Thursday, October 22, 2009

Birthday Party Blues

Since the upcoming weeks aren't busy enough - what with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years on the way - I have assigned myself an awesome project to keep myself from getting too bored - (yeah, ok...)

I really need to get on top of a birthday party for Charlie. His birthday is in between Christmas and New Years and the poor kid always seems to get the shaft. Mind you he has never complained, God Bless him, but this year he had to endure a massive party for Max's birthday/graduation. The event for Max was so huge that I don't think we can let Charlie's birthday slide by this year without at least a decent amount of fanfare. And considering the fact that I am unemployed, I have no excuse not to take the time to make this happen for him.

Anyone who knows me knows that birthdays are just not my forte. When working, I could barely get birthday cards in the mail and when I did, it was anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks late. OK. Bad example. I still struggle with this. SO...a better example would be that when I was working I could barely get the book of stamps to get birthday cards in the mail. So you can imagine my ineptitude at planning an entire party. With invitations and everything? Dealing with RSVP calls? Oh my. You may as well have asked me to scale Everest than have asked me to get a cake with a for-real personalized message. So I managed one "organized" party for Charlie throughout the course of his 6 years. Last year when he said he didn't want a party, I sure didn't press the matter (oh Honey well OF COURSE you don't have to have a birthday party, you don't have to do ANYTHING you don't want to do).

But this year, no such luck. Discussions started as early as July, as a result of aforementioned Birthday/Graduation party for Max. Fortunately at the time, but unfortunately for me now, that party was at the end of June and revolved around the biggest, most obnoxious inflatable water slide you have ever seen on our front yard. It entertained hoards of kids for hours and hours. It is a tough act to follow in the best of circumstances...much less in the dead of winter.

So anyway first thing I have to tackle is the "where." I know that I sure as heck do not want all these kids in my house. I have a lot of trouble - well, ok perhaps it is a slight phobia - of a concentrated number of things - living things - in one place. A bird, a fish, a bug - all imminently "dealable" when they're on their own, or even in a group of two or three. But flocks of birds, schools of fish - even the recent ladybug swarms - all disturb me greatly, not so much because of the actual creatures themselves but because there are so darn many of them. Same theory applies with kids - one on one, I'm fine, everything's great - but put a large group of children in one small area? Two words: Hibbidy BaJibbidies. (You've seen Madagascar, right?) So, no - it would be better if this event is not in my own house. Way too confined.

Charlie desperately wants a "sledding" party, but I certainly can't guarantee snow. And I think renting a snow making machine is out of the question. Plus you know what would happen - all of these children would go sledding for all of 10 minutes and then want to come inside for the rest of the 2 hours that I would have them. And then I would end up lining them up against a wall and alphabetizing them (see previous blog post).

All of the other places just seem so done to death. On top of the fact that they all seem to be so very expensive. The one reasonably priced place is the one place that is a close second (my house being first) in the "never going to happen" category and that is the bowling alley. I can't take another bowling party. I just can't. And Charlie won't do cooking. That's "a girl party."

So I remain stuck.

The next thing to tackle is the theme - you know, Spiderman, Transformers, Harry Potter - Charlie is at an age where he is starting to grow out of these kinds of things. On top of which he changes his mind every couple of days. But you can't not have a theme, right? This can make or break the party for birthday boy/girl. One of my favorite stories of all time is about a birthday party theme.

In the Northeast, as many of us are aware, it is not uncommon for religion to play less than what you might call a leading role in our lives. One of my dear friends and her husband, who spent their whole lives here in the Northeast, relocated to the south. Needless to say, religion played a larger part in the lives of their new friends and neighbors. One summer, in an effort to better integrate - and quite frankly in an effort to get a few hours to herself, my friend sent her kids to a Vacation Bible School. It was great - the kids played games, sang songs, listened to stories - they were very excited about what they were learning and would recount it all in great detail each day. They were hooked on the Bible and all it had to offer - so hooked that her 5 year old son asked if he could please have a "Jesus" birthday party.

Now please don't get me wrong I think it's wonderful that Jesus was elevated to Number One Super Hero status in this boy's eyes, worthy of being the THEME to his birthday party. Not Spidey. Not Optimus Prime. Not even the NY Yankees. He wanted Jesus. That is just THE BEST. But what is even better is my imagination taking that further - to the Jesus cone-shaped hats, the Jesus napkins and tablecloth, the Jesus goody bags. Again, I mean no harm or offense - I don't know, maybe this stuff exists? I've just never seen it - not in any Party City around here anyway.

Sadly, Charlie really only has the vaguest notion of Jesus, so I don't think I'll be having the same issue my friend had. I think maybe we'll make due w/ the NY Giants.

So - what I am hoping for is maybe some of you might have some 7 year old "100% boy" Winter birthday party suggestions? Please let me know - would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Now What?

OK I have hit rock bottom or should I say rock boredom. It took 10 months but I have officially become b-o-r-e-d. Want to know what I did yesterday? I alphabetized all of our DVD's. Something which, granted, needed to be done, it was so annoying trying to find anything - but this little project basically justified my existence for the day. Not cool.

I suppose anybody who is reading this already knows that I am among the ranks of the Unemployed (hence the title of the blog) and yes, I - we - my husband and I that is - are choosing that I remain as such. And so far, this decision has been a-o.k. with me.

I have mastered getting to various sports practices on time WITH all the necessary older son Max runs cross country so as long as he has some form of footwear on we're pretty much set. Flag football for 6 year old Charlie is another story. You've got a mouthpiece, water bottle, cleats, football pants, practice shirt - and he's supposed to wear a cup but since it came up to his belly button we figured he'd be all right without it for this season, anyway. Anyway the point is - a lot of stuff. Hard to get right. Tom (said husband) and I once sent him to a FLAG FOOTBALL practice without his FLAGS. Swift. But that's in the past, now I can get it all together - plus some trail mix for snack - with my eyes closed. Very helpful now that the season is over.

I am happy to report that I have a house that is almost always presentable and I really don't ever fall behind on the laundry. It took me almost 20 years of living on my own to figure out that if you do a little bit at a time, you don't have to clean for hours and hours and waste an entire day. I certainly don't like doing it any more than I used to but being around to get it done sure does take the edge off of the hate.

I am around for homework and I make sure my kids get it done as soon as they come home from school. I provide help and yes, "motivation" when necessary. ("You will not TOUCH that Playstation OR the computer until this is done - correctly AND neatly!" I have boys, you have to add "neatly" to those kinds of statements)

I exercise almost every morning. I either run or walk, almost always with a dog or two. I used to go with all three at once but that got a little out of hand once Ollie, the puppy, got big and really, really strong and apparently impervious to the pain of the medieval torture spiked collar we use to walk him. I scared the pants off some lady and her dog one morning when walking all three of mine and as we passed each other, all three started barking at her like they were going to tear out her - and her dog's - throats. Lovely. We'll have no more of that. But Junior is usually my running dog. Because he never poops, well - not out on our runs, anyway. I'm sure he poops at other times. So the non-stop, totally forward-motion he's got is a plus. The other two get walked. Lately Ollie gets to go on the trails I found in the woods. I took Minnie to the trails once, she kept running too far away. I think perhaps she was trying to escape the insanity of our household, she's not really a "people" dog. Come to think of it she's not really "another dog" dog either - she's pretty much just pissed off at almost everyone except my father. It's very strange.

I cook a lot now. And I am pretty good at it. Simple stuff, anyway. Leave the fancy dishes for Tom - I'm all about beef stew, turkey chili, quesadillas, baked ziti - you get my drift. Anything my kids will eat with gusto. The dishes may not come off the pages of Food and Wine (in fact often times they come off the pages of the Wookie Cookie cookbook) but at least they are homemade. When I was working it was not rare for me to throw bowls of Coco Krispies (which were not homemade, in case you were wondering) at my children for dinner while I continued to bang out emails and review piles and piles of galley proofs that awaited my approval before they could be submitted to clients. My "work from home" job turned out to be more work than any "work at the office" job could ever EVER be.

And I shudder to think of those days and I can safely say that I do not ever want to go back to that.

But honestly, taxiing kids to sports events, cleaning, cooking and dare I say alphabetizing (I did all of the fiction books in our library and the spice rack prior to tackling the DVD's) have become a bit mundane. These things used to be a huge challenge for me because they were so very different than what I did on a daily basis. But now...not so much. I still like exercising, I just wish it worked better.

So - I suppose this all finally brings me to my point - this blog. I need an outlet. I need to know if there are any of you out there that are going through the same things - or going through anything remotely similar. Or something completely different, I don't care - just let me know! I honestly don't know what I'm doing or what I'm going to say on any on-going basis but my guess is that it will largely revolve around me, a former Vice President and Director of a company, finding myself as the New Suzy Homemaker. And how this Suzy Homemaker position is waaaay harder than any VP/Director job could possibly be.

It could get interesting...