Mother Hen’s Second Birthday

As Gideon’s 2nd birthday approached, I began scheming and dreaming of a camping party. He was completely enamored with Little Bear, especially the episode where Little Bear and his Grandfather Bear sleep in a tent in the backyard. I began seeing visions of us camped out near the creek where Chris and I celebrated our wedding reception, a tent for each family, balloons in the trees, and yes, indulge me, singing around the campfire at night…

Remember? I’m sentimental. And…maybe completely delusional.

But my party dreams always have a way of morphing into something realistic by the day of the actual birthday, and so on March 14th, 2009, due to chilly weather and a testy forecast of rain, we had a scaled down version of my fanciful camping party. The tent was set up in the backyard, the hot dogs were cooked in the oven, and no one stayed the night. Meaning no one sang around the campfire. Bunch of party-poopers.

Here are the thoughts I recorded the night before his 2nd birthday:

Tomorrow is another very special day, as our Gideon will be turning TWO years old ~ How can this be?! His infancy has slipped away and he is on his way now ~ constantly growing, changing, learning and truly becoming more and more dear to this mother’s heart. How it is possible to love someone with all your heart and then grow to love them more the next day, I don’t know, but this is a mother’s love. I had heard about it, but now I possess it.

The day will be full of surprises and Gideon’s favorite things ~ pancakes, candles to blow out, singing cards, a tent, ice cream cake, a Little Bear movie…I hope he feels loved. I do love using birthdays to express all I feel for a loved one. I’ve been planning this for two months now, but not in an uptight way ~ it has been pure joy. I am tempted right now to snatch him out of his bed and let the celebration begin! But it is nearly 1:00 and this party Momma needs some rest…

Gideon would have been happy just blowing out candles all day.

We had a magnificent day, candles to blow out with every meal, and a house full of balloons when Gideon woke up from his nap

Helium balloons = Mrs. Gore's favorite party decoration. And Gideon's, too!

And just in case you’re wondering what Papa Roosters contribute to birthday parties, Mr. Gore had a grand time blowing up the balloons until he soon grew bored and began experimenting by putting items inside the balloons before he blew them up, starting with a set of keys. He is pictured here with what looks like an ordinary balloon. What few would guess, however, is that it is actually housing a cell phone. Was Mother Hen amused by this monumental waste of time on the biggest day of her year? Mmmmmm…now I am.

Well done, as usual, Mr. Gore.

The actual party was a bit different than the previous year’s, as Gideon’s world had expanded, meaning he actually had a handful of friends to celebrate alongside us. Paul, the only other little boy Gideon had actually ever seen, had since moved away from our church and our town, but was kind enough to come back for the day’s celebration, and Abigail and Anna, Gideon’s cousins, had moved back to our town from Kentucky. I still handmade invitations and handstamped goody bags for each guest ~ granola and cookies for the grown-ups, flashlights for the children ~ but I put into practice a new trick, one that actually got me into a heap of trouble…

I used to entertain the notion of making these over-the-top birthday cakes, like the stand-up Barbie ones some of my friends had when we were children, or ones that match the theme of the birthday party and make everyone go “Oohhhhhh!” before saying “Ahhhhhhhh!”. However, young mothers quickly learn what they are capable of accomplishing and what they are not so capable of accomplishing. I have the ability to make an over-the-top birthday cake, but I do NOT have the ability to do so in a timely manner or in an even semi-gracious fashion. Such an endeavor would leave me flustered, uptight and probably snapping at the birthday child instead of gushing over the birthday child; in other words, not worth it!

So…for Gideon’s second birthday party, I decided to order a birthday cake. Now keep in mind that when I married Chris Gore, I went from having a magical checkbook that never ran dry to having a staunch budget, like, overnight. Even though we had been married for almost three years at this time, I was still growing accustomed to the budget (or “fund” as he called it, because it had the word “fun” in it…he tried, really he did). I also have…er, had…the habitual problem of assuming things cost what I think they should cost, meaning that I often forget…er, forgot…to even ask how much something was before I ordered it. Whoopsie.

After diligent searching, I found this amazing birthday ice cream cake at a little shop in Tulsa, and just as I was about to order it, I discovered that this store also made matching ice cream cupcakes. Did you hear me? Ice cream cupcakes. Oh. My. Cute. They had rainbow-colored birthday sprinkles all over them. They made me melt, like an ice cream cake, when I saw them. And so I ordered them. All of them. A big cake to hold the candles and feed the grown-ups, and 6 cupcakes, for the children. I didn’t even run this by the Mister, assuming that the total would come to about $20. No problem! Chump’s change, right?

My Mom volunteered to pick up the cake for me and have it in the freezer at the time of the party. For the record, she would also be stopping to pick up the miniature helium tank we would be using to blow up the balloons we needed to match the ones we used the year before. (Since we had done it one time, it was a tradition now, you know, one we could hardly skip. And since it was a tradition, I also did not need to run this purchase by my husband either. Stupid Mother Hen!…)

Two days after the cake and cupcakes had been tucked safely into the freezer, the entire family was gathered in the kitchen doing various things when I innocently and nonchalantly asked my Mom how much we owed her. She tried to shake her head at me, but Mr. Gore had already picked up on the conversation and said “For what? What do we owe her for?” My Mom got very still. “The ice cream cake.” I said, still completely unaware that I was about to step into some very, very hot water. My poor Mom was on the spot now and had to spill the beans right there before the lot of us. “…$56.” she quickly blurted out. All I remember is that it grew very uncomfortably quiet in the room and I instinctively felt the urge to slowly shrink under the table…

Small table. My husband found me, and we had a loooooong talk, one that ensured this would be the last fancy ice cream cake Gideon would ever have, and that I had better thoroughly enjoy every last bite of it. Which…I did. So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr. Gore. (Just kidding, Chris. I love you. I submit to you. You’re right – wayyyyyy too expensive cake. I’ll never do it again).

The cake may have cost $40 too much, but just look at all those birthday smiles!

This party also brings to mind another tendency of mine that Mr. Gore does not particularly love, one that we have had many humorous discussions about since we began dating in the year 2000. I don’t set out to do thematic holidays, but as I plan and make purchases, you will often see a theme developing. Why does Mr. Gore not particularly love this? Because, Mr. Gore, like everyone else I know, including myself, enjoys getting for Christmas and his birthday what he wants to get for Christmas and his birthday. But when I buy something off of his list, for instance, a shoe-polishing kit, I just can’t help adding to that a men’s manicure kit, a gentleman’s book of manners and the most handsome pair of brushed flannel man-jamas on the planet. Poor Mr. Gore wanted a shoe-polishing kit and a video game, not a neat little gift pile that would inspire a game of “What do these gifts have in common?” (They’re for girls!)

Needless to say, Gideon’s camping-themed party gave me endless gift-buying the end of the day, he had a new sleeping bag, a play camping set, a backpack, a fishing pole, a stack of camping books and a couple of flashlights. Mr. Gore and Gideon may not have appreciated the matchiness of everything, but I gloried in the tidiness of our camping party, all wrapped up in a plaid buffalo-check bow. And it seemed that God approved of my ideas, as well, throwing a magnificent walking stick in the yard that turned out to be Gideon’s favorite present of the day.

God always wins the "best present" contest - check out that walking stick!

But the highlight of this day was, duh, not the presents, or the cake, or the balloons, or the useless tent that no one slept in because it was freezing cold…it was seeing my little man with a near-constant smile on his face, enjoying all the fruits of what being 2 years old can supply.

The life of my party.

Mother Hen and Gid the Kid went to sleep that night content, happy, and utterly exhausted. My journal entry from that night simply reads:

I am too tired now to wax eloquent on the birthday party ~ suffice it to say it was a PERFECT day!

If you don’t believe me, ask him…

Birthday dreams are sweet indeed.

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