Friday, June 10, 2011

The birthday party and baking emergency

Kids birthday parties overstimulate me. I don't really enjoy attending them or hosting them--there is too much noise, too much chaos, too much sugar and I am supposed to keep one eye on my kid to make sure she is behaving nicely all while having an adult conversation with another parent. I always feel like I need some quiet time and a glass of wine afterward. But, they are part of childhood and we attend most of those that Lana is invited to, mostly because although I am not super-social, I recognize that Lana is indeed a social being and that this is important to her.

When it is our turn to plan and host Lana's birthday party, I am both excited and dreading it. Excited that its Lana's special day, but dreading that overstimulated feeling. Is it just me? Each year I have hosted Lana's party on the outside, meaning not in my home. I would love to literally be outdoors, but May in the Pacific NW is typically rainy and coolish. This year we had Lana's party at one of those indoor gymnastics places. In the past, I have made a bunch of food and the cake in a semi-fancy way, but in an attempt to keep it simple, this year I ordered pizza and made the cupcakes.

The cupcakes. I make them b/c of me and Lacey having that pesky dairy allergy, so that rules out most store-bought options and dammit, I want to eat the leftovers! I try to make them look really cute and festive, although I am not a baker at ALL. I am also not artsy/craftsy. The theme of the party this year was Hello Kitty and I was so excited that I scored this stencil in the shape of Hello Kitty's head that I could shake powdered sugar or sprinkles over and then presto--Hello Kitty's image on the cupcake. Lana was so excited too--she wanted to help make the cupcakes and shake the sprinkles, but I told her I needed to do it this time. My big mistake? I did not test the stencil until 11pm the night before the party. Guess what? It didn't work at all. It didn't look like Hello Kitty's head--its just looked like a blob of sprinkles. Bill even got in on the action--we whipped out all of our sprinkles, food coloring, gel and literally tried all kinds of possibilities to make Hello Kitty on a cupcake. Luckily I made an extra batch of cupcakes b/c we tossed at least 10 cupcakes during our experiment. Finally, we concluded that there would be no Hello Kitty on the freakin cupcakes and she was going to have to be okay with pink frosting with sparkly sprinkles. The end.

Or not. When I told her the next morning (the day of the party), she dissolved into tears, "Mom, I am so disappointed! I wanted Hello Kitty and you PROMISED! I am not going to have a Hello Kitty party with just plain cupcakes. Boo hoo hoo." Okay, I know she sounds like a brat, but she is not a roll-with-the-punches kind of kid and yeah, we have the drama--I have accepted it and usually I can let it bounce off me like nothing, but this time, I felt bad, like I let her down. So I ordered her to stop crying, get dressed and we are going to the grocery right NOW (its 7am). I had no real plan, I was just going to buy some stuff in the baking isle and make a final attempt.

I came home, Bill took the girls upstairs to play and I pulled this right out of my ass...

Not bad, huh? I took a big marshmallow (they were a bit stale--I found them in the pantry), sliced the end off of it, formed it into an oval and pinched the ears with my fingers. I added the eyes and nose (they are those flat sprinkles) with frosting as the glue and pink gel as the bow. I tried to do the whiskers, but they looked weird. When Lana saw them, she was SO excited! She said, "Mom, if you take a picture of this and you put it on the internet, you are going to be famous!" Too funny.

The party itself was fine, crazy as expected, but I have wonderful friends who helped me get set up and cleaned up after. I wish I could just learn to chill and enjoy myself, but yeesh--the chaos, the noise...oh man.

Here is the birthday girl enjoying her party. She looks kinda pale and sleepy--turns out she was battling a virus, what we have affectionately (or not) termed, "the swollen gland disease". It turned out to be nothing except a really big swollen gland that resolved on its own, but thanks to the pediatrician, we were freaking out that it was something much scarier. Anyway, here she is...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Her major award

Lana's school has an end of the year BBQ at a local park. Its a potluck kind of thing and the kids have a huge playground for burning energy. Each year the school raffles off the ginormous baskets of goodies. Each class donates items around a theme, so there was an art basket, an outdoor fun basket, a family game night basket, etc. The parents are pretty generous, so you can imagine that these baskets are pretty amazing. The teachers spend all week explaining the concept of a raffle--that there are only 6 baskets and 60 families--so you might be disappointed if you don't win, etc. Last year, there were many tears after the raffle (Lana was one of them), so this year we talked a lot about it and that we would buy some tickets, but we probably won't win.

So there we are, at the BBQ and they get to the much-coveted art basket and they call Lana's name! She just sat there--like a statue. They repeat her name, looking around for her. She sat, still as a statue. Finally, I called for Lana to stand up already! She did and accepted her HUGE basket of art supplies, which was bigger than she was--she could barely walk with it and to say she was excited is a gross understatement.

The whole ride home, she said--"I can't believe I won the art basket. I can't believe I won the art basket." Over and over again, like 100 times. When we got home, she tore into it, like its Christmas morning (which is why I have no photo) and I had to rip her away from the crafting to go to bed.

The next day, she says, "Mom, what if Miss Y read the wrong name on the ticket and I didn't really win the art basket after all. What if its all a big mistake and the name on the ticket was a different name that begins with L." After a giggle and some reassurance, she went right back to work, creating and drawing and making a holy hell of a mess of glitter.

I thought it was so funny that Lana acted like she won an academy award and that it was so amazing that she felt like she didn't even deserve it, like the honor should have gone to someone else. Its also funny that something like winning a raffle is like a MAJOR thing when you are 5. I mean, we all buy raffle tickets and then don't even give it a second thought because really its nearly impossible to win and if you do, its just dumb luck. For her, this was something she will remember for a very long time. I love the innocence of childhood.