One More Birthday Power to Enjoy.

You can easily imagine this headline: “Birthdays should allow you to choose your age” caught my attention. I’m all in for anything that gives me more power on my birthday — mwahahaha!

A writer in the Zanesville Time Recorder was going to celebrate her birthday by being 45 again. She noted this meant her older son was born five years before she was. She made an interesting observation though: “why not? If I can identify as either sex or any color or nationality, I choose to identify as a 45-year-old.”

We are a society increasingly open to people making their own identity choices. So, age fluidity could just be added to the list.

The writer further admitted, “truth be told, I feel as if I should be about 25. This aging stuff never really bothered me much.”

This year my birth certificate would attest to the fact that I am actually 45. I’ve written recently about reaching a point in my life where the number is making a dent on my psyche.

But I’ve been thinking more lately that maybe the reason we get so caught up in the numbers, and surprised when we reach them (30! 45! 50! AARP’s 55!..gulp 60!) is that we have no personal context for the experience.

Birthday Age

Remember when we were elementary schoolers who thought that being 21 was just as old as a 40-something? Basically, people were sorted into “babies,” “kids like us,” “teenagers,” “adults,” and “grandparents.”

Even in our twenties, we had the groupings: “younger than us,” “adults,” “parents” and “grandparents.”

But now that I’m in my mid-40s, I have to recalculate. Forty-five has always seemed old before now. But then I look ahead at how old people are getting (those 110 year olds I wrote about), and have to realize I could have another 45 years to go! If I feel old now, what am I leaving myself for later? Ancient? Crone?

I wish I could agree that the “aging stuff never really bothered me much.” It hadn’t for the longest time. She’s got the healthy point of view: “The best part of aging is that age really is just a number. And as you grow old you start to forget what that number actually is.”

Maybe I’m just not old enough yet to embrace that perspective. Still, I’ll admit I’m all for the idea of being whatever age you want on your birthday. Or at least acting that way! Most who know me would argue I act like a spoiled 9-year-old girl every birthday — complete with balloons, baked goods, and a big, brassy “it’s all about me” attitude.

Birthday Popularity — An Interactive Map

Clearly, I am not the only person out there who thinks birthdays are interesting. People with a lot more talent than I have for visualization and processing data have put together a cool heat map demonstrating the popularity of different birth dates.

Any loyal readers of this blog know already that September birthdays are the top-ranked for popularity, but on his “digital sketchpad for data stories” site, Matt Stiles provides an interactive way to see where your big day lands in comparison to others in the world.

birthday popularity

Birthday Popularity Ranked

To get the results, two decades of American birthdays, from 1994 – 2014, were averaged by month and day. There’s even an estimated conception date, for those who don’t shudder to think about that reality about their own parents.

Birthday popularity

It’s interesting to see that only one of the dates in the top 10 is outside of the month of September. Apparently October 14th is a particularly appealing day for parents to get busy!

While we’re at it though, let’s take a moment to reconsider the fact that you share your birthday with an estimated 11,000 people in America alone! That’s the median number of births per day.

A couple of other things I learned? Selfishly I of course looked up my own birthday. Turns out it is more common as a date of conception (netting a June 29 birthday at 111th), than it is a date of birth (115th, with a date of conception estimated at January 13 — no, Dad, if you’re reading this, I don’t need further detail about that critical January so many years ago…some things can be kept private between you and Mom, OK?).

I may not be a fan of data and statistics if I have to do any of the calculations. But I do love it when someone makes it so easy for me to sort through and find out cool stuff. Enjoy!

 

My Little Man is in Double Digits

 

birthday love

The kiddo in the picture above is turning 10 today. Ten! That’s double digits. As his Mom, I can tell you it is completely shocking to me that the 8 pound, 4 ounce (yes, I had to look it up — sue me) that used to span the length from my palm to my elbow is now an energetic, creative, funny, bright and (sometimes) sweet ten-year-old.

In his first year I described him as a boy whose likes and dislikes included:

  • “I like chilling on couch with Dad. I dislike sleeping for more than three hours at a stretch”
  • “I dislike being put in my crib or being left to my own devices. I like water (once I get used to it)”
  • “I dislike getting my ears checked and eating food with texture (other than Crackers/pretzels). I like cruising the furniture and eating Cheerios.”

Bigger Version of the Same

Amazingly, he’s now just a grown version of the same baby I described in that first year. For instance, I wrote at three months, that his favorite toy was “people.” It’s pretty much true still today. Sure, he wants those people to play Xbox One with him, but he’s definitely a people person.

He still doesn’t like going to bed or being left to his own devices! Judging by the opposition I face when I suggest it, he is still only a fan of water once he is actually in the tub. Plus, he still hates foods with certain textures, enjoys Cheerios, and has simply turned “cruising the furniture” into climbing all over it.

Really, the most shocking thing about I learned by getting out his baby book was how prescient his baby traits were for the boy he is today. Even “It is fun to show something (as if to give it) and take it away laughing” still fits. So does “I babble constantly.” Or “I loathe peas.” But a favorite that he hasn’t yet outgrown? “I hug.”

Thanks for putting up with this personal blog. You know I’ll be going all out today to fete my birthday boy.

 

 

 

Officer Brings Birthday Happiness to Boy

This one is sweet and sad. When an eight-year-old boy didn’t get picked up from school, and staff couldn’t reach an emergency contact, the police were called.

When Officer Darryl Robinson of the Green Bay Police department in Wisconsin arrived to collect the boy he recognized him immediately. He’d had a history with the family and knew the boy’s parent was incarcerated.

Even though no one had arrived to get him, the boy “was in good spirits,” Robinson said. Why not? It was his eighth birthday!

birthday generosity

Officer Robinson courtesy of GBPD

Officer Robinson courtesy of GBPDRobinson gave the birthday boy a ride in his patrol car. “He was very excited to ride in one,” he said.

Then, after reaching the grandfather to confirm it was OK, he brought the boy to McDonald’s. And just like that it was a happier birthday: “He loved playing with the toy in his Happy Meal.”

The Response is Sweet Too

People commenting on the story on the Police Department’s Facebook page thanked Robinson for his efforts. One woman offered to drop presents for the boy off at the police station to be delivered. Another commenter wrote:

“I think I just felt my heart break…Thanks to the officer for making that boy’s birthday a little better.”

I second that emotion. The officer did an admirable thing, but it’s sad to think of this boy sitting alone at school on his birthday. The good news is that it only took an hour or so before the boy could be reunited with his grandparent and siblings.

Makes me think of the blog I wrote earlier this year about being there for a kid’s birthday, and another one about agencies doing their part to make sure every child gets to celebrate a birthday. Glad to have a heartwarming tale to share though about birthdays even in the heart of this holiday season.

Appreciating the Birthday Spirit

Birthday kindness

Today marks the official end of my birthday week. Really, it’s been more like a birthday fortnight. Since, I started treating myself to “birthday” treats once Oct. 1 rolled around. As one more way to battle the letdown that I must now wait another year before celebrating again, I thought I would share some thoughts.

On my actual birthday, I started the day doing laundry and loading the dishwasher and…wondering why on earth I was doing these things on my birthday. Just as I was about to get grumpy, I reminded myself the birthday should be seen more as a state of mind.

Really, it shouldn’t matter what day I do what, as long as I am willing to actively appreciate the good in the day — any day.

Appreciating this Birthday

On this particular birthday I appreciated:

  • A lovely voicemail to start my day from a friend who was so happy to be on her way to see pandas. The joy in her voice would have been infectious any day, so I was happy my birthday gave her cause to call me that morning.
  • Having lunch with a friend who announced to our server it was birthday. The restaurant then responded by bringing a decorated plate to the table after our meal (shown above).
  • Taking the time to go to an art gallery I’ve walked by so many times before. Turns out the property is being reclaimed to be build up into business/residential, so I was extra lucky to check out the Charlotte Art League’s space before it was bulldozed.
  • Treating myself to a pedicure while reading a new book. Really, why is it so hard on other days to allow ourselves the time to just sit and relax for an hour and not feel guilty about it?
  • Getting to catch up with family members and friends by phone.
  • Going to dinner with “my guys” and having the excuse for all of us to dress up a little more than normal (my nine-year-old even brought out his fedora for the night out!).

Now, I originally did not appreciate going on to the next restaurant, where we planned to have dessert and watch the US World Cup qualifying soccer match, and finding they did not have 3 out of 4 of their offered desserts available. But, even this I could turn around as an opportunity to get frozen yogurt that night and get chocolate cake a different night.

You’ve got to love birthday versatility.

Ultimately, though, what this day made me realize is that so many of the aspects I enjoy about a birthday can and should be replicated on other days of the year too. Take it from a birthday queen — embrace the birthday spirit every day!

 

Happy Third Birthday to this Blog!

Happy birthday to my blog! Happy birthday to me!

birthdays

Foter.com (no, that is not me in the picture. I would not be walking so gracefully in heels!)

Yep, it’s my birthday today. And, today marks the third birthday of the birthdaysarebest.com blog. Yippee.

I thought it would be fun to share some insights into the blog to date. For instance, I continue to be amazed at the global reach of my ramblings (rants?) on birthdays.

Just looking at September 2017, I had views from people in the U.S., Canada, the UK, India, Hong Kong SAR China, Indonesia, Australia, Netherlands, Mexico and China. But I’ve had people reading in Kuwait, Brazil, Philippines, India, Japan and other places too! That’s truly exciting!

My number of visitors has grown nearly 10 fold, too!

In 2014, the most viewed blog was this really short one on making a big deal about little ones’ birthdays. I don’t know if it wasn’t this cute pic of my kiddo that made it so appealing or not:

100_0755

In 2015, it was the one about different birthday traditions around the world. Complete with this creepy photo:

hungary-pulling-earlobes

2016’s top post was Who else remembers Paddy Whacks, with the ear yanking fun post coming in a close second. My blog on alternative birthday cake ideas from 2016 also did well, which makes me happy as I loved some of the options I found (although today, on my own birthday, I will no doubt be enjoying traditional chocolate cake).

Birthday cake

Photo credit: distopiandreamgirl / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

And this year, Paddy Whacks is far and away the leading blog for views. I doubt anyone has time to catch up with just three months left. But I was rewarded to see that my thoughts on making up for missing a birthday and the information I shared on your birth month impacting your personality were popular blogs too!

birthday blog

Image source

I’ll keep this in mind as I move forward into the next year of this blog. I am still pursuing publishers for the non-fiction birthday book I have started writing. But, in the meantime, I appreciate all of you readers for joining me on this blogging journey.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions for blog ideas! Let me know what you wonder about birthdays and I’ll see what I can find out.

Birthday Character Greetings from Netflix

Netflix is looking to become even more enmeshed in our day-to-day lives. How so? The company this month announced an “easier way to make kids’ birthday dreams come true.” The fact that their initiative will only further enhance kids’ loyalty to Netflix characters is conveniently downplayed in the streaming service’s PR for its 15 Birthdays-on-Demand.

Netflix birthday

Image: Netflix.com

Instead, the company focuses on the pressure parents feel to make a birthday special. Unwieldy headline aside, “New Netflix Hack Helps Parents Blow Out the Candles on the Birthday Party Hijinks,” the press release is a smart one. It even incorporates a survey into the discussion of its new service to add credibility.

  • 44% parents admit to feeling social-media fueled pressure to give their kids a huge party
  • 69% wish they didn’t have to go Pinterest-crazy to give their kids a good time
  • 67% of parents globally agree that birthday planning is stressful

Enter Netflix to Save the Birthday

Positioning their service as a “new hack” — because everything of value today is a hack, right? — Netflix touts, “parents can simply press play and kids’ favorite characters will sing them a special birthday greeting – made just for them (or so they’ll think).”

This apparently “[takes] the celebrations to the next level – no cake baking all-nighter required – by letting kids celebrate with Trollhunters or Pokėmon, anytime, anywhere.”

In fact, kids can enjoy a special birthday performance from characters appearing in:

  • DreamWorks’ All Hail King Julien, Dinotrux or Trollhunters
  • Barbie
  • Beat Bugs
  • Las Leyendas
  • LEGO Friends or Ninjago
  • Luna Petunia
  • Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug
  • Cat Noir
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic,
  • Pokemon
  • Project Mc2
  • Skylanders Academy
  • Word Party
Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 2.56.44 PM

Image: Netflix.com

Not convinced, Netflix

OK, it’s a cute idea. I’ll likely even set up a Ninjago or Trollhunters one for my son come February. But, let’s be honest here. This is not the be-all end-all solution to birthday party angst. This is likely to be less than five minutes of fresh entertainment related to my kiddo’s birthday. That still leaves me with a birthday party to plan, cake to bake, and balloons to blow up.

Really, Netflix has just added one more thing to do. Because once a kid hears from her friends about getting a birthday greeting from Luna Petunia, she’ll be wanting one for herself too. Even putting the whole product release in terms of making life easier isn’t going to distract me from the fact that the streaming service is looking to find another foothold into the imagination of children.

But, nicely played, Netflix. Nicely played.