As I mentioned, I’ve been trying all week to find a moment to write about our trip to St. Louis last weekend.
The driving force behind this post is to showcase the cake that my sister-in-law, Amy, made. She gave up Facebook for Lent so I’m plastering it all over the Interwebs for her.
She’s a birthday party maven. It’s ridonk:
Here are some other angles:
Can’t…stop…looking…at….Mario cake…I mean, look at those Gumbas, the little bomb men…the…whatever those turtle things are called. Stop, just stop. Oh, go on. She carved them by hand out of fondant people!
Cousin Max, Amy’s buddy, turned 5 and he had a heck of a party in the greater St. Louis area.
We almost didn’t go. We almost didn’t go because even though Mark and I made this resolution to be normal that is harder than it sounds. It’s the tail end of flu season. We were going to take Laila and Eli to Aunt Amy and Uncle Steve’s, let Grandma Chris watch Eli, and take Laila to the party. And then we weren’t. I was afraid of germs. With our new buddy and his cystic fibrosis diagnosis, a family gathering and a birthday part felt exotic and dangerous.
WWPD. WWPD. I had to get to Pam.
“You’ve got to live your life,” she told me.
“I’m just worried about him getting passed around,” I said. “Or about the little buddies getting in his face. But that’s dumb because they’re all more considerate than that.”
She has two teenage sons with cystic fibrosis.
I have one baby with the disease. Without the CF mom friends I’ve started collecting, I would have no where to turn when I encounter an every-day scenario that, in my old life, would not have phased me. In my new life, which includes a little baby with CF, I am on unsure footing quite often, as it turns out.
Pam’s assurance that it was OK to take little man was what I needed to hear. She convinced me to go and only a CF mom like Pam could make me feel that it was OK.
What I’ve discovered about myself with Eli is that I face an inner battle with each step we take back into the world since he had his surgeries and diagnosis. My inner safety inspector wants to turn Eli into bubble boy. This would not be good for him. This would not be good for my family, rational me informed safety inspector. Safety inspector wasn’t listening. She was getting all uppity like she does. Rational me punched safety inspector in the face because Pam told me I could. Then we high tailed it out of OKC for the party before safety inspector could lock Eli and my family inside the house.
Before we had any kids, I would have gone to a kid’s party and been like:
To Mark: Where’s the beer.
“These kids are cute.”
To Mark: Kill me now.
Then I had kids of my own and realized that making your kid happy is its own special kind of high. So when you see parents at a kid’s birthday party with huge smiles plastered across their faces, you are looking at a bunch of high people.
A more Oprah way to say that is:
There is nothing purer and more wonderful than a child’s joy.
That’s why parties are fun for parents.
Amy assigned me to be her party photographer. I was like:
“Oh hell yes I will photograph the hell out of this party.”
I didn’t know anyone there, which means I green-lighted myself to get more into this assignment than what’s…normal. I decided to cover it like a journalist. My theme was “A child’s joy,” I told myself in my own head.
So there I was, popping out from behind the pillars of the outdoor park pavillion like a paparazzo to capture candids of a happy Max. Down on the ground at an extreme angle getting the hoopla surrounding the cake.
When not snapping away I sipped hot chocolate and watched kids bounce and this one little girl I didn’t know kept calling me mommy, but it was cool.
Laila loved the bounce house. Can’t you tell?
My nephew Alex and niece Nicole had traveled with Grandm from the greater Chicagoland area.
Alex totally regulated the entryway to the bounce house, telling this big boy he couldn’t go in while Laila and the little girl who thought I was her mommy were playing.
The big boy got kind of pissy, but Alex remained cool, ignored the boy’s fit and repeated the bouncy house rules and I was like:
High five, Alex. You’re an awesome little man!
He is my kindred safety inspector! All of Laila’s cousins are unique little people. Cousin Nicole was a princess last time I saw her but informed me:
“I’m a ninja.”
Lucy, who is almost 2, is a wild woman. She loves hot sauce. If you blink when you’re with her she’ll wind up on top of a table doing something like throwing around rubber bands.
Eli stayed with Grandma Chris during the party, which made both of them very happy.
Max may have been the happiest buddy of all, running around in a pack of boys in between pinning the mustache on Mario and going on a coin hunt with two dozen of his closest friends.
Back at the house, the little ones were so respectful of Eli’s boundaries. The kids stayed back from him while he was in his swing at Amy & Steve’s, just as a precaution. Even Lucy.
“Baby, baby,” she said, pointing. She was excited there was a baby around. Her mommy told her to give him space once and that’s what she did the entire weekend.
I’m so glad we decided to go.
Afterward I looked at Amy and I was like:
“Great party, Amy. I really enjoyed myself.”
It was the truth. Nothing but the truth.