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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Mashenka Turns 14

And a wonderful day was had by all.  That was a change!  Often, Mashenka tries to sabotage any celebrations, going into a downward funk, and she started heading in this direction, only to be reminded and pulled out of it.  Couldn’t all of the adoption issues just take a backseat for one day of fun?

She was worthy.  She could enjoy life.  She was safe now and could have a childhood.

We made an extra effort, driving eight hours so that we could be in one home for the entire 24 hours of her special day.  Normally, we would arrive mid-day, but I wanted us to be there in order to properly prepare and enjoy.  The more I think about it, it’s amazing how most any travel we undertake involves either eight hours of flying, or eight hours of driving.  This time, Benedetto had us heading out after an evening meeting, driving from 9:00 pm till 5:00 am, during which time I stayed awake until about 2:00 am, just to keep him company, when he’d really rather listen to his educational lectures by headphone….

Mashenka had requested a chocolate cake with lime-colored frosting.  No matter how many spectacular cakes we glimpsed at stores, she was sure that Mama’s tasted better.  Which meant that I had to conceive of a birthday theme to decorate the cake.

Last year, it was ballet.  She was sure that she was going to be a ballerina, with all of the determination that any five-year-old boy knows he’s going to be a fireman one day.  Classes?  Who needs them?  So I bought her and her sister a ballet DVD with the basic positions and beginning moves, along with a leotard, tights, and ballet shoes, and a porcelain  ballerina was perched on top of the cake. http://www.destinationsdreamsanddogs.com/ballet-balancing-act/

They watched the DVD once.  At my insistence.  About eight months later.  Nearly killed themselves with arms and legs that would not “do” what the instructor instructed.

Ballet was “hard”!!!


Now we needed a new theme.  The kids loved me thinking up something of interest to them.  The simple formula would be the square root of whatever piqued their fancy today, multiplied times pi, in other words, whatever would have absolutely no relevance nor meaning for them on the morrow.  Something safe and cheap, as well.

Hmmm… seashells!

She enjoyed the beach, except of course on those days when she did not like the beach, so it seemed like a slam-dunk.  Which led me to mixing cake batter after two hours of sleep, early on her birthday.

Lime was her color these days, necessitating the cream cheese frosting to be tinted green, also.  Which required that my fingers turn a hunter green from the leaky food color cap.

I surrounded the cake’s circumference with simple shells fanning up and down, a few larger specimens and her name in Russian with a big “14” and more candles on top.  Rather busy.  I’m not sure that the Cake Boss would capisce.  It was the thought that counted.

The family went out to lunch at a hip and happening place, slightly on the loud side.  Alright, if you must know, it was Planet Hollywood, not my first choice for a variety of reasons, but some kind soul had given us vouchers.  Her birthday would be the perfect opportunity to use them for overpriced burgers.

She was thrilled, not that any of us know much about Hollywood, but they could gape at memorabilia and a few big-screen TVs.

The waiter-in-training brought drinks and ended up tilting the tray and pouring Benedetto’s steaming coffee all over his sports jacket, shirt, and slacks.  While my husband jumped up, trying to preserve now-flooded i-Phone and important papers in his pocket, the waiter sputtered his apologies and waved his hands.  I took charge.

“Please show us where the Men’s Room is located, and let’s bring some more napkins, please.  Everything will be alright….”

Turns out it was the guy’s first day and he was assisting our waitress.  He was mortified.

“It can only go up from here,” I smiled.  “You’ll be fine.”

Benedetto already had a close relationship with our drycleaner, so he’ll recover.  When the manager rushed over, my husband interceded on the young waiter’s part, calling it a simple mistake, and the men exchanged business cards.

A perfect illustration of birthdays, of learning and growing, of making the best of whatever life dealt you.  We exited in a steady rain, knowing that green cake and green presents were waiting at home.  She couldn’t be happier.



10 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Greg says:

    Great story. I am glad her birthday went well…..Happy Birthday Mashenka!

    Loved the ballet story. We have an “expert” volleyball player in our ranks. Never mind the fact that at 16 she is barely 5′ tall. Or that she knows only one way to hit the ball (hard). And with a swing that looks more like a boxer punching then a volleyball player setting. She’ll either knock someone out with her swing or the ball if they are unfortunate enough to get in the way of either. She says that her team always won at volleyball in the orphanage. Assuming that most matches ended in a scrum “Rugby” style, I am confident that her team was victorious. They were a pretty tough group.

    • avatar admin says:

      Thanks, Greg. That’s too funny about the volleyball, but I do believe a very positive aspect of sports is the release of aggressions! I think that’s why I loved field hockey for all the wrong reasons growing up, and had to switch over to soccer and tennis, lol. Thanks for the reminder, our kids have never really tried volleyball and they’ve seen some sand courts lately. Might be time to try something new! Pass – set – spike!

      • Jupiter (don’t let the name fool you; she’s an 8 year old girl) wants to play youth football in the fall. And honestly, I think she would be quite good at it. She certainly has no problem crashing into me with the full force of her body weight in motion anytime she feels the need. And she can throw a nice tight spiral too…don’t ask me where she learned that. She likes martial arts and swimming too; which are much less expensive than the youth football program.

        • avatar admin says:

          That’s cool, Wendy. There have been so many studies done about the importance of sports for girls. Just watch anything that could cause a head injury! My husband played high school and college football and when he started getting our oldest son interested, I read a quote by Dr. Daniel Amen about it being tantamount to child abuse to let kids play hard contact sports. Let’s just say they didn’t exactly appreciate the wet blanket, lol….

  2. avatar Sybil says:

    Mashenka, you are 14! Happy Birthday honey and may it be a fun and exciting year for you!

  3. avatar Sybil says:

    The cake was a great lime color and the sea shells a clever decoration. You did great Mom!

  4. avatar Linda says:

    Happy birthday to Mashenka!

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