posts tagged with 'birthday'

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!

a Harvey party!

Harvey's actual birthday was a long time ago, it feels like. Time stretches in the summer. But now, a full 23 days after he turned ten, we brought his birthday season to a close by finally throwing him a party.

kids watching Harvey opening presents

party crew

It wasn't just disorganization or laziness that led to the delay—the reason we held off on doing something in June was that his friend Jack would be away then, but back in July. Jack usually travels all summer, so I don't know that he's ever been to one of Harvey's parties... so naturally it seemed worthwhile to schedule the celebration on a day he'd actually be around. Of course, after we'd made that decision disorganization and laziness played their part in keeping me from actually inviting anyone until it was very nearly too late. Happily our friends are flexible and were all able to make it to a party at lunchtime on a Saturday with five and a half days advance notice. Good thing, because they would have been sad to miss it!

Harvey chose a board game theme—well, board and card game. He wanted a chessboard cake, but since I didn't know if I had the technology to make that happen I proposed something a little simpler. He was fine with the idea; I think it came out pretty elegant.

birthday cake

like those dice?

The party started at 11, and nobody was too concerned about board gaming. Harvey was mostly just delighted to have his three favorite friends together in one place. Since naturally we invited families, Zion and Lijah had people to play with too, leaving the adults to relax and chat. Harvey wanted hot dogs and coleslaw for lunch; I grilled 28 hot dogs, which was just barely enough. After lunch the play started to get a little violent—the ten- and eleven-year-old boys we know are partial to sword-play—so we redirected the kids towards the games inside. With the food and the adults outside, there was plenty of room in the house for games of Ticket to Ride, Zingo, Pokemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh to all happen simultaneously. Only one of those led to violence, so that was good.

It was all so much fun it was almost time to go before we remembered cake and presents! Luckily, after we did that half of our guests were still able to stick around for another hour or more. That's what we like to see. Thanks for turning ten, Harvey... Happy Birthday!

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Zion's cycling birthday

Zion's birthday was nearly a month ago, but we needed to postpone his party a little because of Harvey's Pokemon tournaments. Such is the life of a second child. So it was that a couple weeks ago three of his best friends and their siblings gathered to celebrate his turning 8.

Zion ready to blow out the candles of his birthday cake

party!

It was a cycling party. May is usually a fine time to celebrate with outdoor activities, and though this year most of the month has been more like April the day of the party was clear and mild. After a little bit of running around here I gathered the kids and we all headed out for a ride to Fawn Lake. Not everybody rides all winter, so a few of the guests were a little rusty—as were their bikes. But I had chain lube for the literal rust, and since we were in no hurry there was plenty of time to work out unused muscles on the 2.5 mile trip to the pond. When we got there we had a picnic lunch.

kids picnicking by their bikes on a field above Fawn Lake

a fine spot for a birthday lunch

After lunch the kids ran and then biked on the lawn there, then waded in the pond, then climbed on the cliffs. Then we rode home—downhill, and with newly confident legs—for cake and ice cream. How do you make a cycling cake? I don't know, how about a wheel? (A singlespeed wheel!)

Zion's bicycle cake

a classy cake for a classy kid

Happy birthday, Zion!

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birthday celebrations

Lijah and I just about share a birthday, and we marked them this past week. He had some parties. We kicked things off last Monday with a relaxing dinner at my parents' house that ended with a cake for each of us. My birthday was Tuesday, and I was treated to another couple of cakes; and pancakes too, since we also celebrated Shrove Tuesday that evening. Lijah turned five on Wednesday and, as has become traditional, requested pancakes for breakfast so he could have one with a candle in it. The main event was Saturday, when we hosted Lijah's friends for his long-awaited Pirate Party.

Lijah blowing out candles on his pirate cake

happy birrrrrthday!

He's had a birthday party every year, but you know it's not really the same when you're turning one, or two, or three. Four is the real deal though, and last year felt like our first experience throwing a winter party—which is to say, one where the kids might need to be inside the whole time. I think we got it now. The pirate theme absolutely demanded a treasure hunt, and unlike the one at Zion's 5-year-old pirate party it would have to be indoors. I had my doubts the kids would be able to interpret the maps I drew of our house, so I enlisted parents to help if needed (not big siblings—that would have been a disaster!). But it turns out Lijah is great at reading maps! And while he still can't find something lying on the ground if he's standing right over it, his friends were prepared to handle that part of the task. There was plenty of gold (twix bars) to share at the end of the hunt.

Lijah with Liam and Henry looking at a treasure map in the living room

"north five paces..."

Besides the treasure, we also had lots of arts and crafts supplies available, which were appreciated by adults and kids alike. And there was lots of food. Especially potato chips. With all my planning for indoor fun, the weather was actually pretty nice Saturday, so after Lijah opened his presents we all went out to run around and ride bikes on the street. The best part of March is making snowballs with your bare hands... just for target practice though. No fun to be hit with a snowball while wearing a t-shirt!

We capped the celebration week with one more party, this one at Leah's parents', on Sunday evening. Lijah got a yellow sweatsuit with a tiger face on the hood; he may take it off in a week or two, maybe.

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