Officially Eight

June 29th, 2015
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"I'm not technically eight yet," Olivia informed us in the days after her birthday.

"What makes it official?" we queried.

"A party." We had set a party for a week after her actual birthday, due to timing and scheduling issues.

"Not really," I corrected. "If I was only as old as the number of parties I've had, I'd be 25."

"So you've only lacked four birthday parties?" charmed Claus. Oooooh, GOOD ONE, Husband. He got points for that.

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On a sunny Sunday, we held Olivia's eighth birthday party at A Cup of Tea in Kailua. I tried it once before and it got rave reviews from the little girls I took, including a direct request from Olivia to have her party there.

Request accommodated, and it was a hit with everyone. It was perfect for me, too. It was the easiest party I've ever hosted.

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All I did was show up with a cake that I made her (and candles) and parasols for party favors, and the restaurant did the rest.

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Cool air conditioning was a bonus. I would definitely recommend this!

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Previous parties have been at the pool or my yard (lasting hours in the summer humidity) and while they've been fun, I've always been pooped after.

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I think a tea party works really well for this age. I'm not sure younger girls would have done as well sitting politely for 90 minutes in a restaurant.

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They ripped through the finger sandwiches, nibbled at the scones, and ravaged the dessert tray with mini-cupcakes, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and vanilla ice cream. They were kind of full by the time we sang the birthday song and cut my cake.

Because I like to bake, I have made Olivia's birthday cake every year, and this year I involved her in the process. She loves color, so I let her choose the colors to dye the cake batter, mix it, and decide what order to pour it in the pan.

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When that was done, I also let her design the color and method of frosting the cupcake-shaped cake. (Striped bag? Swirled colors? Star or round tip? Pipe the frosting in a swirl, little rosettes, or stars? Etc.) She loved her cake.

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She enjoyed picking the colors, deciding which order to put it in the bag, mixing the dye, helping pipe the frosting, and applying the decorations and sprinkles. I enjoyed watching her do this.

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Olivia said she had a great time at her birthday party, and I love to hear that. Now I can rest for another 11 months until the next party!

Half & half

June 26th, 2015
By

I cook and I bake, and I'm decent at both. I wanted to make a coconut creme pie with whipped cream frosting (from scratch), so I went to the store and looked for whipping creme as part of the ingredients.

Toasted Coconut Cream Pie with Lime Whipped Cream. Recipe: Flour, by Joanne Chang.

Toasted Coconut Cream Pie with Lime Whipped Cream. Recipe: Flour, by Joanne Chang.

The grocery store was out of whipping creme so I bought Half & Half, thinking I could make a substitution work. I know baking is a precise art, but I was also tired and lazy to drive to another store.

I had never made this recipe, so I didn't consider the whipping creme was for actually whipping into frosting. I made the custard and it turned out delicious.

When it was time for the frosting, I - still on auto-pilot- poured my Half & Half into the bowl and set it to whip. Nothing happened.

Claus, who once wanted to be a chef and likes the culinary arts even more than I do, researched it online and pronounced, "It might be because the dairy is at room temperature. Let's chill it."

I had to get somewhere so I said, "I need to take a shower. Can you take over?" He's a kitchen god so I know my stuff's in good hands with my husband.

I love a hot shower. Love it, love it, love it. There ain't nothing a hot shower can't fix, I believe, including an addled brain.

Suddenly, when I got out of the shower, I realized: It's because it's Half & Half! D'oh!

I ran to the kitchen laughing. I could hear the Kitchen Aid whirring the entire time. "Honey! It's Half & Half!"

He looked at me pseudo-disdainfully. I saw a big bowl of ice which he'd just used to chill the dairy, and saw the blender, which had been working overtime for 15 minutes to try to whip something that would never whip.

"Um, hey. Did you realize Half & Half is half milk, half whipping creme?" I joked. He rolled his eyes.

I used the failed frosting for the rest of the week in my coffee, and later that day he drove us to the store to get actual whipping creme - that he insisted on finishing himself.

The pie, by the way, was wonderful. Team effort.

Hey, did you know Half & Half won't whip up not matter how hard you try?

Olivia's birthday

June 24th, 2015
By

Eight is a magical number. I can't believe eight years ago I gave birth to a daughter who I'm more in love with now, than I was then.

What a gift.

Olivia is a marvelous little human. I took the day off to be with her.

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We opened presents in the morning and she was thrilled with all her gifts. She's so polite and thankful.

I took her to a movie and spent as much time looking at her, as I did the film. It delights me to see her happy.

Then we went to the grocery so I could make dinner - reminds me of fun housewife times! - and I let her throw all kinds of things in the cart... because it's her birthday!

I made her favorite dinner and then we played with her gifts. She was such a perfect girl. When she's good, she's very good.

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It was a perfect day. I'm not sure if it was a better day for her, or me!

Unicorns

June 22nd, 2015
By

Our favorite neighbor gave Olivia a birthday gift that blew all our presents out of the water. Ha!

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Vicki gave Olivia her entire UNICORN COLLECTION! Thirty-three beautiful unicorns made of glass, ceramic, clay, wood, and pewter.

This immediately became her favorite gift and we've had to play Unicorns non-stop. Everyone got assigned a name and when you're eight, the names are really funny, little-girl things like Fluffy, Puffy, Rosie, and Blossom.

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Actually, to my surprise, she named one Sapphire, which is very sophisticated, though it is orange. When I pointed out that sapphire is a blue gem, she insisted she didn't care and that it's SaFire, because the orange looks like fire. OK.

So I'm sitting on the ground with her playing with these toys and I have no idea what the rules are. If you haven't played with a little girl for a while, it's pretty funny to see how their imagination takes flight.

First, we played hide-and-seek with the unicorns, who ended up using their amazing unicorn powers to find each other. Did you realize unicorn horns have heat-seeking radars to detect body warmth? What kind of cartoons is this kid watching?

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Then, we lined them up and played Battle, which I always lost because her team had a force field shield around them that rejected all my horn-laster-destroyer efforts to penetrate and immobilize. She reached over and laid all my players down dead.

"You cheat! You can't touch my guys!" I protested.

"I can! My force field boomerangs your laser right back to your team and now they're all dead! You killed your own team!" she laughed gleefully.

"No way! I have extra-strong powers when all my unicorn horns combine to form one big laser pointer! You didn't give me a chance!" I whined.

Boy, little girls sure aren't all cinnamon and spice and everything nice. I'm sure this isn't what Vicki imagined her unicorns would be doing in their new house.

In the meantime, my team's in a coma until my surviving leader, Fluffy, can work out a truce with the other leader that could magically unfreeze them. Fluffy is going to have to do some serious thinking on how to achieve this. Wish us luck.

Father’s Day Father-Child Look-a-Like Contest

June 19th, 2015
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The Hawaii Coalition for Dads and the State Commission on Fatherhood invites all Hawaii fathers, father-figures, and their families to the 17th Annual Celebrate Father’s Day celebration.  The Saturday, June 20 event at Windward Mall Center Stage runs from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and highlights the important roles that fathers and father figures play in children’s lives.

An increasing body of evidence indicates children are more likely to thrive with the support, guidance, and nurturing of both parents.  Yet, many children across the country are growing up without fathers.

As a result, they may lack appropriate male role models and face greater risks of health, emotional, educational, and behavioral problems during their developmental years.  The National Fatherhood Initiative reports that children and families function much better with an active, involved and responsible father in their lives.

The Hawaii Celebrate Father’s Day event features live entertainment, family-friendly resource tables and activities, and a Father-Child Look-a-Like Contest. Fathers and father-figures are invited to enter the contest with a child of any age.

Entries may include Father-Child, Father-Child-Grandchild, and Grandfather-Grandchild teams. A father and father-figure may be accompanied by more than one child.  Drop off entry forms at Windward Mall Center Stage no later than 12:30 pm on Saturday, June 20.  The contest begins at 1:00 pm.

Contest entry forms and rules are posted on the Department of Human Services (DHS) website  at www.humanservices.hawaii.gov/fatherhood along with information about other events celebrating Father’s Day 2015.