Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rachel's 7th Birthday

This morning I walked out of my bedroom to find Rachel at the breakfast table.

"Happy Birthday *clap* to you!" I sang (to the tune of "You've Had a Birthday"—our primary usually claps on the rest in the last measure).

"Thanks," Rachel blushed.

"CAKE!" Benjamin demanded. "Where-y go?"

"It's in the fridge," I said. "We're not going to have cake until after dinner."

"Oh," he said sadly.

"Do you like cake?" I asked.

"Es," he nodded gravely.

Rachel had a happy morning getting ready for church. Birthdays are quite exciting because you get to do everything for the first time as a seven-year-old (or whatever the case may be). So, she got to brush her hair for the first time as a seven-year-old and get dressed for the first time as a seven-year-old and do all other such menial tasks for the first time as a seven-year-old and that served to make even the dullest task at least slightly more exciting.

Birthday eves are equally exciting because you get to do everything for the last time as a six-year-old (or whatever the case may be).

We milk motivation for all its worth at this house.

Today was a long day at church again. We were supposed to be there early for choir and then, of course, we stay late for choir, too. I packed a lunch, got my things ready for class, helped get the kids ready, and got ready myself. We left the house in time to pick up a friend needing a ride but I noticed on the way that I'd forgotten to put my wedding ring back on yesterday after I finished with Rachel's cake.

No matter, one can survive without a wedding ring for the day. I mentioned it to Andrew but insisted we didn't need to go back home...until I realized that I'd also neglected to put deodorant on. While one can live without a wedding ring for a day, it's a little more difficult to live without deodorant for the day (while remaining friends with everyone). So we went back home after picking up our friend.

We missed before-church choir practice but were still plenty early for church. Sacrament meeting was fine—the kids were much better behaved on their own turf than they were last week while we were visiting in Palmyra—and so was primary. It was almost relaxing to be in charge of just one class!

Rachel got sung to, of course, and she was so embarrassed to have to stand up in front of everyone that she stared at me, wide-eyed, the whole time. So I made faces at her because what else is a mother supposed to do?

After church Rachel had fun playing with her friend Carolina (and Miriam and Benjamin) while Andrew and I were busy with choir. Poor Benjamin had an embarrassing moment when he was strutting across the stand, smiling at the lovely choir ladies on the first row. His head was turned to smile at everyone and he was clearly not watching because before anyone could stop him he smacked into a wall and fell over backwards. He was the saddest boy in the world.

I was rather flustered because I was holding one of my friend Magie's twins and I had hand him off suddenly (and didn't ever get him back—*sniff*—that's the danger of passing babies off!) and run to my own baby, who's more of a boy, I suppose.

It was rather comical once Benjamin stopped screaming. I keep seeing him run straight into the wall in my mind and every single time it's hilarious.

Anyway, Rachel was excited when it was time to come home because going home meant presents and cake and birthday dinner. She wanted pancakes for her birthday dinner but wisely suggested we have pancakes the night before her birthday (since she knows how I feel about having dessert after pancakes—no way, José) and we had tortellini for dinner today.

Presents were fun. Benjamin hasn't quite grasped the concept that other people have birthdays besides him. He kept getting in the way, trying to "help," while shouting, "And me! And me! And me!"

Aunt Katharine mailed us some LEGO a while back, which we kept stashed away until today. Rachel was thrilled to pieces (though Miriam's the one who has been cooped up in the bedroom playing with them all evening).

Miriam gave Rachel a gift but she didn't know what it was until Rachel opened it (because I always forget about birthday presents until the night before and forgot to have Miriam pick something out).

"I got Rachel a book!" she squealed, jumping for joy on the couch, as Rachel tore off the paper.

Miriam was quite excited for her sister to turn seven. At the dinner table she remarked, "Mom! This is so nice having our kid turn seven!"

It's one of Ken Jennings' junior genius books. Andrew ordered it online months ago. Also (slightly) pictured (above) is a "money jar," as Rachel calls it. It's one from my childhood that has been sitting neglected for more than a decade. It's an old peanut butter jar, but it's cute and serves the purpose, and she was excited to get it so she had somewhere to put her birthday money from her grandparents!

I made Rachel a baby book (using a free book coupon at Shutterfly) of her first year.

"Now everybody has a baby book!" Rachel exclaimed, then thought for a moment and said, "Except Miriam."

"Does Benjamin have a baby book?" I asked.

"No, but you do," she said. "So I guess just you and I have baby books now."

Yeah, I'm a major slacker when it comes to baby books. But that's okay because blog.

Andrew and Benjamin gave Rachel a set of Roald Dahl books (Benjamin helped her open it).

(Oh, and Auntie Em sent a package of novels to Rachel for Christmas—we saved Harriet the Spy to give to her for her birthday. Rachel was so excited to get a present from Auntie Em, Uncle Morgan, and baby Gavin!)

Rachel was certainly happy to receive so many books for her birthday. This little bookworm never wants anything else.

We got to skype with Grandma and Grandpa at Auntie Em's new school (because Auntie Em's house doesn't have internet yet). We cooed over cousin Gavin and got the grand tour of her classroom (she's the music teacher at a K–12 school in rural Idaho—this is her first year and she super excited). We also got to skype with Naanii and Bumpa.

After dinner we broke out the cake and Rachel found a surprise gift from Hermione—a bottle of Felix Felicis!

Rachel was super happy about that find!

I'm in the middle of Anne of Avonlea right now and I've loved how L.M. Montgomery describes childhood imagination, especially little Paul Irving, who continuously explains that though he knows the things he imagines aren't true it's certainly fun to believe that they are—"Of course I didn't believe them but I thought them. You know, teacher." Anne, of course, understands this perfectly well. And I think Rachel does, too.

Reading brings her so much joy. Sometimes she jumps up with surprise when she reads. We caught her doing this while we were camping. We'd put the little ones to bed and Andrew, Rachel, and I were sitting in chairs reading when Rachel suddenly jumped up.

"What?" I asked.

"Nothing," she mumbled. "It's just...Bill and Fleur are getting married and I was so excited to be invited! Their party is beautiful! It's just like I'm there!"

She knows she wasn't really there. She knows Harry Potter is a work of fiction. But, oh, she does enjoy pretending it's not!

That bottle of liquid luck is Davy's feather headdress and I am Anne, the enabler of imagination, spoiler of little children (if giving them garbage is spoiling, that is, because that bottle would have otherwise been deemed ready for the rubbish bin).

Here's the birthday girl basking in the glow of seven candles:

It's hard to believe she's seven already, but I suppose time flies when you're having fun!

It took her several tries to blow out all the candles. It's probably good we didn't manage to secure dinner guests because she was huffing and puffing all over that cake like a maniac!

Tomorrow she has her first day of grade two! We met her teacher on Thursday and when I asked if she minded if the little ones tagged along when I volunteered in the class she said, "I don't usually have parent volunteers in my classroom," and I thought to myself, "That sounds about right."

I should clarify that our actual conversation went like this:

Me: "Do you mind if my little ones come with me when I volunteer or would you prefer I get a sitter for them? They're really quite well-behaved. You can ask Mr. A."

Her: "Oh, I don't usually have parent volunteers in my classroom. These sign ups are for special events and projects."

Benjamin, meanwhile, ran around the room squealing, knocked over a bin of books, brushed orientation papers off three or four desks, and wound up smacking his head on a table, giving himself a goose egg, which caused even more screaming than I thought it was possible for his tiny body to emit.

There's a lesson here and it's this: even if your children are typically well-behaved don't mention it out loud.

I was slightly mortified that our first impression had gone so...chaotically. I blame it mostly on the fact that we'd just come off a ten-hour drive and a week-long camping vacation and Benjamin had lost his sense of restraint, that he'd gone a little feral in the great outdoors.

My kids aren't always well-behaved (obviously) but we've gone to school often enough that they know the drill by now. But that was last year when Rachel's teacher had an "open classroom" policy and always seemed to be asking me to come in (and bring the kids!).

Rachel's grown up some more. Seven and eight year olds are typically quite capable of managing themselves in a classroom. I remember that from my childhood—I can't think of very many occasions when parent helpers would come in at all, not at that age.

So what am I going to do with myself?!

I suppose Miriam's preschool co-op will fill my time. And there are still swimming lessons to be had before the pool closes. (Let's not breathe a word of summer ending. We haven't even made it to the beach yet.)

Happy, happy birthday, sweet Rachel! I love this girls so much!

(And did you all notice she figured out how to smile for pictures—about time!)


  1. And a beautiful smile it is! Thanks for sharing her birthday with us!

  2. Great reading about Rachel's special day. I saw that second picture of her and thought she had gotten her hair cut. But then I noticed all the other pictures and saw that was not the case. :)

    Looks like a wonderful day for her!