Another big birthday in the house

Saturday 27 January 2018

It's only been a few months since I was writing about my own big birthday, when I turned 40 back in September. 

Last week we celebrated another big birthday in our house, when James turned 18.

18 years ago it was the beginning of the year 2000. It seems so long ago, and yet also in another way it doesn't seem so long ago at all.

I was a music graduate turned stay at home mum to be, and Mr Housefulofboys was working for the City of Edinburgh Council as a social worker working with the Children and Families team. We had been married for 18 months, and were living in a lovely top floor tenement flat beside Holyrood Park in Edinburgh.  

Our first baby was due earlier on in January, but the days slowly ticked on by with no sign of his arrival. Of course we had no idea that he would be a he, as there was no 20 week scan back then. 

  I was so relieved when at around 2am on the morning, 10 days after he was due, I woke up with what could not possibly be mistaken for anything but the beginnings of baby's arrival.

I had known of a few people who had recently had babies, and who had gone to the hospital too soon, only to be sent home again for a while, and so I was determined to stay home as long as possible. So much so, that when we eventually went to the hospital at around 7am the midwives there were surprised at how far along I was.

At around 11:30am, he arrived. 8lbs 5oz, 21 inches long and absolutely perfect.

Straightforward though his delivery was, how I would have laughed if you had told me then that he would one day have four younger brothers!

The evening that he was born I didn't want to sleep, and sat up in bed staring into his little cot, with a mixture of awe that he was mine and unbelief that he was finally here.

The first morning after he was born, when breakfast was delivered round the ward I was horrified at the fact that they thought 1 Weetabix and a slice of toast was enough to satisfy the hunger of a new mum who was feeding a hungry baby. When all of the other boys were born I was fortunate enough to be allowed home just hours after their deliveries and so could have as much breakfast as I wanted :)

Those early days, weeks and months were special. And hard work. But mostly special. Life seemed to be so busy. It WAS busy. But in a different way from how it is busy now. I guess we just get used to adding more and more to our plates as our families grow. Back then I could never have imagined life being as busy as it is now. But it's still just as special.

Anyway, moving onto the present day and how we celebrated James' big day.

Well, we had two celebrations. One with my family and one with my in laws. Not because we wanted to keep both sides separate! Just because my in laws couldn't make the original date we suggested.

So first of all, on the Saturday before James' birthday my brother, sister in law, nephews and niece, and my other brother and his girlfriend all came round for a birthday buffet.

Dinner was pretty informal. We had slow cooked pulled pork, chicken drumsticks and loaded potato skins.

To decorate the living room, as well as balloons I put up a photo from each of James' previous birthdays. Although I couldn't find the 2nd, 5th or 6th ones. I can picture them in my head, but I think those albums were at the back of the cupboard and I didn't have time to dig right to the back to find them!

I wasn't sure what we should make for his cake this year, and it was Calum (15) who came up with the great suggestion of making a piano shaped one. He also helped me with decorating it.

James' girlfriend came down from Lewis to spend his birthday week with us.

Here they are joined by all the brothers and cousins.

James' favourite dinner is still homemade steak pie. I knew I wouldn't be able to make it on the day of his birthday as it was one of my piano teaching days, when I don't finish teaching until just before dinner and so usually have a slow cooker dinner those nights, so we had it for lunch on the Sunday before his birthday. 

The following day was James' last night in Army Cadets. As soon as a cadet turns 18 they have to leave. They can return as a leader, but need to wait 2 years before they can join their own detachment as a leader. So after 5 years in cadets he was a little sad to be leaving. Although also pleased to have two evenings a week now free for all the schoolwork he has to do this year!

This photo was taken when he first joined, age 13 (Ally was 3).

And we recreated it on his last night, when he was almost 18 (and Ally is 8).

Then it was the day of his actual birthday. We gave him 18 gifts to unwrap for his 18th. Some of them were just really small things, but opening the presents is half of the fun!

There wasn't much of the piano cake left, and we couldn't really sing Happy Birthday again around a half eaten cake, so I asked what he would like for his second cake. Of course he said Chocolate Overload, as he has done for the last 3 years. I didn't want it to be exactly like last year's and so this year I made a giant chocolate cupcake. Covered in more chocolate.

My in laws came through for dinner, which was slow cooked ham - like I said earlier, it was a piano teaching night!

James' birthday fell in the middle of his Prelim exams, and in fact the only exam he had all week was on the day of his birthday! Still, it didn't spoil his day for him at all.