Last year AB had a little birthday party with just the three of us. We gave her the option of a small friend’s party at the house or a night at a hotel. She picked the hotel but thanks to the ‘rona we couldn’t go. I was sure her 6th birthday would be the only one we’d celebrate in a pandemic but here we are, a year in and still dealing with it. She talked for months about having her friends over on her birthday but I didn’t want to promise too much because things can change on a dime. Thankfully she has a sweet little group of children whose families are fine with visits so she was able to have a party. After going through several themes, AB decided on a Harry Potter party. We did that theme last year and I am no more an HP fan than I was last year, so I campaigned hard for a different theme. We were THIS CLOSE to having a dragon and taco party which I was in favor of 110%, but she stayed firm in her request so we did HP. Why does she have to go and get opinions on things? At least we already had the Harry Potter bow.
About 10 minutes before the party started, she told me she was “going to take a siesta before the fiesta.” The little introvert apples does not fall far from the tree.
We wanted none of the spells and sorcery to be a party of the party so we came up with games that involved neither. I spray-painted 10 brooms from the dollar store silver and gold. You know what a bunch of 4-7 year olds don’t care about? Whether or not the brooms were lovingly and painstakingly painted instead of left blue and white. You know what I don’t care for? A bunch of blue and white brooms that look like they were made in China and not forged in the ancient fires of wizards.
The kids loved decorating the handles in washi tape. The moms loved that their children now had their own personal brooms for sweeping the house. Next year we’ll decorate vacuums!
Christopher was appointed the ringmaster to explain the game of quidditch which is played on brooms in the Harry Potter books. He used big words and several directions that very few of the children understood. Us moms had a great time watching the chaos. Eventually he said, “You know what? Just throw the ball and play it however you want.”
I don’t want to sound overly dramatic, but for about 45 minutes there the cake situation was Threat Level Red. I didn’t have a good design idea so I was fumbling and pouring sprinkles and none of it was right. I told Christopher he needed to run to Publix and buy another cake. It was terrible and I could not show my face in front of the other moms with a cake like that. He said it was great but he’s unable to give unbiased opinions. I said it would be great if he and AB had decorated it, but it was an insult to my Wilton decorating level two class. Everything else about party prep had gone shockingly well and I was shockingly calm, so it’s no shock that my nerves came out on the cake. We didn’t get a cake from Publix and I was able to show my face to the other moms, but I still think it’s not my greatest work. Annabelle liked it which I suppose is the most important part. My ego will be fine.
She’s my favorite even if she does listen to the same seven audiobooks on repeat for an entire year and tell me things like “You’re right. You are getting more gray hair.”
I am not a fan of Halloween and have not one Halloween decoration to my name. We tend to stick with general fall-themed decor. Annabelle mentioned off-handily that it would be funny if a friendly ghost was pretending to play our electric keyboard. I used
two vacuums, a drum and cloth pumpkin a little magic to create a piano-playing ghost. When we got home from school, I turned the piano on so it would play an assortment of classical hits and jazzy tunes. Then I used the vacuum to clean the rug so not only was it decorative, it was useful.
I broke one of my cardinal parenting rules this Halloween. I’ve always said that AB can’t change her mind on a Halloween costume after October 1st unless she wants to wear something in the dress-up basket. Usually, I make her costumes and I need plenty of time to cut and stitch and hot glue gun my fingers. This year she said she wanted to be a bat which, to no one’s surprise, did not thrill me at all. I longed for the days of costumes with tutus and wings. I hadn’t started making the bat costume yet when she switched to Little Red Riding Hood. It was a surprising choice since she’s never mentioned liking Red, but she was listening to her podcast about fairy tales and decided to vote for Little R. R. Hood 2020. I hand sewed the apron while watching Netflix, much like Caroline Ingalls did in ye olden days of the 1800’s. The hairdresser told me that “they” might cancel Halloween this year. Normally I wouldn’t care but I did not want AB to miss out on another thing this year. Whoever “they” are could knock on my door and try handing out a cease and desist order, but gosh darn it she was going to have a chance to dress up. I didn’t think it was any more dangerous than taking her to the grocery store. We went to an outdoor trunk or treat at church and she skipped around the building ”like Red Riding Hood does.” It was precious. When we went to a few houses that night, she kept asking that we stay back while she went to the door. Then she’d get nervous and turn around every two steps on the way to the door turning around to make sure we were still there. She repeatably walked into bushes and shrubs because she was too busy looking behind her. Little Hood isn’t ready to be out in the woods by herself.
It was much easier to take AB’s birthday photos on her second birthday. All I had to do was fake sneeze and she’d burst out laughing. This year she insisted her leggings matched her dress (they didn’t) and she intentionally let go of the blue balloon and we never got it back.
On birthday eve Christopher inflated somewhere around 38 balloons. We take birthday balloons very seriously around here. I’m so happy we have a mantle to decorate again. Hanging the birthday banner from the tv stand isn’t nearly as festive.
We had a very low-key day. Annabelle opened one of her gifts in the morning (she opened the rest at night) so she’d have a new thing to play with during the day. I baked the cakes the night before so all I had to do was make the frosting and cake toppers the day of. Cake decorating is 1000% less stressful when I’m not worried about all the rooms being spotless for guests who are arriving in 3 hours. Normally I’m a chicken with its head cut off on birthday party day but I enjoyed the slower pace. The downside is no one was here to appreciate what I’m ranking the best birthday cake I’ve ever made.
Sesame wanted a Harry Potter themed birthday which is NOT a theme I ever would have picked. I wasn’t allowed to read the books growing up and I would have been fine if she never read them, but Christopher enjoys them and the two of them have been listening to the books together. He’s able to explain and discuss questionable parts as they go. She won’t be able to listen to anything beyond the first three books for several years which means she’s listened to those three at least 5 times since January. By virtue of living in the same home, I too have listened to the first books 5 times. She has spent so much time telling me the rules of quidditch, the history of this character and asking questions about how such and such potion is made. I’ve been through a similar Harry Potter indoctrination before. We got married the same year the last Harry Potter movie came out and Christopher thought I needed an HP movie marathon to see the previous seven movies. It was SO MUCH Harry Potter. Now nine years into our marriage I’d say peace out, I’m going to watch A Walk to Remember so you’re on your own, but newlywed Sarah was very obliging.
AB asked that her birthday cake have a letter from her favorite characters on it. I printed a birthday letter signed by several characters, colored it with a tea bag and crumpled it to give some texture. I made the little quidditch ball (sphere? playing piece? I haven’t been paying much attention) with playdough that morning and used a black chopstick for a wand. I was dealing with health issues that week and didn’t have the energy to create a personalized wand.
We were able to get both sets of grandparents, all aunts and uncles and a few cousins together to sing happy birthday to her at the same time. It made me so happy. So few family members have been able to attend her birthday parties because of distance and it meant a lot that they did this for us.
They couldn’t get a good view of the cake but they didn’t require me to clean the bathrooms either. All in all they were perfect party guests.
For those keeping up with the saga that is Lucy’s allergies (and who isn’t?), I had to take her back to the vet for recurring sores on her legs. They took her back without me which was fine because I needed to focus on AB who had attached the leash to her dress and wanted me to walk her like a cat. I asked the very timid vet assistant to ask the vet for a more concrete plan than me bringing her for a shot every month. She returned several minutes later with the following medical plan: put hydrocortisone or antibiotic ointment on the trouble spots and make sure Lucy doesn’t lick it off. Sure. No problem. I’ll do that right after I stop the waves in the ocean and keep the world from spinning. There’s no way I can control where the cat puts her tongue.
On Sunday we had a little Christmas party for a AB’s friends. I told the family several times in the days leading up to the party that I wasn’t going to go crazy about it. It was going to be very relaxed. I scheduled it for 2 o’clock so I wouldn’t have to serve lunch or supper. All we needed to make was snakcs. Everyone would be impressed with how non-OCD I was about the napkins. Weekday Sarah forgot to tell party-eve Sarah the stay chill plan. I won’t go into details but it was not chill.
This was pre-craft and cookie decorating. The whole house was clean and quiet for all of 7 minutes.
To be honest, the house wasn’t entirely clean. We piled stuff into a laundry basket and hid it in the closet. The picture has been leaning against the dining room since we moved in several months ago.
I planned on making a bead snowman craft but when I went to Joann’s they were out of beads. I stood in the fake flower aisle and scrabbled to find another option that didn’t involve paint. Plastic ornaments were on sale so I bought a bunch to stuff with tissue paper and decorate to turn into reindeer.
The kids crafted, decorated homemade cookies, ate played, scarred the cats for life and genuinely seemed to enjoy themselves. Annabelle, who had done 12% of the preparations told me, “I’m glad I’m learning to be a host but it’s A LOT of work. I need a nap.”
Me too, sister. Try orchestrating a kid’s party AND making sure your cat doesn’t lick her legs.
I didn’t think this day would come but here we are.
I am partied out.
My party planning protégé has played birthday party almost every day for the last two years. Her imaginary friends Goldbug and Garby have both had birthdays every day since May 1st. Usually, the stuffed animals and imaginary friend family have their birthdays more spread out over the week but this birthday season has been extra busy. AB is constantly celebrating someone but we’re not always invited. Lately, it’s become more of a production.
HOLD THE PHONE. REAL LIFE UPDATE. I JUST SAW A MOUSE RUN THROUGH MY LIVING ROOM.
Stand by while I set fire to the place.
Back to the party situation. They’re productions that require dessert, a talent for the talent show, and for all participants to bring gifts. She invites whoever is around (so it’s always me) and gets offended if we don’t show up with the proper level of enthusiasm. I love a good party and I’m proud of her for having a theme for each party but like I said, I am partied out. I used to bring good gifts to the parties but the other day I gave a broken crayon. I gave it in a tissue so at least it was wrapped. Tonight’s party was swimming theme and she wanted us all to wear our bathing suits. I declined. We don’t attend all the parties but I know someday she won’t want me to play with her so I do my best to seem excited every single time. I thought the birthday party infatuation was a phase but it’s been three years and I don’t see it ending anytime soon.
She’s planned a swimming party, a music party, a dancing party, a carrot peeling party, an animal party, a room cleaning party, a bed making party and a Bible party. She’ll set up the kitchen like a party restaurant or the living room like a “party house.” She finds snacks from the pantry and pours us tiny cups of tea. She’ll put on a tutu over her favorite summer dress and top it off with an over sized white sweater.
Right now she’s planning a circus party. I expect to be invited any minute now.
The other day I said to Christopher, “I’m going to say something you don’t care about at all.” He replied, “Is it about the royals?”
Yes. Yes, it is.
This is been our marriage for the last several months:
Christopher: “Trump fired so and so and is looking for a replacement. North and South Korea had a discussion about the missile crisis. The economic structure of Botswana is in danger. The new ebola quarantine is not yet proven to be effective.”
Sarah: “Do you think Kate pronounces the new baby’s name as Louis or Louie? Who do you think will walk Meghs down the aisle? Why did we move to Georiga instead of London? Did you see Jenna Bush Hager’s interview with Joanna Gaines? Do you want to make spinach artichoke dip this weekend?”
Our interests could not be more different.
I’ve spent the last few days recovering from and discussing the details of the Harry and Megh’s wedding. I KNOW that’s all I’ve talked about lately but it was a big occasion for me. I thought I needed to wake up at 4am to watch and I was prepared to set my alarm for 3:58. I considered sleeping in the living room so I wouldn’t have to walk anywhere. I can’t wake up early to exercise but I’ll wake up early to watch people I’ve never met get married in another country. Thankfully my research revealed that I didn’t have to wake up until closer to 6. It was still too early but I took one for the team.
Princess Sarah of Living Room, Couch and Pillows. Dutchesses of Snacks and Tea.
Dutchess Annabelle of Sesameville and Honorary Drinker of Milk
The event did not disappoint. I love fancy. The more pomp and circumstance the better. All the silk and lace, flags and carriages made me so happy. Annabelle was enthralled too which made me very proud. She woke up right after the ceremony ended and was disappointed to miss the “churchy part.” She loved the procession and spent the day turning all her toys into carriages and waving to the people. She needs the practice before her wedding to George.
After the wedding, we did a return at TJ Maxx, signed up for the summer reading program at the library and bought a plant for Benjamin “Little Blue” Harrison’s tank. In short, I was reminded that I am simply a commoner. To be honest, I like my life as a commoner, fake crowns and all.
But if anyone wants to send me a real crown I won’t turn it down.