Friday, November 6, 2009

Twas the Night Before Bella's Birthday

Twas the night before Bella's 7th birthday and all through the house, not a creature was stirring except for one crazy, frantic mama who unfortunately hadn't had enough coffee.

This year Bella opted out of a traditional birthday party (which I was thrilled about) and instead plans on going to "Build-a-Bear" this weekend with her Daddy. We thought this was the cutest thing ever. How many more years will she most likely want to forgo presents and festivities in lieu of spending some quality time with her father and some quality money in a creepy place filled with glass eyes and miniature clothing sets? Probably not too many. But we still wanted to do the old-school party from our child-hoods which consists of a favorite dinner, cake and perhaps the grandparents and/or one friend. So we were calling that the "non-party, party". This was working out perfectly. I was envisioning a total lack of effort, yet a happy, tranquil get-together.

Mmmm-hmmm. I was equating having the "non-party, party" with doing absolutely NO PREPARATION for her birthday until the day before. I had a few gifts, but that was about it. Most people could pull this off, no problem. But most people probably don't decorate more for Halloween than they do for Christmas. Which again would be fine if I hadn't taken down about 1/2 the decorations already and had them splayed haphazardly about the house like the Great Pumpkin himself had exploded.

I got home from shopping at 9 p.m. and realized that the "non-party, party" had just been a clever ruse by the Evil Birthday Troll to sucker me back in. Nonna and Baba (my in-laws) were coming, with my sister-in-law and niece and Bella's best buddy and his family. I still want my in-laws to like me and think I'm a good mom, so I couldn't leave the house the way it was. It could completely blow my last 12.5 years of work. It dawned on me at 9 p.m. that I still had about 6 hours of work left. This left me with a choice. Make up a pot of coffee and zip around like Cinderella with the birds as they help her do her chores or pretend that I only have 1 more hour of work and drink an EmergenC . I chose the EmergenC. Big mistake. 2 a.m. was really when my efficiency level dropped to zero. See below.

9 p.m. I turned on the oven to bake the birthday cake and pumpkin muffins that Bella wanted to take to school.
11 p.m. Both b-day treats baked, cake flipped to an aluminum covered cardboard pizza lid with wooden skewers masking taped to the bottom for extra reinforcement, then put in the freezer to ice the next day.

*See footnote at the bottom.

12. a.m. I start to put away the Halloween decorations that I usually throw into cardboard boxes. This season I had the bright idea to get orange and black storage containers to "better organize" my life. I wish I never had this thought, because now I felt obligated to do the organizing.
1 a.m. I start on the mound of laundry that had been stealthily working it's way up our basement stairs.
2 a.m. I start to carry the boxes up to the attic.
2:02 a.m. I get side-tracked and start to windex mirrors.
2:03 a.m. I get double-side-tracked and start to clean the toilets.
2:05 a.m. I lay down in the girls bathroom(so...sleepy) and notice a big treasure trove of missing barrettes under their stepping stool.
2:10 a.m. I get back up (I lost 5 minutes somewhere in there. It's probably hiding under the stepping stool) and drag the boxes into the attic, bloodying my knuckles in the process.
2:15 a.m I am organizing the attic, sorting through camping stuff and putting away old Bike2School posters from a fundraiser earlier this Fall, wondering "what is wrong with me?"
2:30 a.m. I hear the dryer buzzer and stumble down the stairs to hang up Aaron's work shirts and pants.
2:45 a.m. I start on dishes.
3:00 a.m. I realize that I'm standing with the hot water running over my hands, and there are no more dishes left in the sink. My pulse and breathing are slowing down and I feel like Elliot in the scene from E.T. where he falls asleep standing up with a handful of Reeses Pieces, wearing his long-underwear. Only I was eating chocolate chips instead. 3 a.m. fuel of champions.
3:15 I give the counters a final wipe, start the dishwasher and go to bed.

Now this is where it gets really sad. The next thing I know, Aaron is holding a cup of coffee under my nose saying, "Hey, honey. Maybe this will help you wake up." I'm thinking, "Oh, this wonderful, sweet man. He made me coffee to wake me up." But then he quickly swipes it away and takes it to the adjoining office where he was working from home that day. The coffee was not for me. He just cruelly gave me a whiff and then SNATCHED it away. Thanks honey. Thanks for that. Later he justified his cruelty by saying, "Well I know you don't like your coffee black. You wouldn't have liked it. It was just to wake you up."

That day was a blur of pumpkin muffins, spaghetti and meatballs, Winton's food coloring and the smell of Swiffer products. But all in all, I was happy I did it all, because the "non-party, party" turned out pretty sweet. I got to truly enjoy my oldest daughter turning 7 because I had done all the prep the night before. It was the perfect way to celebrate, even if my knuckles were bloodied and bruised. At least I bandaged them up so no one would gag when they saw me serving up the cake.

Birthday coming up? Do not make the same mistake I did. Do yourself a favor. Make up the pot. Don't even hesitate. Your 2 a.m. -3 a.m. stretch could be so much better.

*This time the cake flipped right onto the board like it was supposed to. Much better than the first time I tried it when Gabby was turning 1 and it flipped right onto the floor, where I quickly joined it, alternately crying...and then eating the floor. It was a good cake. I was able to save half.

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