Saturday, April 21, 2007


We had a party at our house today. It's been a long time coming, about two years, if Aisling is to be believed. Which, in this case, she is.

Two years ago, I bought her a cute little lip balm-and-lotion kit from Hobby Lobby for her birthday. At the time, I had my own little handmade soap business - one of my side lines was making lip balm for grown up ladies out of all kinds of luxe butters and oils -- and she was interested in what Mommy was doing. I figured the little kit would be a nice way for her to experiment and have fun with beee-yooo-teee products without using my (really, really expensive) lip balm ingredients.

I thoughtlessly told her that hey! It sure would be fun to invite some friends over to make lip balm with you! I regretted the words the moment they left my mouth.

She remembered.

And remembered.


For two years, she remembered, and every now and again, she'd get the kit out from whatever closet or underbed storage container or utility shed I'd stuffed it, trying to delay the party. Mostly because Aisling do you say it? High strung. Wound a little bit tight. Zippy dippy take-a-trippy. The very thought of trying to corral Aisling and a group of her little friends into the kitchen to make lip balm made me want to take to the bed with a bottle of bourbon.

Even right now, she is driving me batty. She is sitting at the dining room table behind me, writing a thank-you note to the two sisters who thought this was a birthday party (my bad) and brought her a present. Aisling has asked me how to spell every single word that she intends to write, including ones that I know she knows. Words like "and," "can," and "I". Then she started on the punctuation, insisting on reading me the thank-you at least forty-seven times and asking if she put the commas in the right place. We then started on the different uses of there, their and they're. I gave her the answers she was seeking, my voice getting a little tighter each time she said, "Hey, Mom, how's this sound?"

"Aisling," I said to her, turning and looking at her over the tops of my glasses, "you are driving me nuts. And I don't mean peanuts or hazelnuts. I'm talking almonds. Cashews. Brazil nuts, even."

She subsided and then finally handed it to me, running off before I could say, "Wai--!!" As I suspected, she didn't listen to a thing I said about there, their and they're. I just stuffed it in the envelope. It's a thank-you note written to two little girls, not a Newbery Medal contender. So there.

But anyway, she is finally at an age where she has made some really nice friends - Aisling at eleven is a much more tractable child than she was at nine. So a couple of weeks ago, we sent out some little invitations via email and were very pleased when everyone could come.

As always, we tried to work ahead of the game and did housework and grocery shopping yesterday, picking up two big pizzas from Papa Murphy's (you bake it yourself at home and it makes the house smell wonderful) and grapes (both white and red) and some vegetables and ranch dip. And cookies. I felt very proud of myself for doing the whole grapes-and-veggies thing, very proud indeed. Well, I mean, it's not as if I'm the sort of mother who sets out vials of crack and little pipes for every guest, but I am the kind of mother whose tendency to party fare verges more toward the potato chips, cheez doodles, taco chips and, the best snack food known to humankind, Funyuns. If there could be a more perfect snack combination than Funyuns, some wasabi peanuts and a margarita, I don't know what it could be.

I picked up our party guests at a pre-arranged location because we live so far out of Indianapolis, travelers practically need Daniel Boone to find our city. There were five young girls ranging in age from eight to twelve and one 14-year-old older sister, coming along to the party to keep Meelyn company.

Lunch went nicely, starting off with a prayer and ending with me looking around the kitchen, bewildered, wondering how a group of such fragile-looking children had managed to demolish most of two huge pizzas, 3/4 of a mixing bowl full of grapes, a lot of carrots and broccoli and nearly a whole container of ranch dip, and three dozen cookies. It significantly cut down on the amount of clearing up I'd expected to have to do. Brilliant!

I sent the girls upstairs to play while I tidied up and set out the stuff for the lip balm and lotion making adventure. In the kit was everything we needed, including a packet of beeswax and a bottle of sunflower oil for the balm, plus some mica colorant, some cosmetic-grade glitter (very important to young girls) and an array of lip balm tubes and pots.

We started out by having the girls pick out what they wanted: tube or pot. We had eight girls, four tubes and four pots. I was optimistically hoping that our number would be equally divided between those showing an enthusiastic preference for the pots and those who like tubes. Fortunately, my optimism was not misplaced.

One of the things I like about homeschooling is that you have stuff lying around the house that can be pressed into service for activities other than the primary use for which the object was intended. Which is how our 250 ml beaker came to be taken from our science experiment supplies and used for melting beeswax in the microwave.

Beeswax, the girls discovered, takes a really long time to melt. I had some raw beeswax in my laundry room refrigerator, which is the place where we keep the lip balm-and-soapmaking supplies and the beer. The raw beeswax is golden yellow, redolent of sun and warmth and honey, and as hard as a chunk of cement. I showed this to the girls to illustrate why the creators of our kit had thoughtfully provided us with beeswax pastilles, little tiny chips that melt much faster than huge chunks.

The 250 ml beaker is made of that tempered glass which stays cool to the touch even when the substance inside it is very, very hot. The beeswax and sunflower oil combination was finally completely melted at 200 degrees fahrenheit, which is, in my scientific estimation, "pretty darn hot."

Our kit contained a little ampoule of Berry Scent, which made me feel that, after assembling the beeswax packet and the bottle of sunflower oil and the tubes and the pots, the people who assembled the kit were losing interest. The Berry Scent was one of those fragrances that makes little girls squeal and clap, and adults rub their noses and say, "Ew." Imagine a bowl of shiny fake fruit, aggressively scented with the cheapest, most chemical-ly fragrance known to man, squashed and reduced into a bottle and you have our Berry Scent.

When the girls were done squealing and clapping and I was done rubbing my nose and saying, "Ew," I let each of the girls have a turn at squeezing some drops of scent into the melted oils. They enoyed this very much, as they enjoyed stirring the tiny amounts of mica colorant and body glitter into the mix. When we were done with this, the only thing left was to convey the mixture into the tubes and bottles by means of several plastic pipettes.

We had three pipettes and all those girls, so they took turns stepping forward to fill their little containers and were inordinately pleased at the way the oil and wax began to cool down, harden, and look lip-glossy. We set the tubes and pots around the kitchen, each girl with her own dedicated space so that no upsetting mix-ups would occur, and I gave them a packet of little labels and a container full of our scrapbooking markers and sent the to the dining room to do their artistic thang.

The lotion "making" progressed in much the same manner - all we had to do was add a slightly less offensive berry scent to a large bottle of lotion base and then decant the big bottle into four smaller ones. I felt it was a pretty bogus exercise in crafting, but lotion making is an exacting process that requires sterile conditions in a lab and since I don't have either, we made do. The girls were very pleased with the results.

Crafting finished, I sent them upstairs to play while I did my second round of clearing up and got the dishwasher started, coming into the living room to slump on the couch until it was time to leave to give our guests back to their parents. Why is it that even simple parties with a few cutie-pie girls are so....out-wearing? I think it must be my age, because everyone was perfectly good and sweetly polite and obviously entranced by the whole toiletries-making process. I'm just old. That's it.

"These parties can just wear you out," my husband observed, yawning from his reclining chair. So far, his sole contribution to the party had been coming into the kitchen and eating four pieces of pizza, so I looked at him over my glasses. He smiled sheepishly at me.

"I'm ready for a nap," I offered, picking up the newspaper.

"Oh, so am I," he agreed fervently. "So am I."

1 comment:

Kbg said...

Okay, now I want to make lip balm and lotion after reading this...can you please have a Par-TAY for the mommies? You don't even need to do food...but, on the other hand, I am curious as to what a Funyun might be!