Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Celebrating Emerson

Well, due to technical difficulties to which I am not privy to at this time, I have been unable to post my last blog. So just to catch up, it was the first part of a three-part blog recapping some highlights of the summer. Hopefully it will be up soon...

Part Two: Emerson's Never-Ending Birthday

Let me just preface this blog by stating this fact: I was born in the winter. And this other fact: my only sibling was born in the summer. It stunk. He had the outdoor BBQs with baseball and swimming and ice cream that seemed to last forever, and I had a two hour birthday party, after school (it always seemed to be a school day) when it was already dark at 4pm. I've always been envious of the summer birthdays, and someday I will travel to the southern hemisphere and have a birthday on the beach...

But wait a minute, this is a blog about Emerson, my golden, summer girl, born on a beautiful, July morning five years ago with the early morning sun shining through the windows. It seems like we spent the entire summer celebrating her birthday.

The festivities began with a family party in Vermont, which was supposed to be a party celebrating all summer birthdays (of the twelve people in our family, six have birthdays that fall between the end of June and the end of July) but inevitably turned into a party for the youngest of the bunch: Emerson and her cousin Bennett, who is 1 year and 4 days her senior. They spent the day tubing, swimming, squirting my dad with water guns, and then opened their presents wearing bathing suits, and blowing out their candles wearing life-jackets. Ah, the sweet life of those born in the summer...

Emerson got most of the things she put on her birthday list: dress-up clothes, matchbox cars, crafts, and cds (Mary Poppins, Sound of Music, and Free to Be You and Me, which dominated our vacation listening...) and "I even got some things that weren't on my list!" as she told me afterward. She is still so appreciative of what she gets, which thrills me. Although this year she did get a little cheeky towards the end... but that will come up later.

After the kids had cake, they also roasted marshmallows around a fire next to the lake. Could it get any better than that?

It would be a week before Emerson's actual birthday arrived, and this year we were camping at Lake George when it came. She was very excited the night before, and in the morning when she woke up. Matty and I gave her two presents from us at breakfast, which she wasn't expecting at all.

The first one was nail-polish, which she has been asking about incessantly. Needless to say, she was thrilled about that. (Documented here with our twilight-zone camera)We also gave her some clothes for Lila (her doll, not her friend) as she has been using Ophelia's tiny baby clothes and didn't have any "pretty dresses." A second thrill.
Emerson put Lila's new dress on immediately, and we ate breakfast, and headed to our birthday destination: Six Flags Lake George, the Great Escape. It's sort-of unbelievable that this is the way we decided to celebrate a five-year-old's birthday, and as we sun-screened up outside the gate, I thought to myself that we might be crazy heading into a crowded, hedonistic pleasure dome with our two children, but the day turned out to be awesome. We spent a little time on the rides (which Emerson was moderately into) but most of our time at the water park, which is heaven to Emerson. She had a blast on the water-slides and in the wave pool (she swam all the way out to the origin of the waves, an area that was dominated by teenagers, and loved every minute of it), and the whole family tubed around the lazy river. I never thought I would ever have a great day at a theme park, but by some great accident, our day worked out really well, and Matty and I even got to take turns going on roller-coasters while the kids slept. We ate a bunch of junk food, went on the rides the kids loved about ten times each, took no photos, and loved every minute of it. We're even thinking of getting a season pass to the Six Flags near us next summer.

When we got back to the campsite, we had dinner and smores, we sang to Emerson, and I painted her nails. (We had great fun taking goofy photos with our crazy camera on this trip...)

It was a happy day, but when she went to bed she told me "mommy, I don't feel like I'm five today. I still feel four." I agreed that although it was her birthday, it didn't really feel like it. Even with the big day out.

The next day, we left Lake George to go to Burlington, and on the way out of town we stopped to get a Christmas-tree ornament (our family tradition is to get an ornament from every vacation) and Emerson's cheekiness began. As we were paying, she noticed a box of silly bands (a fad that we had avoided all summer) next to the counter. "Mommy, can we buy these for me, as a special thing because it's my birthday?" Birthday? How many birthdays does a child get? A lot, apparently, because we walked out of the store with them. It was really easy to say yes to something so cheap and harmless, and for some reason I had been feeling like her birthday didn't really feel like her birthday. And it worked out well in the car - she shared them with Ophelia, and it kept them occupied for a surprising amount of time on the trip.

We went out to dinner the night we arrived in Burlington, and had our waiter bring out a candle for Emerson on her desert. For some reason this felt more authentic, whether it was having the actual candle for her to blow out, or for other people to witness it. I don't know, but it felt to me that her birthday was complete. But she had other ideas. Everywhere we went in Burlington (and after we got home) she would say "can we just please get this for me, just as a special treat, because it's my birthday?") But I'm not sucker. And as I reminded her, she had yet ANOTHER birthday party yet to come.

One thing that is tricky about having a child with a summer birthday, is the fear that everyone will be on vacation when it comes time for the party. So far with Emerson this hasn't been an issue, and this year was no exception. A week after we got home from vacation, we threw Emerson's third birthday party of 2010 at our house with all her friends, and it was a great success. She spent the afternoon and evening with her favorite people, and couldn't have had a happier day.
"What if somebody leaves my party and I haven't had the chance to play with them?" This was Emerson's concern a few days before her party. How did I get so lucky to get this sweetest child, who is worried about including everyone at her party? She did just fine though. She got to play with "all her best friends."

As Emerson went to bed the night before her party, I was getting everything out to make her a chocolate layer cake. "I can't wait to see my cake tomorrow! With all the pretty flowers on it..." I hadn't planned on that. Fortunately Matt found one at Whole Foods that fit the bill. She thought it was the most beautiful cake she'd ever seen, and I'm pretty sure she thought I'd made it too. (Don't ask, don't tell)
And how many kids can wear this dress in one day?

One more...Emerson was appreciative of all her gifts from her friends too. That is the wonderful thing about being five. It's some hair ties, a dress for your doll, a beach towel picked out by a seven year old. But when it comes from your friends, it's the greatest treasure of all time. Emerson felt so lucky to have those presents. And I feel so lucky to have the greatest five-year-old ever. Happy Birthday Emerson!

And for Ophelia? Her birthday falls on Thanksgiving this year. As Emerson says, "we'll have a nice turkey dinner, and a pumpkin pie cake..."

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