Sunday, November 13, 2011

Birthdays, Baptisms, and Halloween - oh my!

Tyler and I are probably two of the most calculated, practical people you will ever meet. We research. We deliberate. We weigh the options, the pros, the cons. When we make a decision, you can be sure the issue was first beat to death, reincarnated, and then murdered a second time. Once we make a decision, we plan, we prepare, and make sure to dot and cross all our letters. Its a neat and tidy (and admittedly obnoxious) little life.

Such was the case when we decided I should become pregnant for the first time. I loved Autumn and knew that at the point the baby was born we would have sufficient savings to allow me to quit my job while Tyler continued his studies full-time. It seemed to fit into our naive 10-year plan. Jonah was born October 15th -- 20 days after my own birthday (September 25). Years later when we were considering baby #2, we determined that delivering in October would be ideal for my work schedule and so Sam was born October 5th -- 10 days after my birthday, and 10 days before Jonah's.

Its funny that in all the talk and planning, we never considered what a feat it was going to be every year to celebrate three birthdays in so many weeks, not to mention tacking Halloween onto the tail end of it. This year we spent the month wondering what in the WORLD we had been thinking, deliberately having kids so close in birth date. It was a whirlwind few weeks, to put it lightly. Here's how it all played out:

Sam Birthday

Sam turned 4 this year. Unlike Jonah who is just now starting to find his social footing, Sam makes friends everywhere he goes. Even at this young age, he runs with his own little posse, so I figured a small birthday party in the form of a glorified play-date couldn't hurt – super-hero style. He invited his best buds and his cousin, 5 boys in all. The boys decorated superhero masks and then played two games which were a complete failure by my standards, but the kids had fun. First, we had booby-trapped the family room with black streamers and then threw glow sticks all over the floor. The object of the game was for the kids to crawl on their bellies to retrieve the glow sticks, treating the streamers like lasers. After I said, "GO," Sam opened his arms wide and ran straight into the streamers, instantaneously ripping every last streamer from the wall and clearing the way for the glow sticks to be grabbed by little hands. My mom had predicted the game would last 30 seconds -- it was closer to 7. For the second game, my brother, David, dressed up as a super-villain. The kids were all given cans of silly spray and were told to use it to "vaporize the villain". I had envisioned them tearing through the yard, attacking Sam's uncle with silly string, but what I hadn't anticipated was that the triggers on the cans were too hard for little fingers to press. This resulted in David standing still on the driveway while the adults tried to help the kids operate the silly string cans. I suppose in this situation, I got what I paid for. (Thanks for nothing, Dollar Store!) With that behind us we moved on to cake and presents. I thought I'd be clever and place lit sparklers on the cake -- very POW-BOOM-ZAP like, right? It took forever to light the darned things, and then when I placed the cake in front of Sam, he burst into tears because he thought his mother was trying to light him on fire. Shall we call that strike 3? Luckily he's very forgiving. After we covered the entire kitchen with cake crumbs and blue frosting, we retreated to the family room to play with toys -- for the remaining HOUR. It really did end up being a play-date! The boys all went home with a superhero cape. Surprisingly, Sam had a fabulous time. I think in the end, he was just happy to have his friends over to play.

Jonah Birthday

Jonah's birthday was a different story. I was terrified when he announced he was ready for his first friend party. As far as I knew, he didn't have any friends. Since he's new to his school this year, I couldn't imagine whom he would invite, and I certainly didn't know that anyone would respond to the invitation. We invited 12 kids with the hope that 6 would show up. Since people in Utah do not RSVP (Seriously – not to parties, not to weddings, not to graduations…I can’t help but wonder if people here just don’t know what those letters stand for), I figured I'd plan for 12 even though 12 surely wouldn't show. When 11 kids showed up to the party that day, I was flabbergasted! I honestly could have burst into tears -- not only because I was so excited that Jonah had found some great little friends, but because for once my obsessive over-planning paid off! No surprise, he had insisted on a penguin theme. Our main activity was a craft: I made penguin bodies out of fleece and gathered items for the kids to create faces on their penguins. They then stuffed their penguins and stitched them shut. After that, we built igloos out of sugar cubes and then rushed through a fishing game, a musical iceberg game, a pinata, cake and presents. Where I had too little planned for Sam's party, I had way too much planned for Jonah's. But it was so much fun! The kids were courteous and hilarious, and the screaming -- oh, the screaming! Who knew girls screamed so much?! I can only imagine what a slumber party must sound like! It was a good day.

Halloween boys

On to Halloween. Being the cheapskate I am, I took Sam to Target after Halloween last year to find a costume on clearance. He already knew he wanted to be Darth Vader (aka "Darf Vater"), but the only one left on the rack was a size 12-14. I tried to talk him out of it, but how do you talk a 3 year old out of ANYTHING??? I figured the $5.00 was worth the mask if nothing else, so I relented. He wore that costume around the house all year, and the day before he was scheduled to wear it to school for Halloween, I decided to alter it to fit him better (because in its original state, the costume fit ME). I raised the waistband by 6 inches, and chopped who-knows-how-much off the legs, arms and cape. After throwing on some snow boots and grabbing his light saber, he was good to go. Adorable.

And guess what Jonah wanted to be? Must you ask? I tried so hard to talk that kid into being a zookeeper or penguin researcher -- anything that got me out of making a penguin suit -- but to no avail. So I gave in, bought a lot of black and white felt and fleece, and got to work. For most of the design and fitting process (based on this tutorial), he just looked like a big tootsie roll. He is so tall and skinny, that no matter what I did, he didn't look very penguin-like. Once I got the wings and hat on him, you could at least tell what he was supposed to be. It was a boiling-hot costume with all that fabric and stuffing, but he didn't complain. The boy was living his dream.

Jonah Baptism

A couple weeks later came the high point of the entire month of festivities. Because this was his 8th birthday, Jonah was able to be baptized and confirmed a member of our church on Saturday, November 5, 2011 by his Dad. He came home from school the day before his baptism feeling rotten (Sam had been sick the previous week). We considered rescheduling, but since baptisms are only done once a month in our Stake and we had friends and family coming from all over the valley, we decided instead to have Tyler give Jonah a priesthood blessing that evening and hope for the best. We woke up to snow the next morning which was funny in itself. You see, the weekend Jonah was to receive his blessing as a newborn (Jan. 2004), we were hit with a terrible snow storm. We found out shortly before it was to take place – with guests already in route and family visiting from out-of-state -- that our Sunday service was canceled because there was no power in our Ward building. A last minute scramble sent a bishopric member to our home which allowed us to bless Jonah in our living room, surrounded by those we loved. The fact that Tyler had to shovel the driveway before we left for the baptism was a sweet reminder of that morning. As it was all those years ago, many cherished friends and family were in attendance, and it was a day filled with excitement, anticipation, love and support. Driving home after the service, I asked Jonah how he felt. “I feel warm inside. And happy…and not very sick!” was his reply. I was a proud and grateful mother -- proud to be the mom of such a special kid, and grateful to my Heavenly Father for His eternal plan. Its a day I'll never forget, and one I hope Jonah remembers as well.

And that was our month from October 5th-November 5th. Its over, my kitchen is finally clean, and all I want to do now is take a nap. Wake me up when its Thanksgiving...