• The Piquant Storyteller

Things We do for Love

My lovely daughter asked if she could have a birthday party for her 11th birthday. Alarms went off in my head. She batted her long eyelashes, a look of innocence on her face. As I stared into her large root beer colored eyes, I could not remember why I had sworn off birthday parties.

Sure, I replied.

I am a glutton for punishment. Let the punishment begin! In my defense, I did try to talk her out of this idea several times. She has been told many times over that she is trading birthday presents for a party. The only gifts she will receive will be the ones her friends bring to the party. That almost swayed her. Gwen is as extroverted as they come. The exact opposite of me. To Gwen, friends are air. A life without friends is not a life worth living. Party on.

Maybe I’m being a little overdramatic. Birthday parties aren’t that bad. We threw fabulous birthday parties for Gwen. Birthdays 3, 4, and 5 were celebrated with elaborate princess tea parties. It was her 6th birthday party that had me putting on the brakes. That year we had a Minnie Mouse theme. Then we decided to invite boys, so I tried to keep the theme co-ed. Only one boy came. He felt outnumbered and out of place. That year the invitation asked that guests not bring gifts. Gwen needed more toys as much as a snowman needs a beachfront property on a tropical island. One little girl brought enough presents to compensate for every guest twice over. *eye roll* What upset me the most about that party were all the comments from the guests that the theme was for babies. Snot nosed 5 and 6-year-old brats! After that epic fail, my mantra became “screw birthday parties!”

Until now.

Gwen wanted a woodland creature theme. I struggled to think of mature activities with that theme. When Gwen suggested Pin the Tail on the Squirrel, I had flashbacks to the Minnie Mouse themed party. Then another memory came to mind. The glam camping party her Activity Day leader hosted on the last day of school a few years ago. Glam camping incorporates woodland creatures. Gwen was sold.

In between worrying about the terrible weather, we have been prepping for this party. Glam camping makes no implications of being outdoors. The girls can make S’mores inside. We decided to also let the girls make homemade lotion and lip balm. Sounds fun, right? The lotion worked out better than I expected. One kit from Amazon makes enough lotion to fill two pumps and two jars. So those items are included along with stickers that say the lotion is homemade. When Gwen and I tested the kit, we learned that the kits make more lotion than promised. Luckily, I had two empty tubes we could use. I use the matching tubes for shampoo and conditioner when I travel. The lotion was a success.

Heath and I were debating over whether to buy more kits or just the ingredients to make lotion. YouTube videos had me questioning my sanity in making lotion at all! The kit came with a preservative, so I didn’t have to worry about sending each guest home with lotion petri dishes growing mold and other funkiness. The kits are not cheap, but everything is safe and pre-measured. Worth the price for convenience. We bought separate pump bottles that will accommodate the excess lotion. Then we don’t have to worry about who gets jars and who gets pump bottles. They will all get the same thing.

Lip balm was the next activity I was supposed to try ahead of time. I found countless recipes online and settled on one with the shortest ingredient list and easiest directions. Given the popularity of homemade lip balm, you would think the ingredients can be found in the store. Not so much. We had to order coconut oil and beeswax from Amazon. The cost alone should have convinced me to nix the idea. But the cosmetic pots we purchased had already arrived. What else would I do with 50 plastic pots earmarked for lip balm? So we went through with ordering the overpriced oil and wax.

Not only is it expensive, it comes in Costco sized quantities. We invited seven girls to this party. Only five can make it. Meanwhile I have 50 pots, a pound of beeswax pellets (the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon), and a large jar of coconut oil (the recipe calls for 4 tablespoons). I chose not to buy shea butter since the original recipe called for 3 tablespoons of petroleum jelly. That I already had on hand. The only thing I didn’t have was squirtable Kool-Aid for color. The recipe said that Kool-Aid powder works just as well as squirting the flavored drink. So I used Crystal Light packets designed for one water bottle.

The pink lemonade didn’t affect the color enough, so I tried a fruit punch packet next. That made the concoction a pleasant pale purple color. I followed the directions but noticed the beeswax wasn’t melting. At all. I kept microwaving the glass measuring cup of ingredients to no avail. The beeswax settled on the bottom of the measuring cup giving the illusion that it had melted. When I stirred, all these pellets would surface. I swore the heat was only helping the pellets hold their shape. Heath suggested I put the measuring cup in a pot of water on the stove and try to melt the beeswax that way.

Nothing was happening. Frustrated, I put a spoonful of beeswax in a small bowl in the microwave just to see if it would melt on its own. All the while I stirred the slurry on the stove. After one minute the microwave beeswax looked the same. I nuked it for another minute. I was ready to give up on the stove when I saw that there were no more floating bits. Stirring more, I saw only liquified lip balm. Finally!

The six pots I had opened ahead of time were quickly filled. I scrambled to open more. Pour, open, pour. Lather, rinse, repeat until I filled 25 pots. Even though I kept stirring the mixture, it was getting sludgy at the bottom. The last couple pots were more purple than the first couple of pale flesh colored pots I poured.

I opened the microwave to look at the mess I made in there. The cooling beeswax was still malleable. I made a wax ball that I threw in the trash. Then I attempted to scrape the rest of the wax out of the bowl. It looked like I melted a yellow crayon in the microwave for funsies.

My OCD was sparking. How was I going to get rid of all this oil and wax coagulating before my eyes? I struggled with using my own dishes to make the lotion. What calmed my nerves was knowing that technically, you could eat any of the ingredients. It whipped up like vanilla pudding. Except it was decidedly lotion. I ran water over all the dishes and walked away trying not to think about my sink full of lotion dishes. The lip balm was much worse.

Measuring spoons and large flatware spoons rested on a paper towel on the counter. None of it looked like it should go through the dishwasher. I couldn’t rinse it either. Hot water would only melt it momentarily. Then it would cool to lip balm texture in my drain! My heart raced. The measuring cup had purple grainy muck thickening in the bottom. A small congealed drip hung from the spout of the measuring cup like a runny nose freezing in the cold. Paper towels could work. I wiped all the dishes as best I could. Shiny petroleum jelly smears wickedly smiled back at me. I wiped everything again before putting it all in the dishwasher. I pressed start and walked away.

My heart is still pounding in my throat. Why do people think this is fun? This is a DIY project that I don’t condone. I will pay any price to buy lotion and chapstick from a store. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than copious quantities of ingredients sitting around my house that I will never use again. The girls at the party can help me soil my dishes again while we make homemade lip balm. That batch will fill the rest of the 25 pots. The girls can then choose as many pots as they want. Six girls can each have eight pots, with two left over. And then I am washing my hands of all these DIY beauty products. As far as throwing another birthday party goes, I have already told Gwen that next time we are celebrating her half birthday in August. Februarys are too snowy, too cold, and too busy.


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