Think Small

image

I recently passed what I consider to be a milestone birthday. You know the kind…where both numbers match; 11, 22, 33, 44…etc? You only get a very few of those in a lifetime.¬†

Suffice it to say, I’m now officially “etc.” years old. ūüėā¬†Because I was not looking forward to this particular birthday, I decided early on to make it a special one.¬†

I planned ahead to make sure that on the big day I would be doing my very favorite things with my very favorite people. And so naturally that meant I was off to visit my grandkiddos.

Hoodwinked_Too!_Music_Video___Yeah_You_Know_It__

Granny Puckett from Hoodwinked Too!

Spending time with young people is supposed to make you feel energized and youthful. Spending time with my busy little ones, ages 3 1/2 and 16 months however, quickly made me feel every single year the oldster.¬†Wait. How can that be? Wasn’t I just dealing with my own kiddos a few years back? Well…maybe a bit longer ago than that-but it still feels like yesterday to me.¬†

So what’s changed?¬†Besides the fact I’m not as peppy…(understatement)… seemingly in a blink diapers are different, baby food now comes in pouches instead of teeny jars-(more like food I imagine astronauts eat), and don’t get me started on the blasted red button on car seats! Just when I figured out the over-the-shoulder straps and click into place, my hands didn’t have the super-human strength required to snap that damn red button. (Inconveniently located in an area where I could do a lot of harm with a misfire, I might add. Who designs these crazy things? )

¬†Now to officially sound like an old person on a rant…

Life was so much easier when I had my kids in the 80’s and 90’s. Probably not as safe when it comes to car seats, but definitely easier!

I never did get the knack of fastening those two car seats the entire time I was there…but I did do things that reawakened long forgotten sights, sounds, and feelings from way back in the day when I was a younger version of me.¬†

image

Starting with the sights. The majestic mountains reminded me of the many times I had driven alongside them on trips from Idaho to Utah. Starting at about age 19 I would drive my car (Henry) down to see my friends at college for brief visits. We wouldn’t really do much of anything, but we always had a great time together doing whatever it is that kids¬†do at that age.¬†

Fast forward a few brief years, and I was frequently taking my baby daughter to the University Hospital there to receive treatment for her kidney disease. Gazing at the hospital now it surprised me that I was dealing with all that at 24 or 25 years old. Either I was very strong back then, or it was the youthful blessing of ignorance is bliss…

Of course when you look back with hindsight, you’re glad you didn’t know all that was coming. But it was a tender time, and those tender feelings rushed back.¬†

I actually felt grateful to be older (& wiser) because those uncertain times were now behind me. 

On to happier times, and fast forward quite a bit, and I remembered traveling up¬†from Texas to drop my son for his time in the Americorps where he worked in the rugged wilderness of Utah for a time. A skip ahead brought memories of my daughter and her hubby married in the Salt Lake City Temple, and then a year later dropping my other son off for a two-year church mission. (That was a rough one as memories go…)¬†
Lots of memories and lots of years. But all of these things-past, brought me here today to my milestone birthday-present! 

Time  to  celebrate  the  here  and  now. 

166fdc4d-7146-4ee5-9f30-72b1620c26d3

My birthday dinner was at The Roof Restaurant overlooking Temple Square where my daughter and son-in-law were married. (It also happens to be the same building where we celebrated their marriage with a lovely luncheon reception.) 

With beautiful views of Temple Square, the surrounding mountains, downtown cityscape, and the Capitol building, it was a wonderful place to be. 

The pianist even played a jazzy version of Happy Birthday just for me! It was a bit awkward when the waitress showed up with cr√®me br√Ľl√©e and a lit candle-not because I felt shy, but because I was sitting there drooling over a plate of tiny desserts, fork-at-the-ready that I’d already nabbed from the dessert buffet using my grandson as a decoy.

Embarrassing! 

img_6241

Oh well, eat, drink, be merry, and all that. I’m daily marching closer to the “all that” so I might as well enjoy it a bit.¬†present

Being with my grands was the best gift I could have given myself, and a timely reminder to enjoy the dailies. And I did. Like sampling lots of little desserts on a plate. Picking wildflowers in a field. Blowing bubbles. Feeding the ducks and playing at the park. Bath time! The joy of boardgames, baking cookies, and watching cartoons. Going to the library and reading lots of books. Mud puddles and dancing. Jumping on an air mattress…(don’t try that one-just sayin’.)

image

Being yourself with no inhibitions. Trying new things. Like Mickey Mouse waffles and kid’s toothpaste. (Yuck-bubblegum flavor? not so much…)¬†

Or trying old things you forgot about…like blue cotton candy, fruit loops, and cheap blue box mac & cheese.¬†

I even had Kool-aid for the first time in a million years. (Ok-not quite a million, I’m not THAT old!)¬†

Turns out, although I was dreading it,¬†getting older really is just a state of mind. And if it continues to go the way it’s been going, I think I might like year 55 best of all.

8fa11e0a-1524-4cdc-8d2c-cd8846d29a34

The year I learned that to be happy being “big” you actually have to think “small.”¬†

imageThat’s¬†me¬†having¬†my cake and eating it too!

 

Queen_Minnie_BBSGrowing old is mandatory but growing up is optional.

~Walt Disney

Send in the Clowns…

Recently I volunteered to make a large batch of cupcakes for a birthday party. Not just an ordinary birthday do-but one commemorating the birthday of a women’s organization that I belong to, along with zillions of other like-minded ladies. I’m the committee chair and we divvy up the assignments. I figured I may not win a bake-off anytime soon, but I make cupcakes about as well as anyone, so I signed on the dotted line.

image

Baking day came, and as I’m whipping up strawberry cupcakes for a crowd, I can smell an odd burning smell-but my cupcakes aren’t even in the oven yet! (that’s a first!) I check the oven and it’s A-ok. So I start mixing again, and all of a sudden the beater breaks off into the bowl, and the next thing I knew, with a puff of smoke the mixer gave up the ghost. Not today! I needed to crank out a boatload of birthday cupcakes and they needed to be relatively perfect. The irony of not one, but two things malfunctioning was just too much. (Just give me a sign that my cupcakes suck.) This was no laughing matter ‚Äď except I was laughing… (albeit, mostly on the inside).

image

I tried the old hand whisk method, but I had a lot of cupcakes to make- and to get the thick frosting texture required, I just had to have a mixer. And I wasn’t particularly in the mood to shop for a new one just then. Rather than have a conniption fit though, (which would normally be my go-to), I maturely decided I had no option but to implement plan B. Consumer baked goods-Make My Day. (Use your best Clint Eastwood voice.)

image

Thankfully, none of the ladies were critiquing baked goods that particular evening, and the party went off without a hitch. But it got me to thinking. How come I can seamlessly bake 365 days out of the year, and the only time things go haywire is the one day when I really need them to work out? Maddening.

It always seems the higher my expectation, the more things go sideways. But isn’t that always the way? Birthdays are stressful enough without major malfunctions in the kitchen. Which got me to thinking about another kitchen on another birthday years back. It was October and my mothers birthday. We were all together at my folks house having her birthday dinner, waiting on a few stragglers to show up. Ding, dong. My mom went to answer the door and greet her guest. Meanwhile back at the table, we were visiting and eating, and we heard her clap her hands together and her voice just gushed, “Oh thank you! You kids-which one of you did this? This is wonderful!” We glanced around the table at one another questioningly-we still couldn’t see who or what was at the door. We started kind of laughing and shrugging-“What’s she talking about? Did you do something? I didn’t do anything…” Meanwhile here’s my mom just over the moon, yapping away at the front door. We hear her say, “Pearline, (yup, her real name) -is that you? It is you! Isn’t it? Kids look who’s here, it’s your cousin Pearline!”

OK. First of all Pearline didn’t live in our state. Second of all, she was one of those cousins that was years and years older than us that we saw rarely to never. And lastly, the person my mother let in the door was a clown. And by that I don’t mean a jokester. A real, bone-fide clown.

image

Well, I’m sure you can imagine the looks that passed around that table. My brother, who is capable of cracking anybody up-in any situation- started making low voiced remarks only we could hear and we all started laughing. And not the polite kind of chuckle that you might give a clown. Rollicking, doubled-over laughter with tears. We couldn’t even speak to deny our involvement, or correct my mother about the clowns identity.

Other than the red hair the clown was sporting, there was nothing that was even vaguely similar to Pearline. (That clown had a red afro. Pearline had a strawberry blonde semi-bouffant- no similarity whatsoever there! …Plus I’m pretty sure that clown might’ve been a boy…)
The clown never spoke, which technically should make that clown a mime-only it wasn’t. So my mom shuffles the clown in and sits it at the table and hands it a plate for the taco bar we were having.

image

My siblings and I and our spouses are literally unable to speak; we are laughing so hard. We know this clown is no Pearline come to visit, and we’re pretty sure none of us at that table ordered a clown… So who in the world is this? My mom escalated…becoming more and more social because we were disgracing her in every way. She never paused to notice that the clown had never yet said a word. And she would go back and forth between twittering at the clown, and thanking us profusely for having a clown in for her birthday-Which in itself was hilarious because our family doesn’t do birthdays like that. (Not on purpose, anyway.)

That poor clown in full makeup and wardrobe, just sat there politely, listening to the hostess with the mostess. Of course, clown faces being what they are, we couldn’t tell a thing by its expression. But by then, that clown had to be mortified. It was bizarro world, and it had landed smack dab in the middle. My mom somehow had grasped that this must not be Pearline after all, (I guess the 5 o’clock shadow was a dead giveaway), but she still assumed it was a hired clown for her birthday.

Now I don’t know about you, but if I went to a birthday party where there was a clown, I would expect tricks, or an act, or a show of some sort. But here’s my mom giving this clown a taco! And the clown is sitting there ready to eat. Still hasn’t said a word, or made a balloon animal, or anything.

image

Ding, dong! My mom gets up and goes to the door again. We are dying. Who can it be now? Seriously. Could this night get any weirder? Even the clown was staring at the front door! Thankfully, It was just a regular old late comer. My mom starts her spiel. “Did you know the kids hired me a clown? Did you put them up to this?” By then, the clown had figured out it was in the wrong place at the wrong time-plus the front door was ajar-probably a good time to bolt. Either that or terrified at the prospect of meeting one more crazy family member, the clown finally spoke up. “I think I’m at the wrong house.” To which my mother replied,  “No–the party’s here! We’re waiting on a few people but they’ll be here.”
The clown spoke again, “You see, I’m not really a clown.” Collective gasp! (and more raucous laughter from the troops). My mother…”Of course you’re a clown!” The poor clown again, “No, I mean I’m dressed like a clown, but I’m not a clown. I’m supposed to be at a Halloween party and with all the cars in the drive, I just assumed this was the place.”

image

We stopped laughing. Mid-October–a bit early for a Halloween party-but that scenario had never popped into our minds. Poor clown. We all looked sheepishly at one another, and my poor mother looked crestfallen. We had not ordered up a clown for her birthday. This was a clown mistake. She put on her brave, party-girl face and thanked the clown for coming anyway. In a bizarre show of unity we all walked the clown out and pointed his clown car in the right direction for the Halloween party.

image
A spirit of chagrin laid heavily over the evening after that. That clown had really spiced the party up! (Of course, we still snickered and tittered discreetly amongst ourselves-but not openly-my mom had really been excited, and her bubble had burst.) On the flipside, at least the lost clown had a major icebreaker for the Halloween party!

The years rolled by and if we were all together for a do and the doorbell rang, someone invariably would shout out “Get the door-maybe it’s the clown!” And we would all laugh hysterically.
That clown has no idea one wrong turn has provided us with more laughs than any “real” clown ever could have.

Expectations are tricky things. The clown was expecting a Halloween party. My mom was expecting a birthday surprise. I was expecting to turn out some yummy birthday cupcakes. But none of those things panned out exactly the way we’d hoped. So we improvised. Which isn’t a bad thing. After all, isn’t improvisation what clowning’s all about?
Well-that and balloon animals. So when expectations go awry, look for the humor-trust me, it’s in there. And icing on top? You will laugh about it later.

image

 

“The success is not mine, the failure is not mine,

but the two together make me.”

Great Expectations, Chapter 38-Charles Dickens