Tag Archives: birthdays

The Best Excuse for Cake

raelimummybirthday2013So it’s my 35th birthday! It was a pretty chilled out day. My presents so far have mostly included chocolate and tea which is most pleasing and appropriate, though I’ve also received a couple of rather lovely pieces of crockery for my new (super old) kitchen dresser: a gorgeous Persephone Books bowl featuring a pomegranate design from Alisa, and a TARDIS teapot from my honey.

Raeli gave me a beautiful piece of artwork – a sketch depicting our family in the Trojan War, playing Sparkly Monopoly, napping together (that is, me and the girls piled on top of each other reading books while their Daddy naps deeply beside us which is ENTIRELY ACCURATE), and a family portrait of us as fairies.

Lunch, some actual reading time (shock!) and I also probably spent more time than I should have working on a post about A Song of Ice and Fire. I got a single lovely child free hour thanks to my honey taking Jem for a walk to buy CAKE.

Jem went through a slightly frantic and stressful (for me) art period in the afternoon – MUST MAKE ART MUMMY – which involved clue and paper curls and cutting random bits of paper and oh gah, artistic children. Lovely but also messy and inconvenient. I am proud of her love of art but there are times when I just want her to go watch some nice tidy television instead.

But the really cool thing is that before dinner, my whole family gathered together and watched all 5 episodes of The Mind Robber (1968) with me! I’d always thought that the ‘books and fairy tales’ theme of this story would make it a Classic Who my girls were likely to enjoy despite the whole black and white thing, and I was right! Not only my three-year-old Hartnell fan Jem watched rapt but after one episode of casually playing Minecraft while glancing up occasionally, Raeli was hooked too.

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Happy Alice

We have survived Jemima’s birthday! I wanted to do something special for her because she missed out on a party last year, as the whole family was sick, and ever since January when half the people she knew had birthday parties, she has been wondering where hers is. A year is a long time between two and three…

The Alice in Wonderland theme was, admittedly, my plan because I figured it was one of the last birthdays where I would get to decide the theme instead of having to incorporate whatever crazymadawesome ideas my daughter thought up for herself.

I think I made the right call.

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Never Mind Domestic Science… my Parenthood is all about Domestic Art

As a parent, you get called on at times in your life to be creative and artistic in a domestic setting. There’s no actual obligation, but we’ve all had those notices about bringing cakes to the school (or as my friend received this Christmas, a summons to provide a plate of “something healthy” arranged in a suitably festive shape, such as a Christmas tree or snowman). There are school plays, fancy dress parties, never mind basic arts and crafts activities.

I’m a sucker for domestic art. I don’t do it very often – and I am entirely comfortable with time saving alternatives – but I love an opportunity to do something creative for my kids, given a comfortable timeframe, a practical plan, and a little breathing space.

The most common demonstrations of my domestic art skills in this house are costuming, and the provision of birthday cakes. Nothing fancy – sure, I once produced a hand-sewn Cleopatra costume for an Asterix party which was worn for all of 3 minutes, but I’m just as likely to run out to the shop to find a lion mask at a moment’s notice (give me a month and ebay, and I can dress you as ANYTHING, my darling, but a week’s notice? Aargh!). I’ve even been known to dress my kids up for occasions other than costume parties – like, for instance, my book launches.

This year, we knew with at least six months notice that Raeli wanted a Doctor Who party, and that she wanted to go as a lady Silurian, and my Mum was totally okay with making that costume, as long as it was confirmed as wanted 2 months before the party. 2 months before the party, Raeli changed her mind, and wanted to be River Song instead. We called the party ‘aliens and earthlings’ so as not to alienate the non Doctor Who watchers who were invited, and sort of forgot about the costume.

Meanwhile, I had a plan for Jem’s costume for the same party, which would be a TARDIS dress. Having seen all the gorgeous ones out there, I plotted to remix a plain denim dress, got the makings, and got very excited when I learned about the advances that have been made in T-Shirt Transfer technology.

Somehow, with less than a fortnight to go, we had not organised Raeli’s costume. Her more recent plans to be young Melody Pond ran aground when we checked that episode, and the kid was basically wearing a dress and a cardigan, which can not be made to look like a proper costume. Alarm bells rang. She was sent off with a stack of Doctor Who magazines to figure out what she wanted to look like.

She came back with bright, starry eyes, and the request for an astronaut costume.

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Twas the Night Before Birthday Party…

Here, for those who requested it, proof that I made a TARDIS cake for Raeli’s birthday party tomorrow. It’s not finished yet, as I plan to have a cupcake light on top, and some decorations around the border, but those will be added tomorrow, so more pics then! (as well as pics of my two lovely girls, dressed as an astronaut and the TARDIS)

This is basically cake (two packet mixes swirled together so some is vanilla & some choc), cut to size & liberally spread with chocolate frosting. The windows and panel are made from roll-out white icing, the details from slices of a metre-long liquorice strap, and the fancy white writing parts from one of those squeezy writing icing things. All bought from the supermarket.

I had a near-disaster when I put gladwrap over the whole thing (having refrigerated the cake for some time I assumed all the icing was set – the frosting WAS but the writing sadly got smeared all over the place) so I recovered by putting a whole piece of liquorice strap over the mess, tidying up with a bit of spare chocolate frosting (always save the last spoonful just in case!!!) and re-writing the text.

It looks like a TARDIS, anyway! Imperfect, but delicious.

[and if anyone, not looking at anyone in particular, hon, thinks I was overreaching myself, I show further evidence that my goals in cakeitude are sensible, rational and achievable, unlike some people who take TARDIS-related cake art to EXTREMES – thanks to @greenspyders for the link]

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Wonder Woman Turns Six; Batgirl Inhales Watermelon

Raeli had her birthday a few days ago! We’ve had what feels like a whole week of birthday/holiday activities, culminating in the Big Superhero Party which felt like a crazed, sugary blur at the time, but people seemed to enjoy. Raeli informed me that it was even better than last year, largely because of the pinata (which from our POV was a dismal failure redeemed only by the fact that no one was actually hurt during the whole excruciating procedure). At the end, there were lollies, so no complaints from the kids.

Apart from the change in theme, from fairies to superheroes, I had planned to run the party the same as last year: simple food involving opening packets, I don’t make anything myself except the cake and fairy bread, sausages on the barbie for kids & parents alike, my Mum madly running the games (everyone needs a Glammer come birthday season) and no fuss. Naturally it got far more complicated than that, not least because, well, do we remember how last year I had a little 5 month old baby? THIS YEAR she’s a running, jumping, bouncing, psyched up little dynamo, and it took the 15 or so adults at the party to keep track of her. I’m not used to a feisty baby. Raeli was energetic but not one for hurling herself off furniture. Jem topped off the party by eating everything. Seriously. All the things. Once the big kids had abandoned the picnic cloths and gone to play games, she plonked herself down and ate more than her own body weight in chips, cheezels, biscuits, watermelon and… oh, I don’t even know. Hear that? That’s the kind of mother I am. I have no idea what she ate. I just know that she looked really, really smug about it.

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Jemcakes Day, Yes It’s Jemcakes Day

My baby is one year old today. It’s been a mad, jam-packed year of broken nights and novel deadlines, of manuscript papers and dirty nappies and really, really hard work squeezed into impossibly tiny spaces.

It’s also been a year of great joy, of watching this new child grow into herself, of watching Raeli grow into being a big sister.

Jem, otherwise known as Jemimacakes, Babycakes, Jem-Jem, Mima, My Mima, Jemmels, La La and Bunny Girl, is one hell of a person. She is full of energy, a crawler and an intriguer where Raeli was a much gentler soul. Jem never met a power cable she didn’t want to chew, and my that gets old pretty fast. Her favourite trick is yanking out the ear buds of my iPod. Her colour is orange, which is something I never expected. (I kind of hope she does go through a pink stage when she’s 3 otherwise there’s a crate of handmedown clothes waiting for her that will make her very unhappy)

She is crawling, pulling herself up on furniture, and for a few floaty and exciting moments yesterday, was standing on her own.

She’s a Gooner girl through and through, and while she didn’t get much choice in being an Arsenal fan, she most certainly considers her fluffy soccer ball to be one of her favourite toys. She recently discovered the deep love of hitting an empty biscuit tin with a pair of chopsticks, and took to drumming with alarming vigour.

She can say Mama and Dadoo and Ra-ra or Rae. She can clap, just, and wave, almost.

When watching Xena with me, her hands move as if she’s trying to figure out the sword moves. That could be a problem later.

It’s important, as deadlines crunch together and I fight for every spare moment to work in, that I stop and relish the time I get to spend with this tiny precious person, who won’t be a baby much longer.

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New Books For Old

I can tell the end of The Creature Court is on the horizon, because I’ve spent the day being hit in the head by other books. Important, exciting future books which are not yet. The trouble is, now I’ve answered the last questions about Book 3, my brain is telling me that the job is all done, which is patently not true.

Also both the books smacking me over the head today are the Wrong Books and in no way the one I planned to write next. For which I have sensibly been applying for grants, and planning to use to put a proposal together for Voyager in the second half of the year.

Damn it. Work’s not done. Work’s not done. Could someone inform my brain of this important fact? I don’t have time to construct a lavish Shakespearian alternate universe right this second.

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I am now 32. The day has been celebrated by much and varying kinds of cake. It started out pretty badly after Jem pulled her becoming-traditional-Friday-night-teething-from-hell which meant basically I had to wake up every 1-2 hours to feed her or daub Bonjela on her gums and then feed her, and I woke up feeling wrung out and gnawed-upon. My honey and I horse traded for recovery naps and I won on account of being the one who had been chewed all night, plus the fact that I was the one closest to homicidal.

All in all, it meant that my lazy morning baking cupcakes with my eldest daughter turned into a dash to the finish line with green food colouring and cream cheese icing everywhere.

Food colouring. Just say no. Your carpet will thank you. On an unrelated note, why do icing nozzles not have freaking lids?

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Crunch and Crumble

January’s over! Yikes. The end of the school holidays is fast approaching, which is good. I’m not nearly as far along with my rewrites as I wanted to be by this stage, but we can just call that another case of imaginary productivity.

There had better be nothing imaginary about my February productivity. I’m setting myself up for success the best way I can. When I haven’t been able to work, I’ve been building up anti-guilt points, playing with Raeli and setting up activities for her so I don’t feel so bad about disappearing into my laptop in the coming month. My honey is taking off the last week of the school holidays, which means he can entertain her and do the quality time thing while I indulge in reckless abandonment.

And of course there was the other work, the stuff with more immediate deadlines – proofs on proofs, and the last stages of correcting and redoing the maps. Not that I was actually doing the maps, but the last couple of weeks meant several meetings with Mum – the maps themselves were gorgeous but we’ve been juggling the sizing of text and my honey had to come to the party with electronic support and corrections too, managing to save Mum a lot of re-drawing time!

Meanwhile I’ve been reading my book 2 and notetaking and playing with Scrivener, and essentially pre-rewriting. The big work is all going to be done in the last month, though. I’ve worked through the fear and the paralysis stage (don’t know where to start! so much to do! make write better aargh!) and now there’s just the good stuff to do. I’m actually looking forward to it. I can see the shape of the book it’s going to be, and it helps that I’ve spent chunks of January immersed in the minutiae of book 1 – it’s amazing what themes and quirks you can slip into a book without realising it, and it’s only by being forced to read it line by line that you find those clever bits that really need to be elaborated on in later books.

It’s a trilogy I’m writing here, not three books, and it really is the first time I’ve done that – Mocklore was three standalone books, only becoming a trilogy of sorts in the final hour (and besides the wench is dead). I always wanted each book to expand on the previous one, making the story bigger and wider and sometimes changing the way you read the early books – but I’ve lived with Book One for so long now that it’s hard to let it go.

Final proofs are final. It’s gone. No changing it now. Further in, further in!

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Birthday Bumps

Raeli is five today. I’ve been thinking of her as a nearly-five-year-old for a while now, so this shouldn’t be a shock. The last five years have been the best of my life. Being a mum is completely awesome, and she really is one of my favourite people in the world. She’s spent the last several days making a book (a real stapled book!) with the story of Snow White and the Wicked Queen (obviously the two important characters in the story) written out laboriously, with spelling help from me, plus illustrations and activity pages. She now tells stories that go on forever. She’s smart, creative and imaginative. She also argues like a bitch lawyer from hell and never, ever forgets a piece of information that might possibly be useful to her.

I love my girl.

And I say this despite the fact that, today, with no warnings or opportunity to brace myself, I had to sit through Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Squeakquel. Words cannot describe how appalling this movie was. [info] godieva sat together in mutual horror as our children giggled and enjoyed themselves through the entire thing.

It’s not just that it’s a movie about singing chipmunks. I could live with that. It’s just – such an appalling movie. The narrative makes no sense for the first half. The second half is mildly better only because there are more distracting action sequences. But oh. The sexual politics. Composing a mental blog entry about the hideous sexual politics of this movie was all that got me through it. But I will not inflict this on you. Not unless I can’t get it out of my head any other way.

We were attempting, by the way, to see the Princess and the Frog. Which Raeli and I have been looking forward to for six months, and which was unexpectedly taken off the Village Cinema schedules today. Apparently Thursday is the day that they change these things. We did not know this, and nor did the many other disappointed little girls who were turned away from the cinema today. It was my daughter’s birthday treat. There was a wobbly lip and the possibility of explodey tears, on her birthday. Of course we had to suck it up and buy tickets to the only children’s film currently on offer for the remainder of the children’s holidays.

I can’t scrub the chipmunk horror out of my mind. Girl chipmunks doing ‘Single Ladies’ and ‘Hot and Cold’ and being criticised for not being skinny enough. CHIPMUNKS.

Anyway, all is not lost. There is hopefully still a 10am screening of The Princess and the Frog we can go to this week. She’ll still get there.

The rest of the movie experience wasn’t great either – I had to take a pram in, because having Jemima in a front pouch makes it so hard to feed her, and the place is entirely inaccessible. Stairs everywhere. There was a weird slope built into the floor by the back rows which meant basically that the two rows you can put a pram next to without blocking the aisle for everyone else are impossible to park a pram on. I don’t know how people in wheelchairs cope if they don’t want to sit in front of the front row – I guess they don’t go to the cinema in Hobart.

This, incidentally, is the only cinema in the city.

Honestly, if it wasn’t for the nice girl who went to look for Raeli’s hat after we trudged back to look for it, I would have written off Village Cinemas entirely today.

But yes. The important thing is that she had a lovely birthday. Right?