On Saturday, Nov. 16, I had the opportunity to spend the day with my nephew, Joshua. It happened to be his seventh birthday and I had him all to myself all morning and part of the afternoon. I don't know if he enjoyed it as much as I did, but I surely had fun taking care of him and spoiling him to the best of my ability.

I had traveled to Mankato on Friday night and spent the evening shopping for a few home improvement items with my sister-in-law, Annette. Joshua was at Tae Kwon Do with his father and my brother, Arvin, and my niece, Allison, was at a school dance.

When we all completed our errands, we gathered around the dining room table and planned our day for Saturday. Arvin and Annette planned to spend the day with my niece at a robotics competition in St. Peter and I was taking Joshua to his Christmas program rehearsal at their church. Then, Joshua and I would do some birthday shopping and have lunch at his favorite restaurant, Pizza Ranch. It was a good plan and I was especially excited to spoil my nephew for his birthday.

I told Joshua if I wasn't awake before Arvin and Annette and Allison had to leave, he could come down and wake me up. I didn't think he would have to as the other three didn't have to leave until 8:30 and I am usually awake by then, especially when I'm a guest in someone's home.

However, at 7 a.m. the next morning, I heard the door open and felt the bed jiggle as a small body crawled up beside me. With his head on the pillow beside me, I watched him through barely open eyes as he gently reached out a hand and touched my cheek.

"It's time to get up," he whispered as I opened my eyes a bit wider. "Everyone's gone."

I looked at the clock and wondered about that, thinking that Arvin and Annette must have discovered they had to be at their tournament earlier than expected.

I gave Joshua my nook, told him to go back upstairs and I'd be up as soon as I was dressed. The house was indeed quiet, but I still wondered about why the others had to leave so early.

As soon as I was dressed I made my way upstairs and found Joshua happily playing on my nook in the living room. I heard the shower running and saw my niece still asleep on the couch, where she'd spent the night after being displaced from her room for the weekend so I could sleep in her bed.

I looked at Joshua with a raised eyebrow and he immediately defended his early morning wake-up call. "I didn't hear anybody or see anybody," he said.

I just laughed and said it was OK. It was his birthday and we had pumped it up so much the night before, I could only imagine he was anxious to get started with all the fun we had planned.

Once we had breakfast and got the others off to their destinations, Joshua and I dived into a project he had to do for school - a poster that told his story. We filled in the blanks for all his favorites, such as food -ribs and color - red. We listed the members of his family, which included me. We wrote how he lets other people know he cares and what he loves to do inside and outside. We colored the pictures on the poster before having to leave for his program practice.

For an hour and a half, I was treated to lively songs the kids were rehearsing as part of their holiday performance. I watched as Joshua caught on to the choreography and did the actions as he learned the words. He paid attention to the musical director and still had time to whisper and joke a bit with his friends. Every once in awhile, he'd peek over to me and send me a smile, which warmed my heart.

After practice, I had planned to go to the restaurant for lunch, but Joshua decided he'd rather go shopping for his birthday present first. So, we headed to the store and went straight to the toy aisle where we found two new Bey Blades for his already impressive collection of racers.

We picked up a few groceries and supplies while we were at the store, but soon headed off to Pizza Ranch for lunch. Once we found a table, Joshua convinced me that since it was his birthday he could start off his meal with dessert pizza. Once he finished those two pieces, he did eat a piece of chicken and a few bites of mashed potatoes. That makes it a balanced birthday meal, right? Plus, I'm his aunt and I can spoil him by letting him eat dessert first. Face it, that's really the way we'd all like to eat, isn't it?

By the time we had finished lunch and Joshua had played in the small gym with some friends, it was time to go home and try out his new toys. I found I could not get the tops spinning fast enough to take out Joshua's top. Even though that meant he was winning, he didn't hold back in letting me know that I was the "worst Bey Blader" he knew. Oh well.

We had a fabulous day and I loved every minute of our time together, just the two of us. As the others came home and a few guests arrived to have a birthday dinner, we just continued his celebration and everyone else had a chance to spoil him as well.