Saturday, we used the common room for a birthday party for Emma. Some of its highlights:
- Sarah and Bruce and Julia, immediate family of the birthday girl, put together an amazing Alice in Wonderland-themed event. At the door, the 16 girls ate a cookie with Eat Me written in icing, entered the room through a tunnel designed as the Rabbit Hole, were met by the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, and Alice herself, and painted their own tea cups and saucers, decorated their tea-party hats with birds, stars, flowers, butterflies, ribbon and other glam bits; they played croquet with flamingo mallets and hedgehog balls, pinned the grin on the Cheshire Cat, sat at a tea table with their Drink Me concoctions in their own tea cups and ate chocolate cupcakes decorated with portraits of the Cheshire Cat done in various candy media. It was fun, amazing, chaotic and quite wonderful.
- With Robyn, our almost 2 year-old, running around while we set up the room, we made a kajillion giant fold, tear, fluff flowers out of whole sheets of coloured tissue paper, six per flower. Robyn helped. Oh, how she helped!
- One by one, as we discovered we needed them, we carried dishes of various sizes and purposes, drinks of various provenance for the mums and dads, tablecloths of various sizes, from our apartment to the common room, which luckily is exactly 8 adult steps, but unluckily requires opening 3 doors.
- Morgan and I stuck 48 toothpicks into 48 mozzarella sticks, almost burned 48 vegetable samosas, and forgot to put the mini meatballs in the oven in time to serve them with the other items. Robyn taste-tested everything.
- Bruce took studio-quality portraits of the girls in their teaparty hats, then we printed them to be inserted in frames with Alice on the side; we didn't have enough paper or ink to finish them all.
- 8 out of 16 children hated at least one item on the menu; some actually plunked their frowns on all items, including the hand-decorated cupcakes.
- Birthday girl got a little excited and refused out of hand to let anyone else play croquet until she'd cried herself through the four wickets, which Bruce had fashioned as beautiful big-as-a-kid playing cards. No one except the adults paid any attention.
- Birthday gifts and loot bags sprung up all over the room. Robyn showed she hadn't quite mastered the "birthday girl" thing.
- Bottles of beer and glasses of wine began to show up in the common room kitchen about the same time the noise reached its zenith.
And once the guests had left:
- Dave and Emily led everybody in getting our family dinner ready; we'd bought a wonderful prepared turkey; we buttered, sugared and baked squash and Em made an amazing potato and chive dish.
- Everybody over the age of 9 worked to deconstruct the Wonderland in the common room; Dave ran the vacuum for about half an hour; Robyn (and probably a few others) struggled to keep her eyes open while Julia sat with her to watch Thomas the Tank Engine.
- We ate the 7000 calorie chocolate cake Dave had made yesterday, we shooed all the family out, and now I'm sitting at the laptop, squeezed in between pots and pans we couldn't get in the dishwasher, drinking hot chocolate, gathering energy to put the stacking chairs back beside the "office", wondering where all the dish towels went, looking with puzzlement at baskets that used to play an important role in the house, played an equally important role in the tea party and now sit forlorn and empty waiting for my memory to kick in so that they can resume their useful and necessary place in our daily not-Wonderland life.
- And I think I forgot to mention that I fell asleep at 8:30 watching Turner Classic Movies, got my regular 4 hours of sleep in while on the couch, added two when Dave nudged me off to bed, and now imagine I'll be around to see the sunrise.
A great day, and we have the family's energy, Sarah's creativity and Bruce's handiwork and Emily's savviness with the kids to thank. And don't think I'm going to forget it.