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Sunday, November 20, 2011

birthday parties, the need for valium and crossing the cake barrier

On Friday, I got to step behind the curtain and learn the secrets of cake making.

My friend Melissa, a self-taught master of extraordinary cakes, knew of my want to learn cake decorating and offered to teach me on Ella's birthday cake.  Considering that she is a busy mom, student and has two jobs, this was no small offer of her time and talent.

I decided on a fairy house cake for Ella, since she is forever making them in the garden. With Melissa's direction, I made the cakes, filled them and froze them (top and bottom separately) and brought them to her house for a lesson in carving, frosting, rolling and affixing fondant, stabilizing cakes with wooden dowels, dying coconut and a whole bunch more.

And the end result? Seriously more amazing than I would ever have even hoped for.

Because Ella's birthday was on a school day and Sandi was in Portland, we decided to have "Ella's Birthday Observed" over the weekend when her party was.  This meant an entire day of dual parental attention and adoration, special treats, presents and a party to boot.

Ella went to sleep Friday night saying, "I can't wait to wake up and see my balloons and open my presents first thing just like Maya did."

Good thing we aren't setting any precedents.

Naturally we set the alarm for 3 a.m. to get up and blow up the helium balloons. (Do other people do this?) Then back to bed until 6:30, some family snuggle time in the big bed, where for once no one had to run off to some task or responsibility, then  downstairs to find exactly what she had expected.

It's true, birthdays in our house are definitely holidays in and of themselves.

We always give a small gift that the non-birthday child can enjoy.  This year it was fuzzy cleaning mitts because they are really into cleaning.  (Not the helpful kind of cleaning.)

We spent the morning making waffles, snuggling on the couch, reading, being entertained by Maya our personal jester, and playing nail salon.

I also let Ella put make-up all over my face including, and I'm pretty sure I get a mom gold star for this, MASCARA.  I went out to put some party stuff in the car and waved at a woman walking her dog. She didn't wave back.  And then it hit me... I look like a circus clown.

Ella really wanted to wear her new birthday outfit to her party.  Sandi was concerned about the immodesty of roller skating in a skirt and so she fashioned Ella some "shorts" out of a pair of Maya's size 18-24 month tights. 

I'm telling you Sandi and I each have our strengths and they are not the same. 

As a wonderful birthday treat, our niece and nephew came over to hang out with us for a few hours before the party. 
I love this picture because Makenna looks so bad ass with the lip gloss.  It also highlights the physical differences of these girls.  Kenna, who was 2 in July, is the same size as Maya.  At her well-child visit last week Maya ranks in the 25th percentile for size and Kenna is a tank so I guess it stands to reason.

Then out to lunch to Pat's Pizza (Ella's choice) before her party.

For her 7th (going on 13th) birthday, Ella decided to have her party at the roller rink.
Along with 500 of her closest friends.

Seriously, the place was PACKED.  There were SEVEN birthday parties happening. 

I will confess, I don't love kid's birthday parties in general. There is usually a time when I hit my stimulation threshold and I want to flee the building.  My own children's parties are no exception.

The problem is I hit the threshold before we even made it through the door.  There were hordes of people trying to get into the building, kids everywhere, people falling down on skates, crying children and a constant need to track down the "party specialist" so they could unlock the party room.  Yikes.  I felt like I needed a Valium or a drink.

I put on skates so I could skate with Ella and while I was standing on the carpet talking to my sister, a kid fell into me from behind, hitting me without warning in the back of my knees and taking me down to the floor.  This did not help my stimulation issue.

Ella was psyched to get a riding helmet from Tia and Uncle Brock!
(I'm not sure what Maya was by the look on her face.)

Ella had fun, but she didn't want us to sing happy birthday to her and she cried a bit when we did.  (Should we have not?) She didn't want to go in the prize machine, an honor bestowed upon the birthday child and cried even when we told her that was fine.  She told us on the way home that there were too many people and it was really hard to find her friends.  That made me sad and relieved because I don't think we will have to repeat the anxiety inducing experience again.

We took the rest of her gifts home to open.  It was so clear that people know her so well and got gifts so well suited for her. 

Including this lovely Hello Kitty shirt from the Smith's.  I told Ange to walk in to Target and pick out the shirt she thought was ugliest and get that one.  Ella LOVES it.

The girls also enjoyed their sucker pops.  Ella's was a very classy ring she won in the arcade....

while Maya went with something more along the gangster route.

I collapsed into bed with exhaustion and relief from putting two birthday parties on in 3 weeks. 

Despite the crowds and the crying,  I think (hope) Ella had a good day.  In true Ella form, she was sad when we put her to bed because her special day was over and it would be so long before there was another.

I told her she is lucky her birthday is so close to Thanksgiving and Christmas because special days abound (more so than, say, if your birthday is in March).    But, alas, she does not let go of things easily and she has looked forward to this day for about 6 months. 

As we were packing the kids up to leave yesterday, a tween girl came up to me and said about Maya, "Oh, she is so cute."  I looked around at our little family and my chest burned with a mix of gratitude and love for them, for US.  I remember being a kid and looking at families where the kids and parents seemed happy and I would be overcome with jealousy. 

And here I was, a thirty something mom helping my kids into their coats, my beautiful partner by my side and I could see, as if from the outside in, just how blessed we are.  This is our family, one we have created from the ground up, fought for, forgiven for, compromised and sacraficed for and loved more deeply than we thought possible for.

We all get to go home together and have each other forever. 


Anonymous said...

I will say once again what lucky, lucky girls your children are - a beautiful family!
<3 Jeannine

Anonymous said...

I will say once again what lucky, lucky girls your children are - a beautiful family!
<3 Jeannine

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