My Facebook friends have already seen this video. But if you haven't yet, you simply must. It melts my heart every time I watch it (or see it in person).
Keira is redecorating the International Christmas Tree that sits on our kitchen table. I love to pick up an ornament from every country (and sometimes state) that I visit, and they're all displayed on a mini tree every December. I have ornaments from: Mexico, England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Austria, Canada, Hawaii, Ohio, Colorado, Massachussets, Pennsylvania, and Utah.
She started out pronouncing it "Mistress Tree," then moved on to "Mishmash Tree" or "Misses Tree." She has recently learned to say, "Christmas Tree," to our great disappointment. And I don't know if you noticed, but she's putting all the ornaments on the same branch.
The heavy breathing you hear in the background? That's just Jovie, our resident Olde English Bulldogge.
Subtitle: How to improvise when you didn't plan any part of your daughter's party until the DAY OF her birthday.
This is probably the second-to-last year I'll be able to get away with that. Keira had no idea what was going on for most of the day. But by the time she's 4, she'll probably be on to me...
And possibly by the time she's 4, she'll no longer be terrified of her birthday candles. Granted, they were ridiculously long AND they were trick candles, but (inexplicably) they were the only candles I had on hand.
What kind of first-time mother would forget to buy birthday candles for her daughter's 2nd birthday? The same mother who was in Wyoming until 2 days before the big day, was a nutcase trying to keep the house clean enough for showings, and had just spent 8 hours the day before rescuing a project for an unnamed family member who was heading straight for a panic attack. Disaster averted. Birthday put on the backburner.
Being both a devoted improviser and a terrible judge of time, I decided the morning of that I'd make homemade chocolate ladybug cupcakes from scratch, invite all local family members over to celebrate, and do all of the gift shopping, too, while also meeting a work deadline and being housebound during Keira's 2.5-hour nap.
Some of those things got done, but the cupcakes were truly terrible. A little bit hard and sunken in the middle. (Can I tell you how excited I am for the brand new double ovens in my new house? On the other hand, I will no longer be able to blame baking disasters on my appliance...)
Because I was running out of time before the family members arrived, I had to throw out my plans to make homemade frosting that was good enough to compensate for the crappy cupcakes. Instead, I pulled out a can of Duncan Hines buttercream, scooped it into a bowl, and colored it pink.
Then, just minutes before everyone arrived, I decorated exactly two of the cupcakes to look like ladybugs, arranging the unfrosted cupcakes and all of the topping options around them. I announced, "It's a decorate-your-own-cupcake party!"
Truthfully, most of us just munched on the toppings anyway. At least it looked cute and somewhat intentional. The four store-bought red-velvet cupcakes definitely elevated the display.
As for Keira, she couldn't have been happier. A frosting girl through and through, she never eats the cake part anyway.
These guys didn't seem to mind, either. When you're a kid, sugar is sugar.
As for the gifts, they would have been wrapped in grocery bags if not for the fact that Buy Buy Baby offers free do-it-yourself gift wrapping (if you don't mind having logos all over your gifts). I didn't mind, and neither did the birthday girl.
She loved her little shopping cart from her cousins, which had the quirkiest collection of fake groceries I've seen yet. Not only was the turkey the same size as the lemon, the boxed foods included milk, chocolate, flour, coffee, corn flakes, cream puffs, and borsch (aka "borscht"). Yes, some of these are fairly common pantry staples in the continental U.S. But Ukranian beet stew? Can it even come in a box?
She was also quite proud of her new trike. The new polka-dotted vest was my favorite gift of the evening, but I fear she won't wear it again because of the way it pokes her in the neck when she sits down. How old does she need to be before I can teach her that sometimes we all have to suffer just a little for the sake of fashion? ;)
All in all, it was a memorable day, and I definitely made it harder than it needed to be. Lesson learned! For now, anyway. I'll bet you $100 that I'll be telling some variation of this same story when Keira turns 3.
Note: I redeemed my baking reputation by making three fabulous loaves of zucchini bread the next day, and I even substituted half of the oil with yogurt and cut out 1/4 of the sugar. And I did it just in time for the home inspector to do his walk-through of the house with the new owner, proving to them both that the 1958 vintage built-in oven does actually work (while simultaneously filling the home with a lovely, inviting, please-don't-notice-any-flaws aroma)!
Actually, it's under contract. And if all goes well, we'll be moving into our fabulous new house BY THE END OF THE MONTH. The new house, it's just so "us." Details to be revealed when all i's are dotted and t's are crossed. :)
2. We Went With Wendy to Wyoming
Wendy Smedley and I completed our almost-annual trek to Cheyenne, Wyoming, in late September, to visit our good friends the Dillows. And we had an absolute blast.
There were kindred spirits.
There was a zombie festival in and around the Saturday Farmer's Market. And Keira was almost lunch.
There was crafting.
There were grounds to manicure.
There were many embodiments of the darling sign in Elizabeth's home that says, "Children under six hold the hand of someone over six." (This may be my favorite picture of all.)
Or maybe this one.
There was snuggle time and Pepperidge Farm Goldfish.
There were flowers to sniff.
There were photo ops galore.
There was a cute little dog.
There were mice to pet (and so much more) at the Cheyenne Children's Village.
There was an impromptu puppet show.
was lots and lots of eating on Keira's part. (NOT a usual thing for
her. We may have to move to Wyoming if we want her to make weight at her
next doctor's appointment.)
And there were incredibly thoughtful gifts. Yes, Miss Elizabeth knows me well.
3. I'm Going to Hawaii!
If all plans fall into place, I'll be joining Stacy Julian and the Big Picture Classes crew in Hawaii to celebrate 12/12/12 by Making a Mini-album on Maui! Want to come along? There are still a handful of seats left. But you better hurry, because they won't last long!
4. Keira Jane Turned Two
But you'll have to tune in tomorrow for that one, because I'm tired! I'm off to read Baby Lit to my baby girl. Next on my shopping list will be Jane Eyre (what else?), or perhaps Dracula, just in time for Halloween.
Speaking of Halloween, we'll be lucky if we remember to celebrate this year, with the upcoming move. Although I think Keira would make an adorable Cindy Lou Who (from the cartoon, NOT the Jim Carrey live-action version), so I will do my best to make it a priority. After all, she'll only be "no more than two" just this once.