Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Rachel is thirteen!?!!

It is very hard to believe that Rachel is thirteen years old now because I really do remember—like it was yesterday—bringing Rachel home from the hospital, feeling so terrified and awed, just staring at her, wriggling and grunting in her bassinet, and thinking, "What do we do now?!"

She was so itty-bitty! 

We were so clueless!

We've all done a lot of growing up over the past thirteen years so now we get to stare at this human-sized person (with a little more awe than terror now), lounging on the sofa reading or standing in her bedroom practicing her viola, and think, "What do we do now?!"

She's almost grown!

We are still so clueless!

But we've made it this far, so I suppose we just keep on going.

So, let's see. We bedazzled the birthday tree for her yesterday. Here she is standing in front of it with her cake:


And here's a view of the whole thing:


Everyone had such nice things to stay to her. Andrew said, "You're fun to hang out with and now you can hang out with the adults!" and "You're the best big sister." 

I said, "Rachel is a creative cake genius. She is a good sport. She has the best puns. She plays beautiful viola music. She is a kind older sister. She is beautiful and hilarious. She is a go-getter and achieves all her goals [or tries to; and if she doesn't she doesn't get upset, she just picks herself up and keeps trying, which is amazing]." And, "I love Rachel because she is a very thoughtful person and is so helpful and dependable. I don't know what I would do without her and I am so thankful for her grace and patience as I've learned (and am learning) how to be a mom."

Miriam said, "You are good at: reading, writing, drawing, pun making, joke telling, cooking, baking, viola, [flip over]: kindness, math, science, sarcasm, etc." And she also listed a bunch of things about Rachel on another balloon: Stranger Things, love, funny, drawing, Parks and Rec, The Office, kindness, sarcasm, viola."

Benjamin said, "She is nice to me and she plays with me," "She is a very sensitive and loving sister," and "She helps me."

Zoë said, "I love Rachel because she is nice to me," and "I love Rachel because she loves me, too."

When I asked Alexander what his balloons said, he sadly dropped his head to his chest and said, "Nofink." But he drew some lovely circles and things for her. So that was nice of him. 

Oh, and our acrostic poem (because everybody must have one):

Reads all the time
Awesome...wow.
Caring and kind.
Helpful and hilarious.
Epic eye rolls.
Laughter...ing. 

A lovely girl.

(Laughtering was Benjamin's suggestion).

We are so grateful to have Rachel in our family, for the service she gives our family every day, and just for the wonderful person she is, in general. She's great to have around! And she's, like, a fully-functioning human being so we're always super glad when it's her turn to do the dishes (or sweep the floor or...whatever) because we know it will actually it gone well! Older kids are amazing. 

I am going to miss having babies around (like, so, so, so much it hurts), but older kids are pretty amazing. Uncharted territory. Scary. But amazing.

Rachel spent most of the day at YW camp. She already attended YW camp with our old stake, with special permission when they cancelled all the camps this spring. Our new stake, you see, was having a ward-camp year, rather than a stake-camp. But our ward had been banking on a stake-camp because that's what our stake was doing. So we had absolutely no plans when we were chopped off and sent to the new stake. Thus, we were invited to participate in our old stake's stake-camp. 

But then the camp was cancelled and they came up with an online "camp" experience, with daily classes and so forth. They even made t-shirts and delivered them to each of the girls. 

It was a good experience, but then our new stake decided to offer an online camp and invited our ward as well (since, you know, we're part of the stake). So I signed Rachel up and...wow. This camp is really showing the other stake's camp up. They dropped off a big bag full of goodies—a pillow case, s'mores ingredients, cake-making supplies, a book, a journal, a schedule on a spreadsheet (Rachel was very excited about the spreadsheet), and a bunch of other stuff. 

She was online doing classes from 10:00 in the morning until 5:00 this afternoon! And she had fun doing it! They have a daily drawing class, a daily yoga class, and then other classes and activities sprinkled throughout the day. (The old stake's camp consisted of one class a day, so it was a little underwhelming). Rachel seemed to have a good day, but on her "breaks" she would pop up to be nosy about her cake (and helped knead and dye the fondant, and, and, and...).

I baked it last night (using this recipe for maple streusel cake) and then whipped up some Russian buttercream, which I've never used before. It's made from butter and sweetened condensed milk and that's all. It whips up light and fluffy, but...unfortunately...does not like warm, humid climates...so it "broke" while I was whipping it and I had to put it in the fridge to cool off before I tried to whip it again and...it never quite came to the desired consistency. But it isn't as sickly-sweet as traditional American buttercream so I might try it again (in the fall, perhaps, or at least not in Atlanta in the dog days of summer when our air conditioner is on the fritz). It worked well enough, though, so I iced the cake. 

Today I made waffle cones, just as I did last year for Rachel's birthday. 

Last year she wanted waffle cake because of Stranger Things. This year she wanted waffle cake because of Parks and Recreation. So waffle cones on Rachel's birthday seems to be a thing now. 

Anyway, they took me forever to make. I didn't like the recipe I used this time around; they were far too delicate (it called for four egg whites). It might be too little, too late (considering I already went through all the frustration of making my delicate waffles), but I did a little more searching this evening and found the recipe I used last year (which called for two whole eggs (which I appreciate because who has time to separate eggs? (and also it makes for a heartier (less delicate) waffle)).

Rachel has also been hankering to try maple-bacon anything. She keeps finding recipes to make and I've kept putting her off, so I decided that today was the day and I sprinkled her maple cake with real bacon. 


While I was making the waffles I also made up some fondant because Rachel didn't only want a breakfast-themed cake (Leslie Knope, the main character loves waffles (and a good spreadsheet)). She wanted a Parks and Recreation-themed cake! So I also paid homage to "The Cones of Dunshire" as well as Li'l Sebastian. 


The cake says, "Happy 13, you beautiful, powerful musk ox!" which is actually a truncated quote from the show. It should be, "You're a beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox!" but I couldn't fit that on the cake and the icing, again, was not fond of the heat and humidity so it got a little runny and gross. But that's okay. 

Here's Rachel with her cake again (before we remembered to stick in the Li'l Sebastian sign):


And here's Benjamin when Miriam declared, "Benjamin's photoshopping!"


She 100% meant "photo bombing." 

Andrew arranged the candles in such a spread-out way that I thought for sure Rachel wouldn't be able to blow them all out in one go (and, I'm just now remembering, I meant to have her try to blow out her candles with a face mask on just to test our little homemade masks, but I totally forgot, so perhaps we'll have the kids try that tomorrow).




She took my challenge very seriously, however, and victoriously blew out all of her candles.





After cake we played some games. But first let me back up, because before cake we opened presents. Here are the boys sitting around, waiting to watch Rachel open presents:


Here are Zoë and Miriam fighting over couch space. Zoë wanted the whole couch to herself. Miriam didn't want to sit on the floor (or between her brothers).


We told Zoë that claiming a whole couch when the room is full of people is silly and that she needed to let her sister have a seat. So she did. But that didn't mean either one of them had to be happy about it.


Here's Rachel with an "The Office"-themed notebook and a Pam figurine that her YW leader dropped off for her:



Here she is getting overly excited about a(n empty) first aid kit:


She likes to be prepared, this child.



Here she is showing off some of her new church dresses...for...you know...in case we ever get to go back to church some day. She recently passed nearly all her clothes on to Miriam. The last dress we bought for her was about to her knees (when it should have been to her ankles), so it was definitely time for something new.


I realize this dress is only to her knees but it was designed to be that way (we'll see if she wears it; she tends to favour longer skirts and dresses (I told her that if she doesn't wear it that I will steal it from her and wear it, myself (she scoffed and said it wouldn't fit me but we wear the same shirt size so...it probably would (also I went a whole week wearing Miriam's new flip flops, thinking they were mine because her feet are the same size as mine now and...it's weird having so many life-sized humans in the house))):


Here she is being very happy about some foot mops my sister Kelli sent (you wear them on your feet; she sent five pairs so they're really for all the children but we wrapped them up anyway):


And a book my sister Kelli sent:


And a game my sister sent called, "Throw Throw Burrito":


Here she is laughing because she had worked her way down to the cards and when she looked at the envelope to announce who it was from she said, "Rachel Heiss. Wait. That's...that's...me? Oh, wait. It's from the Wasdens."


Here's Benjamin doing his best to look like a park ranger:


A friend of mine offered us a bag of old dress-up clothes, which is where Benjamin found this hat. He found the feather while we were on our walk today and stuck it in there to be all dapper. He's really hoping to be a forest ranger when he grows up.

Anyway, presents having been opened and admired, we moved on to cake and ice cream. You heard a considerable amount about the cake already, so I'll try to spare you the details there. Instead, here we are with the ice cream cones that I slaved over. Wee ones for Alexander:


I...am honestly not sure he's ever had ice cream in a cone before. If he has, the last time would have been last year on Rachel's birthday. But I'm honestly not sure I would have given him an ice cream gone to eat...that seems like something altogether too messy. Anyway, here he is trying out the whole "licking an ice cream" thing. He wasn't too sure about eating ice cream this way:


Here's Zoë, who was a little more confident about her ice cream cone:


And Benjamin, who was stoic (as a park ranger):


I must have neglected to grab a picture of Miriam with her ice cream. But I know she had some. Here's Rachel eating hers:


After cake and ice cream we played some games. First we played "Throw Throw Burrito," which was a rambunctious and silly game. It kind of reminded me of the game "Spoons," but with a few twists thrown in. For one, instead of grabbing at spoons, you reach for a burrito to hurl at another player whenever certain sets of cards are played (you can watch a video of how to play here).

Here we are working out how to play the game (it's really not that complicated once you get the hang of it, but it is fast-paced (and wild)):


Here's Rachel getting ready to whip the burrito at Miriam (they must have missed the first time they threw the burrito; I'm assuming this was a battle they were waging (Rachel was really into this game; it's her new favourite game)):


And here's Miriam and Benjamin getting ready for their burrito duel:


Alexander enjoyed watching us from the relative safety of his perch on the couch (what he really wanted to do was hold and squish the burritos but nobody would let him, poor guy):



And then, of course, we couldn't send the kids off to bed without first playing "Danger 13" in honour of Rachel reaching her thirteenth year:


It's a much calmer game, anyway, so it helped the kids settle down a bit before bed (they sure were riled up from "Throw Throw Burrito," which I have a feeling we'll be playing again soon).

Happy, happy birthday, Rachel, dear!

1 comment:

  1. Great Birthday post! It was worth waiting up for. I checked it a couple of times, then just read and when I checked again, the post was here! Hurray!

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