Monday, May 30, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

In Memory of Jamie
The weekend didn't turn out exactly as expected, but a weekend's still better than, well, weekdays, so I'll take it.  I had planned to take the kid to an art festival on Saturday, but the weather was too iffy.  It was a lakefront affair and I knew the wind would make the festival seem significantly less festive.  So, I went with Plan B.  I had some free passes to a jumpity-jump place, so I called A's friend and as luck would have it, she was free.  So, I took both girls out to lunch and then to the inflatables place. I'm not used to having two six-year-olds in my back seat, that's for sure.  Also, who was it that coined that saying about "sugar and spice?"  Those two burped and farted their way all through lunch.

On Saturday evening, I drove to my friend Kathy's house.  Her Boxer died a few days ago.  I pulled Jamie out of a shelter in 2000. She was around two years of age then. Jamie was the unofficial canine matriarch of our rescue organization.  A few of us decided to have a little "night of remembrance." Kathy lives about 100 miles from me so I usually spend the night at her house when we have one of our get-togethers.  So, I packed my bag and headed down.  Kathy's friend Rita also joined us.  We went out to dinner and then headed to a bar.  I thought we were headed back to Kathy's house, but I thought wrong. I should point out that Kathy and Rita are a couple decades older than I am, but I can barely keep up with them.  The bar was having a karaoke contest.  Some of the singers were actually pretty good, although I have to say that there's really no excuse for country music, no matter how great the singer is. I had "Friends in Low Places" stuck in my head for two days after that. About halfway through, Rita went to the bathroom and came back with a new round of drinks and a round of shots. We'd also indulged at the restaurant before we got there. I wouldn't say I was plowed, but I was "happy." We spotted a chick who was wearing an ill-fitting strapless red top and I leaned over to Kathy and said, "I'd never wear that and really, I have spectacular cleavage."  Obviously this is not the sort of remark I'd normally slip into a conversation unless there was vodka involved, which there was.

I drove back home on Sunday afternoon.  Again, I had plans to take A to a festival (a different one) but the weather forecast leaned heavily towards rain (and the dark clouds seemed to back that up).  I asked the kid what she wanted to do and she, of course, started blathering on about Chuck E. Cheese.  I did have a bunch of coupons for free tokens, so I agreed. We ended up running into my brother-in-law and his family there, so the kid was able to play with her cousin. By the time we were ready to leave, A and I had over 700 tickets which, predictably, was still only enough to qualify us for a very narrow selection of absolute crap.  After that, we went to a garden store to buy annuals and then stopped at a park on the way home. The storm broke while we were at the park, so I was glad I hadn't attempted the festival. After the storm passed, I asked the kid if she wanted to help me plant some petunias by the mailbox.  "I guess I have time for that," she responded. Seriously?

On Monday morning, I headed to yoga.  It was nice to have the luxury of getting in a work-out in the morning. Generally, on weekday mornings, my boss kind of prefers that I come to work. After that, the kid and I met my sister-in-law and my niece for lunch at Panera Bread. We then took the girls to a jumpity-jump place (not the same one as on Saturday, though). A and her cousin only burst into tears half a dozen times, so we considered the outing a success.

As the holiday weekend winds down, I'm busy re-typing stuff that I would have if only I had backed it up. The kid is in the other room and has set up a "Hello Kitty" store.  She is charging me to buy my own stuff from her.  She also instructed me that I'm supposed to walk up and wait for her to ask, "How may I help you?" and I am required to say, "Yes, please, I'd like some juice." And then she will hand me my Sobe Lifewater drink that I just bought at the grocery store on Friday. Isn't there something in the Declaration of Independence or maybe the Constitution about "you don't have to pay for your shit twice?"  Maybe I'm confusing it with the whole "no taxation without representation" deal. Anyway, bottoms up, I guess!  I raise a toast to Miss Jamie, one of the best dogs ever.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Tornadoes criss-crossed parts of the country yesterday, leaving massive destruction in their wake. My friend Susie lost virtually everything. She lives in a suburb of Oklahoma City.  My sister (and her family) and my mom live about an hour from the city. Fortunately, they are all fine.

I met Susie through Babycenter years ago. We both have May 2005 kiddos.  We also have adoption in common, as her little "la princesa" (her second child) was adopted from Guatemala. Whenever I visit my family in Oklahoma, I also visit Susie and her clan.  In November, we all went to the science museum together. Susie not only brought snacks for her kids, she brought snacks for my daughter and my sister's offspring as well. That's just the kind of person she is.

I was shaken earlier today to learn that Susie and Mark have lost their home, Mark's truck, and, I would imagine, all sense of safety and peace.  In her typical "glass is half full" style, Susie sent me a text earlier today telling me not to worry.  They are just so relieved that they and their children made it out in time. I feel so far away and helpless. They are getting lots of help from their church and do have temporary lodging.

These images of their home have stuck with me all day. I've decided to stop bitching about my crashed hard drive now.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

That crashing noise you heard . . .

. . . was my hard drive. It died on Saturday. Or was taken in the Rapture. It's hard to say. All I know is that the computer worked when I left the house Saturday morning but that it was proudly sporting the blue screen of death when I got home in the afternoon. In between, my other half had attempted to do some of his geek stuff (I think he is logging all of his comic books or something) and apparently that was the straw that broke the hard drive's back. In all honesty, though, the computer had been acting squirrely for a while and the writing was on the wall, so to speak. It was over six years old.

Now, you may be thinking, "Hey, Claudia, don't you do computer stuff for a living? You probably had everything backed up, right?"  Well, I do but I didn't. I had some stuff backed up, but not everything. It's one of those things where you always think, "As soon as I get some time . . . " I'm mostly worried about the files for the rescue. I brought my computer to work and handed it over to a technician. I happen to know that he has a penchant for Gardetto's so I have offered to buy him FULL-SIZED bags if he can retrieve any of my data. I think you'll agree that's a pretty sweet deal.

In the meantime, we sucked it up and bought a new computer. It was definitely not in the budget and our Best Buy card took a hit, but it had to be done. We got a laptop this time around.  We have wireless internet set up in our house so we figured it would be nice not to be tethered to the desk and whatnot. Now I'm just waiting to hear if I can get access to any of my old stuff.  If I can't, I'll weep silently and then start recreating the files I use for adoption packets and such. The hardest part will be recreating financial records.  I backed up Microsoft Money (which has the rescue's finances and our personal stuff) a couple months ago, so I'll probably have to re-enter all of those transactions.  But again, I'll live.

Speaking of the Rapture, P and I went out that night to celebrate our anniversary. We've been married 14 years, together 19 years. The kid kept telling me that I had to wear high heels on the date. I told her that her dad doesn't take me anywhere that nice.  I did wear wedge heels and she seemed mildly disappointed.  We started out by heading to a hotel bar (which sounds like a lame idea except that it is a trendy sort of joint with hip mixed drinks).  We had a couple beverages and ate some hummus. Then we headed to a used book/coffee shop to hear a bluegrass band play. For whatever reason, I have no love for country music but adore bluegrass. Love me some fiddle! After that, we went to a brewpub and split some soggy nachos. Finally, we met up with some friends at a different bar. We felt pretty adventurous, hitting four different establishments and all.  We would've stayed out later except that we were paying a babysitter and were running out of cash.

So, that is all the news from here. As soon as I stop freaking out over my data issues, I'll try to post something more coherent.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Nice one

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in a meeting with a group of Franciscan nuns.  They need a new website and well, that's what I do for a living. I'm a project manager for a web development company. There were five nuns in the meeting, as well as their marketing person and a sales rep from my company.

Now, I'm sure it goes without saying that the nuns were as nice as the day is long. For a group of grey-haired ladies, they are actually pretty progressive when it comes to websites and technology and the like. However, they did have a lot to say and the meeting was nearly two hours long. I have the attention span of a gnat. I occupied myself with taking notes, watching someone mow the lawn outside the conference room, and fiddling with my new necklace. I picked up this necklace last weekend. It's very simple - just a turquoise ball (about the size of a small grape) on a chain. Somehow, I fiddled with it so much that I released the clasp. I felt the chain slide off my neck.  But where was the pendant?

I surreptitiously patted my lap and the seat of my chair. Nope. Was it on the floor? It didn't seem like the best time to fling myself under the conference table and look for it.  So, I casually put the chain in my pocket and carried on. The nuns were talking about some sort of shrine and whether they should mention it on the website. They were afraid to get too many calls about it. The secretary nun said that someone called the other day and asked her if the Virgin spoke French or English. The other nuns got a hearty laugh out of that.

I could not stop thinking about my missing pendant.  Finally, I waited until I thought no one was looking at me and glanced straight down. Indeed, the turquoise ball was wedged in my cleavage. Nice. What to do, what to do?  I opted to leave it there for the moment, as it did not seem like a good idea to dig around in my bazooms while sitting in a room full of nuns.  I mean, seriously, does this sort of thing happen to anyone else but me? I seem to be a pro at it. When the meeting ended and everyone stood, there was a flurry of activity and chatter so I quickly reached in, scooped out the pendant, and tossed it in my pocket with the chain.  

So, that was my Thursday. I'm sure I should learn some sort of lesson from it all, but I have no idea what. The day went from bad to worse when I got home.  It was a beautiful day, so the kid and I went to the park. She rode her big wheel and I rollerbladed. All went fine until we headed back home. My daughter is not what you'd call the daredevil sort. There is a hill on the way back and she is terrified of going down a hill, so she sat on the big wheel and "walked" down the hill Fred Flintstone style instead of pedaling. Towards the bottom of the hill, she started to pedal again, but for some reason she pushed both feet outward and . . . the wheel flew off.  The plastic actually broke.  So, she sat and cried and said maybe her daddy could fix it. She must have been thinking of some other daddy because the one who lives in our house is lucky to fix a sandwich. I took off my rollerblades (fortunately I'd brought flip-flops) and carried the pieces of her big wheel home (along with my skates and the water bottle we'd brought to the park).

Later, I gave her a bath, she got soap in her eyes, and she screamed like a banshee for half an hour.

The only bright spot yesterday was that I found this drawing in her bedroom.  For some reason I just thought it was cute. You can click on it to get a detailed view if you'd like. The drawing portrays Rapunzel as a young child.  She is playing golf while a cat slides down her hair. She is also very patriotic.  I'm sure none of this required any explanation because no doubt we all know what an avid golfer Rapunzel is.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We're in what?

I'll just come out and say it: I was mad. Hopping mad.  Here's why:

It was Monday evening. I came home from work and did the following (some items were actually done simultaneously):
  1. Emptied my daughter' backpack.
  2. Fed the dogs.
  3. Fed the cat.
  4. Took a load of laundry out of the dryer and brought it upstairs to fold/sort/put away.
  5. Made dinner (black bean quesadillas).
  6. Made my daughter's lunch for the following day.
  7. Cleaned the toilets.
  8. Washed the dinner dishes, including the griddle on which I'd made the quesadillas.
Meanwhile, my other half played poker online. The kid wanted him to come outside and push her on her tree swing (it's the disk kind where you sort of wrap your legs around the rope and balance yourself, so it's hard for her to maneuver on her own). He told her he would be right out.  She sat on the swing for a while, singing to herself (I was keeping an eye on her through the window), and finally he went out there to give her a push.

Ninety seconds later, they came back inside. "She fell off the swing and doesn't want to swing anymore."  I was highly suspicious. P grabbed the remote control and pulled up Netflix so that the kid could watch Strawberry Shortacke. I gritted my teeth and then . . . I lost it.

"Okay, for starters, you guys were only outside for a minute or two.  Also, I was watching something."  I had been watching a show on the DVR as I folded the laundry.

He fired back: "I thought you were going to the gym! If I'd known it was going to take you this long, I would've mowed the lawn!"

He always claims that I am somehow preventing him from doing things around the house. He can't stain the deck because I put a plastic chair on it. He can't fix the back door because "it will just get that way again."

I took a deep breath. "I would love to go to the gym but I am too busy folding your underwear and scraping cheese off your dinner plate!"

Just then, a little voice piped up from the couch.  "Guys! You're in love! You don't have to fight!"

I opened my mouth to say something. I had quite a few points I wanted to make to my other half. Instead, I spun on my heel and walked out of the living room. I thought I might start laughing and I was too mad to laugh. I finished my chores and grabbed my gym bag.  Just then, a miracle happened. My husband said this to me:

"I'm sorry, she's right. I just had a bad day at work."

You see, he is required by his DNA (passed straight to him by his father, who was God's gift to knowledge) never to be wrong about anything. So, this was a rare admission indeed. I nodded and headed to the gym.

I guess it was one of those "out of the mouths of babes" moments. Next week we celebrate 14 years of marriage (and on June 6th we'll have been together 19 years). And apparently, we're in looooooove.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Further proof that I've lost my mind

I submit to you the following:

1. On Thursday night, I went to the gym. I did 45 minutes on one of the elliptical machines. The row of machines faces a wall of TV screens. I generally listen to my iPod and just sort of glance at E! or the History Channel periodically. They also have a Spanish channel playing at all times, so it wouldn't matter it I could hear that one or not. Anyway, I finished my workout and climbed down, taking my water, towel, and iPod with me. I grabbed a gym-supplied spray bottle and towel off a nearby ledge so that I could clean my stank off the machine.  I turned around and . . . had no earthly idea which elliptical I'd just been on. Nary a clue. No one else was on the ellipticals at that time so I didn't have a "two machines down from the guy who wears spandex bike shorts" landmark to work from. There are about a dozen machines in the row.  I approached the one I thought I might have been on and touched the handles to see if they might be warm. Nope. I tried the one to the right of that one. No dice. Gah!  I looked up at the television screens. Had I been watching from this angle? Or maybe this one? There were two or three people on the treadmills behind me, and I'm sure they were enjoying my little investigation immensely.  Finally, I gave up and cleaned two of the elliptical machines just for the hell of it. I then collected my gym bag and my pride and slunk out the door.

2. I keep opening Google to look something up and then have no recollection of what I needed to find. Seriously, I do it at least once a day.

3. Yesterday I worked at a fundraiser for the rescue.  We held it at a local veterinary clinic.  We had a bake sale, raffle, food, etc. About halfway through the event, I needed to use the restroom. I had been to the clinic a couple times in the past so I had a basic idea of where the restroom was. After I was done, I sold a few raffle tickets and then chatted with one of my fellow volunteers. "I almost used the men's room earlier," she said. "I didn't see the sign at first."

"Oh, um, there's a men's room?"  I guess I thought there was just one restroom. So yes, I had just peed in the men's restroom.  This actually explained a few things once I found out, though.

In other news, I have to show you my favorite Mother's Day gift. I'm gonna wear this shirt all summer, ya'll.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Up with Summer!

I am so glad the school year is almost over. Sure, we have to pay more for childcare over the summer, but I won't have to worry about packing lunches and sorting through a backpack o'crap every day. At least I was able to stop packing (and repeatedly washing) the kids's snowpants a couple weeks ago. What was I thinking, buying her light pink snowpants? I don't know why the backpack job is exclusively mine, but it is. Every day I have to dig out a half-eaten lunch (funny how the dessert is always gone, though), locate whatever she smuggled to school that day (usually a zooble or a Barbie), and sort through all of the paper, library books, guided reading books, and so forth. For art projects, I either post them on the refrigerator or put them in a plastic storage tote (I expect to have at least a dozen of these by the time she graduates, depending on how much art she does in high school). For worksheets and such, I (gasp!) recycle them. Then we have scenes like this:

(at dinner the other night)

P: What did you do at school today?

A: I did a word search about dolphins. Mommy, show the paper to Daddy.

Me: Ummm . . .

A: Mom! You threw away my work?!

For the last 26 days of the school year, the kids are focusing on a different letter of the alphabet each day. Wednesday was hat day (H, in case you missed the connection) so she represented the Corps in all its purple finery. P got her this hat at the USMC museum in Quantico a couple years ago, but it only just now fits her noggin. Today was jeans day, which went over like the proverbial lead balloon - she is holding firm on her dresses-only policy. She has a lot of her own policies, now that I think about it. Her husband will be a lucky, lucky man.

Anyway, yes, my wee one has nearly finished Kindergarten. It's hard to believe, but there it is. I'm planning to make sure she keeps reading all summer. Now that she can read so well, some of the books she brings home are actually pretty funny (certainly an improvement over the one-word-per-page toddler books we were reading a couple years ago). "Don't Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus" actually made me laugh out loud ("Your mom would let me!").

We do have lots of plans for the summer, as usual. We're headed to Northern Virginia in July to visit my family. We may have to sell our very souls to afford the gas, but we're going for it. Here's hoping the kid's new DS keeps her occupied for oh, 16 consecutive hours or so. In August, we're headed to my friend's cabin for a week or so. My wee baby sister says she is coming for a visit in August.  She has two sons, 16 months apart, and another child on the way. I do not know if they will survive the drive. My sister refers to her sons as "The Murder Club" because they spend most of their waking hours trying to kill each other. Should be a fun visit!
Other than that, there will be lots of festivals, the state fair, the county fair, farmers' markets (kettle corn!), pet expos, and whatever else we can find. We talked about teaching A to ride her bike with no training wheels. She refuses to hear it. To her, this was akin to suggesting that she eat a green vegetable or that she put her underwear down the laundry chute voluntarily. In fact, she hasn't ridden her new bike once. She's pretty content to ride "Pinky," a Big Wheel given to her by a friend of mine. As for me, I'll be on my Craigslist bike again this summer. A girl's gotta find some way to work off all that kettle corn.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

What is THAT doing in my house?

My daughter came home from school with this monstrosity on Friday. She proudly loaded it into the van when I picked her up from Kindercare.

"Where did you get that?" I asked.

"From the book fair," she replied.

Here's the thing:  I didn't give her any money to spend at the school's book fair. The reason for this one-time failure to support my child's education is that I already order books from the Scholastic book club all the time. The kid has a gazillion books. I really need to get her a library card. I guess it is the English major in me that likes to own books so that I can make notes in them, fold pages, go back to them for reference, etc. But really, that habit is getting to be fairly impractical.

Whenever she brings home one of the Scholastic book forms, I tell her to circle the books she'd like to have. Generally, the ones she picks are crap . . . Barbie, iCarly, and so forth.  So, I typically order one piece of crap and then order one or two of the classic books I think she really needs.  I love to see her reading some of the books I loved as a child, such as "Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse."

Anyway, I guess the teachers took all of the students through the book fair last week so that they could each make a list of the books they'd like to buy. A came home with the usual list of suspects, so I ignored it. So,  I was surprised when she came home with this poster.

"I didn't give you any money for the book fair," I said. "Did you win it or something?"

(Pausing) "Yes, I . . . won it."  (Cue Jon Lovitz!)

"How did you win it?"

"Can I have a snack when we get home?"

Then she started blathering on about Justin Bieber because, you see, she is an expert.  Here is the extent of her knowledge: "A lot of people think his name is Justin Beaver, Mom, but it's actually Justin BIEBER." She also pointed out that he is "handsome and a good singer."

Yes, my daughter is a Bieber-lover and . . . possibly a kleptomaniac.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The future is now

Revelation: my daughter will graduate high school in the year 2023.  When you were a kid, didn't you picture 2023 as, you know, a time when the Jetsons would be zipping around with jet-packs on their backs and whatnot?  I just need to get that hover conversion for my mini-van and I'll be all set. Just the thought of 2023 makes me feel extraordinarily old. I mean, I took TYPING in high school, for crying out loud. On a TYPEWRITER! I owned ALBUMS (and not in a hip, retro sense as part of the supposed vinyl comeback going on currently - I owned albums because that was the only choice we had). The hippest gadget I ever owned was a Walkman.

Speaking of gadgets, we got the kid a hot pink Nintendo DSi for her birthday. Don't worry - we're planning to leave our Best Buy credit card balance to her in our will. She received birthday money from her grandparents and great-grandmother, so we let her buy some DS games. (As a side note, these people - family members who have known me for 41 years - sent her a total of $160 for her birthday and I was lucky to get a kick in the shins on my birthday, but whatevs!) In addition to the Barbie/Princess/Ballerina games, she got a cats and dogs game, where she apparently takes care of some animals (even though she cannot even be bothered to feed our living cat at home). She meant to name her cyber cat "Pretty" and typed "Petty" instead. At first P and I couldn't figure out why she'd given the kitty such a disparaging moniker.

The DSi also has a camera on it, in addition to umpteen other features and functions - including the ability to connect to the internet. By the way, someone in our neighborhood has a wireless network called Megadeth_666.  I'm either really impressed or really frightened.  Anyway, back to the camera.  As the kid and I were waiting in line at the post office on Wednesday, she took a photo of my arse and then used the distortion lens to stretch it farther than it already goes. Then she used some sort of mirror tool that created repeating versions of my back end.  She showed it to me, laughed uproariously, and then saved the image for all time into a digital photo album on the DSi. All of this without even attempting to read the manual that came with the toy.

Honest to God, whatever happened to drawing a stick figure version of your mom on this:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Now We are Six

When I was One,
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three
I was hardly me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five,
I was just alive.
But now I am Six,
I'm as clever as clever,
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.
- A.A. Milne
To my beautiful, smart, funny, joyous baby girl,
Today is your sixth birthday!  You have been talking about your birthday since, well, your last birthday. We threw a party for you on Saturday. You had so much fun running around with your friends and showing off your snake-handling abilities. It amazes me that you are afraid to eat pasta that might possibly have broccoli in it, but you have no qualms about having a python around your neck.
Your dad and I are so proud of you - of all that you are and all that you are becoming. We often wonder what we did with ourselves before you came along. We can no longer remember what we did with our time or our money prior to May 3, 2005. We are not up on current events because the TV is always tuned to shows like "Phineas and Ferb." We can't recall what it is like to order a pizza with toppings more exotic than cheese. Everything revolves around you, and of course we wouldn't have it any other way. The other day you roped your dad into playing Pretty Pretty Princess with you.  He doesn't particularly love wearing the plastic jewelry (he was a Marine, after all), but he does it for you. He tends to do stuff with you around the house, whereas I am more inclined to take you out and about. Without you, my social life would be a lot less colorful. We go to festivals and any other special event we can find. Sometimes, we just share a pretzel at the mall or go to the park and swing side by side. We're always doing something, my bouncy sidekick and I. I take advantage of it while I can, because before I know it,  you'll be a teenager who finds everything I do embarrassing, including my habit of breathing oxygen.
But for now, you are very much a six-year-old. At work I have your artwork on my cubicle walls; my favorite is a handwritten sign that says "I love you! Mommy! You are cute!"  The biggest change from last year is that you can read now. You read like the wind - I've heard you fly through four-syllable words without batting an eye. You've learned so much in school this year. You spend a lot of time "in the yellow" because of your tendency to socialize during learning time, but you seem to have absorbed the lessons somehow.
We can see your personality developing more and more. You're starting to understand the mechanics of humor and the subtleties of sarcasm. You still manage to get me with the "Guess what? Chicken butt!" joke at least once a week. You're very bright and articulate. We really don't have to simplify anything when talking with you.
You are simultaneously independent and dependent.  Well, I don't know if dependent is the right word. It's more that you're generally unmotivated to do a lot of things for yourself. We still have to get you dressed most of the time because otherwise, we'd never get out of the house in the mornings. I've offered to start giving you an allowance if you'd like to begin doing a couple small chores around the house. You declined the offer.  Speaking of clothing, you still want to wear dresses and nothing else. Sometimes you imply that you may start wearing pants and I always fall for it and buy you a couple pairs at the start of a new season. Then you refuse to wear them.
Watching you grow up is bittersweet. On one hand, it's nice to be able to let you play in your bedroom by yourself for a little while without worrying that you're guzzling Windex or something. On the other hand, where is the toddler who just yesterday, it seems, was watching Baby Einstein, pooping in the tub, and trying to eat dog food?  Not a day passes that I don't still feel extraordinarily lucky to be your mom, even when you tell me that I "never take you anywhere and don't even love you" like you did last week. You've got a flair for the dramatic, we've noticed.  However, I would not change one thing about you - not your unruly Medusa curls or your habit of using half a million squares of toilet paper every time you pee. For as long as you'll let me, I'll continue to hold you tight and kiss your marker-streaked cheek as I tuck you into bed. And then, I'll breathe you in while you're sleeping, that sweet newborn scent not so very far away. 
Happy birthday, baby. I love you so very much.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


The party of the year has come and gone. I hereby proclaim that the event was a success.

I took Friday off to prepare for the birthday bash. We've had a lot of crappy weather lately, but Friday was picture perfect.  I got up, made the first batch of cupcakes, and then went to yoga class.  After making a second batch of cupcakes, I took myself to lunch.  I was pretending to be a "lady of leisure" for the day. My friend Stephanie helpfully pointed out that I'm no lady. When it comes to friends, I am just . . . blessed.

As I was baking the cupcakes, I lined them up so that I could keep track of how many I'd made. I kept a close eye on them all day, but eventually had to leave them unattended so that I could blow-dry my hair. Moments later, I was missing one vanilla cupcake and one chocolate one (both unfrosted). There are three Boxers in my home and all looked equally guilty but unapologetic.  Those mofos ate the paper and everything. Chocolate is bad for dogs, so I hope the guilty party was at least rewarded with a wicked bout of diarrhea or something.

As for the cupcakes, I baked plenty and I think they turned out pretty well.  A couple of friends had given me some tips on piping the frosting.  Once the cupcakes were done (and stored where the dogs could not get to them), I assembled the goodie bags and packed about eight million other things for the party. By the time Saturday rolled around, I was feeling a little punchy because at that point my other half's singular contribution to the party preparation was to ask why I'd invited so many kids.  Well, because our child is five and has been talking about her party non-stop at school, that's why. When she's older (and the filter that should exist between her brain and her mouth finally comes in off backorder), then we'll just invite her friends.

We ended up with a total of 23 kids at the party.  Quite a few never RSVPed, so I was worried a few of those would show up. Only one kid from that category came (and did not bring a gift - I mean, not that it matters but that is tacky, right? Can I get an amen?) I gave parents the choice of staying or leaving, and they left in droves (I can't blame them - I do the same thing when I take A to a birthday party). The adults who stayed were primarily relatives and family friends. The room we rented at the library worked out great. There was room for the kids to run around a little. One thing I didn't anticipate: boys are insane. I brought along a gator golf game to help keep the kids occupied.  Well, you can tell I am used to having a daughter because never in a million years did I predict that the boys would pick up the plastic golf clubs and beat each other with them.

My friend Cindy brought her reptilian entourage so we did that part first.  She says she is not good with kids but honestly, I beg to differ. She told the kids to sit in their seats and they did. Before bringing out any of the animals, she laid out the ground rules for the kids. The rules essentially consisted of, "Once you touch an animal, there will be no booger picking or finger sucking. Basically, don't touch any of the holes in your head. Or your neighbor's head."  Cindy then brought out some of the snakes and let the partygoers handle several of them. The birthday girl got to spend some quality time with her favorite ball python, Jesse. A tortoise named Matilda meandered around the room during the party. After the kids got to see all of the animals and touch most of them, they then did a craft - a "snake" made out of a paper chain.

After some more running around, we doled out the cupcakes and the kids sang "happy birthday" to my daughter. My other half did make himself useful at the party, directing kids to the restroom, handing out Chex mix, etc.  Finally, we had the gift opening. Another difference between boys and girls: the boys don't give a rip about presents. The girls created a little swarm around my daughter, very anxious for the gifts they brought to be opened, and just very excited in general. The boys ran around the room, smacking each other with balloons and golf clubs. I'm pretty sure most of them had no earthly idea what was in the gift bags their moms made them bring.

Finally, the festivities were over. No one was bleeding and the tortoise had not managed to escape the library, so we chalked it all up to success.  I took Cindy out to dinner to thank her for all the hard work.  Now, 24 hours later, P and I are still liberating toys from packages (really, it's necessary to staple Barbie's hair to the cardboard backing?).  Me so tired. The things we do, I tell you.


You didn't have one of these at your kid's party, did ya?
Lieutenant Dan has a broken back and uses a lego wheelchair to get around.