Friday, October 29, 2010

My Non-Evil Step-Mother

My Step-Mother has always referred to herself as my "Evil Step-Mother"... but she's really not evil.  I promise.

My Dad married my brother's kindergarten teacher.  That's not as taboo as it sounds... Chris had Mary as a teacher in '77 or so, and Mary didn't marry my Daddy until 1990.  I grew up knowing Mary... er, Mrs. Piercy.  She was the teacher that you had sign your yearbook even if you didn't have her as a teacher.  She always signed on the yearbook entry... but she put a smiley face in the palm.  She lost part of her hearing as a child and became fluent in sign language.  She started a sign language ministry at our church (yes, I grew up at the same church that she attended) and even later taught our youth group to sign "Love In Any Language."  I've kind of just always known her.

She let me learn how to drive in her Thunderbird... she would lean the seat back and let me drive the whole way to Waynesville for my first job.

She's taken up a million different hobbies in the last 20 years that she's been my Step-Mom.  She's antiqued, knitted, beaded, sewed, clogged... I can't even begin to keep straight all of the "things" she's done.  In each of them she's included us- she's made me whatever the craft of the day was or bought me treats from her eBay addiction.

Most importantly, she's loved my Dad.  Those of you who know him know what a hard job this is. :)  She's helped him quit smoking, cut back on drinking, and behave in public.  She said to him once "I made it 40 some years without you, I can do it again."  And she meant it, so he straightened up.

In 1990, right when they got engaged, she told me "I'm not looking to be your mom.  You've got a good one of those.  I'm going to be your Dad's wife, and I'd like to be your friend.  Let's figure out how to do this together."  And she stuck to her word.

It's been awkward to have a Step-Mother.  In fact, for years, I referred to her as "My Dad's Wife".  This was meant as no disrespect to Mary, but more out of care for my mom.  I didn't want to give Mary a similar title to Mom and have Mom think I was somehow replacing her prime spot in my life.  But thanks to Mary's gentle way of "making things work", she gradually became a Step-Mother to me... never stepping into Mom's role, but creating one of her own.

7 years ago, Mary got diagnosed with breast cancer.  She had skipped mammograms for several years and found "something" on one that turned out to be cancer.  I got that phone call while I was at Happy Hour at Village Tavern with Dan and some of my girl friends.  Over the years, her diagnosis has gotten better and worse.  The cancer has spread to other spots in her body, and then the cancer has seemed to shrink.  Good phone calls and bad phone calls.  After one bad phone call, I started this blog.

At Supper Club a few months ago, I got another phone call.  Daddy said "This is it, Doodle.  Mary is dying."

Just before Bunko in September, I got another phone call.  He told me they were stopping treatment and that they were going to call in Hospice.

And today I got another phone call.  While I was at the pool here at the beach.  Daddy told me that it appears to be the "bitter" end.  "Bitter" for us, because I cannot imagine a life without Mary.  In the weeks to come (it appears that we only have weeks left, a month at most), I will try to spend as much time as possible with this woman who has been a part of my life for... well... my whole life.  She entered it as Mrs. Piercy and now is a whole 'nother role altogether.

But this is not a "bitter" moment for Mary.  In fact, when the doctor told them that there wasn't much more they could do, Mary turned to Daddy and said, "I'm ready for this.  Are you?"  She told me years ago when things looked bleak that she has the best spot in this mess.  Then she told me worst case: she dies... and gets to be with Jesus.  Best case: she lives... and gets to spend more time with us... before being with Jesus.  I'd say she does have the best spot, for sure.

I'm not sure what the next several weeks will entail.  But I do know that I am thankful for every single day that I've been able to call Mary the title of my Non-Evil Step-Mother.
 Whatever that "title" means....

(Sidenote?  I sent Mary a text while we were at Disney World of my picture with Cinderella's Evil Step-Mother.  She said "That can't be your Step-Mother!  That hag has hair!")

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Whine, Wine, and Weigh

Okay... here's my huge-o split personality blog post of the year.

First of all, let me tell you that we have eaten some AMAZING food this trip.  We have had our standard vaca restaurants over the last 29(ish) years we've been vacationing here.  We've added some, gotten rid of some, and gone to some of the same standards year after year.  This year, we've shaken things up.  Thanks to Trip Advisor, we found this gem where we ate on the first night:

 Appetizer extraordinaire: fried green tomatoes and homemade pickles
 Ridiculously good shrimp and grits.
Oh, and they have Cornhole which E played while we were waiting for our food...

Day two: Bluffton Seafood and Arts Festival.  Holy goodness.
We wandered past a Gullah booth and I got a cup of shrimp and grits (best I've EVER had... and yes, I'd just had some the night before) and collard greens.  Simply amazing.

Monday, we ate at Salty Dog.  I don't have pictures of my (eat-it-every-year-even-though-it's-no-longer-on-the-menu) Buffalo Shrimp... but let's just say that there's a reason I order the same thing each year.  

Tuesday was my mom's birthday, and thanks to the new friend I made at the playground in this post, we got cupcakes from Sweet Carolina.  Yum.  Mom chose to eat at Frankie Bones.  More yum.

Yesterday, thanks to a Facebook suggestion, we went to Roast Fish and Cornbread.  HOLY COW.  Tasty goodness.  (Sadly, no pictures, though...)

Today, we took our annual pilgrimage to Paula Deen's "The Lady and Sons" in Savannah.  Gluttony at it's best.  (I mainly took these pictures to harass my cousin Keith.  He was jealous of my day.)

 (I'm leaving Dan for the collards and limas, btw)
 E sporting some Gooey Butter Oreo Cake...

Now, I haven't mentioned all the walking we've been doing.  I don't have pics of the healthy things we've eaten, and we have.  But I also don't have pics of our other HHI treat: fudge.  (My mom loves it, and this is the one place we tend to eat enough for the next 11 months of fudge-less life.)

I need elastic waist pants just reading this.  Oh, wait... I've got them on.

Which brings me back to the heart of the matter.  Remember this post?  I do.  In fact, today I've already deleted 3 pictures we took today in Savannah because my face looks too much like that girl.  Ugh.

You ready to do something with me about it?

After many comments to me about that post, I'm ready to get going... with you (locally and via the internet) if you are ready to join me.

This Monday (post-vaca start up!), if you are in town, join me at my house for some Wine, Whine, and Weigh.  (Don't know where I live?  Well, I'm not going to post it here.  Email me.  I'll get you there.)  7:30pm.  I've got a game plan, and I'd love you to join me.  Let me know if you'll make it and I'll be sure to have enough wine (and moral support) for you.  

And, don't have enough to read online these days?  Check out these responses to a recent post on fatties.  Just love it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oh, our alma mater... love thee we do...

Tonight, my mom and I went to see "You Again"... the super silly movie about high school rivalries.  Cute, fun, mindless.

Did I mention that I am at Hilton Head?  And have I told you that this is where I came for Senior Week with my high school BFFs?


In the movie, like most high school movies, someone talks about how those 4 years were hell for them and how they were dying to get out.  Here's my big "secret": I loved high school.  Like, loved it with a big fat Sharpie red heart around it on my Trapper Keeper.  Those of you who went to school with me might remember... it was super fun .  I had amazing friends, was involved in 900 clubs, had the perfect (well, 2 perfect) church experience(s), dated some great guys, and all around just enjoyed it.  I was one of the "good kids" (truthfully) and didn't have a drink until coming here... to this very spot... Senior Week in high school.  Sitting a few hundred feet away from where I am right now, a boy named Josh asked me if I'd like a drink.  I said "no".  Then I thought about it... and said "maybe".  The maybe turned into a "yes" and I chose a path that I would walk for the next year.

I lost a lot of my identity in those next 13 months... I teeter-tottered between who I really was and who I thought I should be to be "Fun Becky".

Let's go back just a little further than high school- Middle School SUCKED.  I hated it.  HATED it.  And, yes, even now as I'm teaching Elizabeth that we don't use the word "hate"... it totally applies here.  Sixth grade I entered Middle School not knowing anything about cliques.  At my Elementary School just months before, the only cliques we had were the smelly kids and the non-smelly kids on the bus.  (One more sidenote?  Even now, God is calling me to hang with the smelly kids... so while I was unable to see it then, I should have chosen my seat on the bus differently.  But I'd get there eventually...)  So I walked in, unknowingly, to Enka Middle and began the precarious role of a girl who wanted to fit in.  I remember my first day of school coming home and saying to my mom, "I need a curling iron... I'm not sure why, but I just know that I do."  I began to curl my bangs (seriously... why?), I began to think more about where my clothes came from, and I began to blow off the people who would not "help" my social ladder climb.

I. was. miserable.

It was so much work... and it was not me.

Eighth grade, Mrs. Wagner pulled me aside and told me what she saw in me that I had to offer to the world and gave me the courage to "do" Student Council.  (That decision alone made such a huge difference in my life... including leading me to my future husband... but that is a post for another day.)  At this point in my school career, I made a decision to rest my tense shoulders and quit living for other people, but to just be... me.

Know what?  It worked.

High school was a good time... and I enjoyed (most) every moment of it.

Then, Summer of 94 hit, and that decision to once again live for other people... had I not learned?  The beginning of college for me was like a repeat of Middle School.  I wasn't comfortable in my own skin.  I began searching out who I "should" be... not who I really was.  I constantly compared myself to other people- how they looked, their GPAs, their boyfriends... and I became, once again, not satisfied with who I was.

Through a series of events, I reclaimed my identity... and while it gets tweaked with time, I feel like I can truly say now: "What you see is what you get."  I claim my awkwardness, my ridiculous mistakes, and my (in the words of Renee') actions that make the nuns blush.

But after seeing movies like tonight I wonder this: whose life did I jack up in high school?  Was there someone I made feel "small" because of my words or actions?  Was I part of the reason that someone else was dying to get out of EHS?  If so, I am sorry.  I am deeply and honestly sorry.  While I can (in all 16-years-later-humility) say that I did run with the popular kids... I pray that I wasn't like the stereotypes I see in movies.  I never saw us that way in the early 90s, and I'm hopeful that my (sketchy) memory isn't failing me here.  But if I did leave a nasty impression on your high school experience... I am so, so sorry.

Tomorrow, I'll sit at the very pool we sat at in 1994 thinking we were tough stuff and so grown up... and I'll see sweet Elizabeth swimming there... and now, I'll say extra prayers for her future.  I'll not just be praying that someone won't make her a Screwdriver on her Senior Week trip.  (Who are we kidding?  She won't be going!  Or, she'll have her Mom, Aunt Misty, and Aunt Christy tagging along...)  What I'll pray for her is that as she stumbles through adolescence she will be kind.  She will be genuine.  And she will be HERSELF... and be cool with that.  It's so much easier that way.

Natural Beauty

The sights of Hilton Head:

 dolphins at Harbor Town

 lightning over the ocean
 my pal the alligator
 Spanish Moss in Bluffton

Broad Creek sunset

my very own Natural Beauty

Sunday, October 24, 2010



[af-loo-uhns or, oftenuh-floo-] 
abundance of money, property, and other material goods;riches; wealth.
an abundant supply, as of thoughts or words; profusion.
a flowing to or toward; afflux.

While Dan and I were driving to Hilton Head yesterday, we heard this show on NPR about being "rich".  (Yes, I'm well aware of the irony of this statement.)  Given all that God has been teaching me about money (and my wee obsession with it) lately, it was interesting to hear the story about how much money is "enough", what makes you "rich", what makes you "wealthy."

Over a year ago, I first did Jen Hatmaker's study on the book "Interrupted" which discusses all that The Church has done to neglect the poor, the needy, the widowed, the orphaned... those "without".  True.  Fact.

And, yes, all you people who think I stay perched on my liberal-do-gooder-tree-hugger-soapbox... she was talking to me, too.  In fact, she was YELLING at me about how selfish I am.  How I waste money on stupid stuff that could go to people who need it.  How I, a stay at home mom in the suburbs, am RICH.  Because I am.

Dan and I don't qualify in the category that the NPR show was talking about... but we completely saw the irony of listening to this show as we were pulling in to Hilton Head.  (Those of you who've not been?  It's not a "cheap" beach.)  We drove past the expensive car dealerships, past the golf courses, past the plantations... and we were among the affluence.

Sometimes irony is enough to laugh at... and sometimes it's enough to punch you in the face.

Here's the kicker: we ain't got no money.  (Sorry, Mrs. Bell, I know that grammar makes you cringe... but it was really just poetic license.  I know that "ain't" don't usually go with "no".) 

This trip kind of sprung up on us... usually we go earlier in the fall... but this trip kind of just happened, and we hadn't budgeted for it properly.  In the last month (read: this paycheck) had to buy a car, fix our air conditioner, fund birthday festivities, etc.  We didn't quite plan for a beach week.

(Side note: before you blame me for being a total dork when it comes to money... which I am... by accusing me for booking a vacation and then forgetting it... let me take this moment to say- my mom is treating us to this week.  There, I've said it.  I'm in my mid-thirties and I let my mommy pay for a week at the beach.)

So here we are, already having spent all our fun money this month (which lasts until NOVEMBER 15) and I'm feeling "poor".   Uh-huh.  I am.  Because I can't go to the outlets and shop like crazy, like I'd like to.  Because I can't go to the killer sale at Belk and shop like crazy, like I'd like to.  Because I can't go to all the cutesie gift stores and shop like crazy, because I'd like to.  Because I can't buy all of the meals while we are here for us and my mom, because I'd like to.  Because I can't, because I can't, because I can't.... poor me.

Seriously, I feel sick even writing all of that self-centered bull crap.

I have a home what we can afford to pay the mortgage on... and the utilities.  I send my daughter to preschool and even buy ridiculous things (like photo sculptures and quintets) that go along with it.  I keep my daughter clothed and even "trendy"... and while the majority of her clothes are second hand, I can buy her those things I just have to have (yes, I said it... "I" have to have, not "she" has to have...).  I eat out with my husband and daughter regularly, and almost always have a fully stocked pantry.  I buy things at sales... but still, I can afford to pay for them.  And, wait for it... I have, on average, taken THREE vacations per year in the last few years.  One to Hilton Head with my mom, one to Kure Beach to see Dan's family, and one to Disney World with just us... PER YEAR.

I.  Am.  Rich.

Now, I can justify my way out of a paper bag, so I won't even go there.  I can tell you that all of these vacations are about family... which they are... but I'll tell you the truth:  I am rich.

So the next time I say I can't afford a pumpkin spice latte, you have my permission to laugh in my face.  When I am frustrated that we can't afford our new deck, you can also laugh.  When I can't go to the Buckhead Betties sale, laugh.  When I can't... whatever... you can laugh.  I will tell you now that it will hurt my feelings, piss me off, make me feel like crap... but I kind of deserve it.

Right now, my heart is torn between feeling like crap (see: above) and feeling content because of what we saw tonight...

While in the land of the affluent (HHI), I will choose to enjoy the blessing of being here.  I will choose to enjoy the time with my family.  And I will choose not to get sucked in to the tide of Keeping Up With The Joneses... or even keeping up with myself.  

As God continues to teach me where my money needs to go, I will continue to listen.  I will continue to spend and save as He prompts... and give until it hurts.

And, I will quit saying I don't have money... because that is a freakin' joke.

One last PS?  I can't find the checks that the gals from Book Club gave me on Thursday night.  I know they're not lost, I just misplaced them as I packed.  At the beginning of this post, I was pissed about it... now I just think it's kind of funny.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Everything Old is New Again

Today I had a total flashback.

Picture it, 1980-ish, the Caldwell's front porch.  Jamey and I are on the porch swing.  I keep telling him to swing "Higher! Higher!"  Next thing I know we have FLIPPED the PORCH SWING and Jamey is on his way to the ER.

Today, E had a playdate with a pal from school.  I saw history (almost) repeat itself:

 Don't fall for it, Wats... it ends poorly for the boys that we girls boss around.

But, holy cuteness Batman... how I love watching them play.

Side note?  Jamey ended up pretty badly beat up... and maybe some stitches (I can't remember).  Me?  I just ended up in trouble, with no scrapes or bruises.  Why he is still friends with me, I'm not sure.  Cooler "ps" side note... we met when we were younger than E and Wats... and did you catch that?  We're still friends.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Husbands and Spinach.

Yesterday, I called to talk to one of my high school besties... her husband answered instead, and I spent the entire time on the phone talking to him.  Yep.  Forgot to even ask for her to call me back, or even to tell her that I called.  Just talked to him the whole time.  I lurve him.
Monday, I went to supper club at one of my gal pals houses and ate a super meal that her husband prepared for us.  Tasty.

Tonight, the sweet husband of one of the first people I met in town came over to fix our air conditioner.  Granted, I've known him as long as I've known her, but still... he's her husband.

Husbands.  I love 'em.  Yours, mine, all of ours.  I kinda feel a bit "Sister Wife"ish when I say it, but it's true.  (And, sadly, we don't get cable so I've not even gotten to see that gem mine of a show.)

Speaking of blissfully-crappy TV, I had lunch today with a new friend.  We met a few weeks ago at a Blogger function and then became FB friends... we realized we needed to know each other.  That, and she just launched this crazy cool site TODAY that you all need to check out... and yours truly just might be sharing a Guest Blog on there in the future!  Anyway, we talked about all things important to new friendship- reality TV, politics, neighbors, friends we have in common, Flo Rida, crappy cell phones, and keeping up with the Joneses.

Then, as we were having our yummy wraps, Rachel commented that she likely had spinach in her teeth.  I said I might, too, and laughed it off.  I even tried to stealthily check my teeth when she got up from the table.  When she returned, she offered me gum.  Still, nothing totally clicked.

Until I got in my car.

And saw I had HUGE amounts of spinach... between... my... front... two... teeth.

So, dear new friend Rachel... lesson learned from today: if you were trying to be sweetly subtle and tell me I had spinach in my teeth- learn now that I am oblivious and missed it.  If you were not and somehow did not notice the huge leafy vegetable stuck between my incisors?  It was probably because my mouth was moving so much as you were so fun to talk to.  (Congrats on your site... next time, no spinach for me.  Only wine, k?)

And ladies at MOMS tomorrow?  I made a spinach frittata.  Bring your mirrors... and check your teeth before you leave.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Funny Child

Dan asked me tonight why I hadn't shared E's best quote from her birthday weekend.  My mom recently returned from a trip to England and brought Elizabeth a Tudor Bear:

It's similar to this Tudor (girl) bear.  And the conversation went a little like this:

Us: E!  That Teddy Bear is from London!  It's a Tudor Bear!
E: Why is it called a Tooter Bear if it doesn't Toot?

Love a literal child.

Today I took that literal child to a playdate for her class.  Due to a variety of reasons, we were the only ones there from school.  (Other kids were there, just none that we knew.)  I'd pumped it up to E all day that we were going on a playdate with her school friends (my bad... you'd think I'd have learned by now.)  It wasn't until we were getting in the car and leaving that she realized no one had shown up.  And she was fine with it.

I prayed later this afternoon that she'd always remain that way.  That my child who loves people so much, who gives in to peer pressure even now (that's how she decided she'd get her pink extensions... because Amelia and McKenna were doing it...), who desires to much to be a part of something-- that my sweethearted child will always be okay when it's just her.  When it's just us.

People ask us a minimum of once a week if we are going to have more children.  Here's the big secret: we don't know.  As of today, we'd say not likely... at least not biologically.  My heart is full with our family of 3 (well, 4 if you count Webster) for now.  We're "good" with where we are.  We prayed for God to give us a child and He did.  We also know that we're not called to isolate ourselves as our family of 3.  That God has wired us to give and serve... maybe that will be shown to us in ways of taking in people who need the love we have to give.  Maybe that will be in supporting those who need resources (time, energy, money) that we have to give.  Maybe that will be something totally different than we think it is now (which is likely... because God tends to work that way with us)... but we're cool with it.  We're good.  We'll keep you posted.

For now, we'll enjoy our child who thinks a bear should be more appropriately named.  The same child who, tonight during dinner (when she was sad I'd grilled her sandwich instead of it being non-grilled) said "Daddy, I think I'd rather sit here and cry."  The same child who drew a picture yesterday of her best friend and when I asked her who it was she said "Mommy."  The same child who I brought home from the hospital 4 years ago tonight.  Holy Tudor Bear, Batman... time flies.


Whenever I read a book, I find myself bizarrely compelled to read the acknowledgements.  Like I'm gonna know who they are giving a shout-out to or something.  Usually I feel like I can get a better understanding of the author as a person that way... and sometimes I do "know" who they are talking about.  (Jen Lancaster and Stacey Ballis reference each other... and I read both of their stuff, so that counts, right?)  I also love to read the dedication because, same thing, even though I don't likely know who it's "to", it often makes me smile/cry.  (Unless it's Wayne Caldwell, then I know his people.  And *that*, my friends, is fun.)

So, since I will likely never be in print (or at least won't be for a loooong time), I thought I should just go ahead and give my blog it's "Acknowledgements" page.


First and foremost, thanks to my Mom for understanding that while the bulk of what I say on here probably makes her cringe, it's not intended to.  Thanks for teaching me to be who I am, even if this is who I am.  To Daddy- thanks for the ability to laugh at myself... and "thanks" for not giving me a bigger filter.  And, Mary- thanks for being true to your word and never trying to be my mom, but for being my friend and so much more.  Chris- thanks for not calling me Dufus anymore... and for bringing 2 new people into my family.  To my high school girls- for making me giggle when I just think about you... especially you, Mis, and that picture I'm being so good about not commenting on.  To my IV Pals- thanks for teaching me to rein it in when I need to.  I probably need to more. Dan G- thanks for being my rock of truth and teaching me that someone would be.  Ea- thanks for all of the "just one more thing"s that have gotten us through 15 years of very important things... I've got a lifetime of them still waiting, though.  Bubs Boys- I'll fix you breakfast anytime of day.  It's my spiritual gift, you know.  Jenny Pie- I can't wait to corrupt your daughter.  To my HillSong family- thanks for believing in me and for the fun we had serving together.  To the Bunko gals- thanks for making me feel like this is home.  To my ROCC family- thanks for putting up with Inappropriate Becky and showing me what real community looks like.  To the DT gals- thanks for being that community.  And for going with me to see naked people.  La- thanks for being a true grown up friend that still goes with me to Wal-Mart in the middle of the night at a moment's notice.  To my neighbors... thanks for never ceasing to amaze me- in all ways possible.  NK, AP, AR, and all the others that don't fit a "category"- thanks for making my life full.  To the MMP Family- thanks for being an amazing preschool experience for me and my daughter. Aunties- thanks for giving me inspiration and confidence for writing it out... and loving me, pink polka dots and all. Waldrups, Randolphs, Ducks, extended family, and even Keith- thanks for being family to me more and more as I "grow up".  E- thanks for being my miracle and my joy... and for giving me lots of content for this blog.  And, finally, to Dan- thanks for being my "good enough".  It's actually way better than that.  (Sorry for sometimes making you cringe, too.)

To Elizabeth Jane... May the words of these posts not make you die of embarrassment when you are old enough to read them.  I hope you find your Prince one day and that he *is* as good as Daddy.  And I hope when I drive you crazy in high school that you bounce back quickly.  I love you, sweet pea, no matter what you do... I love you for who you are.

Wait a minute, I think I just wrote a yearbook entry.  Hmm...

(Today, I'd add a special ps: To Bill-Bill, thanks for making that amazing Eggplant Parmesan that I'm still thinking about... mmm....)

In other news, it makes a girl happy when her daughter comes downstairs for the morning singing Barenaked Ladies songs.  This is what my day started with, so I'll leave you with 2 of our favorites... 

Happy Tuesday, y'all!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Snow White Hangover

This weekend we partied like rock stars... short, little Disney rock stars.

My child has been in love with Snow White since her first Disney Days...

Let me stop you right there...
(Give me a second while I get on my Momma-defending-self-justification Soapbox...)

Yes, we took our child to Disney World when she'd just recently turned 2.  And I'd do it all over again.  Yes, we heard everyone as they told us she might be too young.  Yes, there were moments in the trip I wish I could have reasoned with her (have you ever tried to reason with a 2 year old?)  But overall we had an amazing trip.  And she still remembers tons about it.  Seriously, she does.

We returned to Disney World when she'd just turned 3.  She remembers even more about that trip:

(Here they were comparing dresses...)

I'm not sure why she loves this princess so much, but she's been OBSESSED with her for over 2 years now.  The irony is, back in the day when I bought my Halloween costume from Eckerd Drugs, I *had* to be Snow White because of my dark hair.  And now, E can't get enough of her.

So we invited her (Snow White) to E's birthday party.  From the moment Snow White "confirmed" she could come, E was ecstatic.  The morning I knew for sure Snow White could come, I went to wake her up and our conversation went like this:

me: Guess who I invited to your birthday party and who said they could come?
E: Who?
E: HOW did you get back from Disney World SO FAST?
me: No, I just emailed her.
(another pause)
E: Cool.  (Because, of course, her mom would have Snow White's email addy, right?)

Hey, remember me... up here on my Momma-defending-self-justification Soapbox?  Let's talk about this whole kids birthday party thing while we're at it...

I am NOT into parties that are made to impress the parents.  I am NOT into parties that are trying to one-up each other, or even your own kid's last birthday party.  I am NOT into making your 2 year-old's party look like My Super Sweet Sixteen.

But I AM into throwing parties.  I would throw a party for Halloween, Christmas, Arbor Day, Tuesday, Noon... basically give me an occasion and I'll throw a party.  I love hosting Bunko, Happy Hour, Supper Club, Bible Study... give me a reason to have people over and I'll do it.  My house is nearly never spotless, the preparations are nearly never perfect, but I love it.  Like, love it so much I could marry it.

Since I love throwing parties so much, and I love this little miracle of mine so much, you better believe I'll have a good time throwing her birthday party.

Her first birthday party was at McDonald's and the kid's who came donated to the RMH instead of bringing gifts.  (Try that with my gift-obsessed 4 year old... riiiiiiiight.  We're working on it, people, but we're not there yet.)

Her cute bday cake was a hamburger!  (And from Harris Teeter!)

Her second birthday we had a Halloween Carnival in the backyard.  (This is one I'd gladly do again and again... so easy, so fun, and all those kids in their costumes!)

We borrowed a popcorn machine and rented a cotton candy machine... and a dunk tank.  So fun!

Her third birthday we went to the Children's Museum.   She'd gotten hooked on the book Pinkalicious, and since the Museum is all about reading, it was a perfect Pinkalicious party-combo.

Dewey's made the cupcakes that I still dream about... mmm....

This year's party kind of was kind of a no-brainer.  We owned the dress.  We loved the princess.  Why not do a Snow White theme?  I printed the invitations, enlisted the help of my friend Lindsay who makes cakes, bought a bag of Cheetos, and we were off...

We had 3 rooms of things for the kids to do:

A wishing well...

The messy dwarves house that the girls cleaned up...

The diamond mine where the girls "mined" for diamonds.

All of those events lasted about 20 minutes. Then... the main event.

Snow White arrived.


They sang and danced.... and were entranced.

Then there was this amazing cake:

-it tasted as good as it looked.  Along with it there were these:

"poisoned apple" cupcakes.

And you know what?  All of it? Best. Birthday. Money. I've. Spent. Yet.


Three things:
A. I'll go ahead and make this shameless plug: Get "Snow White" (or her alternate friends) to come to your child's gig.  It's worth the money.

B. I'm happy to get you Lindsay's info for cakes, too.  Holla at a sista....

C. Now I'll tell you this: mock if you will, but I'm down with throwing parties for my girl.  I never seek to be the biggest, the best, the most elaborate, the most expensive, or even the most creative... but I do seek to celebrate my girl and have fun- both for her and me- while doing it.

I love the idea of how-many-is-enough kids at a party (their age + one extra friend... so this year we should have had 5 friends), and how-much-is-enough to spend (I don't have a formula for this one)... but let's be honest... I can't do it.  I am looking forward to the days where E wants to have slumber parties.  I can't wait for Skate-A-Round USA type parties.  I won't lie, Chuck E. Cheese doesn't make me cringe.  (Unless it's a weekend night, then I'd rather pry my fingernails off with a rusty nail... that, my friends, is pure hell.)  I love parties- big kid ones, little kid ones, whatever.

My kid loved it, and so did I... even if I have a wee bit of a Snow White Hangover.

Or, maybe you should just call me "Sleepy".

Disclaimer #1: I am fully aware of the need in this world... big and small.  Please don't hear my justification of my child's birthday parties as a way that I am saying spending this silly money is more important than doing "bigger" things.  It's not.  It's silly, and it's fun.  It's not the most important thing we spend our money on at all... let me make that clear.

Disclaimer #2: No, this is not directed at YOU.  After this post, I got several private messages about childcare... my bad.  I know that there are lots of you who have your parents keep your kids and it's a healthy arrangement.  I TOTALLY respect that.  I do not live in the same city as my parents or maybe I'd have a similar arrangement.  My beef is the EXPECTATION that people put on their parents to keep their children- as if they don't have lives of their own.  That's all.  My bad.

Disclaimer #3: Thanks to all who celebrate our child's life with us- whether you were at the party or not.  And, in advance, I'm sorry if any of you were offended that you were not included.  Again, my bad.

And now, we're off to find our happily ever after.  It's what you do when you're 4, you know.