We've done a wide array of parties. Rock climbing, laser tag, Chuckie Cheese, in the park, mani/pedis, water park, SkyZone, you name it. It seems like we've done it all. This year, Alison wanted to stay home with a dozen plus of her closest friends.
She's 16. I was more than happy to indulge this choice. And it was all great until we were inundated with something 15 straight days of rain. Our basement held out as long as it could, but with water standing everywhere, it was inevitable that it would find the hairline cracks in our foundation.
Our grand plan for using the family room and basement bedroom as party central were drowned out. The Captain, initially, was not a believer that we could make enough room upstairs for the invite list. But Ali and I were undeterred. And it was a wonderful, cozy, loud, silly, crazy weekend.
It started, as is tradition, with family gifts in the morning. Even though she had to report for a big test at school by 7:30 a.m. Jenna and Bree came over Friday night; Jen late due to soccer. Ali wanted to celebrate at Cancun, a Mexican restaurant. Her birthday is on Cinco de Maya, so we were not the only ones trying to crowd into the place. But we managed just fine.
The Princess Bride was playing on a random station before the first guests arrived on Saturday. It was followed by a Cinderella Story which had some hokey scenes that had the group cat-calling, cheering and jeering at villans and stupid boys. After Chinese food came the Disney onslaught and outbursts of sing-alongs or dialogue shouting.
Saturday, the horde starting arriving around noon. By 2 or so, the place was filled and the girls had arrived hungry, flush with the promise of a Gilmore Girls-like take-out fest.
"How much Chinese food do you want to order?" the Captain asked. "There's no way they're going to eat that much."
Dude. This was just the first round.......I thought it. I didn't say it. I know the Captain. But off he drove, coming back with more Chinese food than I'd ever ordered in my life. Even Chi Hong Li, the owner of our favorite take-out place, Zheng's Garden was taken aback. And he knows us.
"How many?" he kept asking when I started the order with eight tins of steamed dumplings and four orders of crab rangoon.
As I write this, this is what remains of our order: two egg foo yung patties and gravy. The General Tso's chicken went first, with the dumplings and crab rangoon following suit. Not a grain of fried or white rice or a stray lo mein noodle lasted past dark.
And this was with my dining room table full of chips, cookies, candy, brownies, cupcakes and other things that normally don't live in my house. Or at least out where I can see it, smell it and touch it.
Jeff and I ran out to make a cameo at a nearby Derby Party that lasted a little longer than we'd planned. While we were gone, the girls took a break and actually went outside to visit Canterbury Park. They were still there when we texted to announce our imminent arrival with two bags of Taco Bell sustenance.
That got them home in a hurry where the movies quickly resumed.
Best lines of the weekend:
Ali, describing Friday night with long-time besties Bree and Jenna who enjoy make-up much more than Alison does: "I got make-upped. It was weird."
Saturday night, in between movies, I asked the crowd if anyone needed anything. Bree: "I need a boyfriend," which was quickly taken up by others.
Jenna: "If you're into guys, I have a brother. And he's hot."
Which of course led to discussion about Alex Ogden and I think I now have a side hustle match-making for the 16-year-old set.
Darianna (I think): "This is the most fun I've ever had."
"What was your best birthday, Ali?" "Probably this one."
Elaine on Sunday morning went to shower and Alison jumped up to show her how her funky shower works. Darianna: "I'm going to go learn, too, because I'll need to know that when I come back."
And, best of all: "Thanks, Mom." (I'm sure she thanked her father, as well. Just not when I was around.)
I camped out at the kitchen counter for a while but retreated to my bedroom after a while. I kept the door ajar because it was just too much fun not to listen. Jeff retreated to the basement where we had three de-humidifiers and five fans roaring to help dry the place out. "It was quieter down there," he explained.
We had a waffle bar for breakfast and the girls either sketched or painted in between on Sunday morning. It was sad to see them all go.
With Ali in high school, she's made a lot of new friends who, unlike Jenna and Bree, I haven't bathed or fed or comforted or teased since they were in diapers. It's been a bit of a disconnect, but one that's teaching me to let go, I'm sure.
We have had some of her Herron friends over, of course, and they're an awesome bunch. It was great to spend time with the others who I've known only by name and the stories Ali tells. To a person, they were wonderful. Funny. Silly. Smart. Kind. Even helpful.
I'd have them all back. But maybe not all at once right away...