Birthday Presence

We survived Jordan's bowling and Kyra and Jaiden's pool/slumber party birthday marathon. Barely, but we're still breathing.

As you may recall, we had originally arranged to have the twins' pool and slumber party at a local hotel. About an hour after we checked in, most of the guests had arrived and were flapping around swimming like penguins on speed when the two desk clerk whojimajiggers came out to speak with us. I could tell by the constipated oh, shit looks on their faces that the news was not good. Long story short, the clerk who made our reservations the weekend before last was not supposed to allow that many guests per room.The girls who checked us in called the manager to double-check that it was okay (it was not), and then he in turn called the wrongdoer (who was not on duty then) to get the story from her. She had the audacity to play the dumb role and say that she had no earthly idea that we were hosting slumber parties and that she never would have allowed such a reservation to be made. The girls were apologetic and looked completely terrifed to deliver the manager's message that either we had to agree to pay for five rooms or cancel our reservation completely. I assured them that I knew they were just the messengers and that I wasn't upset with them and that I also respected the manager's need to follow regulations, but I absolutely was upset that Fatima (that cow's name is FATIMA aka Killer of Children's Dreams) had the gall to lie, especially when she'd gone into so much detail about how they do slumber parties like that all the time and "…we could even bring in roll-away beds if you need them." My ass. 

So. We were able to continue with the pool party portion of the shindig which was scheduled from 4 to 7 pm, and what we'd paid for the smaller of the two reserved rooms (about $80) would cover the cost. We would be reimbursed for the larger of the two rooms (about $90). At some point one of the girls hinted heavily that Fatima was fired: "She won't have the chance to do THAT again." I might have let a vindictive titter of pleasure slip out. 

I am not in the business of breaking my kids' hearts, especially when they ask for so little and are so full of the awesomesauce that I am perhaps a little jealous of them in the way that geeks are of the cool kids. So without giving it a second thought, we decided to move the slumber party to our crib. Two words for you:



In retrospect, we were glad for the change in venue. The kids had room to stretch out and there were plenty of activities to keep them busy. One group of boys played with Legos in the boys' room. Another played Halo (video game) in the play room. Jordan and a couple of friends played computer games. A group of girls did the make-up and hair thing in the girls' room. Some kids bounced around on the trampoline, a group of kids played games on the Kinect in the living room, and yet another group set up shop at the dining room table and embarked on an paleontology dig. The best part was watching them play Dance Central. 14 kids dropping it like it's hot and evacuating the dance floor in unison is some kind of funny. 

Around ten we got them settled on mattresses, blanket pallets, and sleeping bags – girls in the living room and boys in the playroom – and then let them watch movies to chill out. Half the kids tanked almost immediately. The other half were the sneaky ones who were clearly waiting for us to tank so that they could crank up the shenanigans. Our living room/kitchen/playroom is basically one big open space, so Frank placed himself on Prank Patrol between the two camps until the giggly ones (both girls and boys) fell asleep. I thought it would be the boys who started in with floating air biscuits (flatulations, for you proper people), but it was the girls who thought it would be fun to start a farting competition. It was 2:30 a.m. before they were all asleep and Frank was able to come to bed himself. I punked out and fell asleep an hour before when my intent was only to blink. 

We got up and started cooking at 6:30 and were surprised to find some kids already awake and quietly watching TV or playing video games. Heads began popping up as the smell of sausage and cinnamon rolls began wafting around the house. Four dozen scrambled eggs, 60-something sausage links, 48 cinnamon rolls, two large fruit trays, and two gallons each of apple and orange juice got everyone fed. They continued to play as their parents gradually came to pick them up and everyone was gone by 11:00. 

Frank and I were knocked out and drooling into our pillows by 11:01.

As crazy as you might imagine taking on NINETEEN KIDS ages 5 to 11 in our house might be, it was actually quite organized and tame. Sure, it was noisy and they were, but the kids were polite, mannerable, funny, and cooperative. Whenver I needed to make an announcement to the whole group – Now that you're all finished with breakfast, you need to do three things: get dressed, clean up the blankets and stuff, and get your stuff together into a neat pile and leave it in the boys' room so that when it's time for you to go, you don't have to hunt around for it — they all whipped their heads towards me and froze like a colony of alert meerkats. We only had to give directions once and they immediately stopped whatever they were doing and snapped into completing whatever directive we gave them. There wasn't a single argument, and every single child was on their absolute best behavior. They were amazing, the twins were starry-eyed with parental adoration, and we all had a blast. 

But I'll be damned if we ever do it again. 


Your comments to the Report Card were quite interesting. Several of you gave me some food for thought. In the post, I graded the surrogacy/fertility aspects of my life. Overall, right now I'd have to say that I give my life a B+, and I'm working towards the A. The type of change I want to happen in our lives (new career track, moving) won't happen overnight and pretty much now centers on Frank getting finished with school, which is about two or so years away. Until those things happen, I think I'll have this sense of not being able to give myself the full credit of an A. In the meantime, I'm happy with my B. It's a good in-progress grade that says I'm doing well even though I'm not quite where I want to be yet. 

Because I am popular, a ton of you (by a ton I mean like, two) emailed me to ask how the heck I created that spectacular report card. I wish I could say that I have wicked self-taught Photoshop skills, but at best Photoshop mystifies me and at worst makes me go crazy nucking futs. So alas, my report card was cobbled together with some fancy downloaded fonts and PowerPoint. Yeah, that's what I said – PowerPoint. PowerPoint 2007 is good for stupid people like me to make seemingly-complicated graphics. I just made a table, added color, found a handwriting and stamper font on, and then saved the whole thing as a picture. So, here's a present for my fellow stupids who'd like to make a report card of their own:

Download Report card

Old stamper Throw my hands up in the air

You can download my actual report card PowerPoint file and the clicking on the boxes above will take you to the pages where you can download the fonts. So long as you know how to work with tables, you should be able to make a report card. If you do, drop me a link in the comments so that I can come check it out. 


10 thoughts on “Birthday Presence”

  1. Ha. I was just thinking, like, yesterday that I needed to ask you what hotel chain you were going to that would let you put that many kids in one room (you know, for future reference so my kids will think I’m awesome some day). Sorry Fatima screwed that up. I’m impressed, though, that you still managed to pull it off. And with style. I can’t even imagine the scrambling that must’ve gone on to change venues. Way to be rad!

  2. it’s not so much that you had 19 kids at your place — though, wow, I can’t really even imagine that — but how the hell did you deal with the last minute logistics? i.e., telling all the parents about the change in venue, wrangling up all the sleeping gear, and breakfast for 20+ AT THE LAST MINUTE? I mean, holy crap. seriously, you guys win most awesome parents of the year. rock stars!

  3. I found you through ICLW!
    What an amazing birthday for the kids! So glad to read that everything worked out, despite the nightmare with the hotel.
    Looking forward to reading more of your blog!

  4. Very good! Now aren’t you glad I was military minded when you all were growing up and taught you the three A’s?
    That was excellent thinking to say the least. I was awed when Dani told me what happened. I’m so proud of you on many levels. You and your Sissssssssssters, continue to be a testament to MY greatness!
    I hope you got some great pictures. I wish I could have been there.

  5. You are plum nuts to have that many kids over!! Lol! But alls well that ends well and it sounds spectacular! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Stopping by from ICLW and oh my god 19 kids!!! Truly humbled by your organization and quick turn around when the hotel didn’t keep up their side of the bargain.
    I’m delighted to hear the kids were polite, I’m sure their parents MUST have warned them to do what you said or else!
    Really enjoyed the post!
    ICLW #9

  7. Alexicographer

    I think it’s possible your excellent teacher skillz (in addition to mom skillz) helped with that one.
    I was thinking back recently on the first girl scout camping trip I went on, where after night 1 we were so soaked our troop leaders took us back to their home for night 2. As I told them, while I’ve always had fond memories of that trip, looking back on it from adult/parenthood gives me a new admiration for their commitment to us kids.

  8. Man your house sounds like a fun place!
    At some point (like, when I actually look at my blog again) I will try out that report card thing. I really liked it, but thought you graded way to hard. ๐Ÿ™‚

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