As a More is More Mom® you know that I am all about more of…….. everything! The way I see it is there couldn’t possibly be an event, big or small, that doesn’t deserve to be celebrated. It is the milestones that we achieve that in large part define who we become, and these experiences are important.
Amanda and her pal CC have birthdays in the same month, and coincidentally so do her mom and I. We call it December Birthday Club, and each December just the four of us girls go out to celebrate. We may spend the day in the city, go to the movies, go shopping and naturally there is always eating (and when appropriate, cocktailing, and when is it not appropriate to cocktail other than at say, a job interview?). Well, these two have been planning on having a joint birthday bash forever, and this was the year!
These girls love Taylor Swift, and when we all saw her live in concert in the fall, as she was making her way down the center aisle, she stopped and hugged Amanda! Amanda told her, “I love you!” With the sweetest and deepest of sincerity, Taylor replied, “I love you too.” Amanda was on cloud nine, and said Taylor (you know once you’ve hugged her you can call her Taylor) smelled sooooo good that she wanted to send her a letter to find out what kind of shampoo she used. Isn’t she too cute? Anyway, the concert was to promote her Fearless album, which was awesome! My throat hurt for days afterward from all of my singing in the car on the way there, with my head out of the sunroof like I was in a limo (and of an age where you might still stick your head out of the sun roof of a limousine), at the concert, and then all the way home again. I am sure everyone in the car was tired of my singing, as I am not Taylor Swift.
It was decided that the theme of our party was going to be “Fourteen and Fearless” (in homage to Taylor Swift, I haven’t hugged her so I still have to refer to her by her formal name). We knew customized t-shirts were a must, but the afternoons and evenings are so busy that I decided that I would pick both girls up from school, bring them lunch and take them to the custom t-shirt shop, which as luck would have it is only two blocks away from school. Serendipity! The dilemma then was how exactly does one sign out two students, one of which is not even your own (but who has permission from her mother in writing, so it wasn’t like it was kidnapping or anything), at lunch time? The girls were suggesting that I say I was taking them to the orthodontist. Really? They don’t even go to the same orthodontist, and besides wouldn’t it seem suspect that they just so happened to have appointments at the same time? And why then wouldn’t CC’s mother take her if there were in fact an appointment? No. Honesty is always the best policy so when I had to supply the school with a reason for their departure I said, “Monkey Business.” They picked out darling tie-dyed t-shirts. Amanda’s was a great cherry red and CC’s was a fantastic lime green. We picked out white iron on letters and white snowflake appliqués for a little embellishment. They read: “Fourteen and Fearless” on the front, and in big numbers on the back “09” to mark the year. They were darling. You truly cannot go wrong with a good keepsake!
Eight screaming teenage girls on the upper deck of a train headed in to Chicago is the fastest way to clear a car. They ate doughnuts, they told stories, they laughed and everything was a photo-op (naturally all had cell phones and digital cameras to capture each and every moment of our adventure, and capture they did). There are pictures of girls taking pictures of other girls. Great silliness I tell you.
We walked from the train to Millennium Park in downtown Chicago……an award-winning center for art, music, architecture and landscape design, and they have an ice rink just like the one at Rockefeller Center in New York City, only better, because it is in Chicago. If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting, you should, because it is pretty sweet. All bundled up in varying styles and shades of pink hats, gloves and scarves, we were ready to take the town by storm (fortunately not a “snow” storm).
The line to skate was so very long that we took it as yet another opportunity to snap some more great pictures. We finally got on the ice and the girls had a blast skating, and falling and ultimately doing the Chicken Dance and the Hokey Pokey. Who doesn’t love to do a mean Hokey Pokey? ME! I had both of those dances banded from our wedding and opted instead for the much more elegant conga line…Hot, Hot, Hot! When the girls had had enough (or it may have been when CC’s mom and I decided to strategize about how best to beat and avoid the crowd at the skate rental return counter) we headed down Michigan Avenue, One Magnificent Mile (though after being outdoors all day, it seemed longer), to Chicago’s Water Tower, which is a beautiful mall, with all the best shee-shee-poo-poo purveyors. Our favorite place to eat, other than Miller’s Pub on Wabash, is the Food Life at Water Tower. This place has everything! And it’s not that icky, gross, greasy fast food stuff like at an ordinary mall. No the delicacies here are extraordinary, lovely and delicious. They have comfort food, a grill, pasta, pizza, a rotisserie, stir fry, sushi, Mexican, a salad bar, a dessert bar, a juice bar and most importantly a bar, bar. Did you know that they will only permit you to purchase two glasses of wine at a time? I’m just saying. The other great part is that they give each patron a little credit card so you don’t have to worry about your bill at each counter, but at the end at check out instead. So simple. The girls ate together and continued to snap more great pics, while we enjoyed our salads (and okay, you got me, two glasses of wine….each). We were on a tight time table if we were going to fit in all of our fun and be back at the train station on time. Faster girls! Faster!
For me the highlight of our day was our walk back towards State Street (you know….that great Street). Linked arm and arm, these girls were full of Christmas cheer as they sang every Christmas Carol they could possibly remember down the street. “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” was a particular hit with our little Catholic choir girls. The passersby were in such good spirits themselves as they chimed in with the various chorus’s. We made our way to Marshall Field’s (now called Macy’s, but it just seems so wrong) to look at their legendary Christmas windows, which were not great again this year. But what was great was that we bumped in to my mom as she was bustling down the street doing her last minute Christmas errands. Hard to believe that she didn’t notice the band of merry caroler’s, especially the little blonde one yelling, “Nana”, but she didn’t. We had to accost her on the street. Once when I was in High School my friend and I cut school to go shopping at the Old Orchard shopping mall (again I am seeing a theme here of shopping, eating and cocktailing….next time I’ll make myself look better by discussing what I am reading, when I am exercising, and if I am getting enough rest, but who’d want to read about that?). My partner in crime and I were only completely conspicuous wearing green and gold cheerleading uniforms in the middle of the day, and who do you think walked right passed us? MY MOM! However, lucky for me, she didn’t happen to notice the two girls in the green and gold cheerleading uniforms shopping around in the middle of the school day. I had a quite the chuckle when here I was, 27 years later, relating this story to her, and my mom was laughing as she explained to me that she must have been playing hooky from her job while I was playing hooky from school! Apple. Tree. As the next generation of girl in our family heads to High School, I will be sure to keep my eyes peeled for Amanda while I am at Target when she is supposed to be at school!
Walking back to the train we were laughing and reminiscing about our day. After having been gone for nearly ten hours, we gave up the pretense of caring whether or not eight noisy teenage girls disturbed the other passengers on the train. Like it or lump it. There was one little surprise left for the girls when we pulled in to the station; party favors. We debated about what we could do to commemorate our day and decided upon decoupage, personalized Christmas ornaments. A few weeks prior to the party, Amanda and CC got together and made the ornaments. They printed out their names, and each individual girl’s name, and sayings from the stories of their friendships in red and green ink. They cut out winter images from wrapping paper, like snowflakes and mittens and decoupaged everything onto clear acrylic round ornaments. They used fancy paper shredding scissors to cut up more red and green wrapping paper to make crinkly paper to stuff inside the ornaments. Once the modge podge dried they tied ribbon around the top, and placed them in red and green winter themed Chinese takeout style boxes, atop a soft bed of crinkly paper. Who doesn’t love something personalized?
The girls in Amanda and CC’s group of friends were so incredibly generous that they gave them obscenely huge gifts card each as a birthday present. Even the two friends that were unable to attend contributed, which was very kind and thoughtful. During the party we realized that we would end the day with so many wonderful photographs, that we decided we would do a double sided scrap book page as a way of saying thanks for the memories and the gift of their friendship (and the obscenely huge gift cards).
We have done some really great birthday parties over the years (remind me to tell you another day about the scavenger hunt at the mall!), but what I particularly loved about this party was that the focus wasn’t about consuming something or making grand gestures. It was about making memories with good friends that will last a lifetime. Every year when we have our December Birthday Club we will remember the hours we lovingly spent together creating our crafts and celebrating these moments. It was Christmastime, and It’s a Fearless and Wonderful Life………