Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Amelia's 6th Birthday

Amelia turned 6 on September 5th. I always want my kids to feel special on their birthday just like my Mom made me feel. Amelia has been wanting a locket for about a year now and I found a great one on Etsy. The lady even printed and put the pictures in for me. (A word of caution: she's in England so you need to order about 3 weeks in advance.) Amelia got to open her locket at breakfast. In years past I have made a special badge for Lily to wear to school on her birthday and I am continuing that tradition with Amelia.

While she was at school I drove into Montpelier and got some balloons. I was totally thrilled to find a number 6 balloon. Amelia loved it!

However, the bliss quickly turned into a full on freak-out when I made Amelia come outside for some pictures and a gust of wind came up and blew her #6 away. She was so mad at me and I was so distraught that I had ruined what was seeming like the perfect day for her. She only stopped yelling at the top of her lungs when she saw me bawling my eyes out. We're quite a pair. Luckily Dan missed the drama, he was on a flight home from his drilling rig in Texas.

Grammie came up for Amelia's birthday. When Amelia got home from school and I wouldn't let her open her presents until Daddy got home around 7:30, she was not pleased. "I've been waiting all day to get home and open my presents!" So I told her when Grammie got here she could open her present from Grammie. The pink animal print purse and wallet did not disappoint!

My Mom always made special cakes for us kids. You can read about my Mom's cakes here. I didn't start decorating cakes until Lily was 7 and I was no longer working full time. I thought it was too much work, but after trying it and seeing the reaction from my kids, I was hooked! After I made Amelia's cake for her friend party (see below) Lily said, "I bet other kids wish their moms made would make cool cakes like yours." Made me proud!

For months before her birthday, Amelia pours over our cake decorating books to decide what kind of cake she wants. She changes her mind several times and frets over choosing just the right one. I wasn't up for something super complicated on her birthday this year so she settled on this heart cake.

There were several leftover pieces after I cut out the heart shape and Lily had fun making some of her own designs.

On her 5th birthday Amelia had a huge hissy fit because Mack blew her candles out before her. This year they each got a lecture before it was time to blow out the candles and we compromised by relighting the candles a second time to give Mack a chance to blow out the candles.

I thought it would be fun to have a treasure hunt for Amelia to find her presents. We started out with an envelope with the first clue. Gifts were hidden in different places throughout the house and each had a clue written on the outside. The grand finale was hidden inside our camper.

We considered getting a neutral colored bike so Mack could use it when he gets older, but we decided that Amelia would really, really love a pink bike. We were right.

Even though it was nearly dark, Daddy helped Amelia take a few spins around our street to try out her new bike. It's her first bike with hand breaks and gears.

In our family we only do friend parties every other year starting at age 6. Amelia was beyond excited to have her first friend party. I was willing to go all-out for her friend cake so we got on the internet and found a picture of a kitten she liked. She colored it just the way she wanted it (to look like her siamese cat Sophie) and I copied it onto the cake.

I gently cut the lines into the cake as a guide, then carefully outlined and filled in all the details.

It took me almost 4 hours to make that cake and I was up until 1:00am! But I was smart this time and did it the night before the party so I wouldn't be rushing to finish it moments before the guests started arriving (which is usually what happens).

On the morning of the party Amelia and Mack helped me cut out lots of sugar cookie shapes for the kids to decorate later.

Amelia stuffed the treat bags,

and asked me about every 15 minutes when her party was going to start.

We played two games where the girls could win a prize. Ring toss:

and musical present. It's like musical chairs, but with a gift wrapped in multiple layers of paper. You pass it around and each time the music stops that person gets to unwrap one layer until the final person gets the gift inside.

After games the girls decorated sugar cookies.

Amelia was really excited to show her friends the kitty cake.

I usually take lots of pictures of my cakes to get all the details and different angles, but this time I completely forgot until after the candles were blown out.

At the end of the party, I took the girls outside, each with a balloon. On the count of three they each made a wish and released their balloons.

Lily was a big help at the party and as soon as all the girls left I went straight up for a nap! Birthdays are hard work, but there is no better feeling than knowing that all your effort was worth it and that your child loved their birthday.

Ok, so I didn't exactly do the condensed version. But it was fun! And I did make a concession by only doing a quick edit of the photos in iPhoto. Yes, I finally got my Mac!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Thought I'd try to write today.

It has been a rough 6 months for me. My depression has been the worst it's ever been and I've had to start taking a mood stabilizer in addition to my anti-depressant. I've been diagnosed with a mood cycling disorder. Not bipolar because I never get manic, but my depression cycles lower and lower each time and never recovers. The meds have stabilized since August and I am no longer feeling suicidal and angry and despondent.

I am grateful not to be in the deep hole of despair that I lived in for several months, at least now I can get out of bed and do housework and help the kids with homework and actually play with Mack instead of letting him watch movies all day. I have even been able to work a little on my photos. But I often feel like I have turned into this subdued or even stoic person that does not feel very much. I notice things, like this morning when Mack woke up and I walked downstairs with him, his little hand was warm in mine, but I wasn't overcome with love and gratitude like I used to be.

I'm trying to do normal things, but I don't feel normal. We have been doing a lot as a family lately because Dan is waiting on a rig here in Cokeville to finish the permitting process so they can start drilling. I like doing all these things and I try to take lots of pictures, but I don't find the deep sense of contentment and gratitude that I think I should. I've always gotten a lot of satisfaction from taking, editing, and sharing my photos, but it just seems like too much effort to make my photos beautiful.

I am rambling, but I wanted to make some sort of effort to write and post photos. I was talking to Dan a couple days ago and saying that I just can't get motivated to record our family's story. I just keep thinking, "Does it really matter?" I mean, I don't know much about my great-grandmother. I don't have a journal from an ancestor telling how they dealt with their challenges. Dan's grandmother died almost 10 years ago and all her stories and history that wasn't recorded is gone. Does it make a difference in my daily life? In 100 years, will any of this matter? Yes, people like the founders of the Constitution or early protestants in the Christian church, those people's lives made a difference in society. But there's nothing really noteworthy about my life. Dan's response was, "you never know what our children will do. Maybe they'll do something great in their lives and people will want to know how they were raised." Dan also pointed out that in this day of digital technology, it is now actually feasible that we can pass our history (photos, journals, blogs, etc.) on to our children, grandchildren, and beyond because it can all be stored on one small external hard drive. My friend Karla, in response to my "what's the point" train of thought, said that if recording memories makes me happy, then it's worth it. And I guess in light of my struggle with depression, I need to just do anything that gives me purpose or pleasure or a sense of accomplishment.

One thing I have learned about myself in therapy is that I have an "all or nothing" personality. If I can't do it right or complete or all the way, I don't want to do it. But I am trying to learn that something is better than nothing. So as much as it bothers me to post pictures that haven't been beautified in Photoshop or not accompanying my photos with a complete narrative, I am going to try to post some pictures that make me happy or remind me of fun things we have done.

Our 4th of July

Posting is no fun when your computer is 9 years old and slow as Christmas. It's just not worth the frustration most days. But it looks like there will be a Macbook Pro in my near future, so things should be picking up soon!

Here's a peek at our 4th of July. Dan was working (he is a company man- boss of the rig- down in San Antonio, TX now, working 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off).

My Mom and sister Becky and her family came in for the holiday. It's so fun finally having a house big enough to host guests! First we headed to the park for the Fireman's pancake breakfast fundraiser. There was a patriotic program, then I forced the kids to take a photo with me before I let them run off and play.

It went quite a bit like this:

Then I told them that as soon as they smiled good they could take off and start getting all-you-can-eat free snowcones. Worked like a charm!

(Started this post like 2 months ago. It's never gonna get finished, so I'm just posting it as-is.)