Monday, October 26, 2020

Birthday buddies

Miriam turned 11 today, which is breaking my heart a little bit. I have enjoyed being her primary activity leader so much and I'm going to miss her when she graduates into the Young Women's program in January (it still blows my mind that all the girls move up together because when I was that age you had to wait until you turned 12 to graduate from primary, a policy that came with its own set of challenges). But it's not like she'll be entirely gone from my life. 

I mean, we're homeschooling and are in the middle of a global pandemic so tend to just stay home a lot, so I'm going to see her frequently, and I'm sure she'll enjoy getting to spread her wings a little bit, assuming we ever get to a wing-spreading stage...which...I mean...I dunno.

This afternoon I did get an email notifying the young women and their parents that all in-person activities have been cancelled through November and will be replaced by virtual activities (three cheers for that because...hello), due, of course, to the pandemic and the rising numbers we're seeing now. While I'm happy about this change, I do find it confusing because our numbers are still lower than they were when they originally started pushing for (and holding) in-person activities while Rachel and I were raising a big fuss about...you know...the pandemic. And now that the numbers have been, from my perspective, holding steady, they are suddenly deciding to not have in-person activities. 

Nationally, our numbers don't look great so I imagine Georgia will spring up there soon. But I think this call has less to do with Georgia's numbers (or even our county numbers) and more to do with the fact that there are "a few" cases within the ward, though I don't know that we'll ever know who.

But none of that has much of anything to do with Miriam's birthday and more to do with just my overall feeling of being crushed alive. It's fine. I haven't been finding the time I'd like to write (here or elsewhere) and so I'm going to squish my "October Birthday Buddies" into one post, which really isn't fair because although they are born within the same month, their birthdays are farther apart (11 days) than Zoë and Benjamin's (10 days), though not by much. This is just one more way for them to learn that life isn't fair (and that it can't be fair)—sorry and you're welcome.

First we'll catalogue our birthday balloons. Here's Alexander with his birthday balloons this morning before we finally took them down. We meant to get around to making more for him but his birthday ended up being a little busier than we expected—with re-stretching our carpet and putting our basement back together.


Andrew wrote a big 4 on Alexander's balloon, crossed that out, and wrote a 3. Alexander is very proud of being three and does not like to be teased about being any other age. So naturally Andrew decided to tease him about it a little bit more. He also wrote a little acrostic poem for Alexander:

       Awesome
cuddLy
  lovEs fun
     eXcellent

I said, "You are so tender and compassionate, always good for a cuddle. I have a feeling you will be a passionate 3-year-old! I love you!"

Rachel wrote a poem:

A
Loving
Exceptionally cute
XY chromosome

Miriam wrote this acrostic (long-ostic) monstrosity (it hurts my brain just to look at it):


Instead of spelling his name down the page, she spelled his name across the top and each of the words she associated with him are running up and down. 

      Adorable
       Lovable
       Emotional
       XOXOXO
       A three-year-old
       Normal
       Dear
(an) Even number no more
       Rowdy

Benjamin also wrote an acrostic:

Awesome
Lovely
Extraordinary
XOXOX

Zoë made him this lovely balloon:


It says, "Happy Birthday 3-year-old Alex. I love ye. And remember. Love, Zoë!"

Because sometimes you can say "ye" instead of "you," Zoë told us, and I suppose she's not wrong.

We filled out Miriam's birthday balloons in the break between sacrament meeting and primary. We had about forty-five minutes to kill (while we wait for those who attended—like all six of them (Really! They added a view of the congregation for those of us "dialing in" and there were about six people in the pews)—to run home before our second hour of meetings), which was plenty of time for everyone to write on a balloon or two for Miriam.



Andrew said, "You are so kind and helpful and a joy to have in our home!" and "You are dedicated and focused on doing amazing things like art and music."

I said, "We are so blessed to have such a thoughtful, helpful, talented person in our family. Thank you for being you. It's been fun to watch you grow up," and I wrote her an acrostic as well:

Master planner
Intelligent
Resolute
Incredible
Amazing
Musician

Rachel also wrote an acrostic:

Musical
Irresponsible (minus -ir)
Reader
Is smart
Artist
Miniature

Benjamin wrote some interesting things: "My sister is like a slinky of kindness with only 11 rings," and "Me sisi is a musical note of sound and kindness."

We're not quite sure what either of those meant. He was trying to sound poetic with his first balloon, likening Miriam to a slinky (he assured her that she is only an 11-ring slinky now but that she'll keep adding rings of kindness as she gets older, which I suppose is a nice thought (at any rate it's an interesting one)).

He did another balloon that had a picture of a jack-o-lantern and the words "You are nice!"

Zoë said: "I love Miriam because she's nice to me!"

Alexander drew all sorts of pictures for her, using up all the spare balloons, which means I'll have none on hand for the next birthday. And that's really alright because we've reached the end of birthday season at our house and we don't have to worry about anyone's birthday until the end of May. Phew!

I've written before about our birthday party schedule, but it was so long ago that I only had the schedule until the year 2017, so here is the list updated a bit:

2012: Rachel - 5, Miriam - 3, Benjamin - 0 (one party)
2013: Rachel - 6, Miriam - 4, Benjamin - 1 (no parties)
2014: Rachel - 7, Miriam - 5, Benjamin - 2 (one party)
2015: Rachel - 8, Miriam - 6, Benjamin - 3, Zoë - 0 (one party)
2016: Rachel - 9, Miriam - 7, Benjamin - 4, Zoë - 1 (no parties)
2017: Rachel - 10, Miriam - 8, Benjamin - 5, Zoë - 2, Alexander - 0 (two parties)
2018: Rachel - 11, Miriam - 9, Benjamin - 6, Zoë - 3, Alexander  -1 (no parties?!)

2019: Rachel - 12, Miriam - 10, Benjamin -7, Zoë - 4, Alexander - 2 

One party, which we postponed until Rachel's 13th because she decided she'd like to make friends here and then have a party, rather than have a parting party with her friends in Utah since she was with them all at girl's camp the week of her birthday, anyway)

2020: Rachel - 13, Miriam 11, Benjamin - 8, Zoë - 5, Alexander - 3 

Things are getting tricky. I owe Rachel a party from 2019, but there's a pandemic going on so...we're putting off her party until alter. Benjamin and Zoë each were supposed to get a party this year as well but, uh, that didn't happen, which means things are really starting to stack up for 2021.

2021: Rachel - 14, Miriam - 12, Benjamin - 9, Zoë - 6, Alexander - 4

This year only Miriam should get a party. But I owe Benjamin and Zoë parties from 2020 and Rachel a party from 2019. Who thought of this system, anyway?! This one-party year is suddenly a four-party year. I don't think I'm a four-party-a-year person, but let's assume I can get it done, just to simplify future years.

2022: Rachel - 15, Miriam - 13, Benjamin - 10, Zoë - 7, Alexander - 5 (one party)
2023: Rachel - 16, Miriam - 14, Benjamin - 11, Zoë - 8, Alexander - 6 (two parties)
2024: Rachel - 17, Miriam - 15, Benjamin - 12, Zoë - 9, Alexander - 7 (one party)
2025: Rachel - 18, Miriam - 16, Benjamin - 13, Zoë - 10, Alexander - 8 (two parties)

And that's it, guys. This is where the kids start leaving the house...already?!

2026: Miriam - 17, Benjamin - 14, Zoë - 11, Alexander - 9 

At least I won't have to worry about throwing anyone a party while I'm trying to get Rachel settled on her own at college. 

2027: Miriam -18, Benjamin - 15, Zoë - 12, Alexander - 10 (one party)

I'm beginning to feel like this isn't a very healthy exercise. 

2028: Benjamin - 15, Zoë - 12, Alexander - 10 (one party)
2029: Benjamin - 16, Zoë - 13, Alexander - 11 (one party)
2030: Benjamin - 17, Zoë - 14, Alexander - 12 (one party)
2031: Benjamin - 18, Zoë - 15, Alexander - 13 (no parties)

I have to throw parties every year until the year 2031!?!!! Again, I ask, who came up with this plan?!

2032: Zoë - 16, Alexander - 14 (one party)
2033: Zoë - 17, Alexander - 15 (no parties)
2034: Zoë - 18, Alexander - 16 (one party)

And that will be it. The very last one. After that there will be no more birthday parties in this house. And while 2034 seems laughably far off in the future it somehow also feels incredibly close. Alexander is only "one Rachel away" from getting the very last birthday party in our house. 

I will never not be heartbroken about my children growing up, even if I'm not a very fun mom and don't particularly enjoy throwing parties and am the worst gift-picker-outer. Speaking of presents, how about some pictures of our "October Birthday Buddies" opening theirs?

Here's Alexander working on opening some walkie-talkies from Auntie Kelli:



The kids have all enjoyed playing with them a lot! They've come on walks around the block and out to the river and have been involved in games of hide-and-seek...


Here he is opening up the game "Hoot Owl Hoot":


He was excited about it because (a) he really likes owls and (b) his friend Kate has this game and once brought it to our house when she came over for a play date (back when we did that sort of thing). "Now Kate has this game and I have this game!" he squealed. It's a fun cooperative-style game.



Here he is opening his "Picasso Tiles":


And here he is opening a set of bear counters from my mom:


Patrick had a set of these counters when he was little and I remember enjoying playing with them so figured the kids would like them. Miriam and Rachel remember using them at Easley (I know for sure that Mr. Alban had a set in his classroom, but it's likely other teachers did as well).

Miriam made Alexander a cute card with owls and bubbles, at his request:



She also wrapped up a couple of her old stuffed animals to give to him, which he was thrilled to pieces about.


He hugged them and murmured, "Just what I always wanted!"


Here are the little three enjoying Alexander's new toys:


I'm hoping these new things will keep him somewhat occupied while we're doing our lessons (we're starting back up tomorrow).

And here is Miriam opening up her presents this morning...


Unlike Alexander who was ripping into things, Miriam very meticulously unwrapped her presents without even a micro-tear.

Zoë made her some little people from cardboard that was on our new smoke detectors (because like everything else in our house, one of our smoke detectors stopped working (and started beeping incessantly about it) and changing the battery didn't fix anything so we had to get a new one, but they came in a pair so we got two new ones (as well as some extra ones to go in each bedroom since that's "code" now):


We got her some velcro dots for a needlepoint project she's been working on. She was very excited about the velcro dots and...I guess that's the secret to giving a good gift. Delay in giving someone something while they spend months begging and begging for it. That way they'll be so happy when it finally arrives!


Here she is opening up her music socks:


You can see her presents neatly laid out in front of her, with her discarded wrappings sitting neatly at her feet. This was the quickest and easiest post-unwrapping-presents clean up ever!


She was thrilled about the socks. I was just sad that the other half of this gift was delayed in arriving to us (it was supposed to arrive yesterday, but now we'll be lucky to get it by next week, according to the package tracking). Rachel was also thrilled about the socks. She's hopeful that now Miriam will stop borrowing her socks. 

Again, just delay getting anyone anything and then when you do get them something they'll be overjoyed. Keeping expectations low is key to being a good gift-giver.

#AmIDoingThisRight?

Here's Benjamin looking over the Star Wars Origami book my sister Kelli sent for the kids to share. She's been extra sweet this year (besides the fact that she's actually a good gift-giver) and has been sending both a present for the birthday child and an activity for all the kids to do together for each of their birthdays. It's been a lifesaver during this pandemic, keeping things just a little bit more interesting for us. Maybe someday I can be like her. 


Here she is opening up the book of organ music Auntie Kelli sent for her:


Miriam wasn't expecting much for her birthday this year, since we told her that the organ was her birthday (and Christmas (and probably her next birthday and Christmas as well)), so she was pleasantly surprised to be getting anything, but she was especially excited to have so many new organ arrangements to play with on her new-to-her organ:


She's also excited to spend her birthday money from her grandparents. She's old enough that I don't dare spend it for her like I do for the little kids. She's much better at knowing what she wants than I am (she also has the option of just saving the money if she wants). 

And that's a wrap—our "October Birthday Buddies" have had their balloons and presents documented and I've been reminded to cherish every day I have with these kiddos under my roof (because I have a feeling the next thirteen years of parenting is going to go as fast—if not faster—than the first thirteen years).

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