five

Oh, how the time passes.  I’m a little late in posting this, but my baby recently turned five years old. Five.

Dear Evelyn,

Try not to laugh at my sad little “5” cake.  I like to bake and decorate your birthday cakes on my own, even if I am certainly no expert. This year, we had your first friends party that wasn’t at our house. We had a pool party at the YMCA.  I’m not gonna sugar coat it though.  December birthdays suck.  Between the holidays and the weather, a lot of people we invited weren’t able to make it, but you didn’t notice and you had a lot of fun.

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Five years ago the start of kindergarten seemed like a million years away and now your birthday has come and gone and kindergarten looms ever nearer. You just keep on changing.  Lately, you have been so proud of how many things you can do for yourself.  There are so many cool things about five.

Your dad finally “trained” you to go to sleep on your own at night.  We still do our normal bedtime routine…three books, mom or dad sits with you for 3 songs, and then it’s hugs and kisses and goodnight.  Most of the time you don’t put up a fight.  Occasionally, you wrap your little arms around my neck and ask me to stay.  Sometimes you’ll tell your dad that he can leave the room and recently you told him that soon you will be bigger and you won’t need anyone to stay with you at bedtime.

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You are so proud of yourself when you can get dressed on your own, which is most of the time if you choose to do it.  A few weeks ago, Grandma got you some Converse shoes that actually have laces and you insisted that you needed to learn how to tie right then and there. Of course, you got really frustrated when you couldn’t accomplish the task on the first try….just like your old mom.

We’ve started giving you chores to do and you love to help out around the house. A few days ago you said,  “Thank you, mom!” when I asked you to clean something.

For your birthday this year, we got you a karaoke machine.  You have always loved to sing and that hasn’t changed.  Just today, you told me “I love to sing every day.” We watched the movie Annie for the first time and you said, “Wow, that girl is a really good singer.” You make up your own songs and you get mad at us if we try to sing with you, especially if we don’t sing it exactly the way you think it should be done.

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Lately, when you get mad or frustrated at us, or if you don’t get your way, you stomp up to your bedroom, shut the door and draw a picture at your desk.  The picture usually depicts whatever wrongdoing we have inflicted on you, but by the time you are finished with it, you are usually giggling as you descend the stairs to show it to us.

You draw happy pictures too.  They are not all bad.

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You are obsessed with babies and any kid who’s younger than you, really.  You have an imaginary sister, and imaginary brother, and a large number (100 I think) of imaginary “cousins” who were displaced by a fire in their home and you invited them to come and live with us. We have to save places at the dinner table and you even take your “siblings” to church with you sometimes. You are struggling right now to understand things like love and marriage.  You told me recently that you are going to marry your classmate James.  When I asked you what makes him special, you told me that you “didn’t expect it, but you just fell in love with him.” I’m glad that many of these conversations happen in the car and you can’t see me chuckling at you as you tell me in all seriousness. You also ask about death a lot.  Your brain is struggling to process all these big concepts.  You often ask me what will happen if I die or if Daddy dies or if we both die.  The worst part (to me) about you asking these questions is that you don’t seem to be the slightest bit worried about that happening.  I think you are more interested in thinking about how your life might be different (like you could go to live with the Dobos family, as you once suggested)!

This year you are taking a tumbling class instead of dance.  You seem to like it.  You still love to dance and you like to dance along with music videos.  You also like to do yoga and you are especially fond of the Gummy Bear song, mainly because the little gummy bear’s butt crack shows in the video.  You’re kind of into butts and poop and farts right now.  Ha.

I started teaching preschool again this year. It’s been 10 years, so I am a little out of practice.  You are in one of the other classes, just down the hall, and you teach me songs and games and all kinds of fun things that I get to try out with my kids.  You’re a pretty awesome preschool consultant.

You’re still giving us a run for our money sometimes.  You had a pretty big breath holding spell right around Christmas time, after a year of being spell-free.  I was certain that we had seen the end of them, but you reminded us that you are still our little girl who needs a little extra understanding now and then.

I’m sure that five is just the beginning of many years of you wishing to be just a bit older, but it’s the number that once seemed so far away to this first-time mom and it’s the number of years I have been pleading that time would slow down just a little….

Five.

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birthday cake

Last year I was planning Evelyn’s December birthday in July.  This year, not so much.  It’s not that I am not excited about her birthday.  Actually, I am super-excited.  I just don’t have the energy for a big bash this year. Still, I have been lurking around Pinterest, searching for some cute cakes and simple decorations.  This year the plan is a simple dinner at home, followed by ice cream and cake.  Grandparents and perhaps a few Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins.  Whoever is available to stop over.  December is a difficult month for birthdays, with so many other celebrations going on, so we’re just going to play it really low-key.  I’ll probably wait until she turns 5 to have another big party and by then, I think Michael and I will have to decide what kind of birthday traditions we’d like to establish for her.  We always said we wanted to keep her day separate from Christmas and special on its own, so coming up with some little traditions that are all about her is really important to me.

I’ve been really talking to her about her birthday…even more than I’ve talked to her about Christmas. We’ve talked about the fact that she will be two years old and we’ve been practicing holding up two fingers. She’s learned how to sing Happy Birthday and I’ve told her that we will sing to her and she will blow out the candles on her birthday cake. She always giggles when I tell her that. The first time I mentioned cake to her she said, And ice cream? I think I’m almost more excited about her birthday than she is!

Check out all these cute cakes.  Even if we have the most lame-o party, I really want to bake my own cake. Hmm…which one should I try?

On getting older…

In looking forward to my birthday this week, (turning 30-something yet again!) I decided to resurrect one of my old posts about birthdays and getting older. Enjoy!

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I recently had a birthday and Michael has a fairly monumental one coming up in the next few days. My younger brother and sister have both turned 30 over the past year and my youngest sister just turned 21. All these milestone birthdays have me thinking about getting older.

Michael refers to birthdays as “just another circle around the sun.” I guess he doesn’t see them as anything special. My family has always celebrated birthdays, but never made a huge deal out of them either. Some people don’t celebrate them at all while others think it’s the biggest deal on the planet and will remind friends and family for weeks before the day that their birthday is forthcoming.

They say that age ain’t nothin’ but a number, but when it comes to getting older, I think that most of us are more than a little aware that we’re aging…

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birthday traditions

When I found out I was pregnant, I felt nothing but pure joy.  But when the initial shock passed and I had a moment to sit back and consider my due date, I have to admit I felt a bit of disappointment.  December.  My baby would be born in December and would forever have to share her birthday with the granddaddy of all holidays.  I couldn’t think of a worse time of year to have a birthday.  All the two-for-one gifts, the unattended (or non-existent) birthday parties, and just getting lost in the shadow of a fat, bearded man.

Our little Christmas present.

So, I began thinking and Michael and I began talking about how we can create some birthday traditions for our daughter that will set it aside from the bustling holiday madness.  Michael likes to think big.  He suggested taking some big family trip every year to mark her special day.  I can definitely appreciate his enthusiasm, but I was thinking something smaller, simpler, yet special.  Besides, traveling during the holiday rush and putting an additional strain on our wallets seems like a great way to turn me into a raving, stressed-out mad person.  So here are just a few of the ideas I’ve come up with:

  • Birthday Gift Hide and Seek:  Leave little clues on notes throughout the house and the birthday girl will have to follow the directions on each note to find the next note and, eventually, her  birthday present.
  • On the Day You Were Born:  Recount the story of the day she was born.  Include pictures!
  • Yearbook:  I am actually working on this one now and it could easily go along with the last idea.  I’m creating a book of her first year at shutterfly.com and at the end of the year, I will order it and have it sent to our doorstep.  This could be read every year on her birthday or I could create a new one each year to celebrate that year’s highlights.
  • Special meal or treat:  Let her choose her favorite restaurant, meal at home, or special treat to accompany either one.
  • Balloons!:  I have been seeing this on Pinterest a lot lately…fill her room with balloons or barricading the door with balloons while she sleeps, so that she’s surprised when she wakes up in the morning.
  • 20 Questions:  Interview her each year with the same 20 question and see how their answers change.  This could be included as part of the yearbook mentioned above or videotaped.

And I have a confession to make.  At first, I was completely against the idea of incorporating anything Christmas-y into her birthday, but the more I think about it, it might be fun to make her birthday celebration part of choosing the Christmas tree.  Her birthday is on the 14th, so I’m envisioning a weekend of going out to choose a tree, decorating it, hot cocoa, Christmas movies, maybe a trip to the ice skating rink, and a special meal just for the birthday girl.

Of course, Evelyn is only 8 months old and I have at least a few years to try to figure this out.  Right now, I’m completely fixed on planning her first birthday party (more on this later).  But I’m wondering, what are your special birthday traditions?  How do you make your child’s birthday special?