The whole shebang was a 16 1/2 hour affair. For the record, this is 15 hours longer than most parties I've thrown.
I have a love/hate relationship with parties, birthday parties specifically.
On the hate side: gift bags, moist cake crumbs everywhere, pairing up, leaving out, incendiary marshmallows that become airborne, water gun fights turned mean.
On the love side: Tim, Kolbe, John, Ainsley, simple joys, camaraderie, life-long friends, childish delight.
In an effort to maximize the fun and minimize the need to binge on chocolate cupcakes and/or sneak a glass of wine early (because, as a friend told me yesterday, it's always five o'clock somewhere), I go into Control Freak Mode.
Here are a few tactics in my arsenal:
1. Ninety minutes start to finish.
2. Hold it all off-site. Let someone else vacuum up moist cake crumbs.
3. If one on one defense is required, enlist the aid of the husband and arm him with explicit and gory details of past parties run amok.
4. Make firm plans that begin approximately six minutes after the party in the off chance that a mother calls and asks, "I know the party ends at three, but could Ralphie hang out until nine?" Recognize that you are a lousy liar, and arm yourself with a plausible out.
5. Note that "No, sorry. I'll be drinking wine and perusing Pinterest right about then" may, in fact, be a plausible out, but it's not one you should share.
6. Keep them moving. Keep them moving. Keep them moving.
7. Did I mention ninety minutes?
8. Don't dwell on the gift bags. Think: death and taxes. Death and taxes and gift bags.
9. But feel free to dispense with the gift bags around age 10.
10. Thank our good and gracious God you have two summer birthdays and can usually skirt the whole party issue by being conveniently out of town for five or six years running.
11. Light a candle to Our Lady of Sorrows in thanksgiving that these summer-born children remain wholly ignorant of that nefarious trend called the "half birthday."
12. Bite the bullet every now and then and schedule a summer birthday party anyway. It's easier than ministry and cheaper than therapy. Really.
13. Consider the fact that your childhood included more than a few incendiary marshmallows, but you and your siblings still made it to adulthood fully sighted.
14. Always, always, always keep in mind the words of your precious (now teenage!) son at the end of an uneventful, not exactly Pinterest worthy party: Thanks, Mom, That was awesome!
15. Pause between the pinata and the birthday cake, between cucumber sandwiches and pizza to recall those ineffable moments when you first set eyes on four red-faced, squalling babes who have cleaved both heart and soul and left you forever changed.
One day a year it's all about them, them, them. Happy birthday, dear Kolbe, my one-of-a-kind boy who has flavored our lives with humor and warmth. You are a gem. A gem.