Under Pressure (Happy Birthday, Gabe!)

What a weekend:  One baseball tournament, one boy with a birthday, 70+ cupcakes, a broken dishwasher, and, and…

Gabe was really excited to have his birthday fall on a tournament day.  We planned from the moment the tournament was scheduled to take cupcakes for the team (and parents, coaches, siblings).  I made the batter the night before, but Gabe happily took over when it was time to start scooping and baking.  Three (or was it four?) ovenfulls.  He was protective of those cupcakes, concerned about them making it to the end of the day intact.  “Will they get mushy?” he asked.  “No, I’ve got a plan.”  I carried the cupcakes in plastic storage boxes, without frosting.  The frosting (all five sticks of butter worth) was carried in a giant bowl in the cooler.  Halfway through the last game of the day, I ran to the van and started frosting.   I made it back just as the game ended and did my best to guard the cupcakes from Silas until I could hand them over to Gabe.  I knew he would want to be the one to pass them around. I didn’t want to embarrass him with my camera but I do wish you could have seen him smile as his team and all the families gathered around to sing to him.  Thankfully, he didn’t notice the tears running down my cheeks as they sang.

What’s funny is that earlier, during the game, one of the moms told me that Beatrix said to her that it was Gabe’s birthday, but we weren’t celebrating.  I just laughed.  I guess that since we were deviating from the typical birthday spent at home, that translated to not celebrating.  In reality, we celebrated all weekend.  Gabe got all his requested meals, and no those cupcakes didn’t count as his birthday cake.  I made him a cheesecake as well.  We ate that on day two of celebrating.

I managed to sneak some photos in while he opened gifts.  He was too excited to care.  Over the past few months he has been planning for this day, and trying to decide what gift(s) he hoped to receive.  The older boys typically make it easy for me to please them by making specific requests.  About two weeks before his birthday, Gabe threw all his previous ideas out the window and asked me to just choose his gifts for him.  Pressure!!!  He mentioned wanting things to build with, but specified no Legos, or similar building toys.  But what he’s really been wanting for a couple of years is a remote control helicopter.  He didn’t even bother mentioning that this year as he knows that I am opposed to that sort of toy because (amongst other reasons) they break really easily.  I ended up making a run to Radio Shack though-just to see what they had that Gabe might like.  The remote control helicopters were right next to the door and there was a a really tiny cute one.  I asked the man working what he knew about them all, and which he would suggest.  He recommended the tiny one above all the others they carry saying that they had played with them in the store quite a bit and that it was easy to control and a lot of fun indoors.  I purchased it along with an extra one year warranty so that when it breaks we can carry it in for a replacement.  (Yep, we’ll be taking advantage of that warranty this week.) I was nearly in tears by the time I got back in my car with the helicopter.  I knew that Gabe was going to be so surprised and super happy over that gift.

I also spent a day thrifting last weekend with Seth, looking for electronics for Gabe to dismantle because he really enjoys taking things apart.  Seth insisted I buy an old t.v. and we got a big boombox as well as a bunch of other old electronic-y things.  I got in trouble with Jonny for the t.v. though.  They have large capacitors (I have no idea what that even means-just repeating) inside that can electrocute (I think?) you.  Jonny had to help them to discharge the capacitor so that it would be safe, and he wasn’t happy about the whole thing.  And then the kids declared that there wasn’t anything worth having inside the t.v. anyway.  What they really love is anything with a motor in it.  Old disc changers, blenders, food processors, that sort of thing.  I also bought a few projects for Gabe to work on with the soldering iron the boys’ got for Christmas.  (This and this, and this. Jonny will help him with all of those.)  But the gift I insisted he open first, telling him it was his best gift,  was a couple of t-shirts.  He pulled them out of the box and just laughed, “Mommy!”  Anyway, I guess I should stop going on and on about presents, but it felt really good to get to pick everything out on my own, and then have Gabe so happy with all that I chose.  I just wanted him to have a happy birthday.  I’m pretty sure that he did.  And you know, as much as he liked his gifts, I’m pretty sure that the best part was celebrating with his team.  I’m so glad that things worked out so that could happen.


  1. He looks so happy, and your boys look so big, I can’t imagine when my boy get so big, and I know it’s a blink of the eye.

  2. Great presents. My husband spent most of his teenage years dismantling things, and is now a sound engineer.

  3. So very wonderful! Happy Birthday Gabe! You are part of the best family ever!

  4. Your enthusiasm made me smile really big.

  5. Happy Birthday Gabe! My little brother once dismantled an old TV like that and was shocked unconscious for a few minutes {Jonny was right!} – I had to laugh at the situation 🙂

  6. Happy birthday to dear Gabe! I just picked up an old TV for the kiddos to dismantle. I got the same look and talking to about capacitors!

  7. Natalie says:

    Happy Birthday to Gabe!

  8. Happy Birthday Gabe! Thanks for letting us see pics of your special day!

  9. Suzanne says:

    Silly little anecdote for you……My little girl was looking at Gabe’s pictures and telling me that she liked him because he’s from Ethiopia. According to her all people of African heritage are from Ethiopia. I tried to show her on the globe where Gabe is from in relation to her, but no go. “He IS from Ethiopia”.

    Anyway……Happy Birthday to Gabe. I’m glad that he had such a fantastic birthday even though you “weren’t celebrating”. The smile on his face is beautiful to see.

  10. Brigitte says:

    So nice to see pictures of Gabe. He is quite handsome! What a great birthday for him.

  11. Ummrania says:

    Sounds like it was fun for all. I love the picture of Gabe holding the t-shirts, he looks so handsome! Getting to be quite a good lookin young man.

  12. Happy birthday to your sweet Gabe! The image of you icing 70 cupcakes in the van and the tears during Happy Birthday really got me. So lovely.

  13. Happy Birthday Gabe! Glad your weekend was special! Thanks for letting mom take your pics! You’re really getting tall and handsome!

  14. Happy Birthday to Gabe! And what a fun way to celebrate.

  15. Happy Birthday to your son! He is looking older than I last saw a photo of him!

  16. Whew, for a second there I thought you brought a TV into the house!!!!

    Happy Birthday, Gabe!

  17. Corinne says:

    Happy birthday to Gabe!!!….and bravo to momma who went the extra mile!!
    A lot of pressure , but in the end and ‘future’ it’s all worth it!
    thanks for sharing such a great day with us,

  18. happy birthday to your young man. 🙂 i had no idea about that in an old tv. good to know. my boys love taking stuff apart.

  19. happy birthday to your sweet son! I am imagining you icing all of those cupcakes frantically (or maybe you were relaxed) and I can only imagine the happiness he felt handing out all of those treats. I’m happy for you that you were able to pick presents that he would love, but I think he would love anything you picked out. All of the older kids are growing so quickly and getting so tall!!!

  20. So wonderful! I love to hear your stories about Gabe. He truly is an amazing child and you an amazing mother.

  21. Poor Jonny! My husband would have gladly taken on the job. He builds guitar tube amplifiers for a hobby and has gotten jolted on more than one occasion by high voltage… he finds the whole thing exciting. Vaccum tubes, big capacitors… that’s right up his alleyway!

    I’m glad Gabe had a great weekend, and by extension, that meant you did too. Blessings on this new year to celebrate life!

  22. Happy Birthday, Gabe!

    It looks like such a fun celebration! I love the idea of bringing the cupcakes to the team, I bet they loved them. So funny Beatrix said you weren’t celebrating. I’m jealous of that helicopter! My sister bought me a tiny remote control (called a ZipZap) and it was one of my favorite presents. PS: I was 19 when I got it. Remote-control toys never go out of style.

    Good thing Johnny knew about the capacitor! Those things hurt!

  23. Wonderful! I’m salivating over that cake…..

  24. One of the main things my husband wanted to do as a child was take things apart and rebuild them. He was discouraged from doing that as a hobby and from entering into any career field that involved such skills. As an adult, he spends most of his free time (which is little) in our garage tinkering and fixing things. It makes my heart happy reading about the encouragement that you give to all of your children and their interests.
    Happy birthday to Gabe!

  25. dairylady says:

    Wow great pics, Happy Birthday, Gabe! Those were great gifts. How was the tournament? What position does Gabe play?

  26. Happy Birthday to Gabe!!!

  27. I loved reading this and picturing you icing those cupcakes!!! You are such a great mother! These boys….so foreign to me as the mother of all girls, but I am beginning to learn with the grandsons. Motors and taking things apart just seem to be built into them…..no pun intended!

  28. Happy birthday dear Gabe. It sounds like it was a beautiful weekend and I love the birthday cake.

  29. Luz Maria Perez says:

    I think it’s so cool that they like to take stuff apart, figure out how it works and possibly reconfigure it into something else. It reminds me of a transistor radio I got when I was about 11 or 12. After listening to it for a day, my brother and I took it apart to see how it “worked.”

  30. oh, that’s all so wonderful! and lovely pictures! and a happy Gabe. I am so glad!! Much love!!! and may God grant Gabe many years!!!

  31. That sounds like a great birthday! We have one of those helicopters and you can get a little kit to fix it as well. We have a remote control airfield across the road and so last year our eldest bought a plane with his birthday money. I am not overly crazy about it but he loves it. LOVES it. I really like seeing what you get your boys because sometimes I feel at such a loss on what to get my bigger boys. Thanks! And what a great idea, the icing later.

  32. Cassidy says:

    Your birthday posts are just the best Ginny! They make me think of Jesus’ words about how if one of us “who are evil” knows how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will God the Father know how to give good gifts to us. How cool if that’s what our kids take from all the special, sometimes silly birthdays we shower them with over the years.

  33. Oh! This was nice to read. My boy turns sixteen on Friday and this year he has two performances on his birthday. Although he’s super excited to be on stage for his entire birthday, there’s a part of me that thinks “it’s not really his birthday if we’re not celebrating in our usual family tradition” (although we are planning on doing that, just obviously not on his actual birth date). I love the idea of the cupcakes and I may copy it – I think Elliot would have fun not only being on stage for his birthday but also celebrating backstage with his friends! 🙂

  34. Aww, what a heartwarming post. What a handsome fella Gabe is, Happy Birthday to him!

  35. What a beautiful boy! Happy birthday, Gabe.

  36. The gifts you choose are always the coolest! We’ve been doing some rock hounding and fossil hunting here. I’m wondering if you have a rock tumbler and if so what kind? They are super expensive! Happy Birthday to Gabe!

  37. Boys’ hearts are so simple in some ways, and so intensely complicated in others. How wonderful that you were able to make Gabe happy in the simplest and most extraordinary of ways…with good old fashioned love (and hard work!).

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