The birthday party was a success and didn't cost a fortune! I spent $25 total-pizza-taking up $20 of that total, with bubbles as party favors and homemade cupcakes and cake. The playground provided free entertainment. The best part-M was surrounded by his friends, children he has grown up with, and is part of his daily life. It was great for the younger boys too-their friends are the siblings of M's friends, so they were off doing their own thing most the time too.
R and I also enjoyed it-we spent most the time conversing with our friends-our extended family. Its surreal to me how we have grown our circle of friends-we're consistently there for one another, birthday parties aside, and help each other in good times and bad. It was evident when one of our friends wasn't there because she was in labor (and I told her that I understood if she declined because she was due on the 10th, but she told me she'd be there anyways-turns out I was right about the baby coming!)-the grandparents brought the kids-and our circle was all about letting the family know we can help watch the boys, bring over a meal, do anything to help the grandparents out while the parents are busy with the new baby.
My brother drove up for the party too, M loved his surprise visit :) The weather was great, we had a cool breeze as the weather warmed-but it never became uncomfortably hot. Cleanup was a breeze, and we came home when all the guests had left the park.
We hung out at home, the two older boys played with a toy that M got as a gift. I spent time w/ my brother before he had to drive home a few hours later. He tired the boys out some more, entertained E with horsey rides, and gave me insight into all that's developing w/ my parents.
Before the night was through, we went to Zoobilation. The park was uncrowded, the animals were very active, and the weather was great. The boys loved the behind the scenes exhibits of the animal hospital and elephant exhibit, as well as seeing multiple animals up close. I think the older ones loved petting the llamas, while E was keen on the baby porcupine. My favorite was the owl.
We came home, tired but not overwhelmed, filled with the memories of the day.