Easter 2011, Part Three: My Dad's Family

Like I said, Easter is the longest day of the year. By the time we got to my Aunt Cyndy's and Uncle Wiggy's house for the annual Egg and Keg Hunts, we had pretty much hit the wall.

Buckethead Dos



And she is not used to seeing non-plastic eggs, so when she found her own personalized Easter egg -- we all get an egg with our name on it, plus a toy if you're under 21 and a bottle of something or other when you're over 21 -- she tried to eat it on the spot. (I ended up putting it in a salad this week.)


Still, it's a lot of fun for a little kid to run around with a lot of other little kids and make a mad grab for everything you can reach. There must have been $200 worth of candy spread all over my aunt and uncle's lawn.

Bubble Thing

Shae said she was going to "take out" other kids who got in between her and the "good stuff," and she even had this little move to demonstrate what she was going to do -- it involved something with the legs and perhaps a little kung fu, although it looked an awful lot like Elaine Benes, honestly, only backwards -- but there was SO MUCH STUFF that we actually only brought home a small fraction of the stuff she picked up. Bubbles, we kept. Puzzles and squirt guns and tambourines and recorders were left for all the other kids. Because COME ON. Shae's plenty noisy on her own.


Also: something is not right with this kid because she picked up eleventy thousand Tootsie Rolls and I basically had to force her at gunpoint to stop and pick up the Nerds. GET YOUR MOTHER THE NERDS, KID. Mommy loves nerds.

Haldaman Grandchildren 2011 Edition

It was a good Easter. Even if I am still recovering. (And BTW: this is just the present-and-accounted-for under-21 crowd. There are AT LEAST this many who are over 21.) The end.


Easter 2011, Part Two: My Mom's Family

I already complained about Easter being the longest day of the year, and a big part of that is because we have to run around to do stuff with both sides of the family. I love my family, don't get me wrong, and I love spending time with them, but because it was a special occasion that required clean clothes and stuff for church, we had to lug like eleventeen tons of stuff along with us, plus all the extra goodies that we picked up along the way. Sometimes I really think I should join some kind of cult that doesn't observe gift-giving occasions just so I can simplify my life, but then that probably means that I won't get presents for my birthday, and that would stink out loud, so never mind. Just talked myself out of it. The Power of the Almighty Gift Wrap is just that compelling.

Happy Family

We did get a pretty alright family picture out of it. Even with me in it.

Anniversary Carvel Ice Cream Cake

And although I did not get a Fudgie the Whale cake because there were none available in a 50-mile radius, my sister got us another kind of Carvel ice cream cake, which was DELICIOUS. I appreciate her trying, though. Also: I hope I never have to live in a world where I can't get a Carvel ice cream cake any time I want one. (They are not paying me to say that, but if they want to, my rates are negotiable.)

Cake Boss Cake

Also, there was a cake from the Cake Boss. Friends of the family who were visiting from out of town took a day trip to NYC and Hoboken and waited in line for 3½ hours to get this cake. It was super pretty, and tasted good. There was a nice fudgy filling between the chocolate and yellow layers which was pretty darned divine. But it turns out I am not crazy about fondant, which is a surprise. Apparently I am whipped-cream or buttercream frosting kind of gal. Or cream cheese frosting. Or my mom's peanut butter frosting. Or chocolate ganache frosting. Anything but fondant, I guess.* Although I enjoyed playing with it, like it was Play-Doh.


Oh, and there was quite a bit of running around.

Golden Eggs

Also egg hunting. My cousin Chris hid the eggs this year, with an assist from my mother-in-law, and we managed to find more eggs than we believe were actually supposed to have been hidden, so either someone miscounted, or else we found eggs that someone else hid last year. Either way, it was a good haul. And by this point we were only halfway done, oh my lands.

* Update: Turns out I just do not like that particular fondant, because the center of Cadbury Creme Eggs is a kind of fondant, and I loooooove those. I guess I like gushy fondant, and not the harder stuff. (I hope I don't get whacked for saying that.)


Easter 2011, Part One: At Home

How is it possible that Easter is the longest freakin' day of the entire year? Can someone tell me that, please? It's exactly as much running around as there is on Christmas, and the weather is generally better, but yet somehow Easter manages to be like three times as long as Christmas is. I really am surprised we survived the whole thing, honestly, and that doesn't even count the part where we were driving home in the pouring rain and trying not to hydroplane into a ditch on the side of the road.

Maybe someone did not have enough Easter candy. (I had only two pieces, actually -- two homemade peanut butter eggs. No, really. I had cake and pie and ice cream cake and ham out the stinkin' wazoo, but not very much candy. Someone obviously did Easter wrong.)

2011 Basket

Because I knew that it was going to be a Gift Extravaganza -- and it was, our whole trunk was filled with stuff when we came home yesterday -- Shae's basket from us was pretty small. She knows that Easter is all about candy, so we weren't able to entirely avoid it, but I kept it to a minimum, in easily parcel-out-able containers. Peeps, Good and Fruity, jellybeans, candy rings, and Goldfish grahams.

2011 Loot

Also: plastic eggs full of money (6 eggs, $3 total), and all the Shrek movies, which as far as we know, she hasn't seen, yet she knows who Shrek is anyway. I don't know. Osmosis, maybe?

Candy Rings

Okay, look: this kid is THE WORST "Price is Right" product model EVER. Or else she is secretly the best. I'm not really sure. Why her first impulse is to cover her face with the item she is showing, I have no idea, but she did that EVERY SINGLE TIME, with EVERY SINGLE THING.

Also: yes, my kid got Tinkerbell Band-Aids in her Easter bucket, SHUT UP. She got an EASTER BUCKET, what do you expect?


Yeah, you got me. At this point it's only 8:00 in the morning, so it's not like it's the end of a really long day or anything. She's just ... that kid who likes to put buckets on her head.


Happy Easter!

Hope the bunny gave you everything you wanted this year!

Bunny Hugs
Bunny Kisses

Even if your particular bunny was a little bit ... sketchy.


On the Waterfront

On Sunday it was a nice day, clear and cool but not uncomfortable, one of the few days we've had in the last three weeks or so when they weren't calling for rain, so when Shae said she was bored with her movies and wanted to go play outside, we were happy to oblige. We filled a baggie with crunched up stale potato chips and pretzels, counted that as housecleaning for the day, and headed to the park.


I didn't comb her hair out that day, and she was supposed to get a bath that night, so since it was already 4:00 in the afternoon, I decided to cover her Wookkiee-head with a bandanna. Yes, it's lazy and ghetto. No, I don't particularly care, because I really think it's easier to just ignore the problem until it goes away (i.e., she is old enough to comb out her own damn tangles).


Right now Shae is really into yellow flowers, even though she recently announced that she doesn't like yellow any more and her new favorite color is purple. All yellow flowers everywhere are "daffodils" to her -- actual daffodils, sure, but also dandelions, forsythia, and whatever these yellow weedy things are that are growing all over the park. She's going to lose her mind when the strawberry runners that we're passing off as a "lawn" start blossoming and there are yellow "daffodils" (and teensy little baby strawberries) all over the yard.


It turns out she wasn't feeling very well that day, so we had to take a lot of "breaks" on our little walk around the park. When we told her to keep going and she didn't want to -- which was often -- she just copped a squat wherever. Four-year-olds. The less said about that, the better.

Top of the World

Or we carried her, which was clearly more fun for some of us than for others. She's getting so tall now that when she sits on my husband's shoulders -- he's 6'2" -- I worry a little bit that she's up where the air is thin and she isn't getting enough oxygen.


We didn't feed many ducks. The creek was running pretty fast and muddy and the ducks were paddling pretty furiously just to stay in the same place, and I guess they don't like stale potato chips and pretzels, because they didn't eat anything we threw at them. Maybe next time, if there is a next time -- it's been raining mice and frogs or whatever, and I don't know how long this is going to go on, but they're calling for rain for like seven out of the next ten days, including Easter. So I'm glad we ducked outside when we had the chance.


In the Drink

Second to last swimming class! I have to admit, as much as a pain in the tuchus it has been to get up relatively early on Saturday morning and get everything together so we can go to lessons, I am going to miss taking Shae to class.

Life Vest

I mean, really: she loves swimming so much that she is all smiles even when she's wearing her life vest and is not allowed to even go near the inflatable boat.


And she's finally started to look at the camera, on purpose, to make sure I am taking pictures like a "good mommy." Her exact words.

Mugging for the Camera

She's been mugging for me, even, hamming it up like the natural born actress that she is.


And we've come up with a mutually-agreeable Alternative Activity for Saturday mornings, starting next week. We're going to start going to the library and getting two books a week, until summer officially begins and we can start "lessons" with my swim team cousins. She's already advised me of her first selection: Shark in the Dark. (I think we can still manage to fit in a stop at Dunkin Donuts, too. You know, for the sake of tradition.)


Youth Soccer

I have two questions for you today. First: which of these two kids would you guess is the older one?

Guess Who's Older

If you guessed Lauren -- the non-Shae one -- then you are correct. Lauren is almost 6 years old and just about done with Kindergarten, whereas Shae just turned four and still sometimes puts her shoes on the wrong feet. My kid is an AMAZON -- she's a good six inches taller than Lauren, and Lauren is so wee and petite that I don't think we're going to be getting hand-me-downs from her much longer. Probably it's going to work the other way, actually.

Junior Goalies

Second: if you saw these two girls tending the net at your local youth soccer league game, would you be as scared as I might be? She-Hulk and The Scrapper. The dynamic duo. Shae's head alone is enough to strike fear into the hearts of most other little kids. God bless her. I hope she is athletically inclined, because I've never heard of a 6-foot tall ballerina.


Happiness or Bust

In another tip of the hat to a podcast that I really enjoy -- NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, which is truly outstanding and which also has a Facebook page that features the single best cross-stitch that I have ever seen anywhere ever as its profile picture -- I've decided to close out this week with a short list of Things That Are Making Me Happy Right Now.
  • My gig over at Prime Parents Club. It is nice to be in the company of other talented writers who are equally awesomely flawed as people and parents. And yes, I actually do mean that as a compliment.
whatever the heck these trees are, i love them.
  • These trees in the courtyard at work. No idea what they are, and I need to take a Zyrtec whenever I am anywhere near them because flowering trees = pollen = allergies = unhappiness, but as long as I take my pills, I am fine. And I love them.
  • Related: weeping cherry trees. I love cherry trees in general, and weeping cherry trees in particular, and just this morning I saw one that was so pretty that my breath actually caught in my chest. I would have pulled over to take a picture but it was the middle of morning rush.
  • My garden is also making me happy right now, even though the pictures you are about to see are terrible (cell phone + Instagram to cover some of the awful cell-phone-ness) and also my weeds need to be done and whatever. Still, I love the earliest spring flowers, when everything is super-saturated color and vibrance.
bleeding hearts

Those forget-me-nots are SO TINY, you guys. In just a few weeks they'll be tall and bushy and gorgeous and I love that color so very much.
  • Not pictured: my peony shoots (still too hard to see in the weeds back there), the lilac buds (because I never trimmed the lilac bush or the butterfly bush back last year, and so it's hard to tell the new growth from the old scraggly stuff), the columbines (not old enough yet to tell the actual columbines from the random weeds).
So this is what's making me happy right now: writing, bad photography, and flowers. As the PCHH gang says: let me know what's making YOU happy in the comments.


In Which The Writing Major Gets Indignant

I regularly listen to a podcast out of Seattle called "Too Beautiful To Live" -- TBTL for short. It's pretty cool, if you are like me and spend a lot of time driving and you think that an imaginary radio show which is basically about nothing but which is nevertheless unfailingly entertaining is a good way to spend a commute. TBTL has a blog, and a recent blog entry links to this Slate article about how the usage of language changes the meaning of words over time.

(Yes, this is probably going to be a week where I write about nothing of interest to anyone except me because I don't have any good pictures. Deal, McNeil.)

Basically, the gist of the Slate piece is that the meanings of words change when the words are used incorrectly by enough people over enough time. Not necessarily fake made-up words like "eleventy" and "stategery" and "agreeance" and "refudiate," but actual real-live words that currently exist in the English language, like "disinterested."

To quote Inigo Montoya: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

I believe that this phenomenon is referred to as "the principle of common usage." And this will come as no surprise to anyone, but I don't like it. I admit that I am something of a pedant when it comes to the English language. You might not be able to tell here on Ye Olde Blogge, because I try to write conversationally -- basically, I talk to myself when I am writing these entries, and sometimes I even talk to myself right out loud, and believe me when I say that hilarity does not always ensue, either -- but I know full well that there are Rules. Spelling, grammar, and mechanics count in real life. Anybody who tells you otherwise is at best uninformed and worst outright lying.

Look: I did not read Webster's Seventh Collegiate Dictionary in the sixth grade for my health, people.

So I suppose it goes without saying that I have Thoughts about the Slate story. Ugly thoughts, most of them involving cuss words and liberal use of pejorative terms for "persons who are not very intelligent." It's not because I disagree with the author of the article in question, either, but because I think he should fight harder to protect the legacy of the language. We all should. Words have meanings, and just because a bunch of bozos with basic-level Power Point skills think that "duly noted" means "I agree" does not make it so. Just because some wonk in a corner office thinks that it's perfectly fine to use "irregardless" with abandon does not make it a correct word.

I mean really, it's a single word with a double-negative built in. No one but me sees the problem here?

Right now, of course, I am not Mom-the-Grammar-Nazi, but believe me when I tell you that once Shae gets into elementary school and we start with the Language Arts, there will be a fairly strict enforcement of the Rules in our house. We're not going to let her slack off on the math and science homework, not if we ever expect this kid to have any part of Winning The Future, and you better believe that Spelling and Grammar and Mechanics Rules will be strictly enforced. I abandoned the "no sugar" edict ages ago, but a self-respecting Writing major must have some standards, dammit.

  • Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.
  • Misusing "i.e." and "e.g." will be punishable by death. OK, not death, put possibly the loss of dessert.
  • One space after a period in emails, two spaces after a period in academic papers, unless the assigned stylebook prescribes otherwise.
  • No, you cannot use Comic Sans for your book report. What are you, a Visigoth?
  • No, you cannot use 18-point type and 2-inch margins to make your paper "fit" the length requirements. Do you think I am stupid? Do you think I have never tried that myself?
  • If you are talking about the liquor, it is "Scotch." If you are talking about the people, it is "Scots." Trust me on this one. Your "History of Great Britain" professor from Glasgow will not think you are funny. It doesn't matter if your MS Word grammar-checker doesn't find the error.
  • Know where the quotation marks and other punctuation marks go in relation to each other. Know when quotation marks are required and when they are not. Ditto apostrophes.
  • "There" does not mean "their" does not mean "they're." "Too" does not mean "to" does not mean "two." "Its" and "it's" are not interchangeable.
  • Learn to properly diagram a sentence. Hardly anybody does this any more, but it is a useful skill for a writer to have, it will help you when you begin studying a second language, and it is a surprisingly effective party trick in college. Engineering and architecture majors love girls who can diagram things.
  • Have at least 50 words in your vocabulary that are more than three syllables and ten letters long. Know what they mean and how to spell them, and be able to use them in a sentence. I suggest starting with "onomatopoeia" because it is highly descriptive and useful and also my very favorite word.
  • If you ask me what words mean before you look them up in the dictionary, I am going to lie to you. Consider yourself warned. And yes, I will know.
  • I don't care what the other kids' parents say: YOU are going to do your History report at the library, using encyclopedias that were published before you were born, exactly as God intended. Wikipedia is not a reputable source for information. Nothing on the Internet is.
  • Reading the CliffsNotes is not anywhere near the same thing as reading the book itself. Are you trying to give me a stroke? No, I don't care that you think that Chaucer and Shakespeare are not written in "English."
  • No Notre Dame or Yankees fans in the house. Ever. (No, this is not technically grammar-related, but it's a rule that cannot be spelled out often enough.)
Of course, I can have all the rules in the world, and none of it will change the fact that I will probably spend the rest of my career taking orders from people who don't know an ellipsis from epilepsy, and who have never even heard of subject/verb agreement, let alone know how to employ it correctly.

"Irregardless" will always make me get up and walk out of the room, though.


The Big Dig

The world is collapsing around our ears.

You think I'm being melodramatic as usual, but of course I am absolutely not making this up. Our roof is leaking into our bedroom and this is causing no end of emotional, psychological, and physical distress to me. You can probably guess why: emotional, because "oh noes, all our stuff!" (which is totally fine); psychological, because "oh noes, we are forcing our poor child to live in squalor and disrepair because we're terrible people!" (which is not entirely the truth, although I'll let you figure out where the line between fact and fiction is perforated); and physical, because "oh noes, we're beating ourselves up over this!" (which, all that self-flagellation really takes a toll, you know?).

(And oh by the way -- that is A LOT of punctuation, right there. My former English teachers and lit professors are either insanely proud, or insanely appalled, or just insane.)

Of course, most of these things are non-starters. The roofing guy came out to the house today to take pictures and assess the damage and the good news, so far, is that it seems like the damage is pretty minor, or at least it only affects a small area of the roof. It's rained on and off for the last two days and we haven't had any more drippage, but in the event that it does, we already have the big plastic trash can from the office in position. On Friday, when we discovered the leak, we found only a tatty old sweater had gotten wet. As far as damage goes, that's so insignificant as to barely register -- that sweater doesn't fit anyway, and it was about to go into the "giveaway" pile.

But now we're waiting on the estimate and then once that comes, and we figure out how many kidneys and liver chunks and potential first-born children we need to barter in order to come up with however much money is going to be needed to pay to fix a roof on an 83-year-old house with a lot of the original fixtures, and then after that there will be strange people tromping through my bedroom on their way to the busted-up spot, and that means that, at some point probably sooner than later, I will really need clean my room.

Our room is a mess. Not quite a federal disaster area, not yet, definitely not at risk of qualifying as a Superfund site, but  ... we have A LOT of stuff. Right now our room is filled with laundry, clean clothes that need to be put somewhere, but our closet space is limited, and some of it is potentially in the leaky-roof danger zone, plus it's time to switch out the winter stuff for the summer stuff, and I don't really have anything that fits, so I don't know what to keep and what to give away and where to put everything in the meantime. There's just SO MUCH STUFF, and when we try to make some headway (a thorough cleaning would take at least a few hours, even if we were uninterrupted by a four-year-old whose idea of "helping" is basically to move stuff from one end of the room to the other and then jump on the bed), we get about half an hour in, tops, before it gets so overwhelming that we both end up fighting and yelling and crying and "accidentally" throwing away the other one's perfectly fine pair of slightly-used-but-still-good-condition Crocs with absolutely no tread left on the soles BUT THEY ARE MY PHILLIES CROCS, DAMMIT, AND I LOVE THEM.

Plus, one of us might possibly have a slight over-accumulation problem, but that's only because I keep losing one sock of each pair every time they go in the wash and it is my fault that I have to wear socks with most of my shoes so that my feet don't freeze and my toes don't fall off? It's sad, really, that two grown adults -- one of whom is an engineer, and one of whom purports to have a major Martha Stewart complex -- just cannot get themselves together, but there you are.

We've gotten exactly nowhere so far, but thanks for asking. We're planning to make a plan as soon as we get the estimate back and we are both in the same place at the same time when the sun is still up, or at least when it is on the sunset side of the deep dark night, and not the sunrise side.

One good thing has come out of this, though: aside from clean clothes, one other big thing that takes up valuable real estate in our bedroom is stacks and stacks of books (most of them mine, I admit), and our bookshelves are just about full to bursting, and I don't want to start moving the clutter from one room to another, hoarders-style, because let's face it, it's not just our bedroom that needs help, and moving the junk around would just make a bad situation worse because eventually we'd need to move it somewhere else, so I've decided to start culling the collection and start a paperback book swap at work. I took three bags full of books into work this morning, and I am taking more tomorrow, and G said he has some he'll contribute to the cause, and you know, I don't even care if nobody else brings any books in, as long as someone takes these off my hands. So far three books have been taken out of the box at work, and not everything is trash, either -- there are Pattersons and Evanoviches and Sookie Stackhouse novels in there.

And I managed to find a beautiful, untouched, unopened copy of Little Women, which I am sad to admit I have not yet read. That might be the most embarrassing thing about this whole plight -- I'm potentially a hoarder AND I am apparently the worst former Writing major EVER.

Anyway. Send us your thoughts and well-wishes and any spare sacks of money you might have lying around. And also, send shovels.


California Dreaming

I had a crazy weekend, particularly Friday night, when I had a nervous breakdown and then, at the height of the drama, with the house practically literally falling down around my ears, I made the ill-advised decision to watch MSNBC while the Senate and the House of Representatives were in the middle of their last-minute deliberations over the potential government shutdown. I'd write about that now, but I have a strictly-enforced rule of only one psychotic freakout per week, so if you're interested in all that, please check out my Twitter stream. Maybe I'll be able to muster the strength to talk about it later, but for now, let's just say that it is really not a good idea to listen to Congress fighting among themselves like a bunch of four-year-olds who desperately need a nap and some fruit snacks while your roof is leaking into your master bedroom and you are possibly out of heating oil.

{Key quote from the Twitters: "i SWEAR TO GOD, mitch mcconnell and steve forbes are EXACTLY THE SAME PERSON." [sic] Yeah, it was a dark and stormy and profoundly stupid night.}

Photo from www.visitingdc.com
Instead, can we talk about Disneyland? Because last week, before everything in the house seemed to fall apart at once, we finally booked our upcoming trip, and there are probably not words in the English language that adequately express how COMPLETELY FREAKIN' STOKED I am about this vacation.

** Short pause for loud, obnoxious, seal-like clapping **

I really can't remember how much I've mentioned this trip already (I know I discussed it here and here, and it was referenced in passing before and since), but it's going to be a subject of some excitement and angst over the coming weeks -- 6 weeks and 2 days until we leave, to be exact. G lived in California for a while when he was young (Army brat) but Disneyland is one of those far-off, exotic-type places that I have always wanted to visit.

And now I'm finally going, with my two favorite people in the whole wide world, one of whom is way more excited about having lunch with a bunch of princess-types than a 35-year-old father ought to be.

(Okay, maybe I am projecting, a little bit. Maybe the one who is most excited about this particular character dining experience is an almost-37-year-old strident radical feminist who hates the Princess-Industrial Complex and everything it stands for and yet she still cannot contain her unbridled joy at the prospect of GETTING MY PICTURE TAKEN WITH ARIEL OMGOMGOMG SQUEE! Ahem.)

Plus, there's that whole wedding thing that will be happening while we're out there. We're going to Disneyland first, and then on the weekend we're moving from Anaheim to the Lagua Beach-Woods-Hills area (I can't tell them apart, honestly, and nobody I know who's been to California can tell me the difference either) for what looks like it's going to be a spectacular shindig. I've seen pictures of the place where the wedding will be held and it looks like a movie set. I am going to be Speidi adjacent. It's kind of fantastic. I sort of can't believe that we're invited. I'm going to try really hard not to lose my mind, but I have to tell you -- it's going to be a long six weeks.

In the meantime, we have eleventy billion things to do. We need to shore up details -- will we have to rent a car? Is there anywhere that we can get a discount on our park tickets? What do we have to do to get Shae on stage as part of the Jedi Training Academy attraction? Can I convince anyone that I am actually a 12-year-old so that I can participate? Will I ever find clothes that fit before we leave? How much sunscreen are we going to need? Is her car booster seat FAA approved? Could I maybe just go to the airport now and hang out there until it's time to leave? Would anybody even notice?

So I apologize in advance if I sound like I have a one-track mind. Hopefully we'll be able to get someone to come fix our roof soon and then I'll be able to talk about that marvelous misadventure, but it's supposed to rain for six out of the next ten days, so I am not holding my breath, and you probably shouldn't either.


Almost The End Of An Era

Pretty soon swimming lessons will be over -- Shae's last class is scheduled for April 23rd, so there are just three sessions remaining before we have to figure out what to do with our Saturday mornings. I can't believe we've been doing this for 12 weeks already.

Oh Hey Look Another New Swimsuit

On the upside, we'll get to sleep past 8:00 AM at that point. Hypothetically. I'll believe it when I see it, though.

Practice Makes Perfect

I have to admit, even though it's kind of a pain to get up and get moving and pack up all the stuff we need and lug it around and gogogo and all the stuff we do on Saturdays before we sit around for an hour or so while she is getting her swim on, I do kind of enjoy taking her to lessons. I know how happy they make her.

Conditioner Tastes Delicious

And it's not like we're going to be trapped indoors forever -- the weather is starting to improve, so we'll be able to play outside, and soon we'll start getting everything together for the big Disneyland trip at the end of May.


Still, I hope that she isn't too disappointed when it's over. I guess we'll have to start dressing her in her endless array of swimsuits to just run around in the yard an blow bubbles or whatever.


Party People In The House

If you had told me four years ago that I would ever unironically fall in love with a possibly toxic neon-colored Hello Kitty birthday cake, that in fact it would turn out to be my favorite part of a pretty gosh-darned kick-ass kiddie party, I would have laughed right in your face.

Hello Kitty

But here we are. Just goes to show you what becoming a parent will do to you, I suppose.

Top View

And if, at the same time, you would have told me that I there would come a day when a child would be more excited about eating fistfuls of cheddar cheese popcorn and running around outside than she would be about opening presents at her own birthday party, I would have probably checked you for dengue fever or something.

Phat Lewts

But, again, here we are. We pretty much had to pull Shae into the house by her hair to get her to open her gifts. One of those rare, exciting opportunities to tear the ever-living snot out of some brightly-colored paper ON PURPOSE, and she wanted to be out in my parents' yard blowing bubbles with her friends.

Simple Pleasures

At least she found SOME reason to get excited. Sunglasses apparently figure prominently in her happy place. I was a little bit disappointed at her reaction to the stuff we gave her -- a stuffed Perry the Platypus and a stuffed Stich, Hello Kitty jellybeans and a gummy dinosaur, a "princess plant" (which I think is actually some kind of orchid or something), and the pièce de résistance ...

Princess Ears

... a sparkly, princessy pair of authentic Mouse ears for our upcoming trip to Disneyland -- these things apparently did not do much for her in the moment. She was far more stoked about her new beach towel, and her Belle fashion doll, and this little Nerf-like water cannon thing with a rubber duckie on the handle. Oh, and her new Phillies shirt. All these things, apparently, were much more thrilling than the stuff we got her that she actually asked for.

My God It's Full Of Stars

But my favorite part, aside from seeing all those friends and family members having a good time and spending the better part of an afternoon listening to the sweet sound of the unbridled laughter of about a dozen small children, was definitely the Hello Kitty birthday cake. I mean, MY GOD, it LIT UP. How cool is that? (Plus: that is QUALITY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING, y'all. Artificial colors AND real live honest-to-God sugar. YES PLEASE.)


Let Them Eat Cupcakes

So we survived Shae's birthday party. Not even barely survived, but actually survived completely unscathed. So that's awesome. Of course, I don't have the pictures yet, because I haven't offloaded them from my camera, but if it makes you feel any better, that's partly because we spent like 3 hours yesterday looking for gifts that were in our house less than 24 hours before they went missing. Constant excitement!

Cupcake Pr0n

Before my sister and nephew went back to Chicago, we had a small impromptu party, because what is cuter than small children singing "Happy Birthday" to each other at the top of their lungs? Nothing, that's what.

Joey Cupcake
Shae Cupcake

Okay, nothing except watching them eat cupcakes. That's pretty darned cute.

Joey Icing
Shae Icing

Okay, nothing except watching them eat cupcakes with icing all over their faces. That's pretty darned cute, too.

Tomorrow I will have pictures of the "real" party, pinky swear. Including THE LIGHT-UP HELLO KITTY CAKE TOPPER OMG SQUEE. No, I am not kidding. It was AMAZING.