Bella’s Birthday

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Yesterday my firstborn child turned 8. My heart is so full. I want to write volumes about my beloved daughter. But our day was very full and in the end I went to bed without even trying to start writing about it. (I don’t know why I didn’t write anything beforehand except that all last week was pretty busy and I never quite found the time or even the inclination to write anything for it.)

Still. Eight. Eight years ago this teeny tiny person came into our lives alternating between quiet alertness that startled everyone who came into our room and a horrible bawling that nothing would stop. I still see in Bella those two sides: the quiet observer who takes everything in and the highly sensitive child who often gets overwhelmed by it all and doesn’t quite know what to do with what she’s feeling. Poor thing.

We began the day with Mass. And a special blessing from Father Currie. Then pancakes and an expedition to get a new bike with Daddy while I stayed home with the younger kids to wrap the other presents and make a cake.

I never learned to ride a bike. Partly because until I was 12 we lived on a very busy street that didn’t have sidewalks where I could practice riding. Mainly because I was a bookish child and afraid of hurting myself. And once I’d got to a certain age I was too conscious of the fact that I was rather old to be learning to ride a bike and somehow the shame of not knowing was less than the shame of being seen learning. Or something like that. At any rate it never seemed very necessary to me as a child and now I’m almost forty and it’s far too late for me to do anything as undignified as learn to ride a bike.

Anyway, I figured it was high time to get Bella a bike before she likewise thinks she’s too old to learn how to ride it. And boy was she delighted. I didn’t manage to get to the store to buy it before her birthday so instead she got a special outing with Daddy to pick one out. Oh and a new helmet too, of course, which I’d probably have forgotten.

Then Grandma B came over and visited while I iced the cake (flourless chocolate cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting) and then Bella opened her other presents and then we all went to Bertucci’s. And then came home and ate the delicious cake. And then bedtime stories with Grandma reading one of them. And I read Bella a story from her new princess stories book. And then to bed very late after a very exciting day.

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Birthday cake with optional sprinkles

Birthday cake with optional sprinkles

16 Responses to Bella’s Birthday

  1. Stephanie May 20, 2014 at 2:11 am #

    Happy birthday, sweet Bella! May God bless you richly and may this year be a wonderful one!

    Melanie, it’s never too late to learn to ride a bike! I was a late learner and it doesn’t matter a bit. It is a joy that is there waiting for you! With as much gentle effort as it takes to walk you skim along in the fresh air, hair streaming out behind…

    • Melanie Bettinelli May 21, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

      Stephanie,

      How late? I’ll be 40 in August. I’m just not sure I’m willing to invest in a bike I may never ride at my age.

      • Stephanie May 22, 2014 at 7:41 am #

        Actually, my teens, but I felt terribly delayed and self-conscious. The real problem was that I took so long to learn. I absolutely did not want to get hurt (and I hate getting dirty). Well meaning relatives tried to help but gave up in frustration which ended up being for the best. What helped was me scooting by myself, in my own time, in my own way, in private. By scooting, I mean balancing one foot on the far pedal and moving forward, other foot at the ready to stop at any minute. I spent ages scooting until I’d internalised balancing. The other thing which helped was someone telling me to let myself wobble. I’d tried very hard to move forward smoothly as if I was proficient, but in fact it is wobbling- moving the handle bars from side to side that stabilises you. Once I realised that, and learned to wiggle the handle bars either this way or that way to right myself- I was riding.
        I understand not wanting to spend heaps on a bike when it’s such a big unknown. Personally I like old bikes- the worn in, friendly ones. People often have unused bikes in their garages- would it be possible to borrow one for a month or two just to see how you go? I’d definitely hang out for a girl’s one- no top tube. Then you can step through and stop and start at any minute. Plus you can wear a skirt or dress to ride.
        Was it worth it? A thousand times yes. It is one of life’s great pleasures.

  2. Lydia May 20, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    Happy birthday, Bella! I love her expressions-there is a lot going on in there.

  3. Ellie May 20, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Happy Birthday to Bella ๐Ÿ™‚ that shade of dark green she is wearing in the bottom photos is just gorgeous on her. And I love how happy she looks, opening her books! ๐Ÿ™‚ A bike is a great gift for a child this age: research has shown that it is far better for kids to learn when they’re a little older, as brain development takes time: caution, spatial orientation, remembering safety rules, and so on are all more reliably in place when they’re older. I hope she has lots of fun learning to ride!

    And Melanie, Happy 8-year Mothering Anniversary to you ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Melanie Bettinelli May 21, 2014 at 11:24 pm #

      Ellie

      That’s her favorite moose shirt from L.L Bean. She’s had it for years because it was huge when we bought it for her but she picked it and that was the only size they had.

      Yes, she’s so very happy to get books. It warms my heart truly. She’s a girl who loves books as much as I do.

      Nice to know about brain development and bike riding. Dom said that as she was riding she was reciting all the things he’d told her to pay attention to.

      Thank you very much.

  4. Jocelyn May 20, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    Bet that’ll live in her memory as the Best Birthday Ever. A bike! And books! She looks as though she can’t quite believe the glory. Best wishes to you all.

    • Melanie Bettinelli May 21, 2014 at 11:27 pm #

      “She looks as though she canโ€™t quite believe the glory.” That’s it exactly.

      She was also in her glory over the new nightgowns she got from Grandma B and the coloring books and dress my mom sent her. I should post photos of the dress.

  5. Vicki May 20, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    Happy birthday, Bella. God bless you and your wonderful family always!

  6. Meghan May 20, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    Happy birthday, Bella! What a fun-sounding day. I agree with the previous posters that learning to ride a bike is worth any embarrassment. And, is that Lucia leaning in to help unwrap presents? Cuteness!

    • Melanie Bettinelli May 21, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

      It’s not only the embarrassment I’m really worried about as hurting myself. That’s part of why I never learned when I was a kid.

      And, yes, isn’t Lucia a doll? She always is such a great helper. No sooner do I exclaim about where are my shoes, but she’s off to find them– and usually does. And today she helped me put all the crayons in my water glass. Because you know it was sadly lacking in color.

  7. Emily J. May 20, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

    Happy Birthday, Bella! I think a great mother-daughter activity would be learning to bike ride!

  8. Lissa May 21, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

    Happy Birthday, Bella! Hard to believe these girls of ours are EIGHT!

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