i'll tell you what. if you're ever feeling down sometime and need a little pick-me-up...take a bunch of 4- and 5-year-olds on their first-ever bus ride. even better, give them each a giant red balloon to play with and then take them on the bus. seriously. it's fool-proof.
okay, so here's the play-by-play:
you've seen the invitations already. we invited 4 of asher's friends to the party. and, yes, they were all girls. no, we don't have anything against boys, it's just that most of his male playmates are a year or so younger than he is, and so maybe not quite ready for a dropoff party on a bus? also, i like keeping the guest list small and limiting it to the 4 kids in his primary class at church (all girls except for him) seemed like a good way to do that.
anyway, k took the day off work to help with the party. and my friend meredith graciously volunteered to be on scout duty for the afternoon. so that's how we were able to manage 5 children (not counting big sister olivia) on a bus.
speaking of the bus, you might be wondering how we arranged that whole thing. here's how it happened:
two weeks before the party i called the local transit authority to arrange a pickup at the house. i had read on their website that you can do that--arrange for a pickup/dropoff at any location within a certain area on certain bus routes--(local folks, are you listening? this is cool!) so that's what i did. i was lucky to get a woman named Kristas on the phone, and she made it all happen--a pickup at the house at 2:00, a dropoff at around 3:30, and a 90-minute bus ride in between!
of course there were some caveats. the bus still drove its regular route (duh, it's public transit, not a chartered limo service) so we had to be a bit flexible about pickup/dropoff times, as well as the length of the ride. also, we fully expected that there would be other passengers sharing the bus, though as it turned out nobody else got on, so we had the bus to ourselves. (and all for a whopping $7!)
i want to mention our driver, leona, who was, well, completely awesome. if you've seen "the red balloon" you know that in the film balloons weren't allowed on buses. (hisss! boo!) not so on ours. i think i did notice leona's eyebrows rise just a bit when she first saw us, but she was really welcoming. and later, when we played bus bingo (another post on that later / edit: it's here), she really got into it, taking small detours here and there to make sure everyone got to see everything they needed. ("what do you have left? a clock? oh i know where to take you! wait, there's a motorcycle! who needs a motorcycle?") at one point, unrelated to bingo, the children spotted a ferris wheel in the distance, and she was even kind enough to pull the bus around so they could see that up close too.
aside from bus bingo, we also had a couple of other bus-friendly activities for the kids to do. i had checked the book version of "the red balloon" out at the library, and k read that aloud to the children at a required 15-minute stop at the transfer station. i also brought a giant surprise ball i had made, and the children had fun unwrapping that on the last third of our bus ride. (more on the surprise ball in a separate post too. edit: here's the link.)
after our bus ride, we had just enough time for a few pictures and cupcakes before parents started arriving to pick up their little ones. the cupcakes i had packed in mason jars to make them portable for the bus, but we ended up eating them outside on the lawn at home. and speaking of cupcakes, here's a fun fact for next year's party file: apparently kids don't like cream cheese frosting? who knew.
okay, so that was asher's 5th birthday party. we had so much fun with the red balloon theme. stay tuned for a few more posts on some of the details...
we're off to the dentist this morning. thanks for reading!
[most photos by k]