Thursday, October 24, 2013

Miriam's (almost) four!

Due to extenuating circumstances we celebrated Miriam's birthday a day early, which meant that I spent the entire day scrambling to get things ready. Miriam and I started on the cake right after breakfast, while Benjamin sat on his chair and watched.

At the beginning of the month Miriam had mentioned wanting a butterfly cake so I was thinking of doing something with chocolate butterflies for her. Yesterday, however, we spent the afternoon working on Halloween costumes. Rachel had an early-out day and Daddy volunteered to go on the youth temple trip again so we were left at home without the car cluttering up the driveway, which gave us a brilliant surface for costume-making. (About the temple trip Andrew mused, "It seems like every time she has an early-out day the youth go on a temple trip. I wonder if they plan that or...yeah. Okay. I can see now that they plan that.") Anyway, Miriam is planning on being Queen Lucy of Narnia (her actual title is Queen Lucy the Valiant, but Miriam always says, "I'm Queen Lucy of Narnia.") and all caught up in the excitement of costume creation declared yesterday afternoon that she'd have a Narnia cake for her birthday and quickly got a paper out to sketch her cake.

She wanted Peter and Edmund and Susan and Lucy and Mr. Tumnus and the lamppost and The White Witch and Aslan and all the Talking Beasts and a good dwarf and a giant and a horse and candles—lots of candles!

Suddenly I was feeling a little overwhelmed.

Grandma Sharon died five days ago. We've been spending our time doing crazy things like—I don't know—booking plane tickets, and stuff. I hadn't even gotten any supplies to make a butterfly cake, figuring I could just wing it from whatever we had floating around the pantry (or the various cupboards we stuff things into since we don't technically have a pantry). This elaborate Narnia cake she dreamed up was a little too much for me considering I hadn't looked at Narnia cakes at all and we hadn't gone grocery shopping since...Saturday...I think.

"You can pull something off," Andrew encouraged me. "It's what you do. Just tell her to pick something like an Aslan cake or a Tumnus cake or a lamppost cake. A lamppost cake would be easy just glue a bunch of pretzels together and stick a lamp-thing on top that you make out of icing and stuff. Boom. Cake done. Not that I'm, like, trivializing what you do..."

I kind of smirked at him. "You can't just glue pretzels together," I chided.

"Well, just...stick them together however you do it."

Thanks for the help. Fortunately, inspiration was much more inspiring than Andrew and it struck me as I was getting ready for bed last night.

You know the scene where Mr. Tumnus is playing lullabies for Lucy after they'd had tea and he makes the flames in the fire come to life with dancing fauns and so forth. I thought I could do something like that with melted chocolate (rather than the butterflies as originally planned).

Unfortunately when I woke up in the morning and looked in the cupboard I found that we only had about half a bag of peanut butter chips. I decided to go for it, anyway.

So, here's Miriam's cake. She was upset at first that I'd iced it in plain white frosting (not pink?!) until she remembered that it was always winter in Narnia before Queen Lucy, et al., came to the rescue.

The "flame pictures" themselves ended up a little abstract but, as Pablo Picaso said, "There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality." And remove all traces of reality we did. Besides, they're flame pictures. They're not supposed to look real. 

At any rate, Miriam was pleased with them. 

The topper, so to speak, was supposed to be when Lucy and Mr. Tumnus first met at the lamp (Mr. Tumnus's umbrella is behind him).

Along the side there were flames (or leaves—I can't decide which they look like more), butterflies, flowers, and Aslan, himself.

By the time dinnertime rolled around I was so finished with the kitchen that I just made grilled cheese sandwiches and soup for dinner (and Andrew helped—that's how much I was trying to get out of the kitchen). Andrew pointed out over dinner that Miriam's birthday had technically already started in Egypt so it was perfectly alright to begin celebrating her birthday here. She was over the moon. "I have two birthdays?!" she squealed.

After dinner we opened presents. I'm not sure who was more excited about them: Miriam, because she got to open them, or Rachel, because she'd helped wrap them. It looks like a pretty big haul but we truthfully spent $1 at the store and about $10 getting supplies to fix up the present Rachel wanted to give to Miriam (it's in the big blue bag; Miriam wanted to open it last).

She started, naturally, with the present on the very bottom of the pile. Just to make things easy, I'm sure. It was a puzzle from Benjamin (that's what we spent the $1 on).

Next she opened the present from Andrew and me. We gave her a bunch of princess workbooks that my friend Jenny had given to me because she'd neglected to give them to her daughter until she was old enough to think they were lame. They were in pristine condition and Miriam was thrilled to pieces over them.

Here she is sounding out the message I'd written on her present:

Next she opened the present from Naanii and Bumpa. We'd already opened their package a few days ago. It was addressed to Miriam and she just about died of happiness right on the spot that her name was on the box. Today, rather unfortunately, another package got dropped off at our house by mistake and when she opened the door she exclaimed, "Another birthday package for me!" She was a little heartbroken when I explained that the delivery guy had made a mistake and that the package was actually for our friend Diego.

Anyway, inside the package from Naanii were some books for everyone and a special outfit for Miriam. I put the outfit in a gift bag to save for later, and that's what Miriam opened today.

We had her open the card first and she was quite impressed with the picture Bumpa had drawn for her:

She was thrilled with the jumper and shirt and is planning on wearing them to church this Sunday.

Oh, she got those slippers as well (they were given to us from someone but were hardly worn so still looked new).

The last present was from Rachel and I really regret not filming the opening of this present. Miriam was so excited that she screamed "Kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!" just as she pulled off the first bit of tissue paper.

Last year Auntie Sarah gave Rachel two of her childhood dolls—American Girl Doll, Kit, and Magic Attic Club, Rose. Rachel instantly fell in love with Rose and they've been thick as thieves ever since, but she never seemed to enjoy playing with Kit. Kit's joints were a little loose and this annoyed Rachel, who described Kit as being "a clumsy doll." However, because Kit was hers she was stingy about letting Miriam play with her.

Every now and then she'd allow Miriam to play dolls with her and on those rare occasions Rachel would play with Rose and Miriam would play with Kit. Miriam loved playing with Kit. In fact, it's fairly safe to say she was border-lining on coveting that doll. She'd ask to play with her all the time.

One day, Rachel gave her permission to play with Kit while she was at school and the unthinkable happened: one of Kit's arms popped off. Miriam had a bit of a mental breakdown over that doll—and over the horrible things she imagined Rachel would say to her once Rachel found out.

I soothed Miriam the best I could but even I was a little afraid of what tantrum Rachel was bound to throw when she came into school and found her doll dismembered. Much to our surprise, however, Rachel simply shrugged her shoulders when Miriam and I timidly broke the news to her.

"Meh. I don't care," she said nonchalantly. "Kit's always been a bit of a clumsy doll."

"Well, we can fix her," I motored on, too shocked to realize she'd taken the news well. "Dad and I spent the afternoon scouring the internet and now we know virtually everything there is to know about American Girl Dolls and we can totally fix her arm if you just give us a little time to get some supplies and..." She cut me off, "Mom. It's okay. I don't care. I never played with Kit, anyway."

I blinked at her for a second, breathed a huge sigh of relief (because do you even know the size of temper tantrum we'd nearly missed?) and said, "Alrighty, then. I'll just put her up for a while until we can get her fixed."

"Sounds good," Rachel said. "Can I have a snack?"

"Sure," I said and put Kit up on the bookshelf in our bedroom, where she sat for months on end.

I think it was in September when I approached Rachel about Kit.

"You know, I was thinking that once we fix Kit..." I began, but once again Rachel cut me off and surprised me with her maturity and level-headedness. "I was thinking about that, too," she told me. "I was thinking that once we fix Kit I should give her to Miriam. Miriam likes Kit more than I do, anyway."

"That's exactly what I was thinking," I told Rachel.

And amazingly enough Rachel kept the whole thing a secret. I was impressed.

Finding the right size of elastic was a bit of a pain. We checked multiple stores but no one seemed to have what we needed. I even called ahead to Hancock Fabrics or Michaels or somewhere and they said, "Yes, we have elastic that size," and I said, "So if I send my husband to your store on his way home from work he'll be able to bring me home some elastic today? Because we've been on a wild goose chase all over the city for this stuff and I don't want to send him somewhere else only to come home empty handed."

"Oh, we definitely have it," the salesperson responded.

But guess what—they didn't. They had a spot for it but that spot was empty. You think they could have checked for me or something. But whatever. We eventually ended up ordering it online (twice because once we got the wrong size—4 mm elastic is what we finally settled on).

Once we got the elastic it was just a matter of blowdrying Kit's limbs until they were pliable, popping the joint out of the socket, and replacing the elastic before popping the joint back in. It was a pretty simple procedure, though it did take both Andrew and I to manage it (but that might have just been because we both wanted to work on it rather than because it was a complicated project). I had Rachel re-stuff Kit's torso on Tuesday after school while she calmed down over a tremendous fit she threw about having to take out the garbage. It was very therapeutic for her.

So that's the story of how Kit came to be Miriam's, and she couldn't be happier about it. Rachel's excited as well because now they can play dolls during quiet time on Sundays again. They haven't been able to do that for months (at least, not together (and Rachel has finally figured out that some things might be a little more fun with Miriam than without her)).

With presents out of the way we moved on to cake. The girls were excited to divvy up the peanut butter chip drawings (Miriam claimed Lucy, Rachel claimed Mr. Tumnus).

Miriam was pretty impressed with the flames:

We sang to her and then waited while she blew out the candles one at a time. I was worried she was going to hyperventilate before she managed to blow out all four candles!

It was a good bir'day (as Miriam would say), and though Miriam got more her fair share of birthday hugs, tickles, air-tossings and spankings (she was actually going around and requesting each family member spank her four times so that she "could" turn four (I'm not sure where she got that idea)), I'm sure the festivities will continue tomorrow (especially now that Miriam knows that her birthday starts so much earlier on the other side of the world that she essentially gets two birthdays). Andrew was a little sad that he won't get to see her on her actual birthday but we're all a little sad that he's the only one going to Utah for the funeral so it all works out in the end.

We'll certainly miss our Daddy while he's gone (but have plenty here to keep us busy)!


  1. Hahaha! I just noticed Benjamin's chair! How nasty is that?! We had enchiladas for dinner last night, by the way, and obviously I still need to SCRUB his chair down!

  2. I did not notice anything about his chair...just admiring the lovely peanut buttery flame creations. Lovely cake! Tonight I panicked thinking, oh no! I forgot Miriam's birthday. And then realized it is tomorrow. And then saw this post and got a bit panicky again. Looking forward to seeing Andrew!

  3. I love the cake! It looks delicious!!!!! And that was awesome that Rachel thought to share her doll all by herself!

  4. Happy birthday to Miriam! If her birthday is 10/25, she was born on my anniversary. :)

    I love her new jumper...and the slippers are cute! How sweet of Rachel to give Kit to someone who will love her more.

    1. Yes; today's her birthday! Happy anniversary!