Christmas Miracles and Everyday Madness

xmas_tree_before_1214It’s been an eventful few weeks since I posted anything fresh here for you. First, a bit of an explanation. Christmas was my mom’s favorite holiday. The tree was always up on the day after Thanksgiving and every inch of the house was covered in something that lit up, jingled or played holiday songs. More than once, I walked into the room at my parent’s house and had a motion-sensing, dancing, singing Santa scare the living shit out of me. As far as holidays go, my mom never wavered. She was all in.

Not surprisingly, since her death, the holidays kind of suck for me. Add to that an always lingering residual bit of depression, a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder and the stress that comes with planning a major holiday and a child’s birthday party at the same time, and you’ve got the perfect storm. Unfortunately, I’m terrible at writing in the midst of a storm.

Now for a little public service announcement…If you are considering getting pregnant (or knocking up your wife, significant other, or surrogate) I would highly recommend that you carefully plan the fateful insemination so as to avoid having a child born in December. Or the beginning of January, for that matter. Many moons ago, my darling Biggie was our Christmas miracle. She was born on December 12th after three years of trying to get pregnant culminating in three rounds of in vitro. But here’s the thing…we really should have timed the whole miracle thing much better.

Everyone worries about the kid when they find out he or she has a Christmastime birthday. “Oh, the poor thing! He/she really gets the shaft having his/her birthday so close to the holidays.” But, I say…remember the parents! (Or, in our case, the mother. Let’s be honest.) Ever try making candy flames while shopping online and addressing holiday cards at the same time? It’s a challenge even for the sanest parent and we all know that’s not me.

The last few weeks have been such a blur, I’ll just try to fill you in with a few main events. First, there was the aforementioned birthday party, which was another sleepover because I’m a masochist. I did put my foot down this year, though, telling Biggie she could invite only two girls from school and two girls from the neighborhood. Last year’s sleepover was significantly bigger and a bit of a debacle actually (at least for me).

campfire_cake_1214For once, Biggie liked and went along with my idea for the party theme… a camping themed, birthday slumber party. The girls slept in an eight-person tent Ad Man and I just barely managed to erect in our downstairs living room. But, before that, there was an outdoor scavenger hunt, pizza, a movie by the fireplace and a campfire birthday cake. I’ve included a photo of the cake here because I think I got more comments about it on Facebook than I’ve gotten on any cute kid or puppy post ever. Honestly, that cake was the highlight of my last few weeks. It came out so much better than I’d ever imagined. In fact, I’m considering never baking another cake for as long as I live. Why not retire at the top of my game, right?

Despite all the preparation that went into Biggie’s party, it actually turned out to be fairly easy and she was happy. Yay for me! I have to savor the little victories in parenthood because, lord knows, they can be few and far between.

Unfortunately, there have been some low points in the last few weeks as well…for example, when our Christmas tree came crashing down yesterday. I will elaborate, but I should first mention the wonderful way my day began. I was lucky enough to spend the day with a friend’s sweet, beautiful, eight week old (ish) baby boy. Oh man, is he delicious! We had a lovely day of snuggling, snoozing (him, not me), smiling (both of us) and sniffing his luscious new baby smell (Birdie and I). It was a bit of a challenge managing a puppy and a newborn at the same time, but I still found myself thinking, “See? I’m not too old for a baby. I could totally do this again!”

That is until I was attempting to calm little man who was squawking with hunger while I tried to heat up his bottle as fast as humanly possible when we heard an ungodly crash from the adjacent living room. Squawking turned to screaming, Birdie ran around like there was a squirrel in the house, and I reluctantly peeked around the corner only to find shards of glass and spilled water everywhere! The poor Christmas tree that had been so elegantly dressed just moments before, lay sadly in a bed of its own debris.

xmas_tree_after_1214I had the sense to put the the baby in his bouncy seat and unplug the tree lights before one of us was electrocuted in a pine-scented cloud of sparks. That was the last coherent thought I had, however. I looked at the mess, the hungry baby, the bottle of precious breast milk warming on the stove and the puppy threatening to run through broken glass and picked up the phone to call Ad Man. Luckily, another Christmas miracle occurred and he actually answered the phone. I said something like, “I need you! Come quick! The tree fell and there’s glass and water and I have a baby and a dog!” in not my calmest voice. Ad Man’s office is only three miles away, so after telling me to put the damn dog in her crate and doing about twelve additional things at the office, he headed home to face the destruction.

Eventually, Ad Man arrived, cleaned up the mess and we took inventory of our destroyed ornaments. By then, the baby was sleeping contentedly with a belly full of warm milk while Birdie slept off the adrenaline rush from dodging an enormous falling tree. As it was too early for a drink and I was babysitting, I got my stress relief from gazing at the perfect, peaceful face of little man. Demonstrating my remarkable skills of denial and self-delusion, I breathed a sigh of relief and thought again, “I could totally do this.”

The following day, I was again entrusted with the care and keeping of another living being, but the outcome was less successful. Birdie tends to be a pain in the ass about getting her nails clipped, so I’ve given up trying to do it myself and now take her to Petco for monthly pedicures. Because she apparently has the same short memory as her adoptive mother, she blocks out her nail terrors and is super excited to go to the pet store every single time.

Yesterday’s trip was no exception. She bounded out of the house with her tail wagging as soon as I said, “Birdie, want to go to the store?” We hopped into the car and I carefully lowered her window to a level where she could stick out her snout and enjoy the breeze, but not hang half her body out the window like a teenage boy in a limo after prom. In an abundance of caution, I hold onto her leash with a death grip the entire time she rides with me. I’d like to point out that Ad Man thinks I’m a neurotic freak (for this, and many other reasons). He just loops her leash through the seat belt and lets her hang out and gulp oxygen to her heart’s content.

Luckily, I can rarely, if ever, be convinced that his method of doing something is better than mine. And, it’s a damn good thing I stuck to my neurotic guns, because I’d just pulled into the Petco parking lot when Birdie jumped out the damn window! Of a moving automobile! Who does that?! Freaking the f*ck out, I managed to pull the car over and park all the while clinging to her leash. I’ll never forget the panicked look she gave me as she dangled outside, with just her eyeballs reaching the level of the now completely lowered window. I steeled myself for what I would see as my mind ran wild with images of her wrecked body flashing before my eyes.

Instead, I opened the passenger door and she hopped right back in, fresh as a daisy. It was as though she jumped out of a moving vehicle on a daily basis! A woman in the parking lot who had witnessed the whole scene called to me, “Is your dog OK? Are you OK?!” In a state of shocked disbelief, I told her yes. Birdie and I caught our breath and continued into the store as planned because, well, I didn’t know what else to do.

Not once did I think to wonder how the car window had gotten rolled down. That is, until we were back in the car on our way home and Birdie had her nose and paws out the 3 inches of open window I allowed her when the stupid thing rolled down again! All I could figure was that it was broken and would roll down whenever she put pressure on it. However, after we returned home and my scrambled brain started chugging back into action, I thought to myself, “You dumbass, the dog was stepping on the window button!” Erg. Anyway, this was the very difficult way I learned to always, always turn on the child safe window locks whenever doggie Evel Knievel is riding shotgun. Public service announcement #2.

Aren’t you glad you read this whole rambling post? I provided you with two nuggets of wisdom so you don’t have to learn them the hard way like I did. I also told you a couple stories that undoubtedly made you sit back and think, “Holy crap…I’m glad I’m not her!” Don’t say I never gave you anything. Have a great holiday! I’ll have lots of updates in the new year. Now, go tether that Christmas tree to the closest immovable object you can find. You’ll thank me someday.

9 thoughts on “Christmas Miracles and Everyday Madness

  1. Hi, I’m having a wedding in November and for my mans grooms table he wants a hunting, camping theme. Can you please share with me how you made the fire? I’m in absolute love with this cake. It would be the highlight of his grooms table.

    Thanks, Destiny

    • Oh, how fun, Destiny! A campfire would be perfect for your fiancee’s cake. I used the old school Brach’s cinnamon and butterscotch candies and broke them up. Then, melt them in the oven, mixed together, on a piece of parchment. When they were still liquid, I used a toothpick to drag the colors together and make flame shapes. You can just peel them off the parchment once they’re cooled. Make more than you think you’ll need in case some of your flames break. Good luck! 🙂

  2. This cake is amazing! How long, and at what temp did you cook the candies for? How many did you cook at a time? How did you shape them so well? Any other pointers would be amazing! Thank you so much. I am making for my son’s first birthday!

    • Hi Megan…I’m so sorry I’m just seeing your message! I probably missed your son’s birthday, but just in case you’re still keeping this cake idea in your back pocket…I really just winged it with the candy flames. I’d say I heated the oven to about 325 degrees and then just kept an eye on them until they melted. I will say they melted more quickly than I thought they would, so keep a good eye on them. I put both the red and gold candies in the oven on a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil. You should make more flames than you think you’ll need, because they break easily. I just laid the candies so the flames would go from red to orange to gold when I blended them. I figured out that the best way to make the flames was to melt them, then drag a tooth pick through the colors so they mixed and came to points on the top. I let them cool, then peeled them (carefully) from the foil and cracked them into the size flames I wanted. Hope this helps!

  3. Just curious,did you roast the marshmallow over a real fire to get this look or is there a different way to get them like that?

  4. Not to be that person but this cake looks an awful lot like Rosanna Pansino’s Dauntless cake. Like almost the exact same, but no credit given to her. She even uploaded it 7 months before you did.

    • There are numerous versions of this cake floating around Pinterest. I never claimed to have “invented” it. This isn’t a party planning blog. I made it for my daughter’s birthday and thought it was cute.

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