I usually do a birthday experience for the kids but this year that has proven difficult. So I decided to do something he never expected me to do.
Chase has been begging for a gaming computer in his room FOREVER. So I caved. (Parental Disclaimer: He still has all the same parental controls, screen time limits, etc.)
I arranged for him to stay at a friend’s house overnight last weekend so Chloe and I could set it all up (desk, chair, computer, and rearrange the room to accommodate). When he got home the next day I asked him to put his stuff in his room (where Chloe was waiting to capture the big moment on video). He was definitely shocked and very appreciative.
I’m glad I was able to give him his birthday gift early, because now, on his actual birthday, I am awaiting test results to see if I have COVID… so I am quarantined in my room. Lovely.
Chloe helped me set up a carpet picnic outside my bedroom door. I ordered a pizza and my dear friend Celeste Schneider was kind enough to pick up my Nothing Bundt Cakes order (my first year not making a birthday cake… sad moment!) and bring me croissants and Sprite. It may not have been the perfect birthday party but it will surely be memorable. And this weekend he has a virtual gaming birthday party set up where he and his friends will game all night long.
Behold! My latest design project! Every year for the kids’ birthdays I give them a birthday “experience” vs. gifts. Well this year it was hard to do a cool experience because, well… it’s hard to experience anything fully these days. So Chloe asked if she could have a bedroom makeover. She helped me paint and then slept in my room until I was done with the rest of the transformation. Voila!
The last time I redecorated it was 5 years ago, when she was five years old (and I couldn’t believe she requested a pink room back then!). When her dad died last fall she brought over a bunch of things from his house and her room just ended up a big “hodge podge” of styles and STUFF. Needless to say it was in need of a makeover so I was more than happy to do it! Before and After:
It was definitely my biggest design challenge to date. Her room is small so space is always an issue. She has wanted a desk for awhile so I had to get creative with that. She also loves STUFF so storage is always an issue as well. She just HAD to keep the fuzzy turquoise blanket from her dad’s house so I had to work everything around that. In the end, I am super proud of how it turned out! She loves it, too, so my heart is very full right now.
The bed solved a lot of the storage issues:
I had to highlight some of her memorabilia from her dad’s house. The drawers on the wall are drawers she brought over from her dresser there, because they used to write notes to each other on them. I filled the shadowbox with special items that held memories for her:
I solved the space issue and the need for a desk with this cool thing, which Chase helped me install:
And the rest was just designed around the things she loves:
As is tradition, I gave Chase a birthday “experience” versus gifts this year. I asked him if it was OK to give him an early gift and luckily he said yes, because we got to go see Blue Man Group! Chase is a percussionist and lover of all things weird, so I knew it would be right up his alley. We had an awesome time, and afterwards Chase was able to get his picture taken with the drummer and guitar player, as well as one of the blue men! Then we finished the day with a giant slice of pizza downtown.
These one-on-one experiences are so precious to me, and I absolutely love that they love them, too! Happy early birthday, Chase!
For Chloe’s birthday experience this year I took her to Schlitterbahn. She was so jealous when Chase got to go with the band on a field trip there last year, so I thought she would like it. I was right! We both had an absolute BLAST. I splurged and got the wristbands that cut down on wait times for rides, and it was definitely worth it. We were there from open to close and would not have had time to ride all the rides we did otherwise. What a blast!
For Chase’s Birthday Experience this year we did a Harry Potter Escape Room! It was so much fun. We didn’t beat it, but they said for a team of 2 we got pretty far! We made a great team, and celebrated with lunch at Mod Pizza.
I am so grateful he still enjoys spending some quality time with Mom. I’ll hold onto it as long as I can!
Chloe’s birthday “experience” this year was a trip to Houston with me to see the Houston Dynamo’s play, since she’s so into soccer! We ordered shirts to wear so we could be true fans!
The Dynamos won the game, and every time the scored a goal fireworks would go off and streamers would come down. Chloe lived for those moments!
We had some time before the game to check out Discovery Green, too:
In the third picture above she is trying to climb a knotted rope. She attempted that rope that over and over and over again until she accomplished it. Not once did she give up because it was too hard. I love her growth mindset!
Before heading home there was just one more thing to do:
It’s tradition: Every year for the kids’ birthdays I give them an “experience” vs. “stuff.” It has turned into a really fun tradition! Chase is really into cars right now, so I took him to the Houston Auto Show. Of course we had to start our day with a hearty breakfast:
We had a blast!
I like to get the kids a souvenir of our experience together, but the choices were lacking at the auto show so I designed a one-of-a-kind, original T-shirt for him, which he loved:
I love these one-on-one experiences together. I truly believe the best gift you can give someone is your time.