I’m not exaclty sure where this story actually begins, but it goes back at least a few years.
Somehow I stumbled onto the blog AKA Jane Random; my best guess is it was through connections in the old Face 2 Face Improv troupe who also were involved in Sojourn church.
So I start reading AKA Jane Random, and the writer is funny and her kids are real and I can relate.
One day I see a picture of her husband and I’m like “He went to my high school.”
Sure enough, he did, and graduated like 4 years or so before me.
So for the last two or three years I’ve read the blog and followed the Twitter and occasionally will comment back and forth, but that was kind of the extent of it.
Well, a few weeks ago I get an evite to a birthday party for … (are you ready for this) … AKA Jane Random’s son, who just so happens to be in Caden’s first grade class. Is the world small or what?!?
The birthday party is supposed to be out in the middle of nowhere, so we make our plans, RSVP, and were looking forward to the party when … lo and behold, two days before the main event, I run into AKA Jane Random and her husband at the Taste of Huntsville.
Taste of Huntsville is like a big buffet of all the best restaurants in town. Everybody who’s anybody is there, which doesn’t explain why they let me in; it was probably the $30 I paid for the ticket. Anyways, I digress …
I go, introduce myself, talk about how I remembered her husband from high school, how I loved the blog, and how much we were looking forward to the party, yadda yadda yadda.
And I might have tweeted later a heads up, that I was planning to blog about the party.
“Oh, the pressure is on,” she replied.
So, who blogs about some other kid’s birthday party, right?
Well, I thought the story was just too uncanny of two random bloggers, per se, ending up with kids in the same first grade.
Also, she blogs often about the place where the party was to take place, especially about their annual Cousins Camp, so I felt like I needed to see if this place was really all that, like she was saying.
By the way, this post is centered, in honor of AKA Jane Random, who centers all of her posts.
First, we were like an hour late to the party, so I have no idea what good things we missed in that hour.
When we arrived, there boys running all which of ways and playing in forts and cabins, all built by Paula’s retired dad on this, her grandparents’, massive property.
It was a boy heaven, to be sure.
Trees and forts and tree houses and just room to run. Also, lots of weapons of the Nerf and Star Wars variety. We were there for more than two hours and I hardly saw my sons, except when they wanted cake.
There was a hayride, minus the hay. My son today reminded me of it but called it a pillow ride because all the kids grabbed a pillow cushion to sit on in the wagon behind the tractor.
While the kids were off hay-ridin’ — er pillow-ridin’ — we grown-ups knocked pears out of trees and picked them up. I had never done this before so it was kinda fun.
The birthday boy had two cakes, both of which I believe were homemade and home decorated by his mom. Note to self: bake my sons’ a birthday cake at some point in their lives. They’ve only ever had store-bought cakes. I feel the need to correct this starting with the next birthday, to be sure.
The cakes were decorated with random boy things like superheroes and tractors and one said “Go Avengers” in sugar letters, except one of the E’s in Avengers was a sideways M.
No one else but me noticed this, I’m sure, and I kinda feel bad that I noticed because I imagine the package of letters only came with one E and Paula had to choose either buy two packages of letters just for a second E or make do with what she had. She probably thought no one would notice and yet here I was noticing.
But here’s why I mention this here: that’s real, real mothering, real-world parenting where packages of letters only come with one E and improvisation comes to the rescue. I love how Paula is not afraid of it.
At one point during the party, I observed from across the porch as she slipped off her shoe and revealed to the mom beside her a huge hole in the heel of her sock. (If she reads this she’s probably dying of embarrassment that not only did I out her sideways M trick but now I’ve told the whole world about her holey socks.
Sorry, Paula. There’s a point coming, I promise.
Upon observing this, I wanted to go over and slip off my shoe too, which would’ve revealed a hole in the toe.
Real moms have holes in their socks.
On the right, in this photo, is Finn hauling a galvanized bucket up to the top of the fort built by Paula’s dad. My boys were so enthralled by the fort they wanted me to tell my dad to build them one.
Finally, this row of baby ducks was in the bathroom window. I have no idea why; I didn’t ask. But I thought they were kinda cute.