The Birthday Party


Earlier this week, I celebrated my birthday with a small gathering of good friends at a favorite sushi restaurant. With a few notable exceptions, my birthdays have been mostly low-key, probably a result of the sweet and simple parties of my childhood. The theme was always “Birthday,” the entertainment was a game of “hot potato” or “pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey,” and my guests went home with naught but tummies full of cake and ice cream. Goodie bags? Coordinated party décor featuring my favorite Disney character? Traveling exotic animal petting zoos? As if.

Not that birthdays weren’t a big deal back then, they just weren’t anything near the BIG DEAL kids have come to expect these days.

My own daughters’ parties have been slightly more elaborate than my childhood celebrations, but none of them — not even the monkey-themed one where we rented an inflated chimp bouncy thing and I baked a monkey-in-a-coconut-tree cake — would be considered extravagant by today’s standards.  Especially in this era of Gatsby worship and “reality” tv shows like “My Super Sweet 16” and the now-defunct “Outrageous Kid Parties.”

It leaves me wondering what’s to become of these kids as they grow up. How do you top a $60,ooo party when you’re four? With a $120,000* party when you’re eight? (*not adjusted for inflation)

One thing’s for sure: if this trend continues, I may just encourage my daughters to pursue careers as party planners.

Or psychotherapists.



You’re invited! You’re invited!
And we would all be
so delighted
If you’d accept this invitation
to Hannah’s PRINCESS celebration!
Next Saturday from noon till eight,
it’s Party Time, so Save The Date!

There’ll be inflated Bouncy Castles
with satin drapes and silver tassels.
Minstrels and Magicians, too,
and a Medieval Petting Zoo!
Don’t miss the Knight upon his Horse
with flowing mane (all white, of course!);
plus you can ride a Unicorn
complete with sparkly rainbow horn!

We’ll also have a Tumbling Group,
Face Painters and a Ballet Troupe,
a Clown who twists and shapes balloons,
a Dee-Jay spinning Top Ten Tunes!
And over on the second stage?
That Boy Band that’s just all the rage!

And next, but certainly not least,
comes the Royal Birthday Feast:
hot dogs, burgers, shish kebab,
curly fries, corn on the cob,
canapés and caviar,
tapas and a sushi bar,
shrimp and oysters, shucked and chilled –
enough for guests to get their fill.
We also had the bakery make
a seven-layered castle cake,
and hired the gourmet ice cream mart
to bring their new gelato cart.

Each guest will get a Goodie Bag
that’s stuffed with precious birthday swag:
candy, toys, a princess crown,
a Princess Barbie, princess gown,
jewelry, make-up, DVDs,
an iTouch filled with mp3s.

Enclosed you’ll find all information
needed for our celebration:

  • maps
  • directions
  • wristbands (two)
  • a schedule of events for you
  • the website for RSVPs (Just e-mail us; no phone calls, please.)

And so that parking won’t be trouble,
attached are tickets for the Shuttle.

And please: no gifts.
(But if you must, she’s registered at Toys’R’Us.)

You’re invited! You’re invited!
And we would all be
so delighted
If you’d accept this invitation
to Hannah’s PRINCESS celebration!


©2013 Carlotta Eike Stankiewicz


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It’s almost Tax Day.

And as usual, in spite of my oh-so honest intentions to get my butt in gear and get my forms in on time, I will confess that I’m filing an extension.

I do have a perfectly good excuse, however — actually, make that two perfectly good excuses: my daughters.

See, I’ve been busy cooking and cleaning and shuttling them to school and shopping and sleepovers and afterschool stuff… Oh yeah, and then there’s that job I’ve been working to pay for many of the aforementioned activities.

I’m not complaining, though. It’s what parents do. And my girls are the light of my life, and so very, very worth everything I do for them.

But on Tax Day, I get a bit more appreciative of how much they mean to me.

This year, it’s around $2,000.



They truly are annoying when they whine or when they fight,
when complaining about homework or a shoe that won’t tie right;
plus, they’re noisy and they’re stinky and they cost a lot to feed,
and it seems there’s always some new toy they really, REALLY need.

They keep us from our sleep and leave us stretched from all the stress;
they muddy up the floors and leave their rooms a massive mess;
they dismiss and disobey us and then question all our knowledge;
they rebel and they revolt and then they leave or flee to college.

Yet though they test and tax us, we’re still glad for our kids’ births,
And today I have to say that I do realize their worth;
So even if they misbehave, for once I just won’t sweat it,
‘Cause I’m thankful for and so adore my beautiful tax credits.


©2012 Carlotta Eike Stankiewicz


A Limerick A Day – Day 9/10 – Road Tripping Down Memory Lane

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I grew up vacationing from the back of a Chevrolet station wagon. And whether we were driving from Michigan to Florida for a summer break on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, or traveling to Pennsylvania to visit family for the holidays, my parents loved to get an early start.

They’d pile my sister and me, still in pajamas, into the Family Truckster before the crack of dawn. I’d inevitably wake as light began to stream into my window, highlighting the drops of condensation racing down the glass.

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The car would smell of coffee and bologna sandwiches and gasoline — a heady mix of fragrances that still sends me into a happy reverie. My sister and I each had exactly one half of the back seat to call our own, the division marked by a Maginot Line of masking tape my mom would apply prior to departure.

Despite such preparations, siblings will be siblings, so inevitably some sort of quarrel would ensue, usually a few miles after the first Stuckey’s stop.

Mom was ready, of course.

She always kept a long-handled fly swatter handy in the front seat to settle any dispute or quell any mutiny that might arise. Her aim wasn’t great, however, and over the years my sis and I became expert at dodging her smacks with alacrity.

For our next trip, I’m thinking of investing in one of those fly swatters. I’ll be sure to do a little training first, though…


Road Tripping Down Memory Lane

My childhood road trips were bliss;
Shared the Chevy’s back seat with my sis.
Back then, all we would need
Were some good books to read,
And thus peacefully we’d co-exist.

Well, that is, till we started to bother
One another; then out came mom’s swatter!
She’d whack with abandon,
Her blows rarely landin’
Upon disobedient daughter.

Now with my girls, the cross I must bear,
Hoping road trips don’t lead to despair.
Still, I hear myself utter
The words of my mother–
“Don’t you dare make me come on back there!”

©2013 Carlotta Eike Stankiewicz

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