Daily Archives: September 6, 2013

Birthdays and babies

I just did a bit of math, and here’s what I figured out.


So far in my children’s lifetimes, I’ve planned some thirty-five of their birthday celebrations. At least. I’m not counting celebrations for family or at school or daycare where, even though you don’t have to do much planning, you still get to schlep cakes and paper plates and plastic utensils all over town, but still. Let’s milk this for all it’s worth, shall we?

Thirty-five birthday parties is equivalent to more than one hundred hours of my life a) chasing down a house full of screaming kids jacked up on sugar, b) scrubbing mud and cake and puke off floors and walls, and c) wanting to stab my ears out. Good times.


Twelve of these festivities were in the Netherlands. Kids parties there are much like the ones here, filled with presents and loud singing and too much cake, all of which in no way make up for the lack of alcohol.


How many minutes it took me into Evan’s first birthday party to figure out that paying someone to entertain the kids is worth every single penny. It was a freezing cold April in Holland, and thirty snotty-nosed  hooligans were bouncing off our walls. By then the cake had already been eaten, the presents torn open, and the games played, and the Dutchman and I still had another three hours and fifty-five minutes to go.


The bottle of wine we chugged after everyone left.

DSC00767Fast forward to now.

Now, the Swaaks live in a land where when it comes to kids’ birthdays, the sky’s the limit. Limousines and private concerts, sleepovers in a suite at the Ritz, catered skyboxes at the Georgia Dome – nothing is too extreme, or too expensive. With the couture birthday parties all around us, it’s easy to go over the top and convince yourself that a real, live circus in the backyard is a perfectly normal way to mark a child’s birthday.

Except that it’s not.

Isabella’s fifteenth birthday party next weekend will be a big celebration, but it will not be Super Sweet. No surprise celebrity appearances or private shopping soirées or glamour-girl makeovers. No grand entrances on exotic animals or ridiculously overpriced gift bags. This year, we’re going back to basics ~ to a bunch of kids tearing up my house and jumping in my pool and playing Ke$ha way too loud.

Because the Swaaks live in reality. Not on reality tv.

But there WILL be cake. And I will eat LOTS of it.

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