I think birthdays are a big deal. It's nice to set aside a time to give thanks for and celebrate a life and if we can do that well once a year, then a child has a nice patchwork of lovely memories with which to wrap herself when she leaves home. It gets a little tricky, though, when a family has four children born within the space of a single week. The child at the end of Birthday Week suffers a bit from a fatigued mama and a sugar meltdown. This year was particularly challenging because we threw in a road trip for UVa soccer and a date night for our high school reunion.
Karoline turned seven on Friday. We did some creative tweaking of traditions to be sure that she had exactly the day she wanted--even if it took several days to make it happen.
The day began with breakfast in bed and many sleepy siblings singing Happy Birthday. She insisted on wearing her new birthday shirt (even though the shirt is flannel and it was ninety degrees). Before noon, Karoline and Mary Beth made cupcakes. And we ate them before noon, too, because we needed to hit the road. For every birthday, our family's tradition is to pray over the birthday girl and to give thanks for something specific we love about her. We sang happy Birthday, said our "what I love" prayers and watched Karoline blow out candles before our pre-lunch cupcake feast. Then, we piled everyone in the car to to head into the Blue Ridge. Since it was her birthday, Karoline got to pick drive-thru the meal.(Chick-fil-a. Please Cchik-fil-a. Please, please, please Chick-fil-a.) She chose Taco Bell. Awesome. Taco Bell in the car--my favorite. We drove first to Harrisonburg to pick up Christian. Christian is Karoline's godfather so she was delighted he'd be with her that day; her delight doubled when she found that he came bearing gifts.
From Harrisonburg we went to Charlottesville, to the home where my father and stepmother live. There, we ate dinner, gathered more presents, and sang Happy Birthday again, over Texas sheet cake this time. That was the third birthday serenade of the day, but who's counting? Back in the car to Paddy's game. She managed to tell several dozen more people it was her birthday and to stay awake all the way home, thereby not missing a single second of the birthday night and falling asleep well after midnight.
On Saturday, after Stephen's soccer and before we left for the reunion, Mike suggested Red Robin for lunch. Why not? They sing a different rendition of "Happy Birthday." She'll take it.
When Katie had her whole-day-with-mama shopping day for her birthday, Karoline said she wanted that, too. I promised we'd do it the Monday following her birthday since we'd be traveling on her birthday. Monday came and there were tornado watches and warnings, so she opted to wait another day. However, she remembered she'd never gotten to pick a birthday dinner, so we did manage to have chili in her honor that night.
Tuesday came, and with it an opportunity to spend birthday money. After a quick hot chocolate treat, we stopped first at Target and were both disappointed by the proliferation of cheesy bling on little girls' clothes. So, we headed to the mall. Ordinarily, I'm a twice-a-year mall shopper and then only when I have a specific purpose. This was to be the second time in a week!
Lo and behold, there was a Birthday Miracle. Everything at Gymboree was $16.99 or less. That means if a pair of boots had a $52 price tag, they were $16.99. Same with winter coats. Dressy dresses? All under $17. I felt like I'd been dropped in a dream. I have felt that often in the past seven years. It's the Karoline's Charmed Star dream.
After a very succesful shopping spree (where we spent Sarah's birthday moeny for her, too), we went to Whole Foods for lunch and groceries. She twirled in the parking lot. She twirled in the aisles. She twirled between the vegan curry and the sushi. And she said--loudly enough for lots of lunch hour business people to hear--"This is the Best Day Ever!" They don't know that Karoline has a "Best Day Ever" about twice a month. She had the whole place smiling.
Despite my best intentions, there aren't many pictures to document her extended birthday celebration. I seemed to forget the camera at every turn. I'm told the ones I have are blurry (eye doctor again today, folks--a little St. Lucy prayer?). We took lots of snapshots in our minds though and the memories will be lovely patches in her birthday quilt.