Allegra celebrated her 8th birthday on New Year's Eve - kicking off a year of quiet "family" birthdays for our kids. We've always done big blowout birthday parties every year, but quite frankly it's become exhausting and overwhelming. Plus it's just not necessary. What makes a birthday special is a celebration of the person, not the amount of loot one can haul away. It's a part of our all-around simpler lifestyle. For right now we're planning to do a "friends" party every other year. The kids have been completely fine with the idea, which makes me, as a parent, breathe a sigh of relief - you know, maybe I'm not raising kids with a sense of entitlement the size of Alaska. With that said, the kids get to pick any restaurant of their choice, and Allegra chose the buffet by our house, Chuck A Rama. We did lunch on the 30th there and Allegra was quite excited to get to go up and get things by herself. Then on the 31st we did cake and ice cream and presents with just family. Her party always coincides neatly with our New Year's Eve celebration. We did random appetizers, cake and ice cream, opened gifts (the big one of the night was a Nintendo DSi), and then played Taboo and Wii until midnight struck. Happy 8th birthday, Allegra!