Birthday Musings

The past couple of weeks have been rather chaotic in our little world. Frankly, life since my last blog seems to be busier than normal, thus the long absence! But whose isn’t?

Regardless, here in Oakville, Ontario winter did not arrive these past few weeks. With stir crazy kids and temperatures fluctuating wildly between spring temperatures with frigid wind chills, we plugged along into the busiest time of year, birthday season.

With Mr. L’s and all the kid’s birthdays falling between the end of December and end of February, this time of year has its challenges, nothing a semi-organized mom of three or more kids cannot manage. See  my past post on Surviving Back to Back Birthdays.

This year Elizabeth turned ten and Audrey eight. Over the years we have tried to pare back the guest count. Last year Elizabeth had to choose her three best friends for a first time sleepover. Being a milestone year, it soared back up to seven. Amelia’s excuse for inviting ten of her friends to her party was that we are moving out of the area and this would be her last birthday with these friends. Parental guilt ensued and I found myself planning two back to back parties, again.

After much discussion and trying to ensure invites were sent out a few weeks in advance as per my comment on being a semi-organized parent, the plans were set in January. Tea party followed by laser tag for Elizabeth. Splatter paint party at a local Oakville art centre for Audrey. One at home, the other out. Perfect. Oh, and a sleepover with their BFF’s forever.

Birthday weekend started with Elizabeth on the Saturday. Mr. L started the morning with her requested Nutella and toast plus sausages for breakfast and asked me what the agenda was for the day. By the time I had outlined all the activities, I thought his head was going to explode.

“It will be fine.” I assured him shooing them all out of the door to their individual Saturday morning activities before birthday madness ensued.

Thanks to some smart planning and wonderful ladies, all the birthday planning was a breeze, okay maybe a bit of a windstorm, but a manageable one.

During a holiday event, I had the pleasure to meet Renee, or otherwise known as The Traveling Tea Lady. I enlisted her help in creating a perfect, not too girly tea event at our house for seven little ladies. Renee was awesome. Responsive and organized she helped me find last minute decorations that Elizabeth requested, made up small tins of her delicious gingerbread loose leaf tea for the loot bags and even gifted me with a new blend of her Stress Free Tea which I cannot wait to try! She arrived with lots of time to get ready, decorated our small dining area, made all the petite goodies, served the tea,  cleaned up all of it done with a smile.


In lieu of cake at tea time, Elizabeth requested cupcakes. Now I can make quick and dirty cupcakes, but she wanted something a little fancier. For this task I enlisted the help of Liana from Flavours Catering and Events in Oakville, Ontario. Having used her before, I was so happy with the twelve delicious chocolate and vanilla cupcakes she hand delivered to my house complete with mad hatter fondant icing.


Post tea time and gift opening, I chauffeured the girls to Laser Quest on the west end of Oakville. It was busy being a Saturday night but I had booked the party room. There was no wait for our turn, they made sure our food, coats and cake were all taken care of.  We had a large room, with all place settings ready to go, pizza hot and delivered on time for the kids. You bring your own drinks and cake. They also give the birthday child a free laser tag game and come in for a “Zappy Birthday” song sung by the enthusiastic host when it’s cake time.  Loud but fun.

Now laser tag isn’t for all kids, those who have photosensitivity or wary of dark places. We had one child that needed to be pulled which was done quickly and handled without incident. But for those who enjoy it, it’s a fun way to entertain a bunch of nine and ten year olds. Party one complete.

Back at the house, Audrey and her sleepover guest were waiting for us to return. Elizabeth and her sleepover guest (note one guest)  quickly changed into their pyjamas and the giggles, nail painting started while they watched Harry Potter, a current favourite on our screen.

Audrey’s big party was the next day. After a waffle filled breakfast, family started to arrive. Some were going to stay at our house while I took some to the art party. As happens, sometimes there is an after party, especially when you have people coming from an hour drive away. The day before we discovered we had almost twenty people coming back to our house after the art party. Thank goodness for online ordering where we got everything from pizza to chicken skewers to be delivered for those waiting the hour and a half for us to arrive with the guests of honour.

4Cats West is an art studio that we have frequented a lot over the years. Their birthday parties are a lot of fun, well organized and messy. What else do you want in a birthday party? Audrey chose the splatter paint party, and in lieu of loot bags, I opted to pay a little extra and each guest got to paint their own take home canvas with splatter paint as well. The end result will be a huge canvas, splatter painted with Audrey’s choice of colours to be hung on her wall. All her friends signed the back of it. What better present is there, especially when this is your last year with this bunch of kids?  The facility does not provide food, you bring everything yourself. They give you the space and entertain the kids for an hour while you set up.

The splattered faces and paint drenched hair were a testament to the fun the girls had. Amelia loved seeing her friends get all messy and I was privileged to get many shots of her genuine smile, something that is sometimes hard to catch.

Back at the house, we finished off the birthday marathon with more food, ice cream cake for both the girls, family wishing them well, more presents and play. My mudroom was a disaster thanks to a couple of rambunctious boys who needed backyard time. The toys littered the house. I’m still finding pieces of chocolate mashed on the floors. But it was a memorable weekend, filled with kind and professional people to help make my girls’ birthdays special. All happening on a quiet street in Oakville, Ontario.

As I sipped a well earned crisp white wine chatting with my family as the kids played, well all over the house, Mr. L was quick to point out that this was it. Our last birthday celebration in this house. For dear readers, we move this summer to a new area in Ontario. A place where I must seek out everything from where to get awesome cupcakes to what grocery store to go to ease birthday filled weeks for a mom to three or more kids.  I will need to find a new village.

My mother, (being a mom), pointed out now that it was all done, I survived another crazy December to February, wasn’t it time to start packing? Yes, it is. But looking back, it will be bittersweet when I start filling that first box. After all, I’ve met some great people here in Oakville, Ontario. I have found great small businesses to support, have the stores I frequent, made lots of great connections along the way. I will miss it.




A Birthday Wish For a Daughter

Feb 20, 2013

Birthday week is in full swing at our house. The last couple of weeks have flown by as I order party balloons from Party City, double-check RSVP lists, hide secret presents and organize loot bags from The Loot Lady. As much I like planning things for the kids, this is exhausting! But only four more days and my reward at the end will be a huge glass of wine, putting my feet up and a bubble bath. I already have Sunday night planned out, unless I fall asleep.

Not only do Elizabeth and Audrey have their birthdays and parties this week, we started festivities for other birthdays last weekend with an adult only dinner for my Mom and a quiet but hour-long drive to my in-laws for my father-in-laws birthday. The month of February is worse than December in some ways and I do not look forward to opening up all those credit card bills in March! On top of all of this, RRSP contributions and taxes need to be handled as well as organizing all the kids spring and summer activities. Needless to say, strategies for trying to keep calm and organized are key for me this month.

However, today is my elder girls’ special day. Elizabeth is growing up so fast, I seem to barely be able to hang on to try to remember the moments when she will still crawl into my lap or bite my lip in frustration and then amusement as she tells me “I’m brushing my hair myself – it hurts when you do it!”

Once in a while I catch a glimpse of the girl she will become. A certain phrase or look on her flawless olive complexion which is wise beyond her years, and then she hears “Gangam Style” starts shaking her bum in an awkward dance in all of her uncoordinated merriment and I see how young she still is. Her innocence is precious to me and I protect it all costs. She has never known real hurt or disappointment. She has been loved and cherished by those around her. A girl who questions everything and is curious about life and loyal to those she loves. She reminds me of a pleasant summer’s day basking in sunlight and singing off-tune a pop song she heard somewhere.

My favourite memory of her from this past year is after school one day late spring when the weather was pleasantly warm, she got out her bike as we went to pick-up her younger sister from the nearby preschool. With her blue helmet on and streamers flowing from the handles, she did not care her training wheels were still on or she was getting a bit too big for the bike. Hopping on she began leisurely pedalling down the street, ensuring to stop at every corner until I caught up pushing Jacob in the stroller.  Telling her it was okay to go ahead I noticed her weaving back and forth on the sidewalk. Worried she would tip over I picked up my pace only to hear her well-projected voice singing as she looked all around her clearly enjoying the moment.  Hanging back, I watched her as she slowed down and then sped up again until finally she stopped and without a care in the world went to pick up a few dandelions scattered across the grass. She did not care we had to be anywhere, in that moment she probably did not even remember. All she cared about was her bike, her song and the dandelions. My birthday wish for her as she turns seven is that she keeps some of that wonderment as the world (including myself) pushes her onwards. Happy Birthday my elder girl!

Elizabeth at Jack Astor's. Her choice for bday dinner.

Elizabeth at Jack Astor’s. Her choice for bday dinner.