Merrick’s birthday party was a raging success!!

We started with the kids gathering at 2pm at the house, and we took them to an undisclosed location: Chandler Mall. There were a couple hiccups (Paul Schmidt, sorry you didn’t get your straight razor shave, that would have been fun to watch.) but otherwise, their Amazing Hunt (Amazing Race/Scavenger Hunt) was a great time. The teams were boys vs. girls.I admit, I was surprised. I thought I made the clues pretty obscure, at least for 12-13 year olds. I tested them on a few younger adults, and they had a difficult time. See how YOU would have fared:

*Go to Ray (Kroc)’s Place and get a small drink.
*This will cost you two bits.
*Functionne la bain et corps.
*Head to the Royal Palace, you’ll be dressed like a princess.

The girls got the Ray’s Place clue first, and ran for the Croc’s Store. (Hee hee!) It never occurred to me that they would make that mistake. Obviously, it’s McDonald’s…the boys got that as their LAST clue, and Merrick Schmidt was a WIZ at ALL the clue. I read the clue outloud, and as soon as I got Ray Kroc out of my mouth, he shouted, “Micky D’s! Let’s go!”

For the boys, it was lucky they HAD Merrick. In no way did I make the clues easy for him either! If not for Merrick, his team may not have been in first place! With the exception of their first error, the girls were spot on all day. One of the girls was learning French, which I didn’t know when I made the clues, so she figured out Bath and Body Works pretty quickly! (Great job Patty!)

Merrick was a champ, though. Not even the adults got the “two bits” clue as quickly! (And since he knows the mall pretty well, he made short work of leading his team straight to The Shaving Company on the first floor. (Two bits will get you a “Shave and a Haircut”. (You know when you knock on the door, knock, knock, knockknock, knock….knock, knock. Tthat’s “Shave, and, a hair, cut…..two bits”.) He didn’t even hesitate!

Then the boys got this clue: If you’re late, you may have to tell a little one of these.” If they didn’t get it, they got a hint: NOT a big black one.) They figured out White Lie, which is a great jewelry (for body and hair) store. One of the other boys figured out “what you get if the barber at the Shaving Company isn’t careful”. (Nick) So the boys hussled to Nick’s and each had to dress up in a suit or tux, and tie a tie. (It took longer for the ties, than the suits!)

The boys finished at Ray’s Place, while the girls struggled to get their last item. While the boys dressed up, so did they girls, in beautiful gowns from “the Royal Palace”, WINDSOR…the clothing store! However, the item I asked them to hold was buried beneath so much other stuff that the employees there couldn’t find it. Finally the manager was able to locate it, but the boys had passed the girls by.

Though the boys “won” everyone had a blast. We then got in the cars and went to Golden Gate, a wonderful Chinese restaurant on Baseline, just east of the Loop 101, on the North side of the road. The location was perfect, the food was great, the service was nice…and the kids got their next clue. Each child was given a phrase…The Eagle Flies at midnight… which they had to match with another phrase…Some days you’re the statue, some days you’re the pigeon. That matched up a boy with a girl…except one girl didn’t show up…so poor Dominic had to have me as a partner. He did great though, and was a good sport about the whole thing. After dinner, the boys took their lady’s chair and then pushed it back in, and escorted their lady to the door. Dominic pushed me out to the parking lot. He was an absolute gentleman!

After dinner, we headed back to the mall for the movie “The Odd Life of Timothy Green”. (We were originally thinking Batman, but more than half the kids had seen it. Only one girl, we found out after the fact, had seen “Odd Life”.) While it was a bit of a tear jerker, everyone liked the movie.

Then it was over to our house for the last two challenges: Learning to dance was the first! We taught them the basic “Step, together, step, together” step, and they all did great. Then we made one of the fathers dance the girl’s part…that was a great photo!! We taught them all how to hold a “frame” and then they learned a basic box step. I was impressed with some of the boys! They caught on quicker than the girls!

After dancing, we went on to hanky dropping. I hand embroidered a handkerchief for each girl with her initial, and they used that to “Ooops! I dropped my hanky!” ala 1590’s. 🙂 I used this as a fun bit at Renaissance Festivals, and it was a blast then. It was a great teaching tool now. The boys learned to bow, the girls to curtsy. The boys then retrieved the dropped linen, kissed the lady’s hand (or not…they air kissed it, as was proper.) and then handed back the hanky.

After all the challenges were complete, the kids went outside and roasted marshmallows on the fire and made s’mores. (Thank you Paul for the fixin’s and thank you to Kevin’s dad Kelly for building the fire for us!) We also had homemade cheesecake made by James, Jon’s future son-in-law..Oh was THAT good!!) Then the kids got the tent up and their sleeping bags out, and settled in for the night. The girls slept in the front room and I slept on the couch there. Doug slept on the couch in the tv room and the boys slept in the tent outside. We made absolute certain that parents had nothing to worry about when it came to the kids intermingling at night. Many of the parents were nervous about having a boy-girl sleep over, so we were very specific in our communications with them, letting them know that the boys would be outside, the girls inside and two adults between them. I had a couple of them thank me for it, so while the girls were upset that they weren’t able to play pranks on the boys, I feel like we did the right thing.In the morning, Morgan Dockham made pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon…and then he cleaned the kitchen afterward!!Who is this child, and where is my 17 year-old?

It was the best surprise I think I’ve had in years! I was stunned, and so grateful. It was the perfect ending to the perfect party. The kids finished eating, packed everything up, called their parents and headed home with their thank you package…each child got an item from the Amazing Hunt…for the boys, everything a young man needs: razor, an item from The Shaving Company, an Italian silk tie, chocolate from Godiva, etc. The ladies got items that a young lady will need for special events: a star flower crystal small hair stick, a black shawl, eyeshadow from Bare Essentials, a couple items from Bath and Body Works, etc. Some of the girls are still tomboys, but I told them that while they aren’t ready for the items now, just hold on to them. There will come a time when the items will come in handy. 🙂

I was so impressed with the maturity of these kids. Some of them said that their favorite part was that they learned how to dance, and a couple of the guys said their favorite part was that they got to dance with a girl for the first time! These were things that surprised me, and in a very good way. 🙂 The parents that watched all had smiles on their faces, and the kids were laughing, and while some were embarrassed, they were laughing and having fun, too.

And who had the most fun? I did. Never in my life did I enjoy myself more, watching these young people racing around the mall, using their brains to figure out the clues, all of them were well behaved and kind to their parent chaperons, they were brave and tried new and exotic foods, they were ladies and gentlemen in their actions, and they got over their fears and did things they weren’t expecting. They even traded gender roles, and the boys dropped the hankies, while the girls kissed the boys’ hands.

All in all, it was the perfect party. I’m so exhausted, and spend all of Sunday sleeping. I don’t remember anything from that day. *laugh* Oh, wait…I remember Doug made me some soup for dinner…I’m pretty sure I ate some of it…but I can’t be sure. 🙂 It will take a few days to recover, but when I do, then it’s on to the next party to plan. Morgan turns 18 in March, and I definitely have something in the works for him. 🙂 Just you wait and see.

There are a few people that I could never have done this without, so I have to thank them from the bottom of my heart:
Jon T Benda
Paul Schmidt
James Apryl
Lisa Koeller
Bill Stewart
Kelly (Kevin’s Dad) (He showed up just in time to be the best firemaker I’ve ever known!)
Morgan Dockham
Of course, my Saint Doug DeAmbra
And all the kids that came and made the party a huge success.
Last but not least, Merrick, without whom this would have been for naught. Happy birthday baby. You deserved it!

Just don’t expect it EVERY year! 🙂