Laine celebrated nine years orbiting around the sun in July. It’s hard to believe she’s nine, even though it feels about right. Laine kicks off birthday season for our family, the first of the kiddos to have a birthday this year. And what a year. Nothing like being a kid with a birthday during a pandemic. Fun times!

Last year she had a swimming party, the year before that a ceramic party, before that, a big home party when she turned six. This year, a small gathering at home—I wouldn’t call it a party. And I think it was her favorite birthday yet.

She had three requests: a pizza lunch, to watch a movie, and ribs for dinner. And bonus if she could have her two buddies over. Luckily for her, it worked out. And luckily for the other kiddos, siblings came. Laine’s two friends both have little sisters who are five. One of her friends has an older brother, who is Blaise’s buddy. It worked out really well. When I asked Laine if she was okay inviting the little sisters, she said, “Yes! That would be helpful to keep Saige away.” Haha, I get it. Even as a younger sister. Laine is really good with her sisters but there is something about wanting alone time with your friends. Blaise’s buddy was coming regardless; they had plans to game the entire time.

I suppose these are Covid families? Or pods? I’m not up on the pandemic lingo, but these are our indoor families whom we’ve been seeing once restrictions were partially lifted. Feels like I should add that tidbit since I’m not up on the restrictions anymore. I think it’s five or fewer people indoors? But is that five people total, or five different households? Hell, we’re seven people in our family. We don’t meet the five or fewer cutoff if we go somewhere… which two do we leave behind?! Haha. Since we’re talking families, I’m going with five or fewer households. So three kiddos from one family, they count as one in my book. I’m an expert rationalizer.

The friends came around 11am. They all played a bit before we ordered pizza for lunch. Carnation has two pizza places—there used to be three—and none of them are great. It’s kind of annoying, kind of hilarious. Either way, Laine likes one of the pizza joints, and thankfully it’s the one that delivers. Pizza and breadsticks arrived, and they were devoured.

Pizza lunch.

Next on tap, movie time. Laine and her friends went upstairs to the bonus room for their viewing. Laine requested Moulin Rouge. They started watching it and decided to switch to Burlesque instead. Laine is in a Christina Aguilera phase. For what it’s worth, I ran the movie selections past both friends’ moms. Burlesque is probably Laine’s favorite movie these days. She’s watched it several times, and had before her birthday. We do YouTube music video nights, and I had showed her the Tough Lover scene from the movie a while ago. She was sold.

Burlesque was playing upstairs, Trolls World Tour was playing downstairs. Saige, Baby, and the five-year-old siblings settled on the couch for the movie. Brian is big on popcorn for movies and made everyone individual bags. Even remembering to not butter one of the kiddos’ popcorn, knowing they have a dairy allergy from scrapping off her pizza cheese. Go, Brian.

Burlesque upstairs; Trolls World Tour downstairs.

The boys gamed. That’s what they always do.


After movies and video games, it was cake time. Laine requested an ice cream cake. I took her the Friday before to Baskin-Robbins to select a cake. Holy crap, they are expensive. Now, I’m not afraid of spending money on an ice cream cake. I’ve always been a fan. It’s the cake Brian gets me for my birthday every year. And also the cake he had Happy Unemployment written on when I left work at eight months pregnant with Blaise. But man, they have increased the prices. It was $42.99 for the smallest of square cakes, ironically the largest cake they had in the freezer case. I would have bought it if Laine wanted but she is exactly like Brian. She wanted to look around. We left Baskin-Robbins for Safeway. They had a few ice cream cakes, comparable in size and much cheaper. None caught Laine’s eye. To Albertsons we went. Driving there, Laine said, “I have a good feeling about Albertsons.” Haha. She was right, they had an ice cream cake. The largest we had seen this night, and also the cheapest. A mere $24.99. Sold.

Cake time!

I find it so entertaining how much Laine is like Brian, and how much Blaise is like me. Take cake shopping. Laine took her sweet time, not willing to get anything until she found the one. Brian and Laine are like this. They will go shopping for a specific item and come home empty for whatever reason. Maybe they didn’t have it, maybe they did and it didn’t meet their expectations. Or maybe it did and they want to think about it longer. They are the kind who can walk into a store with money to burn and spend nothing. Then there is Blaise and me. We are quick to make a purchase decision, even if it ends up being a bad idea. We like to check things off the list just so it can be completed. If it were Blaise and me shopping for an ice cream cake, we would have bought the first one we found.

Cake, no ice cream. It was ice cream cake. And it was a damn good ice cream cake. The kids said they want an ice cream cake for their birthdays, to which Brian of all people said, “You know you don’t need to have a birthday to get an ice cream cake.” That is so not Brian. You only eat breakfast foods for breakfast, only have pie for dessert, and I thought he’d fall into the only have cake for birthdays. Still surprising me almost 25 years later. And yet he still gives me a look when I let the kiddos have birthday cake for breakfast the day after their birthday. It’s a tradition.

Present time. Laine really wanted a Switch Lite. I figured I’d get ahead of the game and order one in June. Turns out the Switch Lite were (are still maybe?) incredibly hard to find. Thanks, Coronavirus. I checked daily for nearly two weeks. Normally I would ask our neighbor to hook us up; she works at Nintendo. But we had already bought a Switch for Blaise and a Switch Lite for Saige with her discount, among several other accessories and games. I was trying to avoid asking yet again. Not that she cares, but I care. I caved and asked. It’s nice knowing people in the right places, haha. She was able to hook Laine up.

In the meantime, I told Laine not to expect a Lite since they are sold out everywhere and super hard to score. She was very happy when she opened her presents and found a Switch Lite. And bonus, our wonderful neighbor bought Laine a Switch game for her birthday.

Presents, check. Rib time. Brian talked with his dad the week before and asked for his signature rib recipe. Laine goes on and on about Papa’s Ribs. Brian prepared the ribs the night before; they were ready for the inaugural smoke on the new Traeger. Laine was super stoked and demolished several ribs. One of the friends’ families stayed for dinner when they came to pick up their kiddos, and the celebration went on until past 8pm. It was a successful pandemic birthday.

Four more pandemic birthdays coming up. Then the holidays. It’s celebration central over here in the coming months.


  1. aw, happy birthday, laine! she’s so cute and that is such a wonderful age to be –

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