Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ethan's had a Birthday NINE TIMES. . . OR My Second Most Embarrassing moment EVER Revisited!

Peter's Jurassic Party cupcakes were so rushed that I didn't get to enjoy the creative process as much as I wanted to, so I was all revved up and ready to go for Ethan's birthday today!

I got to fine-tune my design (yes, I sound like such a snob--I know!!) and get them looking exactly how I wanted them to look. Am I weird if I enjoyed every minute of it from the assembly line of marshmallow eyes to the strategic placement of each Rex on the cupcake tree?

I thought this one looked a little like Marie

I put this guy on the top because he looked so sincere. . .

My Party Favor I brought with me to Ethan's class:

I was the epitome of the Zen-mother as I made Ethan's birthday cupcakes this year. Smooth and slow was my MO. The universe hummed around me in an even cadence as I moved from oven to countertop to classroom.

I wouldn't let the slightest jumble occur in my thoughts or movements as I slid spikes into place and piped sharp teeth around smiling lips. Zen. . . zen. . . zen was all that surrounded me as I was one with my kitchen and my cupcakes.

Okay, I'll stop.

Why all the freaky-Zen-obsession? Now I will launch into a tale so grotesque and so unimaginable that your hands will clap over your mouth when you get to the grand finale.

Let me take you back to last year. But, dear reader, you must understand that as we take this backward journey together, that it has taken me a full year to get to the point that I can share this tale with you. Please forgive me in advance for what I am about to share, and don't let it mar how you see me as a mother.

Ethan's birthday is on September 15th, and we celebrate it as the day when Ethan emerged upside-down. It was the year 2000 when, after 8+ hours of natural labor, the Doctor reached in (such a euphemism!) to discover that what he had thought was Ethan's cranium was indeed his hind-end. We tease Ethan about wanting to come into the world showing his derriere and he gets a good chuckle out of it every year without fail.

Last year on the evening of September 14th Caleb lost his first tooth. It was a momentous event, which I missed because I was at my office slaving away over a hot photocopier until after the kids had gone to bed. Eric told me about Caleb's tooth when I got home, and then we went to bed.

The next morning, I was a frenzied wreck, mentally living out everything on my to do list and realizing that the day wouldn't provide all of the time I needed. But, being the compulsive, unrealistic party planner that I am, I was convinced that I would be able to get the kids off to school on time, make a birthday treat for Ethan's class, prepare for my own class and then arrive on campus looking sleek and polished at exactly 12:43, with two minutes to spare before I launched into an inspirational feast that would leave both of my classes impressed and academically satisfied.

I could do it, right?

Before Ethan left for school, he asked me to please make Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes for his class. I sighed, and being the darn pleaser that I am, I said yes. Eric's dad was staying with us, and graciously offered to go to the store to pick up cones while I whipped up the cake batter.

He returned from the store and then stood back as I whirling-dervished my way around the kitchen like some caffeinated version of Julia Childs, batter and sprinkles flying everywhere. Wanting the cupcakes to look super professional, I piped graceful strands of frosting on each one and then speckled them with colorful sprinkles, even arranging the ones that weren't symmetrical. I looked at the clock and praised myself because I had time to spare.

I kept thinking to myself, "Wow, Sarah! You CAN do it all! Look at you!" I basked in the warm shower of compliments I was heaping upon my own ego as I wrapped a box in festive wrapping paper and garnished it with tissue paper, placing the cupcakes inside like some birthday miracle.

I dressed Eve in a cupcake-themed ensemble and tied her hair up with a rainbow of curly ribbons, and all the while my thoughts were pelting me with praise: "Sarah, you really CAN do it all!" (You know comes before the fall, right? Just checking.)

Here they are, in all of their Martha Stewart-like glory. YUM.

Eve, Peter, Marie, and I took the cupcakes to Ethan's class and dropped them off, and then I came home, fed the kids lunch, and still sauntered into class with time to spare. Like I said. I could do it all. Yippee for me!

When Eric picked me up after class, I was still on bask-overdrive. Class had been great. I had been witty and funny and so full of myself. About half-way to the car, Eric raised his eyebrows at me and grinned.

"What?" I said, knowing there was something behind that look. It was obvious he was savoring a well-thought-out jibe.

"So, Sarah. . . " He paused and smiled, "I hear your cupcakes had quite a bite ." He paused, still holding onto that silly, expectant grin.

"What do you mean?" I asked, my mind whirling back to my mad-morning-rush in the kitchen. Cayenne? Did I put cayenne in the cupcakes? Did tabasco sauce get into the batter? How did the cupcakes get spicy? "I don't get it, " I finally said.

Relishing every word, Eric then told me about how Ethan had come home from school, breathless and excited, and had rushed up to him to announce that, "Caleb's tooth was in one of my birthday cupcakes!!!"

Unbelievable, right? Unfathomable, huh? There is absolutely NO WAY Caleb's tooth could have made it into my cupcakes.

Eric told him this, and Ethan protested, "No, Dad! A girl in my class was eating one of the cupcakes and she found something hard in her mouth! She pulled it out and it was a TOOTH!"

Eric paternally shook his head. "Ethan, I'm sure the girl just lost her own tooth. There's no way that was Caleb's tooth in her cupcake. Don't be silly."

"But, Dad! My teacher and I looked in her mouth and she hadn't lost any teeth! I told my teacher that my brother lost a tooth last night, so she gave it to me and I brought it home in a bag." He held up a ziplock bag containing a tiny tooth with frosting still on it as evidence.

When asked what the poor tooth-inflicted classmate had done when she found the tiny treasure in her mouth, Ethan said, "Well, she just licked it off and laughed and then kept eating her cupcake!" EEEEEWWWWW. . .

Even with the disgusting evidence before him, Eric kept arguing about the implausibility of Caleb's tooth ending up in the cupcakes. But Ethan insisted it was the tooth, I mean, truth.

Finally, Eric said, "Okay, Ethan. . . how did Caleb's tooth get in the cupcakes?" Ethan drew a blank.

Then suddenly, Holden gasped and said, "Wait! Wait! The frosting! Mom used a Ziplock bag to put the frosting on the cupcakes! And Caleb saved his tooth in a Ziplock bag last night so he could show it to Mom!" They all ran to the kitchen and stopped, open-mouthed in front of the container of frosting that had the clear plastic culprit still peeking guiltily out of the top.

Eric and the boys looked at Caleb, who said sheepishly, "I left the bag in the kitchen so Mom could see my tooth."

Laughter exploded and my sweet boys grabbed their guts and struggled to breathe.

Then Ethan offered the line of the day:

"This is the BEST birthday ever!!!"

As Eric recounted the horrible details to me as we sat in the car, I was breathless, having had my super-sized ego deflated in a matter of a few very painful seconds.

"But. . . why. . . why would Caleb put the bag back in the drawer? I got it from the drawer where I keep the bags." I was nearly crying with shame. . . and horror. "The toothcakes, I mean, cupcakes were so pretty. . . " my voice trailed off.

By the time we got home, I was laughing about it, saying, "Well, we'll just call them my Cupcakes Al Dente."

Even as I laughed about it, I thought : I can never, ever share this story. What will people think of me?

And yet today, exactly one year later, my shame is being broadcast over the net-waves. . . by ME.

That's why all of the Zen today. I was fighting tooth and nail to save myself from the self-imposed embarrassment of last year.

Today when I calmly strode into Ethan's third-grade classroom with my tower of T-Rexes, a blonde girl with glasses rushed up to me and said, "Did you know that last year Caleb's tooth was in Ethan's cupcakes?"

Yes. . . Yes. . . As a matter of fact I did know that.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ETHAN!!! (And for some reason, I feel like I should raise my lips in the air and start singing "Loo, looo, loo" to "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," while my beagle skips in the background.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Birthday Party Before Time

To celebrate Peter's Birthday, we couldn't think of anything better than having a party where he could growl, scream, and stomp around in a frenzy of beastly activity--basically, he could just be himself! (Although, I do have to admit that he can be an awfully cuddly and adorable beast most of the time.)

The invitation for Peter's Jurassic Party

You can't see me in MY dinosaur costume. . . but I was a big green vision!!!

It looks like the cute little pink dinosaur in the picture on the
lower right was digging for something else besides fossils!

As I was constructing my carnivorous confection, I had to admit
that the guy bore a striking reptilian resemblance to Kermit
the frog . . . with rabies.

One of the reasons I love the group photo (aside from how CUTE
they all look in their towels!!!) is the battle royale going on in the lower left corner between two of the pink dinosaurs. (Disclamor: there were no children harmed in the celebrating at this party.) Deacon (in the lower left) got the award for the most frighteningly green goatee (can you STAND it?).

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Getting Schooled!

During our last Family Home Evening of the summer, I asked the kids to report how excited they were for school to start on a scale of 1-10.

Holden cooly replied, "10"

Caleb was a tad more cautious. His number was an 8, said with just a flicker of nerves.

Ethan was our cynic. He said nothing, but held two fingers over his head.

I looked over at Eve, sitting right beside me. Thoughtfully she moved her mouth from side to side as if calculating the ramifications of all of her emotions and how they might add up, wanting to snatch the accurate answer among all of those ten possibilities. Finally, she sat up straight and held her index finger in the air, the way she does when making a point, and said confidently, "One-hundred-and-forty-eight percent!"

Our band of mixed emotions and responses. We can always count on them for variety and entertainment.

When I took Holden to Middle School Registration the week before school started, I could feel my adolescent self sneaking up on me, worrying about whether I was going to fit in with the cool kids. I had to shake it off before I started curling my bangs under and hopping into my zippered Guess jeans and sliding into my Swatch. My nerves were jangling in the labyrinth of hallways, but Holden calmly walked around the school with me like the chaperone of the pair, leading me to the Library (his self-proclaimed "best feature" of the school) and to his Home Room.

The first day of school, I insisted on driving him there, although he would have happily taken the bus. As I dropped him off at his classroom, the tears spilling out, I was saved from my own sobs by an onslaught of lost tweens who swarmed around me with terror in their faces. Looking relieved to find a "teacher-esque" figure, they took turns frantically asking me, "Do you know who my teacher is?" and "Do you know where room 254 is?" I almost started giggling in their faces, but maintained a calm, adult-like exterior, since apparently that was the role I was supposed to take. I just told them I was so sorry I didn't know a darn thing, but that I could tell them where the office was. I made a quick escape after that, leaving my tears behind in the pre-pubescent chaos (at least until I got outside and started crying again).

Ethan had been the most reluctant to start school, confiding in me over pizza on our pre-school outing to Craigo's. I asked him what he had heard about his teacher, who has quite a reputation among the parents because of his flamboyant tendencies and practice of cross-dressing for school assemblies, complete with feathered boa. Ethan said he hadn't heard anything about him from the other kids. Then he paused and said, "I asked Holden about him and Holden says he's round." Okay. . . We'll stick with that then.

In kindergarten, Caleb was our shrinking violet, but this year he was the king of the jungle gym, eager to get to school and consort with his many friends. His teacher last year told me at Parent-Teacher Conference that Caleb was the unspoken leader of the class and that all of the other kids looked to him for answers. Our shy little guy who used to hide under furniture when guests came to dinner? That'll teach me to ever label my offspring!

In his new-cool-Caleb style, he practically swaggered off to class on the first day this year, barely looking back as he headed into the school.

On Eve's back-to-school outing, we were waiting in line at the pizza buffet when we saw a woman from our old ward. I said hello to her and mentioned that Eve was going to be starting kindergarten this year. The woman transformed in that way some adults do when they're talking to children and babies. She bent down and then contorted her face, raising her eyebrows two inches above her eyes, smacking her mouth and inhaling with a quick "haaah" before speaking with a voice a good octave higher than its usual tone. She loudly squeaked at Eve, heavily annunciating each syllable, "So. . . .YOU'RE STARTING KINDERGARTEN THIS YE-AR? ARE YA SOOO EXC-IT-ED?"

Eve looked the woman up and down, slowly lowered her chin, and then graced her with the look of a sixteen-year-old who has just seen someone wearing last year's leg-warmers, complete with the arched eyebrows and the puckered lips (we call this her "Noelle look). Saying nothing, Eve just stared at this woman for five straight silent but deadly seconds as I struggled not to laugh out loud. The woman straightened up and said, "Well. . . I guess she's not excited."

Eve does not put up with condescension. She is everyone's equal.

On the morning of the first day of school, a full thirty minutes before my alarm was set to go off, I could hear some rustling outside of my bedroom door. Then I heard someone quietly clearing their throat. This throaty "hu-hum" sound repeated itself three of four times until I could make out the blurry outline of a small figure peeking into the room. I put on my glasses and saw Eve standing there dressed in her first-day-of-school-garb. I just whispered to her, "Eve. . . it's early!" and she nodded and slipped away as quietly as she had come.

Eve and I made her outfit together and had to stop our crafty-concocting after we had assembled a skirt, a t-shirt, bows, a bracelet, and flip-flops that all looked like they had come from some Back-to-School pageant. "And the new Miss Kindergarten 2009 is . . . Eve d'Evegnee! " (I'll be the first to admit that I got carried away. . . but when you're getting carried away, I say enjoy the ride, man!) (Truth be told, I had spent weeks planning and designing Eve's outfit. As for the boys, I just let them choose something from their closet and they were good to go. How sad. . . oh well. Oh yeah, I can count. I realize there are like fifty pictures of Eve in this post. . . Wull! It was her FIRST day of school! Hullo!)

When we got to her classroom for her first official day of school, Eve strategically placed herself next to a girl she knows from our ward. At the kindergarten open house the previous week, Eve had noticed that the girl was looking rather petrified and pulled me close and whispered, "I think Maddie's shy."Ever the mother-type, Eve sat right next to Maddie and enveloped her in that Eve-love that we all adore. I was beyond thrilled to capture Eve's interaction with her, even though honestly, by this point I couldn't see much of anything because of all of those stupid tears running down my cheeks.

Eve got to ride the bus home from school and there was a crowd of ardent admirers waiting for her (okay, me, Eric, Peter, and Marie). I couldn't stop myself from snapping an overload of photos as she told about how they had decorated a gingerbread man who had escaped from their classroom, forcing them to play hide-n-seek all over the school to find him. Eve said, "We decorated him with candy eyes and gumdrop buttons and frosting on his legs." She then paused in her tale and said, "We just shouldn't have given him legs! Then he couldn't have run away!"

hen we asked Eve later in the week if they had found the Gingerbread Man, she shrugged her shoulders and said, "Yeah. He was in the President's office."

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