Claire had a birthday (back here), and here’s how we celebrated:
Traditional birthday breakfast.

 …along with traditional big hugs.

(and traditional blury-ness from her mom’s camera).
There’s talent in being a good gift-giver, but also in being a good gift-receiver.  Claire is a great receiver.  My brother commented that she would be just as delighted if someone gave her a Starburst as she would to be given a new puppy.  She just wears delight on her sleeve.
So she was especially delighted that she got rollerblades.

I love the story behind those…she had been asking and asking for an iPod touch…wanted so much to get into that social media stuff that some of her friends are into.  But after a day with some friends who just played and the park where they filled their hair with the grass they picked and played tag and rode their bikes around she came home with the biggest smile.  That night she tugged on my sleeve and told me she decided she didn’t want an iPod touch after all…she wanted rollerblades.

And that’s a good thing because she wasn’t getting an iPod touch anyway 🙂  The older I get the less I am willing to let my kids get into the social media scene too early.  Stay young!  Let the wind play with your hair and explore!  That’s what I have to say about that in this stage of life.  And I’m so glad Claire was on the same page without me even having to drag her there 😉

Grace, true to form, made sure Claire got our traditional b-day stuff…streamers hanging down from her door and the good ol’ candy bar poster.  Grace needs to be a birthday planner some day, because she sure has a talent for knowing how to make people happy.  Love that girl.

Dave and I both stole Claire from school for a little lunch date we didn’t get a picture of.

And then Josh came over to give her a little rollerblade lesson after school.

He rocks.

We had cake and ice cream…

…and watched a movie and did little pedicures (which I also didn’t snap a pic. of, dang it!).  Her cute cousin came over to drop by a gift too (love you AJ!).

Claire somehow suckered me into an 11-year-old birthday party rather than waiting ’til next year (over the years we’ve simplified…gone from a party every year to every other year to only at 5, 8, 12 and 16).  So next year will be quiet, but this year was loud.  She didn’t want to leave anyone out so she invited what seemed like the whole wide world.  
She wanted to have a Chinese theme, so in order to keep all those little girls occupied for a couple hours we divided them into groups and did timed games kind of like “Minute to Win it” and the games we had at my in-law’s fiftieth anniversary (back HERE).

We gave each team a different colored headband (made specially by Claire with her favorite Chinese characters written on them).

Dave was in charge of the “chopstick” station where he taught the kids to use chopsticks and he timed them on how fast they could transfer cotton balls from one bowl to another.

Nana (Dave’s mom) was in charge of the chocolate-dipped fortune cookie decorating station.

Grace was in charge of the Chinese counting station where she taught each group to count to ten in Chinese and then they timed each other to see how fast they could do it.  And who wouldn’t want to learn from that great animated girl right there?

My brother was in charge of the ancient (and sometimes modern) Chinese heavy load carrying station where they timed how fast they could carry that load back and forth.

After the stations we gathered everyone together and did a little traditional Chinese food-appreciation-taste-testing.  The kids had a chance to taste many things Claire’s friends brought to school in their lunches in China.

Some loved them, some didn’t so much 😉

(We started out with White Rabbit candies that you eat with the rice-paper wrappers on, moved on to seaweed which some kids fell in love with, to wasabi peas “hot,” and little dried fish on a stick and fried anchovies…all typical things Claire’s friends brought to lunch in China.  Some were licked clean and others had some pretty funny faces made in trying them!)

Cake.  That’s supposed to be red, not peach, but you get the idea.

Loved that some of these girls came with chopstick buns (some lost their chopsticks by the end of the night though, darn it).

SO grateful for sweet Nana and Papa who came to help.  Love them so.

…and grateful we get to live by these great cousins we love so much.

Love you Claire bear!  Excited for your quiet birthday next year, but boy this was a fun one!

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  1. Also, I can't seem to get the email button to work on my computer, but I wanted to suggest a great book I just finished re-reading for book club and it made me think of your family and Lucy. It's Touch the Top of the World by Eric Weinhenmayer. He's climbed the tallest mountains on every continent, including Everest – and he did it blind! The end of the book, to me, is a little dry ad technical climbing, but his growing up years are so fascinating. He went officially blind his freshman year of high school. It made me think how awesome you guys went out of your comfort zone and took her to China and continue to have her live her beautiful, vibrant life. It has a lot of good one liner uplifting quotes too. There are a few bad words when he's quoting his teenage years, (hey, it was rough for him!) but there's no words you can't just skim over.

  2. My husband and daughter both have birthdays coming up-wish I had a Grace to help plan their special days! Happy Birthday, Claire! Looks like it was a great day!!!

  3. Happy Birthday Claire- looks like an awesomely fun party!! On another topic- please share your beautiful house, loving what I'm seeing so far!

  4. I have a niece named Claire (and her sister is Grace!) and I love that you guys call yours Claire Bear, too. Also love the White Rabbit candies! I grew up in a predominantly Asian city and would go to the International market with my friends and buy packages of those. Reminds me of being 11 again 🙂

  5. So glad you are still writing! I did not want to lose a favorite blog because of mean people again. We can say all day long not to care but I am sure it's harder when it's about your life. Anyways glad you are still sharing 🙂 -Anna

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