The Kids Are on Spring Break This Week, Which Means I’ve Been Playing with Clay and Moon Sand and Building Towers out of Blocks and All Sorts of Other Things That Aren’t Blogging–Which Pretty Much Explains Why This Post Is Heavy on Pictures


This punkin’ right here had a sleepover birthday party last Friday night. As of this writing (the Thursday following the party), I’ve almost recovered.  I’ll also attribute my slow recovery to the fact that Groom was out of town for a couple of days after the party, and during his absence I took the kids to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and, well, Paco processes stimuli pretty deeply, so he was up four times that night “because I just keep seeing bad pictures in my head.”  I was seriously sympathetic, as nothing plants bad pictures in one’s head as effectively as a film about the horrors of middle school.  By 2 a.m., the night of the movie, Paco and I were laying in bed, clutching each other, whimpering sleepily to the universe, “No more mean kids.  Stop teasing us.  I’m sorry my bike is dumb, and my clothes aren’t cool.  I won’t ever try to sit by you at lunch again.  Why can’t we all be friends?”

At any rate, after a couple nights of getting four hours of sleep, and since I’m no Margaret Thatcher or Octomom (both avowed “just give me a couple hours of nod, and I’m ready to rule the kingdom” types), my All Kinds of Everything were a bit out of whack.

However, Punkin’ Girl’s sleepover party was worth the resultant foggy head.  Not only was it terrific fun for her and her friends, but the occasion of the party helped me put more time into a burgeoning friendship myself.

And honestly, once the School Years are over, doesn’t it become increasingly hard to make deep, lasting, meaningful friendships?  Sure, there’s the bar.  You know, where you meet people whose charms become translucent in the daylight when all beer has evaporated from the skull.  And I guess it’s possible to make friends at work, but, frankly, I recoil from that idea–simply because we share an employer doesn’t mean I don’t want to slap you for asserting that homeless people are on the streets by conscious choice, O Righteous Colleague.  Oh, and there is always the possiblity of befriending a neighbor, as has happened in my adult life, but the honest truth is that a conversation with the neighbor often starts with Her Nice Self admitting, “I’m pretty obsessive about doing laundry” to which my only rejoinder is, “Uh, I’m pretty obsessive about Philip Roth and the heroic work of genius that is Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.”  After that, we lapse into confused silence, her craving her fabric softener, me craving my bookies. 

Thus, when a new, adult girlfriendship comes galloping out of the mist, it’s a rare treat.  Over the last few months, this has been happening for me.  Her name is Kirsten, and she’s married to my Great Life Pal Virginia.  You can probably see already how much we have in common:  we both love lesbians.  Kirsten is one, and I am an admirer of many–and not only for their cleverness in finding a life that gives them double the wardrobe for half the cost.  I also admire that they have found a life that assures them of a tampon in every cupboard.

Anyhoodle, Virginia is 73, and Kirsten is 37, and their May/December relationship is beautiful.  I’ve known for 14 years that Virginia is one of my bosom besties, but it’s only recently that I’m getting to spend enough time with Kirsten to love her, too.  Girl’s sleepover party cemented it.

…because, a few months ago, when Girl was first begging to have seven of her closest friends sleep over for her birthday, I had to cover my eyes with cucumber slices and say, “If I can’t see you, I can’t hear you!”  Internally, I knew I could probably go up to four girls without losing sanity.  But seven

Thank you, no.

However, Kirsten overheard this conversation and commented, “A bunch of ten-year-old girls?  Sleeping over?  That is SOOOO up my alley.”

Kirsten works in a high school for a program that aims to keep teens off drugs and booze.  For her, a sleepover with a passle of ‘tweens is like putting training wheels back on the bike.

Hearing Kirsten’s comment, I turned to her and said, “If you come do the party, then, it’s a go.”

I. had. no. idea. what. we. were. getting. into.

In a good way.

Kirsten, em, has lots of ideas…like how it should be a lip smackers (think kid lip gloss) themed party, and how she’d make a pinata that looked like a tube of smackers, and how she could set up her Wii with a projector, and how fun it would be to make and laminate a stack of lip smacker-Bingo cards, and how, once Girl said she wanted to host her party at The Lip Smackers Hotel, Kirsten would put together complimentary shampoos and conditioners and facial soaps for each girl’s gift bag…

and so on.

Plus more.

Kirsten doesn’t live in our fair burg, so she drove to Duluth a few days before the party, which was good, because it gave her time to learn how to use fondant when icing cakes that are designed to look like round lip smacker tins (in various flavors!).  It also gave us time to eat out, go for walks, buy shoes, and share stories of life traumas.

Because Girl wanted to celebrate with her friends, I got to make a new one.

So here are a few shots of the party:

The event began with guests being asked to check in and sign the registry at the Lip Smackers Hotel.  Once each guest had been issued her room key (which Girl made weeks beforehand), she was invited to partake in some resort games in the lobby.

The girls, when they’ve come over in smaller packs at other times, have often brought their instruments.  To them, playing together is the height of fun.  It is at this juncture that I’d like to shake my fist at the sky and curse the Duluth School District, an entity which recently announced that it is cutting all “magnet” programs in the public schools, such as the music enrichment program at my kids’ school.  We got Girl on a waiting list for this school when she was 18 months old.  The fact that most of the music will be cut starting next year makes me triply glad we’re pulling our kids from the district and booking out of here for a year.  I’m not ready to think about what we’ll do upon our return, but it might involve shoving a viola bow up a superintendent’s heinie.

Spontaneous ensembles surfaced throughout the evening.  You should hear their “Theme from Star Wars.”

For Girl, there in the orange and white (did I forget to mention that each girl came dressed in a lip smacker flavor, and then everyone had to guess what type of num she was?  Girl was Orange Creme), playing instruments with friends was her dream gift.

Pinata time out back…moments after this photo was taken, the skies unleashed torrents of rain and Berry Berry Burst lip smackers.

Paco takes a whack at the pinata.  Kirsten made it out of two Quaker Oats containers duct-taped together. 

That right there explains why I like her, ja?

Paco is remarkably supportive during gift opening.

All of you scary stalker pree-vert Interwebs types need to NOT see the name on these cakes…but they’re just so fabulous, and I’m so bad at Photoshop, that I had to put up this unedited photo of them.  Isn’t fondant rockin’?

Here’s what I want to shout, “Look, Kirsten, how happy you made our Girl! You own a piece of her now!”

Kirsten was worried about managing to break through the protective cake shield that is fondant…but the slicing went easy as pie.  Er, cake.

Girl wanted to play a packing game during which a blindfolded packer has one minute to fill a suitcase as fully and neatly as possible.  We went through multiple heats and got startling insights into some characters.  Just a heads-up to the world:  there’s a ten-year-old named Kiana whom you should hire for any precision work you might ever have.  However, as her employer you might also have to pay a substantial amount towards her anti-anxiety medication, as well.  Fair warning.

And of course, what did the audience do in between heats of the packing game? They diddled out a little “French Folk Song.”

In fact–and I was about to type here that “they went on to diddle until 3:30 in the morning,” but realizing the various ways that phrase can be construed, I refrained–the crew of them didn’t go quiet until 3:30 a.m.

They were aiming for 6 a.m., but since two of them were being picked up at 7:30 in the morning to go play in a basketball game, we insisted on some sleep.

At 2 a.m., I started getting threatening. And tired. Really tired. The kind of tired that makes one wonder where she’ll find the assertiveness to rein in a flock of giggling 4th graders.


Ah, yes.

In the form of a new friend. Kirsten drew upon her theater experiences and, sitting right outside the girls’ bedroom door, acted The Enforcer. Using a deep, strong, scary teacher voice, she called out “GIRLS! YOU NEED TO QUIET DOWN NOW!” every few minutes. Eventually, after 3 a.m., when the whole thing was distintegrating, she gave them:


With that, the place fell silent, the cadre of friends abashed enough to allow sleep to overtake them.

And with that, my new friend and I, laying on our bellies in the hallway, collapsed into giggles

worthy of 4th graders.






22 responses to “The Kids Are on Spring Break This Week, Which Means I’ve Been Playing with Clay and Moon Sand and Building Towers out of Blocks and All Sorts of Other Things That Aren’t Blogging–Which Pretty Much Explains Why This Post Is Heavy on Pictures”

  1. Jazz Avatar

    Fun Home is the bestest book evah!

    And I want a best friend!

  2. Shania Avatar

    My kids on spring break too. All I've managed to do to is bribe him into going to target with me.

  3. kmkat Avatar

    Girl is lucky you have such a mega-talented friend. You are lucky to have that friend, too, of course. She may come in handy when Girl and/or Paco are teenagers.

  4. Deborah Avatar

    How totally wonderful for every girl at that party, including you and Kirsten.

    As a former piano teacher, my heart went pit-a-pat at the sight of all those fresh, earnest faces making their own music, spontaneously – just because they wanted to. There is hope for the world when children like that are part of it.

    Jocelyn, you're doing an awfully good job of being a mom. And you deserve all the good friends you can make – it was quite moving to read of this developing special friendship. I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that you're not a typical mid-Westerner in your tastes and your outlook. (Are peeps from Minnesota actually mid-westerners??)

    Just like last time, you make me want to turn the clock back and do it all over again. And it also brings fond memories of the one and only time all 3 of my kids and I jammed together.

    Wonderful post for wonderful times. Thanks for this, Jocelyn. (and I love Girl's name….)

  5. lindbloom Avatar

    i loved it…thank you for sharing the girl and that boy paco…i have found myself thanking ginny yet again for sharing her beloved jocelyn… definitely crushin' on ya in a new bestie friend kind of way…see you soon!

  6. Jenn @ Juggling Life Avatar
    Jenn @ Juggling Life

    I'm obsessed with laundry and Pearl S. Buck, I throw great theme parties and I have been known to get 20 twelve-year old girls to sleep at a slumber party.

    I think I like you and Kirsten enough to share my secret with you.

    What a great party your daughter whose name I will block from mind had!

  7. Logophile Avatar

    Oh my dear Joc,
    I love you, I love you, I love you.
    I can't tell you how much I identify with your neighbor convo.
    Kindred souls are hard to find so congrats to you and the Girl for having some and getting to spend some time with them.

  8. furiousBall Avatar

    like Deborah, the piano/guitar teacher in me went "yippeee!" seeing those kids playing music together

  9. Pam Avatar

    What a great bunch of kids!You are all wonderfully talented, generous, and creative people…and the adults in particular, if you could bottle that patience,zest and zaniness,organisational fortitude and creativity combo you'd make a fortune.There's a big market in the parentally-frazzled.Such lovely memories for everybody Jocelyn.As Deborah mentioned earlier "there is hope for the world when children like that are part of it". Beautiful post.

  10. Meg Avatar

    Now I wish I lived in Duluth! Fun Home; Philip Roth and a 10 year old who plays violin! I have those, too! And lots of lesbian friends! And Lip Smackers! Of course, you could move to Cleveland…..

  11. lime Avatar

    a friend you can connect with on a level that transcends laundry and books is a great gift. that same friend who is comes and makes the 10 yr old sleepover party the rousing success and THEN quiets them down….that friend is a treasure.


  12. lime Avatar

    oh, and while i'd like to think that given half a chance in each other's presence we'd transcend books and laundry i can comfortably step into a suporting role for kristen's sleepover skillz. i'll gladly do the viola bow rectal insertion and subsequent nasal removal. i'm hoping that expression of friendship counts for something, even if it is less picturesque than a pinata made of oatmeal canisters and a fondant cake or three.

  13. Green Girl in Wisconsin Avatar
    Green Girl in Wisconsin

    Ah, the best party ever. For all of you!
    I felt like I was part of it…from cowering beneath nightmares of middle school to finding a new BFF. But the best part? Your girl's smile.

  14. secret agent woman Avatar
    secret agent woman

    Oh, how great. Look at your cute little girly having fun with her buddies. I love that.

  15. Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings Avatar
    Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings

    I would have had nightmares over that movie too. Remember junior high? Ugh! Gives me nightmares every time. Hug that Paco close! Love those photos of your daughter's slumber party and cake, etc. and. . . and..all of it!

  16. Midlife Jobhunter Avatar
    Midlife Jobhunter

    Geez, will you throw a party for me? I'll bring my trombone.

  17. Patois Avatar

    Sigh. I'm so tired, once again, just reading about your life.

    We are on Day 1 of our Spring Break. It was to include camping and amusement parks and the like. Now it's looking more like heading to the snow. Definitely no smackers parties, though.

  18. Fragrant Liar Avatar
    Fragrant Liar

    What a great party! Thanks for inviting me in!

    I love that they all got together and played music! And the bag packing . . . how original!

    I, on many occasions back when I was young and crazy(er), had sleepover birthday partays for my girls. The "worst" were when I would have double partays for Daughters #2 and #3 — yeah, together! I have photos of one partay with 18 girls sitting butt to butt on my wrap-around sofa, just before the clown showed up and all hell broke loose. (No, not my hubs.) Aaahhhh, those were the days, and the biggest reason I don't babysit much . . .

  19. Fragrant Liar Avatar
    Fragrant Liar

    P.S. I don't know what I'd do without my friends. The more the merrier, the closer the more rejuvenating.

  20. monica Avatar

    what a great treat, for ALL the girls, big and bigger :o))

  21. Yo is Me Avatar
    Yo is Me

    hmmm…. thinking of how to make a "fart" pinata for 14 year old boys….

  22. chelle Avatar

    heheh now i have the theme to star wars playing in my head!

    relocation program! hehehe

    GOod times … she will remember this birthday forever you know.

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