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Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Wild Rumpus

I had a big freelance project the same weekend as Em's birthday, so I took Monday as a vacation day. Pretend it's a holiday, right?*

I've been making birthday cards for relatives and friends for years, but only recently realized I could make wrapping paper that coordinated with a card.

It's compromised by the fact that I don't have a roll-fed printer, but a bit of tiling/overlapping and who knew it was only 11x17 sheets of paper?

Em, by the way, had been suggesting to me for at least a year that I buy a new camera and give her my old one. Beat up as it is after 54,000 clicks, it was still, in her words, 'Awesome.'

I can't argue with that: I almost talked myself out of the new PowerShot a few times, including on the bike ride to get it. There are more practical expenditures (garage door opener) I could make, to be sure, and there are other frivolous itches I could have scratched with that money: a new(er) Kitchenaid mixer; fenders for the Foolkiller Express; an iPod (or similar) with a car radio adapter so my broken CD player doesn't make me a captive of NPR and (worse) AM talk radio...

The old PowerShot is still a very capable camera, half the megapixels and a third the zoom of the new one, but Em's main objective is FaceBook and YouTube, and it's overkill for those applications.

I still had, being a pack-rat, the original packaging, cables, etc., so I repacked that careworn camera and wrapped it up.

She was truly thrilled after she unwrapped it. After I told her she had to: when she saw the custom wrapping paper, she didn't want to tear it.

That 11x17 tile thing gave a bad idea. I'd get a banner made for my kids' birthdays, but I thought of it too late. Printing on out in 11x17 panels meant an hour and a half of taping stuff together.

Of course, if I didn't want a lot of work, why did I make five kinds of pizza from scratch for her party Saturday night?

And after making all that pizza, I made the birthday cake from scratch. To be followed by cream cheese frosting, also in Ye Olde KitchenAide...

Her guests surprised me two ways: one pair of sisters who have been here going back to the first year after my divorce used to be 'cheese pizza' girls. They have expanded to pepperoni and Alfredo sauce.

But beyond that, the rest surprised me by being timid for their ages. Only one would brave a pesto sauce, and none would even entertain the idea that anchovies are food.

Anchovies are the bacon of the sea, right?

Of course, being me, I tried to get some pics of the wild rumpus, but these kids are slippery fast. Besides times they pretended to hold still, there were times when I tried to sneak up, getting affect that seems made for Ghost Hunters.

What freaked them out worse, though, was that there was mayonnaise going in Em's birthday cake. They weren't going to eat it, but her relatives would and at least one girl looked pale and nauseous.

I used to think mayo on fries was gross, so I understand.

I made cream cheese frosting after church on Sunday. I keep using less sugar, you can't taste the cream cheese if you use too much, and I think I need to cut back again.

The food coloring is easy, though.

Usually, I've tried to write out, in frosting and decor, the kid's name and year. I gave that up this time in favor of abstract expressionism, which Em decided to take over.

Which was fine, it's her cake after all.

So after she Jackson Pollocked her cake, the relatives showed up.

Mo had been up until 12:30 the night before, and she responded to the relatives arrival by going into hiding. I could relate, I went to bed four hours after she did, and had to get up to wake everyone up and get them off to church and whatnot.

I wasn't so under-rested I couldn't get my nephew to smile. And with me, him smiling is a big deal, since I don't think he approves of my lifestyle choices.

The banner thing was still a bad idea. I think I'm going to have our banner vendor make one for Mo's without the age on it so I can roll it up and re-use it for a few years.

*Okay, Ken and the rest of you, that's a joke. I'm a big fan of Martin Luther King, but not a fan of Federal holidays because they translate into a day where we collectively pay a lot of people who probably shouldn't even be working for the government to do even less than they do the rest of the weekdays of the year. On the one hand, at least they aren't doing their jobs, which may be a good thing, but on the down side we have to pay the, and they'll be back on Tuesday to get up to all manner of assheadery.

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