July 29, 2010 at 8:29 am 2 comments

We celebrated Xi’s seventh birthday yesterday. Nathan catalogued our multi-stop celebratory parade here if you’d like to see photos. The load above is what I pulled home from our last river stop. Holy cow, birthdays are a lot of work.

Leading up to the special day I pumped the girl for details of how she wanted to celebrate. And now that I think about it I guess that might be part of the problem. If you’d like to keep things simple and low-key, don’t ask an almost seven-year old to plan the day. Especially one that fashions herself after royalty, poufy dresses, sky-high cakes, and fancy balls always dance through her mind. She planned a bike parade with streamers and balloons to highlight her celebrity, a stop at the coffee shop to allow our older community friends to celebrate with watermelon, rides on the carousel, a cake party at the river, and a birthday dinner at home.

What I forgot was that with each birthday request there would be a mountain of parental tasks attached. Streamers? Those need to be made and taped. Balloons? That means an additional stop, toddler in tow. Watermelon? That means a trip to the grocery. Rides on the carousel? That means Papa has to be willing to go around and around and around. Cake at the river? That means Mama skips the carousel in order to race home for swimsuits, towels, snacks, water, tubes, forks, napkins, goody bags, and the cake. Birthday dinner? Mac-n-cheese and chicken nuggets is about as simple as it gets but still requires effort and dishes.

In order to make it come together I found myself scheduling the pre-birthday moments with military precision. Bella! If you want to get that banner done you need to get a move on! Nathan! We have fifteen minutes until Xi’s arrival! Next task: balloons and flowers, GO! And of course, like any smart mama I attempted to get as much done the day before as possible, the cake for example, but even that method has it’s pitfalls.

Birthday cakes are mildly stressful affairs so I like to make them at night while the children are dead asleep and I can concentrate fully, but Xi’s is a dead-of-summer birthday and I didn’t want to heat the house up in the evening when we are trying to cool it down enough to sleep. I figured early morning would be better. That’s until I realized that the children aren’t asleep at that time, they are wide-awake and more than willing to offer Mama lots and lots of “help”. I was doubling the recipe in my mind while negotiating whose turn it was to stir and that, as we all know, is not a recipe for yummy cake, it’s a recipe for disaster. The end result? Flat and salty frisbees.

Xi’s request was for a three-tiered, pink cake with white swoops and swirls, blueberries, raspberries and flowers. Flat frisbees were simply not going to get the desired loft and round two of cake making was required. Even with the best get-it-done-ahead-of-time intentions I was still up at midnight fighting a split piping bag and licking pink frosting off my fingers. The birthday girl did not get swoops but she did get a pink masterpiece and she seemed happy.

In the end I am exhausted but also glad. Xi is a middle child and try as you might to prevent it, they do get a bit lost in the shuffle. For example, Xi lost a tooth the other day and tucked it under her pillow. But after helping the three-year old thrash herself to sleep, and late night talks about puberty with the oldest, we simply forgot our tooth fairy duties. Xi woke in the morning and sadly noticed that the tooth fairy didn’t come. That was a low point in my parenting career. I set her up to write a note explaining the situation (perhaps the tooth fairy was running late and Xi woke up before she had a chance to visit?) while I slipped unseen into the bedroom. By the time she tucked the note under her pillow the tooth fairy had done her deed and Xi was delighted. But still!

I want her to know that she’s special, that her desires are important to her parents, and I think we accomplished that. Now if we could just press pause, freeze these girls while they sift through birthday gifts, I could sleep through the afternoon…


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. carrie  |  July 29, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    We forgot the tooth fairy as well with older son this year
    I could’nt believe i had fallen asleep and forgotten
    All the planning and then exhaustion hits and i forgot
    well it all worked out great in the end but wanted you to know your not alone
    happy 7th
    we will be celebrating that 7 year as well next week

    • 2. nataliechristensen  |  August 12, 2010 at 4:49 pm

      Oh geez, such a big deal and so embarrassing to mess it up. I hear Xi explaining that the tooth fairy was running late and I am cringing with guilt in the background.
      Happy seventh to you guys!


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