Sunday, February 27, 2011


The Box waits patiently outside Kiddie Crusoe.
Yesterday was not our grandson Ian's birthday, but his parents had a party for him anyway. You know, like the British royal family. Who wants to celebrate the Queen's birthday in cold and dreary weather when you can do it in sunny June? Could we do less for the Little Prince? Why not hold the party when it's convenient for family and friends if the actual date is in the middle of the week?

So off to Baltimore we headed yesterday around noon. We had not taken time for lunch, so we ate on the go, stopping for a moment at Chez Ronald McDonald at Cedar Cliff and ordered up some sammiches, fries, and drinks. Taking off again, we enjoyed a leisurely meal as the scenery flew by. Over the years I have learned to inhale fries right from their little red "pockets," much as anteaters suck up those delicious bugs they like. A sip of diet caffeine- free Coke, then on to the condiment-free dripless burger, using the wrapping as a hand-bib. Once finished, it's back to the Coke.

The trip down I-83 was uneventful, except for the cars that must have made a wrong turn out of a NASCAR rally and on to the interstate. Several roared up behind the Box, which got out of the way, and zoomed by, passing the next car (on the right or left, it didn't matter) and continuing on to their imaginary finish lines.

Sarah really surprised me!
We were soon outside Matt and Marylee's development and called ahead to find out the status of the Birthday Boy. He had been out earlier but was now in for his nap, so we were warned to be as quiet as possible on arrival. Susanne went it first, and I made my way slowly up Mount Olympus, also known as Matt's front steps, carrying a bag or two, and mumbling that someone could at least open the screen door for me.

I managed to get it open and stepped inside. Who was standing there? Our daughter Sarah, all the way from fabulous New Brighton, Pa. It seems I was the only one not in on her visit. What a nice surprise! Her children were with their father, so she was free to wing her way to the festivities.

We had lots of fun catching up and helping to make little "goodie bags" for the little party guests. Susanne and I told the kids we were planning to buy a new car soon, and amid grumblings of "squandering our inheritance," Matt and Sarah helped us locate some cars online and gave advice on getting a good deal.

Soon Ian was awake and busy playing the boy next door, who had come over to ride with us to the party site. Ian opened our presents, showing his skill with the pair of scissors in the box, using an old paper bag for practice. I don't know if he had used scissors before, but he was a natural, and I see many projects with scissors and glue in his future.

Ian practices his scissoring skills.
We all packed into our cars and headed back up toward I-83 and home, stopping somewhere (I really have no idea where) at the famous Kiddie Crusoe, devoted to providing fun for kids. It has a vaguely tropical theme, as in Robinson Crusoe. Of course, the kids all dove into the things you climb, bounce on, slide down, and so forth, waiting for the other kids and their parents to arrive.

Once everyone was there and plenty of fun was being had, the snacks and pizza arrived, and everyone enjoyed a relatively quiet moment as the kids chowed down. As Ian watched the candle on his delightful monkey-inspired cupcake, he was a little angel, enjoying the group singing "Happy Birthday." He blew out the candle and soon disappeared back into the games, too busy to even take a bite of the wondrous little cupcake.

As the kids played, we adults had a chance to talk. It was nice to see Marylee's parents, Tom and Pat. Tom was looking good and moving about easily. (He had been hurt in an auto accident.) Marylee's sister Marcia was there, looking newly svelte with a jazzy new haircut. Her partner Lauren was the official photog and had wracked up more than 300 pictures by the time we left. I think Marcia and Lauren were both in on creating the cupcakes.

Mike, second from left. Matt, third from left. Brian in red shirt.
We also liked talking to the "boys" that Matt has been friends with since middle school and who also live in the area. Mike gave us advice on getting heavy discounts on cars. Brian assured me that he and his wife Colleen are still avid readers of "Where in the World is the Box?" Obviously, they are intelligent and have good taste.

Eventually, it was time to go home, so we got simple directions and headed north to Harrisburg. The only interruption was a stop at Maple Donuts at the Valley Green exit, north of York. They have a nice clean restroom, you see. Can I help it if a sour cream glazed donut fell into a bag and jumped into my hand as I passed the counter?

Here are some additional photos of the birthday party:

Marylee getting ready for the party.

Ian comes down too fast to be filmed.

Monkey cupcakes are made with vanilla wafers.

Marcia and Pat, mother and daughter.

Sarah and Matt, sister and brother.

It's Kiddie Crusoe! Come in and play.

The jungle gym was fun.

Ian waits patiently for the birthday song.

Sarah and Matt bid farewell as we depart.

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