The Birthday Recap

Last Wednesday, I turned 36 and Cutie Pie turned 5.  We celebrated with a little party of close friends and family that night.  J put together an awesome get-together for us complete with our favorite pizza, the amazing Angry Birds cake for Cutie Pie and my personal weakness- a cookie cake!  Yum!

Earlier that day, my dad’s mom (my Nana), stopped by to wish us a happy birthday.  I love this photo of Cutie Pie with her 🙂

Cutie Pie was thrilled to finally have a kayak of his very own!  Now we’ll be a kayaking family!  J and I have a double adult one and both of the boys have their own now.  Since the weather has been so nice, we need to take advantage of it by taking the kayaks out.  Somehow we managed to skip right over winter and landed right in the middle of spring here.  Crazy!

Both of us got ridiculously spoiled this year.  It was so nice sharing our special day with everyone!

I got some serious gifts like this gorgeous original painting by our friend, Terri McCutchan.  My mom totally surprised me with that one!  I absolutely love it and have it hung in a place of honor on a wall that you see when you enter through our front door.  It fits perfectly with our style.

And I got some not so serious gifts like this one lb. Snickers bar.  A slice ‘n’ share!  Just what I need while trying to get in shape for our April trip to Puerto Rico!

It was a wonderful birthday and I’m so lucky to be able to share it with my baby boy!  I really don’t feel any older, thank goodness.  Age is a frame of mind, yes?  If that’s true then I’m holding at 25-ish 🙂

Happy Happy Birthday

September is a busy month for birthdays in our family.  My grandmother, J’s grandpa, my father-in-law, cousin B, Uncle Chris and J all have September birthdays!

We celebrated birthdays for J, Uncle Chris and Papa on Saturday night with a pool party, shrimp taco cookout and a little college football.  Go Gators!

This year my father-in-law turns 69, J turns 39 and Uncle Chris turns 31!

It was a fun evening spent with family and friends.  Of course, my mom was super tense because Big Red was there.  She blames him for everything that happened in Steph’s marriage and cannot get past it.  But she was on her best behavior and I’m hoping that going forward we can just learn to let bygones be bygones.  Bitterness won’t get you anywhere.

I picked up J’s favorite cake for dessert- Cold Stone’s Mmmmint Chip.  Everyone said it was wonderful!  I did not have a piece because of the South Beach Diet thing.  I amazed myself with my willpower 🙂  Let’s hope this two weeks of restriction pays off…

While watching the Florida- Tennessee game replay, the birthday boys opened their presents.  J wanted a bottle of port wine and a fishing shirt which the boys and I were happy to oblige.

Happy birthday J, Chris and Papa!  Here’s to many more happy birthday to come!!!

Hot and Cold Stone

T-bone had two very different birthday parties last week.

One was well-planned, full of laughter, music and games.  It was a house party at Big Red’s.  There was an almost endless supply of food: appetizers, pizza, cake…  The lime sherbet and Sprite punch was an instant hit with both children and adults alike.  Conversation flowed effortlessly.  The children danced and played like it was their job.  Before we knew it, 4 hours had passed and the party was still going strong.  It was a Friday night and no one cared.  It was HOT!

The other party was a last minute affair set up more out of obligation than a desire to enjoy each others company.  Invitations were sent in the form of an impersonal mass text.  It was an ice cream party at our local Cold Stone.  The party was held late in the evening on a Tuesday (a school night) so it was a rushed affair.  No lingering when the event starts at 7 PM and bedtime is at 8 PM…  Steph chose this event to finally bring her boyfriend out of hiding.  I would say “introduce her boyfriend to me” but that was not the case.  He introduced himself and she ignored me for the first half hour of the party.  Tension was palpable among the adults.  It was COLD!

To be fair, the children (the exact same children that attended each party) had a good time at both events.  But the same could not be said for the adults.  My friend, B, Jon and I felt extremely uncomfortable at Cold Stone.

I haven’t really addressed the problems between myself and Steph here.  But it’s clear from her noticeable absence in my posts that we do not hang out anymore.  It’s an extremely complicated, drama-filled mess really.  At the heart of it is Steph’s relationship with her boyfriend.  I should call him a manfriend since he is a good 10 years older than both of her parents…  And, really, the 31-year age gap isn’t the problem.  It’s the lies surrounding their relationship that have made me see Steph in a completely different light.  I’m not sure I ever really knew her.

I’m in a tough situation because Steph is my family.  My mom is her aunt and her mom is my aunt.  They’re all- Steph, my mom and my aunt- divorced and somewhat bitter.  The women in my family are 100% in support of Steph and 100% opposed to Big Red even though there are some major, major ethical issues surrounding Steph’s relationship with the boyfriend.  Ethical issues that transcend my blind support just because she’s family.  I cannot do it.

Over time I have come to see Big Red’s side of things.  I wasn’t able to see his side for a very long time because I was so wrapped up in helping Steph.  As with any conflict, there are two sides.  I can’t tell you how bad I feel about simply believing the stuff Steph told me about Big Red and not finding out his story sooner.  But I trusted her.

Today, I am very thankful for knowing both sides of their story.  Neither party is blameless, of course, but neither is Big Red the monster that he was made out to be…  Because I am still friends with Big Red, I have become kind of an outcast from the women in my family.  They want me to fall in line with the man-hating and blind support of one another because we’re family.  That’s simply not enough for me.  I don’t get to choose my family, unfortunately, but I do get to choose who is in my life.  Because I have chosen not to play games, perpetuate lies and shun Big Red, I, in turn, have been shunned.

To be honest, it’s never felt better.

I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  I don’t have toxic people surrounding me much anymore.  Life is pretty sweet out here on the fringe.  That’s what I call where I am today- the fringe.  I don’t have to deal with the emotionally draining, self-centered crap that used to take it’s toll on me.  I have chosen to be happy and things are so good right now!

I hope this helps to clarify some of the problems that have been going on in the background.  I surely cannot go into too much detail but just know that I am in a much better place now.  My husband and kids are too because I am a happier person.

If the only thing I have to deal with is the occasional awkward birthday party or holiday, I can manage.  The people I’ve chosen to surround myself with these days build me up so that I can handle pretty much anything that comes my way.

Cutie Pie’s Bowling Party

For most of 2010 Cutie Pie had been telling me that he wanted a Batman bowling party to celebrate his 4th.  His decision never wavered.  Wildman will go through 10 different party themes before he finally settles on something.  Cutie Pie is very different.  He knows exactly what he wants.

So, on Saturday 20 or so of Cutie Pie’s friends and family members gathered together for a round of cosmic bowling in his honor.  It was such fun!  We completely abandoned keeping track of the bowling order and who was on what lane.  Somehow it all worked out.  The kids were happy and that’s all that mattered.

Happy Birthday (on Tuesday), my sweet boy!!!

Ya-Ya’s Birthday Par-tay!

We hosted a family get-together to celebrate my mom’s birthday on Saturday night.  If I ask her her age she tells me that she’s old enough to be my mother.  Really, she’ll be 58 on Tuesday but don’t tell her that I told you that…

I made that awesome hot wing dip I told you about, lemon-blueberry cream pie, chocolate-covered strawberries and mini tacos.  Our guests each brought a dish or two to share.  We had an appetizer extravaganza going on!  A regular heart attack feast!  Yum!

After eating ourselves into a coma we let Ya-ya open her gifts.

The boys especially liked the zebra trunk that J and I gave her…  We told Ya-ya that the boys came with the trunk.  🙂

Happy birthday, Mom!  We love you!

Disney Cars Birthday Extravaganza

We celebrated Wildman’s 5th birthday early this year.  He officially turns 5 on December 21st but that’s way to close to Christmas to host a birthday party in my opinion.  My sanity really could not take it.

Wildman insisted on a Disney Cars theme this year.  My gears immediately began turning with crafty possibilities.  In an effort to cut back on our spending I decided to forgo the bookings at organized party places, the park reservations and the bouncy house rentals.  This year we went old school with a backyard, homemade birthday party.  It was perfect even if the weather was not!  It finally stopped raining about an hour before party time and then the temperature dropped to a chilly 60-something.  There was no sun to be had either.

The decorations were almost 100% homemade.  I saved every cardboard box that crossed my threshold to make the signs of Radiator Springs.  I made the following to be posted around the backyard:

  • Welcome to Radiator Springs
  • Flo’s V8 Cafe
  • Sudsy Sam’s Car wash
  • Tow Mater
  • Luigi’s Casa Della Tires
  • Ramone’s House of Body Art (Steph actually made this one)
  • Piston Cup
  • Lightning Bolt

I used my Cricut machine to create all of the lettering.  Scrapbook paint was employed liberally.  Mod Podge was applied for adhesion and protection.  I had originally planned to turn Wildman’s monkey bars into a car wash but it did not stop raining long enough for me to do it.  So, I improvised and his doorway became the car wash instead.

Another cardboard box creation came in the form of Lightning McQueen himself!  Over the past month or so I’ve been scouring the Internet for Cars party ideas.  I stumbled across this guy who make all sorts of awesome party decorations out of cardboard.  I printed out his diagram for making a cardboard McQueen and took it to J.  I told him that he had to make the form for me so I could paint it.  J, always up for a challenge, happily agreed.  It turned out so well that I told the boys that one of them has to be Lightning McQueen for the next several Halloweens!

Our outside bar became Flo’s V8 Cafe.  We served graham crackers with peanut butter and M&Ms as “traffic lights”, carrots and celery as “dipsticks”, Cars fruit snacks, Cars shortbread cookies, and queso just because what party is complete without queso?  There were coolers full of water and Capri Suns for the kids.  Sodas, white wine and beer were provided for the adults.

There was cake, of course.  My friend, B, came over on Friday morning to help me make the Lightning McQueen cake using the Wilton cake pan.  We whipped up 24 cupcakes to go with it since the cake pan was not very large.  We ended up having 20 children and their parents so it was a good call to have the cupcakes!  The cake would not have been enough to feed that crowd.  The cupcakes were frosted white with Cars sprinkles that I found at Publix.  I made some picks using Cars stickers, yellow cardstock for backing and toothpicks.  So cute!

I have to say that I’m a huge fan of homemade butter cream icing!  Whoa, is it good!

I did not plan a whole bunch of activities since 5-year-old boys are so wild.  I let them run around the yard and act like the monkeys that they are.  We did manage to corral them long enough to create their own custom license plates using foam stickers, stamps and glitter bingo markers.  J and I also came up with a fun scavenger hunt for the kids to find the cake.  Here are the clues:

  • Put the pedal to the floor
    to find a clue by the door!
  • It’s time to get a move on, please;
    find your clue near a tractor pulling trees.  (We have a inflatable Christmas yard ornament fitting this description)
  • Your car is cool; your car is fast.
    The clue is hidden near the trash.
  • This clue’s really not a stumper;
    You’ll find it near a big truck bumper.
  • If it’s cake that you’re lovin’, you better run to the oven!

What a hit the cake hunt was!  Imagine 20 kids running through the house shrieking and searching for the clues.  So fun!

I bought 4 of these checkerboard inflatable rod things thinking that the kids would love them.  What boy doesn’t love a sword, right?  It was all fun until one child got whacked so hard he started crying.  I felt like such a loser mom for bringing them out.  I immediately collected the rods and redirected the kids to a more calm activity like the bean bag toss into J’s truck tire.

We opened presents toward the end of the party.  Wildman and I got mobbed by a sea of extremely excited children who wanted to see what Wildman received.  It was nuts 🙂

I’m really bummed that I didn’t take a picture of the favors that I created for the children.  I’m really proud of how they turned out.  You’ll have to use your imagination.  I removed the labels from metal soup cans and slapped a Dinoco label on them so they would look like little oil cans.  I put black tissue paper down in the cans to look like oil then filled them with car stickers, racing bracelets, gold metals and tire bubble gum.  They looked so adorable.

It was a long and exhausting day but it was so worth it.  It seemed like everyone had a good time.  Wildman was over the moon and that’s all that really matters!

I wonder who I can donate all my homemade signs to?  It was a lot of work to make them and I don’t just want to toss them.

Update Post: Ankle-Biter Edition

My darling ankle-biters are pestering me (i.e. chanting/screaming “CHEESECAKE!!!”) to make mini key lime cheesecakes as I write this post.  So, don’t be surprised if there are a ton of mistakes and jumbled thoughts…  I don’t have time to edit today.  The call of a kitchen project is too strong.  Must type fast…

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First of all, Happy St. Patty’s Day!  We’re making mini key lime cheesecakes today because they’re green and we’d like to give a shout out to Ireland and St. Patrick.  Maybe I’ll get my act together and take some photos of our creation.

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Little cousin, T-bone, turned five last Thursday!  I can’t believe it he’s five already.  It seems like he was a plump ball of chub only yesterday.  *sigh*

My kids enjoyed the cupcakes and chips at T-bone’s after school park party.

There was a big baseball pinata.  Oh, boy!  That was a hit (pardon the pun).  Ha!

The scene before the sugar high…  They look like wild animals feasting on their kill…

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Steph and I taught our very first kid’s Zumba classes at Wildman’s preschool on Monday.  A total of 46 children participated.  Luckily, they were spread out into 3 separate groups.  We danced to “La Bamba” with stick ponies, strutted our stuff in a circle with red bandannas to Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”, and we did a conga line and obstacle course while listening to “Hot, Hot, Hot” by Buster Poindexter.  After a cool down to “A Hard Day’s Night” and a group huddle, we were finished.  It was awesome.  I think the teachers had just as much fun as the kids!

Wildman was thrilled that I came to his school too.  So cute!

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Wildman had his first official T-ball game last Saturday.  It was adorable to watch the little kids play.  There are no outs, no pitching, no scoring, no pressure.  Just fun!  Everyone gets to run to the bases.

Almost every child doesn’t know what to do after they hit the ball.  They stand there with bat in hand watching the ball roll away and the other team scrambling to catch it.  The coach inevitably has to remind the batter to drop the bat and run to first.  It’s so darn cute.

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Crap!  Now Cutie Pie is chanting “strawberry milk, strawberry milk” in my ear.  I’d better run so I can meet the needs of my children.  Stay tuned!

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