The Great Birthday Present Build Up


Hey! Remember this old blog?!! I forgot to write here for erm, several weeks. That’s a thing I do, right? Write now and then? Well, I would let this post pass because birthday shmirthdays, everyone has one and I’m really behind getting around to it, BUT I have to document the most hilarious birthday party ever and I have to share the fun. If anyone is looking for a way to get your whole family together for a rocking good belly laugh for ALL ages, then have I got the party idea for you!

Let me set the stage…

Payam turned 49 on April 14th. It’s not a big deal year he insisted but I disagreed. I think forty-nine IS a pretty big deal because it is the last of your forties! We should really celebrate the last one in style, right!? Then there’s the whole quarantine thing where we’ve been dying to celebrate something, ANYTHING, since forever. So 49 it is!


Payam is known for being a risk-taker. He’s also known for being a bit of a dare-devil and he’s terribly accident-prone which is not a good combination. In fact, he has a motorized skateboard that has been sitting under his desk for about two years now and I will not let him ride it because I know he will fall and crack his head open or break some part of his body. It’s not an IF, it’s a when. He WILL ride until it happens, that’s just the way he rolls. So you can see why I’m a bit paranoid about it. I do not like taking him to the ER.

But I’m not completely unfeeling either. I do feel bad about being a huge worry-wart drag who makes rules about fun things like skateboards. He should be allowed to break his neck if he wants to, right? It’s just I’m having a hard time with that. So I came up with a compromise: I bought him a motorized scooter.

We had tried them in La Jolla on my 47th birthday and they were sooooo much fun. Almost as fun as a motorized skateboard and 100 times less dangerous in my opinion. I mean, there is a handle to hold onto. That’s a good start!

It was a bit costly but I justified the purchase because I know it will be used by the whole family AND we’ve saved quite a bit during 2020 since we’ve just stayed home on our butts all year. So for his birthday party, I hatched an evil plan.



I contacted everyone in our small pod of a family and told them about my purchase. I asked everyone to buy Payam safety gear to go with his new scooter. Since Payam’s dare-devil personality is an issue for all of us, everyone was more than happy to join in on the saftey-gear game.

Payam’s mom bought him knee pads and elbow pads. Joon bought him a helmet. Payam’s brother bought him bubble wrap and his girlfriend bought him an air horn.  My mom and dad bought him a high visibility vest (perks of my Dad’s CERT biz) and as the piece de resistance, Bug made him a gift certificate to the ER. All as a joke of course.

We were beside ourselves in glee thinking up this plan!


Payam was royally confused. I wrapped his present earlier during the week and made sure to disguise it by adding several boxes to it to make it a giant odd shape. We told him it was a toy truck or a jet ski. He was stumped.

Then on the day of the party, we had him open all the presents except Bug’s before my giant one. He couldn’t figure it out at all. He thought maybe we were finally letting him ride his skateboard. Poor guy, he was very wrong.

If only you could see the joy we had watching him open item after item of safety gear. It was priceless! Everyone was laughing until their sides hurt, even Joon who usually is her solemn goth self, speaking in mono-syllables and eye-rolls. I was so happy to have the whole family in on my giant joke. And of course Payam was his usual good-natured self playing up the comedic timing for each present with exaggerated surprise and dismay. It was great. He was in his element.


What a laugh! And then when he finally got to the skee-doo toy-truck-sized present, it was shock and awe. He was so excited. We ALL were so excited. It was like Christmas morning for fifty-year-olds! We all had to rush out and try that thing ASAP!


It was even more fun than I thought it would be. I think I’ve taken the scooter for just as many rides as Payam has and I LOVE it. We use it EVERY DAY! There is nothing like the feeling of the wind in your hair as you cruise around your neighborhood. It can get up to 25 miles per hour too which is really really fast.


Joon confiscated the high visibility vest for a fashion statement and we haven’t seen it since.


After everyone got a chance to ride the new scooter we all came back inside for the yummiest caramel cake that Joon made. She is QUITE the baker, goth queen and all.


We sang and Payam blew out the candles, which in hindsight seems like a terribly irresponsible covid-spreading thing to do but too late now. Thankfully, almost everyone is vaccinated. Just in me and the kids left and I’m getting my second shot on the 20th.


The cake was delicious of course. It was just all good. Just what we needed coming out of such a crappy year. I’m so happy to be celebrating again. My birthday was a big bust last year, and a pretty big source of sadness for me (like everyone’s was in 2020) but my 49th is coming up in JULY so who knows what could happen! I’m bracing myself for some serious revenge-gifting from Payam. (No pressure or anything, Babe!)


Party on!

We Had Such Grand Plans


This post is purely for me because nobody cares what I did for Halloween when we have a massive election going on. But I care and I can’t start my month off properly if I haven’t blogged and created a new banner. So here goes!


“We Had Such Grand Plans” could be the title of this whole year. We make plans, they backfire. Over and over and over again. But  unlike the rest of 2020, my plans for Halloween this year actually sort of worked out. Well, mostly. The only part of my plans that didn’t work out was that Joon was at her mom’s this year and couldn’t really participate in my grand plan but I forgive her because she sent me a photo of herself wearing the costume I designed and it looked absolutely smashing on her. So there’s that.  I actually think I had a even better Halloween than ever because I got to do all my favorite things.The rest of my family might not agree but I was a happy camper.  And by favorite things I mean: making crazy costumes, carving pumpkins and eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Really, that’s all that matters to me.

First up let’s talk about costumes: The grand plan was I would be the mad hatter, Payam would be Volcano Man from the movie Eurovision: the story of Fire Saga, Bug would be a Plague Doctor and Joon would be a witch. Except when I showed Joon the sketch she promptly decided she wanted to be the Mad Hatter. Fine with me! She makes a better model for my work anyway.


A week before Halloween we got to work. Bug created her plague doctor mask out of a balloon and paper mâché. I thought we were going to paint it black but once we saw how historical and interesting the newsprint was we decided to keep it unpainted as a political and historical statement. That was all Bug’s decision which I think is brilliant. Instead of throwing this mask away I think it will be an art piece we keep in the family for a long time.


For the Mad Hatter I whispered up some cardboard similar to my crazy cake lady hat. That was such a fun costume. This hat didn’t turn out quite as well as the cake but it was still over-the-top silly which is really all I cared about. Of course Joon looks amazing in her thrift store suit, her crazy hair and the cane her dad put together for her.


Payam’s costume is a hodge podge galleria of ramshackle cardboard glue-gunned together to look like armor. His helmet is made from San Pelegrino boxes. It was really fun to make. If only I maid a faux fur cape I think I would have really nailed it. But considering he only wore if for the photo I think I put in more than enough effort.


Around four o’clock I called the family (Sans Joon) together to take a portrait in front of our garage. I’m thinking this is going to be the background for all family photos this year. No need to hire an expensive photographer for Christmas cards when I can use my handy dandy remote and my camera on a tripod. It’s not as magical but then neither has this whole year been. I think families standing in front of garages will pretty much sum up this year.

As you can see I am still learning out to use my remote. Hopefully I’ll be a little more natural at it for our holiday photos.

I want to say, and then we carved pumpkins but you can tell we actually carved pumpkins first. Whatever, it fits better here in the post.


I’m so happy Bug shares my love of carving pumpkins. Yes, it’s messy and slimy and gross but it’s also really fun!


Bug made a pumpkin eating a baby pumpkin and I made a laughing scary mouth pumpkin. Not super creative but fun nevertheless.

We didn’t want to spend too much time on them because we had a photoshoot to do in the tunnels with Bug’s creepy plague doctor costume! And even though I planned all sorts of time to do it we still managed to run out of time and rush the whole thing. I don’t think I’ve ever done a photoshoot where I don’t feel rushed and don’t make a thousand mistakes. It’s kind of the nature of the biz since your subjects usually get bored way before you ever nail the money shot.

Anyway, I forgot my tripod… it was super dark and green from the weird tunnel lighting. In some ways I think it makes the shots better but I also know I could have done a way better job.


I think it definitely checks all the creepy boxes.



Pretty much encapsulates 2020 I think.



And so that’s that! We came home, ordered pizza from California Pizza Kitchen, handed out a few candies with tongs and masks on and called it a night!


And yes, we already voted. In case you were worried.