Okay, so her birthday was actually Saturday, but we’ve sort of had a weekend-long celebration from which I am still recovering, and which I will now relate the details of here.
Rather than throw a big party like we did for Cassie’s first birthday, we opted for something different. Not because Sam is the second child and we’re slacking off, but mainly because 1) we have a diarrheic cat in the house that would give all new meaning to the term party-pooper, and 2) the usual suspects- er, party guests, were not in town this weekend. Both sets of grandparents were unable to attend this weekend’s celebrations, so Michael and I decided to keep things strictly between the four of us. Besides, we do not have $150 to rent a cat-poop free facility to hold a big bash.
Happily enough, there were plenty of activities to choose from this weekend to help celebrate Sam’s big day. In Hampton, thousands of people turned out for the annual Blackbeard Pirate Festival, while in Newport News one of the local Greek Orthodox churches held its Greek Fest. The plan was to hit the pirate fest first, as early as possible, then spend the late afternoon enjoying Greek food and music. We had to adjust the schedule when Sam fell asleep about 15 minutes before we were set to head out. She took a two hour nap which threw all our plans out of whack, but Michael said if the birthday girl wants to sleep, hey, it’s her day.
Cassie and I passed the time by baking a birthday cake from scratch. We even made the butter cream frosting! Once Sam woke up, we headed out for downtown Hampton to enjoy all sorts of pirate-y activities, only to be overwhelmed by a large assortment of inflatable kiddy attractions. You know the kind – big bloated canvas contraptions hooked up to an air-blower that the kids crawl into and then bounce around in until they’re ready to puke. Cassie loves these and she had to try out every one of them at the festival. Sam, of course, is still too little for such things, so we walked around a bit and looked at pirates while Michael watched Cassie leap about in puffed-up cage dubbed “The Moon Walk” (I swear, it looks like a professional wrestler’s nightmare and an orthopedist’s dream).
After a fifteen-minute tour of pirates and boats, Sam and I returned in time to see Cassie disappear into the mouth of a gargantuan caterpillar. Now as much as I dislike the Moon Walk, I hate the caterpillar even more. With the caterpillar, kids go in the mouth and get pooped out the other end. At least that’s the theory. The reality is that kids go in the mouth and run amok inside the stomach area, forgetting entirely that the rest of the family is outside waiting for them to come out. There are no windows in the caterpillar’s stomach area, so you can’t spot your kid inside, tap at the clear plastic and gesticulate wildly that it’s time to go. No, you’ve got to stand and wait at the ass-end of this thing and hope that eventually your child will tire of bouncing around inside a smelly, inflated bug and come out on their own. It’s either that or else you’ve got to pry open said caterpillar’s backside, stick your head in and scream until your child finally gets the idea that hey, Mom and Dad might want to move on. Fortunately, Michael did not take pictures of me with my head stuck up a caterpillar’s ass, though he had plenty of opportunity to do so.
After the inflatable caterpillar, there was the inflatable pirate ship. At least that one wasn’t completely enclosed and we could get Cassie out of it without too much yelling. We did have to drag her kicking and screaming to the docks to see the pirate ships and displays. Sam all the while just fussed in her stroller. I bought her fries to keep her happy. I never bought Cassie fries when she was little. In fact, I don’t think Cassie even so much as tasted a fry until Sam started eating them. Maybe I have slacked off with child number two. Or maybe I’ve just relaxed a bit. Yeah, we’ll go with the latter I think.
So we ate fries and looked at boats and pirates and then Cass decided she wanted to go play in the sandpit where kids could dig for buried treasure (who’s birthday was it again?). This would have been okay except that there was a puppet show in progress directly across the square from the sandpit and Cassie was too distracted by the puppets to do much digging so she wasn’t finding anything. After about ten minutes of watching Cassie stare vacantly at the puppet show while standing in sand up to her ankles (she flat out refused to leave the sandpit to watch it up close) I decided it was time to head out. Naturally Cassie howled as we dragged her off. In fact, she howled so much that I decided to give her another crack at digging for treasure – they were getting ready to re-seed the sand with loot when we left – and we took her back… only to watch as she stared vacantly at the puppets again while everyone else dug for treasure. I decided to let Michael take over at that point and I wandered off to nurse the birthday girl.
Michael the Ever-Patient Dad managed to coax Cassie into a little digging, so she eventually found two strands of beads and a cheap plastic pirate, and then even he was worn out with “treasure” hunting. So once again we dragged a screaming Cassie back to the car and headed off for Greek Fest.
Because we hit the Greek Fest late, we decided to go straight for the food lines. The Newport News Greek Fest has the best food and we all ate enough to choke a horse. At least three of us did. Cassie somehow manages to subsist on air and two-percent milk. I fed Sam, the baby with a hollow leg, some of my meal and then most of Cassie’s meal and then some of Michael’s meal until ol’ chubby cheeks decided flinging food was more fun than eating it. Then I took Cassie over to yet another display of inflatable kiddy attractions while Michael took Sam to buy Greek pastries and deserts. Two giant slide rides and a couple of moon-walks later, we coaxed Cassie back to the parking lot with promises of sweets, only to discover that we were completely blocked in.
We had made the mistake of parking in an unattended, unmarked lot and some fool had decided to park his big-ass truck smack in the middle of the only route in or out of the back half of the lot. So Michael headed back to the festival to see if someone could make an announcement about the truck blocking people in while I waited in our car with two very cranky kids. I lucked out and the people parked in front of us showed up five minutes later to leave, so I pulled through and spent the next five minutes warning folks off from the parking lot. I pissed off one guy when I pointed out that he had just triple-parked his vehicle and sandwiched another car in between his SUV and someone else’s van. Too bad. At least I was polite enough to let this idiot know he might want to move his car before someone else moved it for him.
Actually, he wasn’t the only idiot I ran into during our whirlwind birthday tour. At the inflatable caterpillar, I saw a woman pull out a toy gun and fire it at one of the plastic windows near the tail end. I had a heart attack when I caught sight of this out of the corner of my eye. At first look, all I could see was someone pointing a gun at an attraction full of kids, and my kid was in there. It took me two seconds to realize that she what she was pointing was a pirate-style pop-gun, but in those two seconds I almost leapt onto that woman and snapped her fool neck. Fortunately for her, I managed to restrain myself, but I did tell her in no uncertain terms that she needed to stop pointing a gun, even a toy gun, at the kids inside, otherwise someone might report her to the police. Did I over-react? Maybe, but see how you feel when you glimpse someone pointing what might be a deadly weapon in your kid’s direction. It’ll stop your heart, that’s for sure.
Anyway, after pirates and Greeks and stupid people, we made our final stop on Sam’s birthday tour – Rick and Cindy’s home. Cindy and I met when I was twelve and we’ve been best friends ever since. Cindy was pregnant with her daughter Izzie while I was pregnant with Sam, and the two girls were born ten days apart (Izzie is the elder baby). We arrived at Chateau Rindy with Greek deserts and greasy kids and spent the evening chatting, pulling the kids out of trouble, eating, pulling the kids out of even more trouble, watching TV, yelling at the kids to PLEASE STAY OUT OF TROUBLE SO WE CAN ENJOY A LITTLE ADULT CONVERSATION WITHOUT CONSTANTLY CHASING AFTER YOU, etc. Cassie watched three full episodes of live-action Sailor Moon. It was all in Japanese, with English sub-titles which Cassie can’t read yet, but she understood enough to know that for Halloween she wants to be a cat princess soldier girl with really long hair and a necklace. Wait till I explain that one to the great costume maker, a.k.a. Grandmama.
While Cassie drooled over a Japanese kids’ show (okay, I liked it too, even with the ridiculous costumes and ludicrous fight scenes), Sam just drooled. She drooled on Izzie’s toys, and on Rick and Cindy’s papers, and on Rick and Cindy’s cats. We had a little excitement when we put both babies in the play yard. Sam started to howl and I thought for sure we were going to have a little baby cage-match, with Izzie and Sam fighting it out for the best toys, but then I realized that Sam wanted Mommy, not toys. Actually, what Sam wanted was boobies, so we finally packed up and headed home.
Cassie was out cold when we pulled into our driveway. Sam woke up long enough to nurse then passed out again. Both kids slept through until about 6:30 AM this morning, and then we got up for our usual routine. While Michael was at church, I let Cassie decorate Sam’s birthday cake. She poured on every bottle of juju beads, candy glitter and sprinkles that we had. There is so much sugar on the top of that cake that you can stick your finger into it up to the second joint and still not touch the butter cream frosting. Made for lots of fun when we blew out the candle. Sprinkles and glitter went flying everywhere.
We opened Sam’s presents after lunch. She got lots of new outfits for the summer, plenty of books (Yertle the Turtle is sure to be a hit if I can get Sam to sit still long enough to read it), a set if piggy finger puppets, a cow with a giant computer chip in its butt that allows it to interact with an accompanying DVD, and two Little People play sets. Michael and I got Sam the Little People bi-lingual super-market and the Little People airplane. Fisher Price had a buy-one-get-one-free deal, and you can tell which set we got for free. There was practically no packaging on the super-market, whereas the airplane was secured with enough wire to set up a trans-Atlantic telegraph line. But the super-market is way cool, with a cart and lots of little items for sale and a refrigerated section and a talking cash register. Makes me want to run right out to our local Food Lion for a little grocery adventure.
The plane is pretty cool too, with a female pilot (how very PC) and a couple of touristas in Hawaiian shirts. If you press down on the pilot, the plane sings about how all the passengers go up and down as they ride on the plane, and when you roll it across the floor, the people really do go up and down. The last time I saw people bounce around like that on a plane, I was watching the very first episode of Lost. Perhaps I’ll call one Little Person Kate and name the other one Jack. Or should I go with Sawyer instead? Hmm…
Anyway, Sam loved the bows and the wrapping paper and Cassie loved playing with the toys. Our big girl got a few gifts as well from her grandparents and great aunt – books, clothes, and a plastic novelty cup with a light up ice cube. After gifts, we did cake. Sam, who will eat just about anything, decided she would rather fling cake than eat it, so most of her slice ended up on the carpet. Just enough ended up in her hair and clothes that I had to give her a second bath, after which I tried to put her down for another nap. But our new big girl was having none of that! So she ended up downstairs with Michael and Cassie while I snuck off to do some work. Dinner was a quiet affair, aside from a repeat performance of food flinging from Sam, followed by bath number three (perhaps I should just install a hose in the dining room?), and then a final nursing before bed.
I truly love those last moments of the evening, when Sam is just a limp bundle of sweet cuddly baby-doll in my arms. Her little head droops over my arm, exposing the neck I can otherwise never find beneath all those extra chins she has. And there’s always just a little breast milk drooling out of the corner of her mouth. She’s so relaxed and content, so warm and sweet. She was like that tonight when I put her in her crib. Then as I leaned over to kiss her good night, she startled and popped her head up, smashing me in the mouth with that rock-hard cranium of her. I’m not sure which one of us howled the loudest as I staggered from her room. Sam’s probably okay, but I think I swallowed one of my front teeth.
So that was Sam’s birthday weekend – two days of pirates, Greeks, idiots, presents, cake and minor injuries. What a way to celebrate my baby’s first year.
In honor of the big day, I’ve uploaded some photos to share. Yeah, I know, this is a first!
Okay Izzie. You go that way, I’ll head over the couch, and we’ll see if we can defeat these tyranical fascist adults and steal their sodas.
Are these for me? You shouldn’t have. Let’s open them right now!
Cassie: How do you like it Sam? I decorated it myself!
Sam: Really? I thought Martha Stewart did it!
And here’s a close up of the cake…