posts tagged with 'birthday'

Harvey's boat

I've shown the picture, I suppose I ought to tell the story. Harvey's been wanting his own boat for a while, and even thinking about trying to buy one for himself. But to be honest, he doesn't have a great deal of access to shopping. Then as his birthday got closer, he started to wonder about getting one for a present. He didn't feel like it was particularly likely, but really all he needed to do was let the grandparents know his desire... they make things happen!

Harvey paddling in his own kayak

complete freedom

We took the two boats to the pond last week for their first outing together. It was a bit of a challenge getting them on the car, but we managed; it was also challenging getting into Walden Pond on a hot day, but we did that too. Then once we were there the boats made it easy to find a spot where we could swim away from the crowds.

Mama and Lijah resting on the steep rocky shore above the two boats

private lake access

Of course, Harvey isn't the only one who wants time in a boat by himself! It'll be a while before Zion or Elijah get one of their own—if for no other reason than we have no way to carry them!—but Zion at least can certainly do some practicing. Harvey wouldn't let him take out his brand new craft, but the Green Gecko is always available for solo runs.

Zion paddling the canoe by himself, Harvey and Elijah swimming

he needs independence too

Even Elijah got in on the action, though only briefly: it was so breezy it was even challenging for Zion (he had to get out and swim once to pull the boat back upwind). I was worried Lijah was going to get blown all the way down to the main beach, so I didn't let him get far from shore. But he'll have lots more chances to try this summer!

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Harvey's parties

Harvey turned 12 yesterday on Fathers Day. How appropriate for the boy who made me a father! We had a full weekend of celebrating, with the centerpiece being an in-person party with his friends on Sunday.

Harvey and friends eating cake and ice cream on the lawn

it's been a long time!

Folks came over before lunch with their bikes, and we rode the oft-traveled route down to Fawn Lake for a picnic (we've done it before; everybody is much quicker now!). Everybody brought their own lunches, but we provided a variety pack of little bags of chips. Very festive! Then I made everybody ride around the pond, forgetting that normal people find bikes a hindrance on twisty, rooted trails. Oh well, their riding on the bike path was so easy it totally made up for it. In fact, they're so good I don't think they even noticed the ride: their bodies were on their bikes, but their minds were in Minecraft. At lunch too.

Harvey's friends picnicing on the lawn at Fawn Lake

a beautiful spot to talk about virtual worlds

When we got home we had cake and ice cream on the lawn; it was too hot to be on the deck. Harvey conceptualized the cake and helped me construct it, and we were both quite pleased with how it came out.

a three-layer chocolate cake decorated with oreos on a table in the lawn

chocolate with oreos

Of course, that wasn't the only party! Celebrations kicked off Saturday at lunch time with a cookout with my parents, who graciously shifted from from our previously planned dinner cookout to let the boys attend a movie night in a friend's garage. Lunch was hotter than it would have been in the evening, and I may have sweated onto the burgers, but that didn't bother anybody. We did head inside for dessert, which wasn't a cake but a strawberry-rhubarb pie.

Harvey opening a big card from Grandpa

Grandpa's birthday card

On Sunday we celebrated Harvey at breakfast time with a candle in french toast. Then in the evening, after he had a little bit of time to rest after the excitement of the early afternoon, it was time for a party with the other grandparents and another chocolate cake. I skipped that one: after a full weekend of party prep, my Fathers Day present was to get some rest!

Happy Birthday Harvey! I trust he feels well celebrated.

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happy birthday Zion

Having three kids is hard. When you have four or five nobody could fault you for forgetting a birthday or two; there are so many! With three kids there's maybe no excuse, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. That's not to say that I forgot that Zion's birthday was today... only that, in the weeks leading up to May 4th, the importance of the day wasn't always at the forefront of my mind. Can I still blame pandemic brain? With all that said, though, I don't think we did all that badly in showing him a good day today. Good thing: turning ten is a big deal!

the boys at the birthday breakfast table

giant box of honey bunches? looks like a party!

Leah managed to get out last night to pick up some presents, and I stayed up late to wrap them, make a card, and hang up the birthday banners (the most important part of the whole celebration). He asked for cereal for his birthday breakfast, and since you can't put a candle in cereal Leah also brought home some donut holes (you can stick a candle in a donut hole about as well as you can in a pancake, our most common birthday choice). Then in the middle of the day the boys went to my parents' house for a celebratory lunch; this evening we're sharing socially-distanced cake with the group of friends who gather every Tuesday evening for what we're still calling Bible study. Then on Thursday he's going out for ice cream with the other grandparents. Not too bad! Parties with friends—online and in-person—will be along in good time.

Happy Birthday Zion!

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Elijah's birthday in time of pandemic

On Saturday morning, Elijah was heard to ask, "how long is my birthday?" Three wonderful days, my son! At least, that's how long his birthday banners were up, and how long he got to say things like, "I get to have that because it's my birthday." I think all things considered—the main thing being, as always, coronavirus—he had a pretty good one. On Saturday, which was his actual birthday, he had his Zoom party with his socially-distanced friends. The birthday boxes I delivered along with the cupcakes had little animal erasers that were the centerpiece of an animal trivia game Leah led the kids through. It was a great success, and I learned that kangaroos can't fart! Sadly there's not that much for six-year-olds—and one brand-new seven-year-old—to do on Zoom, so after the game, watching each other eat cupcakes, and a little shared drawing, they wrapped up after about 50 minutes. The shortest party we've ever thrown! But since one Zoom minute is like eight minutes in real life, it was actually a little over our usual time.

Then today we got to celebrate in person in real life with our bubble school friends. Which basically looked like a regular day of playing and learning together—which is so wonderful it's like a birthday party every day we do it! Treats are also pretty usual in our school day, but today one had a candle in it, so that was different. More to the point, the friends came with presents! Lijah was delighted to open gifts containing stuffed animals, notebooks, and a playdough candy factory, plus a lego set sent over by one of the Zoom party attendees. And those were on top of the amazing things he got from his parents and grandparents on Saturday: a new bike, a new helmet, and a matching stuffed bunny and fur cloak handmade by Mama! It was a hard birthday in some ways—in our house it marked one full year of pandemic life, as Lijah's 6th birthday was the last open social event we held before the world shut down just a couple days after. But I think even with that we did a fine job, and our little boy feels properly celebrated.

One way I did under-perform, though, was in the picture-taking department. I was too busy having fun. But here's an image of him riding his new bike wearing his new cloak early Saturday morning. Isn't it delightful!

Elijah riding his new bike on our street

birthday ride

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it's birthday season

a chocolate cake with many many candles

how old am I now, again?

Today is my birthday. I don't like to make a big deal of it, but I can't say I mind a little celebration either; so I was pretty delighted when I showed up at school this morning and saw an enormous chocolate layer cake our friends had made for me. Then after school I got to relax, because Leah made a delicious dinner of clam chowder (and corn chowder for Harvey). She was going to make a cake too, but my mom asked if she could bring one over instead. And all that was after I woke up to the beautiful cards Leah and the boys had made for me. It was all so lovely that I wanted to hold onto it, so when Lijah started talking about his birthday at supper I told him to hold on: it wasn't his turn quite yet!

But of course, it will be soon... and now that supper is over and everybody else is in bed it's time for me to get to work preparing his celebration. I need to hang the banners and finish the card for him, and, most importantly, bring the bike up into the living room so it's the first thing he sees when he comes downstairs. Leah is MCing his Zoom party after lunch; we made cupcakes for the attendees and Leah packed them up beautifully with some party favors and materials for an activity. I'll deliver those tomorrow morning. Yes sir, exciting times around here the first week in March!

our midsummer boy

a present on the picnic table next to french toast

birthday breakfast

Birthday celebrations are tricky in pandemic days, but Harvey had a pretty good one regardless. His birthday this year falls on a Saturday and the Summer Solstice, which seems pretty auspicious for fun, and we made the best of it. The celebrations actually started yesterday after lunch, when my parents came over with ice cream (and cones!) and a present for Harvey. We had a pleasant relaxing time hanging out with them outside in the shade.

Harvey opening a present outside by the hammock

what is it?

Then this morning the birthday proper kicked off with a birthday breakfast of french toast with candles stuck in. After breakfast I frosted the cake (chocolate chocolate) while the boys relaxed—Harvey free for the day from his job of clearing the table. His party was at 11:00 (appropriate for his new age!) and consisted of three hours of screensharing Minecraft with his friends over Zoom. I wouldn't have thought that was fun, but he reports that everyone had a great time.

Harvey playing minecraft over zoom

what the kids do these days

They probably would have gone even longer, but at 2:00 Harvey and his brothers needed to head out to an ice-cream-and-shoe-shopping date with the other set of grandparents before coming back home for the birthday cookout. They didn't really need more ice cream—it was the fourth serving in three days!—but they definitely needed new sandals. It's hot here! Just right to celebrate our midsummer boy.

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Zion's birthday report

As I said the other day, we didn't let social distancing stop us from celebrating Zion's birthday!

Zion blowing out his birthday candles

still festive

We all made him presents; we were going to give them to him at breakfast, but we couldn't wait that long and gift-giving happened first thing. The bunny that Lijah (and Mama) made for him is the softest thing ever, and it was well appreciated.

Zion opening his birthday presents on the couch

it's a bunny!

Then the sun came up properly so we could have breakfast. The kids have the choice of whatever they want for their birthday breakfast, but they always pick pancakes. They're easy to put a candle in.

Zion looking at his birthday pancake in the kitchen's morning light

birthday breakfast light

The birthday party—via Zoom—was right after lunch, which meant that we could share the moment of singing Happy Birthday and blowing out the candles, as pictured above (Harvey is showing the meeting participants the optimal view of the action from the iPad's better camera). The cake was just a yellow cake with buttercream frosting, but it came out great; I think I appreciated the lower pressure environment that came with just baking for my own family. I do that all the time! It does mean we had some leftovers, though.

Zion's birthday cake

simple but delicious

After Zion finished his piece, the kids all played online for an hour and a half or so. They would have gone longer but I cut them off: even on birthdays there are still things to do! But that wasn't the end of our celebrations, because I made sure to make the most birthdayish dinner possible, all to Zion's specifications: hamburgers and hot dogs, potato chips, and lemonade. We were going to do smores for dessert but it started raining. Oh well, more cake was good too.

a hamburger and hot dog on my plate

party food

Happy Birthday Zion!

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happy birthday Zion!

Today is Zion's birthday—he's nine years old! Ever since the second month of the quarantine he's been low-key upset about not being able to have a birthday party that he can invite friends to, and worried that he wouldn't feel properly celebrated. Which was a reasonable fear, since we're all kind of off-balance these days and not at our best when it comes to planning ahead. But I think we're going to make it happen! He got his presents from his parents and siblings first thing in the morning (I was going to say "opened" but that wouldn't be true since only Lijah managed to wrap anything) and enjoyed the traditional birthday pancake. Both sets of grandparents are planning to come by to drop off more presents, and he has a Zoom meeting party with his friends scheduled for 12:30. Despite my not inviting anyone until yesterday evening it looks like they'll all be able to make it! So we're looking good! Actually, at this point the only problem with our day is that Elijah is very unhappy that it's not his birthday.

Elijah's celebration

Lijah's friends around the kitchen table

a crowd to celebrate Elijah

As I mentioned, we cleverly scheduled Lijah's birthday party before society closed down. He invited six friends—appropriate for a sixth birthday!—and those friends brought along enough family members to bring the total number of folks in the house, including Archibalds, to 26. Pretty good! The party had a dragon theme, officially, though as the day got closer the birthday boy decided he wanted to give unicorns equal billing. The short notice didn't bother me since I didn't have any particular dragon-based activities or decorations in mind anyway; he wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting so options were limited in that direction, and I was too overwhelmed with other life to think too much about activities. (I did make a fantastic rainbow unicorn card that I gave him on his actual birthday on Friday.)

kids and a dad working on making construction paper puppets

craft table

Of course, with all those kids in the house we needed to do something! As the kids arrived we had material out for them to make puppets—or any other project they cared to attempt with construction paper and lunch bags. I had prepared a dragon puppet as an encouraging example. Lijah made a unicorn puppet (with terrifying sharp teeth); there were also a couple other dragons, a knight, a dog, and two penguins. The more active kids played outside on an obstacle course that Zion and I had set up. Then we had lunch—plain pasta and chicken nuggets for the littles, home-made pizza and African food for those with more discerning palettes (who am I kidding, the kids ate most of the pizza too). After lunch I sent them out on a treasure hunt to find a dragon's hoard hidden in the yard (totally not a pirate treasure: that was last year). They couldn't figure out one of the clues but it didn't matter: they brute-forced it by blindly searching the whole property and finding the clues out of order. I knew I should have buried them! The prize was a bag of candy for each kid.

Which hopefully they didn't eat right away because next we had cake. No ice cream, but there were also chocolate chip cookies... does that count? After the cake Lijah opened his presents, and besides the musket and knife from his parents he got so many beautiful and thoughtful dragon-related gifts. A Dragonite doll, a dragon puppet, an amazing homemade costume, an embossed leather journal... He was delighted.

Lijah in his new dragon costume exclaiming at a Dragonite doll

exciting!

It was a three-hour event; the morning of I was actually worried I scheduled it to be so long, and I wasn't sure what everybody would do. I needn't have been. The folks who absolutely had to be somewhere else tore themselves away after three and a quarter hours, and everybody else stayed for four. Maybe we had an inkling we wouldn't be partying together again for a while?

Lijah and four friends on the roof of the playhouse

birthday boy and his cool-kid friends

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happy birthday Elijah!

Lijah ready to blow out his birthday pancake

birthday boy

Lijah turned 6 today—can you believe it! We celebrated him with a card and a few presents this morning, plus the traditional pancake with a candle in it (his had chocolate chips, but that wasn't special: all his pancakes have chocolate chips). Harvey and Zion each made him something in Minecraft, whatever that means; from his parents who give tangible real-world gifts he received a rainbow unicorn card, a stick unicorn, a heart necklace, and pink nail polish. Oh, and gum. (Along with Minecraft gum is currently a mania in our house—probably because I hate them both.) For upholders of traditional gender roles, I will say you don't need to worry: at his party tomorrow we're additionally giving him a musket and a pocket knife. These are all things he asked for, which I think says we're doing something right. Or maybe he's just an awesome person on his own. Happy Birthday Lijah B!