Tag Archives: birthdays

I’ve Got the Joy

15 Sep

Whine: I have been very successful in getting myself to bed earlier in the last few weeks. Unfortunately this is not the same as going to sleep earlier. Not at all. Lying in bed awake for hours at a time does not quite give you the same restful feeling as it would if you could actually convince your brain to go to shut the heck up and go to sleep.

Cheese: I am a lot better rested than I was six years ago today, as I had been up for two straight days trying to convince Big Sis that she really did want to enter the world and not stay in utero forever.

I remember waddling into the tiny, cramped room with Mr. Dad at my side. I remember oofing myself up onto the naugahyde exam table. I remember the cold feeling as the sonogram tech prepped my belly. I remember crying softly as she said, “It’s a girl.”

The first thing we did before we even finished the appointment was choose our firstborn’s middle name. It would be four more months and a melodramatic delivery room monologue (you’d be amazed how persuasive one can be mid-labor) before I we picked a first name. But from those first minutes of knowing we were having a daughter, we both knew one thing. We were filled with Joy.

And Joy she is and has been.

Kisses from an adoring Brother Bear.

Don’t get me wrong, she has her moments of unjoy. In fact, it’s her extreme happiness when things excite her (like a cardboard box or the number 10) that makes her extreme displeasure (having to stop what she’s doing to eat dinner or getting a pink balloon instead of a red one) so difficult to bear.

See what I mean?

She is also a tiny bit of a crazy person. I often come into the room and notice that she has hung necklaces from the ceiling fan. Or tied all the pull-toys in the nursery together to make a parade (those knots are a booger to undo). Or she tells me from behind the shower curtain as she takes a bath “Mommy, wait, I have a surprise for you.” then proceeds to drench me with bathwater and laugh maniacally while I scowl like a drowned cat. And as much at those moments as I might want to sigh violently and wonder when school starts, I love that crafty little brain of hers.

This pretty much sums her up. A dainty ironman ready to (gently) kick some butt.

School finally did start for her last week. My baby’s in kindergarten.

I wasn’t sure how this would all play out for me because Big Sis is doing a 3-day program at the same school she’s been going to for preschool. So in reality kindergarten is no different for us in location or schedule than it was last year.

But my first clue to my fragile emotional state was the night before the big day when I couldn’t get my First Day of Kindergarten sign printed which was all Mr. Dad’s fault, of course, (I mean, not technically, but still) and I wasn’t going to be able to appropriately capture her fist day and have it on film forever and I started sobbing hysterically and couldn’t stop. Then when  my sister-in-law swooped with my precious sign after a late-night trip to Kinkos and I could barely get the ‘Thank you’ out of my mouth before I was sobbing again, I knew we were in trouble.

Drop off the next day went fine. I managed to keep all the crazy inside and get my little sweetie shuffled into the waiting arms of her new teacher. I made it out of the building and headed to work. Where I did no work. Unless having a four-hour case of cry hiccups and sobbing your way through staff meeting counts as work. Which, since I work at a church, it kind of does.

This makes you cry, too, right?

Big Sis is rocking Kindergarten. She’s joined a soccer team because (her words) “I am really good at soccer.” She makes her own turkey sandwiches and (her words) “Saved Brother Bear’s life the other day.” She has started reading and writing–even sometimes on paper–and she can add and make patterns. I don’t know how, but we’ve seemed to fast forward  from the day (yesterday, right?) when we were teaching her that a cow says “moo”. But then again, it seems like she’s been a part of our life forever because I can’t really remember what it was like without her.

Sweetness

And we have our moments. Moments when one or both of us is frustrated that things did not go according to plan. Times when we both want to call the shots. But that’s mostly because, as Mr. Dad likes to point out as we’re locking horns over the correct way to frost a cupcake, she’s my little me (only smarter and way cuter).

She is my little light. Generous and kind, she runs to welcome her friends with a pair of open (sometimes suffocating) arms. She mother-hens her brother and younger cousins. She often shares her top bunk with Lil’ Sis as they giggle into bedtime. She reminds me to be content with what I have “Mom, don’t be jealous of Aunt A, it’s ok that she has a bigger bathtub”. She’s the one that has given me my dream job. And in a few years when we are locking horns over trigonometry homework or the appropriate length of a skirt (ankle, right?), I want to remember just how grateful I am for this joy she’s given me down in my heart.

We both look shockingly young, don't we?

 

Recovered, part II

5 May

Whine: It’s May 5th in Texas–Cinco de Mayo– so that means it’s FIESTA time. Unfortunately, Brother Bear misunderstood. He thinks today is Stinko de Mayo. (Rimshot, please.)

Cheese: I’ve already got my fajita meat marinating to throw on the grill, it’s a perfect 79 degrees and it’s Thursday. I love Tejas.

Since I promised pictures in my last post, I’m not going to waste a lot of time writing words, etc, since it will take every last ounce of my brain power to post pictures without doing something dumb and blowing up my computer.

The following pictures are brought to you by  CNET who reviewed the photo-rescue software and decided it wouldn’t eat my hard drive, and by the kind folks at Easeus who offered said not-hard-drive-eating software for free.

Hard at work.

I love this picture of Big Sis writing Valentines in footie pajamas. She was getting discouraged about halfway through, as handwriting is her nemesis. But once I reminded her of the smiling friends who’d receive these, she got excited and powered on through the rest. Her tender heart makes me ooze happy feelings.

I cannot stand the handsomeness.

Mr. Dad and Brother Bear got extra-gussied one Sunday (very unusual for them). There were some serious double-takes as they walked through church. But once people regained their power of speech, they mostly made a lot of doppleganger-type comments.

I'm astounded they didn't get Royal Wedding invites.

After having attended their fair share of Princess Parties, the girls now assume that every party requires elegance and panache of the highest order. They wore these outfits to a birthday party, then came home and shoveled some dirt.

The red-haired pigtails kill me.

I brought cookies to Lil Sis and her preschool class. She lit up like Aurora Borealis when she saw the Hello Kitty balloon. It’s good to know that the little things like showing up with a balloon and some lame grocery store cookies can still make her day.

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair. . ."

The cousins (Big Sis, Lil’ Sis, Aves and LizzyRabbit) at Lil’ Sis and Aves’ Rapunzel birthday party. The cake pictures I recovered were too damaged to use (sad face), so here’s one I managed to snap with my phone.

Rapunzel's Tower Cake

There was quite a lot of engineering involved with this cake. Basically, Mr. Dad drilled a giant hole into the base of the cake (and also my plate), then stuck a dowel rod through the middle. We stuck the tower (rice krispie treats and fondant) around the dowel rod. It worked pretty well until the rice krispie treats starting migrating south and left a solid 2″ of dowel rod showing. Mr. Dad tried unsuccessfully to refrain from saying “I told you so.” Mostly I think he was mad he didn’t get to use his circular saw and blowtorch on the thing.

I'll eat you up I love you so.

In case you don’t recognize it, this is a Max and Wild Things cake from Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. For some reason, the Max cake is one of my favorites of all time. I think it’s because it is one of the only cakes that when I finished I wouldn’t change a thing. There was a separate Wild Thing cake for Brother Bear to destroy, but it’s not worth posting until the After shot.

The After Shot

There are lots more pictures of this cuteness, including when cousin CharChar got in on the action and the inevitable bath that followed. If you really need more in-depth coverage of the event, you’ll have to wait until the album hits my Facebook page.

Ear Infection: 1, Aaron: 0

You might think this last picture would be after the cake extravaganza, but it’s not. Poor Brother Bear has bad baby ears and can’t seem to stop filling them with swamp water. When he cries a bunch and falls asleep on the floor, that’s my cue to go see the Dr.

Thanks for sticking around through the whole post, unless you skipped to the end. In which case I don’t blame you. I’m pretty glad we got our pictures back. And tune in next week, for the riveting third installment of the “Recovered” series. You won’t believe what I lost this time. (Unless you’ve already heard this story, and you probably have.)

For My Sister

24 Sep

Whine:  Last night I stepped into my bedroom and into a large, slushy puddle of water simultaneously. After scanning the room for evidence of Tiny Terrorism and finding none, I shrugged and cleaned it up. When I returned to the scene an hour later and the slushy puddle had returned, with a vengeance, I called for back up. Turns out my air conditioner is disgruntled about having to work so late into September and is protesting by spewing water all over my carpet.

Cheese: Mr. Dad just earned his second “Fix the A/C” badge for his Handyman vest. He may have had to rip up the carpet and remove the bedroom door in the process, but at least I’m not borrowing from Big Sis’ college fund to pay for an emergency after-hours repair guy to come rip up my carpet and remove my bedroom door. Because that would be weird.

I want to dedicate today’s post to my sister Wren. Today is her birthday. And if you’ll excuse my language, it’s going to be a really craptastic birthday. Let’s just say it’s been a terribly hard week for her, and today will be no exception. And while I’m glad that she has a cute little house and cute little kids (and of course her hubby, “Uncle Steve”), I’m sad because they are all in sunny Florida. And that’s there and she’s there, and I’m precisely the opposite of that. I’m here.

And it just sucks to be so far away when she needs me to fan her and feed her grapes. (It’s what any good sister would do.) I mean I can’t even mail her a noodle casserole or anything because I’m pretty sure the UPS guy would scarf it all down before it got there because who can resist a noodle casserole??

And so the best I can do is try to make her laugh or at least entertain her. So I’ll probably spend the rest of this post telling stories about the good ol’ days and bore the pants off the rest of you, but I don’t really care because it’s not your birthday, unless it is, in which case you’re still probably not having quite as craptastic of a day as my sister so quit your whining already.

At some point in the early 90s Wren and I went to summer camp together. On the last night of camp there was an all-camp pizza party out on the grassy hill. We were all sitting around talking and hanging out. This apparently was really lame, so some of the boys started playing frisbee with the pizza boxes. Wren and I were ignoring them because we were deeply involved in a conversation in which we discussing our funerals. Looking back, I see how the pizza box frisbee may have broken out, as funeral arrangements are not that interesting to most eighth graders. Just as she was promising to bring flowers to my funeral, I felt something drop out of the sky right onto my head.

Upon further inspection and through choked back tears we discovered that I had just been hit with a full can of Sprite. Apparently the pizza boxes got boring and someone started throwing soda cans. I felt the Sprite spilling down my head, so Wren ran me up the hill to the nurse’s station. Except when we got there I realized it was most certainly not Sprite, but blood, trickling down my forehead. I looked like an extra in a bad axe-murderer movie. (As opposed to the good axe-murderer movie, which is one of mine and Wren’s favorites.)

In the end I was taken to the local middle-of-nowhere hospital, had a few stitches put in (it was merely a flesh wound) and went back to camp to milk my injury for all it was worth. But the thing I remember most was laughing so hard afterward with my sister about the irony of “almost dying” while discussing funeral plans. And the fact that there was someone else in the world with a sense of humor as morbid as mine.

Wren (far left) and I (far right) post soda can episode. Wish I could blame head trauma for my choice of shorts, or should I say jorts?

Wren and I, along with our other three sisters, have shared a lot of life together. School dances, breakups, vacations, and myriad bad style choices (see above). We have played dress up more than any teenagers probably should. We’ve had our fights, although fighting with Wren is pretty useless, as she will just argue until you are beaten down and give up.

A little too much time on our hands, I think.

As we’ve grown up we’ve done everything at almost the same time: gone to college, gotten jobs, gotten married (three weeks apart), and had kids. All the while we’ve remained friends and partners in life.  Our neurotic fixations may have changed over the years, but we still understand each other pretty perfectly. And I’m so glad that when the sky is falling, either literally or figuratively, that we have each other.  Happy birthday, Sis.

LIFE IN ALL CAPS!

15 Sep

Whine: I CANNOT, CANNOT, CANNOT believe my little baby girl is five years old. Somebody must have accidentally hit FF on my life.

Cheese: Nothing illustrates this more than the hilarious reruns of Dukes of Hazzard I am currently watching. It seems like just yesterday I was sitting in front of the tv in my Daisy Duke Underoos waiting to see how long the General Lee would stay airborne. Or was that yesterday?

Having a baby is fun. Not the actual “having” part, but the getting to take one home with you part. Until they are up at all hours ruining your life, but that’s a rabbit trail for another day. But the really fun part of having a baby is that they turn into kids. And as they grow you get to try and figure out who the heck they are becoming.

You spend all your time speculating on every tiny accomplishment because that’s all you have to go on when they are 9 months old. “Ooh, honey, she threw her spaghetti on the floor with her left hand, maybe she’ll be an Olympic softball player and it won’t matter that we haven’t saved for college!”

Don’t get me wrong, it has it’s dicey moments. Like when your three-year-old walks around like a mini-mobster swinging a sock full of batteries and all you see is a future of long visits at the state penitentiary. Or when it seems that her most viable career option might be as a graffiti/tattoo artist.

As they grow, though, more and more patterns begin to emerge. As I’ve watched my precious firstborn, a few things have grown remarkably clear.

Big Sis lives life IN ALL CAPS. She could teach us all a thing or two about living in the present. And speaking of presents, if you are ever having a bad day, just give this girl a present. Anything, even just a pair of Cinderella socks from the dollar store. She will jump and yell and glow like she’s on the Oprah show getting a new Pontiac.

Right before she ran and threw her arms around me and made me cry.

She gets excited about making a plan then making it happen. Like planning her Candyland Cake four months in advance (I really shouldn’t let her watch Cake Boss anymore) or elaborate building-block Eiffel Towers. Or perhaps filling a 5-gallon jug with water to get a drink. Or using her new grabber toy to reach the donuts on the top of the fridge. Occasionally, cleaning up after “inspiration” strikes is a little more than we bargained for. I think I may know how Thomas Edison’s mother must have felt. And they didn’t even have Magic Eraser back then.

Eat your heart out, Cake Boss (& thank you, Kiki!)

Her hyper-planner side has another downside as well, namely that things that do not go according to plan usually result in unparalleled devastation. I have NO idea where she gets THAT from.

Her enthusiasm extends to everyone she meets, usually in the form of an enthusiastic assault hug. She loves to play dress up with her friends and her brother and even with her sister. She shares her toys with her friends and her brother and not so much with her sister. I love watching her mind work, even if I don’t always understand exactly how she comes up with the things she does.

Big Sis aka Jessie the Cowgirl

She hugs with gusto (heimlich, anyone?), laughs like her life depends on it and somehow convinces me to go play in the rain even though I hate getting my hair wet. I hope she never decides to live her life in lowercase.

Need I say more?

Five for Friday

9 Jul

Whine: Polishing silver is not as glamorous as it sounds.

Cheese: Unless, of course, as my friend Carah said, you have somebody do it for you. Which is why I have Mr. Dad.

You may be wondering what I am up to since the posting around here has slipped into a cycle as irregular as an antique washing machine. Or you may not be wondering, since you are just assuming that having another kid has put me in over my head, with little time for luxuries like blogging or opening the mail. You would be right.

But there’s another reason that I am in over my head. I am insane.

Which means that I do the same thing over and over (e.g., bite off more than I can chew) and expect a different result (e.g., to not lose my marbles and/or temper in the process).  Thankfully, this also usually means that Mr. Dad (and several other pitying souls) jump in and saves my bacon. Zebra cupcakes at 2am, anyone?

Here are pictures from my our latest episode adventure. Delicious treats for my friend Jen’s birthday soiree.

Mini Caramel-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes with Sea Salt

Got this recipe from Martha’s new Cupcake cookbook. The caramel was not as gooey as I was expecting, but let me tell you, sea salt can cover a multitude of ills.

Raspberry Cheesecake Lollipops with Fresh Raspberry Garnish

These are basically mini-cheesecakes on sticks, covered in chocolate. Take a bite and pop in a fresh raspberry. I’m sad they are all gone.

Croquembouche

And finally, the piece de resistance, my nemesis – – the croquembouche. Essentially a tower of cream puffs glued in place with caramel. After one and a half failed batches of the pastry, a few “choice” words and a swift kick to the cabinets, I almost gave up. Reason and Mr. Dad both told me it would be fine to use (gasp) store-bought cream puffs. But insanity and my friend Tina told me to forge ahead, and so, of course I sided with the crazy angel on my shoulder and kept filling those half-flattened puffs with the pastry cream whose directions I accidentally forgot to follow. Then I overcooked the glaze, rendering it unchewable for human teeth. Good thing I never got around to making those caramel apples last fall, cause we melted down those leftover Kraft caramels and started engineering our cream puff tower.  By then Brother Bear was howling, so I turned over the engineering to Mr. Dad. The results were quite tasty. A little hard to pull off the tower, but what’s a little effort when there are cream puffs involved?

The Spread

I hosted the party with my friend Roxanne, whose culinary exploits make croqembouche seem like a grilled cheese sandwich. There are not words for her level of fancitude, which is why I just made one up. Delicious rosemary skewers, biscuits with pecan cheddar spread, tiny stuffed tomatoes and a cheese plate (you know how I feel about cheese plates. . .).  Her silver was all polished and her signature cocktails rocked the house. I’d throw a party with her any day.

The Birthday Girl

And finally, the birthday girl. My very beautiful friend Jen. Whose ridiculous good looks only serve as a vehicle for her awesomeness as a person. She once cleaned my kitchen when I was too sick to move, and let me tell you, that is a good friend, because that was before my “do the dishes every day” phase of life.

This Five for Friday would not have been possible without LOTS of help. So here are a few gold stars to my helpers.

Gold Stars

Mr. Dad: For baking tiny cupcakes, rolling lots of cheesecake lollipops without sampling too much of the goods, stacking the croquembouce you told me I didn’t have time to make and (drum roll, please) cleaning up the kitchen. You leave me speechless.

Roxanne: For letting me ride your rockstar hostess coattails.

Tina: For enabling cheering me on, then washing my dishes. (No, washing my dishes is not a requirement for friendship with me. It just keeps happening.) Also for taking those exquisite pictures of the party.

Rachelle: For making emergency flower arrangements after I dropped the stuff off at the last minute on your doorstep.

Everyone Else: For listening, ad nauseum, to the tale of the croquembouche and not looking visibly bored. Also for lots of help and suggestions and withholding judgement when you know I’m in over my head.

NOTE: Please stop by Monday for the first installment of the What I Did on Summer Vacation series. There will be multiple posts, all in one week. Insane? Impossible? You’d better believe it.

Sugar and Spice

10 Mar

Whine: I’m not sure how Lil’ Sis knows about the Terrible Twos, but she does. All day today I kept hearing emphatic variations of the same thing. “I. Don’t. Like. Church.”  and “I. Don’t. Like. Cars.”  and “I. Don’t. Like. Pizza.” (who doesn’t like pizza??)

Cheese: At least she’s using appropriate sentence structure.

The first thing people notice about Lil’ Sis is her hair. Her fiery orange hair. In fact, it was the first thing the delivering OB noticed before she was even all the way born. Now that is some red hair. And after people stop me mid-aisle in the grocery store to tell me how pretty her hair is, they quickly follow that first observation with a correlating second. “Red hair. Got a temper, doesn’t she?”

She does. But it rarely shows. Most of the time Lil’ Sis is sugar. You know as in sugar and spice and everything nice. . . She shares her toys with her cousins, and tries to make peace when tempers flare.  If Big Sis is sad, Lil’ Sis is the first to run to her aid with a blankie and a hug. And best of all, she insists on helping me unload the dishwasher.

But occasionally Lil’ Sis is spice. And by spice I don’t mean cinnamon. We’re talking cayenne. Possibly tabasco. When she was a little baby, people would ooh and aah over how sweet and mild she was. The nursery workers thought she was a dream. But Mr. Dad and I knew better.  At home we called her “Wild Thing.” She was very adept at letting us know when she was too hot or too cold. Her lion’s roar was just a little louder and more intense than all the other kids’ (it’s not a ten, it’s an eleven).

And today, as she sweetly helped me in the kitchen, all sugary and sweet, hints of her spicier side slipped out. She toddled to the dishwasher and handed me the spatula to be put away. Except I put it in the wrong drawer. And boy did I regret it. That sweet little angel hollered and yelled at me in righteous indignation until I put the spatula in the exact right place.

I love her sweet side. I really, really do. I mean, who wouldn’t like a kid who happily (and very accurately) unloads the dishwasher? Watching her gently tuck her baby dolls into bed or look in every room until she finds her sister melts my heart. And we die laughing every time she runs out of a room with her purse and waves as she says “Berightback.” But her spicy side is nice, too. I know it sounds nuts, but that little extra oomph in her cry yell when someone she likes has the nerve to leave our home to go to their own is pretty endearing. And it shows how fiercly she loves. Her indignation over not getting to do something herself makes me chuckle (well, sometimes). At least I can be reassured that Lil’ Sis will someday (probably sooner than I’d prefer) be an independent woman. But mostly it’s the way she attacks me when she hugs me and the way she dances her heart out to Farmer in the Dell that I like. Because what’s life without a little spice?

Sugar.

Spice

Everything nice?

That's what little girls (and wild things) are made of.

So I’m sending a birthday roar to my little Wild Thing. I love you, Lil’ Sis. The day you were born (although it was VERY long) was one of the best of my life. I cannot wait to see how you grow and change and make me crazy over this next year. Happy birthday to you. And just because you’re so darn cute, one more picture.

All dressed up (well, almost) and nowhere to go.

It’s My Birthday and I’ll Post What I Want To

5 Mar

Whine: It’s 4 am and I am definitely not typing this in my sleep. Which means I’m awake about four hours too early on my birthday. Is this an omen of what this year in my life will be like? I’m sure it is.

Cheese: I have it on expert authority that insomniacs get more done. If by more you mean checking facebook in the middle of the night and watching Paid Programming on mute while I wish for sleep to come. Perhaps I should invest in a few new books so I don’t end up ordering the Simoniz Power Car Washing Kit again. Yes, I said again.

I love birthdays. I always have. I particularly love my own birthday. I get presents and cake. And I finally get one day a year when I get to be the center of attention without having to resort to attention-seeking behavior like getting stuck in windows or being too sick to walk. But I love other people’s birthdays, too. Any excuse for cake and a good party is fine by me.

As I get older and the birthdays seems to blow by, I realize that some birthdays come with lots of fun and fanfare, and some are barely acknowledged. Although this could be partly my fault, as I seem to have made a habit of being “due any day now” right around my birthday. Last time I was great with child, I was due the day before my birthday.  And so my birthday greetings that year consisted of many baby-related wishes. This one, from my friend Carrie was one of my favorites:

May no baby come forth today (unless you are miserably large)
So that you never have to share your birthday with another (unless you are selfless like me and do not mind.)

I also spent that birthday in the doctor’s office for a routine exam. And if you’ve had a baby before, you know that a “routine exam” at 40 weeks pregnant is not really the most exciting way to spend your birthday. Unless awkward discomfort is your cup of tea. In which case, you should find another cup of tea, really.

But because I have the Ritz-Carlton of wombs, there was apparently no danger of Lil’ Sis arriving anywhere near her due date, which meant I wouldn’t have to share my birthday with her. Here is what I looked like on my birthday in 2008.

2008 or 2010? Doesn't matter, I look exactly the same.

I was going to post the picture of me showing my belly, but I thought seeing that amount of exposed skin might cause extreme discomfort/nausea for some of my more sensitive readers. Although, it was (and currently is) a sight to behold.

I was looking through pictures from my birthday last year and felt a twinge of longing for my old body. I mean I could wear pants. With a button and zipper. And I had a cheekbones and an actual chin. My how I miss my chin.

 

It's been so long since I've looked like that, I didn't recognize myself.

But chins (or lack thereof) and pregnancy and infomercials aside, I’m looking forward to my birthday today. Because a birthday is a great excuse to get away with eating lots of cake. And as long as Baby Boy stays in for another day or so, I can have my cake and eat his, too. Now that’s a birthday.