On E’s birthday, we had so many special moments:
– a fun birthday breakfast at a table with E who ate, then opened her presents (a new Jessie doll and sparkly shoes for the dress-up bin!)
– a movie morning with a new movie from the library (what a happy hour watching Mickey Mouse encounter a beanstalk and a giant!)
– a great mid-day as E helped us prepare for her birthday celebration: We
(a) decorated by making puppy dog faces out of paper plates
(b) made a Dalmation cake and taste-tested both the white frosting and the chocolate chip “spots”
and (c) used glitter eyeshadow to paint the walls festive colors (ok…this was unsanctioned, and I did insist that the painting stop, but I want a little credit for waiting until the day after the celebration to remove it. Hey, I’m the mom, but I’m no party pooper! S was right. It made such a pretty streak on the wall…)
– a great afternoon with family and a few friends who came over to splash in kiddie-pools, sprawl across slip-n-slides and sing “Happy Birthday”.
– a great evening with a tired but very happy E and her tired but very happy siblings and cousins, all of whom fell asleep in various rooms of our house (including baby cousin G, who slept soundly in the master bathroom) while Nana treated all the grown-ups to Indian take-out. (Have I mentioned before that Nana absolutely rocks?!)
All-in-all, a fantastic day. I wouldn’t trade a single moment of it. But do you want to know what my favorite part of it was?
I think my favorite part of the day was actually when our whole family was pulling weeds at 7am that morning. Weird, I know, but I can explain…
– During the week, 7am is the hour when I am unloading the dishwasher while T unloads the Tupperware bin, my husband gets ready for work and the girls are allowed to pick a TV show.
– On the weekend, this is often the hour when my husband and I trade-off turns with the kids so one of us can sleep in.
– But on this day (to be with the kids, to prep the yard for a slip-n-slide celebration, and to beat the heat that we knew was coming), my husband and I both got up early and headed outside.
By 6:30am, we had put T in the swing and were on our hands and knees by our flower bed.
By 7am, E & S were awake, we had hugged E happy birthday, and all three kids had decided they wanted to stay outside in the cool and help pull more weeds from the dirt.
By 7:30am, E had taught us how to water flowers with the hose, S had taught us how to use a hoe, and T had painted his belly with mud.
Everyone took turns on the swingset – including mommy and daddy, and everyone wished more than one happy birthday to E. There were no presents, no big celebrations, (although both were coming), and no requests for TV or anything else. Instead, our kids were absolutely ecstatic just to be with mom and dad playing around in a yard that was covered in morning mist and (amid a horrific heat-wave that puts our daytime temps at 100 degrees) at that 7am space which is very, very cool…
There are a couple of plays and movies that are based on the idea that you have to pick one moment to view during your afterlife (think “Our Town”). Most of them end up with the viewer being tortured somehow by what he or she sees. 7am last Saturday morning is a time I think I could pick and be pretty happy forever. I think part of the reason for that is the approach we took to E’s birthday. This year, as I wrote our “Saturday’s to do” list for E’s birthday (a list of at least 2 dozen things we had to accomplish the day-of as we prepared for her celebration), I literally wrote down as #1: Spend time with the kids.
(Side note: this idea was stolen from my sister and mom…my mom always kept a whiteboard hanging in the kitchen with a section entitled “to do” on it. Once, my sister A wrote “Hug A” as number 1 on the to do list, and my mom never erased it. Seriously, I know that it was up there for at least a decade, that it was there last time I was in Nana’s house, and I imagine it is still there! Anyway, I often think about that when I make to do lists now…)
Anyway, we still had a lot of hustle and bustle and distracted preparations, especially in the mid-afternoon (hey, I don’t want to sugarcoat it…we were running around like mad right before the celebration and I can only hope the kids enjoyed the excitement too), but we did a pretty good job of maintaining our focus most of the day and especially in the cool at 7am.
And that focus – that time – is our real gift to you and your siblings, E.
Thanks for teaching us how to water the flowers, and go really high on the swingset.
And Happy, Happy Birthday!
Mom and Dad