A week ago Oliver decided to turn four.

Because I am still "just surviving" and all, I didn't plan any sort hyper party. I did invite his grandparents, parents and little brother (via Lucy and Ric) to come over for dinner and cake.

Who needs a theme party when you can have dinner and a cake?

I grew up on dinner and cake and look at me, I am just fine.

Our homemaker Jane hosted the enchiladas in her Crockpot and made Ollie a dense chocolate cake that we ate for days after. That Jane is her mother's daughter and don't let anyone tell you differently.

Around five o'clock Umi showed up with balloons and a present. Shortly thereafter came Lucy and Gigs, also present in hand. Then to add to Ollie's mounting excitement, his Dad pulled up in the car and helped his mother come gingerly into our Retro Birthday House. With a present.

Have you ever watched a fly try to get out of a closed window?

That was Ollie.

His repeated mantra, "This is my birthday and I am so happy."

Bouncing off couches, rolling on floors, skipping on tippy toes.

Hot dog!

Which at that point I started to worry because I didn't want to disappoint him. The kid's birthday is January second, I am fresh out of tape, wrapping paper and, well, presents. I mean you get dumped on at Christmas only to have more presents to discover a week later. I am sorry, but post-holiday birthdays are just redundant.

Not only that, but we are still returning Ollie's Christmas presents that we purchased because all he needed (apparently) was Spiderman riding on a four wheeler(?) and a roll of shiny fake gold dollars. All things to fit in his squirty little backpack, which to him holds the wonders of the world. The fast action, speed racing, life changing sport car track? Neh.

"Chup baby go downstairs and wrap up a pack of gum from your stash." I charged knowing full-well that the present count for a four year-old was far more important than the quality.

Also knowing that a long with Spiderman riding a four wheeler (?) a pair of vampire teeth, and shiny things, it is gum that moves Ollie's sensitive soul through this disparaging world.

After dinner the little guy brought all of his presents into where his mom was reclining on the couch. He opened each present right next to her so that she could give him the validation of deserving each one. If only Steph came equipped with batteries, because almost as much as Ollie needs his mother's love, he needs batteries.

When all of the big gifts were exhausted we started in on the presents brought by our birthday guests and Chup. I will relay to you each gift as though you cared:

Umi and Grandpa: gum.

Lucy, Ric and Gigs: gum.

Mommy and Daddy: gum.

Which at that point Chup slyly signed to me that he was going to go ahead and take back his pack of gum I asked him to sacrifice earlier. Slipped his offering back in his shirt pocket and Ollie never even knew that he was one pack short.

The cake was lit by the fire of four candles. Blowing shortened their flame. Cream and ice cream were served by the side of a chunk of chocolate. Ollie ate his in episodes and finally licked it clean as the guests were leaving.

That night as I was dressing our dude for bed I asked him if he had a nice birthday.

"Yep." He replied in his sugar voice.

"Do you like being four?"


"Wasn't nice to have mommy here to celebrate with us?"


"Did you like your presents?"

"Ohhh yes." He sighed as though the thought of all that gum happily exhausted him.

"Did all of your dreams come true?"

"Yep." He answered again. Then added,

"But, nope. Not the one where the dinosaur is chasing me and I have to jump over a tractor because he has sharp teeth and he will eat me."

Well, there is always next year.

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