Monday, November 06, 2006

Finally Nine!

There's nothing that bugs Ben more than those months between July and November when his brothers are officially an age ahead of him. Starting July 4th, he wants nothing more than for his birthday to roll around so he can join Philip and JT in their climb up the age maturation ladder. This year Ben decided to celebrate the big event with an over-nighter. He invited cousin Sam and neighbor-friend Dan over for a sleepover. Friday night they hit up the batting cages (a first for him and Sam) where he did swimmingly well, hitting about 18 out of 20 balls. The boys came home to their own private showing of Narnia, complete with hot buttered popcorn, and went to sleep strewn upon the basement couches.

The actual birthday was on the following Monday so Ben opted to save his dinner, cake and gifts for the real deal. He invited another neighbor-friend, Gabriel, on over for this event. Since Adora has been cooking for us on our super busy Wednesdays, he's become pleasantly acquainted with her fried chicken for which she obliged to a command performance for Ben's birthday dinner. Dinner was fun. We regaled Gabriel and Adora with stories of Ben's childhood, giving particular attention to the more embarrassing ones. Of course this meant we just *had* to tell them about the time he wanted to be in a play at his friend's house but didn't have a costume so one very enterprising mom found him a plastic grocery bag, stuck his hands through the handles, cut holes out the bottom for his legs and called it a tunic. Ben was so enthralled with his costume he wore it for two weeks straight. After we related that story to the masses (with JT taking particular glee in the embarrassment it may have been causing), we were afraid we had overstepped the boundaries of good clean fun when Ben stormed out of the dining room and stomped down to his bedroom. His dad followed closely behind to assure him we meant no harm and see if he could be convinced to return for tapioca and cake but Ben was not to be convinced. He did come back upstairs, stormed through the kitchen where he grabbed a plastic grocery bag and with great hilarity shoved it in JT's face and announced "Now it's *your* turn!" His little act worked and we were glad to see that he made the joke on us.

Now dessert was quite a story...Rarely the conformist, Benjamin requested Mamaw's sour milk coffee cake and tapioca pudding for dessert. Here you can see the coffee cake with the nine candles in the shape of a number nine sharing the counter w/his tapioca pudding. If you look closely, you might notice something peculiar about those candles...yes, they are melting. The cake was hot (it was coffee cake, afterall, which is meant to be served warm, yes?!) and it melted the candles faster than we could light them and sing the traditional song.

Here is the whole melty mess after our hurried rendition of Happy Birthday and an equally as hurried blowing out of the fiery mess.

I love Ben's expression in this picture - it does seem pretty incredible that these were birthday candles just moments before... It took some awfully creative carving of the cake to serve up pieces not tainted with variegated molten wax. I must say, the plate of birthday dessert dished up in Ben's honor seemed a little less than appetizing when viewed from this angle...

Dessert over, we moved to the living room for presents, the two key presents being a lego set from Grammy and Tata and the Lord of the Rings Mines of Moria starter set from Games Workshop. The lego set had arrived via the USPS a few days earlier but there was no suspense for Ben - afterall, he'd carefully informed his grandmother of the URL for his birthday gift...ah, birthdays in the 21st century...we didn't have that when I was kid! The girls outfitted him with a lion mask to match Betsy's mouse mask and John Michael gleefully announced "They're chips, Ben! They're chips!" before Ben could even rip the first piece of tape off the can of Pringles presented to Ben by him and David. All in all, I think Ben had a nice birthday. He certainly seemed to enjoy himself (and may have enjoyed himself more if he'd actually had the chance to *play* with his own presents!) and now he is officially NINE. He can relax and enjoy himself....until January 8th when JT turns 10 and the cycle of age angst turns another revolution....

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