Tuesday, September 28, 2010

happy happy birthday birth day.

A nice little quote to start us off:

The most important thing she’d learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one. — Jill Churchill

Oh, I've been thinking about this quote, and every time I do it makes me feel better. Because, of course, I am a good mother in a million ways, but somehow I so often forget that and focus on my lack of perfection. 

Being the good mother that I am, I spent all of last saturday--and I mean all--baking a castle cake. Frances was four on sunday and the party was by royal invitation. We had mostly princesses, one knight, one prince, and one determined royal firefighter. I was a little surprised by the lack of kings and queens. Perhaps these little people recognize their true lack of power and go instead for simple prestige. 

And I made princess hats (what is the actual name for them? the cone shaped things with veils out the top...) out of elmo birthday hats from Clark's party last year: I covered them with foil, cut the tip off, and pulled netting and ribbons through. I cut a few crowns for the fellas out of posterboard and covered them with foil also. They got to decorate these with little stick on gems from Michaels. Mitch erected a "castle" in our family room from a tent, a big blanket, and a broom, and inside we spread out the tea set on a footstool. It was the hit of the party. (Frances is third from the left in this picture, in the lighter pink.)

After the party Frances kept telling me, "You're the best mommy in the whole world." Ten hours on a cake will do that to you, it turns out. I'd been thinking about the cake for some time, trying to figure out how to put it together, or perhaps how to decorate the yummy Ultimate White Cake I was going to buy from Wegmans. Somewhere I heard the suggestion to use upside down ice cream cones for castle turrets and that seemed like a good idea except that I couldn't figure out, once you've frosted the thing, how to get it from your hand onto the cake. You see what I mean? In the end I felt brilliant: I thinned out the frosting with milk, used a pastry brush to paint it on the cone, and then rolled the cone in silver and purple sprinkles. They were lovely. I do wish I'd used a different color of gumdrops, maybe yellow, for the tops of the turrets... the purple doesn't really show up, but I'd already been to the store twice and wasn't going back again. 

The party was lovely. I boycotted the tradition--at least around here--of pizza before cake, which made me a little nervous and feel a bit like an outlaw. (When I brought out the cake, Frances said, "Mommy, where's the pizza?") And I boycotted the goodie bag, as I plan to do for the rest of my kids' lives. Good grief, they've just gotten free cake and drinks and maybe pizza, plus bouncing or painting or some other intentionally fun activity, and now they need goodies in pretty bags too? I don't get it. Isn't the party enough? But I digress.

Just before cake I had the kids line up outside the Entry to the Royal Ballroom and I recruited an older sibling as a trumpeter while each child was announced and introduced to the Royal Court. It might have been my favorite part. Really, can it get any cuter than happy agreeable four year olds? 

So four years ago today I had a newborn and no sleep and ice packs between my legs. Four years ago today we brought Frances home from the hospital and put on on the bed in her room where she lay mesmerized by the light through the gauze curtains. Four years ago I was a new mom and the light came down a little differently through the trees. Happy birth day to me. 


Paige said...

Oh, Cali. So sweet. Tears in the eyes, as so often happens when I read your poignant posts. Happy Birthday to Frances (where have 4 years gone??) and Happy Birth Day to you!

Kristina said...

loved reading this and feeling I was part of the celebration. sending love to you and your four year old!

Darcy said...

Thank you! Thank you for both including me in your blogroll and for boycotting the goodie bag. I wish I had your courage. My daughter's b-day is next weekend and I'm literally dreading the goodie bag, I always end up waiting until the last minute and spending absurd amounts of money at the not-really-a-dollar-but-we-still-call-it-a-dollar store.