Lemons & Cake

When I was in high school a friend of mine had a t-shirt that said something to the effect of “when life gives you lemons squeeze them into a squirt gun and shoot life in the eye.” It must’ve been more succinct than that, because that would be a lot of text for a t-shirt, but it always made me laugh.

Life gives a lot of lemons. Lots. To every one. And some are peak season, lots of sugar and just a little bit sour. Some come in 5 pound bags.

People spend a lot of time comparing their problems. Some people have problems that only seem like problems because their neighbor hasn’t had to deal with it. Some times people have problems that shake the very foundation of their existence as a human being.

One year older and wiser too! Twenty-eight and feeling great!

I’m two years from being 30 years old now. It’s the first year where I really feel older. In this year nothing has changed, and yet so much has changed.

I’ve gained a new perspective into how other people live through hosting our exchange student. It’s been challenging in ways I never imagined. That seems to happen to me often.

I’ve been declared “cancer free” for the zillionth time – a feeling that never feels good enough because there is always an “if” lingering in the background.

I’ve connected with friends on a level I’ve never experienced before. I’ve signed up for volunteer positions that require a lot of time and dedication.

I’ve researched career options for my future, and settled (and re-settled) on what I (maybe) want to do with the next few years.

I’ve made decisions that will impact little G for the rest of her life.

I’ve faced rejection and abandonment.

I’ve struggled, and watched people I love struggle. The latter having affected me more emotionally than the former. I’ve been accused of caring too much, but I think it makes my experience in life more human. I don’t only get to experience my joy and pain. A blessing and a curse by some accounts, but I like who it makes me.

I’m laughed and cried and wondered and analyzed and over-analyzed. And despite that I’ve made good decisions and I’ve made bad decisions and I’ve loved deeply and been loved even more.

And it’s always the same, and yet nothing has changed. I thought when cancer took over my life that I would never be the same. That I would never experience that same day-to-day joy that used to saturate even the tiniest moments of humdrum life. And yet I find myself thinking “I love my life.” And it’s true. It’s coming back. Light, or happiness, or maybe just the peace that comes with acceptance. Satisfaction is permeating my moments again, and it’s something I never expected. Certainly not every moment, but I don’t think life was meant to be lived in a constant state of happiness. But those little moments can be happy again. Snuggling in the same spot where just two years ago I told my husband I had cancer – it’s a happy place again. The couch where I spent months laying in pain and exhaustion has regained it’s rightful place as “official family gathering spot” (though it does serve nap duty on the side). I can drive to Wegman’s without having a panic attack. Lack of regular panic attacks is definitely a reason to celebrate!

A sweet treat from my neighbor. Yum!

After all of that, I’m forced to remember that perspective often means more than the experience itself. The lemons in my life might be unbearable for others, or might seem like #firstworldproblems to others. I’m glad to be getting back to my equilibrium. An equilibrium that now sees cancer as something that can be conquered and the ability to appreciate, but not stress over, the less than enjoyable bits of life that make the good bits even more valuable.

 

 

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B-man’s Birthday

In 2009, just a month after we had gotten married, we celebrated B-man’s 23 birthday. Weird… it seems so long ago, and yet.. not.

 

That lovely bearded man is my husband. That lovely handmade wrapping paper is covering the iPod I got for him.

Well… this year… he’s 27… and there weren’t any physical gifts to unwrap. I’ve given so many video games and electronics over the last few years. I don’t mind – it is what he likes and that is the purpose of a gift. But it’s also nice to give things that aren’t so material. So this year I gave him two things. My time (and Ginny’s)… and football tickets.

 

I shared pictures of Ginny and I working on his cake. We did that on his actual birthday – but Tuesdays are crazy in this house, so we postponed our celebrating until a later point.

Before cake though: let us eat! B-man and I were both born in Germany, and we both attended high school in Germany, and we both have a certain affinity for all things German. Luckily German food is delicious and while I find it easy, it is a bit time consuming. I served schnitzel, paprika cabbage, a green salad and home made speatzle (noodles). I pulled out the table clothe and some candle sticks (B gave me those flowers a week ago). Special occasions call for special decorations.

 

 

If I had really been on top of things I would’ve cleaned up the dining room. But… I wasn’t. Instead Ginny and I visited the Marine Museum for a nice autumn walk. Somethings gotta give though, so we ate in the kitchen – but it was fancy.

 

The birthday boy hammered the schnitzel to make sure they were super thin – and he said they came out very authentic. Yum! Ignore those boxes, focus on the romantic special candles!

 

 

The cake was a simple yellow cake recipe from my favorite cook book, butter-cream frosting with a little bit of blueberry juice, and fresh berries to decorate. Those berries were a last minute addition but they were delicious and definitely took the simple cake up a level. (27?!?!?)

 

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The cake was Daddy and Ginny approved (she was so proud of herself for getting it all on her fork – goof ball!).

Happy birthday to my sweet husband. I’m lucky to get to celebrate each year with you – just wish those years would slow down a little!

 

 

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Meeska! Mooska! Mouska! Two!

My little one is 2! I really can’t believe how quickly time flies. Last year I spent a lot of time prepping and planning Ginny’s first birthday. It was nice, but I felt so overwhelmed and I remember being frustrated and my little goose because I was trying to plan this party and she was… well – I realized the irony right then and there, but in the throws of baking a cake is not the time to back down. So this year I decided to go easy on myself. Simple food. No cake-pops. And just a small party. Of course, small is relative when you have a lot of family in the area and delightful neighbors.

 

Through several fine strokes of luck our basement has really rounded out, into a nice “game” room. One friend gave us the (free!) air hockey table in the background. B-man’s parents gave us the Foosball table, and behind the man in the yellow shirt (but not pictures) we also have a leather couch that our neighbor was trying to get rid of… free. All of it! It’s also nice and cool down there in the middle of summer!

B-man and I got Ginny this little castle/slide/boat hide-out. It no longer resides in the living room, but much fun was had by all while it was there.

Once the food was all ready… I forgot to take before pictures, so these slightly blurry after pictures will have to cover it. We had, per the requirement of a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse party – hot dogs.

Then I made pasta salad with bow-tie pasta, so it could be a play on Minnie’s BOWtique.

I also made jalapeno poppers. Believe it or not I picked out the foods first and then came up with the “names”. I seemed to recall a “Mexican” Donald Duck and… sure enough!

We’re also all (well… mostly) big caprese fans… and caprese rhymes with… Daisy! I’ve got some pretty good luck with this.

Then lastly I made chick-fil-a style carrot salad. It has pineapple in it, and if you’ve ever seen the MMClubhouse show, you would know that Goofy is a big lover of all thing pineapple. I had this sticker of goofy, and added the pineapple in with some felt-tips.

I made the cake too. It was… crazy. The cake stuck to the pan and was un-useable, so I made a mad morning dash to the grocery store the morning of to buy a new mix, got home and was out of eggs. Naturally. A quick trip to my neighbor’s house and that was solved. I had planned on making it look like “toodles” from the show. He’s like the Mickey equivalent to Dora’s backpack. I made the cake. The frosting. And then… I got very stressed. So my Mommy stepped in and decorated it for me. She did such a beautiful job. 🙂

And last minute too! I also made Mickey Mouse cupcakes. I made the cupcakes first, in case the cake didn’t work out.

After lunch we gather every one in the kitchen for a little song singing and candle blowing.

Can I have one of those mom?

Oh… cake!

She clapped when we all blew out the candles. She also sang the birthday song for a week afterwards.

But she didn’t actually want cake. She wanted a cupcake. Your wish is my command, birthday girl!

Ginny is so lucky to have so many people to love on her. Despite my “no presents, just fun” invitations – there were lots of presents.

She loved it – though towards the end she just wanted to play with the new things!

The last present from my Mom was a really nice surprise. It was this quilt:

It is the quilt of my childhood. It started falling apart when I was headed off to college. It was actually her first full quilt. So she decided to take it apart and sew it all back together, with proper quilting. She sent it to me while I was away at school and I loved it – though with the new seems the quilt had shrunk quit a bit and was really too small to be used as a bed quilt. So I brought it home, and asked if there was any way to make it bigger. I didn’t really think this request through – because it was a very large request and I wouldn’t have asked had I realized. My Mom took the whole quilt apart again, some how found the 20+ year old fabric, extended the quilt, then put it all back together, and gifted it to my daughter (and me!). This picture is all three of us, and the blanket. I love it!

The party was simple. Fun. Cheesy decorations from Party City that I let Ginny pick out still dot my house a month later. But I love it. People stayed from 11 – 7 pm. It’s so easy to get caught up in the world of pinterest and making everything cute and coordinated – but I enjoyed this party a lot more than I did the first one. And I know Ginny loves it – which is really all that matters.

Happy birthday little goose!

 

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1 year older

I wanted to eat cake for breakfast but since Ginny and I got to sleep in today we woke up at lunch time and had leftover party food (hot dogs with macaroni and cheese). Then I ate cake. It’s kind of my weakness. Mostly the buttercream frosting. But… also the cake.

On Friday my baby turned one. She is still a tiny bean at 18.8 pounds, but she is walking like a pro and babbling up a storm. I knew I was making a compromise when we decided to have a party. Jenna, over at That Wife, had a baby centered first birthday. I’ve always thought that was sweet and perfect. Right up my alley. While Ginny was definitely the reason for our partying, it was much more “family” centered than “baby” centered.

Since her party was yesterday, a lot of Friday was spent prepping. But between dipping cake pops in chocolate and decorating cookies I spent my time cuddling my baby, taking a nap with her, and eating strawberries for breakfast lunch and dinner. Can you guess her favorite food?

Saturday was spent cleaning and prepping the rest of the food. We invited all of the local family over, plus my best friend’s family and my sweet neighbor who lives behind us. I did invite the rest of the neighbors (as this was originally a homewarming/birthday party), but only one came. But that’s okay.

One my think that with such a “short”‘ list it would be a small party, but the blessings of living so close to all of our extended family is that… no parties are small. Family alone accounted for 15 of the 20 guests.

Also… I recently moved. And… in the move I lost the charging cord for my camera. So… it’s dead. It died the last day we were in Maine. So… I couldn’t take any pictures, so I borrowed my Mom’s iPhone and grabbed some pictures thataway. Forgive me for the blurriness you are about to witness.

The main course was hotdogs (and soy-dogs for all of my vegan/vegetarian friends and family). Spiral hotdogs. This was B-man’s idea. He spent two weeks telling me about them, and why they are so cool. The week before the party I hadn’t decided on a “main course” so… I decided to placate my hubby and use his idea. For information on how and why to spiral cut your hot dogs go here. I think it’s silly.

I didn’t get a picture of the hot dogs though… they weren’t ready yet when I was taking pictures. So… pretend there were hotdogs, and they were delicious.

Then there was macaroni and cheese. One of Ginny’s favorite foods.

I used the Pioneer Woman’s recipe here, and I added jalapenos to one of them. This was the first pioneer woman recipe I have ever made, and I am going to be honest… I wasn’t very impressed. It tasted a lot like buffet style macaroni and cheese. I didn’t try to jalapeno version, but I hear it tasted like regular macaroni and cheese with jalapenos in it. I don’t know that I would use this recipe again.

Then there was fruit salad. Aside from strawberries, watermelon is probably one of Ginny’s all time favorite foods. She spent the majority of the eating time walking from person to person stealing bites of their watermelon.

Lastly there was veggie stick “shots” and vegan pasta salad (basically sans cheese). I ate the pasta salad for lunch today and it was yummy. 🙂

Then came the desserts… and there was plenty to go around!

First I made sugar cookies with the number “1” on them. I had originally toyed with putting either a “V” or a “G” but consensus let me to just put a “1”. Every time I sit down to make these cookies I start out thinking “This is so much fun! I could do this and make money selling them!” And then I finish, my kitchen is covered in frosting, my hands and clothing are all sticky and my cookies look crappy. And that is the moment I remember why I don’t get paid to make cookies.

Then I also made cake pops. I have a similar feeling before I start making them… the “I could make money doing this” feeling… then I remember what a PITA they are and I go back to wishing I was frivilous enough to pay some one else to make them.

So these are “Watermelon” cake pops. Inside they have red cake with chocolate chips as the “seeds”. I didn’t eat any of them as I am still on cake-pop overload from the 2 I ate at B-man’s birthday party last October.

The cake comes later, but there was definitely cake as well.

I spent months collecting these frappacino bottles. Months. I wouldn’t recommend it, but the final product was pretty cute. Pink lemonade, slice of lemon, paper straw from Target.

Sorry for the fuzzy pictures, but we also did bottled soda. Much more expensive, but it feels special, and makes people more aware of how many sodas they have had – at least… in my mind. We did have several left over though, so maybe my theory was right?

The lone party decorations: a “Happy Birthday” banner I borrowed from a friend and some balloons. The party entertainment was watching the balloons be blown in circles by the fan. A good time was had by all.

Ginny was a big fan of the bows and ribbons on the packages, but despite my best efforts she was unwilling to rip the paper on her own. For a girl who eats paper every day this was kind of a surprise. Guess I should’ve been practicing with her. lol.

Easily distracted baby is easily distracted.

Once I figured out she was into the tissue paper I handed her the bags with tissue paper so she could be a little bit more involved.

She got several nice little  board books – which she loves. She is a big fan of turning the pages before any one can read the words. Also, those are Ginny’s great grandparents sitting in the background, and our spoiled puppy dog who thinks he belongs on the couch. 🙂

She got the hungry catapillar book twice, once in board book form  (which will fit nicely in my baby bag!), and then the full size book and the stuffed animal to go along with it.

After presents we did cake. I made two, a small one for Ginny to smash and a bigger one for those who didn’t fill up on cakepops and cookies (mostly… me. I love the frosting. Did I say that already?).

These are the first cakes I have ever decorated before. Usually I just spread the frosting smooth and write on the top. The small pink cake was having issues (the ruffles kept falling off the sides of the cake) but I think it was because of the heat and perhaps my frosting was a bit too thin.

For size comparison. The bigger cake is two 9 inch side cakes, and the smaller cake is probably about 4 inches. I made a sheet cake and then took a bowl and cut around the board with a knife to get several layers for Ginny’s cake. No one got to appreciate that it was a 4 layer cake so because Ginny didn’t really go past the frosting.

“Happy Birthday” was sung, the candle blown out (we did practice that one before the party), and then the cake was placed in front of the baby.

This is the “after” picture… and as you can see… she didn’t do much damage. She kept putting her face up to the cake and sucking the frosting off. Finally I cut a “slice” from the cake at which point she daintily picked up a few bites of cake and ate them. Then she said her version of “all done”… which sounds more like “all dooo, all dooo, all doo.”

Trying to get Ginny to smile for the camera is quite the chore, but I really like this picture of her!

And then one of every one looking in the appropriate direction! Win!

 

After the cake people started to leave, and by 11 o’clock we had our party covered house all to ourselves. After a quick collection of empty bottles and making sure there was no food left out we headed up to bed. I went into the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth and while I was in there I heard my hubby singing Happy Birthday to our sweet baby. It was probably the best moment of the entire day.

I am

…glad to be done with all of the cooking and preparing.

…thankful for all of the help from my family and sweet neighbor.

… sad to see my little girl growing so quickly.

…excited that Ginny learned to walk before her party – it was a hope of mine for the last few months and she learned just in time!

…almost done with all of the leftover dishes.

…going to go put my dining room back together after I finish this blog post.

… bummed that the weekend went by so quickly.

 

So tell me, how was your weekend?

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Quarter of a Century

B-man turned 25 at the end of October. We had originally planned the party for the weekend before his birthday, but because of some misunderstanding I had to cancel it and move the party to the weekend after his birthday. As it turns out, that made it easier to plan for his party, because B-man was gone to Kansas for a work trip so I had the house, and the Jeep, to myself!

I wanted to go for an old-school video game theme, ya know… things from when he was younger. So I pulled a little inspiration from Pacman, a little from Zelda, and a little bit from Mario. I coordinated with my sister-in-law to have the party at her house, and the stage was set.

I spent the entire week that he was gone baking and organizing! The night before the party I had B-man’s brother call and invite him to go geocaching. So BIL picked up B-man at 11 am, after which I was off to BIL’s house to decorate and prep everything. All of our family and a couple of friends came to the house, and when BIL pulled up in front of his house, B-man sure was surprised! I had managed to keep this surprise a secret for over a month, which is quite the feat for some one like me!

"Happy Birthday B-man!"

When he entered the house not only was he greeted by 20 of our friends and family, but he was also greeted by this:

Ginny as Link

Yup, I dressed my daughter up as a boy for halloween. I made this Link costume myself, the day before the party. She’s got her shield, and is chewing on her sword.

He was also greeted by this table full of video game treats and kid-era foods!

Why yes, those are Triforce sugar cookes!

Zelda: Triforce

And no, your eyes don’t decieve you, those are Pacman chocolate covered oreos!

Each one has an individual SPINKLE as an eye.

I also made a Minecraft inspired cake:

It’s supposed to be a water fall, those rice kirspies are sand blocks, then the dirt and water…. pretty self explanatory. lol.

Then, the pièce de résistance. I give you: Cake Pops.

Why yes… those are little cake pops that look like those mushroom things from Mario games.

And yes, these things took over 6 hours to make, and no I will not be making them again any time soon! Thank goodness I had a good friend to help me out with all of the baking/decorating/everything.

I also made some very cute and creative decorations… but I didn’t take any pictures of them. I was kind of  space cadet and was busy being excited about actually surprising my hubby!

It was a nice party. I was finally able to give him the new sound system for our computer, and Portal 2 (both things he’s been asking for, for some time now).

And THIS is why I have been absent for over a week.

Happy Birthday B-man!!!!

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Happy Birthday

Twenty-three years have passed since the day I entered this world, 5 pounds 2 ounces, an itty bitty baby.

That is a preemie diaper… still looking a little to big on my buttocks. Thankfully I am no worse for the ware, despite spending the first few weeks in the hospital.

Maybe I’m feeling nastalgic – but looking through my baby pictures has stirred a new feeling… something I hadn’t experienced before while looking at these pictures. It really hits me that in four months I’m going to have a little one of my own.

No big plans for the day here. Maybe we’ll go out to dinner. I’m looking forward to Sunday though, since we are having a family get together at my parents’ home, including my local in-laws. I haven’t really “celebrated” my birthday since before college – so I am very excited about it. One day I’ll have a real party, with invitations and cool matching accessories.

 

In any case – I’m 23 now! Considering I was born in Germany at 5 am… the actual time of my birth in the US was March 1, at 11:00 pm. 🙂

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birthday # 24

About a week ago B-man turned 24. We didn’t do anything fancy. We went to a restaurant called “Bangkok Tokyo” – it’s a really neat restaurant with a huge menu. They have Thai food, and Japanese food, and you get a free little dessert at the end. Then we went home and had cupcakes, and opened presents.

Isn’t it pretty? I love this color blue. Inside that pretty blue envelope is this…

He got a kick out of it. Inside the box were these pretty little things…

Which encompassed…

A comfy bike seat cover for the bike I got him this summer…

A cool t-shirt…

And a new video game – Uncharted 2.

The video game was to go along with the PS3 I gifted him as an early birthday present two months ago.

It’s crazy how quickly time flies – ya know… we got married when he was 22! We really just enjoyed spending some times together. 🙂 Yeah for birthdays!

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I'd much rather be blogging!

And it true, I would prefer to be typing in this window, than in my boring word document about women and whether or not they were equal to men in ancient Athens. Ya know what?! They’re all dead. It doesn’t matter. Oh… did I say that?

But seriously. I think a lot of people will say they were not equal, so I’m trying to argue that in a sense, no one is ever really “equal” to any one else, even in the relationship the epitomizes “equalness” – marriage. That is, if equal means “same.” So, I am saying that people can be equal, with out being the same as every one else. Just like my husband and I do different chores, but we are equal contributers. Ya know. Blah. grrrr…. so I know I am going to go write more. BUT…. come Wednesday I will have picture updates of my fabulous
BIRTHDAY (which is today! Right now!)
presents that I got. I was pretty depressed about this paper… so my hubby gave me my present early, and I got presents from my mom, and some others, so yippeee!!!
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I love…

… doing stupid things to make my husband laugh. Some time I will say things I know are inappropriate or awkward, but to get that little smile on his face.

… when my puppy jumps around because I’m in the room. Instant love.
… Tennessee. I know… for some one who hates living here so much it is a weird thing to say. But my cute little family is here. So I want to be here too.
… playing board games with my friends.
I watched quite a bit of the olympic opening ceremonies. Very impressive. I wonder what the ad looks like for that kind of event:
“Wanted, people who can dance, jump around, and play the violin like crazy… all at the same time.”
Hmmm…
It’s getting late, so I am going to bed soon… as soon as B-man finishes the dishes. <3
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Happy Birthday!

Today our little puppy, Zuko, turns one year old! It’s crazy how fast the little bugger grew!
This was when I first got him. Her was so tiny and could fit in my hand. He’s probably only a few weeks old here.
Compared to Gretel her was itty-bitty! Not that he’s huge now, but he has grown considerably!
Then he grew these huge ears and this super long snout. He’s too cute for his own good.
Now he is considerably longer, larger, and muscular. BUT, he is still the best snuggler in the world, and very home. Such a tolerant dog, great with kids and with other dogs. Good thing, the vet told us that he’ll probably live to be about 20 years old!
Happy Birthday my Puppy Love.
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