Ellen has been looking forward to her birthday since Christmas. (Admittedly, I felt very much the same way four years ago about her birth day, but with a lot more hormonal angst.) For months she would frequently tell us, “My birthday’s next!” This year, her birthday fell on a Monday which is a pretty busy (and very Cooper-centric) day for us and I was really worried about how to make the day feel special.
The Saturday before her birthday we took her to see Zootopia. The kids thought the movie was hilarious and it had a depth and sense of humor that also appealed to adults. After the movie was over though, Ellen was disappointed that we didn’t have cake and threw a minor fit when we reminded her that it wasn’t actually her birthday yet.
To torture her even more, I made her cake the evening before her birthday. She went to bed before it was frosted, but she was still pretty upset that I’d made cake, but didn’t let her have any. She chose Smitten Kitchen’s Best Birthday Cake. A choice I’m pretty sure she made primarily because of the sprinkles.
The morning of her birthday she was very excited to see the finished product and even more excited that I’d saved the scraps I’d cut off the layers to make them level for her to eat.
We let her open one present before Noel headed off to work and Cooper to school.
Then she and Cooper played with balloons instead of getting dressed and eating breakfast. Cooper was late for school, but it was the probably the first reason for checking him in late that didn’t annoy me terribly. (Some examples of previous reasons for being late include: Cooper wanted to wear the blue socks not the white ones, Ellen didn’t want to wear a coat, Cooper stared at his breakfast for 20 minutes and then decided he actually wanted to eat it when it was time to get in the car, and everyone slept in because we didn’t leave Urgent Care until two hours past bedtime.)
Noel hadn’t left for work yet when we got back which delighted Ellen. She LOVES her dad and cries if she doesn’t get to give him a big hug and a kiss before he goes to work.
While Cooper was at school I took Ellen to Target. She had some birthday money and I told her she could pick out a present. I think she enjoyed wandering the store looking at everything more than she actually enjoyed the toy she chose. We wound through the toy aisles for almost an hour with her exclaiming, “Look mom!” close to a thousand times. My patience with this exercise was probably my greatest birthday gift to her.
After we picked up Cooper, Ellen had a brief period of time that she could play with her My Little Pony play dough set that she chose. This picture is the last documentation of the colors being separate and recognizable.
Cooper had speech therapy in the afternoon and Ellen and I built this impressive marble run.
We spent a few minutes at home prepping dinner and then headed to swim lessons. Ellen loves swim lessons and is extremely confident in the water; however, she is not the most well-behaved pupil. When the instructor is helping the other kids she’s always jumping into the middle and splashing or trying to swim across the pool. One particularly bad day, Ellen got put in “swim lesson time out” so the instructor could uninhibitedly help the other kids. She graduated with excellent ratings on all of her skills, but the suggestion that she needs to listen more. It’s kind of funny because when I signed the kids up for lessons I worried a lot about how Cooper would handle them and he ended up being one of the best behaved kids in the class.
After showering off, we headed home where we opened the rest of Ellen’s gifts, skyped with some family, and then ate macaroni and cheese and cake.
This picture is from a few weeks later, but is a pretty good indication of Ellen’s personality. She’s feisty and spirited, but has the most tender moments when she’ll ask deep questions and genuinely listen. She’s sassy and full of energy, but never passes up an opportunity to snuggle. She can throw the hugest tantrum about absolutely nothing, but she always compliments my outfit choices. She hates having her hair done, but loves twirly dresses, jewelry, and having her nails painted. She will fight you tooth and nail to do anything that wasn’t her idea, but then will surprise us by volunteering to help empty the dishwasher with great enthusiasm. It’s sometimes a rollercoaster, but we’re glad to have Ellen in our lives.