Mason’s Second Birthday Party & Not Keeping Up With the Joneses

Mason turned 2 yesterday and we celebrated with a cookout. It was very low-key, especially by New York standards, where pricey entertainment, a giant guest list, and catered food isn’t at all unusual.

We reserved the rooftop of our apartment building, and decorated it with a “mod monkey” theme inspired by Mason’s love of the stuffed monkey Chris adored when he was Bug’s age. In fact, it’s the only toy my quirky kid will allow in his crib at night, and he always makes sure that I cover “Monkey” up when I tuck him in.

I ordered all of the decorations, tableware, and favors online. My father-in-law hung clusters of balloons from the awning over the picnic table, and my mother-in-law put together the cute little centerpiece. I hung balloons and my brother-in-law’s girlfriend dressed things up with streamers.

The food was fresh and local. Chris grilled sliders and brats, while I made fruit salad, heirloom tomato salad, and red cole slaw. We served a bunch of different types of drinks (beer, wine, seltzer, soda, and juice boxes), and had the requisite goldfish crackers. Dessert was chocolate and vanilla cupcakes that I made from a mix decorated with rainbow sprinkles.

I didn’t hire fancy entertainment, I decided Mason was too young to really get a magician or whatever. Instead, the boys played with beach balls, toy cars, and bubbles–most of which came from our local dollar store. Our thinking was that new toys Mason had never played with would be easier for him to share than his beloved playthings (which stayed downstairs in our apartment). Our plan worked! The boys had a blast, and we didn’t have any major meltdowns.

The moms chilled out, eating and chatting (my father-in-law took on kid duty, which was awesome). At one point I looked around and felt so grateful to be surrounded by so many wonderful people who also love Mason. My MIL and FIL had flown in from out of town for the occasion. Then there was my BIL and his girlfriend (who are local); two LIC Mamas, Diane and Kerry, and their families; Katherine with her husband Eric and their darling twin girls, Kay and Brooke; and Aesook with her husband Henry and son Logan, a favorite classmate of Mason’s. Some neighbors whom we adore stopped by as well.

I had stressed endlessly about my simple approach; at one point, in the beginning of our party planning efforts, Chris had to remind me that we didn’t need to go overboard for our 2-year-old’s birthday party, and I’m thankful he was able to keep me focused. I find it embarrassingly easy to get swept up in what other moms think and say, and, I lose perspective on what works for us as a family. In the end, Mason clearly had a blast–and I wouldn’t change a thing about the party we had for him.

Have you found yourself in a situation recently where you’ve felt pressure to “keep up with the Joneses”? Dish with me!

 

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Easy Puppy Paw Print Cupcakes

Last April, I made an embarrassing confession to you guys. I revealed that I’d never baked a cake, and then later I realized I actually had baked a cake once. Apparently my efforts were pretty forgettable, even though the cake was for someone I loved very much at one time, so of course there’s a story there. However, getting into all of that, at 11:30 at night, is a bit more than I can handle, so let’s just move on.

My cake confession came about because I was stressing about my lack of cake-baking experience at a time when I was already beginning to think about what I was going to do to celebrate Mason’s second birthday this year.

Fast forward a few months and that time is here. Mason’s birthday is tomorrow. I was determined to make his cake this year (last year I purchased cupcakes), and guess what? I did it! Twice. And it was so simple I laughed at myself for being nervous about it.

My first batch of cupcakes was for his school birthday party, which took place last Friday. I made very easy puppy paw print cupcakes from cake mix and vanilla frosting. I used Necco wafers and smarties to create the paw prints. Decorating took 15 minutes, tops. And the cupcakes looked fabulous! (I can’t take credit for the idea–it was conceived of by Erica Policow, the Food editor of Parents, and featured in our May 2012 issue, along with several other easy cake decorating ideas.)

Tonight, after we got back from Mason’s first Yankee’s game, I cupcakes for his real birthday party. We’ve having a rooftop cookout with family and a handful of close friends tomorrow. (Pics to come in my next post.) I’m psyched we all get to celebrate on his actual birthday. Fingers crossed it doesn’t rain.

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Meow Mix Commercial: Best Temper Tantrum Cure Ever

There’s no question about it, the terrible twos are upon us, even though Mason doesn’t actually turn 2 until Sunday. He had a meltdown this morning because I changed the channel from NY1, a local news show here in NYC, to the Today Show. I needed to watch a segment for work. But Mason prefers the jingles on NY1, and he totally fell apart.

He threw his baba down–yes, I have failed to get him off the bottle and it’s going to rough when the doctor tells us to go cold turkey with it at his next check-up. He buried his little face in pillows. And he screamed and screamed and screamed. I sipped by coffee and tried to stay calm. Chris smirked.

Then this Meow Mix commercial (below) came on and the room got silent. Mason was mesmerized, dazzled, by the singing cats. His tears dried up faster than I can snap my fingers. Guess we know what to DVR (and play) the next time Bug has a fit.

What surprising thing cures your kid’s meltdowns?

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Childhood Obesity: Mom of Inspirational Nike Ad Star Doesn’t Get It

“At any point did you worry…that some people might [say], ‘Wow that kid’s really overweight and he’s only 12″?

Matt Lauer asked this startling question during an interview with Nathan Sorrell, the 200-pound, 5′ 3″ star of Nike’s Olympic ad campaign “Find Your Greatness,” and his mother on the Today Show this morning. The 12-year-old was chosen to participate in the campaign, which shows him running down a lone highway while a narrator talks about how we’re all capable of achieving greatness.

I love Nathan’s heart and his drive. I think that it’s great that he’s inspired to get into shape after participating in this ad. And I think that he’s an awesome role model for anyone who is trying to lose weight. I wish I could hug him. But it made me sick that he was in a position where he had to answer such a humiliating question on national TV.

I thought about the interview as I dropped Mason off at school (thankfully there was no vomiting incident this morning), stood in line at Starbucks for my  latte, and rode the elevator up to my office at work. The more I thought about it, the angrier I felt. By the time I logged onto my computer I was outraged.

Where were his parents while he was packing on the pounds? He didn’t become obese overnight. In fact, Nathan was so out of shape that he had to stop and vomit on the side of the road during the shoot, according to an ABC News report.

During the interview, Nathan’s mom Monica said that she was “wowed that Nike picked Nathan for their ad” and said that it was “something else to see your son on TV during the Olympics,” however, she seemed to be missing one critical detail: Her 12-year-old was in the ad, on TV, because he’s obese. She never once acknowledged that Nathan is facing a major health crisis for which she is at least partially responsible. Nor did she speak about how she’d help Nathan stay inspired to get fit.

Maybe you’re agreeing with me right now, or maybe you’re thinking that I’m being a mean, judgey mom. But when it comes to a child’s health, even if it isn’t my own child, I can’t help it. Childhood obesity is a major crisis in this country and we as parents are in a very powerful position to put an end to it. So why are so many of us dropping the ball?

I hope that Nathan gets healthy, and seeing his tremendous spirit on TV, I’m betting he will. I’d love to see a fit Nathan run in a follow-up Nike ad.

I also hope that his mom wakes up and does her part to help him succeed. Make him nutritious meals. Get out there and jog with him. Remind him that he was great even before Nike put him on TV. Get him healthy now, before it’s too late.

Photo: Sign via Stacie Stauff Smith Photography via Shutterstock.com

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Should Taxi Drivers Be Allowed to Give Sick Children the Boot?

When your day starts out with your kid vomiting all over himself and you on the way to school, you know it can only get better.

We took a cab this morning, because I didn’t feel like dealing with the sweaty, gross subway. Two minutes from our place, just after we had gotten onto the bridge, Mason got sick all over himself. Yucky, mommy! I had to agree with him. He was sitting on my lap, and I could feel the stuff dripping down my arms and legs.

The cab driver slammed on the breaks and tried to kick us out in the middle of one of the busiest bridges in New York City. I refused to get out. It was totally unsafe, and there was no way I was going to walk nearly a mile to get to the subway, in 70-degree weather, with both of us covered in sick.

Here’s what I felt like saying to the guy:

Sorry my sick kid is ruining your day, as-hole, but think how he feels. His tummy hurts, he’s covered in stinky sick, and now he has to listen to some jerk yelling at his mommy. Now turn this cab around, and take us home right this minute!

Instead, I bribed him with an enormous tip. He shrugged and looped back toward our place.

Then poor Mason got sick twice more. The driver swore and made us get out five blocks from our place. At least we were off the bridge at that point. I ended up carrying Mason like a baby, with sick on our clothes, arms, and legs, home to our apartment. People stared at us in horror. One guy actually yelled UGH! as we passed by. I stared straight ahead and kept walking, feeling like something from Night of the Living Dead.

Should cab drivers have the right to kick sick kids out of their cars? Or, is the occasional sick passenger just part of the job?

Photo: New York City taxis via Luciano Mortula / Shutterstock.com

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