Cake, Chrism and Critique

Amazing, how those alliterations roll off the tongue these days.


For weeks, I have been making mental note of things Alex says and does, his mannerisms, the challenges and joys associated with this stage. I had intended to post an “Alex roundup” on his birthday. But the week disappeared in preparations, and I never got it written. In fact, when I opened my writing log today, I discovered that I had not even recorded writing time from Wednesday on.


Alex’s birthday dawned clear and cool and quiet. Within ten minutes of waking, however, all peace was shattered by four-year-old footsteps pounding in circles around the upstairs, and an exuberant (read that: loud) rendition of “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!” I had slept very poorly, so it was a rough morning spent grocery shopping and decorating Alex’s castle cake.



What does a four-year-old wish for?
What does a four-year-old wish for?


Fortunately, I had help from my sister-in-law Laura. And a lot of it.


Alex thoroughly enjoyed his birthday party. We hung the piñata over the deck, since we have no trees big enough, and the kids enjoyed whacking it—though it was an adult who ended up cracking it open.


After the party, there was no rest for the weary: we, along with our houseguests, spent the evening getting food prepped for Sunday’s party, which was even bigger and more involved.


For both boys’ baptisms, we have had the choir sing the Mass. (Our intentions were good with Julianna, too, but she was baptized in the P-ICU.) It adds a special dimension to the day, but also a great deal of chaos. Warming up the choir and getting cameras passed out and family situated takes up the same chunk of time. Unsurprisingly, some things got overlooked. I couldn’t find my music, for one thing, and we never did get the christening cap on Nicholas. (The boys’ christening outfit is a three-piece suit that my father-in-law wore when he was a baby.)


Let me just say that I love the smell of chrism. Normally, I’m all about sweet smells: cinnamon and nutmeg, fruit, sweet pea, juniper. But the smell of chrism is like a breath of Heaven itself. I hate to bathe the baby afterward, I love it so much. When Alex was baptized, Fr. Dave really smeared it on him, and the scent lingered for the better part of a week. Monsignor is much more reserved in his use of the oil, so we’ll see if chrism survives the bath tonight.


A friend of ours made Nicholas’s cake. We debated how big it should be because we weren’t sure about the size of our party. When she carried it up to the door on Sunday, I thought…uh oh. “Sorry,” she told me, “I should’ve warned you that I tend to get carried away.”


Rejoice, child of God! April 26, 2009
Rejoice, child of God! April 26, 2009


Now, for those who were annoyed/disgusted by my telling how quickly the weight came off this time, take comfort: that was before Easter. Sweets are bad. Very bad. I not only quit losing, I regained three pounds. And now we have leftovers from TWO cakes in the house. AND my parents-in-law brought us two dozen large cookies from a bakery near their home.


So you can imagine that I’m passing out cake to anything with a mouth. I froze the entire upper layer, but then I ran out of room in the freezer. Christian took a container to work, and I took one to critique group on Sunday night.


Which brings me to the third “C.” Critique group was very productive, even though I spent the last forty minutes with my finger in Nicholas’s mouth, trying to convince him to hold off on nursing till we got home.


Conventional wisdom says that you know you’re in a good group if you leave it itching to work, and I did. That’s especially significant considering how much procrastinating I’ve been doing on this story.


All in all, a good weekend.