Saturday, December 27, 2008

12/27/08 Birthday Playdate

Today we had what started out as a "Hi, Helen!" playdate, that I hijacked into a birthday celebration for Julian.

Julian hadn't asked a peep about a birthday party. I'm amazed; many kids count down the minutes until their birthday party. But I just couldn't get one organized in time; I'd have had to plan it mid-November, and it was too busy a time dealing with remodeling. I might have pulled it off had it not been for the extra challenge of post-holiday timing.

So turning a playdate that Helen, visiting from San Diego, had motivated to catch up with her 2004 Las Madres friends into a "birthday playdate" was the best I could do. The timing was good, at least, it's not often Julian will get birthday parties so close to his real birthday. Next year, he'll get to choose his own partygoers and I won't be so tied up with life that I can't plan a party ahead of time. Fortunately, for most kids, "birthday party" mostly means "cake," and that, I was able to do.

As it turns out, it was a group of The Usual Suspects, a nice-sized group of longtime friends. Helen showed up looking tanned and fit, as she's training for a marathon next month.

Left to right: Sonia, Stefanie, Me, Helen, Betsy.

Interestingly, all of us are double-boy moms; that is, all of us have two boys close in age without siblings inbetween. 4 out of 5 of us had those two boys first; two of us prepended and appended not-very-girly-girl girls. All of our 2004 "babies" are boys.

I had fun preparing for this playdate/party, despite the slight schizophrenia between the two events. I didn't want anyone to feel obligated to bring gifts or be on time or other formalities that occur with "parties," though I did feel the least I should do is provide some lunch, something hostesses don't usually do for "playdates." We had a nice time hanging out, and everyone was very forgiving that I turned a playdate into a semi-party.

We caught up and yakked, the kids played (though Julian mostly followed Gabriel and Gina), and then the payoff: cake! Which suffered a serious lack of decorative inspiration, and I just copied what I did yesterday, plus an inscription.

Julian put on a good face, but I wasn't sure he had that great a time. Poor kid; he just doesn't know my friend's kids that well. I really will do better next year. I have a lousy record for 5-year-old birthday parties, though this was a terrific playdate!

Helen is unbelievable. After an hour, the family room was carpeted with toys that had occupied now-empty shelves. But this is how she insisted on leaving it.

The playdate was definitely the highlight of the day. Being parents to Gabriel and Katrina definitely wasn't. They were both nothing short of unbearable today.

Katrina cried angrily during the Happy Birthday singing, because she wanted THE CAKE! You can see her in the corner of this photo, crying and reaching for the cake, the little brat. Lucas' reaction (the little boy sitting next to her) attests to the volume level.

Then she insisted on getting the '5' candle, and threw a fit until she eventually, somehow got it.

She held off the demanding impossibleness for much of the playdate, but was exceptionally demanding, difficult to please, and extremely, obnoxiously bossy this afternoon after her nap. She's also picked up a very nasty habit from her brothers: threatening to punch me ("I'm going to PUNCH you, Mom!"), and then doing so, though the actual force behind the punch is more like a tap. Still, it's the thought that counts. By 6:15pm, Dave and I were counting the minutes until we could put the little firestorm to bed.

Then her oldest brother picked up where she left off, getting into his new semi-hysterical obnoxious giggling mode where all he does is is be destructive and laugh at everything, especially being told to stop. The only way to break him out of it is to do something severe enough to make him cry, but that can often backfire and make him angry, escalating the situation. Once again, Dave and I were suffering every minute until we could get him out of our sight. Gabriel has really been acting out lately, making us very nervous. We know well from past experience what his "phases" are like.

Julian was much better overall, but Gabriel completely hyped him up and we only got through the bedtime process by separating them as much as possible.

I focused on the positives of the day by finally, finally catching up on my food blog. It's been two months since I posted! I often stage food-blog posts, by uploading photos and putting in links to recipes, but I just haven't had the chance to really write them out. It's fun, it's like writing mini-articles, with a beginning and an end. It helps ground me, and makes me feel like a grownup. I really like learning to cook and entertain. This is something that everyone in every aspect of my life -- friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances -- will enjoy.

Now, I'd better get planning Gabriel's birthday party -- I'm already behind.


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