Tag Archives: making memories

Monday Musings: A perfect day for a perfect little girl

6 May
Alexandra had a perfect day for her First Communion on Saturday.

Alexandra had a perfect day for her First Communion on Saturday.

Saturday was our last First Communion. It was a special day for Alexandra, our youngest daughter, the baby of our family.

First Communion is a special day, a rite of passage for those who are Catholic and it’s always an exciting occasion. This time though, knowing it was our last one, it made it seem all the more special, all the more exciting, and for me, a little bit sad that it was our last.

Having three daughters, we do a lot of handing down of items from clothes to shoes to backpacks, from sisters and cousins, but we opted not to hand down First Communion dresses.

After shopping with Caroline for her dress six years ago, I realized it was equivalent to shopping for a prom dress or a wedding gown, in that everyone has their own personalities, likes and tastes, and their dresses reflect those things. Caroline’s dress was so pretty and very “her.”

When it came time for Elizabeth to get her dress, it was so polar opposite of what Caroline had chosen, and it was clearly very much reflective of her personality and style. Gorgeous, and so very “her.”

This time around, shopping for Alexandra’s dress was the same experience. The dress she ultimately chose was so her, even the photographer who did her pictures prior to the event remarked that the dress suited her sweet personality perfectly.

We did our best to keep the experience equal for all three. They all got to go shopping with myself and my mom for their dresses, going out to breakfast first. Having that one-on-one time was an exciting thing that they all looked forward to as their shopping day arrived.

Giving Alexandra her special First Communion bracelet, a tradition we started with Caroline.

Giving Alexandra her special First Communion bracelet, a tradition we started with Caroline.

We also tried to create some special traditions that would go for each of them: they each wore the same head piece, a gift from their godmother. They wore the same shoes, a pair of “high heels” that clicked on the floor when they walked, which is a special sound when you’re in second grade. They each wore a necklace from their great-grandmother, picked out by her for each of them, many years ago, before she died and long before they’d be making their First Communions, and we got them each a special bracelet from us to wear that day as well that had beads of their own favorite color mixed in with the pearls.

So when I came across a unique idea for a cake, I thought right away that Alexandra would love it. It was made out of chocolate cupcakes frosted in white, and it formed the shape of a dress. I think in the photo it might’ve been designed as a wedding dress, but to me it screamed First Communion and it was *so* very Alexandra.

It was perfect.

And yet, I almost didn’t do it.

Not because I’d have to cancel the bakery cake I’d already ordered and paid for, not because I’d have to add in baking a double batch of cupcakes and a double batch of frosting to my already hectic list of things to do for the event, and not even because I didn’t think I was capable of making it look like the picture, although I had my doubts there.

I almost didn’t do it because I didn’t do it for the other two. I instantly felt guilty for doing something so unique and special for her that I had not done for them.

But, I couldn’t get the dress cupcake cake out of my head. She’d love it. I knew she would. She loves chocolate and she loves buttercream frosting, which the bakery cake would not have. In fact, the bakery cake would have the kind of frosting that no one in our house likes. But overall, she’d love that the cake was shaped like her dress.

It took me up until the week before the event to decide that I was going to do something for her that I hadn’t done for them. I let them in on my secret, making it a surprise from all of us, not to be told to her or shown to her until that very moment that we took the lid off the box.

Alexandra's favorite part of her day: the cake. That answer made *my* day.

The surprise cupcake cake, shaped like a First Communion dress.

I instantly felt better. I was excited, they were excited and the guilt was gone. I canceled the bakery cake. I planned out how and when I’d bake the cupcakes (day before) and frost them (fifteen minutes before serving them, since I had no place to store that many frosted cupcakes).

And I have to say, I’m so glad I did it.

Alexandra loved the surprise, and she loved her cake. It wasn’t perfectly like the photo I’d seen, but it was perfect to her, and to me.

At the end of the day, my mother-in-law asked her if she had a good day (she did) and what her favorite part of the day was.

I waited, hiding off to one side in the kitchen, to see what her answer would be.

A list of possible answers ran through my head, thinking like a second grader: the dress, the gifts, the party, the ceremony….what would it be?

Her answer: The Cake.

I almost cried. I literally ran out of the kitchen and hugged her, I was so happy. I think I actually startled her.

As parents of multiple children we work SO hard to keep everything as equal as we can. To them, they may think one gets more than another somehow, or one never gets anything, but we know in our hearts and minds that we work very, very hard to try to offer the same opportunities and traditions and memories to each of them. I never wanted to be the kind of parent who gave their all to their first and nothing to their last. I work sometimes to exhaustion to make that not happen here. It keeps me up some nights.

But this one time, I took a risk and did something for one that I hadn’t done for the others. I knew that had I found a cake that one of them would just love, at the time of their Communions that I would have done it for them. And I know now, that I have “one in the bank,” if I find something unique in the future that is perfect for them, I can do it guilt free, knowing I already did this for Alexandra.

It’s not about keeping score, and I know that, but it was a big deal for me to do this, and not do *exactly* what I did for them.

Instead, it’s about creating traditions and making memories, and making things special for each of them, just as their dresses are special for each of them. There’s something to be said for being sure that their events are not cookie-cutter copies of their sisters’ events also, that we take the time to make sure their memories are theirs alone as well as being full of shared traditions.

It’s a fine line, but this weekend, I think it we hit a home run.

Celebrating Alexandra's First Communion, our last celebration of this kind.

Celebrating Alexandra’s First Communion, our last celebration of this kind.

It’s the little things that matter most

6 Jan

One little comment from Elizabeth yesterday totally made my day.

Let me start by saying that it’s posts like this that are the reason why I changed my blog to The Whole Bag of Chips; I wanted to be able to post anything and everything rather than just write about crafts or foods or kids and then nothing else, ever.

Today’s post is a kid post and it came about because of a totally random comment that Elizabeth made yesterday, that completely made my day.

A little background information: in the mornings our set routine goes like this- I make the coffee and the kids’ breakfasts at the same time that Don is making the kids’ lunches. God Bless him for taking on that task because it’s like being a short order cook: crunchy peanut butter or plain? Jelly or Fluff? Strawberry, grape or boysenberry? Do you like fruit snacks or fruit roll ups? Apple for fruit or orange? Are you sitting at the peanut free table today or not? Does this snack contain peanuts? Do you like granola bars? Which kind?….You see what I mean, I’m sure. With three kids who have a variety of tastes, you can’t really just bang out one lunch for all three and expect them all to like the exact same thing. Meanwhile, I’m sticking six waffles in the toaster, cutting up a piece of fruit for them to share, and I’m done.

Anyway, when he asked the “what do you want for lunch” question yesterday, Elizabeth asked him for turkey and cheese. He asked her if she wanted it in bread and she said no, that she wanted roll ups, the turkey wrapped around the cheese and rolled up. He did a few, put them into a tupperware and off they went.

Later that night, he asked her how her lunch was and she said it was great, and that it was great *because* it reminded her of when she was little and I used to make roll ups for them for lunch and cut them into little spirals to eat. I was shocked. I’d forgotten that I used to do that. It’s been a bunch of years that she’s been eating lunch at school already, so that had to be during the preschool/kindergarten years and maybe even before.

Besides the fact that I was amazed that she remembered the lunches I used to make, I was touched that something so little and so random was a special memory for her. As a mom, you know that it’s the little things during the day that mean a lot to you, but you never do know what memories you are creating specifically for your kids. You just hope you’re doing an okay job and you hope that the memories that they have are *not* the ones where you lose your mind and scream at them over something, but you don’t really ever know until they tell you. Sometimes as a mom, a Type-A kind of mom, I go over and above to try to create an experience that is fabulous so that they’ll always remember it (or so I hope) and think of how fabulous it was. But meanwhile, it’s not always those things, it might just be the little things.

I wonder if my mom knew way back then, what special memories she was creating for me?

As a kid, one of my memories from my mom is that whenever she baked a pie, she’d roll out her crust and she’d use what she needed for the pie but then she’d take the rest of the crust, cut it into strips (I assume) and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar onto the strips. Then she’d roll them up into spirals and bake them. I *loved* that treat and to this day I still think of them although I’ve never done that myself because I used boxed crusts that roll out to EXACTLY what you need for the pie- there’s never any extra.

The turkey and cheese roll ups remind me of that, and although for my mom it might have been a random thing that she did for us, I bet she didn’t realize back then that it was something I’d still be thinking of 40 years later.

It took Elizabeth’s random comment yesterday to remind me that it’s the little things that matter and to reassure me that at least some of the time, I’m getting something right along the way.