Fire's First Birthday, Juon im Ruo

   It started out innocently enough. Our family on Ebeye noticed that Fire's actual birthday would fall on a Monday, our normal day to visit. They suggested a small party and D volunteered me to make cupcakes. Jimma said to bring about 30. I laughed when D told me that and said that I would make 50 and bake cookies too. There's no such thing as a small party in a Marshallese family!
   We didn't know what to expect when we went over but the family had gone all out for the party. The first surprise met us as we got off the boat: Elizabeth, Fire's birth mother! They'd flown her over for the party and she would be staying through the kemem. I was so happy to see her- D said that Bubu and Jimma had told him not to tell me and he did a good job of keeping it a secret.
   There were more surprises when we got to the compound: they'd put up a wall of palm leaves to screen it off from the street and had put up balloons. There was a man with a keyboard playing and singing and the compound was full of people. I did a quick count and came up with 45. You'd better believe I was glad I'd made 50 cupcakes and brough cookies too! But then, another surprise! Bubu had baked a huge cake for Fire and they had to big buckets of ice cream to go with it.
The family did the birthday parade, where they line up and sing (in this case, the man with the keyboard sang) and give the birthday boy a little something, usually money, and give him a kiss or pinch his cheeks. I couldn't keep the smile off my face- it was so wonderful to see all those people lined up for Fire.

   Before we cut the cake, they asked us to stand up and say something and all we could say was "Thank you. Thank you for letting us be a part of your family." They didn't need to take us in like they have. They could have ignored Fire or demanded time with him without accepting us, but they didn't do any of that. They took us in and made us family and it's been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
   It was a wonderful party. There was dancing, kids jumped after balloons, we talked and laughed and celebrated the wonderful boy that brought us all together. Happy Birthday Fire!

Selina and Jun-Jun, Fire's cousins. These two fight over who gets to hold Fire!
Gina and her family came with us to the party, and since things started on island time, she did my hair while we waited.

Cute kids, waiting for cake
Fire with is birth mother and older brother (also flown over from Majuro for the parties)
What an amazing cake!
Can you see what's in Micah's hand? Look closely... it's a cookie! Look at the picture above and you'll see him sneaking in for the grab.
Fire and I, cutting the cake
All the kids, lined up to get some
Micah wasn't shy about going for more
AJ, Sky's BFF and Fire's older brother Lomorro
Lomorro and Fire
Sky going back for more cake

and signing
D shows off his moves

Elizabeth grabbed Gina for a dance
Fire and Jimma

Birthday hugs and kisses from Nella, Fire's cousin

Selina and Fire playing chase with Sky after the party


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