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Sunday, June 14, 2020

Happy Birthday, Brandon!

This week Brandon had a birthday.  Birthdays get a lot less personally exciting as an adult.  Getting older isn't as great as it used to be, your presents are often bought with your own money, and often you have to work on your birthday.  Also, the parades still aren't happening.

This year, despite the embassy being on telework status, Brandon again had to work on his birthday.  His section is on a rotational basis, and it was his turn to be in the office this past week.  And to add insult to injury, he also had to begin his rotation as duty officer on his birthday. 

So we decided to celebrate his birthday on the weekend.  Because when you're an adult, you can change your birthday if you want to.  After all, it's more of a guideline anyway. 

However, everyone couldn't wait until the weekend do acknowledge Brandon's day.  The children all headed down to the store together, pooled their allowance, and bought him some of his favorite treats.  On a whim, I picked up lunch and took it to the embassy where we ate it together.  It turns out that even if you declare your birthday to be on a new day, people still can't help but do something on the actual day anyway. 

This weekend we stretched the celebrations out over two days by letting Brandon choose all of the food and entertainment.  For his activity, we stayed home.  Because, 1. there still aren't any fun things open, and 2. Brandon always choses to stay home.  He's been having his birthday choice for the past three months and he's still not sick of it.  It's good to get what you want in the middle of a pandemic.

When Brandon came home from work on his actual birthday, the children eagerly lined up in front of him with their gifts, excited to show him what they had bought for his birthday.  As I watched them wiggle with the excitement of giving something special to their dad, I remembered again how special Brandon is to everyone in our family.

The children all eagerly await his homecoming every evening, jumping up with excitement when they hear the front door slam followed by his foot steps in the hallway.  They love to hear him tell stories from his childhood, or discuss history, or read them a story.  William and Eleanor can always be sure that they can wheedle a swinging session out of him when I've refused their entreaties to be pushed in the swing.  And at the end of a long day, when it is finally time to rest, he loves to tickle and bounce Elizabeth after her nightly feeding while I talk his ear off about all the thousand little things that have passed through my head that day.  Brandon is the light of our family.  Everyone is happier when he is around, most especially me.

And so we're happy to celebrate Brandon's birthday.  After all he does for us, every single day of the year, we're happy to have one day a year (or two or three) when we can help him feel loved and appreciated.  Happy Birthday, Brandon!

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Hello, Summer!

School ended the week before last.  The last week of school, the weather decided that spring was officially over and the temperatures went from low-sixties and rainy to mid-nineties and sunny. 

Everyone was happy for school to be over with.  The children were happy to be done with their assignments and I was happy to be done chasing them around to make sure they got them done.  We all enjoy having a good three-month break every summer.  I know that some homeschooling families take breaks and school year-round, but everyone here likes the traditional school timeline.  There's something so satisfying about three months free from school.  I still have eighteen years of schooling children left, so I have to enjoy the summers as much as possible. 

So for the past week, instead of spending the mornings down in the basement doing school, we've spent every morning outside in the bright summer sunshine.  By lunch time, everyone is tired out from swimming and is happy to retreat inside the house for the rest of the afternoon.

Although their regular school assignments are done, everyone still has summer school activities, but only a few.  They all have to do some reading, work on their typing skills, and work on some sort of project of their choice. 

Sophia has decided to work on her baking skills, so twice a week we get treated to something delicious she has cooked up.  Kathleen is taking a photography class online, so we'll all get pulled in as subjects eventually.  The boys are anxiously awaiting delivery of a circuitry set so they can begin to learn about electronics.  Eleanor and William are working on learning to clean up the messes they make in the toy room every day.

Brandon has started to go back in to work, but on a rotating schedule.  Everyone, including him, would rather have him working from home.  But I suppose everything can't always be the way we prefer.

The summer fruits have arrived, with strawberries finished already.  Right now we're enjoying nectarines, cherries, and apricots, and on Friday we found a stand selling watermelons and cantaloupes. 

Elizabeth has discovered the joy of tasty fruit.  Every time someone starts eating a piece around here, she starts panting happily, hoping that someone will share with her.  She also enjoys her time in the pool, happily floating in her baby float while watching the antics of her crazy siblings. 

Brandon, who grew up dreading his childhood summers that were filled with seemingly endless hot, sweaty yard work, has made fun of my suburban summers filled with days of playing with friends at the local pool club.  He still hates summer and I still love it.  Which is no surprise, considering his summers are still filled with (much less sweaty) work and mine are still filled with days around the pool.  There are definitely times when being a stay-at-home mom is a clear win.

I'm happy it's summer.  The living is easy, and I'm not complaining.