As I looked at the calendar I realized that we wouldn't have a time where Derek would be able to help me with Noah's birthday party anywhere near his birthday so I decided to be brave and a little crazy and put on a party of sorts by myself. He said he wanted an Angry Birds party but wanted a Star Wars cake so it was a little eclectic. The only friends Noah said he wanted to have over was Joy and Miles so I invited the older siblings of these two who were also Hyrum's (and Noah's too) friends and did it in the morning before Hyrum headed to school.  We started off with target practice

Then they went to the table to decorate their gift bags with foam stickers.

Then I had them hit "bad piggy" balloons hung from the ceiling with soft blocks. Derek helped me by drawing the piggy faces on them. Aren't they amazing?!

Sometimes I forget my husband is an artist! 

They played this game for a very long time!

A really long time

We almost could have played this the whole time.

But we had piggy box towers to topple

They had fun with this too but we lost some of the younger crowd to other activities

Then it was time for lunch (PB&J with chips- keeping it simple)

Then it was time for our last game "The piggy stomp!"

I really thought this game would go fast. I quickly got my camera ready and they all went in different directions. Much more interested in protecting their pigs than stomping other peoples pigs.

Our last thing of course was cake

Everyone had their fill and some. As I was finding things for their gift bags I grabbed these punching balloons as an after thought.

Best. idea. ever! The party was a smashing success, I think. I have to say that I was pretty impressed with myself for being able to do it all by onesie.

But the party was not the only major event of the day. The other was...the beginning of potty training.

We had a false start sometime in January because Noah kept asking to sit on the potty after the fact (and actually managed to have a very small measure of success) and it felt silly putting on his diaper back on him after sitting on the potty. It was a half cooked try but we decided to back up an give this the proper preparation. So we decided that on his birthday the 20th he was going to be a big boy and he wasn't going to wear diapers anymore. He was only going to use the potty. We talked about it all of the time. When I changed his diapers we talked in glowing terms of when he'd be a BIG boy and not have to wear baby diapers anymore. (I kept him in the size Eli was wearing-which was small but not incredibly so) He started telling everyone who would listen about the day he would become a big boy. I was encouraged. But as the day drew near I began to wonder if he was really ready. If he really knew when he needed to go before he needed to go.  The morning of his birthday he woke up in diapers and since I had the party I decided not to push the issue. This one was going to be on him. But after all the festivities were over and Hyrum went to kindergarten he said something about potty and we read books while he sat on the potty.  After he was done sitting he said he wanted to put on his underwear, so he did.

He had two accidents afterward but it is only the first day. We'll get there, I'm sure of it. He talks a good talk anyway. We'll see how this goes.

I had been talking to my friend who has one son in the Chinese immersion program and another going into it with Hyrum and after talking to her about the fiasco she suggested that we throw a party together. So she said she'd take care of the food ( her mom is Japanese, she served in Thailand and her brother served in Hong Kong ) and I gratefully let her, and I offered to host, decorate and do a few activities.

I ran to the party store and went a little crazy. Kristie ( My friend) had brought her brother and his Native Chinese wife and their daughter (who looked adorable in a little kimono) along with her and her family.

We had long life noodles, fish (with head intact) octopus (hot dogs cut to look like octopus) fruit salad (with tofu and mandarin oranges in it) and fortune cookies. It was at the party that I discovered that fortune cookies is totally an American Chinese tradition.  Kristie's brother said that he never once saw a fortune cookie until his Dad came to pick him up from Hong Kong, then the waiters offered them, as the American tourists always expected it.  They actually started in a San Francisco Chinese restaurant and it just spread from there. And since we'd already added a little American flavor into the festivities I offered chocolate/strawberry cupcakes I'd made for one of Derek's homecomings (I'd taken to making a dessert for every time he came home from one of his business trips on the winter tour)  Strawberries became a hit at the party which I welcomed because of course they are red.

The boys played a little dragon race game that had come in the Highlights magazine. Then after dinner they were given red envelopes with chocolate coins in them ( in China the kids are given red envelopes with money in them and sometimes needed to sing for them- we learned that after the year, next year) then we finished off the festivities with party poppers ( which the kids really had a hard time year real fireworks!)

I think we've taken the bad taste out of Hyrum's mouth. Chinese New Year success!!

Until next year!

Hyrum will be enrolled in the Chinese Immersion program at his elementary school this coming fall ( or at least we've signed him up-still don't know if he's in yet) and knowing that might be a possibility has sparked a lot of interest in anything Chinese. (He's also very keen to notice how many things are "Made in China" too) The Chinese New Year is coming up soon and so the school had decided to throw a Chinese New Year program to showcase the immersion program and introduce parents and students alike to the holiday traditions.  Hyrum was SOO excited to go. He'd gotten wind of a dragon dance and wanted to be a part of every last little thing.  So tonight as we ate dinner he was talking to me about it and said something about a sign being red and I said "Well, of course, because red is a Chinese New Year color" So Hyrum being a clear product of his mother ran to his room to put on as much red as he could find in his closet.  I told him that I wasn't sure if he would be doing the dragon dance or the lion dance or what he would be doing if anything at all but he was undeterred and simply lamented that he didn't have red shoes as we headed to the car.

In case anyone wonders. Elijah and I are dragons, Derek is a snake, Hyrum is a boar and Noah is a tiger.

When we got to the school I put Elijah in a belly pack so I could have my hands free to video record and take pictures of the proceedings as Derek would be getting back from a business trip that night mere hours after the party ( he was super bummed to be missing it).  We walked into the gym and I turned to hurry Noah. When I turned back around I had lost Hyrum.  I scanned the crowd and found him seated front and center with a group of kids.

I cringed a little inside not knowing if he was suppose to be up there or how I was going to tell him that maybe he should just come stand by me.  His enthusiasm was unquenchable. I decided not to make a scene and just let him have his chance to be in the spotlight.  But as the program got started I realized that it was the second grade Chinese immersion class that was seated in front and gathered that they were going to do some kind of presentation. I cringed a bit more, wondering if I should really go and get him but I still didn't want to make a scene and regretted not getting him earlier. But as the program started he just looked around and tried to follow along as they sang and did motions. I was so proud of him, I could hardly stand it. I loved his enthusiasm. I loved his excitement. I loved his fearlessness in living his dream. He wanted to be a part of it and he was diving right in without any embarrassment, hesitation, or restraint.  He wasn't going to sit on the sidelines. He was going to be on the field doing his best even though he didn't know what he was doing. I envied it.  And I cheered it.

As they entered into talking about the holiday traditions I would see him periodically turn around and talk to the boys behind him.  At first I thought that he was just being a kid and being chatty but then he stood I knew from the look on his face that the gig was up.  As he walked towards me his brave mask shattered and he buried his face in my shirt and cried. His voice choked with embarrassment, dejection and disappointment as he told me that the boys had told him that he couldn't be up there.  My heart would have broken into a million pieces had it not been bursting with pride for this incredible, confident and brave boy.  He wanted to leave but I convinced him to halls and see if there was anything on the wall next to his kindergarten classroom.  That cheered him up a bit but as soon as I got anywhere near the gym he'd want to leave. I wanted to stay and at least listen to see if there was any information I needed to hear. They then announced that the second grade class would be doing a snake dance (they basically had the high school volunteers carry a short snake type thing around the room and the second grade class followed behind) it broke my heart that if Hyrum had been allowed to stay in the front that all of his dreams of involvement would have been realized.  They also announced that the following day they would have another Chinese New Years Celebration of sorts during school and would have another dragon/lion/snake/whatever dance around the morning.  Hyrum has afternoon kindergarten.

I am going to have to make the Chinese New Year happen for Hyrum this year...and it's going to have to be EPIC!!