Sunday, September 23, 2012

penny pinching party

I remember turning 8.

It was the year that my dad took me and most of my siblings to do the bumper boats and then out for ice cream.  My mom was sick and so was one or two of my siblings, so she stayed home with them, and the rest of us went out.  We didn't grow up doing much for birthday parties, til you turned 10 and got a sleepover.  So to go do the bumper boats was a HUGE THING for us.

well, my bumper boat got stuck going in a circle, for a long time.  and I'm not sure if it was the spinning that made me feel sick, or the sick bug that was going through  my family that made me feel sick, or what.  But when we got to McDonalds for ice cream, I barely made it out of the van when I puked all over the parking lot.

It's a VERY clear memory for me.  So to realize that my kids are now at the point where they could have VERY clear memories about stuff kind of concerns me.  how are they going to remember me?  what are they going to say to their kids about what their mom did?  I think about that a lot.

So when things like birthdays come up, i never really know what to do.  We've always done the same thing for Lillian since she got into school. we hand out little invitations to everyone at the bus stop in the morning (so they don't feel like they have to go out and buy a gift) and invite them to pop in after school and get a cupcake.

That way we get a celebration, she feels special, I didn't spend tons of money, I don't have to entertain anybody, and everyone's happy!

but this year she really really really wanted a party where she could invite her friends.

now here's the thing about parties here.  We've been invited to parties at all sorts of places like the pizza machine, p.e. 101, bouncy places, the skating rink, all sorts of places.  So I kinda feel like that's what's expected when you throw a party around here!

well, guess what.  that's not how I roll.  So I talked to Lillian about how I'm not doing daycare anymore so we don't have any extra money to be doing fancy parties and such.  But I also don't want her growing up thinking that you have to spend tons of money in order to have fun.  SO, we decided together that we would throw a SUPER low budget party, but she could invite her friends.

It's kinda hard, ya know?  in a world with pinterest and blogs and facebook and such, to do something simple.  and be okay with it.  there's a quote floating around that I've seen a few times about how we are always comparing our own lives to other people's highlight reels.  and isn't that the truth.  The big fancy parties going on these days are more for the moms to feel good about themselves I think.  The kids couldn't care less.

so, the deal was: aldi pizzas for food ($5 each for a massive pizza.  i bought two.) I would make cute cupcakes, but we weren't going to get ice cream to go with them.  (and, ok, I spent probably like $25 on cupcake stuff, but it made LOTS of cupcakes, for the birthday party (2 parties actually) and the school bake sale, and some for the school secretaries, and I still have some supplies left from the butterflies, which will get used at a later date I'm sure.  that did end up being more expensive than I hoped, but it's because I wanted lots of colors of butterflies.) :)  and we were not going to send little gift baggies home with everyone, but I would let them each design a pinkadink headband, and that could be their little take home activity.  oh, and I photocopied a butterfly picture for everyone to color while they waited for their turn to design a headband.  oh, and because I"m a sucker for cute, I bought a set of paper lanterns, just to make it seem a LITTLE more party-ish.  but I bought green, so you better believe we'll get lots and lots of use out of them. :)

and that was the party!  it was only two hours long, we had 15 kids and one adult, and the kids loved it I think!  in fact, I know they did.  I didn't need to plan a big party to boost my self esteem, because inviting a bunch of 8 year olds over will do the trick.  I heard lots of conversations along the lines of "I wish Lillian's mom was my mom." "yeah, I wish Lillian's mom was my mom too!" "well, I wish I WAS Lillian's mom!  she can make dresses!!!"  and they all thought I was so pretty and so nice!  it was all very cute and sweet and hilarious.  you should try it sometime.  seriously. :)

But I was really proud of myself.  I resisted the urge to get all crafty and make decorations and such.  because I LOVE that type of thing, but it just adds up money-wise.  and someday I hope that the pinkadink is doing so well that we'll have extra money to throw a party like that.  I certainly don't think it's wrong for moms to do that.  trust me, I appreciate cuteness probably way more than the average person.

but for THIS party, and at THIS time in our life, I wanted to show Lillian (and myself) that simple can still be good.

***and you might be thinking that the cupcakes weren't simple.  but if you try it, you'll see that anyone can do it!  you can find the tutorial on my pinterest "treats" board.  it was EASY PEASY I'm telling you.  it just takes a lot of time.***

so anyway, here are some of the very few pictures I took, because when you have to make sure that 15 kids don't disappear or trample each other in your little house, it gets tricky to walk around with the camera. :)

my girl.  where has the time gone???

the butterflies. aren't they pretty?

the decor.  that was it. :)

the kids.  I love this picture. :)

so there you have it.  the freedom to throw a simple party.  no comparisons, no expectations, no lack of fun, that's for sure.  it felt good, it was fun, but I'm glad it's over. :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

empty nester (for a couple hours)

last week on this day, it was the last day before Brielle started preschool.

I had many real friends and about a bazillion facebook friends go through the same thing-bringing their kids to preschool for the first time-in the couple of weeks before, and let me tell you...emotions were running HIGH.

only...not MY emotions.

I had decided at the beginning of the summer that B's goal MUST be to make it really easy on me to drop her off at preschool because she was driving. me. crazy.  like, bugging her siblings, hurting them just because, and whining all the time.  like, ALL the freaking time.  and I was READY for preschool to start.

and then sometime in the middle of the summer, when we were trying to work our new budget, and figure out how much pinkadink stuff I needed to make (and sell) each day in order to participate in the whole bill-paying thing that is so unfortunate in life, we decided it would be wise for Brielle to not only go to preschool 3 days a week, but ON her preschool days, to stay the other half of the day in the daycare too, just because then I'd have 3 whole days to work uninterrupted.  and at that point, just the THOUGHT of dropping her off somewhere for a whole day (and the fact that I'd have to make THREE lunches every morning, not two) brought be to tears every time.  I couldn't talk about, couldn't think about it.  tears.

And then sort of suddenly, I realized that I never actually signed her up for the daycare part, and good thing too, because I had spent most of the summer bumming around with my sisters instead of sewing, so we didn't really have the money to pay for her to have 'rest time' somewhere else.  so then I was back to being totally fine with her going to preschool 3 days a week for a couple hours.

and last Tuesday night Steve actually said to me that a friend might be calling me to talk about sending her little boy to preschool, and how hard it's been for her.  and I thought "WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH ME??????????"

Why is it so hard and so emotional for all these parents to send their kids to PRESCHOOL?  I mean,  yes, I cried when I sent Lillian, because that was my first time ever leaving any kid anywhere.  so I get it that your first one is hard.  And yes, I cried on when I dropped both big kids off at school this year, but only because it's all day and they're growing up, and it had NOTHING to do with the fact that I wanted them to be home with me.  but dropping my 3rd child off for a couple hours of interaction with other people at a place I already feel comfortable with?  no sad feelings.  at all.

now trust me.  I love my kids.  crazy love them.  But I have no desire to be with them all day every day.  homeschool moms, YOU ROCK.  you are way stronger than me.  I loved being home with my babies all day every day, and my toddlers, but once we get to this age where they can, like, talk like, um, like, valley girls and stuff?  yeah, still love you, but go talk like that with other 7 year olds who speak that language.  and go burn your excessive boy energy on a playgound instead of climbing (literally) up my hallway walls.  and when you get home, I'll be SO EXCITED to see you!

so I was trying to explain to Steve that the only comfort I could give anyone having a hard time is saying, "oh, I rememeber it was so hard with Lillian too."  and I told him about Missy who writes at It's Almost Naptime. she's my mom twin.  except she's way cooler and more hilarious than me. but everything she writes (that's not about adoption or the diet she has one of her children on) I TOTALLY relate to, and feel like she snuck into my head and wrote about my thoughts.  so when I read this post, I was thrilled to realized I'm not alone in my whole "absence makes the heart grow fonder" idea.

so when the day came to drop Brielle off, I made sure my camera was charged and ready, and after a quick stop at Daddy's office, off we went to her school.  We had already been to her open house and she felt really confident and played so well by herself there. We were a bit early so we had a chance to meet some of the girls (Lyric and Anya) in her class before they acutally went in the room.  This is where things started to change for me emotionally.  Lyric was adorable and chatty and spinning in circles and going on and on and on about sisters and stuff.  Then Anya comes and she was adorable and singing and singing and singing and she never stopped til it was time to go in.  and the song?  girls just wanna have fun.  it was so awesome.  and during that time of talking with the other girls, Brielle shrunk down onto her haunches and stayed by my feet not saying a word to anyone.

and once I realized she might be nervous, I got emotional.

so we headed in to drop her off, and it was all a little awkward.  There are only 8 kids in her class, but it felt like the room was SO crowded, and parents were standing there, not really doing anything.  I took Brielle to hang up her backpack and move her little owl, and then took a few pictures. all the other parents were standing there, watching their kids play, but as I took the last picture, I felt it.

tears were coming, and coming HARD.

so I gave her a quick hug and a kiss and a "see you at 3!" and started to leave.  I asked the teacher if we could go because I just didn't understand why all the other parents were standing there and she said to go ahead and leave!  so I race to the door, which is RIGHT when she started talking to the parents about pick up procedures.  So I stifle the tears for 15 more seconds and then right when she's done I open the door....and the flood gates.

I started bawling.  like, weird faces and strange sounds bawling.  and I did NOT see it coming.  and I still to this day don't know what the emotions were that I was feeling.  the end of a stage of life maybe?  I'm not sure.  but it felt good.  it felt normal.  like I could view myself as a good mother again instead of a cold-hearted-kid-dropper-offer.

so yeah, I only cried the one day, and I guess I'm back to wondering what the big deal is.  I love it when she talks to me about stuff that I have no idea what she means. like the kangaroo who puts a book in her pouch. and the songs she tries to sing but I know she cannot possibly be singing the right words.  and the kids she talks about, with names she never remembers.  and the guinea pigs.  and the star in the apple that shows that Jesus loves her. it's all becoming part of what makes her HER.

so yeah, my baby is gone from me for a while.  but she told me not to worry, and that she'll always be my baby....even when she's a grown up. :)  and she's right.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

back at it

so, I decided to pick up the 'ol blog again.

I miss my stories.  I miss knowing what has happened in my life.  see, I have a HORRIBLE memory, and I wanted this to be a place where I could go back and remember moments in my life I wouldn't normally remember.  and as it turns out, I don't remember much of the last year.  the details anyway. because I didn't write them down.  or maybe they're lost in facebook statuses somewhere, I'm not sure. 

so here I am, back at it.

my little hiatus stemmed from a lot of things.  I made a major life change in the last year and people are critical, ya know?  so I didn't feel like I could totally ignore it in my blog, but I also didn't want everybody knowing stuff about me while I tried to figure it out either.  now I'm to the point that I believe in it and I don't so much care what other people think.  it's not even a big deal to me anymore, but it was then.  we cut meat and almost all dairy out of our diet.  see?  no big deal.  

it was really fun to watch the scale (which stayed the SAME after working out WITH A TRAINER for almost a year) drop almost 15 pounds in a few months time.  turns out what you eat really matters. :)  

now that I got that out there (I may have mentioned it before, I don't really know) and you all think I'm super healthy, I'd like to take the time to share a recent kitchen adventure.  some call it cooking, some call it baking, some call it making supper.  to me, it's always foreign and uncomfortable, no matter how many times I do it, so it's an adventure.  and this adventure was far from healthy.

My sweet hubby turned 33 last week.  At his new job, you bring treats on your own bday so that nobody ever gets forgotten about. these are the things you don't learn about in marriage counseling.  the expectation that the wife brings some extravagant thing to make everybody in the office think they are so awesome.  

well his bday was on a saturday.  and the kids really wanted a surprise party for him, which is hard to do when he's with you all day on his bday.  So Friday we decided to do it, and i was going to make him a candy bar cake with brownies, bc the guy loves chocolate, and this girl doesn't so much love cake.  plus, I thought that it might be what I want to bring to his work the next week, so I better try it out first.

so I went to the store and got 2 boxes of brownie mix thinking that if I make two 8x8 pans of brownies, they'll stand up high enough that the kitkats on the outside of the cake will look good.  then Brielle and I went on a mission to find colorful candy coated chocolates to put on the top to add a little color.  but they couldn't be m&ms because they're all at risk of having peanuts in them.  the life of an allergy family.  

well it just so happens that my FAVORITE candy in the whole world is sixlets, which are not at risk of peanut contamination. AND they're colorful.  AND they're chocolate.  AND they're not sold in HyVee apparently.  it's a hard job to scour the candy aisles during Halloween season, and enough to make this mama go NUTS.

so we settled on little blue, brown, and cream almond joy bites.  I'll go ahead and skip detials of the part where I picked the kids up from the bus stop while the brownies were baking and FLEW to the dollar general AND Nobbies looking for sixlets, because we settled on the almond joys, even though we did find sixlets.  whatever.  

we got home with TWO minutes left on the timer for the brownies.  go team.


a) you can't use egg replacer for making brownies (even though I use it for other baking things), or 

b) you can't use Canola oil instead of vegetable oil (I thought they were the same.  but see?  it's all foreign to me...), or 

c) you can't bake 2 pans of brownies at the same time, or 

d) any combination of the above.  

because, folks, these were not brownies that came out of the pans.  they were oily, bubbling, flat slabs of TAR, in a shape that tried really hard to resemble a square.  so I cut them into circles, let them cool for not enough time bc steve would be home soon, slapped some leftover frosting on the edges so the candy would stick, and put the kitkats down (HORIZONTALLY, that's how flat TWO pans of brownies were), sprinkled the pretty cnadies that took me an like 2 hours to decide on, and stuck that baby in the deep freeze to try to keep some sort of shape and prevent the rest of the chocolate from melting off the kitkats.  

it was a total disaster, people.  a whole day wasted.  except for one thing: the photo.  

I love love love this picture, and nobody knows that we ate a total of one piece combined.  nobody knows the kitkats were supposed to be vertical.  nobody knows my husband doesn't even like almond joys.  the kids were hiding when he got home from work, they jumped out and said surprise, and he had "no idea" that there was a special dessert waiting for us, even though the whole house smelled like brownies and there were dirty dishes everywhere.  and I told him he better act surprised. :)

so this picture captures exactly what I wanted it to.  the kids were so excited, so proud, and they just love their daddy so much. 

but if it wasn't for the blog, I'd forget all about the brownie flop.  

oh, I got off track though.  so good thing I attempted the candy bar cake before the dreaded 'bring treats to work day.'  can you imagine?  I'd have gone to dairy queen for an ice cream cake or something I guess.  But ice cream cakes aren't really in our budget, so instead of risking another disaster, I went with cupcakes.  Steve loves butterfinger, and we can't ever really make that kind of stuff for here because of Lillian's allergy, so I though it'd be fun to bring some to work.  and easy.

so I made regular old cupcakes.  (have you SEEN what people do to their cupcakes?  thank you, pinterest, for making us feel like everything has to be totally freakin fancy.)  in order to make them "butterfinger" ones, I crushed up some butterfinger to add to the frosting, crushed a little more (without the chocolate, which was easy bc if you crush it in the wrapper, the chocolate sticks to the wrapper anyway) to sprinkle on top, and then found these adorable little butterfinger snacksters or something in the candy aisle and put one of those on the top.  they were really boring compared to pinterest, but they were EASY, and I used EGGS, and they were a huge hit.  so there, take that pinterest.  

so there you have it. I survived.  I threw a surprise party for my hubby (ha!) and successfully brought treats to his work.  AND, I blogged about it.