Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Blog Post That Time Forgot

Alternate Title: Remember When Max Had A Birthday Party? No? Like, Three Weeks Ago? No? Nothing? Well, I Have Pictures. Anyone Still Interested?

So now it's been so long since Max's birthday party that I sort of feel like it's peculiar talking about it. It's like when you have an old friend that you haven't seen for awhile, so when you do see them conversation is all awkward at first until you get reaquainted, or remember that you haven't seen them for awhile because you actually don't like them very much and beat a hasty retreat. Truthfully, Max's party post is very long, and contains many pictures, and I have had trouble finding time to finish it, but I couldn't quite go on and write other, smaller blog posts with the party one just hanging there in draft form, and thus the writer's block. However, Max did have a birthday party, there are pictures and amusing anecdotes and more pictures to prove it, and we should not let a small amount of awkwardness stand between us and reminiscing about the experience. Ergo:

This was Max's third birthday party, his fourth if you count the one where he was actually born, but it was the first one that he was old enough to anticipate. He had a number of ideas about party themes, cake recipes, h'ordeurves menus, and presents, and while some of them were impractical ("I know, Mama! We will all go get me a Disneyland castle for my birthday! Is that a good idea, Mama?"), I did try to shape the party around his wishes. The most consistent and fervent of his many requests was a blueberry cake. Where he got this idea, I cannot say, but it caused me some hand-wringing. When I bake at all, which is rarely, I am a cake mix kind of lady, and blueberry cake is off the beaten path enough that there is no mix. In the end (because while this tale of my adventures in domesticity is almost unbearably fascinating, I know, we've got a lot of ground to cover, so we'll have to skim off some of the bakerly details in the name of brevity), I used blueberry muffin mix, poured it into a cake pan, and it was delicious. Max cracked the eggs for the cake. There was egg all over creation and we wasted at least three eggs because Max became overexcited by the cracking process. He was delighted. It was totally worth it.

More easily accomplished was Max's desire to have his party in the park. We did this with Maggie's party, too, and while there is always some risk in outdoor party-planning because the weather can betray you and lay waste your fond hopes, the dangers are offset by the promise of free child-entertaining and minimal mess.

While the weather didn't behave too obnoxiously on the day in question, it was a bit warmer than we were anticipating. Most of the playground equiptment is in direct sunlight, so we had to get creative to try and keep everyone entertained in the shade. My uncle Will sent this bubble machine to us a while back, and it made the perfect distraction. It does kind of rapid-fire bubbles at a break-neck pace, though, which I didn't realize until I had accidently sent a giant stream of them right up Maggie's nose.

Max took over the controls of the Bubbler, and things went much more smoothly once the new management was in place.

The last time we had a party in the park, Maggie could not yet walk or climb. Now she can. It makes the overall park experience much more -- what's the word I'm looking for? Ah, yes --stressful.

On first glance, it looks like Justin is about to smack Max upside the head, and I had this picture all printed out and ready to send to the proper authorities when I saw the soccer ball behind Max's head. What a relief.

I was not privy to the conversation that took place while this was being photographed, but 'favorite accessories' was clearly the topic.

Margarets One and Two.

Not to toot my own horn or anything (what a weird expression, by the way. Like it's better to toot someone else's horn? Gross. And that's setting aside the whole issue of the word 'toot', which is what we said in my family for 'fart'. But I really, really digress), but the cake came out pretty great. Max wanted a "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" theme, which necessitated me finding palm trees to decorate the cake, hand-polka-dotting the edges with a balky frosting pen, and baking and frosting hand-carved lower-case alphabet letters. Combined with the aforementioned blueberry batter curveball, there were many, many points in the cake-making process where tragedy could have occurred. But it didn't. The cake was baked, frosted, decorated, and transported to the park without incident, and I only had to swear twice. (Fricking lower-case letters.)

Less flawless was the candle-lighting operation. In my youthful naivety, I initially attempted to light the waxen "3" alone, and with ill-placed confidence.

There was just enough wind, coming from just the right direction, that the matches kept blowing out before they could ignite the candle. Reinforcements were called in. Quickly, we divided into three groups; Group A took turns trying a variety of match-lighting flourishes, Group B formed a human shield around the cake, trying to keep the wind at bay, and Group C stood at the periphery and laughed.

We did eventually get the candle lit, but the wind blew it out long before we were finished singing.

In the end, we pretended that Max had blown it out, applauded him roundly, and served him a piece of cake before his suspicions could crystalize.

Blueberry Chicka Chicka Boom Boom cake. It's my new signature recipe.

In a piece of news completely unrelated to this picture (which kind of speaks for itself, I think), Maggie's new favorite activity is chucking toys in the toilet and then flushing it. To date, three baby dolls and a plastic turtle have been removed from her custody pending extensive cleaning, and the only reason we still have an unflooded bathroom is that she has so far chosen items that are too big to flush down. I really hope she turns her life around soon, for the sake of her filthy plush children. And turtle.

At first, Max had his own dish of cake, but when the paper bowl fell on the ground and got dirty, he decided to skip the middle man and eat cake straight from the pan.

And then, of course, we opened presents.

Max was understandably daunted by the prospect of unwrapping so extensive a pile of loot.

Luckily, Max's dad, who is secretly Superman (okay, so I exposed the secret. You know what? It was time. I'm sick of the deception, okay?!), stepped in to help.

Max kept wanting to stop opening presents, and just play with whatever he had opened last.

We called in a coach to help Max keep his focus.

Obviously, the strenuous task took its toll on the boy, but I think he's better for it.

Max first saw the movie "Toy Story" while we were in Canada, and he has been sort of obsessed with it ever since. He and Gramps found a Buzz Lightyear doll in a thrift store on one of their jaunts, and Granny and Gramps got him a corresponding Woody for his birthday.

After the party, Woody was tenderly fed some cake. He then joined in Max's nightime routine -- he put pajamas on with Max, he had his teeth brushed, he kissed everyone good night, and he curled up in bed with Max. Eventually, Max decided against sleeping with Woody, because Woody is quite pointy. I was just as glad. Something about Woody's frozen, toothy grin strikes me as alarming.

The day after the party, Max took his first nap in a month. For four hours. Being three makes you tired, I guess.

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