Monday, June 03, 2013

Benjamin's first birthday

We didn't wrap a single present for Benjamin this year and I don't feel guilty a bit. I'm happy to not have a bunch of new baby stuff floating around the house. By the time Rachel was one year old we had filled half a milk crate with toys. Over the past five years those toys have multiplied and we now have toys coming out our ears (almost). Benjamin's perfectly happy with those toys.

Miriam put it upon herself to present Benjamin with wrapped presents. All throughout the day she was wrapping toys in blankets and bringing them to Benjamin so that he could unwrap them. It kept them both happy.

The only "new" thing Benjamin got was a little baby walker. We got it secondhand from our friends, the Alders. Benjamin's the fourth baby to "own" it. And he loves it.

We brought it home from church with us yesterday and I was meaning to put it away, wash it off, and present it to him on his actual birthday (today). Instead what happened was that we walked in the door, Benjamin was immediately propped up against the walker, and he went to town.

So, I let him keep it. And I washed it off after I took a few pictures.

The poor little boy was walking right out of his pants. They're a little long in the leg and a little loose in the waist.

On Sunday afternoon the girls helped me finish decorating Benjamin's cake. Andrew and I had stayed up late on Saturday night piecing it together. I used one 9x13 pan, cut it apart to form the numeral one (you just cut the cake in half lengthwise, then cut one-third off one of the halves; use the 2/3 section for the base of the one and cut the 1/3 section diagonally in half to form the top of the one (the giraffe's nose in this case)) and then cut those in half so that I could put lemon filling in the middle before doing the crumb layer of icing. It was a little bit dicey for a while there but we got it looking decent.

While I iced the cake, Rachel got busy making giraffe splotches out of some marshmallow fondant we'd made. She happened to be wearing giraffe-spotted pyjama bottoms (she'd come home from church early with Daddy (she wasn't feeling great)) and used that as a pattern, making her spots all sorts of wonky shapes. When we were finished with spots she rolled balls for the border and placed them in order around the giraffe. She also helped roll little snakes for the giraffe's hair.

Rachel was so excited to be helping with the cake. She remarked about how fun it was—that it was just like working with playdoh! That's part of the reason why I decorated Benjamin's cake with fondant—because Rachel wanted to help and I just couldn't see myself eking out enough patience to introduce her to piping icing.

Both girls were chattering about what cakes they want for their coming birthdays. June 3rd now marks the beginning of a flurry of birthdays for our family. All five of us have our birthdays within five months (two in June, one in July, one in September, one in October—then nothing for seven months)!

Rachel thinks she wants a horse cake. Miriam can't decide between Harry Potter and Rapunzel. They're both dreaming of becoming master cake decorators (even though this is the first cake Rachel's been helpful for (and Miriam wasn't helpful at all (but she did eat enough fondant to make a small army ill))).

While we were decorating, Andrew mentioned to Rachel that she's probably about ready to learn how to bake a cake (from a box). 

"I don't know, Dad," she said timidly.

"Sure you are!" he insisted. "If you can scramble eggs, you can make a cake mix."

"Really," she breathed, glancing at me (my birthday's next).

"Yes," Andrew said (he usually forgets to make me a cake, anyway). "I could bake cookies from scratch by the time I was eight years old."

Rachel's eyes got all big and round. "That's awesome!" she breathed.

Eight years old is certainly within her vision of the future. It's just two years away. She can't wait until she's eight: baptism, grade three, activity days, cookie baking. It's going to be a golden year and it's so close!

For Miriam, eight feels as far away as anything else. Her current dream is to get married in the Orlando, Florida temple.

"Mom, can I get married in Florida?" she asked me today.

"Sure. Where?"

"Is there a temple there?"

"There is."

"Okay. There. So. Wow. I'm getting married in Florida at the temple. But who am I going to marry? I have so much to do!" She walked away muttering wedding plans to herself.

She can wait.

Anyway, here's our cake with our gigantic mess in the background (which Andrew cleaned up while I read stories to the girls):

I had nightmares about this cake last night. I went to bed unsure of the eyes and wished that I had some way to change them. What I really wanted was something black, but it's terribly difficult to achieve homemade black fondant (or icing or anything) so I just left it as it was.

But in my dream I was dead set on changing it.


My friend Emily had come over with her kids, which was our original plan for today, but more guests kept showing up. Amy Egbert and her boys, Sister Yang from church, our backyard neighbours, and several other guests arrived.

I left them all milling in the living room while I went out to the woods to find a black circular something to use for the giraffe's eye.

Don't worry—nothing bad happened to me in the woods, but I did find the perfect black circular something (I don't know what I found but it was something and it was perfect).

I brought it back to the house and walked through the back door and noticed that my guests were all still milling in the living room but that they were eating cake!

Andrew was there, too, and he had a little plate and fork and was also stuffing his face with cake.

I was so mad!

"Why are you eating that cake?" I asked him.

"I dunno," he said. "Everyone else was eating it. I wanted to get a piece before it was all gone."

"But we haven't even sung to Benjamin yet! It's his birthday! That's his birthday cake! Couldn't you have at least waited until I got home so that we could sing to him first! What were you thinking?!"

"You left it out," one of our adult guests pointed out, like an obnoxious rule-abiding child. "And we were allowed to everything else that was left out."

"That doesn't matter!" I screamed exasperatedly.

I went into the kitchen and found that the entire cake was gone, save two pieces along the neck. I picked those pieces up with my hands and stuffed them into my mouth, almost crying while I continued to lecture Andrew and our guests.

"Sometimes cake isn't just cake. Sometimes cake is more than cake. Sometimes cake marks a milestone in someone's life and this is one of those times! You wouldn't just go up to a wedding cake and cut yourself a slice, would you? No—you wait for the bride and groom to cut the cake because it's a symbol, not a cake! Wedding cake always sits out for the entire reception and guests never just go and help themselves. I thought it was the same thing for birthdays but I guess not..."


Was that an entirely ridiculous dream? Yes. But I was so irate in my dream that I actually woke up grumpy (and a little confused about whether or not I had finished the cake or if anything had happened to it or whatever).

My dreams always get weird(er than normal) when I'm running low on sleep and since Rachel has thrown up in the middle of the night every single night since Thursday, May 23rd (that's 10 nights) and I've had to get up and help her out of her jammies and into the shower, and change her bedding, and so on and so forth, it's kind of understandable that I'm more exhausted than usual. Factor in Benjamin and *presto!* you have a sleep-deprived zombie instead of a mother.

Andrew let me sleep in, though, while he took Rachel to the doctor. I woke up with her at 5 AM to deal with throw up and then set the alarm fro 7:30 AM so that we could call to get an appointment for her this morning. She's been coughing for weeks, throwing up daily for 10 days, and just yesterday developed a raging fever to go along with it (right in the middle of sacrament meeting). It was the fever that had me worried because that's a sign of pneumonia—to have a cough and then later have your fever come back.

She doesn't have pneumonia. The doctors say she just got a secondary infection. That just means that she was sick, was getting better, and then got sick again. They (the doctor and the med student that looked at her) have a hunch it's bacterial this time so they gave her some antibiotics and told her she was fine to go to school. Rachel really didn't want to miss school because today was field day and she's been so excited about that!

Unfortunately it rained last night so field day was cancelled because it was "yucky" outside. So instead they sat inside and watched a movie. They didn't even get recess.

Heaven forbid the kids get dirty or something.

I have a few choice words about her current school (I HATE IT).

Meanwhile, I dragged Miriam and Benjamin off to the Museum of Life and Science and plopped them in a gigantic sandbox (and they didn't get dirty at all (just kidding—they did)) because it was gorgeous outside. I should have checked Rachel out and taken her with me (if only I'd known they'd decided to not let the kids outside today).

We brought Miriam's friend Claire along. She's moving to Nevada next Thursday so her mom's pretty busy packing and cleaning and dealing with baby Sarah. Miriam has been in denial about what "moving" means because this morning she asked me, "After Claire comes back from moving, can I play with her again?"

"Oh, Miriam," I sighed (I hate breaking bad news), "Claire isn't going to come back from moving. She's going to move and then she's just going to stay where she moves. A new family will move into her house and she'll just be gone."

Miriam was distraught.

So when we dropped off the jumperoo-thing Benjamin's been borrowing from Claire's family, I invited Claire along. She and Miriam are buddies (and Kim needed the afternoon).

My friend Emily met us at the museum with her two little ones (K. and E.) as well. It was so good to see her. I can't believe we live so close to each other and have only managed to get together three times this year! We met in the Salt Lake City airport on our way to spend half a year teaching English in Voronezh, Russia, with six other girls. That was 2004—so next year is our 10 year reunion. We'll have to plan a party! With borscht! (Andrew would love that (just kidding; he wouldn't).)

Anyway, we chatted while the kids played in the sand. Fun (hot, sweaty, sandy) times were had by all.

I love Benjamin's face here:

We went to the butterfly house to look at the bugs—and apparently to cool off because the butterfly house was much cooler than it was outside! Miriam, Claire, and E. had a fun time identifying all the butterflies they saw.

One of the butterfly keepers tried to pass an owl butterfly to E. but it got spooked (butterflies are easily spooked) and flittered away to land on Miriam, who freaked out (of course). She yelped and ran to me so she could cling to my leg. Those delicate butterflies are terrifying.

Here are our hot, grumpy babies:

It was kind of a muggy day today.

Claire and Miriam are really good friends, so I thought it was funny that when Miriam wanted to sit on this bench with Claire so that I could take a picture of them Claire said, "Sit, just...not too close."

I invited the Wellings over for dinner after Emily decided not to come. Miriam would have been fine with either family but Rachel was excited when I told her the Wellings were coming over instead of Emily's family (because her initial reaction when I told her Emily was coming with her kids was, "All little kids and no one for me to play with!").

The girls had planned to eat outside but their plans were rained out so we all ended up eating inside. Benjamin, exhausted from the sandbox or something, napped through most of dinner. He woke up in time for some banana and cereal before we brought out the cake, which our guests very patiently waited for without unceremoniously digging in or anything (how civil of them).

Benjamin was thrilled to be the center of attention.

He was enthralled with the fire:

He was not, however, quite sure how to blow it out:

Lucky for him, he had several helpers:

Miriam, Claire, Aubrey, and Rachel
So instead of having one child exhale forcefully all over the cake we had five children exhale forcefully all over the cake (Claire and Aubrey's brother Trent helped, too).

Benjamin enjoyed his cake, though it wasn't his first try of cake because Grandpa (Reid) sneaked him a bite of cake while we were visiting in Utah (and I'm sure he's had other people sneak him tastes as well).

He was certainly ready for a bath after having cake time!

I think Benjamin had a fun time turning one. We, at any rate, had a fun time celebrating him!

1 comment:

  1. This was all so good, but Miriam's wedding plans, and your dream--they take the cake! :o) I love you all, and happy birthday to Mr. Benjamin!