Sunday, March 21, 2010

Youngest, Oldest, Middle, Only

( r. Mom, Everett, Jane, Judy, and me, circa 1980)

Well, it's no secret to a lot of you longtime readers of my blog that I am the baby of my family. So, if you believe in the psychology of birth order, then I am a risk-taking idealist with a good sense of humor who is hard working but immature, attention-seeking, secretive, sensitive, spoiled, manipulative, outgoing, affectionate, confident, self-centered, empathetic, confident, and a creative social diva. Whew!  But this is where it gets interesting.

Because my siblings are quite a bit older than I am (my brother is 19 1/2 years older, oldest sis was 14 years older, and my other sis 9 years older), and they all got married relatively young and moved out of the house, I was basically an only child at age seven. But wait, there's more.

When I was four years old, my first niece was born with several more nieces and nephews following within a few years, and I was practically raised with a few of them. So, in effect, I was also an oldest child, because I was often put in charge of them.

Still yet, I was also like a middle child because I fell between these two age groups.  To throw a few more clinkers into the mix, I also had waaay older half-brothers who were only a couple of years younger than my mother. They had children, so I was an aunt who was younger than her nieces and nephews. Are you totally confused yet? Well, join the club!

Add to all that mess the fact that my father died when I was only 9 and my mother remarried when I was twelve and brought two step-brothers who were the same ages as my sisters into it. According to birth order psychology, I probably should be nothing less than a maniacal serial killer....or President of the United States. Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

First-borns are usually classified as either compliant or aggressive. In that category, I mostly have compliant traits: such as; people pleaser, craves approval, nurturer, caregiver, reliable, conscientious, cooperative, "grin and bear it" mentality. On the aggressive side, I can identify with: perfectionist, always having things under control (though I rarely do, I still want it that way), conventional, want things my way. Not so much a mover or shaker or a natural leader or driven. My term for myself is "slacker perfectionist".

My middle-born traits come out as: peacemaker, mediator, hates confrontation, reads people well, gets along well with others, stubborn, cynical and suspicious. One of my favorite sayings is "if it sounds too good to be true...." well, you know the rest.

The "only child" characteristics fall much along the lines of first-borns in strengths. However, the weaknesses are right up my alley: self-centered, criticizes self and others, worries too much, feel they're always right (just ask my husband), inflexible, and fearful of trying new things.  That last one is the kicker. I have always let my fear of making a fool of myself stand in the way of experiencing many things in life, especially when I was younger. Do you know that there are two things that most Americans know how to do that I have never learned? I have never bowled and I have never learned to roller skate. I tried it once and never let go of the rail the entire excruciating twenty minutes that I was in the rink and I never tried it again. How lame is that?!!

So, there you have me in a nutshell....and, yeah, I know what that makes ME!  And back to my actual status as the youngest....I'll let you decide which of those traits you think I possess.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lauren's Unicorn Birthday

It's hard for me to believe that Lauren Elizabeth is now four years old! It seems like only yesterday that we were unwrapping her swaddling blanket and counting fingers and toes. But the proof is in the pudding....or the cake, to be exact. It was an exciting birthday party....there were dozens of kids attending....well, maybe it was only a dozen, but you know how it is when there are that many running around a house and screaming at the top of their lungs having a wonderful time. There was pizza and wings and veggies and chips....all the foods that kids want at parties. And cake! Don't forget the cake!

There was "pin the horn on the unicorn" for fun.

Lauren loved her unicorn cake.

"Lauren, do you need help blowing out all those candles?" asked Kaitlyn.

Lauren couldn't wait to tear into her presents!

Happy Birthday, sweet girl!

Monday, March 8, 2010

I am not a cake decorator....

...nor do I play one on TV.

For Nathan's 7th birthday (7 on the 7th), he wanted a cake with the New Orleans Saints on it. My cake decorating skills are rudimentary at best. What I've learned has been from magazines, TV shows, my friend Cindy (who is a wonderful cake decorator) and the umpteen YouTube videos made by Edna Veracruz that I watched at 3:30 a.m. two mornings in a row because I was stressed out about making the cake and couldn't sleep.

First of all, for all the money I spent on supplies, I could have ordered the cake from the fanciest bakery in town and still had pocket change left over. Second, I would never, ever do this for a living. It makes the biggest, gommiest mess you can imagine, especially if you don't know what you're doing.

Do you have any idea how much frosting it takes for an 11 X 15-inch (half-sheet) cake? Here's the breakdown: 3 pounds of confectioner's sugar, 3/4 pound butter, 1 1/2 cups shortening (yes you have to use it if you want any measure of least it wasn't ALL Crisco like some bakeries use), vanilla and almond extracts. And this was a simply decorated cake and the icing wasn't very thick. I can't even imagine how much it must take for a four-tier wedding cake!

For the cake: 11 cups of cake mix batter (which works out to about 2 1/3 cake mixes), which includes 9 eggs, 1 1/2 cups oil, and water. What did I do with the remaining cake batter? Well, we also had six giant cupcakes and an 8-inch single layer decorated cake. We could have sugar-overdosed 40 people!

Luckily, there are no snapshots of the baker/decorator slinging together this "masterpiece". You would have been less than impressed, especially by the colorful words coloring the air blue.

I guess it turned out okay. I could see every flaw, of course, and pointed them out to all until my daughter told me to hush, that it was perfect. Nathan pronounced it "AWESOME, Grammy!" So I relaxed. The bowling party was a huge hit with the seven-year-olds and the older brother and younger sister. The mess was already cleaned up at my house and we didn't have to have the party at anyone's house.

Happy Birthday, Nathan!