Friday, March 16, 2012

Something to celebrate: our six-month birthday tradition

Sometimes it's fun to do something totally frivolous, like celebrate a six-month birthday. My mother started the tradition, something that I never thought twice about until my mother-in-law got a kick out of this picture in my wedding video:

The six-month birthday cake my mother made me

She said it's obvious I was an oldest child, which made me laugh as I thought for the first time of the oddity of someone making a cake to celebrate a six-month-birthday.

But then, when my oldest, Jackie, turned six-months, I thought it sounded like a fun way to celebrate. I had a Marie Calendar chocolate cream pie I'd bought on sale and needed to use up anyway. We made pulled pork, mashed potatoes and vegetables and invited Jackie's cousin Lucy, Aunt Ally and Uncle Zack over for a party and dinner since they lived nearby. We made a paper birthday sign as that's how my husband said he and his siblings did it when they were growing up and we didn't have a half candle.

Jackie's six-month birthday dinner

Aunt Ally and Uncle Zack holding their daughter Lucy (left) and Jackie.

Jackie and her cousin, Lucy, when Jackie turned six-months-old and Lucy was not quite three months.

Bridget's the second child, but again, why give up the excuse for a party? I'd planned to make another chocolate cream pie as I prefer pie to cake, but then Tuesday at MOPS (a mom's group for mothers of preschoolers) we frosted miniature cakes as part of our everyone-birthday party. I decided to make cakes there for Bridget's birthday party Thursday. Here they are:

Cakes to celebrate Bridget's six-month birthday.

For the celebration, I looked into my overflowing freezer and saw an opportunity to get rid of the turkey I'd purchased at a great deal right after Thanksgiving. I'd planned to use it for a holiday like Easter or an event like Renn finishing his thesis (he made me a turkey dinner for Mother's day when I was just about done with my thesis, in honor of both events), but I was tired of all the freezer space it was taking. It needed to go. So, we decided the turkey was to celebrate Bridget's six-month-birthday and Renn (basically) finishing up his Great Lakes paper, which is about half his thesis. He's still working to finish the second half, a paper on phosphorous bioavailability in Onondaga Lake.

Renn carving the turkey while Jackie watches.

Since we plan to move in less than two months (Who knows where as we're still looking for jobs. We've applied at 52 so far. Anyone know of any good environmental engineering positions with an emphasis on surface water quality issues?) I'm working to clean out our freezer and pantry. I try to keep extra of everything on hand as that way I can buy on sale, not have to run to the store to cook a meal, and can be prepared for an emergency (my most common "emergency" is a bout of busyness which keeps me from getting to the store). So, we did our sides from what we needed to use up: a few potatoes left in a bag, a can of cranberry sauce and half a bag of frozen green beans. Mmmmm. It was good.

Since we didn't invite anyone over for our makeshift party, we called Bridget's grandparents to talk on Skype.
Renn, Jackie and Bridget talking to Grandma Trish and Grandpa Steve on Skype.

Bridget didn't get to eat any turkey or birthday cake, but in honor of turning six-months we fed her rice cereal for the first time. Before we fed her, she seemed starving and was crying. Then, she grabbed the bowl and spilled half the rice-milk before I had a chance to feed her. Still, once I started spooning the rice-milk into her mouth, she seemed to like it:

Happy six-month-birthday Bridget! We love you.

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My wedding cake

My wedding cake
My sister, Christie, made my wedding cake -- all five layers of it. It was fondant, covered in fresh red roses and green ribbon. For a more modern look she chose to make a square cake.

Trip up the canyon

Trip up the canyon
OK, here's the truth, what Renn and I really look like when we wake up. After our first backpacking trip as a couple, Renn's hair looked like grass growing on his head and mine lay flat and matted as we walked out of the mountains.

Karen and Renn in Mexico

Karen and Renn in Mexico
This is us on our last day at the Hummingbird Inn in Maneadero, Mexico. It was a fun week of service with Engineers Without Borders. Renn and other USU engineering students helped put in drain fields at an orphanage, The Gabriel House, for children with severe disabilities. I helped dig some holes and wrote an article for the newspaper about the experience.