Anatomy of a Birthday Weekend

Or, What We Did On Our Birthday Vacation

Thursday (our birthday weekends start early, by necessity)

  • Tour a school that we might want Baguette to attend next year.
  • Decide that we do not want Baguette to attend that school (it seems like a very good school–just not what we want for her).
  • Clean the house.
  • Clean the patio and back yard.
  • Go to speech therapy and music therapy.
  • Go to Costco and buy food and birthday cake.
  • Clean the house.
  • Make items for party games.


  • Clean the house.
  • Clean the back yard.
  • Do some work that needs to be done even if I am on vacation.
  • Clean the house.
  • Clean the back yard.
  • Clean the patio.
  • Welcome grandparents and great-aunt, who are visiting from out of town.
  • Go out to dinner.
  • Clean the house.
  • Make party favors.


  • Make party favors.
  • Clean the house.
  • Clean the patio.
  • Make signs for food.
  • Clean the house.
  • Clean the patio.
  • Locate the Happy Birthday banner we bought two years ago.
  • Put up the Happy Birthday banner.
  • Locate more tape for the Happy Birthday banner.
  • Make the salad.
  • Put the Happy Birthday banner back up.
  • Welcome guests. Realize again that we have invited a really large number of people.
  • Abandon hope of keeping the Happy Birthday banner up.
  • Make sure parents and children are enjoying themselves.
  • Call the pizza parlor and confirm that the pizza is actually going to be delivered.
  • Make sure that Baguette has the chance to find some quiet time.
  • Put out the pizza, salad, and signs for the food.
  • Realize that I have left another parent supervising Baguette in the front yard for far longer than is reasonable.
  • Ask Baguette if she wants pizza. (“No thank you.”)
  • Ask Baguette if she wants macaroni and cheese. (“Yes.”)
  • Bring a chair we took outside for the party back inside, because Baguette wants to eat at the table in the breakfast nook like she always does, not at the table on the patio where her friends are.
  • Make sure everyone gets food.
  • Eat one slice of pizza and some salad.
  • Realize that, in spite of all the cleaning, the living room still contains a case of baby wipes and a 3-pack of contact lens solution.
  • Decide not to care.
  • Bring out the cake and put candles on it.
  • Try to light the candles.
  • Try to light the candles.
  • Try to light the candles.
  • Try to light one candle, which is the most that we may be able to keep lit with the breeze.
  • Abandon hope of lighting the candles.
  • Serve the cake.
  • Encourage Baguette to say “thank you for coming to my party” to as many children as possible.
  • Say goodbye to everyone.
  • Try to get Baguette to nap.
  • Abandon hope of getting Baguette to nap.
  • Regroup with grandparents and great-aunt when they come back from their hotels for dinner.
  • Order Chinese food.
  • Eat Chinese food (adults) and macaroni and cheese (Baguette).
  • Open presents from grandparents and great-aunt.
  • Accept that the most enticing part of presents is the paper, which tears interestingly and can be draped as a fetching hat.
  • Say goodnight to grandparents and great-aunt.


  • Have morning meltdown (Baguette, with collateral damage to Mr. Sandwich’s hearing).
  • Regroup with grandparents and great-aunt.
  • Caravan to 7-11 for coffee.
  • Caravan to L.A. Zoo, because it is the weekend and therefore we go to the L.A. Zoo.
  • Look at zoo animals.
  • Get in line for lunch.
  • Take Baguette for a walk, because the line is too long. (Mr. Sandwich)
  • Realize that Baguette is screaming, and Mr. Sandwich is waving energetically from outside the cafeteria.
  • Take Baguette and try to comfort her.
  • Realize that 5 feet away, a zoo docent is holding a small constrictor.
  • Consider one’s pathological fear of snakes.
  • Ask Baguette if she wants to touch a snake.
  • Confirm with Baguette that she wants to touch a snake.
  • Hold Baguette while she touches the snake.
  • Wash Baguette’s hands.
  • Eat lunch.
  • Leave zoo.
  • After Baguette falls asleep in the car, take advantage of the situation to trim her fingernails while Mr. Sandwich runs into the hardware store.
  • Go home and let Baguette unwind.
  • Make brownies for Baguette to take to day care the next day for her actual birthday.
  • Watch Baguette start to spool up again when grandparents and great-aunt rejoin us for dinner.
  • Try to prevent meltdown.
  • Fail.
  • Take Baguette into her room, comfort her, and tell her that she can take time to calm down, but that we will be in the living room so she doesn’t feel abandoned.
  • Give Baguette iPad when she asks for it. (Mr. Sandwich)
  • Be grateful that, this time, the iPad helps her come out of the meltdown instead of exacerbating it, because there is no predicting.
  • Send grandparents out for In-N-Out.
  • Welcome Baguette when she comes back to the living room, feeling better.
  • Feed Baguette one of her favorite noodle dishes.
  • Tell Baguette that we will be on patio, and that she can come out when she wants to.
  • Eat In-N-Out while Baguette plays with party games on back lawn.
  • Say goodbye to grandparents and great-aunt, who are returning to respective homes on Monday.
  • Give Baguette a bath.
  • Open a few gifts for Baguette and talk to her about what they are and which of her friends gave them to her.
  • Write thank-you notes to those friends.
  • Wrangle Baguette into bed.
  • Sleep fitfully.


  • Put brownies in car.
  • Take thank-you notes to day care, along with party favor for one guest who didn’t get one.
  • Give brownies to teacher.
  • Realize that Baguette would still really prefer to have some quiet time.
  • Recognize that at this point there is nothing to be done about that.
  • Drop off thank-you notes.
  • Wonder how ABA will go tonight.
  • Wonder how birthday phone call with aunt and uncle will go tonight.
  • Wonder if Baguette will catch stomach bug that is running rampant through her school.
  • Think about how, at this rate, it will take several days to open Baguette’s presents.
  • Go to work.
  • Really, really intend to write the rest of the thank-you notes.

Little girl in chair, covering face with "Happy Birthday" balloon

Friday Five, September 12, 2014

Here are a few things from the past week.

1) Baguette is perfectly fine with cold macaroni and cheese, except when she’s not okay with it.

2) I have some really good support at work. That’s good to know.

3) Baguette hates pigtails with a passion. I knew this, because she would never let me put up her hair. But today it turned out that this is also true at school. When I picked her up, she was sobbing–almost keening, in fact–in front of the mirror and trying to get the rubber bands out of her hair. Fortunately she sat very still while I took them out, and calmed down shortly thereafter.

4) This bed isn’t big enough for the three of us.

5) I’m starting to wonder if I will ever not be tired.


Macaroni and Cheese

When my brother was two, my mother asked our pediatrician how she could get him to eat more foods. The doctor said, “Well, what does he eat?”

My mother said, “He won’t eat anything but hot dogs, orange juice, and Hershey bars.”

The doctor said, “Eh, don’t worry about it. That’s not so bad, and if you fight him about it, he’ll dig in his heels longer. Just don’t let him eat more than one candy bar a day.”

Now, you may take issue with that, and to me, a Hershey bar a day does sound like a lot for a small child. But it worked, because now my brother eats Thai food.

Baguette likes hot dogs just fine. Pizza, too. But her current favorite is macaroni and cheese.

She wants it all the time. Yesterday morning she woke up early, so she had breakfast at home. I put her usual scrambled egg in front of her, and she looked at me and said, hopefully, “Macaroni and cheese.”

I said, “I’d like you to eat your egg first.”

She said, “Nooooo! Macaroni and cheese!”

On the plus side, she’s not picky about some aspects of it. I want to make it from scratch, but I don’t always have time. And she doesn’t care whether it’s homemade or Kraft. So sometimes I succumb to the lure of simplicity and speed–but then the next round is homemade.

On the negative side, she is picky about other aspects. Last week I made it from scratch and added pureed butternut squash (Is sneaking vegetables into dishes good or bad? I don’t care–I’m doing it.) No, that’s not what she cared about. The problem was that in what was clearly a fit of insanity, I purchased a box of bow tie pasta.

In my defense, I thought she’d think it was fun.

I know, I know. The outcome was totally predictable. She asked for macaroni and cheese, and I placed a bowl of my lovingly crafted meal in front of her, and she instantly screamed, “Noooooo! Macaroni and cheese.”

I tried, but there was no reasoning with her. And in her defense, that wasn’t macaroni and cheese. It was bowtie pasta with cheese.

Bragging About Me

This week’s Monday Listicles topic is “10 Things You Are Proud Of.” So, if you will, allow me to share with you some things I have done:

1) On my first camping trip as a Girl Scout, I lit an a-frame fire with a single match.

2) Thanks to Girl Scouts, in grad school I was able to get wet wood to burn using matches and candles, in contrast to the lighter fluid the guys thought would do the trick.

3) In high school, I once created a school spirit banner so violent it grossed out the football team.

4) When Mr. Sandwich cut off the tip of his finger, I found the piece on his garage workbench . . .

5) And surprised the ER doctor with how well I packaged it for transit.

6) I can watch the needle when I get a shot or donate blood. Speaking of which . . .

7) I donate blood.

8) I have competed in–and finished–three sprint triathlons.

9) I’m a really good writer and editor.

10) I make great baked macaroni and cheese.

Bonus #11: I was a returning Jeopardy! champion.

(Side note: As I look back, there seems to be a decent amount of overlap with this list from December, but honestly I could use my own pat on the back at this point in my life.)


Photo by Nick J Webb, via Flickr. Creative Commons.

Waffle Chix

Does a landmark have to stay in one place? I ask because Westwood’s Falafel King is on its third location in 25 years. That I know of.

In (theoretical) Location #2, you can now find Waffle Chix. It looks more upscale than I expected, and much nicer than in its previous incarnation as Falafel King. The menu features waffles, as you might imagine, and ranges from breakfast to dessert. Want a chicken-and-waffle combo? You’ll have to hunt for it (although the more prominent sandwiches do sound good).

I got a fried chicken breast and a waffle, with a side of mac and cheese. Verdict: Okay. Me, I think a waffle should be crispy. This had a really nice flavor, but was soft. If I wanted it soft, I’d order a pancake. The chicken was juicy, which doesn’t always happen with white meat. The mac and cheese was all right, but I’ve had better.

What’s weird is that the food came out super fast. It’s not like my waffle was sitting around back there. Unless it was. Hmm…

Verdict: I’d go back if someone wanted to, but I probably won’t seek it out on my own again.