Of Birthdays, Bookstores and the Boy Who Lived

Friday night, I took the boys to our very first Harry Potter release party. Younger son was given the option of choosing the activity for his birthday, but when I mentioned this possibility, there was no question of where he wanted to be for his 8th birthday.

We have a tradition of going to dinner at the birthday celebrant's restaurant of choice. Interestingly, when first asked what he wanted for his birthday dinner, he said chicken with honey mustard sauce at home. We make Outback's Alice Springs Chicken and this was his initial choice.
He later changed it to dinner at Cody's Roadhouse. As has become the norm lately, he and I conferred with each other and shared a meal. This works out well for both of us, as I no longer eat a normal adult size meal and he has grown beyond the chicken finger/hamburger/macs and cheese kids meal options.

Another tradition we've created with the boys is that instead of buying them gifts and wrapping them, we take the birthday boy to pick out the present(s) of his choice. We do have a budget in mind, and both boys usually fall below this. I think this sprung from Ed and I both being sensitive to the desire to get the boys something they truly want.

Once we finished with our shopping, where the birthday boy chose a Lego Mars Mission set and a Gamecube game, we headed home for Ed to get ready for work and the boys to dress as Harry Potter for the Book release. Activities include a look a like contest and older son frequently is told he looks like Harry. We dress him as pre Hogwarts Harry, put a lightning bolt on his forehead and hand him spectacles. Younger son, well, the curls are unlike any HP character, and he wants to be Harry as well. That's fine.

We head over to Books A Million. Once in the door (at 9:30), we are asked to pull a pin out of the Sorting hats held by two hostesses. Young son and I get Slytherin (boooooo) and Older son gets Gryffendor. I opt to keep up with him. The store has stations for the four houses of Hogwarts-and our first stop is the trivia competition. When the Gryffendors are done, he ends up being the winner. This means that later, he'll battle the winners from the three other houses for a place at the front of the line and a Harry Potter Scene it Game.

Next up, we head over to the look alike competition. In the previous group, the winner was a young lady who looked amazingly like Hermoine, robes and all. We arrive there and the contestants are asked to line up. Son is the first in line and is asked to perform his character. For not having seen anyone else do this, he ended up doing a great job doing an Expelliarmus on the Slytherin Prefect leading the competition. He receives O.W.Ls of O and E for this task. At the end of the competion, he was in third behind a Harry in full robes and a 3 year old who was runner up purely on the cute factor. Younger son decided that he'd portray Draco Malfoy. Had I known this was the plan, he would have been dressed up and had a ton of gel slicking back that mop of hair. Oh well.

Next up was wand making. After the wands were made, many kids had duels throughout the store. While one child was doing a wand, the other was getting a slytherin snake on his forearm. At 10:30pm, the house winners were called back for the trivia competition. Ultimately, he got a very tough question and he was out-but you don't really want to play trivia against an Aspie on a favorite subject! His other three competitors were adults-so for him to be there was pretty impressive.

As soon as I realized that he hadn't won, it was time for me to find a place in line. I ended up next to a lady who'd been at all the activities with us-she was noticeable thanks to a stylized HP with lightning bolts tattoo on her arm. We ended up chatting about this and that, she's just moved here from Montgomery, Alabama. Sooo, we talk about there, where to find the good pizza, que and chinese here, and where to find favorite stores of hers. She asked where the nearest location of my store was, lol. I suspect I'll see Melinda sometime in the near future.

The manager of the store would give us periodic time checks, the boys would check in with me here and there, though younger son was not doing this as frequently as his big brother. With 15 minutes to go, the line that snaked through the aisles started to condense down. By my estimation, there were about 400 people in that preorder line.

Next thing you know, we're counting down to midnight and Melinda and I were pretty loud whooping it up when at last it was midnight. The line moved fast and as we get up front, staffers got pictures of my Harry look a like, with me holding our four vouchers behind him. The time: 12:09 (we were probably around 125 to 150 in that line). Amazing organization from the staff at Books a Million. On the way out of the mall, we pass Borders (the other way out would have been past Barnes and Noble). Both stores suffer from poor location or poor parking-and that Borders had people inside, but that line was NOT moving like Books a Million, and the lot was the usual bottleneck.

Here I am, 103 pages from the end of the last book. It'll be finished tonight. I made predictions about who the two JK Rowling talked of would be. I have to tell Ed not to read this entry yet, because I was right on both counts. It has been extremely difficult to put down, so I went to work today with two hours sleep (full disclosure-the darn leg was partially responsible). It was worth the sleep deprivation!


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