Flying Five.

Last Friday, my first baby turned FIVE.  How on earth that is possible, I will never know.  I feel like I seriously gave birth to him yesterday – so crazy.  But alas, he is a big five year old now full of stories and jokes and attitude.

The kids’ back to back birthdays always overwhelm me, and I tried unsuccessfully this year to talk to them into a joint party.  And since that idea wasn’t a hit, we went for two small and low-key celebrations. We also went the untraditional route with gifts this year – instead of a pile of toys that they will ignore in a month anyway, Casey and I each did a project for the kids to enjoy.  I finished up my secret mission while the kids were at school last Thursday.

Cullen’s bedroom has two closets – one really big storage closet, and this other more square-shaped closet that just served as an overflow space for crap I didn’t want to deal with.  So I decided to turn it into something much more fun!  But first – it needed a facelift.  It is an unfinished attic space, which meant raw wood paneled walls that were likely built over 100 years ago with the original house.  Imagine lots of scary spiderwebs and nooks and crannies that needed to be filled in with sealant. 

Once the closet was all patched and cleaned up, I got to work painting every square inch. 

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It was a labor of love. Yes, it was just a closet, but it was awkward and took about 4 million coats of paint to get into every little gap and groove.  But in the end it looked so much better bright white instead of super dark brown. 

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Once the paint dried, I assembled two of the IKEA Trofast storage units, that fit perfectly along each side.  I topped each with a flexible lego mat (which we already had!), and then Casey attached a pine board across the back to complete the building center.  I added a tiny IKEA rug and stool to complete the look!  I filled up a few bins with his existing legos, and left his new Mariners lego set out as a surprise in the morning.  I have to admit, I was super proud when I was done! 

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I left the door open to the Lego closet when he went to bed, so it was the first thing he saw when he woke up.  He was so excited, and it was such a joy to see my project come to life.  We did convince him to come downstairs for breakfast, but other than that he played in there for three hours until we had to drag him out for his birthday party. 

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Since his birthday fell on a Friday (when he doesn’t have school), and almost all of his friends are off school on Fridays too – we decided to just celebrate that day.  In lieu of a traditional “party” we just invited his buddies to join us at the Museum of Flight for a morning of play and treats!

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The Museum of Flight is really fun and there is never anyone there, so it was the perfect place to have twelve kids under five running loose.  Cullen seemed thrilled, which is all that mattered to me!

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After a few hours of exploring all sorts of planes and exhibits, we headed to the café for lunch.  I had called ahead and asked about bringing in our own cake, which was fine as long as we bought lunch there – win!  The kids all had sandwiches and chips, and then it was time for cake!

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(Many thanks to my friend Nicki for always taking amazing photos of our celebrations!)

My sweet boy.  He is such a joy these days, and while it is sad to watch his tiny years fade away (and admit that I barely remember them), it is truly amazing to watch him grow up.  He doesn’t nap anymore, so we spend our afternoons together every day while Graham is asleep, and I’m just so enjoying this age with him so far. 

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Oh, and if you were wondering about Casey’s project for Cullen?  He is insane, and built a backyard batting cage.  Totally ridiculous, but pretty awesome, and actually really simple.  He just ran a few wire cables from the house to some poles attached to the back fence, and then looped a batting cage next across the top. 

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Any tiny baseball fan’s dream!  Cullen has gotten pretty good at hitting, and our city yard is wonderful but not enormous, so most of his balls go over the fence.  He hasn’t been able to hit back there in a while, because we didn’t want to annoy the neighbors by covering their yard in balls.  So this is perfect for him to be able to play out there whenever he wants, and it retracts back to the fence really easily.  He has been out there every day so far, rain or shine!

And there we go – we survived birthday season.  Two big kiddos and so much fun celebrating them.  It feels weird to say I have a three and five year old – it makes them sound so old!  But I’m also loving the freedom and adventure that comes along with these ages and stages.  Happy day to you, Cullen!

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And happy Wednesday to you guys!