Today was my son's 4th birthday. Parties are the world to my children. They cannot think of a single present they want on their birthday, but they know exactly what they want to do for their birthday party! So I never buy them birthday presents, I just throw a raging party! I used to do these elaborately themed birthday parties that I spent weeks on and took great pride in. That was well and good, till one year a child asked to go to Chuckie Cheese. I shuttered at the thought, what about the amazing, "glow and the dark" themed birthday I had conjured in my head? Since it was HER birthday after all, I decided we would do the Chuckie Cheese thing. Since I was going the "commercial" route instead of the "homegrown" route, I decided to go full blown and even order a store birthday cake. Grimacing, we were off to see Chuckie. When it was all over, there was no mess to clean up, and I also realized I hadn't spent weeks on decorations and goodie bags. I looked into the children's faces and they were having more fun at Chuckie's house then at my house having a teddy bear picnic. This was all too easy! Since then, I have strongly suggested to my children birthday parties outside of the home "wouldn't bowling be fun?" I am so full blown commercial when it comes to birthdays, it is ridiculous. Today we had our party at jumping jacks, I bought Christmas cupcakes from Costco, and had dominoes deliver pizza. I invited 25 kids, they made a complete disaster, and when it was all over we gathered all the presents and left. It was wonderful, and my son is so happy and grateful to be four. I still believe in the "homegrown" birthday, but I do enough "home cooking" to make up for my "commercial birthdays!