At some point during Elena’s birthday celebration last week I had to ask where all the presents came from. In the days and weeks before the birthday, Jenny and I did almost no birthday shopping. Jenny had strategically taken advantage of pre- and post-Christmas bargains to build up a present cache ahead of time. Once presents from grandparents were added in, the total volume overwhelmed me and delighted Elena.
Since we couldn’t find Tangled in a nearby theater at a convenient time, our festivities began with a home screening of Monsters, Inc. I promised Jenny I would skip through any parts that scared Elena, but she handled the whole thing well and hasn’t woken up with nightmares since. My parents were the guests at the party, and the conclusion of the movie was timed perfectly for us to start dinner. We had one of Elena’s favorites: tacos, which by pure coincidence is also Jenny’s favorite.
After dinner we adjourned to the play area for present opening. It was hard to delay Elena for long enough to set up a video chat with her Washington grandparents, so we distracted her with a present she had already seen. As I mentioned before, she received too many presents for me to remember. If there was any common theme, it’s that many of the presents should help her interact with and learn about the real world through pretend play, with the possible exception of the purple unicorn PillowPet.
Among the instant favorites that come to my mind now are: a dress up skirt from Grandma Renee, a beautiful set of MegaBloks from Gran Ann and Grandpa Dana, and farm animal hand puppets that captured Jenny’s imagination when she saw them several months ago. We had to play with all of those as soon as Elena opened them. When it was bedtime, we found that Elena wanted to take her new bear to bed. Perhaps she thought he would be lonely in this new home just that first night, because since then he’s slept downstairs with the other toys.
One late present has probably received the most attention of them all since it arrived on Thursday with Grandma Nancy–a tricycle that Elena calls a bike. Grandma Nancy came up to take care of Elena while Jenny and I went on a two-day trip, so I have not yet observed the phenomenon directly, but Elena likes her bike so much that she will sit on it while watching Barney or reading books. She prefers to have someone push her around the apartment or, during the unseasonably warm days, around the park, but sometimes even Grandma gets tired. Elena can keep her feet on the pedals while they turn, but still lacks the muscle and coordination to use them for self-propulsion. She’ll probably figure it out soon, given all the time she spends on the bike.