Sunday, February 24, 2013

An early birthday party

Yesterday we had Blake's party for his friends - fortunately a lot of the invitees from his school couldn't actually come which meant the numbers were manageable - probably a blessing since we were having the party at the house! I don't know if 2013 should be known as the "Year of Living Sensibly, or The Year of Living Dangerously" - but whatever the case, I did something I think I have never done before in my esteemed last-minute cake-making history: I went to bed early instead of at least starting the cake the night before the party.  As in previous years, we had the idea for the cake a few weeks ago, but nonetheless there was a lot of last-minute scurrying around for ingredients!  I was happy to discover a store that sells colored fondant icing (Sugarcraft Boutique on Lordship Lane) and that saved me a bit on next-day shipping costs!  On Friday, I was off work and both the boys and I had a pretty lazy day, going over to buy the icing and then going to the local pub for lunch. 
Blake had chosen his monster truck cake design but also told me that he wanted to help me make it - again, a change from previous years when everything was a surprise for him.  This year he just wanted the surprise to be for his friends.  Anyway, Saturday morning I woke up and got to work, and the result was pretty good, though there were a few things that didn't quite work from the original design I'd seen online (thanks, Dawn - I really appreciated your post!).  My black food coloring tracks didn't stick very well, and for some reason I'd been tempted to buy generic what-I-thought-were M&M's...turns out they were more like Smarties and as spectators, they looked a little big - M&Ms would have definitely been better!  Otherwise, I guess it worked and Blake seemed happy with it.

After the cake was done, I needed to blow up some foil monster truck balloons, so I thought I would head to our local party shop.  Think again!  I phoned up to double check they were there and the person who answered said they were just about to close because the owner didn't feel well.  Aaaah!  I got very lucky and found another place locally that was able to fill them up, so that was a major relief. 
The party was a success - there were only 5 kids in all - 3 big, 2 little -  and everything seemed pretty under control!  We played a few games, including "Pin the wheel on the monster truck", "Monster truck poses" (a bit like musical statues apart from your "frozen pose" had to be of a monster truck...don't ask me!), and the big hit - "Whose monster truck goes the fastest?"  They were pretty happy to get the monster trucks.  After the party wrapped up, Blake and I spent a long time - a good hour and a half - making one of his presents, a Lego 3-in-1 robot transformer thing. 

Today we have had literally the laziest day I can remember - Noah didn't get out of his pyjamas until about 6:30pm when we went for a walk around the block.  Instead of getting ready for church, Blake and I made his one of his other presents, a Playmobil robot machine thing, which ended up being a bit more complicated than it should have been, namely because I had inadvertently thrown away several packets of small pieces yesterday in the party fray.  So I had to rifle through the garbage to find them - but find them I did!  Note to self: next time, just put all the plastic bags back into the box and do not put them into the bin thinking they are empty! 

I had gotten dressed sometime around lunchtime but went straight into sweatpants, and Blake and Matt went out to the park for a quick excursion but it was cold and I don't think they stayed out long.  I'm not certain though because Noah and I took a nap on the couch; napping still remains one of the best things in life, in my book.  After the excitement of yesterday, I think I deserved it! 

And so, on with another week.  My baby will turn 5 on Thursday.  Five years old.  That's like a quarter of the way to 20!  Hard to believe in some ways, but not that hard in others.  We were looking tonight at some pictures on the computer of him when he was born.  It does seem like a long time ago, when I think back to that time of being so overwhelmed, so clueless, so exhausted.  Fortunately, after 5 years of birthday cakes, I can say I'm getting better at certain things. I still procrastinate at cake-baking, but at least this year I also got some sleep! 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"It had better be a good one"

That's what I'm thinking, and what you may be thinking, about my first blog post in like nearly 2 months...most of the time in the past, when I haven't been able to keep up with the blog, I've at least been aware that I'm not keeping it up - and that bugged me.  This time, in all honesty, there have been weeks since December where I haven't thought of it.  When I would remember it, it wouldn't be with a thought of, "Oh, I definitely need to get back on there, writing and posting pictures!"; it was more like, "Oh.  Yeah.  I haven't written anything in a while.  I wonder if I should just stop doing it?"

And yet...

The start of the year has felt pretty crazy in terms of schedules and hecticness.  Come to think of it, that's just generally how life has felt since my blog post frequency trailed off back in May last year, when we started the work to our house.  Along with the chaos of that upheaval seemed to come a general inability for us to keep on top of much of anything; the blog was one of the first things that had to take a backseat to staying afloat in the sea of work, nursery, school, household chores, and all of the things that just seem to make the weeks pass by in a kind of "What just happened there?" way.

In a way, I kind of feel like today is a bit of a New Year's Day for me - even though it's February 17th.  Maybe I should just start celebrating Chinese New Year, and then that would be more in line with my lunar and internal calendar. 

I got back yesterday from a week in Boston, the second of two weeks that I have spent there this year.  In between I went on a course (one of those where you come out of it thinking, that would have all been useful to know 7 years ago when I started doing my job).  Mom has graciously spent the last month with us, looking after the boys while I have been away, and I know she is eager to get home and see Dad.  We got up this morning to get her on an early train to get the plane from Gatwick, and with clear weather and no snow (as has been the case for my last two trips to Boston, and Mom's arrival back in January), I made the stupidly incorrect assumption that the plane would be departing on time.  Mom and I headed off into the early morning London darkness over to Clapham Junction, where with plenty of time, she headed off to the train for Gatwick.  It was only when I had arrived back in front of the house that I happened to see on my phone at the online departures page at Gatwick - US Air to Charlotte was showing 3.5 hours delayed!  If there isn't an emoticon that would represent that feeling of helpless stupidity, lack of foresight, and inability to change the situation - I would be happy to design one.  It would be a bright red face with an enormous wrinkle on the forehead (frustration and angst), with handcuffs on clenched wrists (nothing to be able to do to change the situation!).  Poor Mom.  I then tried to tell myself that at least she would hopefully be there on time and is safe - so at this point, there's nothing I can do to change the situation apart from try to remember to think about checking the flight before we head off next time.  It all seems so clear in the light of day, whereas in the early mornig darkness of a quiet house, I guess we just didn't think to check. 

I guess the one good thing to come out of it thus far, is that rather than going back to bed - which I couldn't do (Blake had taken my spot in bed!), I have come to try to put my thoughts down here, which was my original intention with starting the blog so many years ago.  So, "it has better be a good one" maybe isn't the right thing to be wondering, whereas "What took you so long?" is perhaps a valid question.  Hopefully when Mom gets back today, if Dad should ask her that, she and I will both be able to say that being here now is the more important result.  Thanks, Mom.  I hope you can find some way of passing the time at the airport and that you'll get home before you know it. We love you!