Sunday, August 22, 2010

2 parties :: 24 hours

Two parties in 24 hours.  Is it crazy?  Is it efficient?  Is it feasible?  Well, we did it.  Last weekend.  Here are my thoughts.

But first, tonite I ordered this book:

because I am a reluctant entertainer.  Yeah, I know.  Letsjustbehonesthere.  I was the kid who hid behind my mom's legs when grown-ups asked me a question.  I was the kid who went into the tool store with my babysitter and refused to say the phrase that would allow her to purchase a tool at half price (seriously a strange gimmick - have a kid come in and say your store rocks and get an item 50% off.  Fortunately, the other 3 kids said it, so she got the deal.)  I'm the college freshman who turned quietly to the oboe player beside her and whispered, "Will you be my friend?"  The mom who volunteered to be the PTO photographer cuz I get to hide behind a lens.  Yeah.  I'm a little reluctant to invite people into my sanctuary.  But I also love planning a party.  I love figuring out a theme - or a no theme.  I love browsing the web for decorations and recipes.  I love trying new things.  And I love having people here.  Yeah.  It really is a dilemma.

So two parties within 24 hours of each other.  We debated the benefits and drawbacks.  Clean the house - once.  Buy food - once.  Clean up --- twice.  What could be wrong with it?  We were running out of days to have people over.  Hubby wanted his team of employees.  I wanted some of our heart friends.  One weekend.  We decided to go for it.

Saturday the temperature bordered 100 degrees with heat index over 110.  Good thing we have a pool.  People arrived with their kids.  The young people swam while the little people threw floaties from the wading pool into the big pool and wary parents repeatedly pulled them back from the edge of the pool.  And they sweat.  And drank and ate and met each others' kids and spouses.  And they ate and they drank.  Everything we'd bought.  To last through two parties.  Gone first night.  Oops.  We recycled bottles left out and washed the dishes from dinner.  We cleared the pool of toys and went to bed.  Employee party:  18 people who love and work with my husband on a daily basis ~ A Success.

The next morning, I wanted nothing better than to not have another party.  Yet, I had people coming over.  My friends!  So we went to church and went to Costco and I came home and started more ribs and iced more drinks.  At 4:00, 30 more people descended on our humble home.  And I had a blast!   [Some of the kids did too ;) ]

We talked and we ate and we watched our kids and we spent an afternoon loving and getting to know each other better.  Another Success.

So, the moral of this story?  Two parties is a ton of work.  It's not half the work for twice the fun.  It's twice the work for all the fun.  That's just all there is to it.  With the exception that I didn't feel the need to clean the toilet both days.  And I suppose we didn't have to sweep the walnuts off the sidewalk twice or mow the yard twice or put out the tables twice.  But, in the end it did still feel like a ton of work.  Wanna know the honest truth, though?  Any amount of work or not would have been well worth it. 

In a world where the most important aspect of living is to love God and the second to love others - the relationships we maintain are vital.  Truly, too few people entertain any more.  Either that, or we just don't get invited.  But, as Sandy from The Reluctant Entertainer says:
Would-be-hostesses will discover that true hospitality is not about being perfect, cooking a fancy meal, or spending a lot of money. Rather, it’s about an open door and an open heart!
Tsh Oxenreider also states:
...a wake-up call to women of today’s generation, who seem to have lost the conviction that relationships matter more than appearances. The Reluctant Entertainer gives women of all ages a much-needed boost of encouragement to take a step of faith and use their home in service to others.
I think I'll be reading the book cover to cover.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

One Night @ Chez Hospital

It was quite honestly another whirlwind day.  Only this one with a little more fear and a lot more time on our hands.  Ever since my clandestined experience with the wonder of a shop in San Francisco they call Kara's Cupcakes, I've dreamed of sprinkles dancing on cupcakes in the StL {my new life goal is to visit a cupcake shop in every major city}.  But when Friday rolled around and I found myself finally seated at a booth in The Cup in Central West End, I feverishly swallowed my Mocha Cappuccino cupcake.  I quietly smooshed the last bites of frosting and tasty cake off my plate into the trashcan (say what??) before dashing out the door.  I was 30 miles from my daughter who struggled to breathe in her school nurse's office.  Ironically, blocks from the pediatric e.r. where she needed to be.  But I raced to her side, having forgotten the taste of chocolate-laced coffee bean on my tongue.

Pookie landed herself a one night's stay last night in the hospital.  It's been a good five years since she last spent an evening in a room there.  I didn't like it.  Not one bit.  And I found myself repeatedly atoning her with, "Nothing happens fast in a hospital."  The poor girl's souped up on medicines like albuterol and steroids.  For a child who talks prolifically - more than most - it was interesting to see her on hyper-drive.  She demanded speed and attention.  No one moved fast enough.  And I was her only audience.

But we made it home tonite in time to celebrate Grammie's birthday.  We piggy-backed the twins with Grammie today since we have big things planned in the horizon for the twins.  But I wanted to post this pic of our family.  Each one of them saved the day today.  I had big plans (again), big plans I say - to have a fabulous diner en blanc tonite.  Instead, we focused on what was most important:  family, celebrating those birth milestones with good ol' fashioned burgersbratsanddogs alongside potato salad, chips n salsa, and fruit - potlucked together by the family {Pookie and I made it home literally30 minutes before partytime!}. 

Tonite we snapped those all-important family photos as soon as everyone arrived.  I've been reading a fair amount of photography books I'd like to share with you one day soon.  But getting photos out of the way first thing at parties like this one was a good tip in one of the books I'm reading.  That, and smooshing everyone together so all you see are a sea of faces.  The author said, if you see feet, you're too far out.    (I'm getting better, but c'mon!  Sometimes bare naked toddler feet BEG to be photographed, don't you think??  That, and I hate my hair.  What am I going to do with it??)

Anyway ~ it was indeed another whirlwind day with a weekend party involved (though not back2back ~ I'll still get to that little social science experiment soon.  Just not tonite.  Tonite, I need sleep.)

Anyway, not exactly a storybook party, but then again, a story indeed.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Where Science Met Imagination

After we returned home from San Francisco Sunday (and what a trip home it was for me --- I finally made it to StL~International a mere 8 hours after my scheduled landing...), we woke up early Monday morning, packed everyone into the van and drove to Huntsville AL, home of the U.S. Space and Rocket Museum - or Space Camp, as most of us are more familiar.

This summer, USSRM is home to the traveling StarWars exhibit.  And beings that Mr. T used to be  the biggest StarWars fan that ever lived (that's a story in and of itself - for another day), we thought it would be fun to take him there as his 9th birthday gift.

We drove down Monday, hung out all day Tuesday at the center, and drove home on Wednesday.  15 hours in the car, but the kids were super!  And we discovered that we had seen and done everything while we were there.  The kids thought the outdoor play area was a blast - they went on the centrifuge-spinning-thingy so many times even Pookie got a little nauseous.  There were no lines - the ride operators let them go over and over and over and over and ... *hurl*.  (haha!  Just kidding.  No one got sick.  coughexceptmecough.)

The actual StarWars exhibit was quite cool, as well.  The costumes and models of the ship were mostly sentimental to me and The Man.  But the hands-on robotics displays/magnetism demonstrations, and even videos of real-life stuff as it related to the various planets of StarWars kept everyone's interest.  It was just a lot of fun!

We came home and prepared for two back-to-back parties in the backyard.  It was a science experiment, really...

Question:  Is it better to spread out the soirees to most appreciate them and be best prepared?  Or should you smash as many parties and people into your backyard in a 24 hour period as is out-of-this-worldy possible? 
Hypothesis:  I'll let you know my thoughts in the days to come...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Tale of a Tripod, a Timer, and a Trip Together

Recently, my man and I did something we never do.  He took a business trip and I joined up with him to spend some time vacationing together ~ just the two of us. 

The extra-fortunate part of the whole thing was that the part of California where his company's headquarters
reside is just a wee bit south of the town where my best friend from high school lives!  It was a win-win situation, so I begged him to make it happen.  Lucky for me, he loves me like he does.  Cuz the next thing I knew, I was on a plane to San Francisco!

Day 1: I ditched The Man and spent the day hanging out at the beach with Frizzy and Yaya!  (OK, actually, he was working ~ and I was spending his money.  Isn't that what I do every day?)  Even though I'm pretty sure Frizzy got all frizzed-out trying to figure out what to do with me for the day, she knew I'd be perfectly content walking and driving around just looking for pretty things to take pictures of.  And the girl has quite an eye for pretty, letmejusttellyouthatforsure.  It was perfect - she'd see a spot, pull over, and wait for me to get my shot, then off we'd go to find the next little gem! 
My single request for the day - besides just hanging out together - was to find a cupcake.  Yup.  Just a cupcake.  And Frizz came through there, too.  Ask any of my kids, "What's Mommy's favorite store in San Francisco?"

Kara's Cupcakes @ Ghirardelli Square!

The next day, The Man and I visited Armstrong Woods and spent a lovely afternoon traveling through the Russian River Wine Country.  We ended the day at Lucas Wharf eating lobster mac-n-cheese and sipping pomegranate mojitos.

The absolute best part of the whole day was when my husband said to me, "This entire day has been a God-thing."  We didn't know what we were doing or where we were going when we began touring the wineries - and after a heckuva long hike up a heckuva steep mountain, we didn't have a ton of time left to do the one thing we really wanted to do: Visit Wine Country.  But I prayed that it would be special for us and I was led to the beginning: a very good place to start.  The letter A.  I found a winery that began with an A and I directed my sweet manly man to it.  Once we were there, the very nice lady behind the counter gave us a ticket to go to four additional wineries with the tastings at each spot on the house!   WooHoo!

At the fourth winery we visited (HopKiln), the wine steward happened to be the person who wrote the computer program in the 80's in Silicon Valley that my husband's company runs today.  For the man's company.  At Winery #5 (Twomey - we drove by it four times in what could've been horrible construction traffic, yet each time we got right through - and just before the winery closed!!!), the wine steward was a native of Hawaii who gave us intimate advice on where to go - even where to buy frozen peas to feed the tropical fish in the bay - when we go on Pookie's Make A Wish trip.  We learned a ton about wine ~ and maybe we drank a ton of wine ~ but it was exceptional!  We loved the whole day!

On the banks of Bodega Bay

The third day, we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge {brrrrrrrrrrr!}and had an absolute blast touring San Francisco with the very funny Yanni on our Segways!

The coldest winter I ever spent was my summer in San Francisco (not, actually, Mark Twain).

Totally worth it to take a Segway Tour ~ We had a blast! ~ in front of Alcatraz.
So there you have it.  Memories to last a lifetime ~ I can't wait to put together a photo album of all 600 pictures I took.  Golly it's a good thing I have a tripod, a camera with a timer, and a man who is willing to listen to my crazy ideas and take me on a trip ~ just the two of us, together!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

For Ever and For Always.

We are seriously living it up here in the StL.  Hubby and I took some time while he traveled on business last week to enjoy SanFrancisco and neighboring areas.  I spent a wonderful day with my amazing friends Frizzy and Yaya on that trip, as well.  After a somewhat nightmarish flight back to the midwest late Sunday, we immediately packed up the family and took everyone to the StarWars exhibit at the Space and Rocket Museum in Huntsville Alabama Monday morning.  (More pictures of all of that to come.) We literally drove down one day, spent one whole day at the museum, and drove back home the next day. 
That was yesterday. 

We came back because those two up above were asked to lead our congregation and many of our local educators and administrators in prayer at our church tonite.  Our church hosts an evening of prayer for local schools each year just before school starts.  The twins were asked to pray on behalf of all pre-K to 5th grade students.  In preparation, today, I took them to get their hair cut.  And they finished writing and typing out their prayers.  By themselves.  I actually wasn't able to attend the event due to a meeting at the school, but I watched in awe at their videotaping.  I'm not sure how I got to be so fortunate as to be their mom.   Look at how grown up they've become!  I look at this picture and have a difficult time remembering that they are still just 8.  Sure, in 3 weeks they turn 9 ~ but for right now, even though they look all geared up to head to the prom with their dates waiting in the wings or maybe to her rehearsal dinner...they're still my babies. 

For always.

Mr. T: Dear Jesus, Thank you for this day and us being able to pray to you. Thank you for summer vacation and having time with our friends and family. Thank you for allowing us to be safe and not allowing any tornados to come this way this summer. Thank you for a new school year and the opportunity to get better at math and other subjects.

Pookie: Please help us get good grades and help us make new friends. Please help the teachers be nice and help us all behave in school. Please let there be no bullies. Let us have lots of chances to learn and to have fun. Help us show Jesus’ love every day. Thank you for hearing our prayers. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Both: Amen.
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