Feathered Aspen

Birthday, Spring, and a trip to Minnesota

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Lily is four!  We celebrated her birthday on Saturday, April 9 with a ton of family and friends.  And there were quite a few kids too!  It was actually a packed house, but it was fun.  Joshua and I had set the goal of finishing up ongoing projects for the party, and so the week preceding was a bit stressful.  We finished the built in couch, the built in bench and dining area, patching the walls, and cleaning out the front and back porches.  The to do list was a page long, but we managed to all pull it off, and I even got to shower before everyone could show up and see me in my pajamas with wild hair and a bottle of gin in my fist.  JK.

Tuesday, April 5 was lovely too.  Lily went to school and I packed the requisite fruit salad, birthday treasures (for all of her classmates), and a photo of the special birthday girl.  Around noon, Lu, Joshua, and I returned to listen to Lily’s magical birthday story as told by her teacher.  It was very fun, and Lily was beaming, just loving her birthday.  She turned to me when I walked in and declared, “Momma, I’m having the best day!”

We went home afterwards and had lunch and a little nap all together.  When we woke up, we paid a visit to Happy Cakes where Lily got to pick out a cupcake.  She selected a vanilla chocolate confection entitled ‘Together,’ and we all made our way to the playground, per her request.  It was very sweet, and it was too fun to see Lily having such a great time.

Lily loved her party too.  Her best buds were in attendance, and they ran around the house and the yard, playing hard.  For snacks, I had chopped (and chopped and chopped) veggies and arranged them in a rainbow, to honor her theme.  The sweet treat was vegan, gluten, and added sugar free cheese cake, haha!  But actually I thought everything was delicious, even if the kids might have been a bit disappointed at the lack of, ahem, donuts and frosting.  Actually, I made a ton of food, and really, we only had enough leftovers for dinner for the four of us, so I guess it was appreciated 🙂

The other thing I thought was sweet about the party is that we had asked everyone just to bring themselves and no gifts.  Getting ready for the party, I had deep cleaned the girls’ room, and combing through piles of unused and rarely used toys reminded me that I needed to tell everyone to forgo gifts.  Close family members still got Lily gifts, including us, but I’m so happy with this balance that we’ve struck.  Our limit of one gift not exceeding 30 dollars and our preference for outings rather than toys is really working.  The grandparents are so respectful of this request, and it means that special occasions like birthdays and Christmas are celebrations that are focused on spending time with each other rather than the acquisition of more stuff.  It sat so right with us to see Lily, absolutely happier than happy, running around with her friends and greeting her loved ones at her birthday.  There was no tearing through wrapping paper and immediately discarding little gifts, no crowd watching her do so.  It’s a tradition that’s a bit strange to me.  I’m not sure what it teaches.  And while I appreciate the sentiments of generosity and thoughtfulness that gifts can sometimes communicate, I really feel like that’s lost when there’s a pile to open.  ANYWAY! Sorry for the soapbox, but I explain simply because I feel like we’ve found a good way to manage (and because I hope you won’t think me a miser! Joshua and I actually got Lily a kid-size camelback and sleeping bag for adventures in the hills this summer 🙂 I guess that means we were exempt from the one gift, 30 dollar policy…  But REI dividends do exceptions make??)

This week, we enjoyed the bounty of fresh flowers and cans of La Croix left over from the party, as well as a clean house and newly finished organization systems.  I’m in love!  The house is so much easier to keep tidy now that there’s a place for everything.  The weather was sublime, and on Wednesday, we renewed our membership at the Botanic Gardens (a birthday gift for the Spring birthdays in our family thanks to the Pietaris!).  Breathing in the scent of Spring blossoms and listening the girls and their little friends run through the wooded paths…  How have I stayed away for a year?!  This is my favorite place in the city.

Today, it began to snow, and apparently, we’re looking at over a foot of snow…  Oh, Colorado.  I only ask that you spare my tulips and melt by Tuesday.


For Spring Break, we drove back to Minnesota.  Joshua compiled a gorgeous  little video in the previous post, and I just adore it.  Already, we look back at the films we’ve made, and it’s so fun to see littler versions of Lily and Lu, adventuring.  I’ve watched Lu’s Welcome to the World video three times this week, and it makes me choke up every time, especially that last shot of her in the bouncer with her fists curled up by her face.  I only wish we had begun making them when Lily was an infant!  Anyway, I digress.  While I LOATHED the drive to and from MN, I really have nothing to complain about.  In fact, I should be GRATEFUL.  Neither of the girls cried in the 30 hours we spent in that car.  I mean, what children do that?  But nevertheless, I was an anxious passenger and driver, hating the dark and the passing vehicles.  I’m so nervous after the accident!

The stay in Minnesota was good though.  We got to see some new babies and spend time with all the grandparents.  Lily especially loved hours and hours of play with the Devane boys, especially their eldest 🙂  Just a week means that our parcels of time were short, but it was still worth it.  Lily was pretty devastated to leave.  She loves her family, and she misses her Minnesota grandparents quite a bit.  (And we do too!)

Lily is doing well.  Sometimes I look at her there’s something in her face or her long limbs that make her seem so old, and sometimes she’s so young.  I don’t know if the tantrums have been fewer and shorter lived in the past few weeks or if I’m just more refreshed and calm after a week of full-time co-parenting and some better weather, but either way, things are feeling much better on that front.  These days, she’s OBSESSED with playing doctor, but she also loves being outside.  Going to Waldorf school means that she’s so much more creative outdoors.  She makes ‘soup’ out of sticks and rocks and grass, she runs through the trees, chasing fairies and running from foxes.  She’s just so content outside.  It is not unusual to hear the request, “can we go for a walk?” and when we do, it’s a half mile of hide and seek and smelling flowers.  Lily also lives for playdates with her little friends.  She has one friend she especially loves, and they play so well together.

Oh, and two stories that just made my heart magnify this week:

After school on Thursday, we went to the playground just across the street from her school.  Two of her little school friends were there, and she played with them, happily chasing and climbing.  At one point another little girl dropped her lovie, and Lily picked it up saying, “don’t worry!  I’ve got your stuffy!”  When the girl got to the bottom of the slide, Lily promptly handed her the little pink dog.  It just struck me as so empathetic.  The other thing that made me so proud of her was when Lu was playing near them, Lily went out of her way to include her.  She went down the slide with Lu, holding her hand or catching her at the bottom.  She asked Lu to play “Ice Cream Shop” with them, and showed her how to pick up the wood chips and pile them on the shop counter.  How sweet!

Lu is fabulous too.  Oh my.  This is really one of my favorite ages.  She’s just yummy!  I LOVE her budding vocabulary, and she’s starting to request books to be read to her.  The other day when Lily was at school, she was carrying around a little baby doll, and I sat with her, asking her if her baby was hungry or needed a diaper change.  Her eyes lit up and together we practiced changing her diaper and Lu held the doll up to her chest, nursing her.  It was such sweet make believe.  I asked her if her baby was happy or sad, and she hugged the baby and said, “Happy!”

On our walks, Lu is over the Ergo.  She really only allows me to put her in a carrier if she’s very tired.  These days, she loves to walk or run, and luckily, she’s getting better and moving a bit more purposefully in the same direction so that walks don’t take ages and ages to cover just a block or two!  The other thing that just gets is her little piggies or topknots.  Something about little hairstyles in those sparse little blonde strands is so cute.

The other big news for the girls is they’re sharing a bed!  We unstacked the bunks and pushed them together.  And it’s been working like a dream.  I had read a bit about sibling co-sleeping, and I decided we had to try.  It’s so sweet to see them cuddling, and now, we only need one parent to comfort both of them, so it feels that much more efficient 🙂

Well, that’s all for now.  I hope you’re enjoying Spring and all is well 🙂


Author: Ellie

Wife, Mom, Adventurer...

One thought on “Birthday, Spring, and a trip to Minnesota

  1. What a lovely post! Our memories of our time with you in Minnesota are still vivid–wishing it could have been a bit warmer! Our spring has truly sprung and we are surrounded by blossoms and bees humming in the garden. Tell Lily the birds are nesting in the birdhouse outside the dining room! With love, as ever

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