When Simple Birthday Parties Aren’t So Simple…

When Simple Birthday Parties Aren’t So Simple…

You’d think a child’s birthday party would be simple, wouldn’t you? Invite a few people, have some cake and maybe some snacks, call it a day. Well, like the saying goes, nothing worth having ever comes easily. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love celebrating my children and I love for friends and family to enjoy themselves. Please don’t take this mini-rant as a complaint or that I’m saying I don’t get enough help when planning things. I have a wonderfully helpful husband (and when I say helpful it’s not him “helping”… he loves me and our kids and shares in the load of everything), an amazing mom who’s always there and somehow knows how to help without even asking (thanks, mom… you rock!), and many other family members and friends who are the most helpful and caring people. Like my previous post of the mental load on mothers, wether they work outside the home or at home, the mental (and in this case, physical) load on the designated party planner is more than many people realize. Is it self-inflicted? Maybe… I always say that if something is worth doing, it’s worth over doing, so maybe I’m at fault here, so I’ll own it. This is just a little glimpse at why a simple child’s birthday party is anything but “simple”…

Months before the party, planning begins. What is the theme? Did someone else already have this theme (why the heck I care, I’m really not sure…)? How many people will be coming? Where will I get the invitations? How soon do I need to send the invitations? Are we having the same food we had last time? I need to make a food list for when I go grocery shopping…

Ok… theme planned. It will be construction equipment. Again. Why am I doing this theme again for the second child? Is that bad? Should he have all of his own themes? Nah… he won’t know the difference and I chose it because he likes construction equipment, so construction equipment it shall be. Ok, date? Preferably a Saturday after his actual birthday, since it’s on a weekday. Wait, where should we have it? Fortunately my grandmother graciously allows us to use her condo clubhouse which worked out perfectly last year, so we’ll go with that again. This way I don’t have to *gulp* cllleeeeeeannnn. Ok, at least that part is settled. Oh, but I need to contact them and see if that date is available and see when I need to get a check to them.

Alight, the date is available and we’re on the schedule. Order invites. Is it bad to use the same invites as his older brother? Yes. I say yes… so, let’s make sure I put all of the correct information before I place the order… that would be bad to have people showing up at the wrong place or coming to a 2nd birthday for our 5 year old. Check the invite 10 more times, ok… place in cart and…. order. Dang, that was expensive. Next? Decorations.

Looks like we never used even half of the construction hats last time, so we have those, caution tape, what does Amazon have? Ohhhhhhh… look how cute these little signs are! Wait, I have signs from last time. But these are different! They come with cupcake decorations! And balloons! Ok… place in cart. Look at the matching goodie bag coloring books! I wasn’t going to have goodie bags. But these are so cute! Place in cart… again. Promise, I’m done with decorations.

Oh crap… cake. Cake? Cupcakes? Fortunately, my amazingly talented friend makes the best cakes and cupcakes I’ve ever seen, so I’ll see if she’d like to do them. Cupcakes are easier, so we’ll do that. Oh, but our oldest had a super cute cake… is that bad if our youngest just gets cupcakes? No… cupcakes will do. Yay! She’s making the cupcakes, so I know those will be adorable AND delicious. Food?

We’ll do fruit and veggie trays, those always go fast, I’ll order pizza this time because that has to be cheaper than sandwich trays I usually do, chips, chip dip, tortilla chips… I’ll make a few things. Meatballs always go over well, so I’ll make those, buffalo chicken dip, my mom makes amazing pasta salad, so I think that covers everything. Drinks? A cola, an uncola, CapriSun for kids (and big kids…), bottled water, and I’ll make some of that lemon/cucumber/mint water people like so much. Ok… mentally noted all food, and place order for fruit and veggie trays… wait? What time should I pick it up? well, I’ll be setting up in the morning and the party is at 2, but I don’t want to get it too late. Ugh… 11:20? Sure. Why not. I’ll order the pizza closer to the party date.

Paper goods… how many tablecloths do I need? A lot. Maybe 5? Sure… 5 sounds good. Plates, cake plates, cutlery, cups, napkins. Is that it? I think so. Mentally noted all paper goods and I’ll head to Party City the week before the party.

Ok… even at half off the pizza will be significantly more than the sandwiches, so sandwiches it is and… go to place order and… pickup time? Crap. When was the last pickup time? *Check email* 11:20. Ok, 11:20 for this one too I guess.

Well, crap. The oldest has a basketball game at 1 and the party is at 2. Ok, Pop to the rescue while mom and dad will be running around like crazy before the party.

Set up the time to drop off the check and get the keys to the clubhouse at 9 am the day of the part. 9 am? Is that too early? Do I get ready first or after? Last year I got ready 10 minutes before the party in the bathroom of the clubhouse, so no… 9 am isn’t too early and I’ll get ready after.

Kroger saves the day… order pickup for all party food and everything is in stock (don’t judge… I am an order pickup mom… I’ll do whatever makes my life easier working full-time with two kids at this point…).

Ok, time for Party City purchases. Grab everything in coordinating colors and some cute balloons ordered and $120 later. Wait, $120 for plates, napkins, and cups? Dang… pickup time? What were the other pickup times? Sometime around 11 I think, so 12? Sure… 12 sounds good…

The day before the party, so time to pack literally EVERYTHING. Will all of this fit in the car?! Thank goodness for ginormous IKEA tarp bags! If you don’t have them, GET THEM. Ok, plates, napkins, cutlery, cups, bottles of pop, water, decorations, scissors, tape, string to hang/set up decorations, bowls to serve food. Now, set out all food ingredients and dishes for food that has to be made the day of the party. Meatballs, buffalo chicken dip, cut the lemon, cucumber, and mint for the water, and I think that’s it… I feel like I’m forgetting something.

Day of the party: load everything like I’m moving at 8 am, get gas, pick up 44 lbs of ice (yes, yes… my husband was right… we didn’t need that much ice, but hey… we didn’t run out, people!), pick up my trusty sidekick (aka mom) at 8:30 am, Starbucks line is too long, so I pretty will be nonfunctional for the remainder o the morning. Give the rental check, unload the car for what seems like an eternity, and start the setup. Thankfully set-up went quick, finally made it to Starbucks, and raced home to get ready.

Get ready and head to Kroger to pick up the food… late. Ok, sandwiches come out and… no vegetable or fruit tray, so I wait… and wait… and wait some more. They don’t have an order for a fruit or vegetable tray, but had a fruit tray made from yesterday and they’re working on the vegetable tray. And… wait some more. Text my husband to say “prepare yourself to go get balloons and the number 2 candle I totally forgot to pick up because they are SUPER late and we won’t make it”.

Finally get the vegetable tray and BOLT in the snow/rainy mess because of course the day you have a party the weather can’t just be sunny and pleasant. What fun would that be?! Run into the house, grab the meatballs, grab the buffalo chicken dip that I luckily premade and stuck in the fridge the previous day and shove it all in the back of the car with the rest of the food sliding around because I’m driving like Dale Earnhardt Jr. The birthday boy is still sleeping, so while my husband and I trade batons to finish this insane relay race, I wake him up, get him out of his pajamas, take the dog out because he’s now looking at me like I’ve lost my dang mind, get the birthday boy in the car, and pick up my mom who is waiting on me since my dad is now facilitating the pro basketball player at his weekly game.

Get to the party, set the rest of the food up, my amazing friend brings in her dirt cupcakes (seriously… SO cute!), and the party can now begin!

Now, the fun part… party time where you really don’t get a chance to chat with anyone (which is the best part of a party!), make sure you’re on time since you have rented the space only for so long, only to clean it all up, pack it all up haphazardly into multiple vehicles, and get home only to unload it all and try to figure out what to do with this jumble of party aftermath.

You guys… I’m tired from just writing this. And THAT is why a “simple” child’s birthday party is NEVER simple. Aren’t you so glad I laid it all out for you?

Party on, party people!

Mom’s Law

Mom’s Law

Ever heard of Murphy’s Law?  Well, Murphy has nothing on moms.  Mom’s Law is rather complex and actually applies to both moms and dads… Mom’s Law can get the best of any who is fortunate enough to be able to hang around tiny people for any extended period of time.  Refer to the following:

Mom’s Law

  1. If someone poops, everyone will poop. You will be cleaning up poop all day. Fact.
  2. When one thing finishes, everything finishes. The wash is finished so you need to move the wash to the dryer and put a new load in, but the baby is crying and needs to be fed and the oldest is yelling for you to wipe him in the bathroom while the chiweenie is standing at the back door wagging his tail frantically because he’s about to take a leak right there on the floor as the doorbell rings for the package that you have to sign for or they’ll take it with them and it will be lost in the abyss that is the United States Postal Service.
  3. Swamped at work? One of your kids will definitely be sick when work is busier than it has ever been. Sorry, work… my sick child can’t wait… you can 😉
  4. Huge outbreak of Hand, Foot, and Mouth, strep, and possibly the plague going around and someone on your child’s soccer team just “gets over it” and returns to soccer? The coach will make them “practice high fives”. No, I’m not kidding. You can’t make this stuff up…
  5. Run out of coffee? Don’t worry. Your normally cool, calm, and collected children will suddenly find the urge to bounce off the walls and pull out toys faster than your mom arms can carry the massive loads back to their places of origin.
  6. If you set your alarm for 6:15 am, the baby will decide 5:30 am is a great time for breakfast.
  7. When you get up to make said breakfast bottle, the baby will once again be sleeping by the time you get the bottle to his room.
  8. After you’ve confirmed the baby is actually asleep, put the bottle in the fridge, and hop in the shower, the baby will start crying for his bottle again after your hair is full of shampoo.
  9. If the baby takes a nap, you’ll always have just enough time to make your house or yourself presentable… never both.

There is one thing Mom’s Law has that Murphy should be jealous of: kids that melt your heart no matter what kind of wrench is thrown in your plans!

An Ode to the Automobile: A Mom’s Permanent Residence and Sanctuary

An Ode to the Automobile: A Mom’s Permanent Residence and Sanctuary

As a kid my mom drove me EVERYWHERE.  And, sometimes nowhere… we liked music and if a good song was on (i.e. Sk8r Boi, Bye Bye Bye, anything by Nelly…), why on earth would we pull into the driveway to interrupt it???  Until now I never realized how many hours my mom probably spent chauffeuring us around as kids.

As my oldest has been in preschool a little over a year now I feel like all I do is haul tiny tushes somewhere.  He’s four.  Why do I feel like I’m running around like a crazy person when he’s only four?!  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am more than happy to take him to and from preschool, to grandma’s while I work, to soccer, to tee ball, to church activities, but dang.  Four.  Years.  Old.  What will this be like when he’s… I don’t know 14?

I dropped him off at preschool one day, pulled into our driveway and into our garage, and sat there for a moment in the silence (other than the sound of raspberries our youngest had been blowing continually the entire way home) and looked around my car.  I had a real life smell the roses moment.

I realized how much rushing I do every day.  I rush to get our youngest up and fed, rush to get them both dressed and ready, rush to get our oldest to school or to my parents’ house while I’m at work, rush to a sport, rush to church, or rush to wherever we happen to be going, but what do I do while we’re IN the car?  I remember having conversations with my parents in the car, listening to music, and sometimes just driving around just because.  I take the little things for granted most of the time like actually being able to afford a car to rush around in.  My car is dirty, dusty, has more Cheerios crushed on the floor and stored in the booster seat than I can count, has extra diapers, wipes, and formula stored in front of the carseat, a giant stroller taking up the whole cargo space, lawn chairs for soccer or tee ball taking up the remaining space of the cargo, a soccer ball, some snacks in the seat back, and more than likely a Starbucks straw wrapper or two somewhere in the front.

I looked around at the dust, clutter, and the sweet little baby in the back seat and thought to myself about how lucky I really am.  We have a car.  We have extra diapers, formula, and wipes to keep in the car.  We have a stroller and chairs to clutter up the cargo area.  Heck, we have a cargo area.  We live in a community where we can safely take our child to play soccer and tee ball and to an amazing, loving church.

In my messy, dusty car I realized how little I thank God for the simple things and look around and soak it all in.  Sometimes it’s great to appreciate the fact that we have things to be messy or days to be hectic.  So moms, enjoy your messy car sanctuary.  It’s proof that you drive your kids to and from activities they love, to and from families that love them, and to and from making memories together-even if it’s messy and chaotic.  Rock that messy car, momma.  It shows you love your family and spend time with them.  Time goes too fast-embrace it.

By the way… the day after I wrote this my husband cleaned out the ENTIRE car.  How’d he know?!  I must’ve been sending out dirty car vibes 😉

There is Hope, Second Time Moms

There is Hope, Second Time Moms

img_3443This is for you, soon-to-be momma of two, or three, or four, or… ok, not five.  I can’t help you there-you’re on your own with that many!  But seriously, this is to assure you if your first child was easy that your second probably won’t be a terror like everyone says.  The most frequent comment I received during my second pregnancy?  “oh… second children are always the difficult ones”.

I’m here to tell you, sleep deprived momma, that this couldn’t have been further from the truth for us.  I actually now understand what an “easy baby” is.  We were young and didn’t know any better the first time.  Our first child ate every hour on the hour, if not sooner, until he was 6 months old and normally wouldn’t sleep unless held.  I’m sure personality, diet, and a myriad of outside factors probably contribute to a baby’s temperament (see my previous post here for my theory…), but don’t let those comments scare you. Our second child is the happiest, healthiest, chubbiest, most chill tiny human I’ve seen yet!

Moral of the story?  Every child is different for so many reasons.  Had an easy first child and are terrified that your second will pop out like Stripe from the movie Gremlins (oh come on guys… you know, Gremlins the movie?  I can’t be that old…)?  Relax… chances are they will be a calm, happy baby.  From what I’ve seen with our kids and everyone else around us the second child tends to be content in any situation.  It may be that they’re so used to waiting for food, to be held, or just hanging out while mom cooks dinner, takes care of the older kids, or cleans that they just roll with it.  Props to you, second children!  May you be easy on your second time mommas!

Why Moms Are Exhausted. The Real Story.

Why Moms Are Exhausted. The Real Story.

There is tired, then there is pure exhaustion.  If you’re a mom you know pure exhaustion well.  Now dads, I can already hear your mental eye roll (no, you may not physically roll your eyes, but I know you’re thinking it… stop it), but this has absolutely nothing to do with you or how much or how little you do around the house or with your kids.  Chances are, dad, you’re as much a part of household functions as mom is, BUT… and this is a big but (stop snickering, I know I said “big but”), moms typically tend to “run” the household.  By “run” I mean schedule, plan, organize, get people to practices, games, school, family functions, llama meet-and-greets (alright, I made that one up, but I would go to one…), and generally make sure all bases are covered.

I never really thought much about it until a friend and coworker posted an article and comic about the mental load working mothers bear (head on over to Working Mother if you’d like to see the original article).  I’m going to stop right there… working mothers?  Uhhhhhh… hold up.  Working. Mothers.  A bit redundant?  Whether you work OUTSIDE the home or INSIDE the home it is work.  Working full-time before kids, full-time with kids, and part-time with kids, I can tell you it is ALL work.  Disregard whether or not moms work outside the home, I think the author and creator of the comic in the Working Mother article were spot on on one thing: the mental load of a mom.  For example, here is my stream of thought after waking this morning:

  • *alarm sounds* I hear rain.  Where is the neurotic dog?  I need to take him out before he hears thunder and won’t pee and poop in the yard.  If he doesn’t pee and poop before we leave I’ll have to clean his cage when I get home from work after getting two kids and all of my crap out of the car.  I really don’t want to have to do that before I start preparing dinner.  Wait.  I need to pee.  Ok, I’ll go pee, then take the dog out.  I use the restroom, take the dog outside in the pouring rain, he uses the restroom, we come back inside.
  • By this time the dog is shaking because, well, rain and neurotic dogs don’t mix.  I give the dog medication so he’ll at least be able to semi-function without having a heart attack.
  • By now I’m running late, so I hop in the shower.  In the shower I think about the dinner I need to make for the night, the dinner for the next night when we’re having company, and the work carry-in the next day.  I ordered groceries for a pickup the day before that my husband picked up, but I forgot the most important ingredient for the carry-in dish, so I have to pick it up from the store when I get off work.  I then realize a few other things that would be good to have, so I should probably try to get it all in in one trip.  I’ll need to remember to add that to the current list I have on my phone.  It’s trash night.  When I get home I need to empty our large trash can, remember to empty the diaper pail, because, well, poopy diapers stink.  I should also take the trash and recycling to the curb when I get home so we don’t have to do it later because I try to go to the gym to get my hour work out in for the week (I realize working out an hour a week does nothing, but hey… Swerking is fun-check it out!).  By this time I’m about finished with my shower.
  • Hop out of the shower, dry off, apply deodorant, face cream (because I’m over 30 now… those wrinkles won’t fix themselves in the future and btw… why do I STILL have acne at 31????), lotion, Bio Oil (because stretch marks).  Check on the baby real quick because he usually needs to eat by now, trip over the neurotic shaking dog a few more times.  Put stuff in my hair so it doesn’t look too much like all I did was let it air dry, which I did.  Put a little makeup on so I don’t scare anyone (again… wrinkles, acne… don’t nobody wanna see that hot mess).  Head to get dressed.
  • Crap.  What I thought about wearing in my head last night won’t work because it’s pouring outside.  What goes with my bright red Hunter boots?  Nope.  Not that… ok, that doesn’t fit anymore. Probably should add that to my Poshmark closet to sell (yeah… that’s not working out so great for me-apparently no one wants my pre-baby clothes).  It’s kind of a fat day so that won’t look that great, but oh well.  It matches and is comfortable.  I’ll only be at work half the day anyway. Throw it on, add some accessories, good to go.
  • Baby hasn’t eaten yet, so I start a bottle.  Turn off all of the outside lights, open the blinds in the family room-my succulents need light, guys!  Feed the fish who hasn’t been cleaned in 2 1/2 weeks (yeah… he should be cleaned weekly… hang in there, Sherman!), open the dining room blinds-more succulents need light.  And water.  They really need water-I’ll remember to water them when I get home.  Yep, I told myself that yesterday and the day before, too.
  • By this time my husband is up and is getting the baby dressed with the clothes I laid out the night before because I KNEW I would run late in the morning and things would just go faster if I made sure the kids’ clothes were ready for the morning.  Trip over the dog again and realize I hadn’t packed a lunch.  Then I remember there are no leftovers because the grocery was out of the main ingredient I needed for dinner last night so my husband ventured back out for Tropical Smoothie instead so now I don’t have a lunch.  Frozen dinner.  Oh no… only 2 of those left.  I’ll add that to the list of things I need to get at the store today.  What did I think of when I was in the shower that needed to be added to the list?  Dang it… what was it????  Oh, yeah-coffee.  I then realize I haven’t had coffee yet either.  Make the coffee, get our oldest out of bed, he starts getting himself dressed, feed the baby, put him in his car seat that my husband brought out.
  • Rinse some blueberries, put them in my lunchbox, gather all of my belongings, tell the oldest to get his shoes on, then I think about the shoes I meant to buy him because his are worn out and he has no Velcro shoes when preschool starts this month.  He also needs to start learning how to tie his shoes.  We’ll work on that soon, I tell myself for the millionth time.  I carry everything out to the car, forget my frozen dinner, pull one out of the freezer, put it in my lunch box.
  • My husband loads the baby into the car, the dog runs out the door, my husband gets the dog back inside, buckles our oldest into his booster seat, I get in the car.
  • We start pulling out of the driveway around 7:30.  I woke up at 6:15.  All of this in an hour and 15 minutes.  This is just the START of my day.  Haven’t been to work, haven’t even dropped the kids off at my mom and dad’s house for the day (yes… I have the best mom in the world who hangs out with our kids all day while I’m at work 3 days a week-you rock, mom!).  This is just getting ready for the day.

Now, part of this is personality.  Ok, ok… most of this is personality.  It’s how I’m wired.  My guess is that most women are wired this way.  Is that wrong?  Nope.  From my observations there’s a reason-moms try to make sure all of the bases are covered.  Are people fed?  Are they clothed?  Are they clean?  Am I two steps ahead so I’m not three steps behind in 5 minutes?  Moms are multi-taskers.  They have to be to anticipate everyone’s needs.  Dads?  I’ll do the task I’m doing and don’t interrupt me until I’m finished because I can’t even chew gum and walk at the same time.  Guys, this is not an insult.  I repeat, put your weapons down, this IS NOT an insult.

This is where I disagree with the comic and the article’s solution: there is no “solution”.  Personalities, families, and people in general are all different.  I can’t say enough about how much of the load my husband shares.  I now work part-time, so I feel it’s only fair for me to do a little more around the house than he does.  I’m at home far more than he is, but when he is home he’s either keeping the kids occupied, taking care of them, or helping clean up, so he definitely does his share without being asked, then asks what else I need when he doesn’t know what to help with.  The problem isn’t even “doing more”… it’s how can I think less.  That will never happen for me-I constantly plan, think, and compartmentalize in my head, which cannot be changed.  What can change is to make sure I communicate when it becomes too much to handle and I start to burn out.  I think everyone deals with this differently.  I have friends who run/jog, work out, binge watch TV, craft, read, write, color, paint, you name it.  Find what it is that helps you decompress and DO IT.  Let people know when you’ve hit your mental limit.  How can you pour from an empty cup?  If your cup is empty, do what you need to do to fill it!  Keep up the great work, moms!  Even if you think it goes unnoticed, it doesn’t.  Your kids see you-they may not notice it now, but trust me, they’ll realize it when they’re older.  You rock, mom.