as usual, i discovered that morning that i was missing a cupcake ingredient and would depend on brian to get out of bed and shower and do whatever else it is that he does so that he could make his trip to whole foods for party fruit and the missing ingredient. i think it was chunky peanut butter i was needing and i was afraid to use creamy and screw things up with my inability to properly follow a recipe. i later found those bits of peanut disconcerting. damn it.
anyhow. the tile guy was there making up for lost time from the day before when he was having difficulty finding tile. which just kind of added a psychological layer. grandma was showing up at one to make up for missing the family party the weekend prior. and then, the a/c drain in the kitchen ceiling started leaking. brian cleaned it out and it immediately filled right back up. he cleaned it out again and poured in a little bleach and it cleared right out. but it made him get out the door later. i was starting to feel a little frantic at this point.
he finally got out to the store and i failed at getting violet to nap for more than a literal two minutes. brian returned and the kids ate lunch and grandma rolled up and then they all scooted back out the door for a driving nap, because i did not want to see violet at a 5pm party after no nap.
i began the surprisingly arduous process of making the peanut butter cupcakes. i'm not sure what was taking so long. in my head, when i decide to make cakes or cupcakes, it's all very presto no problem. slap some things in a bowl and pour it back into a pan. what's so hard about that?
i finally scooped out the first 24, but only had two cupcake pans. at this point, i noticed that the bake time was not 10-12 minutes, but 23-26 minutes. oops, fuck. then there was letting them cool in the pans for five minutes, which was probably not needed... but again, didn't want to go screwing it up by not following directions. i even made a cooling rack out of this weird metal thing that came with our microwave (that we've always been too afraid and too confused to use in there) and two wooden blocks. the last dozen finally went in. in the meantime, i washed and chopped one million apples and strawberries and packed them up. totally forgot the grapes. we're still eating grapes around here.
frosting was next in line. i realized i had not pulled enough shortening out to thaw with my margarine bricks. so i said fuck it and used more margarine.
i had magically remembered to get a sifter. it took looking at three stores to find one. but that fucking organic whole foods powdered sugar was made primarily out of gigantic sugar pebbles. i've never seen anything like it, and that makes it sound like i spend a lot of time sitting around looking at powdered sugars. they wouldn't even fit through the sifter and i was having to break them up by hand.
it was getting pretty late at this point. i hadn't changed clothes or primped at all and violet wasn't dressed. my mood was heating up pretty quickly and i was having flashes of missing oliver's birthday party because i was at home frosting cupcakes in my pajamas, even though i wasn't wearing pajamas.
everyone was back from the short-lived nap by now and i was going to this place that made it sound like i was going to rip off brian's head for offering to help. i wanted to cry. but there was no time. i finally allowed brian to help me frost cupcakes and i was thankful that the frosting was going on quickly. and that the frosting didn't taste bitter, because i had started running out of both sugar and time.
i neglected to get the animal gummies on top and just threw them in the bag with whatever else we were hauling. i was sprinting around like carl lewis in a clothes-changing contest.
i was blasting everyone out the front door and chewing brian's asshole for leaving the car in the full sun. it's hot around here, guys. if it's an oven outside, i'm sure you can imagine what the inside of a car inside an oven might feel like. and that's what i started loading oliver into as brian's mother slid the cupcakes and their volatile frosting into her neighboring oven. and i saw brian trotting back up the stairs and i know of violet's current favorite activity of hopping out into the parking lot and going around the back end of the car to get to the other side and i started hollering, "WHERE'S VIOLET? WHERE'S VIOLET?" and some people said grandma of the cupcakes had her and i spotted her over on the sidewalk and she was spotting daddy going up the stairs and i guess thought she was being abandoned and freaked out and so we loaded her straight into the oven.
by some miracle, we were actually 10 or 15 minutes early and i could see that there were still people from the previous party still strolling out and so i circled the parking lot and violet started calming down and brian and his mom pulled up. we unloaded and violet was a little sweat bag and i think she started freaking out again, i forget, maybe not. we got everything unloaded and kind of stood around for a bit, feeling like we were supposed to be doing something. i tried to engage in recovery from my earlier heart attacks. brian decided to go into the cake room and pulled open one of those heavy glass doors that are loaded with hydraulics and didn't notice that violet was right behind him and so the bottom corner of the door tore across the two small toes on her right foot and i saw it and wanted to pass out and worried it might have broken a toe. she was obviously quite displeased and it looked kind of nasty and someone somewhere put a bandaid on it and she was off to unhappy land again for a bit.
people started showing up, including some who had not RSVPd in the affirmative, causing me a flurry of activity trying to put together a couple of extra gift bags on the sly. i tell you what. in this day and age, RSVPing is a lost art. about 10 out of 25 people never responded. but we had a good size crowd show up, including oliver's best buddies, elizabeth and catie. unfortunately, catie tends to have severe anxiety issues, especially in situations like parties in places with overstimulating effects. poor catie hid under the front desk for a bit before her mom threw in the towel and took her home.
violet, who had calmed from her busted foot, began suffering as well from little gym overload once the party got started. she wanted nothing to do with it and would not be put down. this is where grandma really came in handy. eventually, she got totally into it and made herself dizzy going in circles over the little balance beams. this allowed us to experience the guilt of sending oliver to the little gym for several years and sending violet to the little gym for zero years.
oliver and his guests had a hot diggity time running amok before settling in for food. it was kind of awesome to just stroll back there and see that the staff had already doled out fruit and set all the places. they lit the candle on the cupcake and cleaned up the mess. it was hard keeping myself from tidying things up.
at one point, lorna (who had previously been in oliver's class and who is sister to landon, his current classmate) was coming around looking for "mrs ellis". nearby parents were assisting her in this effort and i thought they were talking to brian's mom and i was like, "well, she's brian's mom, previously mrs ellis." and then someone said lorna was looking for who had made the cupcakes and i proudly pumped up my breast feathers waiting for a cupcake compliment when she said elizabeth is allergic to peanuts and she thought there might be peanuts in the cupcake. and i was horrified and imagining elizabeth being whizzed away in an ambulance with a life-threateningly puffy face. i thanked lorna and bent down to elizabeth, who was licking up chocolate frosting, to tell her she was eating peanut butter and i could see she had taken a big bite out of the bottom. i asked her what kind of reaction she gets from peanuts and she said she just gets a little sick and i couldn't tell if her lips were puffy or how they normally look. i told her i would throw her cupcake out for her and replace it with strawberries and she was like, okay.
we left a message for her mother and fretted and chewed our nails.
everyone took back off to the play room to get nuts again and elizabeth's dad showed up, saying he'd gotten the message and elizabeth isn't allergic to peanuts and he had absolutely no idea why she had said she was. and i felt super bad for taking a cupcake away from a child and putting it in the trash. we cleared up that on the morning of the last day of school, we had both been on the verge of breaking into tears and had both felt bad at kind of ignoring each other to prevent that and had both hoped we hadn't come across as rude. i had basically looked at him waved my hand at him and looked away. like i was brushing crumbs off a table.
we finally got everything packed up and everyone out the door and you could totally tell the little gymmers wanted us out of there and it turned out there was a birthday party for a one year old starting at 7pm and i couldn't imagine what kind of grumpy fun that was going to be.
oliver was the perfect little host, offering party bags to grandma and the little gym workers. he took his home and put dots of washable marker all over a sweater and the blanket on his bed. it's like a rainbow was knifed in the ribs and its blood dripped down from the bluebird-infested prismatic heavens. the rainbow knives have moved into the unit on top of the expedit bookcase neighboring the color sticks he used to color the wall by his door. again.
grandma hit the road and people went to bed.
it turns out i made way too much frosting. i'm being forced to work my way through it with a spoon.
waiting, with carefully coiffed brady hair.
not going well.
marianne, john, and claire.
the stress i cause myself. over this...
i considered including a note of apology to the parents for including those slider puzzles. those fuckers are impossible to solve. IMPOSSIBLE.