Although Harlow turned seven last Friday, her birthday party with all her friends will be this coming Friday. This was not done to intentionally elongate her birthday to a full complete birthday week but only because I was late securing the venue and couldn’t get the day I wanted. Remarkably Average Parenting at it’s finest. Both her birthday party and her actual birthday will have the same theme though— pandas and doughnuts. Did I say theme? I meant THEMES.

The day before her birthday, I bought a big seven balloon to surprise her with in the morning. I always decorate right outside their bedroom door so it’s the first thing they see when they wake up. But then, when I went to hide the balloon in my bedroom closet, Mike informed me that there was already a huge balloon hiding in my closet. Turns out, it was a surprise gift from Netflix to promote their movie Klaus. And thus began my new tradition— pretending promotional gifts are all part of my planned birthday celebration.

I mean— the Netflix balloon filled with more balloons kinda made a mockery of my lone seven.

Harlow loved them both. And she also loved the fact that Grandma Toby had sent her not one, but THREE presents that she could open that morning. She got a sequined panda backpack, panda pajamas and a panda hoodie. She already owns the panda hoodie, but I guess there are only so many panda things in the world and once you announce an obsession, you run the risk of repeat gifts. In any case, Harlow loved them all. Well done, Grandma Toby.

Then that day at school, Harlow’s birthday was made extra exciting by the loss of her second tooth!!!! She came home with it in a little tooth case on a necklace.

That night, we had a celebration with just family. My mom and Sam came, along with my sister’s family. Harlow requested Chinese takeout, doughnuts and to watch a movie at home. Honestly, I cannot think of a better way to spend an evening.

I stuck a seven candle into the top of a doughnut pyramid and everyone was happy. Easy peasy.

Then Harlow spent the night opening a wide array of panda and doughnut related presents— a panda mug, a stuffed panda, panda socks, a nail kit with a panda shaped nail file, a sewing kit with a doughnut pin cushion project, a stuffed doughnut key chain to attach to her new panda backpack, etc.

The big winner of the evening was Ruth, who somehow managed to find a doughnut panda purse. I mean, can you think of a gift that is possibly more Harlow???

The night was fun and uneventful. The tooth fairy was the last to visit and leave a gift, although nobody saw her do it. That sneaky fairy.

And then that weekend, Harlow was in for a big surprise. Here’s the story:

Back in January 2019, I started giving the kids a few dollars here and there for participating in photo shoots. If it’s something simple, I might offer them a dollar or two. For shoots where I need them to do something very specific, I give them more. I record it all on an app (Rooster Money) so they have a running tally of how much they have.

Whenever we are in a store and they want something, I say I won’t get it, but you can buy it with your own money. It is theirs to do with what they want. Since the beginning, Mazzy spends hers pretty regularly (on slime, squishies, etc.), while Harlow has been steadily saving.

She told me when we first started that she was saving up for one of those miniature cars, like the one Luke has. I looked them up and told her they cost around $200. Harlow was determined. Every time she made some money, she asked how much closer she was to her car. It seemed like a pipe dream initially, but true to her word, despite many opportunities, she never spent a dime.

This month, after almost a year of saving, she finally reached her goal. Right in time for her birthday. I thought she was going to buy the car and it was going to be an awesome lesson in long term saving for a big reward. But then Harlow made her second smart move. She told my dad (aka Poppy) that she had saved enough money for her own car. And then, in a completely uncharacteristic move for the man I grew up with, Poppy surprised Harlow with a car for her birthday so she wouldn’t have to spend her own money.

Congrats, Harlow!!! You figured out how to save and how to game the grandparents in one fell swoop.

Happy birthday, my sweet and clever girl. Now don’t spend that $200 on slime!