Thursday, June 15, 2023

Beignets for Benjamin's 11th Birthday

In an effort to stay relevant as time is whizzing by (and we're accumulating more and more memories than we can possibly contain), I will take you back to the very first day of our trip: June 3. 

We planned to leave by 7:00 in the morning and pulled out of the driveway around 7:30, so we really didn't do too bad. 

Benjamin wasn't too pleased to get such an early start to his birthday, but he was excited to get to ride in Grandpa's car (where he just about got unlimited Zelda time on the Switch). We did quite a bit of his birthday celebrations the day before we left—we put up his birthday balloons and opened his presents and things like that. 

Here he is posing in front of his birthday balloons with Phoebe:

And without:

Now that he's 11 he's been making big strides to try to be included in what the big kids are doing rather than what the little kids are doing. He wants to prove that he's responsible and mature and...that in and of itself is a mark of maturity. So he's been staying up to play cards with the big people after the little kids go to bed, and things like that, which he's enjoyed.

Perhaps his biggest triumph since turning 11 was when we went to dinner at the Zanders (on Sunday) and Sister Zander was trying to figure out where to seat everybody. She decided that we could have the grown ups and the little kids at the table and the big kids sit around the counter...and she included Benjamin in her count of the big kids. 

He pumped his fists in the air, knowing that he'd arrived at being counted as a big kid! 

Anyway, most of his birthday was spent in the car. We drove from our house to New Orleans with enough time to spend the late afternoon and early evening walking around downtown. 

Here's Benjamin surfing on the luggage cart at our hotel:

And here he is relaxing in our room:

Our big adventure was walking through a maze of streets (including Bourbon Street, which experience) to get to Café du Monde to nab some beignets. They were surprisingly inexpensive (only about a dollar each), but they made for a pretty cool birthday treat.

Here we all are in front of Café du Monde (except for Andrew, who is taking the picture):

And here's Andrew with all the kids (except for Miriam) sitting down to eat on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River:

We will surely have more posts about our adventures in New Orleans (and elsewhere), but for now I wanted to make sure we got up a celebratory post of this boy:

Benjamin is an amazing older brother. He makes things fun—Alexander and Zoë always have more fun when Benjamin is around—and he's so good about including his younger siblings. I can always depend on him to help out with Phoebe (he is goofy and she thinks he's hilarious) and to take out the trash. He's our very best cat wrangler. 

He's passionate about the outdoors, loves to hike and explore. His favourite school subject is math and he's been getting better and better about doing his work independently. He loves collecting things and recently inherited an entire collection of bones from our neighbour (who retired from being a school teacher). He is planning on setting up all his collections outside and having the little neighbourhood kids visit it (like a mini-museum). 

I can tell he's growing a lot because his pants are getting shorter and shorter and he's decided that sleeping on the floor for days on end is no longer comfortable. We had to move him to the little fold-out bed in Aunt Linda's basement. Isn't getting older fun, Benjamin?

Really quick (because Phoebe's up and I've got to put her back down), here are what his birthday balloons say:

An acrostic from Zoë:

Experimenting always
No stink (mostly)

We did get him some deodorant for his birthday (among other—funner—things).

She filled most of her balloon with stickers so couldn't write much. We filled out his birthday balloons the Monday before we left, which is also when we assembled our travel journals (because we used stickers to decorate our covers).

Alexander also employed stickers in his birthday balloon. His says:

How old? 11!! Yay, oh, ya! You are cool, COOL

BEN How old 11

Oh ya I love you!

COOL and BEN are spelled out in watermelon letter stickers.

From me:

Benjamin the mathematician 
has big hair and big ambition!
Growing great, there is no question!
Ask his age, he'll say "Eleven!"

Excited about life
Especially under pressure
Very fun to be around
Everybody loves him
No one can compare!

My sweet 4-lbs baby! Look at you now—so many skills, so much knowledge, such a wonderful boy. You are so helpful (our pharmacist* and garbage man( and I always appreciate your good nature, good humour, good attitude. I love you so much!

* At the time he had been diligently cutting melatonin in half to give to Phoebe before bed. He would feed her one half and put the other half on my nightstand (so I could give it to her when she inevitably woke up at midnight wanting to be finished sleeping for the evening). But then, well, he decided it would be easier for him to cut many melatonins in half. That way he would only need to distribute them in the evening, rather than cut them. So he did. He cut up between five and ten melatonin gummies and put them in a ziplock bag in the bathroom, which I wasn't entirely happy about because I just wanted him to cut one in half every evening, you know?

Well, Phoebe had a terribly "off" day the next day. She was just fussy the whole day, oddly tired, incredibly grumpy. It got to be bedtime and I...couldn't find the melatonin pieces Benjamin had told me he had left in a ziplock bag on the bathroom counter. I did, however, find an empty ziplock bag on the bathroom floor. So we're pretty sure Phoebe snacked on melatonin all day long and that's why she was so tired.

So that idea has been completely nixed and Benjamin now knows there are some tasks you can't do in advance. But it doesn't matter because we decided Phoebe can just have a full dose before bed (her doctor said that was fine, but that I could try a half dose if I wanted to...which I did...but now I don't care; a full dose helps her go to sleep and we're all a lot healthier when she's sleeping!)

From Rachel:

I cannot believe you're already eleven, Ben! That's old enough to go to Hogwarts, and even though that's not a real place it's crazy to think about you being that old! You're such a kind, smart, and funny kids, and I love seeing you get excited about Lego, Zelda, Minecraft, and National Parks. I'm glad you're my brother and I'm excited to see you grow up even more. I love you!

From Miriam:

Happy eleventh birtday, Ben!

[Then a bunch of arrows pointing to her mistake and interjections saying, "Noooo! Not again! I didn't even do it on purpose!"]

You've matured so much this year, and have become way more responsible, I hope you keep your love for the outdoors. You're growing into a wonderful person and I love you!

[written in a fancy script:] Happy Birthday, Benjamin!

[Then an arrow with the interjection, "Spelled it right! LOL!"]

From Dad:

Ben! You're finally 11!

You're always so energetic and passionate and helpful and flexible and adaptable. I'm so impressed with how much you've learned and how quickly you pick up new skills and concepts. You're a great gamer and a great friend and sib to your sibs. Have a great year! Love, Dad

I can say with certainty that it's been amazing to watch this kid grow! He's a wonderful friend and all-around great kid! We're so glad he's on this wild ride around the sun with us! 

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