And That’s How the Birthday Party Went from DIY to OMG

Few things have the potential to spice up your kid’s 10th birthday celebration quite like the unwelcome realization that you apparently purchased balloons that should have been placed in the bachelorette party section of the local grocery store. I was concerned when I removed the first deflated version from the package, but perhaps it was just my imagination??   My husband blew up a balloon and showed me the result with the animation of one passing the salt.  Unable to comprehend why he wasn’t seeing what I was seeing, I just stared at him blankly and finally shook my head no.  Then my son ran in beaming with pride that he had also blown one up!  Despite personally having the equipment, neither of these guys was paying attention to the obvious style of the decor.  I wasn’t about to have those things waving back and forth in front of our house, so I explained that the latex was too thin and the dogs might eat it if they popped and also maybe I had read about a recall notice in the past couple of hours since purchase due to radiation contamination.  I could see confusion in their eyes, but I grabbed the balloons and redirected them to other tasks.  There would be no suburbia Latexgate.  Goodbye bachelorette balloons.

Despite the absence of the salacious address markers, the doorbell began to light into action minutes later. My husband was occupied with setting up kid-appropriate party stuff on the back patio, so I hurried to the door to greet and introduce myself to multiple sets of parents.  As all small children are sent to this planet with an innate sense of optimal embarrassing timing, my two-year old naturally understood that it was the ideal moment to decide that pants were no longer her thing.  She shuffled after me pushing her little jeans below her knees like a mermaid on a mission.  “So nice to meet you as well!  We should get the kids together for summer!  Yes my other kid usually wears pants!”  Enjoy it now small one because someday I will be in charge of selecting your graduation and rehearsal dinner video pics.  You’ll wish you had opted for pants then!

Drop-off time came and went, the tidbit child ultimately agreed to don some shorts, and the older girls cranked up the decibel level and headed to the patio. I had come up with the very clever idea to have them make their own fairy gardens.

Two quick notes on fairy garden parties:

  1. It is so easy and will save you tons of money to DIY this event at home.
  2. I recommend that you plan a two-hour + party to do this.

Allow me to add a couple more notes for you to ponder:

  1. The idea that DIY parties are cheaper is mega crapola, you get to clean your home in a big way before and after your party, and there is a strong chance that parents will leave your home with the impression that you raise pantless toddlers.
  2. Two hours is the perfect length of time as long as everyone leaves early – say around one and a half hours. Beyond that, you need an alternate activity.

Lucky for all, I had thrown the idea together over a couple of days, was totally unprepared for anything beyond gardening, and did not have an alternate activity planned. And then right on cue, a Texas thunderstorm appeared.  Within a few brief minutes, the skies went from somewhat cloudy to extremely menacing with growling thunder.  My husband and I rushed to relocate the girls and their mini-gardens.  He herded the girls to safety as I moved some of the gardening items to the new super cool shabby chic party spot we unaffectionately referred to as the garage.

While crossing through the house, I heard someone banging loudly on the front door. We were more than halfway through the allotted party time but punctuality isn’t my bag either baby so no judgement.   I opened the door to find the brother and mom of one of the party attendees in front of our home.  Maybe they had heard about our super cool garage party theme and were there to perform a prison break on the girls’ behalf.  I wouldn’t have blamed them, but it seemed unlikely given that this particular mother had been a close friend of mine for years.  Also who wouldn’t want their kid to play “Pin the Tail on the Oilspill!”

As surprised as I was to see them there at that time, that didn’t hold a candle to the shock I felt when I heard these words – “There’s a tornado over there.” The son turned and pointed past the street, and I could see the funnel cloud in the sky behind him.

I have lived my entire life in an area prone to unpredictable weather, but until that point, I had never seen a funnel cloud in person, and I definitely hadn’t seen one in person with a dozen other people’s’ children playing in my home. We raced inside and corralled everyone into the large closet under the stairs.  (When you hear that everything is bigger in Texas, they are actually referring to the closets.)  We hung out for a few minutes, joked around with the girls to keep it light, and ultimately headed back out for cake and whatever else for the remaining minutes.

To be totally honest, I’m not really sure what we did from that point on. I was so rattled by the whole thing.  I had mistakenly believed that Wizard of Oz theme parties were reserved for huge Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, and Cher fans, but clearly this was not the case.  In hindsight, I should be thankful because it did effectively fill that open alternate activity spot.

The truth is that it really scared me. I am still trying to figure out how to show my gratitude to my dear friend for coming over to warn us to take cover.  I recognize that her daughter was with us, so mama instincts will always kick in, but she and her sweet son still put themselves at risk to protect all of us.  We had been oblivious to the tornado.  As it turned out, our local warning system did notify us of the impending threat – twenty minutes after it passed – but that is how it can be with tornadoes.  The latest  technology makes educated assumptions, and then life happens however it happens.

Above all, I think the key point to remember is this – anyone can go roller skating (except ironically for me because my ankles vote no), but how many people can schedule a three location party (patio, garage and closet all in the same time slot – WHAT?!?!!?) AND bring in a real live tornado to kick it up a notch???  So stick that in your bouncy house!

And you thought DIY stuff was lame. Not here baby.

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This pic was taken by a neighbor who had the time to get the shot given her lack of other people’s small humans in her home.

The Trash Can Band

On average, my kids tend to be relatively happy when I pick them up from school (perhaps because they are leaving school), but every now and then, they have something extra exciting to share, and I can see it in their eyes before they even open the car door.  A couple of days ago, I saw that very look on my daughter’s face.  She jumped into the car with a massive grin so big it would have made the Joker envious.  I thought maybe it was Free Kitten Day at school, but of course that wasn’t happening until next week.  And then she revealed the big news. “Mom!  I got into the Trash Can Band!”

Naturally, I burst into laughter.  It was my instant reaction, and of course anything that makes her that happy makes me extra happy (excluding cutting her own hair or shirt, indoor basketball / indoor moon sand, and that time they got the sock stuck on a window ledge fifteen feet high).  I wasn’t trying to make fun of her or step on her feelings, but her smile disappeared and twisted into a hurt grimace in an instant. My heart broke when I saw her face fall.

Far be it from me to recognize that the best way to improve an initial misunderstanding is to go with a different approach, so I dug myself further into the emotional rabbit hole.  I went for levity yet again – my go to defense mechanism when it comes to diffusing an uncomfortable situation. I explained that I wasn’t teasing her by laughing, but I hadn’t been aware of her love of the trash can musical arts.  To the surprise of no one in the universe, she became angrier and it devolved from there.  I switched to overt and clear validation of the “Well that’s so exciting!” and “I’m so proud of you!” genre, but she had already tuned me out and the moment – the joyful happy “I can’t wait share this with my mom” moment – was gone.

Kids are like rubber balls that bounce right back.  She was onto a different topic and back to normal before our car had even made it back home.  I, on the other hand, continue to wrestle with it days later.  I keep trying to get that excitement back. I want it for her. I want it for me.

How long will this keep circling around in my mind?  Her birthday is a couple weeks away, and I will probably end up buying her a metal trash can and drumsticks. I have visions of purchasing all of Amazon’s Oscar the Grouch paraphanalia because no one appreciates the magic of trash cans more than that surly muppet. Maybe I’ll switch from an SUV to a larger truck designed to move and empty dumpsters. Given the amount of garbage my three kids have left in my car over the years, this may be a logical vehicle change anyway.

Raising kids is like aiming for moving target.  Sometimes you are spot on, and sometimes you just miss the mark.  All I can do is try again, and hopefully I will get it right the next time.

That’s it from me for now.  Ironically, today is garbage day, and I have trash cans of my own to tackle.

There Is Only Room For One Lunatic In This House and I Called It First

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Remember pinwheels?  These cheerful little treats have been sold since the days when marketing departments felt that giving childhood goodies names like ding-dong and ho-ho was a good plan.  To be fair, they didn’t have urban dictionary, and I’m doubtful that those specific terms had truly spread their wings at that point.

Each morning, I drop the big kids off at their respective schools and then head with my smallest to her daycare.  We don’t put her in daycare because my husband and I both work to pay the bills and our companies prohibit toddler companions.  It’s strictly due to our shared love of strep throat, ear infections, and the judgement of other parents who choose alternate lifestyles.  Our few minutes en route to said daycare consist of driving directly toward the rising sun, fighting with sunglasses that won’t stay on the face of a two-year old, and proving once more that there are zero placement combinations for my car’s sun visors that will cover the two-inch square of sunlight perpetually aimed at my child’s face.  Redirection is my technique of choice, so I make sure to have little snacks in the car to keep her occupied.  Thus enters the pinwheel onto the scene.

As with every cloudless morning, my toddler was angry about the sun’s ongoing assault on her retinas.  I reached back and passed a pinwheel into her small hand.  She was instantly appeased and my eardrums were given a momentary reprieve.  That moment was not to last because she went from sedate to hysterical one minute later.  She was so upset that I was concerned that maybe I had unintentionally handed her a roll engulfed in flames.  Thankfully I remembered that I had left that one at home.  But why was she so upset?  What in the world was going on?  She was so distraught that I had to pull the car over to stop whatever was terrorizing her.

I parked, jumped out of my seat and rushed to open her door.  There was no blood.  No broken glass.  No barbed wire.  Just a two-year old with tears streaming down her cheeks pushing a pinwheel into my face.

And then I saw it.

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Someone had taken a bite out of my daughter’s pinwheel.  But who could have done it?  The other kids were already at school by the time I had handed her the freshly unwrapped treat.  No rogue animals were roaming the vehicle.  And given that my little daughter had a chewed on pinwheel in her hand, crumbs around her mouth, and sugar and cinnamon on her clothes, I knew that it couldn’t have been her.

Many people don’t believe in mother’s intuition, but I can assure you that it is a very real thing.  Mine snapped on in an instant.  I understood exactly what had happened.  The pinwheel had taken a bite out of itself.

For whatever reason, this particular pinwheel felt the need to pull a cruel prank on my child.  It had also tried to trick me into thinking that my toddler had taken the bite herself and then forgotten about it, but I would not fall into its trap.  I was no fool.

So I did what any rational mother with a limited supply of pinwheels would do.  I took the maimed roll from my distraught child, turned to face the other way, mashed the thing back into a shape moderately close to a circle, and placed it back into her little fingers.  She was elated to be given a “new” pinwheel and the world began to spin once more.

With the exception of the rare bowl of ice cream my husband and I attempt to tiptoe past our kids (with zero luck), I truly enjoy sharing all that I have with my children.  But being the craziest person living under this roof has always been my thing.  I am confident in my cutting edge techniques on making comments and choices that don’t just border on being nonsense – they are straight up bonkers.  But here she is infringing on my position as top lunatic, and she’s only two.  This kid has raw talent you just can’t teach, and her skills are increasing at an exponential rate.  Although I called it first, I think perhaps my reign is at its end.  I am being out-crazied by my toddler.

Mother’s Day – A Day of Relaxation (Unless Of Course You’re an Actual Mother)

You Kids Better Run

Although I believe that all sentences have power, few can really encompass the energy level of the combination of the following words: “Why did you leave the kids alone with paint???” Well few sentences except the following: “I didn’t give them paint. What in the world are you talking about???” And then the story begins to unfold…

It was a lovely late summer morning. We could even say it was this morning (because it was). Our family had just finished breakfast when the kids decided to head outdoors to play. As we have a large gate enclosing the driveway area, we felt comfortable letting them play out there without our supervision (and of course, that always ends well). It’s not hard to hear them from inside the house so we can usually gauge if things are starting to get too rowdy. Usually…

My husband was upstairs working on the computer and I was taking it easy reading a book. What a nice carefree morning we were having. However it soon became apparent that we were the only individuals in the family taking it easy. Our kids were hard at work developing their art supply scavenging and application skills. To be clear, I still don’t know where they found a stockpile of easy to use PERMANENT paint, but find it they did!

As my children had time to transform the exterior of our home into a full art show, I wonder how long I had disappeared into that book. Apparently I fell into a time space continuum of sorts because I can’t fathom how they could have done this in thirty minutes. But then again, it is tough to stifle natural talent. Needless to say I was snapped out of my reverie when I heard my husband’s “surprise” when he discovered the new modern look the kids had created to spruce up our abode. The tone of his surprise launched me out of my seat and sent me running for the side door.

Upon looking around and seeing the magic everywhere, I told my kids to head inside and create some space between them and their daddy (a.k.a. run for your life and hide!). Of course I soothed his anger and shock when I suggested that he hold off on cleaning until I snapped a few pictures. Yes that went over quite well (much like lemon juice on a knife wound you receive while reading a breakup letter at the dentist as you have a root canal). But I still got the pics!

At the moment, the kids are still living with us, but they are on lockdown. Although my husband is furious, I think I have convinced him not to sell them to the gypsies (yet…). He has informed the neighbors that a couple of crazy kids vandalized our home, but that those kids were ours.

Even though the kids are seriously in the doghouse, I couldn’t help but smile because it wasn’t the least bit malicious. They literally thought they were making the house pretty. I can’t wait for their children to do this to their homes! I wonder if they will also say “We just wanted to be artists.” And what can be done once it is done? They have received about twenty lectures and we have salvaged as much of the house as we can. The repainting will have to be done another time. Frankly I am pretty proud of myself for staying so chill about the whole thing.

As an added bonus, my mother can finally declare that she received universal payback for the time I covered her hallway with giant black crayon moons. I don’t know why she made such a fuss about it. She was only nine months pregnant and entertaining house guests at the time. “Moons Mommy! Moooooons!!!”

Hope your weekend is full of unexpected color and new memories. I also hope that you have a power washer because you just never know when you are going to need it! 😉

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