Almost two weeks since I updated?! How is that even possible? I’ll tell you how. LIFE. Shockingly enough, life has really taken over at this point. Usually I make time for my internet world, in much the same way that I make time for reading before bed each night. But these last two weeks, I just haven’t had the option.
For one thing, my dear friend J from Washington state came to visit. I’m so thankful I have a friend like her in my life. She really kept me sane during Kurt’s long deployments when we were stationed in Washington, and she adopted me into her family when I had no one else. Now she’s a flight attendant, so she can fly for free (or really reduced rates) from Seattle here to Rhode Island. She arrived last Sunday and left early this morning. Her visit was just what the doctor ordered, though. She kept the girls occupied so I could cook dinner in peace, she read to Grace before bed, she helped me plan and set up Grace’s birthday party this weekend, and even advised me on making Grace’s cake and the frosting for it. It was just the perfect kind of visit, the kind where she was the best and easiest kind of guest. We didn’t really do the touristy thing while she was here, but I’m sure she’ll come again.
Grace’s birthday was on Wednesday. How do I have a five-year-old already?! Seriously! That’s just crazy talk right there.
She didn’t just have a birthday, however. She had a birthday week! What a lucky girl, eh? In fact, that’s why J came to visit this week, was just to be here for Grace’s birthday. She was there in the room when Grace was born, so she really has a close bond with her.
So on Tuesday we let Grace play hookey from preschool and we took her to the Topsfield Fair in Massachusetts, the oldest fair in America. It was Military Day, you see, so we all got in free. Score! There’s just something I love about going to local fairs. I love seeing the 4-H exhibits, the animals, the home-grown vegetables, the competitions. Even the tractor sales areas are cool! And I haven’t even mentioned the food yet. Mmm fair food! J and I split an italian sausage with onions and peppers, plus a blooming onion. Later we just had to get a doughboy (or fried dough, or elephant ears, or whatever you happen to call the darn things!). Yum yum yum!
The weather was amazingly gorgeous that day, sunny skies, a cool breeze, and just a few puffy clouds. At one point we ran into a couple from Gloucester (aka, Glaw-stah, home of the Andrea Gail and the movie The Perfect Storm) and ended up chatting with them for a good twenty minutes. They told us about this delicious hole-in-the-wall restaurant that is so amazing that it’s packed all year round, which isn’t the norm for stores and restaurants in this part of New England. Generally retail and tourist areas are hopping during the summer, and the winter everything shuts down because the tourist industry dies when the mercury plummets. Sadly enough, our favorite ice cream joint is closed for the winter, not to reopen until at least Memorial Day, and that’s par for the course for this part of the country. But if this place in Gloucester is still open in the winter, and still packed, we might have to drive the two hours north and check it out for ourselves.
Grace’s actual birthday was Wednesday, and so I made her a cake. I’m proud to say I made it from scratch (ie, not from a box), plus I made the frosting myself as well. I opted for Bittman’s recipes from his How To Cook Everything, but I have to say, the frosting was a bit of a fail. It may have been that my confectioner’s sugar was a bit old and musty-tasting, but I think it was also a matter of too much sugar to too little butter. It looked pretty, especially since I tinted it green at Grace’s request, but it just wasn’t very delicious. Oh well. Grace loved it, and that’s all that mattered.
For gifts, Grace received an eclectic mix of fire-truck themed presents and things related to Princess Aurora, aka Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. I have no idea how she fixated on Aurora, since the first time she’d ever seen the movie was after she opened her presents on her birthday. But one day, she came to me and asked me for “Au-woh-wah” presents for when she turned 5. Previous to this, she had been all about either Ariel, the Little Mermaid, or Tinkerbell.
The next day, I found her playing with her new toys.
There is typical Grace, right there. Dressed to the nines in a Princess Aurora costume and crown, but yet she’s got her fireman’s hat on over the crown, and she’s playing with her new toy extinguisher. Half girly-girl, half tomboy. That’s my girl!
Today was Grace’s actual birthday party. I was a bit hesitant to invite her classmates over, mainly because I had met most of the mothers at a birthday party Grace had attended a few weeks ago. I know this sounds terrible, but I wasn’t very comfortable around them. I kept trying to join a group that had clumped together in hopes of being included in the conversation, but I kept getting the cold shoulder. It was pretty odd. I haven’t experienced that sort of exclusion in years. But Grace has a ton of other friends in the neighborhood and through Kurt’s co-workers, so we had them over instead. Good thing too — the party was scheduled to last from 2-4pm, but we were having such a great time that they didn’t leave till at least 6! There was no real structure to the party either. I just let the kids run amok in the backyard for most of the afternoon, and then at one point I let the kid decorate cupcakes. That was the best idea ever, and one I stole from the party she attended a few weeks ago. I made my own frosting (using a new recipe this time, and it turned out like the whipped icing you get from a professional bakery — YUM!) and colored it blue, pink, yellow, and green. We also gave the kids colored sugar, and several different kinds of sprinkles. The kids loved decorating their own cupcakes. Several of them simply licked off the frosting and kept re-frosting their cupcakes, while others drank the sprinkles straight from the bowls. I found it all hilariously amusing, especially later when the sugar high really kicked in. But we kept the kids racing around the backyard, playing all sorts of impromptu chase and fetch games, and I’m sure they’ll all be sleeping well tonight.
And that, my friends, is what I’ll be doing soon myself. Too much sun and fresh air and laughter mixed with not enough sleep, as I had to get up at 4am to take J to the airport. I can’t wait to snuggle under the covers and blissfully pass out. Yesssssssssss.