It is hard to have profound original thoughts about children doing what they are biological programmed to do: get older every day. It is definitely a profound and bewildering process, but original it is not. However, it FEELS original when you are witnessing it first hand in your own house by your own flesh and blood. It's a front row seat to the evolution and biology show and its amazing. It is this feeling that is behind the 4 zillion mommy blogs and billions upon billions of baby firsts/birthday/how-is-my-baby-in-kindergarten Facebook posts. You out there without kids may never choose or not choose to experience this feeling in regards to children, but you did experience the same sense of profound awe at something that in the larger sense of things is normal, routine, and experienced by everyone that time you visited a new-to-you continent and Instagramed the same bridge that billions instagramed before you. So, don't gripe about baby posts if you've ever posted a vacation pic, concert pic, fourteen pictures of the deck you built by hand. Besides, isn't finding what you think is amazing about our very normal existence pretty much the point of life?
Anyway, Alma is four and every single day of watching her grow has nearly made my mind explode from wonder.
We threw Alma a birthday party in the park at the top of our hill (everyone has an "our hill" in SF). It started out simply but then got a bit more involved, as things tend to do. We were all about color. Here's a snapshot:
The four was backward most of the time and usually looked more like a sword than a number, but Alma thought it was the best thing ever. Helium filled balloons always let me down so I tied bunches of regular balloons together and they worked splendidly without the disappointing deflation or fly away. I love bunting and garland, you should know this about me by now. I made a ton. I used some I had made in the past. It was every where.
Although we had a contained space above a playground, I wanted to have some activities set up to keep the kids around before they dispersed in the playground. I dyed noodles with rubbing alcohol and food dye and had a necklace making station and set up a space for kids to make their own crowns.
Alma asked for a chocolate, vanilla, strawberry cake and so, much hacking and butter later, the above giant cake was born. I used a devils food cake for the 2 chocolate layers and a vanilla cake with a touch of almond for the vanilla cake layers. For the filling, I puréed strawberries and added them to a cream cheese frosting in which I had drastically decreased the butter and sugar. This made for a delicious filling, but as the last picture shows, not the most stabilizing. I frosted the whole thing with the best cream cheese frosting I have ever made. I made colored letters by melting white chocolate, adding color, and pouring into a silicon mold. There was lots of other food, but no pictorial evidence. I made giant platters of fruits and veggies arranged by color from green to yellow to orange to red. There was sticky sweet colored caramelized popcorn. Adam smoked chicken for a sandwich bar. I made way too much but it was probably the easiest and most effective and delightful food plan yet.
For favors, I made little pouches filled with a homemade notebook, crayons, pencils, and an eraser. Alma threw in a few Lightning McQueen tattoos for good measure. I made the notebooks by sewing printer paper into blank notecards. Alma and I made the crayons but cutting up her old ones and melting them on low heat in a silicon ice cube tray. I walked into a Home Depot in Sacremento a few weeks ago at 7 in the morning and walked right back out with a hundred paint samples. I sewed them together to hold the favors and sewed more to hold napkins and utensils. This was quite the use what I had/could make/could borrow kind of shindig.
After filling them with sugar, the kids played on the hill above and the playground below. The party's existence was comforting. We knew no one who attended the party for longer than 5 months and yet there were people there, really very great people at that. Our lives in SF are getting fuller.