In April we celebrated Harlem's 3rd birthday! He requested a Little Einstein's themed party. Disney's Little Einsteins is his favorite show despite the fact that it stopped running in 2009 and none of his peers watch it. The show teaches music and art appreciation by using classical music and art pieces in every episode.
We had the party with friends and family at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Danville on a sunny Saturday morning. Decorations proved to be a challenge since there's no longer any Little Einstein's merch so I just went with the primary colors of the show and music notes. We had coloring pages and crayons to introduce the characters to all the kids. And we played a playlist of the classical songs from the episodes. If you don't know anything about the show, it was quite random, but Harlem appreciated all of it.
In previous years Russell and I went to Harlem's party venues hours before in the early morning to decorate or reserve our spots. (See Year 1 and Year 2). We've gotten wiser and threw this party with much more ease, securing an online reservation months before and strolling to the site 15 minutes before the party started with casual catered food and lots of people to help set up. I'm not sure if we're getting better or just lazier.
We got an ice cream cake (Harlem's request!) from Baskin Robbins and had them screen print a special design on it. If you look closely, you'll see we added Harlem's face in the rocket.
After cake, Harlem performed for everyone and sang the theme song for Little Einsteins. We printed out lyrics for everyone to sing along.
Minus a mini meltdown in the morning, the party was a success and Harlem had so much fun. I also really enjoy seeing all my friends and family come together. Some came all the way from San Francisco, without kids, to a 10 am party. My sister and brother-in-law flew in from LA. Some friends are new friends who we met through mommy groups and they've become invaluable to us. And some friends are old friends (going all the way back to elementary and middle school) who we've gotten closer to over the years as we figure out parenting together. Also my parents and Russell's parents kept the whole party moving, organized, and cleaned up while I was busy socializing.
I have a tradition of writing Harlem a birthday letter every year. I have them all hand-written in a journal, starting from his baby shower. Here's what this year's letter says:
To my son Harlem on his 3rd birthday.
My big boy, how you continue to amaze me! It’s hard to keep track of everything, it’s all moving so fast. But here are a few key moments from this past year I don’t want to forget.
1. You learned to go in the potty and you’re out of diapers. Major. I’m so proud of you.
2. You got a fur sibling, Nama. You’re very loving and mostly gentle with her. She bites up any toy of yours she can get her paws on and jumps on you throughout dinner, but you still always say “I love Nama” and give her belly rubs. In turn, she’s amazingly good with you too.
3. You started going to school. You were at Soni’s home day care since you were 4 months old and then we got an unexpected call that she couldn’t take you anymore with less than 1 days notice. We scrambled and found you a school last minute and threw you in. It wasn’t an easy transition but you’re doing great. You really impressed us with how well you adapted. Thank you and I’m so sorry about how that went down.
4. You’re talking in full sentences with your own independent thoughts. You’re so smart and funny. And demanding. When I ask you “why” to almost any question, you say “because I love you.” And then of course I give in to whatever you want. If we ask you “are you (blank) or what?” You’ll answer “what.” Other memorable phrases: “That’s too much.” “Gas hole” for butt hole. “On Thursday” for any day in the past. “To later” for any day in the future that’s not tomorrow. “Mommy’s my wife.” "It's so hard to understand" when you're feeling sad.
5. The timer is a good friend of ours. You respond really well to it. So almost any activity we do ends with a 2-minute timer that we set on our phones to allow you time to transition. When we say good-bye, it’s with a hug and a kiss and a high-five.
6. This past year you were obsessed with The Little Einsteins. You regularly talk about things like adagio and fortissimo. You hum classical tunes. When you hear a certain song, you know what episode it corresponds to. You know almost every episode by heart because you’ve watched them all multiple times. We could hardly get you to watch anything else. One time I tried to show you Kubo and the Two Strings and that was a bad idea.
7. You’re helping me find myself. This year I made a big leap and quit my full-time job to pursue my next dream and spend more quality time with you. Thank you for helping me hone in on how I want to live my life. Parenting you helps me become a better version of myself. One time when I was really burnt out, your wise dad said “He’s just making us into better people.” It’s not easy to keep my cool with you. You’ve thrown A LOT of tantrums this year and you can be a stubborn jerk sometimes (just keeping it real), but I will always forgive you and love you unconditionally. I’m working on modeling mindfulness and resilience for you. I want to give you deep kindness and love that you’ll be able to continue giving to yourself for the rest of your life. Also I hope you don’t resent me later for exploiting you in my yoga videos.
8. I'm watching you find yourself. Lucky me to witness your personality continue to develop and unfold. I love to watch you form your words and thoughts, make new friends, discover how something works. I'm here for you when you feel sadness, frustration, disappointment. I am your cheerleader as you become whatever person you're meant to be.
9. You’re growing so quickly. You’re an amazing eater and your dad feeds you all sorts of delicious, mature meals. I love hanging out with you guys at the dinner table, talking and watching how much you can eat. And yet, it’s hard to imagine we once called you Sumo Boss now that your legs are so skinny. You wear clothes made for 4 to 5 year-olds. And your baby cheeks are slowly disappearing. I dread the day you won’t be able to fit snugly into my lap or when you stop wanting to cuddle. I can barely carry you anymore, though you still ask, and I abide.
My baby boy, you thrill me! What new things will you learn this upcoming year? Happy birthday. I love you.