Sleep Over

It is tax season, which not only means that Tim is busy preparing taxes and working longer hours, but that we have 3, soon to be 4 birthdays to celebrate! (Apparently there is one month of the year that we are considerably less busy!!) The season has been pretty tolerable to date, but trying to celebrate three birthdays in less than two weeks has proven to be, well, busy. We certainly don't want to slight anyone by dismissing their very special day as just another day, so we lavish them with a little extra attention on their day. The day begins with breakfast in bed on a special plate. Now, for the most part, they know this is coming, but patiently await the questionably tuned seranade and breakfast tray. Everyone sings happy birthday and climbs up onto the birthday child's bed in hopeful anticipation that they will be offered a bite of something. (The birthday breakfast is somewhat more embellished than what they will all find on the table for themselves that morning.)

The day continues by offering the birthday child assylum from doing any chores the entire day, choosing the dinner menu complete with birthday cake of some sort and likely being able to stay up a little later for some extra one-on-one time. At some point in the day, they open the cards that have come in the mail, squealing with excitement if something extra happens to fall out of the card. They've learned not to expect or really even ask for anything for their birthday except the request of specific food. This is a good thing, because I don't know if I could keep up with buying toys, or really anything else 7 times a year. I'm sure it would be unfair the majority of the time.

Birthday parties are not unheard of, but again, to do something yearly for each child would just be too much, so we've established the expectation so far that birthday parties with friends can happen in Kindergarten and 5th grade, and of course the big 1st birthday event with family, cake, decorations and presents. Likely there will be another one in there somewhere, but not yet. We slip a family party in every once in a while, but those typically encompass birthdays for anyone in the family in the last 6 months! We have no intention of eliminating the celebration though, so we've regularly allowed the multi-person sleep-over on or around a birthday. By multi-person, I mean more than one friend, but no more than three. No gifts, no invitations, just boys for an extended period of time in our home. It is usually very amusing, and often borders on disgusting. As our family grows, so does the chaos, especially when we invite extra temporary tenants.

Last night, Joshua had two friends spend the night. We anticipated this to happen last weekend, but no one was feeling well, and we didn't want to extend the crud to anyone else's family, so we postponed. It is not really too hard to add more children to our home, as they don't really take too much effort to keep them entertained. Sometimes it is actually easier as they all remain contently occupied with something and typically even engage the smaller children. It is always interesting to just sit back and observe dynamics.

I must include how our guest list came about though as it is just another part of being a parent. There is usually always one "for sure" friend to make the short list. It then is a challenge to figure out how to choose the one or two more. I'm glad, because this means that currently there is a list of friends to choose from which hopefully means that they're all blessed with good friends. This time it was Sam and Killian. Turns out, the choices were very convenient for me too, as both boys live very close to St. Teresa's and our plan was to bring them home after mass. They were to both go to mass with us and then we would return them to their homes on Sunday afternoon. Killian went through several mind changes before ultimately deciding that maybe a different time would work better. Joshua was disappointed, but after mass, it didn't take him long to "fill the opening". Not that we talked about this ahead of time mind you. It was requested publicly in front of the new "replacement guest" and his family, leaving me in that awkward position of making a split second decision and quickly turn on the part of my brain that processes being flexible. Not only did JOshua request Phil's company, he also offered an explanation to Phil's family as to WHY he was asking...because he orignially asked Killian, but he got nervous and now isn't coming. So essentially, "Hey, my first choice didn't work out, so how do you feel about being the consolation?" I'm not quite sure how well I hide humility sometimes. Lessons, I keep reminding myself...good lessons in life!

We arranged the details and headed off to fill gas, get the pizza, and then pick up Phil from his house. The pizza was ready at 5:15, but with our change in plans, we didn't get home until 6:20, so the pizza at this point was just warm and everyone was famished. I'm not sure what I was thinking, but I merely ordered a large and a medium and 10 breadsticks...enough for everyone to have one piece of pizza and for the bigger boys to each have another. These are of course the times that EVERYONE is extra hungry, which made watching the thick pieces of crust get thrown in the garbage can...if it were my kids, I would have made them eat it before having a second piece or at least eaten it myself off of their plates. i knew we could save face a little with dessert, so that came out immediately following dinner to fill the extra spaces in the not-yet-full tummies of all of us.

The evening progressed with a Star Wars movie followed by a couple of short episodes of Star Wars cartoons we had previously recorded, popcorn, and continued chaos compliments of our younger children who act like we never have guest over and had to be sure to sit with or on them, show off a little, and of course quarrel over who was touching whom, or whose pillow or blanket, etc.

One by one, I got the little ones to bed as at this point, Tim was dealing with the eldest who still has a bit of an issue not being the center of attention. By 10:00, all was calm(er) and the older boys brushed their teeth and prepared for bed by undoing all of the sleeping bags and creating boundaries, barriers and some sort of strategic sleeping arrangement in the basement. They were wound up for only a few minutes and quickly were quiet. Sleeping? Questionable. But, quiet is typically a precursor at this age. We didn't hear from them again until about 7:15. (DST took effect this morning too). The emerged from their boy cave about 8:30 this morning with their eager request of breakfast. Much to their liking, we had rollw (cut in half to offer more selection.) The other children were already up (Tim was still sleeping because he worked until about 4 am), and of course the dog too was excitedly awaiting their entrance, so it was of course loud. Phil's first question of the morning was, "Is it always like this at your house?" Referring I'm sure to the noise level and constant commotion! "Yes." Simply put.

The day evolved into imaginary play and more Star Wars movies, until finally the older kids had enough of the younger ones and the fighting began. We tried to stifle this for about an hour and finally decided that the TV must be shut off because not much of the movie was able to really be seen or heard. For the most part, the challenge came in that it was fun to get the dog and the little kids riled up for a couple of minutes and then when they (the young ones and the dog) are unable to "shut it off", the older ones want to be done and return to their movie. And of course there is always Ben who in between annoying his older siblings, managed to eat the extra rolls, lick out a full container of Crystal Light drink mix, spill coffee grounds all over the counter and plug up the toilet with too much paper.

Due to the dog, the little kids' excitement of having guests, the older kids annoyance of the little kids and also the fact that their excitement often causes them to misplace all recollection of appropriate behavior and etiquette, our guests probably heard, "Knock it off", "I said NO", and a variety of other short, stern-toned commands come from our impatient selves.

Hopefully it was fun, no one was scarred too deeply and we'll continue to have sleep-overs for years to come. I'm sure they'll get easier, although likely never less chaotic. Probably more complicated as we introduce girl's sleepovers in the future! I feel fortunate to still be smiling while thinking about it, but now I need a nap.