It’s My Birthday!

Well, it’s not my birthday today. My birthday is actually going to happen on Sunday, April 1, 2012. But if I don’t tell you about my birthday today then how will you be able to celebrate it with me on Sunday?!

Here’s what I’ve decided. I would love to enjoy my special day with as many friends as possible, and you may now consider this your official invitation to join me. My plan is to attend a concert on Sunday evening and you can come along, too!

My dear friend Brian Carter, cellist extraordinaire, will be performing his final recital on the campus of UNC-Greensboro at the School of Music recital hall located at 100 McIver Street, Greensboro, NC. The concert is FREE, the concert hall is beautiful, Brian is probably one of the most gifted musicians I’ve ever heard perform, and it’s my birthday. This is a winning combination, folks.

Here are the concert details:

Brian Carter, cello
Christy Wisuthseriwong, piano

Saint-Saëns: Sonata No. 2 in F major
Bach: Suite No. 6 in D major
Brahms: Sonata No. 2 in F major

Recital Hall, 7:30p

Okay, so you’re already wondering “What’s the big deal? So Brian’s got a recital. I remember recitals – like when I was in them and they were excruciatingly painful.”

Ma’am, please calm down. Trust me on this one – Brian is really really good. He’s about to receive a DMA – and for those of you (I include myself in this list) who don’t know what that means, it’s a “Doctor of Musical Arts.” I hear you sighing. Look – let me put it to you this way. Brian said, and I quote, “Basically, it’s the end of the road for performance people. I could get a PhD, but that’s for academics. This is all about performance.”

Have I convinced you yet? The next time you’ll get to breathe in Brian’s magnificence it’s gonna cost you a lot more money than FREE.

Besides – did I mention it’s my birthday? Alrighty then. I’ll see you Sunday night, but who’s bringing the cake?

Haiku Central

Here’s the rule (and since I’m the mom, I make the rules): I choose the birthday party theme, and plan the party and my daughter has to arrive along with her guests. Typically, the only information my daughter learns in advance is the party theme. But how do you top last year’s birthday party? This is my fun dilemma year over year.

2010 might just go down in the history books as the perfect party year. My daughter’s 12th birthday was May 5, and on April 18 the fun began. I call it the “Twelve Days of Haiku.” I used her bathroom mirror for the poems, and I wrote in red lipstick each time. With the exception of one day, there was a prop or some kind of visual to go along with each haiku. In case you haven’t studied haikus since elementary school, they’re a poem written in three lines, with five syllables to the first line, seven syllables to the second line, and five syllables to the third line.

When she awoke that first Sunday morning, she found a birthday cake candle suspended with twine, and the following haiku written on the bathroom mirror:

What can I say, but
Happy Birthday to Lindsay?
Let’s write some haikus.

Her reaction? She took a bar of soap and wrote, “Thank you,” underneath!

Day 2, April 19, Lindsay found a $1.00 bill taped to her mirror along with the following haiku:

Entrepreneur man
Making money was his goal.
Places named for him.

On the 20th of April, in bright red lipstick I wrote:

Art is beautiful.
Your art is some of the best.
Hung art is displayed.

It was at the conclusion of Day 3, and well after 9:00 at night, when Lindsay figured out she had to figure something out! She said to me, “Mom! I just really want to know about my party!!!” My reply, with her same intonation, was simply, “Lindsay! I am really trying to tell you!!!” She then asked, “Wait. Do those haikus mean something?” She ran from my room and returned a moment later wearing a black Fedora, carrying a notebook and pen and begged me to please repeat the first two haikus, as she had not written them down. She then introduced herself as Sleuth Lindsay and told me she was “on the job!”

Day 4, April 21, the haiku read:

How to go somewhere?
So many options to choose.
Underground people.

Day 5, April 22, she found a saltine cracker on her sink with the now-familiar lipstick-written haiku:

Squares can be shapes, or
Places we visit sometimes.
Bustling people.

Day 6, April 23, found a straw taped to the mirror:

Elevators up.
No spit wads going down, please.
How’s the view from there?

Day 7, April 24:

Yellow cars go fast.
Up and down the street they drive.
Wait! One is stopping!

Day 8, April 25:

Forty-second Street
Off or on does not matter.
Will you make the cut?

Day 9, April 26:

Busiest island
Cultures collide together
People potpourri.

Day 10, April 27:

An apple a day
Will keep the doctor away.
I like big apples.

Day 11, April 28:

Harbor beckoning
Freedom is for all who come
Lady standing tall.

Day 12, April 29:

Are your bags packed yet?
Who needs a birthday party?
Leaving tomorrow.

And on the sink, leaning against the mirror, was a map of the state of New York.

Nothing beats that moment of awareness when I know I held out on the secret just long enough to make Lindsay’s first trip to New York City one of my favorites! Thank you, Dawna, for helping me write the haikus. I couldn’t have done it without you!

What are some of the innovative things you’ve done for birthdays or celebrations in the past?

For Eleanor

Do you remember what you were doing just after 6:00pm Sunday, March 28, 2010? Eleanor’s parents will always remember what they were doing: sitting quietly with their daughter as she peacefully passed from this life. Eleanor was only eleven.

As a parent I can think of many times I’ve cried over the years – and for a variety of reasons. In fact, my daughter will be twelve in one month. Ask me about it and I guarantee I will begin to cry. But my tears are normal in the grand scope of parenting: exhaustion, sleep deprivation, frustration, first steps, scraped knees, my daughter’s joys and her sorrows, gratitude. I also know there are tears to be shed over events not yet on her radar: heartbreaks, growing up, leaving for college, love, major accomplishments, and the list goes on.

But no parent should have to cry because their child leaves this world before they do.

Maybe I’m reflective because of Easter Sunday, maybe because of Eleanor, most probably a combination of both, but I can’t help but wonder at this miraculous time of the year, as springtime ushers in the reminder that we each, like the new life emerging around us, can blossom into something more beautiful than we were before. How, exactly, we do that – is up to us.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf recently suggested that as “we emulate [Christ's] perfect example, our hands can become His hands, our eyes His eyes, our hearts His heart.” Do I live each day with love and compassion toward those around me? In what ways can I do more? How can my hands, eyes and heart benefit someone else?

For many years, my daughter has collected items for the children of  St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in lieu of birthday gifts for herself. This year is no different – and since her birthday is fast-approaching, we want to make a difference in the lives of children just like Eleanor.

Please join me as I cry tears of gratitude and celebrate my daughter’s healthy life by contributing in one of the following ways:

1. Provide me with as many of the following items (new only, please) as you can:

Crayola Crayons (8 & 16 count boxes)

Crayola Washable Markers

Construction Paper

Coloring Books

2. Purchase either an iTunes or Target gift card and get that to me
3. Make a cash donation online on our Birthday Tribute page.

I will mail our collected items in one care package to St. Jude May 5. That gives us one month – let’s see how much we can do together!

Lindsay said the reason we had all that rain the night Eleanor died was because God was sad. I believe God does sorrow for our pain, but I also believe He provides the way for us to overcome the hurt through the love we show others, and until we act on our thoughts – our words are empty.

Eleanor, thank you for helping us see how we can become more beautiful. I remember now that rainbows come after the rain.