Saturday, January 14, 2012

Wherein I finally talk about birthdays.

WARNING: This post is going to be rather photo heavy.

We have a lot of birthdays in this family. Of course, this is to be expected when you have as many people in your family as we do (at last count, our personal calendar had 60+ family birthdays on it - that's not including any of the friends and coworkers who might make their way on there). We have a steady stream of them all year round, it seems, but fall and winter seem to be particularly heavy on the calendar. I blame New Year's (let's be honest: it's not a day well-known for the making of good decisions) and Lent (many in our family are Catholic ... and if you can work out my rationale behind that, then you have my sympathies). Jude celebrates in September, Scout's b-day is in October, and mine rolls around in January. Toss Thanksgiving and Christmas in the mix, and I've got myself a party to plan five months in a row, which is just the way I like it (and yes, I usually plan my own birthday party... and yes, I am pushing 30... and no, I don't care that I "shouldn't care" about my birthday anymore because I'm a "grown up" ... I care. I care very much).

Party planning, as many of you may not know, is an area of expertise for me. Picking themes, blowing up balloons, designing and/or making cakes, putting up decorations, planning menus, putting together favor bags ... I love it all. In 2010, when Scout turned 3, she wanted a "Peter Pan Pirate Party," so we dressed like pirates, went on a treasure hunt, walked the plank, passed the pirate parrot, listened to maritime music, ate Caribbean skewers, and drank grog (aka: root beer and ginger ale). She even had a little girly Jolly Roger on her ice cream cake. It was pretty much amazing. My biggest regret is that I wasted such an epic party on a three-year-old. She probably won't remember 90% of it by the time she's an adult.

Photographic proof that we are pretty much the best parents ever.

The pirate princess herself.

Of course we busted out the cannon at our three-year-old's birthday party. Didn't you?
What? You don't even have a cannon? What a sad life you must lead.

For Jude's first birthday party (earlier that year),we went to the zoo, and of course I made cupcakes for the occasion:

I might have stayed up until 1am the night before decorating these bad boys, but they sure were beautiful,
even after the sun made them a bit drippy.

Of course, after the epic bashes of 2010 (and Scout's equally-epic harvest-themed first birthday party, complete with hay ride and carved pumpkins spelling out her name), I had to aim high in 2011 to outdo myself. I have to hand it to my kids: they sure made it easy on me. Jude loves dogs. I mean LOVES dogs. He is madly in love with our dog Missy (who, to be honest, merely tolerates him). But his love is not limited to our dog. We see a dog anywhere, and he needs to pet it, talk to it, and otherwise love on it. So for his birthday this year, it was obvious that we needed to have ourselves a dog party. We sent invitations telling people to expect a "howling" good time. I made puppy chow, a pasta salad that looked an awful lot like Missy's dog food, hot dogs, and homemade corndogs and hush puppies. We served the food out of (new) dog dishes. B's mom made cookies shaped like dog bones. We made (and subsequently wore) dog ears and painted puppy faces. The kids got goody bags with "kibble" and puppy stickers and Scooby Snacks in them. There ended up not being any time for games, but we had planned for a rousing round of "Pass the Puppy" (basically a modified version of the aforementioned Pass the Pirate Parrot with "Who Let the Dogs Out" playing instead of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme). It was a great time.

Scout and her "Aunt" Kristi (who never misses a birthday, despite living in Virginia)
modeling their cute puppy ensembles.

I always make complicated cake orders (and have kids with weird names to boot), so I always dread delivery day, thinking I'll have to send pics to CakeWrecks ... but our local DQ always pulls them off flawlessly.

Hot dogs and hush puppies... no nutritional value,
but high in deliciousness.

Scout started planning for her birthday this year in August. She repeatedly told me that she wanted a "rainbow party ... and possibly also My Little Pony ... or Strawberry Shortcake." Sometime in the two months prior to the party, I introduced her to Friendship is Magic (I swear it's not just for kids!), and the party ideas came together to form the perfect storm: A Rainbow Dash Birthday Bash. We had rainbow EVERYTHING. Rainbow fruit skewers. Six different drinks. Tacos with the toppings arranged in rainbow order (tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, avocado, purple onion, etc.). Balloons. Everything. And our activity? Well, we tie-dyed, of course. What else would you do with a group of 2-6 year-olds at a rainbow party?

The birthday girl sporting her Rainbow Dash-esque hairpiece.

Drinks, plates, napkins, cups, silverware ... EVERYTHING was rainbow, you guys. We were not messing around.

The rainbow and the pony were made from hand-painted (by me) fondant.
Please also note that the candles are tie-dye. Because, seriously.

Oh,and did I mention that the cake was actually six different layers of color, so when you cut into it, it was AMAZING?

It would have looked about 20% cooler if I had used synthetic dyes, but Scout doesn't do Red#40 (yes,we are THOSE people),
so I had to use all natural dyes.

And of course we sent all of the kids home with crayons and Skittles.

So there's the birthday post I promised you several months ago. And then some. Let me know if you need some help with your kid's party (or your own for that matter - I'm not here to judge). I don't want to brag, but I am a veritable fount of party ideas. Sometimes I wonder if I'm in the wrong line of work...

I'll talk later this week about my own birthday. It seems slightly less exciting in comparison to all of these festivities; plus, I'm about out of energy for the night.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

An obligatory post of yearly goals

I'm a few days late to this party, but I heard once that "it" (whatever it is) is better late than never, which has long been a saving grace of mine because I am almost never on time for anything (case in point: the promised blog post "on Monday" back in October with pictures of Scout's Rainbow Dash party. I like to tell myself that the problem is that I am too busy actually living life to blog about it, but the fact is that I have too much TV to watch and not enough work ethic to do things most of the time). With that being said, here are some (a few are more personal and, frankly, none of your business, internet) of my goals for 2012...

[A brief sidenote on the difference between GOALS and RESOLUTIONS: RESOLUTIONS are things that are set in stone - "I resolve to do this..." - whereas GOALS are much more flexible - at least, I consider them to be. GOALS are plans, hopes, dreams, things to strive toward. RESOLUTIONS often involve a complete changing of habits that will require action day in and day out for the foreseeable future. GOALS are more like one-time deals. I'm rambling. I think/hope the difference will become clearer in the following list.]

  1. Keep a written record of each book I read. (Bonus points: Also keep a record of new movies I watch.) This way, I will be able to finally compile a year-end blog review like so many of my friends. Also, in my Type-A, grade-grubbing brain, I feel like this is a way to "prove" (To whom? you ask, not unreasonably. To everyone [but mostly myself], I quietly and shamefacedly mutter) that I have read all of the books I think I do in a given time period.
  2. Related to # 1: Read at least 24 books this year (audio books count, which is why I already have 1 under my belt - The Life of Pi .... don't bother).
  3. Blog AT LEAST once per week. Stop laughing, you guys. I can totally do this. Yes, I know that I'm hours shy of already failing in the first week, but I can change. I can totally change. I can totally do this.
  4. Lose at least 15 pounds. I know, I know. This one sounds shadily "New Year's Resolution"-ish, but ... that's because it sort of is. However, it's not the typical, abstract, "I need to lose 15 pounds" thing that everyone says on January 1st. I was on Weight Watchers for most of last year (technically... let's just say I paid membership dues for all of last year, but I might have, kind of, sort of, stopped going to the meetings sometime in May. I think I went to three meetings in the entire latter six months of the year. Sad, wasteful, true). Anyways, I was on WW (if in name only), and at first, I did awesome. I lost about 25 lbs. And then ... life happened. I was out of town; B was working so I couldn't go to the meetings; my meeting buddy wasn't able to go, and I didn't want to go alone; it had been too long and I couldn't just go back now; etc. As a result, my life at this time can be summed up in two e-cards. I've gained back at least 15 of the 25 formerly lost pounds. I have perpetual muffin top, even in my "fat" pants. I can't even look at my "skinny" clothes. I'm especially grateful for the unseasonably warm weather because I literally can't button my winter coat anymore. This is not a typical, "skinny girl complaining that she needs to lose 10 lbs" thing. This is an, "I can't fit into my current clothes without fear of explosion, and I can't afford to just go buy new ones, so something's gotta give" situation. So there. I may or may not have purchased an inordinate amount of produce and a box of tea that has not been verified by the FDA to actually boost my metabolism and limit my sugar cravings (it hasn't been verified by me on that one either - I'd kill a man for a chocolate chip cookie at this point).
  5. Actually open that Etsy store for all those crafts I make and then say, "I could totally sell this on Etsy if only..."
  6. Actually get the sweet Ravenclaw tattoo I've been talking about for months. I've already made some progress on this one. I called the tattoo parlor this evening about a consultation and possible straight up appointment! Merry Christmas and happy birthday to me! (I've even started combining my own Christmas and birthday presents. Hooray for early January birthdays.)
  7. Actually respond (or at least actually listen) to voicemails as I get them instead of four (or more) days later. This one is actually on my original, handwritten list as, "Be a better friend."
  8. Go on at least one date per month, as opposed to our current 2-4 per year (a combo of any/all - thought usually not all - of the following: Valentine's, birthdays, anniversary).
  9. If money ever cooperates and I can get a decent camera, start that YouTube channel I've been dreaming of forever.
Like I said, those are just a few of the goals; the rest are just between me and B and the Lord. So ... yeah. Expect to see a lot more of me in the coming year, in the form of blog posts, pics of my tat, and (hopefully, fingers crossed, oh I hope I hope I hope so...) even video. I'll aim to see you sometime in the next 168 hours. Maybe I'll finally post pictures of those birthday parties we talked about three months ago.