Sunday, December 18, 2016

All the Birthdays

Birthday season is done!  During the two minutes I have between that and trying to assemble everything for Christmas, here is an overstuffed recap:

The first birthday of the season is Quinn's just before Thanksgiving.  I was in Cleveland that week, but I did get to talk to him for a bit on the phone.  We played twenty questions where he had to guess what I was looking at outside my hotel window.  It was giant plastic birds, so it took a while.

They had these giant plastic sculptures all around the library and up on a grassy space near the lake.  The weather was unseasonably warm the whole time I was in Cleveland and I enjoyed walking around a bit of downtown where I kept running into these things.  The colorful meerkats and wolves and giant snails were certainly fun!

Anyway, I had arranged for Aden to help Quinn make apple-zucchini muffins for him to take to school for his birthday treat.  That went... fine.  It did not go the way it would have gone if I had been home, but everyone was happy, so that's all that matters.

(Here is what Quinn told me about baking the muffins--I bit my tongue during much of it for obvious reasons, but see what you think:  They didn't realize the recipe in the folder was already doubled, so they doubled it again and made 250 muffins.  It took forever despite our now having a double oven, because they could only do one small tin at a time due to the fact that there is only one timer on the microwave.  So... yeah.  I still feel my mom direction is needed despite their ever growing independence.)

Quinn is ten!  (And not just at the Shedd Aquarium anymore.)

This is not birthday related (unless you want to relate it to Aden's birthday last year), it's just something cute Mona made for art class and I wanted to share it:

It's a basket made from yarn and old plastic bags in the shape of Totoro.  The head is a lid.  Isn't that cute?  Mona amazes me.

Speaking of the artist, here is Mona on the morning of her 13th birthday:
On Mona's birthday it SNOWED.  It didn't just snow, it snowed and snowed and snowed and snowed.  So why not drive to Chicago?  The Brookfield zoo had some new Mold-A-Ramas, which seemed like a good excuse to drive down and pick them up.  The snow didn't really start until we got to the zoo, and it was impressive.  The place was almost deserted, and the snow was very pretty.

We picked up an angel in pink, a Christmas tree in silver, a small brown lion and green hippo we haven't seen there before, and a bison and a macaw that are completely new to our collection.  A good haul!  I think that brings the number of figures on our mantle to 147 or so.

The one zoo plan that was thwarted was I was hoping to pick up some 50th anniversary Mold-A-Rama shirts that I knew came out this summer.  We were hoping to get one for each of us, but apparently I should have jumped on that when they came out because there was nothing left except a few grey shirts in size 5X.  (I suppose we could have gotten it and all shared it at once, but my kids weren't interested in that much family togetherness.)
After the zoo we drove not too far to Medieval Times, which is a theme restaurant where you have dinner while watching jousting and people on horses.  I figured it could be fun to do once, and Mona didn't have any specific ideas for her birthday so I simply declared we were going.  I think the part she enjoyed best was seeing a falcon up close.

For Aden's birthday the following weekend she opted for her now traditional trip to Incrediroll and a sleepover.

But first we must discuss cake!  Because this year I had very little to do in terms of cake duty.  Mona wasn't interested in a cake, Aden made her own, and I missed Quinn's birthday.

The reason Aden made her own cake was because the day before her birthday her school was having a fundraiser for the Hunger Task Force that involved a cake decorating competition.  Aden went all out and made a geode cake with a dragon on it.  She grew rock candy herself and made the fondant and the cake and did all the sculpting.  The only things I helped with were to make a batch of rice crispy treats for her to use to make the dragon, and I re-iced the dragon when there was a mishap and time was running short.  The whole cake is edible!  The wings are made of sugar paper, the horns and claws are modeling chocolate, the scales down the back are chocolate chips sprayed with edible gold paint.

Isn't it amazing?  I'm so proud of her.

She won first prize.  The only problem was that part of the fundraiser was to sell slices of your cake and no one wanted to cut into it.  We ended up just making a big donation and taking it home ourselves.

Anyway, since Aden made her own cake, she said I could make a cake to bring to her party at the skating rink in the form of whatever Quinn wanted since he hadn't gotten one.  Quinn wanted a chocolate bear.  I decided to make an accessory cake for the one vegan guest, and I made that into a little present.  I was tempted to make it a pile of meat, because vegan cake in the shape of meat amused me, but the little present was cuter.

Incrediroll was a hit, as usual.  It was a blur of color and noise and everyone had fun.  Quinn somehow hit several jackpots in the arcade and ended up with over 500 tickets.  Which in arcade ticket land somehow turned in to a pretty paltry pile of small prizes, but Quinn was happy.

Aden got pretty far in the limbo contest, but her friend Alyssa won the top prize.  (She's there often and she always wins the top prize in the limbo!)
The sleepover went well.  I think everyone finally passed out only an hour before I got up to make them breakfast.  I genuinely like all of Aden's friends.  Teenagers have their annoying moments (especially if you live with them--but really so do we all), however in general I find them incredibly fun and interesting, and the ones Aden brings around I'm always impressed by.  I love that she had at her party both her oldest friends and her newest.

Oh I love that girl.
She's 15!  My first baby is 15!!!  I'm trying very hard to appreciate how amazing it is to have her be so capable and grown up without feeling sideswiped by how fast it's all going.  She is lovely and sweet and not mine to keep at home much longer really, so I just hug her when I can and try not cry when I realize how far I used to have to bend down for those hugs.

The birthdays are done!  On with holiday stuff!  (This is probably the moment where I should stop and have a glass of wine, except I don't drink.  Pity.)

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