenny

    1. Hi Jenny! Thank you for the birthday wishes for Elliot and for the great comment. I just remembered who you remind me of, especially your writing voice...Anne Lamott. You have a great wit!

  5. How fun! Looks like a great party, you did a great job.
    Happy Birthday!!


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