I just had the realization that my kids' birthdays are only about two weeks away! Zoiks! I don't plan on going crazy with the making everything like I did last year and I want to keep things simple and minimal. I already ordered them each a book from Better World Books--Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (used) for M and two more mini Elsa Beskow books for E and Z--I love tiny books.
I also bought them some socks from Maggie's Organics. I was inspired by Beth of Fake Plastic Fish, who has convinced companies to change their packaging to eliminate or minimize plastic through writing to them, so when I placed the order, in the comments section, I told them how excited I was to buy organic socks for my kids and how I hoped their packaging was as environmentally friendly as their socks. And guess what? It worked--the socks arrived yesterday in a cardboard box, with a piece of brown kraft paper wrapped around them. I envision the warehouse employees taking the socks out of plastic bags they're stored in in the warehouse and wrapping them in paper, but I'd like to think that if enough people offer this kind of encouragement, companies will start to re-think their plastic usage altogether. I hope. I plan on trying the same when I order underwear for them from Under the Nile (yes I buy my kids socks and underwear for their birthdays--and Christmas--it's a little trick I learned from my mom. I figure, it's stuff I have to buy anyway, may as well wrap it up and make it fun. Plus it makes it easier to justify paying more for higher quality organic stuff. And I have to say, both the Maggie's socks and the Under the Nile undies are really nice).
I stopped by K-Mart last night to buy bike helmets for E and Z--we have a couple of hand-me-down bikes we need to grease up and pump up and put training wheels on. Even though M started riding a two-wheeler with training wheels at this age, I find it a little unbelievable that the twins are already there...where is time going? I was kind of bummed to have to buy plastic helmets, but I'd be much more bummed if one of my kids cracked his head open. I was however impressed by Bell's packaging--just a trapezoid of cardboard attached to the helmet with a zip tie, unlike some other helmets they had that were in plastic bubble packaging (to protect the helmet? which is designed to protect a head? I don't get it). I don't know if I'll hold onto the helmets until birthdays, or if we'll get the bikes on the road before then--I guess it depends on the weather and the motivation level of the mechanical people in my house hold (maybe I could get my own bike tuned up at the same time!)
After K-Mart, I went next door to Goodwill in search of pillowcases to make these fantastic butterfly nets from Blue Yonder Ranch. I had been thinking about making butterfly nets and was going to use silk or something for the net part, then I saw these pillowcase nets. I ordered their Book of Days for the instructions, hoping they had a clever technique for attaching the wire to the stick, but they didn't. However,the Book has some other good information about butterflies and how to catch them, so it will still be useful. Oddly, Goodwill had multitudes of cool vintage sheets, but no pillow cases to go with them. I was envisioning a run on the Augusta Goodwill by people making butterfly nets. I could just use some pillowcases I have in the yard sale pile--but they're not very attractive, and those flowery ones just make me smile. And I like to smile. Even though it makes my stony face crack and crumple like old plaster. So I may just Let It Go--not try to get them made for birthdays, but keep my eyes open for pretty pillowcases and make them sometime this summer.
But that leads me back to where I began--what to do about birthdays?? I'm thinking these little boats for the twins, and a big hunk of amethyst and a rock hammer for M, the gemologist. Also I have to come up with an idea for when C's father asks what to get for them (I keep meaning to set up college funds for all of them for these occasions, but haven't gotten around to it yet--it's on the list!) Oh yes, and plan a camping trip and potentially a birthday party for M (he's not quite convinced he doesn't need a party every single year!)