Stretching the Birthday Suit Idea

I regularly follow social media with the hashtag #birthday. You can see what I find if you follow me @birthdaysarebest. In the meantime, I want to weigh in on a phenomenon I’ve noticed — women posting selfies of their birthday outfits.

To begin, let me clear, I do not want to body shame any one in this blog. I am thoroughly impressed with the confidence these women have in posting their barely clad bodies on twitter.

What shocks me is the lack of fabric in the outfits of choice. I didn’t realize I was such a prude until I started seeing these grinning young women in scanty clothes. I have done a mental cataloging of my own past birthday outfits — notice I don’t say birthday suit — and even when I was their age I don’t remember a day where I wore so little fabric!

Birthday Skin

Without naming any names (or twitter handles), I’ve seen an awful lot of birthday skin by virtue of following the #birthday tag.

Apparently birthday outfit means you have to:

  • Show your belly button
  • Barely cover your breasts
  • Keep skirt hemline thigh high at best
  • Wear shoes that are sure to kill you if you have any drinks and attempt to dance.

I may have done one of these at most in my younger days — Ok, maybe two in my wildest days — but all four at once? Man, clearly I am over the hill (and should probably start regretting my age at birthdays more).

I am certainly over the hill enough to regret the evening when I ended up viewing an unexpected eggplant shot. Some guy thought it was a great gift to a girl to share his engorged self on social media. For a hilarious take on this phenomenon check out Famous Authors Reply to Your Unsolicited Dick Pic on McSweeney’s.

Hey! hint…that is not really something that gets many girls going…dress sharp and take a photo. Tell her you dressed up for her because she’s so classy. See where that gets you instead. You can thank me later.

In the meantime, I have come across a song that probably inspires some of the birthday outfits I’ve seen. Thanks Rihanna:

 

Birthday Cake Ban – Seriously?

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Another birthday tradition is poised to bite the dust.  In the midst of the current dietary campaign against sugar, birthday cakes are facing ban from the school classroom.

Yes, I’ve written before about school’s banning the practice of sharing birthdays at school due to concerns about time taken from classwork or worries about creating an expectation of providing snacks for the entire class. But today’s blog is inspired by a Daily Mail story about a Mom’s complaint that 85% of the families in her child’s kindergarten class voted against bringing cake to school on the special day.

The mother didn’t want her child having sugar overload either. Yet, doing the math, she noted that with 20 kids in the class it would work out to a cupcake every two weeks — at most.

“Why can’t we just let kids live?” the mother wrote.

Another parent commenting on the post added: “The world has officially gone nuts.”
So long as those nuts aren’t in a cake being handed out to a small child in school!
The kindergarten in question wasn’t going to stop celebrating student birthdays — thank goodness — but planned to do so with sugar-free snacks.
Yes, there are plenty of fun, healthy alternatives to make a child feel special on their big day. I’m not opposed to a school taking a vote and ridding a classroom of sugared sweets, as long as they don’t do away with the celebrating all together.
Yet, the Mom’s words “can’t we just let kids live” resonate with me. Are we parents or police? I worry sometimes that the advice we get about how to insure our kids will be healthy and successful is taking the parenting thing too far. I am trying to go with moderation as my mantra (although anyone who saw me actually slicing my own piece of a birthday cake would be welcome to remind me of those words before I dig in!).

Don’t Blame the Birthday! Just Don’t Binge.

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Cake at work gluttony.

The Telegraph started the new year with the article: “Office ‘cake culture’ is fueling obesity crisis and treats should be swapped for hugs.” The article surveys expert opinions on the trend of bringing cakes in for birthdays and sharing sweet treats for other special events:

  • The Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) warns the growing trend is contributing to poor oral health and the obesity epidemic.
  • The National Obesity Forum’s Tam Fry told the paper, “You may not know who in the office is secretly dieting in which case they won’t appreciate your gesture…If you want to give them anything, give them a smile, a hug or both!”

But let’s heed these warnings with restraint, right? Yes, it makes sense to avoid cakes becoming a daily occurrence at work. Plus, it’s a good idea to make healthier choices to substitute for sugary sweet consumption. Finally, moderation is the key to all dieting and weight management success.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t need to mean banning birthday celebrations. I’ve written in the past about organizations that shy away from feting employees in the office, and offered suggestions of good ways to recognize employees turning another year older. Still, I’m not going to get behind a cake ban. I just can’t do it. Heck, we even used to give our dog a ground beef cake decorated with dog bone candles. To me, birthdays demand cake recognition.

Plus, this science article didn’t even consider the fact that some people don’t want a hug. There are many of us in the world who are uncomfortable with physical affection from people we don’t know well. Consider also the fact that there are probably some faiths (thanks HR awareness raising of past posts) where it would be insulting for a coworker to hug a fellow coworker of the opposite sex.

So, clearly, cakes or their alternatives are the best answer.

Related reading:

Hug me. It’s My Birthday

Birthday Baking or “No Bake” Goodness

10 Reasons not to work on a birthday

The Frosting on the Birthday Cake

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Why do frosting tubs never contain enough of the sugary good stuff to ice an entire cake?

I’ll admit, this thought didn’t cross my mind until I read this ChicagoNow blogger’s point of view, but she is so right.

She complains the consistency in the industry to give us cans of frosting that are always short about 4 ounces is all part of an “evil confectionary plan” and groups herself with the “Frosting Embittered Mothers of America.”

Noting that if just one company sold a bonus-sized can they would corner the market, and we would all enjoy “frosting freedom,” Kim Strickland sees only one downfall to her plan. The inability after a cake icing experience to sneak downstairs to steal a spoon of leftover icing from the container in the fridge.

Her too-familiar plight made me want to see what other advice is out there to deal with the icing issue.

Of course, there’s the make your own icing solution. Yeah, I remember back in the days before being a working mom when that was fun. If you have that much energy, you might appreciate this seven-minute recipe. Me, I see the first line about needing a double boiler, and I’m out.

I also encountered this idea for stretching the frosting in the tub – whip it up in a blender before use. Brilliant. Only now I have to wash another dish and the blender beaters, too.

Another site suggests whipping the icing with a bit of milk. Plus, they mention letting the cake cool completely before trying to frost it. Of course, we all know that’s what we’re supposed to do, but maybe I’ll be more motivated to do so next time.

I may need to bake many birthday cakes just to see which of these solutions is the best answer for me. Now that’s a good idea!

 

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What Birthdays Are About

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Photo credit: Kalexanderson via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Maybe you’ve already seen the viral video going around of a teacher moved to tears by his students when they throw him a surprise birthday party.

Not everyone loves a surprise, but this feel-good story is proof of the value of birthdays.

English teacher Kyle Simpler enjoys a cake (featuring his favorite cat Felix) and the students have decorated his Burleson High School classroom. Considering the 59-year-old says he’s typically private and his family doesn’t make a big deal of birthdays, the Inside Edition, HuffingtonPost, and 30,000 video views of his arrival in his classroom are certainly a change. Yet, I’d argue, it’s being made to feel special that has the true impact.

I live with a high school teacher. I can bet he too would be thrilled if his students showed him some birthday love. Not only because it’s his birthday, but because it shows appreciation of the hard work he does.

There are other examples online of students surprising their teachers on their birthdays. What I love about these videos is the joy on the birthday celebrant’s face, but also the enthusiasm the students feel for being part of this special day.

We enjoy being part of someone’s birthday. Even over the Internet. Seriously, google searching “students surprise teacher birthday” netted four pages of the same Texas schoolteacher story retold by news outlets around the world. Why? Because it makes us smile, wherever we are, whether we know the person or not, to see someone enjoying a birthday and feeling the love.

That, my loyal readers, is the true value of birthdays! Think I’m weird to love birthdays this much? Look again at the love shared on these special days and you’ll have better insight into why I am such a big birthday fan.

 

Seeking a Trendy Party? Try Retro!

When I think Retro, I think 80’s. I google searched “retro party ideas” and was treated to soda shop props and other ideas from the 50’s and 60’s. This too fits with my idea of retro.

Yet, it turns out Retro can also mean going back to the basics of birthdays. Canadian Family offers a slideshow for its “Perfectly Retro Birthday Party” involving “Old-school games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Pass the Parcel” and a cake made with love for a “relaxed homemade vibe.” They also suggest using colorful plates and cups to “dress up simple party foods.”

This was when I started laughing. Yes, I’m all in favor of lowering expectations on parents for the birthday party bash. However, I find it funny that we have to label a low-key party “Retro” to make it socially acceptable.

Yippee! Now parents only need to say they’re going retro to play some familiar and low-budget games, take an easier route to decorating, and accept that the homemade cake may not be as glamorous as the fondant concoction from a bakery.

What else could one do to remain on theme:

  • Have a dance contest – I’d suggest freeze dance, the kiddos get a kick out of trying to stay still the longest. If you really must invest in the birthday you could get a phone docking station that looks like a vintage radio.
  • A piñata, of course, would be in keeping with how birthdays were celebrated “back in the day” before indoor trampoline parks were invented. Personally, I’d go for one that looks like Pacman.
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    Image source: CoolPartyblog.com

  • There are many more “Old School” party games suggested by Red Tricycle. The ones I remember playing are the clothespin drop and bobbing for apples.
  • The Retro party also suggested loot bags with a few things in them and a nametag decorated by the birthday honoree. I’ve bought plain paper bags and lots of stickers and crayons and let the kids decorate their own. I’m a trendsetter. What can I say?

Birthday Party Trouble

There are several reasons a birthday could lead to trouble. Let’s think of a few:

  • Party is too loud.
  • Underage drinking.
  • Drinking and driving.
  • Stolen presents.
  • Over-the-top antics prompted by too much birthday fun.
  • Rioting when your birthday invitation goes viral (yep, that happened).
  • Pulling out a gun when people don’t sing your girlfriend happy birthday (yep, that happened too).
  • Celebrating your birthday with a dozen or so friends in an Irish pub.

Uhm? What?! Yep, that last one happened in Tajikistan this year, and the birthday boy was fined the equivalent of four months pay!

According to The Daily Mail (Kate Pickles reporting – tee hee — Pickles), it’s against the law in Tajikistan to celebrate your birthday outside of the home with more than family. The law was passed in 2007 to prevent excess spending.

Birthday boy Isayev Amirbek, who was aware of the law, thought he was OK to gather his friends for his 25th, as he and his friends simply brought a cake and spent approximately 540 somoni between them (that’s under $100US). Yet he was fined 4,000 somoni (roughly $640US) for his audacity.

Amirbek claimed at first it was just a friend’s night out, but in court prosecutors proved he’d broken the law against celebrating his birthday in public using photographs of the birthday cake posted on Facebook.

Pickles reported the law limits the number of guests, how much money can be spent and the duration of a gathering. Apparently the law was violated 394 times in 2014!

I can maybe see the point of banning lavish birthday extravaganzas in a struggling economy (although think of all the people hired to make the party possible). Yet getting your friends together at a pub and giving each a piece of cake is a preposterous reason to take someone to court! Surely there has to be a better way to spend the time and energy of police, lawyers and court officials than pooh-poohing someone’s birthday fun.

Birthday Party

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