Sunday, 10 August 2014

Two birthdays in July

It began with that moment when you find yourself making party invitations by hand with a soon to be 6 year old who is very tired after a day at school, very close to the end of the school term. That moment when you know you should be cooking dinner by now and can hear the ill child and the tired child fighting downstairs whilst you finish off the invitations and post photographs on instagram. Yes. It began with that moment. He's been quite clear from the beginning, from his early days … it's balloons, it's all about balloons! Even when his chest would at times scream for air during bouts of asthma, when the balloon play would aggravate him so, still balloons brought wide, wide smiles.  So, I knew as long as there were a few balloons to celebrate his sixth year, all would be well. This year I was determined to make it as simple as simple can be. I told him, a party at home means just a handful of friends and to be honest, with birthdays late in July and after the date that school breaks up for summer, well … it's just a race against time to try and squeeze a party in whilst folks are still around and whilst willing children to have the stamina for one more over stimulating event at the end of term that involves lots of sugar!

It was a tough call for this boy of mine to select just a few friends and a bit of a sacrifice not to include some of his female friends but I was well aware of what I could 'manage' this time round and experience and the memories of previous years with a small house jam packed and emotions spilling over from both adults and children gave me peace that this would be a good decision for all. Plus, that little pocket rocket of mine doesn't need much to overstimulate, he's like his dad in that way and again experience has taught me that less is more with these larger than life characters! Thankfully, I was right. His party with his few friends was perfect, it was a joy! And even though it was the first day in many, many days that we'd had rain, it didn't matter. The garden that I'd spent a manic couple of afternoons in sweltering heat preparing for a children's party was flooded with rain water and so off the menu and instead we moved the piñata indoors and you know, it seemed to be a dream come true for six boys with energy to burn and sugar to burn off! I was told 'it was the BEST piñata in the whole world!!!'. One of my favourite moments was watching six wild things playing musical statues to the soundtrack of 'Where the Wild things are', they loved this song

With each year and each birthday party comes a new lesson or two. This years lessons were: don't put mini packets of oreos in a piñata and don't be lazy and not bother picking up a cake container from your sisters house and instead put your iced cake in the fridge, here's why! When those battered packets of oreos are opened by excited, already sugar fuelled children, there will be a fudgy spread of sticky crumbs EVERYWHERE! And when you get that cake out of the fridge, by the time you've lit the candles, the cake will react to room temperature and all the colour will run from the smarties and make your cake a little sad looking. It will still taste reeeeeally good but you will feel frustrated every time you see a picture of it! The cake by the way was all Elliott's idea. He knew exactly what he wanted, a chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream and a number 6 in the middle and sprinkles! I love that he knows his own mind and is really clear about what he likes. This made it really easy to decide on the perfect birthday breakfast for him - macaron! My hubby loves an alternative breakfast and during the holidays we often look forward to splurging and having a 'treat' breakfast and a birthday seems the perfect occasion. Plus I'd remembered seeing some beautiful pictures of hula seventy celebrating birthday breakfasts and really wanted to add it to our own family traditions. He was thrilled with his macaroons and it was so much fun watching him devour them. 

Another tradition that is evolving is a trip to the cinema on the youngest ones actual birthday. This year we headed there to watch 'How to train your dragon 2' and there were smiles all round. I'd made a picnic to enjoy in the city afterwards that was devoured during the film, I can still picture both boys at different times, smiling and catching my eye to say 'you make the best picnics mum!' The cinema was followed by a walk around a favourite spot in the city centre, the boys ran wildly around Brindley Place whilst their parents sat on nearby steps ingesting mocha's to keep energy and adrenaline flowing, after all the youngest had also requested a bike ride in the park to round up his perfect birthday! The day ended with all requests happily ticked off the list and with laughter, especially at their dad doing tricks riding their bikes!

It's quite a thing to get your head around when your little brother has a birthday two days before your own, but this year when that eldest of mine turned 9 two days after his brother turned 6, he had it sussed and I must say, he is maturing into a fine, young man. He did a great job of lavishing his little brother with attention on his little brothers special day and it was a lovely thing to watch. So, school finished on the friday and it was then the 6 year olds party on the saturday and the 9 year olds party on the sunday! The 9 year olds requests were also simple, a few friends, football in the park followed by pizza and a movie at home. I love the black and white photo of the four friends heading to the park to play football, I call it the 'Stand By Me' picture! I could hear all four boys exchanging words so similar to Gordie,Teddy, Chris and Vern, boys will be boys and there was fun to be had! This spelt out the beginning of summer and it was perfect! 

There was another memorable moment for me and it was the last fifteen minutes of the party where I casually said, 'Are you guys too grown up for musical bumps and musical statues?'. They all screeched 'NO' and proceeded to have a lively and energetic time dancing to 'The Jam'! Another favourite moment was when a football hit me square on the nose (I was wearing sunglasses at the time which all at once makes it better and worse!) and some very considerate, polite boys managed to not only check that I was okay but also managed to hold in laughter. I crease at that kind of thing, so I really appreciate the willpower it takes to hold that in! 

We really wanted to surprise Zach with a birthday breakfast of his favourite krispy kreme glazed donuts. However, anyone that knows Elliott has gotta know that secrets are not his forte! Knowing this, we accepted that a special breakfast it would be, a surprise it would NOT be. You can get some idea of his excitement from the picture below of him with the krispy kreme box! Please also see his crazy, dreamy face when Zach is opening an envelope. This is because this is the first year that he really gets the birthday money in an envelope thing, they are liking the birthday money thing A LOT! I also love the picture of Zach taking his first look at the iPod his Aunty generously passed onto him, this was a giveaway but also quite simply the perfect gift for him right now. He has since spent many moments hidden away, looking angsty and pre-teen like. On that note, the younger one now spends as much time as possible trying to pretend he's out alone when we're out as a family. 'I can do stuff on my own, I know how. I don't need help. I'm independent! Is that the right word?' Yes my love, they are just the right words for you right now. 

My big boy's day included taking a look around the shops to see what he might want to spend his birthday money on, he likes to do his research and then goes away and ponders it.  Love this boy! We had glorious sunshine on his day and so spent a lovely time in the park and exploring some woods and even saw a mighty crane with the biggest crane's nest i've ever seen! There was tree climbing and bug searching and there was that delightful moment when you spot an ice cream van nearby and so there was ice cream too, 99's, the perfect kind of ice cream on your birthday! His day had a great ending with a much desired sleepover at Grandma's house. It was a little sacrifice for me to not get to kiss him goodnight on his actual birthday and to not get the chance to sneak into his room and nostalgically watch him sleep like I did and have all of these years but I guess these boys of mine are growing up and that means sharing them. Sharing them with others and with this big wide world. Happy Birthday Boys, you mean the world to me! 

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