“And though she be but little, she is fierce.”

Mike took this picture last night on his walk with Rachael. I love this quotation from A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Rachael so much. It perfectly describes her.

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And she’s off

This morning went off without a hitch! Rachael was antsy and ready to go. Mike and I had a few sniffles. (The rest of mine are pent up in the pit of my stomach.) ZoĆ« was a massive wreck. She wanted to go on the bus with Rachael so badly. So we sang to her the Daniel Tiger song that Rachael will come back. (PBS has raised my children so well.) And when that didn’t work, I promised her we’d go get her own backpack. She’s been stealing Rachael’s and pretending to go to school. Once again, bribery saves the day!

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Spit or wallow?

Who’s having a good day? Good! I’ll fix that in a hurry.

I once read an article which said that people didn’t like being friends with a person on Facebook if the person tended to have negative status updates. I’ve been fussed at before for not being positive enough in a week. Since then, I’ve done my best to avoid being whiny or negative on Facebook. If I am talking about something wrong that’s going on, I try to add in some funny so that it won’t annoy people. Rachael had her third accident today! Just what I wanted. *sigh* She just gets me. I do it in non-virtual life, too. No one likes to hang around people who are mopey and whiny all the time. Hell, I don’t even like to hang out with someone like that. It’s hard enough for me to try and stay in a positive mood. That isn’t to say that I don’t want to know what’s going on in the lives of my friends and family, whatever it may be. But I do have a tendency to bounce new people at the door if they’re bringing drama with them.

That being said, I feel like I need to be whiny about Rachael and kindergarten today once again. Feel free to skip this one and anticipate an upcoming post, by popular demand, on Doritos chocolate truffles. ANTICIPATE IT!

Friday, the day after orientation, was a new day. I was feeling so much better. I figured, I got the good cry out of my system and I’ll just deal with the waterworks again on Tuesday. I was doing my best to keep talk about school very surface. She had a nice rising kindergarten playground, pizza, and Popsicles play group on Friday that left me feel very positive about everything. Yesterday we went to the birthday party of one of Rachael’s best friends and had a wonderful time with our dear friends. So the bitch slap that greeted my face this morning was unexpected and disheartening. I felt in my shoulders, chest, and clavicle area like I had spent the previous night bench pressing 100 pounds. I felt agitated and weak. So I did the only sensible thing and made it worse by cleaning out and organizing my pantry. After that, I made lunch menus for Rachael and picked out recipes and made dinner menus for us. Feeling even more agitated when that was finished, I decided it was best to make the muffins and oatmeal cookies that I had written in on Rachael’s lunch menu. I then proceeded to melt down and run away to my room.

You see, try as I might to ignore or deny the fact that my stomach lurches every time I think about Tuesday, my body still feels it. No matter how I try to stay busy with legitimate and necessary “get ready for school” projects, the stress is still going to travel through my body to tighten my muscles and mess with my serotonin and norepinephrine receptors. It’s one thing to acknowledge the fact that you’re being exceptionally grumpy and impatient today. (And can I just say how wonderfully supportive Mike has been today. He just gets me.) It’s quite another to accept the fact that you’re experiencing a full on depressive mood today and that perhaps the best thing to do is just settle into it, hunker down, and just let the tears come.

I’m not okay

Rachael wanted yogurt for a snack, so I went to fetch her a Chobani Champions yogurt tube from the fridge. It seemed kind of inflated, but I figured I was just misremembering how full they were. Nope. Seriously, talk about contents under pressure. It exploded on me, in my hair, on the floor, the wall, the cabinets, and even on the ceiling. Then, to add insult to injury, it slow jizzed all over my hand. It’s not the yogurt’s fault, though. It was just trying to capture the mood of the day.

We went to open house at Rachael’s kindergarten today. We had received her teacher assignment on Monday, and after Facebook stalking information gathering, I was still a bit worried because I hadn’t been a fan based on the brief interaction I had with her a few months ago. Fortunately, I felt much better after watching her interact with Rachael and having brief conversation with her. Rachael loved the room scavenger hunt, and excitedly bounced from place to place in the room to check everything out. Just like my little girl, she settled herself in the reading area and started flipping through books. Her teacher is pregnant, but not due until January, and will only be out for two months. The teacher subbing for her subbed during her last pregnancy, and has done other long term subbing in the school.
Afterward, we went to the school library. Rachael excitedly wound her way through the maze of bookshelves, marveling at the number of books. They had a small fish tank, and hanging on the wall was a portrait of my principal from when I was in elementary school. (Different school, though. It almost felt like life was coming full circle on me.) As we left, I showed Rachael her very own special door that only the kindergarteners get to use, which thrilled her a little.

So, by all accounts, everything went well and we’re ready to go. But I still came home and shoved three of these cupcakes in my face as I read through the packet of information and completed the forms her teacher had sent home. I think about how Rachael had walked the halls pensively, hands behind her back, taking everything in. She looked so small in those long, towering halls. But I know she’s growing up and she’s ready for this, whether I am or not.

One of the ways I realize that I am stressed or upset is when my body starts to hurt. The psychosomatic manifestations of stress with fibromyalgia are just fanfuckingtastic, let me tell ya. So I knew how bothered I was when my back and neck started throbbing. This afternoon I had a big ole blubbery ugly cry. When it was over, I just felt weak and wanted to take a nap. I probably would have if I didn’t have so many things to do. (I almost feel like I’m nesting today. I want to get things clean and organized so we can start the year with a calm and organized mind. Or, at least, an organized…something.) Instead, I made like Trinity and told myself to get up.

Anyone else starting school for the first time? How are you coping?

Rachael’s Jake and the Neverland Pirates 5th Birthday Party

While I was blogging yesterday, Rachael asked me to blog about her 5th birthday party. Never intending to blog about her party, I don’t have too many step by step pictures. Many of the pictures I did take were after the party, after the food had been demolished.

Rachael has a tendency to pick her party theme a year before and stick with it the whole year. On the heels of her Snow White themed 4th birthday party, she declared that she wanted a Rapunzel birthday the following year. Tired of the princess parties, (she had The Little Mermaid the year before) Mike talked Rachael into a Jake and the Neverland pirates party. It didn’t take much convincing, as Rachael loves Jake and all of the Neveland lore. Not long after, Mike showed her pictures of pirate ship cakes, and it was determined that I was going to be attempting a 3D Bucky cake. While I looked forward to the challenge of carving a 3D cake, it wasn’t anything I had done before. So there was definitely an Oh shit element to this whole thing.

First things first
I decided to make a map of Neverland for the invitation. I found some fantastic handmade paper at Michaels, and I also picked up a calligraphy pen, red wax, and wax seal. So, I tried to draw the Neverland freehand while looking at a picture from Peter Pan. Yeah….it looked like an amoeba. I have some artistic talent, but this was clearly not going to happen without assistance. TO THE INTERWEBS! I found a decent picture of the island, printed it and placed it on top of the handmade paper. Since the paper was a bit thick and soft, I was able to use a pencil to trace the outline and then ink over the indentations with a black felt tip pen.

I colored in the details with regular old Crayola colored pencils and wrote in the details with the calligraphy pen. The finishing touch was to seal the map inside the envelope with a red wax seal. I chose to use the initial of our last name. Several parents commented to me that their kids were so excited over the invitation and wax seal. One girl said it made her feel like it was addressed to a princess. Another girl carried her invitation with her everywhere. Rachael was ecstatic over them. It was nice to know that the effort had made so many kids happy.

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Let them eat cake!
As I said, I had never carved a cake before but, I’d seen enough episodes of Cake Boss, Ace of Cakes, and any other cake decorating show you can think of that I thought, It can’t be that hard. Fortunately, once I found the right cake recipe, it wasn’t as hard as I feared. I made the recipe in two tube pans, and it was amazing: dense enough to hold up to carving; rich and creamy without being sickening. When I did the trial run cake, I felt like the shape kind of looked like a toilet with the lid down, so I changed up my approach for the final go. I lopped off the uneven top, (and then promptly devoured) of one of the cakes and placed it on the bottom as my base. I did the same with the second cake, carved out the rectangle center for the main deck, and then placed the carved out section on the top back. Finally, I carved the front of the ship to look triangular. All pieces were held together with icing.

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Crumb coat stage

Tip: Don’t forget to crumb coat your cake! If you don’t, you’ll end up with crumbs in your icing. To crumb coat, simply apply a relatively thin layer of softened icing. I then place it in the fridge to get stiff. Then you’re ready for final icing and, if you choose, fondant.

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Here’s the breakdown:
Mast is a dowel rod covered in fondant
Waves, windows, gold details are colored fondant
Waves were made using Wilton fondant and gum paste mold
Cannon is a dowel rod covered in colored fondant
Slide is licorice
Crows nest is a painted Dixie cup that has been cut in half
Sail printed from spoonful.com and is secured with skewers and hot glue

I knew this wasn’t going to be enough cake for the number of people we were having, so I made these cupcakes.
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Also loved these.

Decor

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Note the scurvy dog. Hahahahahahahaha *cough cough* *sigh*
The silhouettes were gathered from Spoonful and Internet images. I placed them on canvas, (secure them with something so they don’t slip) and paint over the images. The canvas soaks up the paint pretty quickly, so you can remove the pictures pretty much right away.
I don’t have too many pictures from outside, but we had things broken up into pirate ship, Pixie Hollow, and Mermaid Lagoon sections. On the deck I placed nets and had them entangled with sea stars, Mardi Gras beads, and jewel stickers. Over the patio we set up a canopy as Pixie Hollow. Unfortunately we ran out of time, so my full vision of that didn’t come together. We wrapped twinkle lights up in the cross bars, which were supposed to be obscured by green crepe paper just so you could see the twinkles. We also didn’t have time to hang the fairies from the cross bars, but had a Pixie Hollow table cover. Clearly, Rachael was devastated by the incompleteness of it all.
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Funtivities

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Mermaid Lagoon. Canopy leaves from Ikea.

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Digging for buried treasure. I wasn’t fully prepared when people arrived, so I just had the kids bury the plastic dubloons and jeweled necklaces. They buried the treasure and dug it back up over and over again.

We also had coconut bowling, (the kids had a blast with the real coconuts. I was glad we had more than one!) and playing inside the Bucky tent that a good friend was kind enough to lend to me.

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For favor bags, I just got the Jake bags from the party store. Inside were wooden instruments I found in the dollar section at Target that I painted so the kids could play pirate rock at home. I also included eye patches and Jake tattoos. Finally, I made under the sea chocolate lollies from the Wilton chocolate pop mold.

I think my little pixie was pretty happy!

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