Friday evening was miserable. I cut my finger, the mom of one of Penny's friends called to let us know the friend was sick and might not make it to Penny's party, there was a spate of very last-minute changes requested for my book, the cat crapped on the carpet, and Alex was clingy and feverish. Among other things.
Saturday morning, Alex was acting fine, but definitely felt feverish. Low-grade, but it was looking like he wouldn't be able to go to Penny's birthday party -- and by extension, neither would Matt.
But! The friend's mom called to let us know the friend was feeling better and would attend, and Alex's fever broke during his nap, so we had the full complement of kids at Penny's party. And it was an awesome party. The kids ran and played, and so did some of the adults. Even Alex, who could have been freaked out by all the noise and/or bored by not being the center of attention, seemed to have a fantastic time. He even tried his hand at skee ball! (Okay, he could only roll the ball about 3 feet, so he and I "took turns", where he would roll the ball halfway up the ramp, and then when it came back down, I would actually throw it up into the rings. But he had fun, so who cares, right?)
The party was over at six, but we stayed on after most of the guests had gone home, just because Penny and Alex were both having fun, and why would we interrupt that? By the time we cashed out, Penny had 1000 tickets (between her games and the tickets that friends had donated), and the manager gave us an extra 500 tickets to make up for some doodad she was supposed to have received that they were out of. So she got to collect 1500 tickets' worth of cheap plastic crap. I enjoyed myself immensely just watching her agonize over the choices.
The only fly in the ointment was that my camera battery died just after she blew out the candles on her cake. So I have no pictures of the kids playing, or Penny in the "ticket blaster", or most of the adult guests, or of Penny opening her presents, dangitall. But some of the pictures I did get were fun!
We had a fantastic time. I know Chuck-E-Cheese gets disparaged as being the ripoff home of cheap plastic crap and nasty overpriced pizza, but honestly, honestly...? The pizza's not too bad, and the cheap plastic crap is pretty much incidental to the fun of playing the games, so who cares? Penny's birthday party cost us less than $300 (including the cake and extra pizzas and drinks for the grownups and extra game tokens for the kids) and everyone had a blast. It's a winner in my book!