Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bowled Over Birthday

Well, we pulled it off ... again!

When son Carson turned 10, we rocked his world with a rock 'n' roll themed surprise birthday party (details here). It is really difficult to surprise my children at their birthdays because it seems they start talking about next year's celebrations before we have recovered from this year's parties. And since we did a surprise party for Carson when he became a "tenager," I was doubtful we could surprise Christian -- especially as sensitive as kids can be about remembering their siblings' milestones. ("Mom, what will we do for my surprise party when I am 10?")

Christian celebrated his 10th birthday Monday, and last weekend was the perfect time to commemorate this banner birthday. Joe was out of town all week, so I had stressed to Christian that we would have to keep this year's festivities low-key. We invited his best friend from church to spend the night, and as an afterthought I said we could go bowling. Christian was so good-natured about our simple plan, it made me even more eager to bless him with a special celebration.

Gavin's parents helped me by picking up Christian Friday afternoon to play for a while before delivering Christian to Ace Bowling Center in Montgomery, Ala.

Surprise!! Happy birthday, Christian!!

This year I was able to let Carson in on the secret, which was such help. I asked Christian who we should invite to the party, and he suggested that Christian would most enjoy spending time with his family. So we issued whispered invitations to our extended family and two buddies from school.

My brother, Nathan, joined us for the party. It is always a delight to spend time with him and his precious family. And I love that he brings his camera! He captured all of the images in this post.

Here is our king pin in action. He said he was stunned to find the crowd of loved ones when he arrived.

Christian is such a good-hearted boy, and it brought me such joy to see him surrounded by people who love him.

Christian said he was surprised to see his two classmates at the bowling alley, but he realized this was a party for him when he saw his cousin Hollis in the group. Born just 19 days apart, I call Christian and Hollis twin cousins.

Cousin Reese was quite a bowler.

Zach is a new buddy from school. I loved watching the boys interact!

I admit, I am not much of a bowler myself, so when the boys ran over to exclaim that Trent got a turkey, I thought, "Awww, that's too bad." Little did I know, he had just gotten three strikes in a row.

I love Christian's best friend, Gavin. He is so expressive. But this next photo has to be my favorite of the night.

We all should be so blessed to have friends who rejoice in our victories! It was pure joy to watch these boys celebrate each other's successes.

Brother Carson assumed this position each time he bowled. He said it gave him a great vantage point for watching the trajectory of the ball.


This was our little niece Kadence's first bowling expedition. She is cute on top of cute!

I guess she had a ball; mom, Shana, said she woke up the next day asking if they could go bowling again.

And speaking of a ball of cute, we all enjoyed snuggle time with sweet Bailey.

Clockwise from top left, Zach; Pop; D-Dad and his new wife, Vicki; Christian and Trent; Kadence; and Pop.

Christian was not expecting Joe home, so he was so excited to discover him at the party. I told the girls about the surprise party after Christian was picked up that afternoon, but they somehow missed the news that Joe would be home. So when I wondered aloud if he would beat us to the bowling alley, they both started screaming. Having Daddy home is always worth celebrating!

If you live in the Montgomery area, I recommend Ace Bowling Center. It is a clean, spacious non-smoking facility. And we were able to reserve a couple of lanes that had comfortable leather sofas -- a great option for us knowing that some in the group would not want to bowl.

I am so thankful that God gave us our sweet Christian 10 years ago, and I hope our surprise party gave him just a little sense of the joy he has brought us during his first decade of life.

We love you, Christian!

Thanks to Nathan, I have so many photographs to treasure from Christian's surprise party! As party hostess, I often end a party with no pictures of the guests because I was so busy during the party. So I feel really blessed to have all of Nathan's great photos.

Stop in tomorrow, and I will bowl you over with my favorite party ideas!
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