Bunny and Okra are now three years old. I can hardly believe it.
The last three years seemed to have gone by very fast. People say that the days are long but the years are short. I look back and find that to be true. Sometimes old photos or old posts pop up on my phone or on FB. I see how tiny the kids were back then and how big they already are and often wonder how they are already three years old. The last six months were especially a blur. The days all blended in because of sheltering in place. That doesn’t stop the kids from growing. You blink and they are little human beings with a lot of opinions.
We couldn’t (and wouldn’t) have a real party but I still wanted to make that day special for the kids. I picked up the kids’ favorite buns from a bakery two days prior for their birthday breakfast and picked up food from the kids’ favorite taqueria the day before for their birthday lunch. Way ahead of time, Bunny selected a birthday shirt that has excavator on it. Okra chose one with Thomas. Because of their different preferences, I decided to buy decorations that had construction and Thomas themes. The day before their birthday, a chain party supply store delivered Thomas balloons, a huge number 3 balloon, letter balloons, and some wrapping papers to us. I ordered a construction birthday photo backdrop online. After the kids went to bed the night before their birthday, I couldn’t get started with decorations until after 9:30 because of a prior Zo.om meeting. Bob was already at work putting the kids’ new balance bikes together. I put the construction backdrop on the living room wall above the couch, placed the giant number 3 next to the picture, and placed the Thomas balloons on the other side. I blew up the letter balloons and spelled out Bunny’s name on one side of the wall and Okra’s name on the other side of the wall. I wrapped all the presents and put bows on the bikes. After all that was done, it was already 11pm, way past my bed time. It was worth it for the kids though and I couldn’t wait to see their faces the next morning.
The air quality in the 7 days prior to the kids’ birthday was at the Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy level. I said to my friends the day before that it would take a miracle for the AQI to get down to an acceptable level for us to take the kids to the zoo and for cake cutting in the backyard with my brother’s family to take place. I opened my eyes on the kids’ birthday and the first thing I checked was AQI. It was down to the unhealthy for sensitive group level (instead of very unhealthy). I wasn’t sure if it would go further down but there was a glimmer of hope that a zoo visit could be possible. The kids woke up and were very excited about putting their birthday T-shirts on. Where they sat for breakfast they couldn’t see the decorations and the presents in the living room. After their teeth were brushed, we opened the gate and led them into the living room. Their facial expressions were priceless! They looked so genuinely surprised and happy about the decorations. It was worth all the time and energy. I checked and rechecked the AQI. It was down to the low end of the Unhealthy for Sensitive Group level. I was confident that it would get down to the Moderate level. So it was truly a miracle that we got to pack up the kids and go to the zoo. We all had a blast! It had been a long time since Bob made it back to the zoo. He especially took a day off, and it was a delight to have him around to celebrate the kids’ birthday on a weekday (as their first two birthdays were on the weekend). The air quality was getting progressively better. By the time it was the kids’ nap time, I was certain that we could have a birthday cake cutting time in the backyard with family.
I had gotten a local mom from one of my mom clubs to make a cake for us. It was an awesome cake with Thomas on top and a track that ran under him, and an excavator and traffic cones on the side of the cake. This just matched my kids’ strong individual preferences. I was pleased with the final product.
The kids didn’t know that their uncle, auntie, and cousins were going to show up. Although Okra woke up being cranky and threw a tantrum, he recovered fast and was very excited about the cake and our family showing up. The sky was bright and the air was good. We had a wonderful time celebrating with family. The kids are so grown that they actually could blow the candles all by themselves this year and nobody ate the candle (unlike last year when Bunny took a bite out of her number 2 candle).
The day finished with dinner from the kids’ favorite restaurant. But even with their favorite food, Okra was done with dinner after a couple of bites because he couldn’t wait to go play with his new toys. Bunny followed him. We ended up having plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.
We were supposed to have a picnic to celebrate the kids’ birthday the previous Saturday. It didn’t happen because of the air quality. This past Saturday we finally made it as the air was/is good. We had dim sum at a park!
It was wonderful to see the kids interact with their aunt, uncle, and cousins. Life is so much better when you can spend time with family. This year the kids really understand the meaning behind a birthday and it was a bummer that they couldn’t celebrate it the way we normally could. And I am really missing my dad. He was here the last two years for the kids’ birthdays and I really feel the void of not having him here this year. The pandemic has made it so hard for many to make in person connections. One can only hope that next year we will be all back to normal and the kids can spend quality time with everyone on their 4th birthday.