My name is Liz. I need direction. I overuse commas, my house is a mess, my hair needs a trim and I have no marketable skills: It's fun here, you'll see!

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April 8th, 2011

Birthday Checklist

Recently, I had a birthday. There are several things which usually happen on the anniversary of my birth: 1) I engage in a weird activity with my family, 2) Louis makes me a great card, 3) I get some awesome gifts and 4) my mom makes an amazing cake. Let’s go down the list.

Hard Work

1) The Weird Activity:

Despite what the above photo may seem to imply, the weird activity was NOT making my father haul out every bottle of alcohol he has in his house while my mom stood, hands clasped, staring at a bottle of EVOO. We asked that my dad drink a shot from each of those bottles to relieve the stress he was feeling following the repeated malfunction of his Traeger outdoor smoker. If you’ve never been around a man who is determined to smoke some damned salmon when the fan in his freaking smoker isn’t freaking working, consider yourself lucky.

The booze helped.

No, the activity that even MY family would consider weird involves PVC pipe and horrible candy. My dad, keeper of many traditions, set up a birthday treasure hunt, something he’s done for my brother and I for years and years. He hid clues around the house and yard that ultimately led to my present. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t answer most of the questions and had to either use the Encyclopedia or ask Paul. Hockey stars from the 1950s and capitals of foreign countries? Nope. BUT, if the answers are “BBQ” and “The Toilet,” I’m your guy!

The hunt eventually led me to my prize: a crisp two-dollar bill and a bag of Brach’s marshmallow Circus Peanuts, which are the most horrifying confection on the planet earth (a close second are Peeps, followed by Turkish Delights). “Gee, thanks dad!” I said, as I passed the opened bag around for everyone to sniff. Louie took a bite of one, gagged, and put the rest of the now-moist “nut” back in the bag. Then, he had a stroke of genius: “Liz. LIZ. Let’s shoot these out of the potato cannon! You wanna?”

The obvious answer was yes.

Unfortunately, there is no photographic evidence because it was already dark, so you’ll have to take my word for it when I say that Brach’s marshmallow Circus Peanuts do not make a satisfying projectile. On our first attempt, the Circus Peanuts plerped out of the end of the cannon with all the force of healthy bowel movement and landed on the grass in a sad heap. On the second attempt, we wadded in some wet paper towels before we put the nuts in (that sentence has probably never been written before). When we fired the cannon they went a little further, but didn’t clear the edge of the yard. Further tests will be necessary to see if we will ever be able to weaponize Circus Peanuts, but for now, I do not recommend them for anything more than scaring little bunnies away from your vegetable garden.

2) Louie’s Card:

Louie’s cards feature his particularly brilliant drawing style. Often, they feature moving parts. This year’s was probably his best work ever.

Card from Lou

It features the front view of an enormous deep sea fish. A tab at the top was meant to be pulled upward, which would reveal the gift sitting inside the fish’s mouth, like this:

Louie's card open

Isn’t that amazing??! (Please note that we drank 1% milk from Ralphs that night.)

Louis is also responsible for part of the decorations:

Home decor with Louie

3) Awesome Gifts:

I got a lot of really nice things that night. But my favorite, by far, was from Genevieve, Louis’ girlfriend.
Butt Salad

No. She didn’t make this. It was given to her by a kid she taught at a music camp awhile back. To me, this is actual treasure. That she felt I was worthy of owning it makes it a very special gift. I’m currently looking for a frame so I can hang it in my kitchen.

4) My Mom’s Fully Excellent Cake

As I mentioned before, I HATE peeps. HATE them. They make me feel like my teeth are sponges and my lips are extra sticky. My family loves to remind me how much I hate Peeps by incorporating them into my birthday cake each year. This year was the opposite of an exception.


King of Peeps 2



King of Peeps prune eyes




King of Peeps lit


Seriously, though. Isn’t is just the absolute most? She got every detail right, even the crooked beak part!

So, to recap: Airborne Circus Peanuts, giant fish card, butt salad, wiener balloon, giant Peep cake. Perfect birthday.

4 comments to Birthday Checklist

  • Bonnie

    Happy Belated Birthday!
    Thanks for sharing. It’s almost as good as being there.
    Love, Bonnie and Steven

  • Steve the Cat

    dude, your dad looks like he needs to go to AA.
    and the rest of your family is just plain weird.

  • Liz – Your dad looks like a fun guy, but I’m not sure I’d direct the ambulance crew to take me to his ER.

    We both know about your mother so there’s nothing to discuss there.

    As for your hatred of peeps, whatever they are, save that emotion for where it’s really deserved, like at someone like me.

    Now this is true. When it comes to cakes, when my boys were in Cub Scouts we had an annual cake bake and auction to raise funds. My wife’s chocolate cake always was most coveted. Her last one sold for $130.

    Happy birthday. If I’d known it was coming I would have bought you a car or a house, but alas the moment has past. I’m sure Paul and your parents took care of that anyway.

    Sorry. I know your mother complains I write too much.

  • Rat Princess

    My! Where in the world did Dad find all those liquor bottles?! lol *hic*

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