Superhero Party: Of Capes and Cakes

Kevin has forbid me to overplan birthday parties after several dozen years (okay, over a decade’s worth) of them.  I promised him I would not go overboard.  I promised I would just plan a simple get-together with a few sandwiches.  Maybe I’d even buy a birthday cake this year.

Then I spent a month completely occupied with absolutely, definitely NOT planning the party.  All that not planning and not prepping consumed all my spare time and some of my non spare time these past few weeks.  It was downright exhausting, not planning this party.

The day before Leo’s party, I got a bit nervous.  He took a bath at noon, got into his pajamas, and at three told me he was tired and was just going to sleep a little bit.

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In my experience, there is only one reason my boys ever, ever put themselves to bed, and it always involves a lot of vomit followed by a manic sanitizing of the house.  With some effort, I woke Leo up for dinner, but he wasn’t hungry.  Then he excused himself from the table and when we went to look for him after dinner, we found him asleep in bed.

I got kind of panicky.  I kept thinking of all the hours I spent NOT making capes, NOT sewing masks, NOT cutting out decorations and baking cakes.

But the birthday gods smiled upon me, and it turns out Leo was not sick after all, just really, really tired. 

And now, for pictures of a simple, bare-bones Heroes and Villains Party only No One Wanted to be Villains so it’s Really just a Superheroes Party, MrsMouthy style.

The invitations, with opening cape covers.  Basically just as easy as filing out an E-vite, right?

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For a photo op, I turned our fireplace into a superhero cityscape. 

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Once we got it up I realized the buildings were too small and were placed too high and kids were going to look like they were in extreme foreground for pictures.  But!  In the spirit of not overdoing the party, I did not rip it down and make a properly proportioned city.

The table decorations—not even homemade.  Look at me go!

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The spread.  You know, “a few sandwiches.”

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See, I even included some non-thematic food because that’s what people serve when they don’t overplan parties!

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But then my sister held up a water bottle, decked out in a darling blue felt cape, and gave me a look.  This look.

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And I knew my game was up.

Because that wasn’t the only water bottle wearing a cape.

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And downstairs, kids were busily decorating their own capes and masks that my sister and I had sewn during the weeks before the party.  She can’t judge me too much, having been a collaborator.  She is such an enabler.

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Also, there was a bouncy house.

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And funny napkins.

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And a hilarious game of “Hero, Hero, Villain,” a.k.a. “Duck, Duck, Goose.”  (Photo not available because I was too busy kicking all their little butts instead of taking pictures of the game.  Turns out I’m SUPER fast.)

Side note: Superhero parties are also a great chance to repurpose your super sexy Wonder Woman costume from the 90s…

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Now for my favorite part of every party…the cake!!!

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(Special thanks to Kathy from merrimentdesign.com, who created the cake toppers and sent me my own personalized copy for free.  Who does that kind of thing?!)

And since we’ve admitted that I did go a teensy bit overboard on the party, Ima gonna go ahead and Photoshop that one cherry sour ball on the leftish side that is out of place on the above picture.  It’s driving me bonkers.

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And since I’ve got Photoshop open, let’s go ahead and fix that frosting job.

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I have to admit, that felt good.  That felt real good.

This next picture you really hear rather than see.  It’s the madness that happens between yelling out “CAKE TIME!” and actually getting the cake into the hands of the party-goers.

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My favorite-ever pictures of candles being blown out.  I can’t even write captions for these pictures—they say it all.

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Seriously.  Brothers.

Here’s Leo eating the smoke from his birthday candles.

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*sniff* They grow up so fast.

Then there were presents.  Everyone picked such good ones, LOL!

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I loved that the party was slowed down enough by this point that Leo would open a present, then he and his friends would all play with it before moving onto the next one.  I wish every party went that way, but this is the first time ever I’ve seen that happen!

Here is the gallery of Superheroes who look a little too far from the city to actually be of any help.

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The above picture before editing:

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So now my littlest baby is five.  In case you don’t believe it either, here’s proof:

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It’s official: Leo is a handful.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Heart-shaped pizzas
Roasted broccoli 
Roasted cauliflower with Asian marinade 
Valentine Sundaes

Crappy Knock-Knockers

Any of you who have kids know that they are the WORST at coming up with knock-knock jokes.  This is something all kids everywhere are terrible at, and yet they somehow think they are comedic geniuses, like anything that begins with “knock knock” ends in uproarious laughter. 

Our boys have been going through a particularly vicious bout of knock-knockitis lately, despite that we constantly tell them they’re not funny.  They are seriously the worst jokes we’ve ever heard.

Leo: Knock knock!
Me: Who’s there?
Leo: Spaghetti!
Me: Spaghetti who?
Leo: Bowl of spaghetti!  Was that funny?
Me: No.

I go on to explain that generally if you have to ask if something was funny, it’s not funny.  You can tell if something is funny because people are laughing. 

Rocco: Knock knock!
Me: Do we have to do this again?
Rocco: You’re supposed to say who’s there.  Say “who’s there,” Mom.
Me: Who’s there?
Rocco: Pillow!
Me: Pillow who?
Rocco: Pillow blah blah blah!  Is that funny?  Pillow blah blah blah, Mom!  Pillow blah blah blah, Leo! 

I explain that repeating something several times does not make that something funny.  We would have laughed the first time if it were funny; we’re not just waiting for you to say it the exact right amount of times to start laughing.

Leo: Knock knock!
Me: Seriously, I cannot do this one more time.  Kevin?  Kevin, are you home?
Kevin:  I’m here—I’ve got this one.  Who’s there?
Leo: Couch!
Kevin: Couch who?
Leo: Spaghetti and couch!  Was that funny?  Get it?  Spaghetti and couch?  Was that funny, Mom?!

I try to teach them by example.  I tell them a knock-knock joke needs to be clever, needs to include a play-on-words or be surprising, and by all means, needs to make some kind of sense.  Here, I say, like this one:

Me: Knock knock!
Rocco: Who’s there?
Me: Ima!
Rocco: Ima who?
Me: Ima gonna slap the next person who tells me a knock-knock joke!

They laugh.  I point out that this is how you tell if a joke is funny.  The laughter thing.

The other night I was reading from a book that had some knock-knock jokes in it.  Real ones like about interrupting cows.  I finished reading and set the book down, and Leo couldn’t resist.

Leo: Knock knock!
Me: Who’s there?
Leo: Fanks!
Me: Fanks who?
Leo: Fanks for reading the knock-knock jokes!

It wasn’t good.  It definitely wasn’t a good joke.  But at least it was a step in the right direction.

I leave you with another knock-knock attempt by my youngest.

Leo: Knock knock!
Me: Who’s there?
Leo: Banana!
Me: Banana who?
Leo: Knock knock?
Me: Who’s there?
Leo: Banana!
Me: Banana who?
Leo: Knock knock!
Me: Who’s there?
Leo: Banana!
Me: Banana who?
Leo: Knock knock!
Me: Who’s there?
Leo: Orange!
Me: Orange who?
Leo: Orange you glad I didn’t say “orange?”

And actually, he messed that one up so royally, I actually did laugh.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Homemade mac ‘n cheese
Mango
Buttered broccoli
Cherry pudding cake with vanilla ice cream

Oh, MrsMouthy

My mom hasn’t left anything remarkably funny at my house lately, and without my favorite person to make fun of giving me material, I guess I’ll have to make fun of myself instead.

So my sister, Jnet, gave me this beautiful knitted gift for Christmas.

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Sadly, these leg warmers didn’t fit me.  I tried and I tried, but I could not get the things over my feet.  I so wanted to wear those around, sticking up precociously from a pair of boots, but it wasn’t going to happen.  I figured Jnet had sized them on her own petite self, forgetting that her older sister is more of the she-gladiator type than the delicate waif type.  The next time Jnet came over, I handed them back to her.

“What?” she asked.  “Don’t you like the hand warmers I knitted for you?”

Doh! 

Suddenly it all made sense.

Those little protrusions there are not big toe holes, for example, but rather thumb holes.

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It also explained this little tag covered with words that was hanging off of them.

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Well,since Jnet was so helpful with the my “leg warmer” problem, that evening I sent her a picture of a pair of gloves I am hoping she can help me fix up.

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I can’t find anywhere for my fingers to go!

(She said yes, she’d love to help me with my gloves and while she’s over she’ll fix up my bathroom signs—all the lettering is backwards on them!)

Aren’t sisters the TSEB?

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Chicken coconut curry
Fish sticks
Crusty bread
Failed macarons (I’m trying to teach myself to make them.  It is a frustrating yet delicious process.)

Nothin’ Doin’

I keep forgetting to blog!  Maybe it’s because I checked my blog stats last month for the first time in a couple years, and realized that a lot of my old readers are FORGETTING TO READ my blog.  Thank you to my loyal few.  I heart you!

Anyway, not a lot going on here.  People ask me what’s new and I say “Nothing,” and that’s probably how it’s going to be for a long time.  We’re done having babies; we’re done with the house remodel; we’re just sitting around waiting around to get cancer or for one of the kids to get married so that we have a better answer to that question.  (Is that insensitive, the part about cancer?)

As I type this, Rocco is sitting at the island sorting pennies by date for a homework assignment. 

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He holds one up to me.

Rocco: Wow, this one is OLD!
Me: Yeah?  What year?
Rocco: Two thousand FIVE!

(He later finds one so old it is hard for him to think about.  1989.)

Leo comes out of his bedroom saying, “Do you like the outfit I chose?”

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(I put this here so that if any of you see him today, you know that it was not me who put this ensemble together.)

Of course, his older brother has recently been spotted wearing the outfits below, so I can see how this has led to the some style confusion.

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Leo is still sleeping on the floor every night and I knew the nesting had gotten out of control when he began actually using the mattress as a blanket.

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(No, I didn’t let him sleep under that.)

During his brother’s conference, Vincenzo spent a half an hour arranging cubes to write a message to his friend.  It reads “HI NAI.”

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Kai, we had to point out, is spelled with a “K,” not an “N.”  *hand to forehead*

Here’s how Leo waits for his brother’s bus.

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He’s holding out a stick.  I ask him, “Are you shooting things?”  “No,” he says.  “I’m fishing.” 

In the afternoon we return to the bus stop and Leo picks up his stick again.  “Are you catching fish?” I ask.  “No,” he says.  “I’m shooting things.”

And that’s a whole blog post of nothing going on.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Leftovers:
Tacos/burritos/taco salads
Bowtie pasta with alfredo sauce and smoked salmon
Krab fried rice
Peanut butter white chocolate squares

White Weekend*

With Trump’s inauguration week pending, casting a large and gloomy shadow in front of itself, I was so glad when our friends invited us up to their cabin in the mountains for MLKJR weekend.  Up there in the woods, surrounded by woodland creatures who had never heard of Trump or any other president, with the falling snow providing its surround sound of quietude, it felt like some things—some of the very best things, in fact—will not change come Friday at 12AM. 

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As we drove up the mountain, first we came to some patches of frost, then a couple small piles of snow, then trees wearing the lightest coat of snow.  Our excitement grew and grew until we arrived at our friends’ cabin (more of a personal lodge, really), where there were two feet of snow and endless sledding paths.  We were in a different world, I wanted to live in the weekend forever.

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On the drive home, my emotions went in reverse, and those same trees with the light coating of snow that made me excited on the way up now made me melancholy, marking the end rather than the beginning of our escape.  But not that melancholy, because I was sitting in the car with head and heart full of memories of cold and thrilling outdoor moments followed by warm and cozy indoor moments.

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As I sit here blogging to the persistent rain outside, I know that somewhere not too far away, the same clouds that are dumping raining on our house are sprinkling snow on another.  The gray world outside my house is connected to a snowy white world conjured up from the best kind of magic.

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Enough of all that, though.  Mostly the weekend was fun and funny and the opposite of whatever it is that’s happening in our country this week.  Like when Kevin wanted to get a picture of me and Rocco on a sled and I jokingly asked Rocco how my hair looked.  It went like this.

Me: How does my hair look?
Rocco: Gray.
Me: Seriously?  You’re seriously going to go there?  Okay then, Leo, how do you think my hair looks?
Leo: Good!
Me: That’s more like it!
Leo: Because you’re wearing a hat.

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Clearly, these boys are not nearly as sweet as they look.

And now…moar pictures!!!

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Some of those sled rides were wild and out of control, and the paths were riddled with trees, and it is actually a pretty good metaphor for how I feel about this week.  I’m sitting on a sled and I don’t have much control over it, and I just hope there’s a chance to bail before we hit that tree.

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Am I being overly dramatic?

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Omelet-wrapped poblano potato quesadillas
Cumin black beans
Fresh fruit/vegetables
Candy cane cheesecake

*Wow, I was just about to publish this when I realized how inappropriate that title is to describe a MLKJR weekend.  I should probably change that.  But then, it’s pretty appropriate for Trump’s inauguration, so maybe I should just leave it?

Happy 2017!

Okay, it feels kind of weird to go from an “I’m so bummed out” post to a “Yay, party!” post, but then again, borderline manic depressive writer here.  This is just my life.

I used to hate New Year’s with a passion.  I felt like New Year’s was something mean that the world did to me to show me that a) I am not a fun party girl, b) I don’t even like drinking very much, c) I hate staying up past 9:30PM, and d) Christmas is undeniably over

Fortunately, about ten years ago I realized my friend, McStreamy, also hated New Year’s, so we decided to have an “I Hate New Year’s Parties” on New Year’s Eve.  We had quiet conversations, we drank very lightly, we ate lovely food, and we ended the party at 8.  We’ve gotten together every year since then, sometimes with a bigger crowd and sometimes with a smaller one, but I realized after sending the guests home at 8:01 last Saturday night that, and this is shocking, I love New Year’s.  I do!  I use it as an excuse to cook something I would never cook on my own, make an over-the-top dessert, and spend a few hours with some of my favorite people in the world.

Every year I set out a bunch of board games but every year we are talking and laughing so much that 8:00 comes way too quickly and we never even need board games to bring the fun.  We are already having it! 

This year, my neighbors brought the entertainment.  It was their one-year-old son, who ended up with his pants halfway down his legs and spent an hour throwing his arms in the air when we yelled, “Raise the roof!”  He’d laugh, we’d laugh, he’d try to walk, he’d fall down, we’d laugh, he’d laugh, he’d stand up, we’d yell, “Raise the roof!”

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Many, many roofs were raised that night.

This year’s spread included a giant hunk of prime rib, smoked gouda mashed potatoes, a pear and gorgonzola salad, baked brie with pepper jelly, crusty bread, cheesy bread, and for dessert…

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…a triple chocolate peppermint mousse trifle covered in chocolate leaves.  I’m all about the show stoppers.

For entertainment, the boys made their own New Year’s crackers.  (The present kind of cracker, not the kind you eat or the kind that  was white and owned slaves.)  They were super fun to make!  First we went to the bathroom regularly for two months and wiped consistently until we had about 8 TP tubes.  Then the boys made various Lego creations like cars, houses, and dragons.  They dissembled them, stuck the Legos for each creation into a tube and  labeled each tube.  Finally, we wrapped them up in a way that doesn’t make you think “Did I remember to wash my hands?” when you see them.

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Guests each chose a tube and did their best to make whatever the tube told them to make. 

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It was fun for the boys to see how differently others made the Legos from how they were originally constructed, but like a dunce I did not take any “before” pictures.  Here’s the “after” though.

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That little collection of misfit robots, houses with car doors, and cars with house doors made for a lot of laughs. 

At around 8 we decided it was time to ring in 2017, so Kevin found a free New Year’s countdown on-line.  It was comically generic, with messages on it saying things like “Insert company name here,” but we counted down nonetheless because, after all, it was 8:00.

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The funniest part came when we got down to 0 though.

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Well, I did mention it was free, didn’t I?!

Happy 2017, everyone.  Heck, have a happy 2016 as well.

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I heart New Year’s.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Orecchiete with chicken sausage and broccoli
Fresh vegetables

Goodbye, Christmas

Kevin is back at work after the holidays, the boys are back at school, and I miss my family.

Back when I was a teacher, I always had the hardest time going back to school after Christmas break.  I knew that once the kids walked into the classroom my post-holiday blues would fade and I’d move on, but that was the problem—I didn’t want to move on.  I didn’t want the previous days of my family all packed into one room, laughing and teasing each other, to fade into memories.  But they had to and they did the minute my students came in the classroom and we all looked to each other for help in moving on from something most of us didn’t want to move on from.

As a stay-at-home mom I haven’t gotten that feeling after the holiday break.  Until now.  I don’t know what’s different this year; maybe it’s because Kevin actually took two weeks off of work, which he’s never done before.  Maybe it’s because the boys are old enough to do the things I remember doing over my winter breaks—OD’ing on board games, playing basketball with the neighbors, watching movies together, spending afternoons sprawled around the house reading books.  Maybe it’s because of all the afternoons we spent trying out new recipes together, making chocolate chip brioche pretzels and Korean pancakes and popcorn cookies.  Maybe it’s because I know that this feeling of “it’s all over” is just a tiny piece of what I’ll feel next year, when Leo goes to kindergarten and my days of parenting little ones are over.  Maybe it’s because I am borderline manic-depressive and December is always one huge, manic month of bliss for me, which means that  January is always pay-back time.

I am sitting here in a sparkling clean house, staring out at a blue sky and snow-covered mountains above beautiful Lake Washington.  I have a cup of my favorite coffee in front of me.  The kitchen is putting out smells of roasted squash and toasted pumpkin seeds.  I am doing one of the things I love to do most (blogging, if it’s not obvious), and I can’t wait for everything else that’ I’m going to do today and this week.  This month.  This year!  And yet, I feel like I am mourning the death of another holiday  season.  I hum a few lines of “White Christmas” and Christmas 2016 flutters its eyelids a bit, but that’s all I get out of it.  It’s time to put on some other music, I guess.

Right now I feel both blissed out from all the holiday joy and at the same time bummed out that we can’t live in that world of carols and nogs forever.  I’m sitting on the middle of a teeter totter, trying to inch my way toward the side that’s up instead of slipping to the bottom as I usually do in January.

I’m hopeful, as I am every year, that this time I won’t have to pay for all the happiness I spent in December.  Maybe this January will be different.

I reach out my hand tentatively toward 2017 and hope that it is taken gently.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Spaghetti squash tacos
Steamed broccoli
Triple chocolate peppermint trifle