All ten fingers for Keats

Monday morning, the first thing I noticed was that Keats hadn’t put on his birthday crown.  I had placed it on his dresser the night before after he fell asleep.  He’s usually pretty enthusiastic about his crown.  I thought to myself that he might have decided that he’s too old to wear it.  I was kind of sad about that.  We still call him Keatsy-baby after all (but do our best to avoid doing so at baseball games and other social events!)  I casually mentioned the crown to him, and he shouted, “Oh!” and then raced upstairs to put it on.  He wore it for the entire day.

I know that the birthdays of my children are not about me.  Really, I do.  But I have to say that Keats’ tenth birthday was my best birthday ever.  My happiness is of course directly related to the way that he felt about the day.  He is so very specific, that all I had to do to ensure a great birthday was to go shopping the day before to make sure we had ingredients for the three meals and cake he requested.  Then of course I had to cook all those meals, and that is what I spent most of his birthday doing.  Backing up a bit, it was Gabe and me who went shopping together over the weekend.  We had a last minute inspiration to stop at the craft store for candle wick, thinking that Keats might like to dip his own birthday candles.  He loved our idea.  He did have a hard time though when all the other kids wanted to make candles too and there really wasn’t room for everyone.  He’s so meticulous and the little girls are so the opposite of that. (His frustration is evident in the photo where he is laying his head on his hand.  He was patient though and soon had everything to himself.)  Keats likes to cook so he took charge of making his birthday lunch, Danish Aebleskiver pancakes (I don’t even know how to pronounce that ‘A’ word.)

I spent the afternoon making his birthday cake:  Lil Jim’s Puddin Cake from The Grit Cookbook.  I remembered to double the vanilla custard that goes between the layers.  Beatrix helped me make it.  When it was time to add the teaspoon of brandy, she asked to smell it.  I warned her that it smells bad.  She took a big whiff and exclaimed that it smelled delicious.  She then informed me that one of the boys found a small empty bottle like that on the side of the road and that it smelled the same way.  She said that she liked the way it smelled so much that she stashed it next to her carseat so she could smell it whenever she wanted to.  I guess you can imagine that I stood there a little bit horrified, while simultaneously playing it cool.  Clearly, it’s time to clean out the van.

The cake was fantastic, but I nearly went into a coma after eating one small slice.  Sugar and I are not friends.

I imagine that at the end of the day as Keats placed his candles on his birthday cake and lit them (he insisted on doing it all himself) that he got that lovely feeling of satisfaction you get, putting something you’ve made with your hands to good use.  Of all my kids, he is the most like me I think.  Then again, he’s also the most like Jonny.  He’s both of us all over and we adore him.

Happy tenth birthday, Keats!

also–this post could have alternatively been called, “my kids have great hair.”   I clearly had other priorities than hunting down the hairbrush today.


  1. I recently came across your website and am glad I did. What a treat to peek and get a glimpse of your beautiful life. My husband and I are discussing the possibility of homeschooling and when I read through your blog it appeals to me even more. I have to say, I laughed out loud when I read your comment about their hair because it did occur to me as I was glimpsing at the pictures that their hair was a total wreck. I hope this comes out only as a compliment that when I read the comment that you had other priorities than hair, it really spoke to me. I am sometimes afraid that if we choose homeschooling we will become “that family” that is obvious to pick out in a crowd of put-togethers, but in hearing your words I hear the value of choosing to spend the whole day celebrating a child’s birthday rather than worrying about how put together you may or may not appear. Thanks for choosing to live your life out loud on this blog.

  2. I SO enjoy reading your blog! Lovely pictures! Thank you!!

  3. Happy Birthday Keats!

  4. That looks like so much fun! Where did you get your Aebleskiver pan? (Pronounced like able skeever by the way. 🙂 )

  5. Happy Birthday Keats! It looks like it was a wonderful day.

    So funny about Bea! Say, have you tried either of those recipes GF? They look wonderful. Those little pancakes look like puff pancakes (also maybe called Dutch pancakes) in miniature form.

    • Yes–everything was GF. We used Pamela’s mix in the little danish pancakes (and omitted the baking soda/powder and salt), and for the cake I just bought a betty crocker GF devil’s food cake mix–it took two boxes to make three layers.

  6. Awww…happy birthday Keats! There’s nothing like planning your day exactly the way you want it. And WTG Mom for making that happen for him.

    Ditto on the brandy bottle…hilarious!

  7. LOVE those homemade candles! What a super idea.
    That story about the bottle is so funny 🙂

  8. Happy Birthday, Keats! Looks like it was an awesome day. And the story about Beatrix and her bottle had me laughing out loud. I love it!

  9. Dipping candles, what a great birthday activity. I’m going to try and remember that for next December. I’m glad Keats had a splendid birthday. I love your photos and especially the messy hair – who has time to brush their hair when there is a birthday in progress!

  10. Happy birthday to the birthday boy, and wow on managing your brood to do anything involving hot wax! You seem to be game for trying so many things with your kids, it really is inspiring. The bottle by the car seat had me chuckling too 🙂

  11. oh man, i love your blog so much. so much real life, so much authenticity, so much love. nothing more to say! hugs xx

  12. Happy Birthday to Keats! I feel like I have not ‘caught’ up with you for so long, it has been about ten days of reading I just caught up on… you seen Hannah is getting married and I am a bridesmaid… we had the kitchen tea and I’ve had mamma duties to tend to too… perhaps I’ll write a blog about it next week. Love to you! xx

  13. I’m very new to your blog, but I wanted to send a Happy B-Day to Keats as well. I love the idea of dipping his own candles, and since my son is turning 12 on Sunday, I may have to try that! Also, they are pronounced (I believe) “able-skeevers” and I love them too!

  14. Indeed Happy Birthday to him! Don’t forget though that the day is also about you too. The anniversary of you birthing him into the world. No small feat and definitely means for celebrating you too!

  15. Happy birthday to him! I love that he got to make his own birthday candles, such a great idea! 🙂

  16. Happy Birthday, Keats! (I resisted the temptation to call him Keatsy- ) What a fabulous birthday celebration for everyone. I love how Lark went to such great heights to celebrate (and looks so nonchalant up there) and that Beatrix never fails to make one laugh. She has quite the gift of spreading joy.

  17. Happy Birthday to Keats
    we have a 9 1/2 birthday here tomorrow
    just wanted to say I voted and you are #1 by almost 200 votes right now!!!
    I looked up kuhimino (on amazon of course) and saw some small samples of finished braids.
    Have you and the kids ever made knotted cord rosaries?
    I am not sure what kind of braiding material you use for kuhimino but you might be able to make rosaries out of the cord when Keats has made some.
    I haven’t made any for awhile but I think you need 6 yards to make a full rosary so it would have to be something he worked up to
    Very Jealous of the outside Tshirt weather you have in February…….snow here and cold – brrrr
    Happy Birthing Day 🙂

  18. Happy birthday! We love aebleskivers here too. And making your own candles – what a great idea!

  19. Oh my gosh – the brandy bottle next to the carseat made me laugh SO hard!!!

    Stunning photos, as usual…the one with the candle smoke in front of Keats’ face is simply amazing.

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