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A Wild and Crazy Birthday

We celebrated a birthday this weekend–one in which Riley, my oldest, turned nine. A friend of mine has been pointing out to me that Riley was turning nine since early in the summer. “I can’t believe Riley’s going to be nine this year,” she’d say. “That just seems so old.” I kindly asked her not to talk about it because it is old and perilously close to ten, the beginning of the double digits, and was freaking me out a bit.

She didn’t listen, kept bringing it up. Then last Monday, mere days from the momentous birthday (the last of the single digits–oy!), she was at it again. “He’s going to be nine this week!” she said. But on the actual day, she sent this in an email: “Also, happy second anniversary of Riley’s 8th birthday. :) Hope you are coping well.”

I was. Mostly. My husband, who shall remain nameless, spent breakfast talking about how Riley is halfway to adulthood and only this many years from driving, etc, etc. I, on the other hand, spent breakfast with my hands over my ears, saying “La-la-la-la-la.” Sigh (sob). Though I did try to stop it from coming . . . we have a loooong piece of wood that we mark our kids’ heights on each year on their birthdays (so we can take it with us when we move) and Riley did not grow as much as he did in previous years, so I said that meant he wasn’t really nine, that he was still eight. No one bought it. But I tried.

We had a lovely birthday-celebrating day. We visited the Lab of Ornithology at Sapsucker Woods because Riley LOVES birds and had brand spanking new birthday binoculars to try out. (Though he’d already requested the visit to the Lab a week before he had the cool new bird-watching gear.) The Lab of O, as we like to call it, is such a fabulous place. And a walk through the wild Sapsucker Woods is brimming with possibilities.

Spying frogs in the marsh.
More frog watching.

The possibility that you might see this.

Oh, look! A frog. Just so you could see, too.

Or this.

Or maybe these.

And if you’re lucky, you might glance across the pond and see this standing in the sticks beneath a huge tree.

Ardea Herodias. Or you might know it as this.

And if you’re inside the Lab when you spot him, you can look through one of these to see him better.

True story: We once went to the Lab for their Migration Celebration that happens every spring, and while Cael and I were in the bathroom, Riley, Torin, and Steve stood outside near the large pond. A great blue heron landed mere feet from them, and started hunting. It caught a fish, ate it. Then caught a frog. (And I missed it all.) How cool is that? Seriously? A great place to go.

Plus, when you’re walking through the woods, you may even come upon a stone sculpture by a world famous artist. And, being crazy kids, try to lift it.

(Andy Goldsworthy created it. Click here and scroll down to see some examples of his work. And come back on Wednesday, because I’ll talk more about him and include more links to his work. It’s amazing, what he does.)

We also went out for ice cream, as is a family tradition on each child’s birthday, and then Riley and I made this.


For some reason, each birthday child LOVES to help make and decorate his/her cake. Riley had requested this rainbow cake, which was loaded with sugar as you can see. (Those are Jelly Belly Jelly Beans . . . because, really, is there any other kind of jelly bean worth eating? I think not.) It’s a one layer round cake that you cut in half, then lay it cut side down, frost between the two halves to stick them together, frost all over, then add the jelly beans. Wish I could tell you it was my brilliant idea, because it was soooo easy and looked really cool. But it wasn’t. It was in this old cake-decorating cookbook I’ve had forever.

We finished the day at an outdoor concert featuring the Sim Redmond Band, at Riley’s request. They have such a fabulous, easy-going, summertime sound. It was a perfect ending to a  lovely celebratory day.

But I still can’t quite believe that he’s nine.

How was your weekend?

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2 thoughts on “A Wild and Crazy Birthday

  1. kmeyersvt

    I feel for you. 14 was hard for me this year as it is PERILOUSLY close to driving! Only one more year, I keep hearing.Liam's 10th was hard for me because he's the baby and now they're both in double digits.