Sunday, December 4, 2011

Two Down, One to Go, Then We Get a Tree (Babble)

This is the point in the season where I remind myself to just breathe.  We’ve had Quinn’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Mona’s birthday….  Just Aden’s sleepover to go and I can finally concentrate on Christmas.  It would be so nice to spread out some of the festivities and parties and gifts over other parts of the year, but that’s just not how it works for us.  We have a month and a half that feels like an avalanche of wrapping paper and sugar and then the calendar looks like a desert until piddly things like Valentine’s Day or 4th of July show up.

Quinn just turned five.  Five!  And he seems older.  I mean, of course he’s older, but there is something less small and fragile about him now that feels new.  He’s taller and he moves like a bigger kid.  His toddler proportions are gone.  He still gloms onto me like the baby boy I’ve always known, but Quinn has crossed some threshold into a leaner more capable state of being that startles me sometimes.  Five just seems so grown up.
(Okay, so looking at that sweet face he doesn’t seem old.  But it seems old compared to this:
So I guess it’s all relative.) For his party this year Quinn invited kids from his class at school, and he wanted a chocolate cake that was silver with pink hearts on top and a candle in the shape of a 5.  I looked around the cake decorating section at Michael’s and found silver, edible spray paint, and sugar paper in different colors.  So I baked a basic chocolate cake layer cake with butter cream frosting, spray painted it, cut out hearts in various sizes, and let Quinn arrange them wherever he liked.  It came out just like he wanted, so we were both happy.
His party involved pizza, a hunt for paper candies redeemable for actual candies that kept the kids busy, and a game with balloons and a parachute that was just a thinly veiled excuse to bop balloons around until the parents returned to pick everyone back up.  All the kids looked sad to leave so that counts as a successful party.

Mona’s party was a bit more work and very loud.  My little girl is eight!  Wow.  She used to look like this:
And now she’s eight.  (And Aden is about to turn ten which is really kind of boggling my mind, but back to Mona….)

Mona wanted a fish theme, with a cake that looked like an aquarium.  This was easier than the dragon cake from last year, but I still had to think about it.  We ended up with four layers of sheet cake and lots of frosting, and Mona cut out all the fish and plants herself from sugar paper.  We used a bit of brown sugar along the bottom to look like sand, and Mona added details with some piping gel.  I finished it off with a little bit of leftover silver spray paint so it might look more like it was behind glass.

Mona’s party included a game where the kids got to hunt repeatedly for clams she’d made out of duct tape.  When anyone found a clam with his or her name inside they got to ‘fish’ in the fishing hole where Aden was waiting on the other side with a bag of prizes.  Everyone had a fish bowl that they could pile their prizes into, and Quinn, Ian, and Mona just kept hiding the same clams again and again until the party was over.  It was an easier game than actually trying to organize all those kids into doing something together, but it made all of them happy and kept them busily moving around.
(Mona’s friend Sammy busy fishing.)
Mona got some great gifts, including a big roll of yellow duct tape (which I always have trouble finding for her) and an optical illusion ornament from Ian’s mom that had everyone mesmerized.  Her big gift from us this year was we finally told her she could have a real fish.
We walked over to the neighborhood pet store after most of her guests had gone and she picked out a pretty Beta that she immediately named Rainbow.
(Mona and her friend Sammy at the pet store.)

Overall a lovely day, but I’m worn out.  One more cake to make, and our first ever sleepover coming up, and then I promised the kids we could finally get a tree.  And then after figuring out what birthday gifts to get all my kids, I get to start looking for more gifts.  Because there is another event with gifts coming up, right?  Yeah, that.  If I only I could convince them that half-birthdays are cooler than actual birthdays….

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