Grandma challenge: How full can she fill forty-four hours?

Grandma challenge: How full can she fill forty-four hours?

My desert-dwelling grandsons and their parents visited my house last week—for forty-four hours. The family had taken a road trip to Vail for a wedding, and Jim and I were fortunate they fit in a stop at our place on their way back home.

I was thrilled to host them and was determined to squish as much into the visit as possible, unsure of when I'd see Brayden, Camden, and Declan (as well as Megan and Preston, too) again.

As all three boys have birthdays in June…

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Three cheers for three years

My second grandson will turn three years old in a couple weeks.

Because I'm unable to attend Mac's birthday party or see him that day — par for the course for a long-distance grandma — I was delighted to have a chance to throw a mini celebration after dinner last night in honor of his birthday No. 3.

three year old

Even PawDad joined us from more than 800 miles away, thanks to Skype.

Three cheers for unexpected desert visits — and technology — for making it possible for PawDad and me to mark the milestone with Mac.

Today's question:

Whose birthday is next on the calendar in your family?

Celebrating no celebrations

no-celebration celebration

For my oldest daughter's first birthday, I went all out. I recruited my mom to make a fancy birthday cake with adorable clowns o' frosting a la the Wilton Cake Decorating Cookbook, invited everyone with even the slightest interest in my daughter, packed our tiny apartment with well wishers and gifts galore.

It was the very best birthday party ever.

Until the next year, that is. And until the next child, too — two more of which arrived in rapid succession. Followed by two more first birthdays in equally rapid succession.

With that very first first birthday party for my very first daughter more than 31 years ago, I had set a precedent: Birthday parties in my house would be a big deal. Not expensive, for money was tight as could be considering we were a young family with three children birthed in a three-year span. But the birthday parties would certainly be festive. Each and every time.

Birthdays for my daughters were celebrated at home — no parties at pizza places, skating spaces or swimming pools. Each party had a specific theme chosen by the honoree, with homemade cakes, homemade favors for guests to bring home, homemade fun packaged in such a manner my daughters (hopefully) never realized their special days were celebrated at home because we couldn't afford the party packages offered by the fancy-schmancy peddlers of commercialized fun.

Fun as they were for the birthday girls and guests, that homemade packaging was exhausting for Mom. That would be me — the family party planner bound and determined to make memorable birthday moments for my daughters, come hell or high water, heaven help us all.

One birthday season when I was knee-deep in pre-party prep and freak-out fare — at this point I can no longer recall whose birthday or what theme — my own mom, in hopes of assuaging my stress, advised me, "You don't have to make every single birthday special, Lisa."

I disagreed vehemently... but silently, as I had too much to do, no time to argue my point. But, yes, I did have to make every single birthday special. Because there are so very few that parents get to celebrate with a child. Sixteen or so, if we're lucky, if friends don't win out over family sooner than that.

So I did my best to make birthday celebrations special.

I did my best to make holiday celebrations special, too. Everything from Valentine's Day on through New Year's Day featured special traditions and rituals, special food, special decorations and sometimes even special music. As was the case with our birthday celebrations throughout the childrearing years, our holiday celebrations were never expensive but they were festive. And memorable. And the stuff our family was made of.

And they were exhausting for Mom. That would be me, the holiday planner bound and determined to make memorable holiday moments for my daughters, come hell or high water, heaven help us all.

Little did I realize then how very few holidays I'd have to celebrate with my entire clan. I thought that even once the nest emptied, every child-turned-adult would flock home to celebrate the seasons with Mom and Dad, spouses and offspring in tow.

I've since realized how wrong that idea. Thankfully, though, how right it turned out to be that I did do the best I could each and every holiday while my girls lived at home. Because there were so few of those, too.

The big shebangs had their place, their heyday, but now the celebrations are smaller, in scope and in attendance. Celebrations take less work, yet they still require work.

That required work for birthday and holiday celebrations — exhaustive overloads in the past, minor smidgens today —  is one reason fall has long been my favorite time of year. The months of September and October, to be exact. Because during the months of September and October there isn't a single birthday, a single holiday I'm expected to celebrate. Nothing to plan or purchase or poke-my-eye-out-with-a-hot-poker-because-I-need-a-freakin'-break-from-special-celebrations sort of nonsense. None.

See, as much as I love my family and would now indeed poke my eye out to have them around again for family celebrations and to occasionally fill my (occasionally heart achingly) empty nest, I also love down time. Quiet time. Uneventful time. Time such as September 1 through October 30. Time with no celebrations. No celebrations is, for me, reason enough to celebrate.

True to my character, my past, my family-party-planning-personality, of course, I plan to make that celebration of no celebrations as absolutely special and memorable as possible.

By doing ab-so-lute-ly nothing.*

Happy No-Celebration season to you and yours! May it be everything you hoped it would be. And everything you hoped it would not be, too.

*Well, nothing related to celebrations, that is. The need for speed in securing income remains.

Today's question:

When is the biggest span of time with no birthdays/holidays/celebrations in your family?

Bunches o' birthdays

In the past month, my family and I have celebrated four birthdays. Mac and Bubby each have a birthday at the beginning of June, which we celebrated with a patio party—including water balloons and hot dogs—during their recent visit. Then my birthday took place at the end of June while my grandsons were still here, and Andrea's birthday was this past Monday.

Because we were doing a combo celebration of Mac's and Bubby's birthdays—they had celebrated with individual birthday parties at home—I created a combo cake. Both boys, like their PawDad, love, love, love M&Ms, so an M&M cake it had to be. I topped the M&M bedecked cake with a celebratory banner that said "Happy Birthday, <Bubby's real name>!" on one side and "Happy Birthday, <Mac's real name>!" on the other. Then I stuck in the appropriate numeral candle for each, and it did the double duty I had hoped, honoring them both and giving each their own candle to blow out from their own side of the cake.

Brianna did the honors supplying the cake for the other two celebrations—a delicious candy-topped ice cream cake for my big day, and homemade Sour Patch cupcakes, per Andrea's request, for Andie's birthday. I'm considering cake ideas to return the favor to Brianna when her birthday rolls around mid August.

All in all, our month filled with bunches o' birthdays was bunches o' fun.

Today's question:

What season has the most birthdays in your family?

This post has been linked to Mosaic Monday.