Zachary’s birthday was last Sunday, December 7th. He has been looking forward to turning 4 for quite some time. For the last year, any time anyone would have a birthday in which they would turn anything over age 3, he would inform us that he was still three with disappointment. So, it was with great anticipation that he starting counting down the days on November 27 — 10 days before his birthday.

I asked him several times what the big deal was about turning 4, and he explained to me that several things would happen when he was 4:
* he would no longer be a baby – though I explained to him that he would always be MY baby, he was pretty insistent on this one. It really threw him when I told him that Scott was still Grandmama’s baby and that Grandmama was still Gran’s baby…

* he would no longer suck his thumb – we have been passively working on getting him to give up this habit. Having been through before with Emily, we knew better than to push too hard until he was ready. He had decided that he would be ready when he was 4. So, on the night of his birthday, we told him to try to only suck his thumb at bedtime. No point in going cold turkey on a 4 year old habit! Well, I have to tell you that he has done so well. He hasn’t sucked his thumb at all since last Monday night. Not even in bed!

* no more dragging his blanket everywhere – he has carried his “blank with fringe” with him everywhere he went for the past 4 years. He still plays with it around the house, but that’s it. No more getting dragged into the car and begging to take it with us wherever we’re going.

* play on the computer – Timo LOVES to play on the computer. Somehow, Zachary has gotten it in his head that he would suddenly know how to play on the computer when he turned 4. I was willing to show him how to play before then, but he really wasn’t interested. Well, this week, he came to me and asked if he could play on the computer. I opened the NOGGIN website for him, showed him which mouse button to click and he was off and running! All our educational games have gotten pretty scratched up through the years. I guess that’s something we should put on his Christmas wish list…

* go to school – I’ve been surprised that he hasn’t asked to go to school this week. Anytime he would tell me that he would be going to school when he was 4, I would remind him that he would after he’d been 4 for a few months. He’ll be going to pre-K in the fall.

There have been other things mentioned, but those are the top 5. Turning 4 was a BIG deal in his mind. So, we started planning the celebration in early November and the celebration really started at Thanksgiving. On the day after Thanksgiving, he had a mini-party at Gran & Ol’ Granddad’s house where he got to open his presents from Grandmama & Granddad and Gran & Ol’ Granddad. He was quite excited to get a Ben 10 Alien Creation Chamber and some “dollars” (that he later used to buy a Dora game for his Leapster). We all spent the rest of the weekend making aliens.

We came home from Amarillo on Saturday. The next few days were rather tame as far as celebrating his birthday were concerned. We put up Christmas decorations and continued the countdown to December 7th. Grandmother & Granddaddy arrived on Friday. Their visit was mainly to see the kids (and, I like to believe, to see us), they were also coming to see the new house since they had not been up since we’d moved back to Plainview. We’re hoping that we’ll be in yet another new before too long, but that’s for another post.

Friday evening was spent enjoying spending time with Grandmother and Granddaddy. We left the house once and drove ALL the way to Wayland to see the living nativity before dinner, but that was our only outting. Before bed, I baked a birthday cake to be iced the next day. As he smelled the baking cake, Zachary knew he would soon FINALLY be 4.

Our plan for Saturday was to go to Chuck E. Cheese in Lubbock. We always let the birthday child choose one special meal for their birthday, and that was Zachary’s choice. We had big plans for the 7th, so we went on Saturday. I decorated the cake to look like an Omnitrix (from Ben 10) so we could take it with us. We decided to let him open his gifts before we went. He likes to dress up like the characters in his shows. We had got him some clothes similar to what Ben wears in the show, and we thought it would be fun for him to dress up like Ben to go to Chuck E. Cheese. He was very excited to get his own Leapster (so he doesn’t have to beg Timothy to let him play his anymore), Diego checkers, cards, and “magic ink” coloring book, and his Ben clothes (a green windsuit). We arrived at Chuck E. Cheese around 2:00 and had a great time.

On Sunday, Zachary decided to wear his “Easter suit” to church. We have a “Birthday Champ” ribbon that he wore proudly. He had a great morning telling every one that it was his birthday. Because he’s 4, he now gets to go to worship with the family. We had a great time worshipping together. After church, we went to lunch and then headed home.

Now, for the evening, we had a decision to make. After getting the tickets for his REAL birthday gift, a ride on the Polar Express, we had found out that the Children’s Choir Christmas musical was that night. All the kids were scheduled to sing. The service started at 6 and we had to be at the Polar Express Train Station in Lubbock by 7:45. We probably could have done both, but our time would have been rushed. So, we explained to a tearful Emily (the boys couldn’t have cared less) that we’d be skipping the musical. We arrived at the train station at 7:45, picked up our tickets at will-call, and found our place in line to get on Train Car 1.

The train ride was wonderful! Zachary enjoyed letting everyone know that it was his birthday. The whole train car sang Happy Birthday to him twice! Everyone enjoyed singing, dancing, listing to the “Polar Express” story, having hot chocolate and cookies, and of course, getting to see Santa and his Elves.

These pictures are from Chuck E. Cheese and the Train Ride.

There has been one interesting development of letting Zachary open his presents before his actual birthday. Any time someone asks him what he got for his birthday, he tells him that he didn’t get anything. He got a Leapster, Ben 10 clothes, Diego checkers, and an Alien Creator when he was 3, but he didn’t get anything when he was 4. Little turkey…



Party at Gatti-land

* August 23

We had Emily’s 8th birthday party last night.  When we started planning the party, we were still living in Lubbock.  Emily knew she wanted to invited her two best friends from Plainview and a group of friends from school / church in Lubbock as well.  She wanted to have a sleepover, but we felt that most of these moms probably wouldn’t be comfortable with their 8 year daughter spending the night in another town.  Not to mention the hassle of getting them to the house and back home again.  So, she decided to have the party at Mr. Gatti’s in Lubbock and have her two Plainview friends spend the night.  In an effort to avoid Labor Day, we scheduled the party for August 22nd.  Having the party before school starts has become a custom for us.

Emily decided to have a Cheerleading party.  We weren’t real sure what that meant, but agreed to make a megaphone cake.  We made the reservations that included food, drinks, the use of a party room, a party host, and a $10 game card for up to 8 kids.  She sent out 8 invitations and waited for party day.  There was no need to get party favors since each kid would be getting a game card and could get their own prizes with their tickets.

On the day of the party, Emily’s friends from Plainview rode with us to Lubbock.  7 of the 8 kids arrived and the party went very smoothly.  I really didn’t have to do much at all, which meant I got to enjoy the party.  It was nice!  Everyone had a great time and Emily was a great hostess.

Emily is now the proud owner of Monopoly: Then & Now, 2 new webkinz, a webkinz outfit, new pajamas, 2 ePets, a purse & Nancy Drew book! 

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After all her Lubbock friends had left, we ran a couple quick errands in Lubbock, picked up Slushies at Sonic and then headed home.  Once we got there, the girls wanted to play Emily’s new Monopoly game.  Since it’s kind of a tough game, I played with them.  We decided to play the “quick” version.  We quit when two hours passed and there was no end in sight, the girls were pretty simpled out and I was tired.  We set them up with a movie in the living room and I went to bed.

The next morning we had Belgium waffles and the girls played with Emily’s new toys until their parents came.   Then we all crashed on the couch for the rest of the day.