Monday, August 21, 2017

Seafood, Sparklers, Cake, and Cousins

Before I get to the guts of the post...In the midst of the busyness of last weekend and wanting to get the sleep study post written, I forgot to tell you the story of Jacob's first lobster!  After I talked about the lobster I ate a work-related function a few weeks back, Jacob had been wanting to try lobster.  I was obviously hesitant to spend a ton of money on something he might hate, but I kept it in the back of my mind.  Then I started seeing a lot of advertising for the Steak and Lobster at Outback Steakhouse, and I decided it might be time to see how Jacob would do with Outback's gluten-free menu.  I also decided to cash in a Visa gift card I've been toting around for a couple years to get an Outback card so we could make it an affordable dinner.  So off to Outback we went last Friday.  I got the steak and lobster, and Jacob got the kids' menu steak.  I gave him a piece of the tail to start, and he liked it!  So I gave him more, and he asked for more!  Eventually I had given him about half of the tail, and insisted I keep the other half for myself--because I like lobster, too, after all!  After we were done, Jacob decided to have some fun with the shell...
Kissing it because he loved it so much!

Playing with the legs...ewww!
It's always nice to have something else Jacob can eat, but not ideal to have it be the most expensive thing on the menu!  For a couple days he was pretty fixated on going somewhere and getting more lobster.  Craig mentioned a restaurant he sometimes gets treated to by his team owner, and of course Jacob's convinced he needs to get in on that...but can you imagine the nine-year-old kid ordering lobster?!  Yikes.

Fast-forward through another busy week of baseball, work craziness, and whatever else, and we come to this past Friday.  I had a freebie day off from work (we get two non-vacation day Fridays off each summer), and spent the entire day cleaning our house from top to bottom in preparation for Jacob's birthday party (finally) on Saturday.  I didn't get much done during the week--and honestly, what's the point when the kids will just mess it up again before the party--so I cleaned from about 9am until 3:30 or so.  I dusted, vacuumed, scrubbed the kitchen floor, and tried to neaten up whatever I could.  It was exhausting!  Then I baked the cake, showered, and ran out to grocery shop for the last-minute party foods.  In the midst of that, Craig called to tell me that we had been invited to our friends' house for s'mores that night.  Even though I had plenty of things to do that night, I knew that it all needed to take a back seat to this.

We don't have a lot of friends. We have lots of acquaintances, but but when it comes to actual friends that we spend time with, not really.  I think it was initially because Craig and I both worked in sports and had to be at work when most people hang out.  His schedule is still a little like that for a good chunk of the year.  But beyond that it's having a kid that we weren't always comfortable doing playdates for, and being in Buffalo a lot, and naturally being introverts.  I think it's just a bad combo.  I've always sort of felt like friends always had better friends than me, and this just seems to be an extension of that.  But there's a family that we seem to have settled into a nice friendship with.  The wife was Jacob's lunch monitor at his old school, and they go to our church, so one day she said hi to him and then we talked periodically.  It turns out that their son is a year older than Jacob and also plays lacrosse.  He did the FCA winter training last year, and also went to training camp, though he was only a practice player last year and opted to try out for a different organization this year.  Anyway, long story short, the boys get along well, their 8-year-old daughter has fun with Carter, and we get along really well with both parents.  We went to a Rattlers (outdoor lacrosse) game with them a month or so ago, and then we got the s'mores invite on Friday.

We ended up having a really good time and staying much longer than anticipated.  In spite of the mosquitos eating us alive, we had some yummy s'mores and Carter even got to do sparklers, which he loved!

The boys watched part of a movie then changed over to Minecraft, and the adults got to sit and chat.  Eventually we got on the road and I spent what little energy I had left just trying to get a crumb coat on the cake so it was ready to refrost and decorate in the morning.

The next morning I immediately started cutting up fruit while the cake sat in the freezer solidifying enough to frost without getting any remaining crumbs mixed up with the white frosting...because of course Jacob wanted chocolate cake with a white background!  He had requested a cake with the logo of his travel lacrosse team.  At least it fit the format of a regular-sized cake, but beyond that I had to freehand the whole thing.  It was hard to find the logo online and the best I could do was find one that was close and get the shape of the lacrosse head and cross.  But I had to freehand the banner completely.  It wasn't easy, but in the end it came together nicely!

It was a busy morning and early afternoon getting ready for the party, but in the end we had a great day.  My brother and his kids came in since they could get a two-for-one on the weekend with our uncle's 70th birthday party the following day.  For the first time ever, my kids had all six of their cousins together in one place!  We had a gorgeous day aside from one 10-minute downpour after we ate, and it ended up being okay timing anyway since we had to open gifts and do cake anyway, so it forced everyone inside into one place. 

Jacob got a GameStop gift card, a Visa gift card, a Montreal Expos hat, and Minecraft for Xbox One.

Oh, and he was also pretty excited about his own box of Platters orange chocolate that my mom brought him!

And then it was time for cake!

In my family, we have lots of pictures of cousins gathered around the birthday kid, and while I'm sure it was annoying at the time, looking back it's so nice that we have that visual from year to year as we grew up.  And with all six cousins around, I had to get a shot!

My handsome kid as he was being sung to...notice the chocolate candle on the front of the cake that he'd been asking for since last year.  Of course, there wasn't a good spot on the cake and the base broke off (because it was chocolate and a bit warm in the house) as I tried to wedge it in the rim of the base.  Worked out just fine, though!
After cake and ice cream, guests started to filter out.  As always it was so nice to see everyone and have them on our turf for a change.  Eventually it was down to just my parents and each of our brothers' families.  Craig's brother and his boys, along with Craig and Jacob, were playing an epic game of driveway lacrosse, while the rest of us spectated from the porch.  It was pretty intense!

Before John, Kate, and Max left, my mom had requested a photo of all four cousins.  We tried, but it's not easy to get four kids to all look and smile!

After a fun day of playing in the pool, playing Legos, and mostly having a good time, this is what a good-bye hug from Carter looks like...

We spent the night finishing the clean-up and relaxing since we knew we had to drive to Buffalo the next day for my Uncle Ron's 70th birthday party.  It was a surprise party so we had to be on time, and as a result I decided we should probably skip church (which I hate to do) because we'd be cutting it close if we went.  And given our busy day on Saturday, a little extra sleep-in time wasn't a bad thing.  It was nice to get more time with my family where I wasn't in the kitchen preparing food, and it was nice to get the kids a little more time together.  My uncle was genuinely surprised, and aside from an onslaught of bees as we tried to eat and drink, we had a nice time. 
Bonding over electronics...could be worse!

We grabbed one more picture of the four kids together before we took off, and then we headed home.

It was a low key evening since we were all sort of tired and full of food (or leftover cake, whichever the case might be).  But overall it was a fun and very busy weekend!  I'm relieved we finally got Jacob's birthday party in, but hopefully we can try to do it a little early next year since our lacrosse schedule is probably going to be pretty similar and we'll just keep running into this issue.  Hard to believe the next party is just six months away and Carter will be five!  Not sure where the time is going.  We got Jacob's classroom assignment for this year in today's mail, and I can barely believe he's going to be in fourth grade.  I remember fourth grade vividly as I had my most memorable teacher that year, and now my kid is that age.  We have two weeks left of summer vacation before we're facing down fall.  And once fall hits, you know what happens...pumpkin season, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, all on fast-forward.  It's starting, no matter how I try to pump the brakes.  But if we could just keep the good weather for a bit longer, maybe we can make a deal...

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