Our trip to Las Vegas was specifically designed to coincide with spring break with special attention to being home for Nicholas's birthday. It landed smack in the middle of the break on Wednesday and we landed back home at 7 a.m. that morning.
Let me preface his birthday with what the kids did while we were gone, essentially stretching birthday fun into spring break fun at Camp Grandparents from Saturday to Tuesday.
We dropped the kids off around lunch time and my dad brought us to the airport. The kids were kept very very busy. Board games, a trip to the skate park (Nicholas has the face bruise to prove it), the National Zoo and even Barnum & Bailey Circus were on the calendar. My kids are funny. None of them were really looking forward to their time away and trust me it had very very little to do with the fact that Ian and I would be gone. They just wanted to stay home. They even made arguments for staying home alone the four days we were gone. Can you imagine? They wanted to hang out with their friends, well, the girls did at least. Nicholas just didn't want to leave home, he's a homebody. He has yet to stay overnight with my parents alone, or even "alone" with his brother. He'd be OK, just OK, if he was with Rebecca, but otherwise he comes home once it approaches night time. The kids wanted to do their own thing and going to grandma's house isn't like that. Grandma gets them up in the morning and they do stuff. At home we're boring in a comfortable sort of way: meals, homework, TV, video games, board games sometimes, outside time, and of course school, errands, lessons and soon... swim team. At grandma's house they do chores, play games and go to lots of fun places. I wouldn't tell them which fun things they'd be doing so they arrived skeptical. Honestly, I don't know why. Every time they spend a night or weekend over there my parents spoil them rotten. They go out for dinner, go shopping, see a show or something different/fun/what mom wouldn't do. Remember Rebecca's birthday? Then the weekend Rebecca had her retreat Katherine spent with my parents and they did Jazzercise and saw "Jason and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at a local highschool. My parents take the boys to the skate park to watch competition, Rebecca went to the Capital Area cake show a couple times now, there is always something! And yet they were all grumbling a bit about three and a half days with the only close "extended" family they have. Sheesh.
They had a blast. I'm not sure if it was the stimulation or the sugar OD, but the circus was a huge hit. They had perfect weather for the zoo, though they were bummed that the big panda attraction is empty. And the skate park proved that even with a face plant Nicholas is improving in his skateboarding. Thank goodness for helmets though. They played Scrabble several times, Katherine won all the rounds. They ate well, slept well and played hard. It's what grandparents do, and my folks are really great at it. It's pretty awesome they're willing to take all four kids at once and make their time together wonderful. We are so lucky. I do wish the kids would quit grumbling beforehand!
By the time we returned home, they were packed with stories from the motorcycle stunts at the circus to the aforementioned face plant off the skateboard.
We as parents are just not that fun.
BUT... we were absolutely home for the big guy's 11th birthday. And we brought presents. Hmm, I should probably get a photo of them. All the kids got tshirts from Las Vegas but Nicholas got a little something extra too. I'll wait until he gets home to snap a pic.
We shared stories of our weekends then packed up the kids, said a huge thanks, and came home. A stop at Baskin Robbins procured an ice cream cake.
Let me tell you a bit about Nicholas. He's an 11 year old boy with a little brother: he can often be found rolling on the floor like a puppy beating on said brother. He can be pushy and rude... but with Jonathon only. If he doesn't want to do something he'll sometimes ignore it, sometimes finish it poorly, or in the case of cello, consider every tiny thing from taking the cello out to putting it back away as part of his 15 minute practice. He's tactile, still has a stuffed dog he carries around everywhere though he's promised to try leaving it on his bed. He curls up with people on the couch. His feet smell. He does his chores without question, except when he tries to pass it on to Jonathon; he goes out of his way to do nice things for his sisters, especially Rebecca. He has a great relationship with Rebecca, he looks up to her and admires her and plots against his brother with her. I've labeled him, as any bad parent would, my "Most Helpful." He still gives me kisses and lots of hugs. He'll even hug me in front of school. Clothes matter, he's always had a certain sense of style. Getting dress shirts and button-down flannel shirts for his birthday made him happy. Sports are also his thing. Video games are his passion too, but we encourage the sports when we can, like the EPWBA, Frogs, and the running club that starts this week at his school. Rebecca bought him a brand new football for his birthday, it was on his wish list. He has hopes of making the 6th grade football team in the Fall and if not he figures he'll try out for cheerleading. He's only mostly joking. You can read him like a book. He can lie, but he doesn't much. He doesn't care for chocolate and prefers gum: for Christmas he was thrilled with a Costco pack of Trident. He loves to be read to, but usually falls asleep half way through. For a while he preferred long hair, now he's strutting the buzzed look. He's a bit of a mama's boy. He's sweet and gentle. He's smart. He's charming to those he's familiar. He has a sense a humor. And he's all ours.
Though we were totally outdone by my parents (we had no sleep, a little jetlag on top, and no tickets to anything awesome), we did what little we could with an ice cream cake, a trip to LazerQuest and dinner at Olive Garden as requested.
You can see the bruise on his cheek from his earlier wipeout.
In all honesty, I wish he could stay just as he is. OK, maybe I wish he'd be a little more secure and willing to spend a night away, it would be good for him. But that's so minor.
He's only 11, right?