Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Birthday Bust?

For some reason Jacob's birthday snuck up on me this year.  I think it was a combination of factors:
  • We're in the midst of five really busy weekends.
  • Because of our busy weekends, we haven't even scheduled his family party, which usually keeps me moving on planning.
  • Without a family party, I haven't had to plan a cake, which is usually something I have to do a couple months out so I can mentally prepare.  And while I do know the theme, not having to really think about it beyond that probably made me less motivated in other areas.
  • Usually I have a running list of things I want to give the kids once their birthdays come around, but Jacob has outgrown most toys and I generally feel like he has enough stuff, so I'm less motivated to think up ideas for him.
  • His birthday list requests (and non-birthday requests--ugh!) are getting significantly bigger and more expensive, so I think we've officially transitioned to the one big gift and only a few little gifts phase.  But given that he doesn't need anything, really, the big things are frustrating to even think about.  His many suggestions tend to go in one ear and out the other with me because none of them are reasonable.
  • Some of his requests are very specific, and it's risky to even consider getting him something that's not exactly what he wanted, as he will show a lot of attitude--even if in the end the thing is perfectly fine.
  • He's getting older and I may or may not be in a mild state of denial.
His birthday was also in the middle of the week, which always makes it hard to make the day super awesome, as we're always rushing around in the morning and don't have a lot of time at night.  This year in particular looked to be extra challenging because he had lacrosse practice on his birthday, which would take up most of the evening.  He INSISTED he was not going to practice on his birthday.  But after the fiasco during his camp weekend of going to his house-league game instead of his travel team practice, we've been pretty sensitive to that.  Luckily he finally got on board (more on that in a minute), and it became even more important as he came down with a bit of a virus over the weekend (low-grade fever, sore throat, generally low-key) and had to miss practice on Monday.  As a result, it became even more imperative to be there Tuesday.

So, without much time or any big plans, I knew we'd have to pick our spots.  The only thing I came up with originally was that I was going to use one of the gluten-free angel food cake mixes from Aldi that I had stashed in my pantry from last year.  I knew he liked that, and it seemed like a much lower key cake than anything else.  With practice we couldn't really do our usual Red Robin dinner, so we opted to do that over the weekend instead.  But as we talked about lacrosse practice, I suggested I'd make cupcakes for him to take to his team.  It took a while, but he came around a bit with that suggestion.  Then when I realized that practice put them about 20 minutes closer to our favorite gluten-free pizza place, I suggested Craig order a couple pizzas and bring them home after practice.  That sealed the deal!

As we went through last week I started panicking a bit on the gift front, as we had practically nothing for him and I didn't really have many ideas.  Eventually Craig ordered him some Under Armour clothes, then ordered a movie he wanted and some new sports cards, and planned to get him a new binder and card sleeves.  But we honestly weren't sure if anything was going to be in on time for his actual birthday.  I felt like crap about the whole thing, and didn't really make much progress over the weekend.

Monday ended up being a rough day.  Lots of little things went wrong, and by the time I got home, I was fried.  By this point I realized that I had forgotten to figure out a plan for him to celebrate at school, and I initially bought more gluten-free cake mix to make cupcakes (since that's what Jacob said everyone brought), but then I realized that the rule might be store-bought and I couldn't find where that was written, so I started to panic.  And when I realized I didn't even have cupcake liners for the ones I needed to make for practice, I lost it.  I had a rough couple hours feeling guilty and powerless and just generally frustrated.  I was convinced his birthday was going to suck and that it was all my fault.  But eventually I dragged myself out of bed, sent Craig to the store to get liners, and managed to bake two dozen cupcakes and an angel food cake before midnight.  So, at least he'd have cupcakes for practice and something to put candles in and sing to him, even if we didn't have much else.  He understood the school thing was challenging, as buying store-bought gluten-free for everyone was nearly impossible, and even just doing GF for him and normal cupcakes for everyone else was awkward and a little on the pricey side. 

Fortunately, a few of his gifts arrived during the day, so we knew we had a couple things to give him.  Craig picked up the card binder and pages, and I found a movie that I had tucked away and forgotten about.  Then, while the boys were at practice I took Carter for a haircut and realized we should stop at Five Below nearby, as we had wanted to pick up a new basketball hoop for our pool, since our other one had fallen apart.  That became Carter's gift to him (he was so proud!), and I also found one of those magical cooling towels there, which Jacob had been talking about getting for his tournaments.  You just wet it, snap it, and it's instantly cold when you wrap it around your neck.  I had also printed up a certificate for him to buy (with our input) a Bluetooth speaker to use with his iPad or Craig's phone.  He had liked an expensive one but I'd rather shop with him and find one that's within a budget and has the best features.  So with all of that, we ended up with a pretty nice assortment of gifts, with a bit more still on the way.  So between the food and presents, it turned into a pretty good evening for the birthday boy!

Just a few pictures...
Handing out cupcakes!

Blowing out his candles


Two movies!

Some sort of lacrosse ball that doesn't get greasy...don't ask me!

Basketball hoop for the pool!

Very excited about the cooling towel!

Reading about the Bluetooth speaker
He seemed pleased with his gifts and everyone enjoyed the various food offerings.  Cupcakes were well received, pizza was great, and the angel food cake was delicious.  We still probably have quite the battle over the speaker--he wants a LOUD one, and I'd rather not shake the house--but I can hardly believe that's the kind of gift we're giving now.  What happened to battery-operated, light-up singing toys?  So hard to believe!  The last day of school is tomorrow, and then it's onward to summer vacation and then fourth grade!  I remember fourth grade just a little too well to have a kid in it, don't I?  Ready or not, here it comes!

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