Monday, April 18, 2011

LieslMama goes PartyMama

I'll admit it - renting the 6 foot wooden cow milking station might have been overkill. Ordering supplies online like the cow hide decorated balloons, farm animal goodie bags, and pin-the-bird-on-the-cow's-head game didn't seem unreasonable. And the cow-head shaped ham, cheese and jello jigglers - well, they were just plain fun.

I'll admit it - I may have turned into a bit of a "Party Mama" to the extent that I obsessed over this party over the past month. On one of my sick days last year, I discovered the "Party Mamas" reality TV show. It features ridiculously rich mothers planning epic parties (birthdays, Bar Mitzvahs, etc.) of wedding-like proportions. I sat agog at the money being thrown about for a kid's party, and do remember yelling at the tv moms to "get a life!" The memory was not lost on me this past month as I perused dollar stores collecting every cow-shaped item I could find (cow sprinkles, cow cutting board, cow piggy banks, to name a few). When I found myself at midnight the night before the party googling "cow moo-ing sound effect", I knew I may have drunk a little too much of that Party Mama cocktail.

But I'll admit - it was worth it. When Lucas walked in the door Friday after school, after I'd taken a vacation day to clean and decorate the house, it was all worth it. "This is SO cool, Mommy!" he said. Cool! Mommy! In the same sentence. (I put this is writing as I fully expect it to never occur again.) His stuffed cows adorned every shelf. His giant inflated cow balloon that I'd given him for his actual birthday floated up into our vaulted ceiling. And the six foot wooden cow, that Hubby's darling Uncle transported for us from the party story, took over our garage. He ran from cow to cow, counting the cows and singing "Happy birthday to me!" in the adorable (but not annoying) way that only a 4-year-old can get away with. 

We were ready. Or were we?

At 11:00am on Saturday, eight children promptly arrived. Grandma and Grandpa were there to help, and Rob and Rochelle, the girlfriend's parents, were there for backup. I had no doubt that Hubby, a former swim teacher and Mad Science entertainer, could handle eight kids for two hours, especially since we'd meticulously planned four cow-themed party games and had a scripted event schedule to go by. But when Hubby let out a big sigh after wrangling the hyper kids for the third time, and we'd already run through two games, and the clock only said 11:20, we realized what we were in for.

Two hours had never felt so long.

My dear friend Amy, mother of five, had been only mildly encouraging when I said we wanted to plan a big kids party at our house. "Yeah, I guess you should try it once," she said. Our neighbour, mother of three, suggested keeping the number low. I maybe should have noted that both moms talked about the many places they had held parties instead of their house. As the kids ran like wild animals, and the games flew by much quicker than planned, I thought that renting a gym might be a good idea for next year.

But in all seriousness, the kids were actually wonderful and all had fun in their own ways, even if it wasn't on the schedule. The two little ones chased our cats. Lucas and Jamie crawled on top of each other. And oldest ones bonded over mischief that we never quite figured out. Hubby the Play Leader was remarkable at keeping the kids, aged 2-7, entertained, teaching them to make balloon animals when the games ran out. And when lunch came, all eight kids sat quietly eating and us grownups stared at each other in shock at the silence. Everyone was duly appreciative of the amazing Cake-Boss-worthy barn cake that Lucas' grandma had crafted, and enjoyed turning their tongues and teeth pink from the red icing. And when we still had 15 minutes to go and nothing left on the schedule, we popped open Lucas' gifts and let everyone have a go.

All in all, a pretty great party. We downed some beer and wine, lay about on the couches in the living room, and patted ourselves on the back.

If only that was it. I had, in my infinite wisdom, actually planned two parties for the same day - a kids party for lunch and a family party in the evening. I've been a professional event planner after all. I knew we could pull it off - as Hubby I make an awesome team when implementing my "event scripts." But there was one thing I forgot to put in the schedule - a nap for us. Something to note for next year.

As for next year, I'm thinking... race car theme...?


Rochelle said...

Firstly, to the newest inductee into the PartyMama hall of fame ... congratulations, awesome party! You guys did such a fantastic job and everybody had a hoot (or is that 'moo'?)

I remember trying to convince you to do it at home this year, and you hesitating, saying "Maybe just family this year, maybe next year..."

I'm SO happy you did this. It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it the exhilaration of planning something really special,the absolute adrenalin rush when the first guest arrives, and the post-party bliss when you're passed out on the couch in total exhaustion...

I'm not kidding anybody by pretending I'm not doing all of this for selfish reasons too, beyond the fact that my kids really love their parties. I, too, love to hear the words 'cool' and 'mommy' close together. The glint in their eyes when they recall birthday parties from 4 years ago makes me feel that I've done something tangibly important in their lives.

Most of all, I'm all too aware that the day will come very soon when my oldest asks me to simply drop him and his friends off at the mall for movies and a meal for his birthday ... "Just us guys, Mom, and oh, can you just give me the cash for that..."

So until that day comes all too soon, hubby and I will spend hours gathering leaves and branches and suspending them from the ceiling to form a jungle canopy, we will trace and cut 78 shadow bunnies until our hands cramp, we will spend hours googling and downloading pirate songs, we will be bribing business owners to sell us some dry ice, and we will be shaping sticky marshmallows into pig snouts at 2:30 in the morning.

With a smile...

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