In August I turned 36, I think…..Hazel keeps track of these things for me.
I had a great birthday. Anyone who knows me knows that birthdays are tricky for me. I have high expectations. But, I didn’t for this one, not one bit, and it was a really great day.
Yep! That’s Peter’s crib lovingly placed in a corner of our scary basement, between appliance boxes, paint cans and food storage. We ran out of space upstairs, so once we got back from Bear Lake Peter spent a few weeks sleeping in the basement. Poor little fourth child. Do you like the plastic lawn chair covered in an old blanket that I used for a nursing chair?
I think before I had children, or maybe just before I had numerous children, I thought it was pretty important that a babies room look like this:
I guess I’ve come (or maybe slid) a long way since then. He was safe down there, and we could hear him clear as day through the monitor, but going downstairs in the middle of the night to help him out and then climbing back up two flights of stairs was kind of driving me nutty. I was really going kind of stir crazy. Our house felt unsettled to me, unorganized, too packed. Jeff told me I was being a little compulsive, and maybe I was, but I wanted to get things rearranged before we left to California, before the kids started school, before I went crazy.
So, I used my birthday leverage to get the project going. And with the serious help of my dear friend Heidi, we kicked off a giant rearranging on my birthday, moving Charlie and Hazel into the big TV/guest room, moving Peter into Emmeline’s room, moving Emmeline into the big kids room and moving the couch and TV into the basement. Jeff wasn’t planning to work from home, but once he saw me and Heidi trying to get that huge couch down the stairs he got roped into staying to help. He’d work for a while, take some calls and then come and help us move stuff during his breaks. It took some serious doing, moving that darned couch was way harder than we thought and we somehow kicked up enough dust to give me and Heidi a serious allergy attack, but we got so much done and I felt so much better. It was really the best birthday present I could have asked for.
In the afternoon Heidi and I took the kids up into the Fells to float some birthday cup cakes (which somehow between moving all my stuff and watching all my kids she managed to make and decorate for me). We floated them down the Shilly Shally Brook and it was perfectly beautiful. For those of you who are wondering what in the what this is all about, I have a birthday tradition to float my cake….one of these days I’m going to blog about all the crazy ways we’ve floated my cake over the years.
This year we got sand buckets (since I forgot to bring my Ikea bowls) and plastic Frisbees to float the little cakes down this little babbling brook. There have been some great floats, but this was maybe the most charming. The kids had a pretty great time too. We even got the little cakes to float under the path and out the other side.
Hazel ‘videoed’ the actual happy birthday cup cake, all lit up as it floated to the kids singing Happy Birthday, but somehow she forgot to hit record. This float was more successful anyway…..
I thank my lucky stars for a friend like Heidi. She always makes sure I have a good birthday, and this year she really outdid herself, really, dedicated the whole day to me and my needs. I want to be a friend like Heidi.
That night we went to Shakespeare in the Park and ate my favorite pizza from Figs. It was perfect.
The next day we did our family cake float. This was something Jeff and the kids had been planning for a whole year. The Shilly Shally Brook float was charming, this one was, hmmm, powerful? Mechanical? Exciting? Awesome (if you ask Charlie). It did kind of rock compared to some pretty lame floats in the past.
Jeff had decided that just wading in the water and pushing a cake along on a little floaty (like we do most years) just wasn’t adequate, so one of ‘my’ birthday presents was a remote control boat. The kids had worked with Jeff to pick it out. They thought that the Police boat was most appropriate pick for me (and, according to Consumer Reports the most powerful). You can tell someone is pretty excited about it.
Everyone got to take a turn driving it around that beautiful pond. Emmeline was mostly interested in having it drive through her legs. And playing with Peter. And bonding with Aunt Kieko who was up for a visit. They were fast friends, and that’s saying a lot for Ms. Grumpy Emmeline. I was mostly excited about sitting and soaking in my family. I wasn’t in charge of anything and that was nice. Jeff brought me a beach chair and I sat and tried to be present for once (though it was awfully hot). And of course, I took pictures. I feel like I’m juggling so many logistics all the time now with four that I rarely get out my big camera and capture my kids. So I jumped at the chance.
There we are. That’s us. It’s always kind of a shock to see me and Jeff in a picture surrounded by so many kids. This is really our life. We’re negotiating all these little people through life. It’s hard but man, it’s a good life.
Where will the birthday cake float go from here? Jeff’s already talking about newer, better, faster, more powerful boats and barges…..