The Redhead celebrated his 14th birthday this weekend. It doesn't seem possible that he's 14.
Aquaman is still out to sea (30 days and counting...) so I took on this rodeo single-handedly. The fact that there were 5 birthdays in one week on our wonderful street made it easier. We got together several times during Spring Break, shared food and cakes, and celebrated everyone turning one year older.
The Redhead opened his presents at breakfast - we had to wake up Thing 1 and Thing 2 at 10:30 so they could be part of it. He later told relatives on the phone: "I got everything I wanted -- and more!" Made me smile. His haul included a hammock, Heelys, and Black Ops II (his brothers gave him that). The big surprise gift from us was SeaCamp at TAMUG this summer. He decided sometime in the past year that he wants to go here for college, where Aquaman and I met, which we both consider completely and totally awesome. He wants to be a Marine Engineer and has been loving his Engineering class this year in 8th grade. This camp is 9 days of Marine Engineering Technology, culminating in the construction of an underwater robot. I think we're more excited than he is, if that's possible. I love that he is so interested in something - nevermind that I don't understand it exactly. I know enough to know how important it is to him, which was underscored when I had to step up and take him to Robert Ballard's talk this winter when Aquaman couldn't. This is the man who discovered the Titanic and is the pioneer of underwater ROVs (remote operated vehicles, for the uninitiated among you). Aquaman had a stomach bug requiring him to stay within 10 steps of a bathroom, so The Redhead and I headed to the Winspear Opera House ourselves. Ballard is the face of underwater exploration - an actual National Geographic Explorer. The Redhead was mesmerized and inspired. And so was I. Mission accomplished. I know he'll love this summer and can't wait for him to experience it. He already has his Texas A&M at Galveston Marine Sciences t-shirt. Aqualad in the making.
But back to his birthday...The Redhead was most excited about his cake. We have recently re-dedicated ourselves to the gluten free, dairy free, egg free diet. His allergies to nuts and fish are life-threatening and non-negotiable, but we had gotten lax about his others because the symptoms are less severe. Heartburn, gas, cramps. He lived with it so he could eat a pizza or a piece of cake or pasta. And didn't tell us how bad it was. But about a month ago, we both gave up gluten again and things have been much more pleasant ever since.
So I dusted off my tried and true recipes from his younger years which we clearly should have never stopped relying on. His cake last year was a find on Pinterest that involved KitKats and M&Ms. This year, we found Glutino wafers and Rice Dream chocolate chips to substitute. It was heaven.
I usually honor a favorite dinner request from the birthday boy, but this year The Redhead had requests for the entire day. I obliged. We had a breakfast of hash browns and ham, lunch of chicken tetrazzini (my mom's recipe altered to be wheat and mostly dairy free) and cake, and went to a BBQ block party for dinner to which I brought homemade french fries and fresh green beans. The Redhead snuck back to our house and ate more cake and chicken tetrazzini.
All of the kids on the street played, ending up at our house in the tree house. I could hear them in there gossiping long past dark. And that's the way it should be.