Birthdays are a big event at our house. The kids look forward to their birthday all year long and as I've said in earlier posts, on your actual birthday it's "anything you want" day. You get to plan you whole day down to food choices, snacks, outfits, and what you do. Everything is an option (within reason) and the kids just love it. Alli, in particular, thinks having a birthday is the best day of the year. She has been saying "It's almost my birthday" basically since Christmas even though her birthday isn't until "Mowch twenty-fifth." For the second year in a row, her birthday fell on spring break which means the birthday celebration gets spread out over at least a week's time.
On Tuesday, March 16th, she and her friend Jenna, (by their choice) jointly celebrated their birthdays at school. We coordinated with treats and juice boxes and Paige and I enjoyed the school birthday party complete with birthday crowns, bears, certificates, and the Birthday Song with cha cha cha's. She talked about and planned the treats for weeks leading up to March 16th and at bedtime said, "It was the best day ever. In my whole life."
On Monday, March 22nd, the first day of spring break, we had Alli's kid party. Five of her friends (plus her three siblings) came over for a glorified play date. We played freeze dance and duck duck goose, made a "craft" (foam butterflies decorated with foam stickers), ate Buster Bar ice cream cake, sang Happy Birthday again with more cha cha chas, opened presents, and played in the back yard on a glorious spring day. Alli loved being the center of attention and enjoyed reliving her party through story after story for the remainder of the next few days. Being the only adult in a house full of kids, it wasn't my favorite way to spend an afternoon, but I survived with my attitude in check, which I considered a victory. At bedtime, she again told me, "Today was the best day ever. In my whole life."
Tuesday, March 23rd, was a pre-planned play date with three of Alli's friends from pre-school. She doesn't get to see them much this year because they all go to different schools, and even though our play date had NOTHING to do with her birthday, Alli was convinced that it had EVERYTHING to do with it. She proudly informed each of her friends (even the ones who had been at her party the day before) that it was her birthday week and laid out the week's agenda for them, both activities past and activities planned. While she was greeting her friends, she got another surprise. Grandma Marcy was passing through on her way to Seattle and she popped in on the play date and delivered Alli's birthday present in person. The look of shock when Alli saw her was really priceless and she couldn't get over the fact that Grandma knew the "EXACT baby I wanted from Target. How did she know that Mom?" Bedtime again was a declaration of "The best day ever. In my WHOLE life." Don't you wish you had that kind of exuberance to embrace life? Finding joy in the simple things and declaring every day, "The best day EVER?"
Thursday, March 25th, was her actual birthday. We kicked off our celebration early by watching Swiss Family Robinson on Wednesday night. Alli told Curt, "Daddy, when I wake up in the morning, I want to see a whole pile of presents and I want to open them right away. Before breakfast. Before cartoons. Can we do that?" I am NOT a morning person but I love my daughter, so there we were, at 7 a.m., before the first sip of coffee, cheering Alli on as she opened presents. She is so expressive and it made getting up early completely worth while every time she hooped and hollered and danced around after each gift. She'd tear into the paper, her eyes would get huge and she'd shriek, "It's JUST what I wanted!" then dash off to give us hugs. When the pile of presents had been opened, we made our coffee and then started birthday breakfast preparations: crispy bacon and strawberry and chocolate chip pancakes with whipped cream and powdered sugar. So nutritious. Lunch was even worse - "gourmet" mac and cheese, "the kind Olivia has" with the sauce pre-made in the package, so everything about it was processed with nothing fresh. GAG! But she loved it.
Our original plan was to go to the Woodburn Tulip Festival in the morning, Wilsonville Fun Center in the afternoon to mini-golf, dinner at Red Robin, followed by another party at Grandma Ru and Grandpa Terry's after Red Robin. However, it rained steadily all day on Alli's birthday and poor little Paige got the flu. She curled up in a ball on the couch and never left the rest of the day. Within hours, Katie started looking puny and although she tried valiantly to pretend she felt fine, the thermometer told us the true story. She too succumbed to the flu and remained curled up in the fetal position for the rest of the day.
Newly learned flexibility and lots of discussion allowed us to come up with Plan B. We ditched the Tulip Festival for a clear day and instead watched for the second time in 24 hours "Saints Robikin, I mean Swiss Robertson" per Alli's request. We decided to divide and conquer the rest of the afternoon plans. I stayed home with the two sickies while Curt took Grant and Alli to Fun Center. They ditched mini-golf due to rain and opted to play the arcade instead. Grandpa Terry met them there and then they hooked up with Grandma Ru after work at Red Robin. Alli came home wearing the fanciest dress I have ever seen (think salsa dancer), her gift from Grandma and Grandpa. Apparently she was so thrilled to have a twirly dancing dress that she went out into the rain and put on a show for everyone who would watch from the front door. She prattled on and on and on about all the fun adventures they had and when she was all storied out, she prayed and thanked God that it was "finally my real birthday and that I'm finally six and that it was the best day ever. In my WHOLE life."
While they were gone, I dug out Alli's baby book and re-read the story of her birth. I had forgotten so many of the details and I giggled as I remembered all the specifics of how she arrived. In her own timing. Almost four weeks early. Fast -almost before the doctor arrived. And with guests. Grandma Marcy and Grandpa Don had flown in while I was in labor and they came in moments after Alli was born. We got to tell them, in person and not over the phone, "It's a girl" and hand over our newest bundle of joy. Such special memories.
Even in birth, Alli marched to the beat of her own drummer. She loves nothing more than having the wind full-on in her face, attacking life, kicking butt and taking names. Her movie-star lips pursed and a twinkle in her eye, she almost always looks like she's up to something, doesn't like to take no for an answer, and will love you for life if she senses you are willing to embrace all of who she is, even the naughty parts. She's organized and incredibly helpful. Give the girl a job and a sense of being in charge, and it's like having another adult in the house. She can't sit still to save her life, loves babies and invades their personal space, and is more social than any child I have ever been around. For every part bulldozer that she is, she is equal part social, compassion, and tender. Alli celebrated her sixth birthday in super-fabulous style, but I wouldn't expect anything else. After all, she is Alli.