Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cakes and Parties and Three-Year-Olds, Oh My!

This exhausted chica needs to get herself to bed, but first I wanted to hop on quickly to share some photos from Lucy's birthday week. Her actual birthday was on Wednesday - cupcakes for breakfast, presents after school/work, and dinner out. And her birthday party was on Saturday, at a local park with a picnic shelter I was able to reserve through the county park system. We eyed the weather from the moment the 10-day forecast was in range - it went from sunny and 75, to cloudy-ish in the 60's, to the low 50's with a 50% chance of rain. Things were not looking good, but luckily the rain held off until just after the party, and the temperature was just cold enough to let the kids feel comfortable running all over the place (as opposed to the super hot they normally get as they burn off their enviable stores of energy).

Did everything go perfectly? No, of course not. And I wish I wasn't rushing around like a crazy person trying to MAKE everything perfect - I need to get better at accepting that perfection, aka the meticulously detailed over-the-top events you can find on any lifestyle blog, is not really "perfect." All the time and effort that one has to put into the littlest of details may make for pretty photos, but it doesn't allow for much quality time with the ones that matter most, in this case, the birthday girl. So I went with a lot of store-prepared food, we were light on decorations, and there were no homemade touches in the favors. But I'm more than OK with that, in retrospect, and I'm thinking that next time I throw a party for one of my kids, I'll outsource even more.

Though it was kind of fun making the cake. In a weird, masochistic way.

Here is Lucy getting a glimpse of her main birthday present from us - bedding to go on her new big girl bed. Including Princess sheets, as she has been insisting that she have a "Princess" bed.

We needed a light we could plug in to the outlet connected to the light switch, which unfortunately is located right next to the only place we could put Lucy's bed. To get around the need for a table, we opted for a lantern that hangs from the ceiling - I think it looks pretty cute!

This picture of the "other side" of her room gives you a sense of how tiny her room is!

This cake... Oh, how I slaved over this cake. I baked the top layer on Tuesday, the bottom layer on Wednesday, put the "crumb" layer of frosting on the cake on Thursday, and finished frosting and decorating on Friday. A four day effort. My mixer may never recover. But awesome, right? I'm a little proud of myself.

BTW, the cake topper and princesses were ordered from

Ariel had crazy eyes.

The back looked, admittedly, a little wonky. Eh. You can't win 'em all.

The cake in position at the party.

The birthday girl blowing out her candles.

Happy face.

Eating the frosting. Because that's all she ate, of course, as usual.

Four days of effort, and after ten minutes of cake slicing, it looked like this.

The party favors - little goodies stuffed into beach buckets. Would have been a bit more "on theme" if the weather wasn't quite so wintry.

Finn had a great time running ALL OVER THE PLACE.

I made this banner. Lots of cutting, gluing, swearing. And that was BEFORE it got all tangled up. Untangling it and hangin it was a three-man effort, and it didn't go up until about 20 minutes after the official start of the party. But now that it's made, you can be damn sure I'll be bringing this thing out for every single birthday until she's at least 18. I may make her bring it with her to college, so much effort did I put in to this thing.

THREE! My baby is three.

But she still fell asleep on my lap tonight as I rocked her in her bedroom rocking chair. Even though she barely fit, I still have that, for a little bit longer.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I Need to Stop Typing and Just Publish This Already!

Alright, let's see if I can get us all caught up. I've had about 16 different posts I've mentally composed over the last two weeks, but I keep letting myself get swayed by all the programming we have on our DVR and watching TV at night instead of blogging. Hopefully I can shove everything into one stupidly long post to get over this hump of laziness.

Let's see, the last time I wrote was about St. Patrick's Day weekend, over a month ago. The next weekend, Lucy and I took a little road trip to Philadelphia to visit my very good friend Jen, her husband Daniel, and their 8-month-old daughter Carmen. I brought Lucy with me because I thought she would have fun, and I felt like she was finally old enough where something like this is possible. And I was right - she did GREAT on the car rides (thank god for DVD players), she loved entertaining Carmen, and she even slept pretty well. I tried her in Carmen's crib at first, but she balked at that, and ended up sharing the air mattress with me. She went to sleep on her own, and when I came up later to hit the hay, she was hogging the whole bed. And continued to do so the entire night. But I didn't mind - it was nice having her snuggled up next to me.

Some photos from Philly (finally, Jen!):

Carmen and Jen

Isn't this one of the cutest faces you've ever seen?

I mean seriously, I could eat this child up.

Or these cupcakes. Did I mention we had cupcakes?

Lucy was a fan of the cupcakes.

Daniel - his enchilada-making skills are unparalleled.

We tried for a quick "photo shoot" with the kiddos in the morning, just before Lucy and I left.

No one sat still, per se, but I'm sure their way was more fun.

I have absolutely no memory of what we did the weekend after that (April Fool's Day weekend). So on to the next one! Which was my birthday weekend!

I turned 35. I am considering whether or not this will be the year I cease aging. I thought it would be 29, but here I am, still admitting my age. So we'll see.

My birthday was actually on a Friday, and I was determined to make it a nice day. I was scheduled to work from home, which is always nice. No showering necessary! But then I went for a run around lunch time, and managed to wipe out on the sidewalk. Not as bad as the fall I took last summer, but  not exactly fun, either. I scraped up both knees and the palms of both of my hands. Oh, and I bent back my left thumbnail which - ouch. I limped home muttering "this is NOT ruining my day" repeatedly, dripping blood from various body parts.

I cleaned myself up and finished out the work day, and was pleasantly surprised by M., who came home from work early. We picked up the kids, went out for pizza, and then came back home where I was showered with gifts, cards, and cake. Not that the evening was totally pleasant, since the kids were kind of a-holes while we were out to dinner. But whatever, they're kids, they don't know any better, right?

The next evening we had our babysitter come over, and M. took me out to Volt for dinner. It's a restaurant run by a Top Chef finalist in Frederick, MD, and it's one of those places that has been on my list of "things to do before we leave the area" for a while now. It was every bit as fascinating, pretentious, good, and expensive as I thought it would be. The dinner itself took over two and a half hours, with many courses and lots of ingredients I had never heard of. Also, I feel like I should point out that I had a hard time finding the bathroom. It's like the doors were hiding from me.

Rather than heading out to grab a drink afterward, which was our original plan, we went home to stuff Easter baskets. Because while we may not give the kids much in the way of a religious upbringing, we sure as hell participate in all the fun pagan parts of these Christian holidays. So eggs were stuffed and hidden, and baskets were filled with little toys and goodies. Finn was up early, of course, though he managed to walk right past his Easter basket on his way up to our bedroom without even noticing it. It took some convincing to get Lucy to wake up, and then it was game time. These kids, they are professional egg hunters. They had gotten some practice at daycare a couple days earlier, and there was no fooling them. Even the cleverly-hidden eggs were discovered by the time breakfast was over.

After appropriately decadent amounts of sugar and chocolate were consumed, we all headed out to a park to enjoy the beautiful day. We capped the day off by eating lunch out and ordering Lucy a twin-sized mattress for her birthday (more on that shortly). Some pics of the day:

When did these kids get so big?

An Easter basket gift. Finn was convinced it wasn't supposed to be Yoda because the green is the wrong shade. It took some convincing that yes, the Easter Bunny gave him a Yoda doll (with accompanying gumballs).

Spinning around at the park.

Not long after this, Finn had to take a little "break" because all the spinning got to be a bit too much for his stomach...

Actively trying not to have her picture taken.

We are getting closer to being up to date, I swear. So, a few days after Easter weekend/My Birthday Weekend, we picked up Lucy's new mattress. Now, to set the stage, Lucy has been in a crib all this time. We asked her at one point when she thought she'd be ready for a big girl bed, and she told us she'd be ready when she was three. Well, now she's almost three. In three days, she'll be three, in fact. So we had to get ready to make good on our promise to get her a big girl bed. And like Finn, we decided to skip the toddler bed option, and move right to the twin sized mattress and box spring instead.

The mattress and box spring were stuffed into our SUV on a Wednesday, and as suspected, Lucy didn't want to wait until her birthday to put that bed in action. So down came the crib, and up went the bed. We threw some extra sheets of Finn's on the bed for now, until we can give her room a proper "big girl bed welcome/redecoration" (coming as part of her birthday presents). She was super excited (actually, both kids were pretty excited), and the evening went off without a hitch - she fell asleep fine, and has yet to fall out of the bed (knock on wood).

Sleeping Beauty herself, later that night.

And that same night I had a dream I was pregnant (true story). Guess my uterus was a little unsettled with all this big kid stuff, with taking down the crib (and later, taking it to the dump! Yes, it is completely gone! Now we can officially never, ever have another kid).

And in other big kid news, Finn had orientation for Kindergarten last week. Gasp. I felt seriously weird being in a school not as a student, but as a parent. I kept feeling like the teachers and principals had, like, authority over me or something. But they were smiling at me and clearly trying to impress me and OMG I'm a MOM! Of a kid who is going to go to SCHOOL. Like, real school. This is odd to me. I feel like high school was just a few years ago, and yet there I was, getting information on joining the friggin' PTA. I may not be entirely ready for this. Thank god Finn is.

On a serious note, the school seemed wonderful. I have no concerns with it AT ALL, and I am very grateful for that.

I think we are now (mostly) caught up. There is a new home improvement snafu we've run in to that I could detail (in replacing a bathroom light fixture, we found out the original fixture was lacking an electrical box. Just, wires coming out of a hole in the wall. Can someone school me in how it is normal in any kind of lighting situation to just NOT have an ELECTRICAL BOX?) that is involving the typical layers of complications we always seem to run into whenever we try to DIY something. There's the new grill we bought yesterday, and these awesome BBQ sandwiches I insisted M. make on it tonight even though it was poring out. There is the party we are planning for Lucy's birthday, and the CAKE that we are making ourselves (M. insisted). This will not be a "Duncan Hines mix in two 8X8 pans as a layer cake" deal - we bought specialty pans and cake topper things. I'm researching things like heating cores and even baking strips and stuff that I never knew existed until about 5 minutes ago. I'm a bit frightened, actually. There is also the banner I am making for said party because of fucking Pinterest and it's hordes of beautiful, wonderful, totally impractical ideas. And in the process I am reminded that I am NOT crafty. It took me all day Saturday to cut out enough letters to spell out HAPPY BIRTHDAY LUCY out of patterned paper, and my right hand is now currently yelling at me from all the cutting I made it do. I kept making mistakes and had to recut about half of the letters as I was doing it, so what should have been only 17 letters was more like 25. And it's still not done. Martha Stewart I am not, that much is clear.

Also on the agenda is making cupcakes for Lucy's actual birthday to bring to school, cleaning up for the cleaning lady, making food for the party (the stuff that is NOT cake), buying the food for the party that I'm too lazy to make, putting Lucy's new bike together, finishing up the bathroom project before people come over the house, and adding the finishing touches to Lucy's bedroom makeover. Oh, and working. That has to happen, too. So if I don't check in on Lucy's actual birthday, here' s the link I would probably put up, the one to her birth story. It's probably silly, but I still go back and read that every once in a while. It's one of the best memories I have, such a wonderful, crazy day - the day that gave me my baby big girl.

Hopefully I'll be back soon to let you all know how it all turns out.