Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sleepover for Tweeners

Ten years old is a big deal.  I think I honestly thought she would never turn ten.  I know Brighton won’t but Julia did.... last week.  Ten.  Jeff is still in denial, but since I have the name that “party planner” job falls under, I had to face it head on.  Maybe my kids are just navel gazers or maybe they are just normal but they talk about their birthdays MONTHS and MONTHS before they actually occur.  They make grandiose plans that I have NO intention of carrying out~ one, because they won’t remember the 16 different plans they make and two, I don’t sell the fatted calf to throw, say, an 8th birthday.  We don’t do a party every year but all birthdays get celebrated, fully.  We started a tradition on Julia’s first birthday of waking up the birthday child in a very special, loud, unique, goofy way.  It’s the Sanders’ secret and you will NEVER see pictures of that.

When I asked Julia how she would like to celebrate her 10th birthday being certain she would forget the insane idea of having 13 girls over to spend the night.  While she thought, I rehearsed my “yes” to her request of having a couple of friends over or going out to dinner somewhere really special.  While I waited, I knew in that moment I would even say “yes” to one last trip to the American Girl Doll store.  She didn’t forget.  When she made the list for a spend the night party there were exactly 13 girls on her list between the ages of 8-11.  Oh boy.  I don’t think I have to explain my heart rate, my anxious thoughts, my sudden need for a nap.  I love kids.  I love little girls but 13?  All at once?  All night?  I didn’t say yes.  I said, “See what your Daddy says.  And show him your list,” being certain he would resist all the craziness on my behalf and say no.  What was I thinking?  He’s the one that couldn’t keep a straight face* the day I sent them to his office when I was so mad I could not even speak to them.  But I’ve already told that story.

After thinking through where they would all sleep, we asked Brighton if he would give up his room for the night so the girls would be as close together as possible~ joined by their bathroom.  And that made me think of “adjoining rooms” and that made me think of of “hotel” and here is where we went with it.

A “Pages” template

Now I was energized and ready to fill our pretend B&B for the night.  Like any good hostess would, I would plan every minute to reduce any possible drama or boredom or nail polish on the carpet or sleeping bag rides down the staircase.

As the girls checked in, Brighton, our bell boy, took their luggage up to their room and then escorted them onto the patio for hot chocolate and pretzels.  Here, they waited for all their friends to arrive.  Pizza was delivered promptly afterwards and the girls headed to their assigned dining areas.  Jeff and I then rounded them up for almost 2 hours of games.  We played a game Emily taught us and since it is not marketed and doesn't come in a box, I don’t know what to call it but the “noun game” or the “PPT {person, place or thing} Challenge.  It’s GREAT fun and both of our extended families played it after dinner every night during Christmas.  We also divided the girls into 2 groups and played Rory’s Story Cubes and after each round they would line up and dramatically recite their story to the other team.  They really got into this and came up with some colorful and whimsical stories.

After cupcakes, candles, and singing on the patio, we sent them upstairs to set up their sleeping spaces and put on their pj’s for the movies.  A few days before, Julia received two Torchlighter movies for her birthday, The Perpetua Story and The Amy Carmichael Story.  We watched both.  Check out their faces.

Good stuff.  The girls had lots to add and comment on after these movies.  I loved hearing their thoughts.  They all preferred The Amy Carmichael Story because of the happy ending.  Of course.  Every little girl-- and big girl-- wants a happy ending.

And because we never outgrow bedtime stories, we had them all back down in the den after they brushed their teeth.  I read Max Lucado’s book, You Are Special seeing if they could tell me what the book meant in 2012 for a ten year old.  Come to find out, Wemmicks and tweeners have a lot in common.

There were a few minutes of spare time. {!!!!}  The upside of this is that there was no dog hair or dust of any kind on my stairs Saturday morning.

So it was smooth sailing {not so smooth on the stairs} until bedtime.  If I could have let them all just fall asleep right where they were in the den after the story, I would have been snoozing within minutes, but alas, they had to move upstairs.  And with every step they took up the stairs, the more awake, animated and silly they became.  I went to check on them and here is what I found. {one was asleep in Suite 22 but the rest were all crowded into Suite 21, telling each other their most embarrassing moment!}

After a little “momma talk” accompanied by a wagging finger and a threat of no breakfast, they were all asleep by 1:00 in their right places.

I don’t think for a minute this was a good experience because of my planning.  It was a good time because of this group of girls.  I feel so blessed to know these girls and their sweet families.  I am thrilled Julia has a group of girls with whom she can be silly, learn about friendship, and learn hard lessons.  In-val-u-able.  I would have this group again in a heart beat-- not next weekend--but I would have them again and again.  They were super.

Although having all those girls in my house was the highlight of the night, below reveals the second highlight of my night.  The pack mule  cute bell boy tirelessly carried each girl’s overnight necessities upstairs and then out to their car the next morning without a hint of complaint.  He never even had time to get out of his pajamas.

 I told Jeff and Brighton I could not have pulled the party off without them.  They were the “best staff EVER”.  Jeff said “yes” to the sleepover and he carried more weight than I would have asked him to.

And if you are thinking about calling for a reservation, forget it.  We open this B&B up by invitation only.

*Which is exactly what he should have done when his other half needed to stick her head in the freezer.


Alyssa said...

I'd have been tempted to keep a video camera going the whole time to catch all the fun they had and to hear all the laughter. You pulled off an amazing 10th birthday with the help of your fantastic crew!

TJ Wilson said...

this wasn't a sleep-over, it was a RETREAT. can't wait for next year!

Sarah said...

Can we not do this for grown-ups?? Perfect!

freddie said...

I kept smiling the whole story... thanks!
Good to hear these great families still live somewhere in the world

God bless you

andrea said...

How lovely! Her birthday invitation was adorable! You are so creative. I love bellboy Brighton and his work clothes (he is adorable)