We left the boys' therapy appointments and made our first stop at the party store. Parking in one of the 15-minute spots, we swiftly made our way through the store in search of a game that roughly 12 children of varying ages and ability levels could play. We had no luck. So we headed to the store to pick up the first of two birthday cakes.
Before you judge, let me explain. Yes, I almost ALWAYS make the birthday cakes. And they almost always taste better than anything store-bought, but I BAKE. I haven't done an elaborate decorating job in years. My sister--who is fantastically creative and gifted with frosting--decorates. We're a team--a GOOD team. I bake. She decorates. BUT, Kristen was out of town this weekend. So, knowing I needed a couple of elaborately decorated tinkerbell cakes, and knowing my decorator was out of town, I turned to the professionals. It was actually Tim's decision. And he even called the bakery where my sister used to be a decorator.
That said, I saw the cake. It looked nice. I paid for the cake. The price was kind of low. I called Tim on the way to pick up the second cake. He sent me back to the first place. They made the wrong size. So they make a second cake--on the house.
At the second store (an ice cream store), we had place a special order. Because Esther-Faith cannot have chocolate, Tim ordered a cake with all vanilla in one half and chocolate and vanilla in the other half. And he ordered it to also be elaborately decorated with Tinkerbell. I walked in. She showed me the cake. Esther-Faith's name was spelled wrong. I asked for it to be fixed. I was treated poorly by the barely-older-than-my-son employees.
Me: "Is there any way you can fix her name."
Employee: "Ummmm. Well, I don't know."
Me: "It's kind of important that her name be spelled right on her birthday cake."
Employee: "Well, it's close."
Me: "Right. But I did not order and pay for a cake that had my daughter's name almost right."
Employee: "Well, ummmm, I'll see what I can do."
Me: "Her name is spelled, "E-S-T-H-E-R-hyphen-F-A-I-T-H. Do you need me to write it down for you."
Employee: "No. It's right here on the slip."
(And she showed me the slip. And there was her name. Spelled the right way.)
Me: (a little dumbfounded) "Okay. Thanks for fixing it."
Isaiah called the series of events a "cake-tastrophe."
Isaiah called the series of events a "cake-tastrophe."
After that cake was fixed, we headed home. Once home, we ate lunch, and planned out the rest of the day. Where we would go. What we still needed to buy. What chores needed to be completed before company showed up. Etc...
Then I started prepping the food. Lasagna for 30. Salad. Ice cream. We did chores and rearranged rooms. Eventually, we headed out. We had four stops to make. We had a plan, and even with five of us, it only took about an hour to get everything done, and then we headed back home.
Sunday dawned. I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast. We planned to go to church, but time got away from us and we settled into chores and finishing preparations for the parties. There were two. One for Esther-Faith's friends from preschool and daycare at 2 p.m. And one for our friends and other grown-ups who care deeply about our daughter at 5 p.m.
Around 1 p.m., Esther-Faith got sick. Not just sick, but sick like she did a month ago. Sick like she did a year ago. And we started calling everyone who had sent an RSVP to cancel the party. We were all upset. Esther-Faith was crushed. She was exhausted from being sick, but still wanted a party. By 2:30 or so, she seemed bounce back to her usual self. Bounding around the house. Eager to get her party on. Tim and I sent some tentative messages. To my mom. And Kate. And some close friends. That if they were feeling brave, we would still love to see them.
You know, there are times that I am just astounded by the support we have. People who show up and love us no matter how hard life gets. No matter how messy or challenging or tiring or scary or exhausting. They're here. Or wherever we are. To make us laugh. To help ease our nerves.
Today, Esther-Faith played with all of the "prizes" that we bought to give her friends who won the party games. We did cut into the ice cream cake. But there are still two white cakes with white frosting and elaborate Tinkerbell decorations. Uncut. Untouched. In the garage (which is below freezing). We've got loads of salad left. And thank goodness the 14-year-old eats enough for an army, because we'll probably only have leftover lasagna for a couple of days instead of weeks.
We're still on high alert. She threw a temper fit to end all temper fits today. Her appetite is still a little off. And she's not entirely acting like herself. But we had an MRI and a shunt series a month ago. I'm almost sure her shunt is ok. The rest of it? I'm not so sure. We've consulted Dr. Google about complications of Chiari Malformation and allergies and other worst-case scenarios. We've started a bladder wash. And we take her temperature just about every hour. We ask questions about her tummy and her head. She gets irritated by all of the concern.
But, we just don't know. She's not typically a sick child. For all of the complications of Spina Bifida, she has been a remarkably healthy child over the years. We'll watch. And wait. And trust our instincts. If action needs to be taken. We'll do whatever it takes.
So, Esther-Faith turning five years old wasn't the spectacular celebration we had envisioned. Cake issues. Cancelled parties. Illness. But, Esther-Faith still turned five. She is still our light and joy. She is still Isaac's best friend. And the center of Isaiah's whole world--his hope. Just as I didn't plan on her, no matter how bad my plans go for her, she is still perfect.