That's Suzanna holding a little frog, which Abigail named "Spots, my birthday frog." The girls rode with me when I went to drop off lawn clippings to be composted, and Spots came along in a yellow bucket (see photo above) in Abigail's lap so that she could pet him and visit with him as we drove. When we got back home, we returned him to the flower bed, and he soon hopped out of sight.
After dinner (Suzanna helped Susan by making the meatballs--similar to this--for Italian meatball sub sandwiches) Abigail opened some gifts: an adorable outfit from her new cousin Davis (well, and his parents, Uncle Nick and Aunt Cassie); from Hillary, baby clothes for Abigail's doll Lillian; from Suzanna, a Lil' Kinz stuffed animal (golden retriever) and carrier for it; and from Susan and me, a CD rack (that stands vertically and has a slight S shape), a CD, and . . . a pogo stick!
The Flybar Foam Master pogo stick! When Abigail had unwrapped enough of the box to read what was inside, she started jumping up and down in place, an action that confirmed for Susan and me the appropriateness of this particular gift for Abigail.
Abigail had invited two friends to come over for her birthday, and they arrived midafternoon. We had planned to take all the girls to Medora: play at the Medora Children's Park, eat at the Badlands Pizza Parlor, and attend the Medora musical. However, past experience has taught us that a 98° day in Dickinson is usually a 138° day in Medora; so, in light of yesterday's heat, Susan and I altered the plans slightly: run through the sprinkler in our own back yard, open gifts from the guests, eat pizza and bing cherries on the veranda, eat cake and ice cream, and then drive to Medora for the musical (which starts at 8:30 P.M., allowing the temperature to start dropping with the sun).
Left to right: Aspen, Suzanna, Hannah, and Abigail. Hillary was playing with them, too; but at this moment, she was in the front yard filling a bucket to dump over the head of one of these girls. Before they were through, the girls had filled every plastic bucket and Frisbee and other outdoor toy they could find that would hold water, and they were using them all to keep one another soaked.
Abigail requested a brownie cake, so Susan baked a gigantic brownie on a baking stone and frosted it using my mom's recipe for chocolate frosting. Susan recreated the recipe perfectly: thick, buttery, sugary, chocolatey frosting so wonderful that, as children, my sisters and I would cut it away from the cake and eat the cake first, saving the slab of frosting for last. Delicious!
When blowing out her candles, Abigail extinguished all but one on the first try, which her friends interpreted to mean that Abigail has one boyfriend. Who that guy is Abigail wouldn't say.
Aspen, Abigail, and Hannah
As we drove to (and from) Medora, the girls played word games and sang songs from Bible camp to pass the time. Once we got to the amphitheater, Hannah and Aspen distracted Abigail while Suzanna and Hillary asked an employee to have it announced, during the show, that it was Abigail's birthday (which they did announce midway through the show, much to Abigail's delight!). Our seats were right in the center of the second row, so we saw every blessed detail extremely well throughout the show! Our friend Job is in the musical and knew that we'd be attending last night (remember?), so as soon as he spotted where we were sitting, he made sure to give the girls knowing glances and winks occasionally during the rest of the show.
Aspen, Abigail, Suzanna, Hannah, and Hillary pose before walking down the path to the amphitheater. Gotta tell ya, Aspen and Hannah are really nice kids; it was fun to have them around and a joy to have such well behaved children accompany us out in public.
Here's Job. Because of the proximity of our seats to the stage, there isn't even much zooming going on with the camera here.
Each year, at one point during the second half of the Medora musical, there is always a break during which some featured artist performs: a comic, a musician, a magician, etc. It never has anything whatsoever to do with the plot or theme of the musical itself. For example, the Old West-themed musical last night paused so that the Peking Acrobats could perform! A bizarre juxtaposition, but the Peking Acrobats were some mighty talented performers just the same. Here are two pairs of men--each pair in a dragon costume--using their feet, their balance, and their coordination to roll a large red ball up and down a seesaw. The females in the troupe did some amazing feats of balance and gymnastics, too, involving spinning plates, parasols, and a large ceramic urn.
Down center there is a part of the stage that juts out toward the first row; and, with our awesome seats, it was just three or four feet from us. The acrobats moved to that part of the stage for this demonstration: They set a table on the stage and four empty wine bottles on top of the table. Then they put a wooden chair atop the bottles, each chair leg resting on one bottle neck. Then one man climbed up to the chair while another handed him another chair, which the man stacked atop the first chair and then climbed up. This continued until the man was dangerously high in the air . . . at which time he started doing things such as standing on his hands. I could just imagine the wind picking up and toppling those chairs like a house of playing cards, and where would that unfortunate acrobat have wound up? In our laps!
The girls had one pen to share amongst the five of them; and when it started to run low on ink, they abandoned their quest to get all the cast members' autographs after the show and made a beeline directly for Job for him to sign their programs. It was an extra-special part of Abigail's birthday to be able to introduce her friends to Job and say that she knows someone starring in the Medora musical!
It's not surprising that, after a busy afternoon and a late-night drive home, the girls slept in very late this morning. By the time they awoke, they were eager to devour the ice cream caramel rolls that Susan made them for breakfast (this despite their having filled up during the show on candy, crackers, and bottled water that Susan had brought along so that we could avoid the lines at the concession stand). Each girl received a colorful foam visor as a party favor, and they spent part of this morning decorating their visors with markers and glittery stickers. And then Susan shuttled the guests back to their homes.
Our 1o-year-old daughter had a great birthday thanks to her organized mother, her cooperative sisters, her delightful friends, and her thoughtful relatives (she got birthday greetings in telephone calls from Grandpa Gustafson, Aunt Cassie, Aunt Sandy, Aunt Cathy, and Grandpa and Grandma Moberg). Now it's about time to strap on a helmet and take that pogo stick outside for an inaugural ride . . .