There was a particularly momentous occasion this week for one member of Team WestEnders: Derek celebrated his 15th birthday. According to him, though, it was no big deal. When I asked whether he was excited about the milestone, he shrugged in a noncommittal way and said, "Well, I already had 14..." Oh, well sure...wait, what? He elaborated, "It's not like I'm just becoming a teenager...and 16 is a big one, when I can drive, so this year isn't really anything special." Hmm...I suppose that makes sense...after applying Teenage Boy Logic, of course.
However, I still felt compelled to try and make at least a little bit of a fuss about his turning a year older. For one thing, this would mark the first birthday he'd be spending in North Carolina. Instead of the customary family party with his cousins and godparents, he'd just get...his parents and sibling...you know, the same people he sees every day of his life. So I vowed to try to work out some birthday surprises...if possible. As it happened, I got a couple of lucky brainstorms in terms of presents. In fact, he and his brother actually inspired one, without their even realizing it.
You see, on one of our frequent trips to Dick's Sporting Goods (aka "possibly their favorite store in the known universe")--once they'd finished looking at/choosing whatever it was we'd gone in for in the first place--they hightailed it over to the golf section to goof around on the practice green that's set up there as a permanent installation. Presumably this is to help actual golfers try out clubs before buying them...but my kids treat it like their own personal mini-golf course. I'm not exaggerating at all when I say that they L-O-V-E this thing. If I ever lose track of them in the store (which happens with exasperating regularity as they flit among the displays oohing and aahing over all the gear...but fortunately is far less panic-inducing than when they were toddlers, thank goodness...), I've learned that this is the most likely place to reunite with them.
Luckily the staff indulges them, seeming (so far) to find their schtick amusing...seeing as how they behave much more like...Happy Gilmore than, say, Jordan Spieth. (And yes, of course I had to look that up, do I seem like a golf geek to you?) Well, one day during the Winter, Riley enthused, "It would be great to have one of these to play with in the Bonus Room!" Ding ding ding! All I had to do was file that tidbit away, then consult with my bestie--you might know it as "Amazon"--when the time came to order up one personal putting green, 2 clubs, and a set of wall-and-furniture-friendly foam practice balls. The best part is, not only were they not expecting it, but they've played with it for hours every day since taking it out of the box and arranging it in their Boy Cave. A new "toy" that provides quality brother bonding time...score!
Then, the other thing that struck me as a bright idea for our sports-nut son was a subscription to ESPN Magazine. He's gotten Sports Illustrated Kids for years, and still anticipates its arrival every month, and enjoys devouring it cover-to-cover. But the way that boy soaks up details and statistics these days, and loves to analyze players and games and teams, I figured he was ready for something a bit more informative and in-depth. Besides, Husband will read it, too...which will undoubtedly spark even more sports-related dinnertime conversation than already occurs. So...another win...but it's probably a good thing I'm not much of an evening meal kind of girl, anyway (I predict they won't even notice I'm over in the corner with my nose buried in my latest issue of Fitness)!
Finally, we come to the all-important "food portion" of our traditional birthday commemoration. Since Thursday was a soccer night, Derek had to make do with whatever was on hand, and relatively quick and simple to prepare--which ended up being salmon (stocked in the freezer thanks to blessed Costco), roasted potatoes (the raw materials having been included in our weekly Produce Box delivery earlier that afternoon), and salad...not too shabby for a weeknight supper, yeah?
And rather than bake a cake for just us (which, let's be honest, here, I'd end up eating waaayyy too much of...) I decided to sneak off to a local bakery while he was at school and pick up a nice, reasonable 4-pack of cupcakes. Now, the closest option happens to be Weaver Street Market--a co-op that carries lots of organic, wholesome products--which besides their lovely bread-and-pastry section, also offers delightful coffee. Just sayin'...it was kind of a no-brainer. But imagine my shock when all I found in the case was an admittedly gorgeously-frosted set of...vegan cupcakes.
Knowing how much grief I'd endure from my loving Male Posse should I brazenly choose to bring these items into the house....I bought them anyway...then quickly stripped off the label and buried it in the garbage...and presented the treats with a smile. (Snickering on the inside at the thought of getting away with it...naturally...yeah, pun intended...) Aaaannnd...as I suspected, none of them had the slightest clue--the only comments revolving only around how richly chocolately they tasted. If you're counting, that's one more point for Mom...although in the Birthday Game, everyone's clearly a winner!
Whew! Now I can truly relax...'cuz the next one up in the Birthday Seat is...ME! By the way, no, thank you on the fish course, but feel free to get me some of those vegan cupcakes...please!