Birthday inspiration

Last year I had a million different ideas for kiddo’s birthday running around in my head, with so few of them even close to concrete enough to pull off.

This year, I’ve had nothin. 

Seriously…. I think this is literally the first year that she’s been alive that I haven’t had at least half of her birthday presents bought before Christmas, and the remaining ones planned out.

For this year, I’ve had one gift planned, and one gift that I held back parts of a multiple part gift from Christmas. And one set of shirts that missed getting wrapped for the Christmas stack of clothes, that have now been declared birthday gifts.

Came up with another gift idea a while back…. still haven’t purchased it though. (Suppose this is the place where I point out that usually the only gifts she gets are from me… so it’s not like this makes an insane amount on top of a pile from other places…)

Then today, one of the deal sites I occasionally check out had a perfect gift. She has been wanting a nintendo ds or gameboy… which are way out of budget right now. But leapfrog has a similar styled system called a didj with educational games that runs about 70, still too steep to have even been considered. But today, the site had it listed for 25 shipped! Totally more reasonable, especially when I know walmart has had some of the games on clearance cheap. And close enough to the same effect that she’ll be thrilled. Plus it has parent customizations like adding in her current spelling list for the games to use as material.

But still had no clue on party. Or cake. I’d even googled for party ideas in this area… but winter birthdays really limit options. And all of the common places are really expensive… and none of our family’s houses are big enough to have space to just host it at home. Same issue as always.

But tonight, I was really tired… and trying to fall asleep… and the thought came to me to have it at a mom and pop pizza place that’s down where by we used to live. One of her favorite places to eat… but it’s about 20 minutes away from here now, so not someplace we go much. Doesn’t really have a kids area or separate party room… but I know I’ve seen parties and group gatherings in a certain area of the larger dining room before.

Budget-wise…. I’m going to have to call and see if they have any deals for the group gatherings.

They have a really good buffet which is most of their business, and is reasonably priced… usually for me and boo with drinks ends up just under 10 bucks. But, they also do regular pizza orders, and usually have coupons making 2 large pizzas about the same price… which would probably go further, even if with less variety and choices.

I’m thinking people would probably prefer the buffet though. And given that it ends up mostly family with only 2 or 3 selected friends, and that I’m the one with the lowest income right now by far… I’m wondering a bit if I can get away with asking family to pick up their pizza if I do the pitchers of pop, cake, ice cream, etc.   Awful on the etiquette… rude manners…. etc etc.. but, right now… would make a huge ton of difference. And like I said, we don’t do gifts. I dunno… still debating on stooping to that… may depend what I find out on if they can work with me on group discounts. And whether or not certain family members with a large family but a history of not showing up decide to turn up this year or not.

So I tried to go to sleep. Wasn’t even worried about the cake yet… figured we’d end up either picking a design from the grocery store bakery that usually runs about 20, or the ice cream cake from dq that runs about 30.

But my brain ended up there anyway.

Boo is really hyped about basketball right now. Wanted to do the upward team, but way too expensive… nearly 100 between fees and uniform. So for Christmas I rejoined the Y and got her onto a team, which has a sliding scale… which with unemployment income ended up being an 80% discount on an already cheaper program to where we ended up paying less for basketball, jersey, and 6 months of general Y membership for both of us that it would have been just for the basketball on an upward team.

So the idea started with a backboard. Really easy… make about 3 rectangle cakes, put them side by side, trim the corners, add white frosting and the lines on it… waalaa basketball themed cake for roughly 5 bucks.

But then it expanded… because recently i saw one of those small plastic hang on the door hoop and ball sets for 5 bucks… and came really close to getting it, but decided against it. But… it’d be perfectly sized for backboard cake, and only raise total cost to 1o.

I started thinking about edging. figuring i could do some simple border piping in orange. and suddenly got the idea of taking those little orange wedge candy slices that are about a buck a bag…. drawing a straight black line down the middle and two curved ones… and setting the flat side along the edge of the cake board pushed into the bottom of the cake, and waalaa… mini basketball edging!

Then thought about writing happy birthday boo on it along the arch of the backboard. but my handwriting is bad enough with a pen, let alone a piping bag. But then I thought about doing fondant cutouts instead. And remembered that I have cookie cutters of the letters that would work great. And then, the idea came to make basketball textured fondant! I could roll out the fondant, put a sheet of plastic wrap over it, roll her basketball she got for Christmas firmly over the plastic to make the pattern, and then cut out the letters from it!

Totally cute…. and about half the price to pull off as the really boring grocery store cakes.

Gotta love the random timing of creative ideas. Even if I’d probably have really liked the sleep too. Creativity is always such a fickle and selective gift on when it decides to show itself.

The one thing I actually did have planned out already was the school treats. But they are a cute plan too, so I’ll toss them in.

Boo originally wanted to do dirt cake… inspired by making it in sunday school a few months ago. 

Simple enough… chocolate pudding, mixed with smashed oreos, adding in a few gummy worms. But… pudding is not at all practical on something that won’t be refrigerated. And I think the teacher would kill me for the mess on plan b of sending pudding cups, baggies of oreos to smash, worms, and foam bowls for the kids to assemble their own.

So the thought came to change it up a bit… and put it on the top of a chocolate cupcake with brown icing instead of the pudding, then sprinkle oreo crumbs and add the gummy worm.

But that makes a kinda ugly cupcake.

As I was messing with a bag of tootsie roll pops, I remembered an art project we had done once in girl scouts with them, where we took construction paper, wrapped it around the outside edge, then hooked the lower side onto the stick, and cut petals into the upper edge so that it looked like a tulip.

Quick brain connection…. I can plant a sucker flower in the ugly mud!

As it happens, kiddo’s birthday is on kansas day…. the day it became a state, aka a holiday thats really only remembered at all by grade school kids and their teachers.

And the kansas state flower is the sunflower… which is on about everything related to kansas day… and easy to make!

So the plan is for sunflower and dirt cupcakes… to both celebrate birthday, and match the predictable lesson plan for that week.

Of course, now I can’t find the bags of tootsie roll pops that only have the chocolate ones in the bag for the brown centers, so I need to look around more and see if any other stores in the area still have them. I really don’t wanna buy like 5 of the mixed bags to get enough browns. I can find them online, but everywhere is charging 8 to 10 bucks for shipping a single bag of suckers! For that much, I’d be better off buying the 5 bags. So there may be a plan b for covering the color of non-brown ones if I can’t find them locally.

New.

You know it’s been a rough year when you can take the list of goals from last new years, cross out the year, and re-use them again entirely as is.

It’s hard for me to pull up much hope on any sort of goals or resolutions this year. Really, everything I want to change and make progress on is pretty much the exact same list of things I’ve been struggling with all year.

And my optimism is a bit shot by this point.

So I start the goal list… find new job, find new home preferably in new place, get new attitude, create new family dynamic…. and the laundry list goes on and on.

But over the past few days, the verse that keeps coming to mind is the often quoted “Behold I make all things new”. (rev 21:5) 

And I ignored it mostly.

Because A. it’s a rather cheesy verse around new years and B. it’s one of the verses that frustrates me how much it gets tossed around onto everything as a right now promise when context is more towards a heavenly change.

But eventually, I let it sit in a bit.

And really, that pretty much summarizes my hopes for this year.

To just completely scrap everything from the current messes. To have things change enough that they aren’t even recognizable as the old versions.

And I do believe it’s entirely in his possibility to do so in the here and now. And I know that renewal is also mentioned in other places.

And the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that I’m not even sure I’ve been asking for “new”. I’ve been too busy pleading for repairs…. for the duct tape that’s barely holding the contraption together to be reinforced. For the handle to fall off less frequently. To find another part that will fit into the hole from a missing one.

So it’s not really a resolution. Not a goal to shoot for and obtain. The more and more I frustrate myself with trying to fix things, the more I’m reminded how much isn’t in my power at all.

I suppose it’s basically a request, and just a hope I have for this year. That I’ll be able to look back next year, and see as a theme that things have been made new.

Probably a higher hope than just writing down the dream of having a decent and stable job by summer and keeping my rear in the gym more.

Passed away

I’ve never really realized how depressing new years can be as a holiday, beyond just the factor of loneliness of missing someone who is no longer there, or who never has been there.

But this year… the year of spinning wheels and seemingly gaining no ground on anything… I’m seeing a lot more how its not always much of a good thing.

And especially at the end of a decade. I see all these posts from people my age, looking back to 2000. How things were so different then…. what they would say to their 18-19-20 year old self.

And somehow, they all seem to be encouraging. On how they would tell them how much better things got… or how much better they could make it than what it was then.

About happy families, wonderful jobs, great things.

But my mind is just so not there right now.

Would I tell my younger self to not even bother with the last two years of college, because the degree wasn’t going to be a single bit of help in the entire next decade? Tell the girl who was frustrated with barely making ends meet putting herself through college that she’ll be revisiting that frequently?

Would I tell the girl who already thought she was really fat about exactly how much fatter she was going to be getting and how much she’ll be at a point where she’d love to be back down to her definition of fat from back then?

Would I tell the girl who was having issues feeling unloved in her rather serious long distance relationship about the absolute jerks she’d soon be dating, and how much she’d miss the guy who at least cared to talk to her every single evening and cared how things went in her life?

Or tell the girl who wanted to someday have lots of kids, maybe even with that guy, about the extreme temperament of her firstborn that would have her refusing to even consider ever having another for about 5 years, then torn between strong desire to have a baby again and utter fear of ending up with two kids with that same temperament when she can’t even deal with the one successfully most of the time?

No.

I wouldn’t.

Because she already was having a rough enough time then.

Had she known the road ahead, she wouldn’t have even tried.

I wouldn’t have told the girl 10 years ago, 5 years ago, and actually, I wouldn’t even have told the girl last year who was so full of wonder of possibilities and hopes for this past year.

And, it scares me a bit to wonder what doom and despair the future me wouldn’t be choosing to tell me.

I know it does no real good to sit and dwell on these sorts of thoughts. 

The past is passed, the future is what it is, and right now is all I’ve got to work with.

But new years isn’t making that much easier.