Sunday, May 22, 2011


My kids used to run around the apartment with pencils or straws or anything straight they could find and shoot spells at each other. The twins' favorites were "Expelliarmus!" and "Stupefy!" Then Christmas came and the Owl Post delivered their wands and the magic intensified. So naturally, after I had come to the conclusion that I did not, in fact, have $1000 or the required energy to transport 12 kids to a bowling alley in Times Square, and I was faced with throwing a party within the walls of my own apartment (oh, the horror!), a Harry Potter theme crept into my mind like Snape on a dark, stormy night (I just had to get my favorite character into this post somehow.)

I'm no party planner. But I am an actress. Which means I'm good at stealing other peoples' creativity when it best serves me. So after scouring the inter-webs, I was able to put together what I thought would be a pretty cool party for an 8 year old HP fan.

First up, the invitations. You buy parchment paper at Target, find a cool font, make up something awesome to say, and then buy a .20 red candle at Michael's and drip the wax on the invite and seal it with a Romanian coin. That's it! And yet, one parent asked me where I ordered the invitations from and didn't believe me when I said we made them. That's the way New York parents roll. If you can't buy it custom-made, it probably doesn't exist. Imagine their disbelief if any of my countless Mormon friends who are actually talented had been involved!

Next up, the entrance to the "Gryffindor Common Room" aka our apartment. My artistic oldest daughter took the reins on this one and drew her rendition of the Fat Lady portrait. We positioned on our door, so that her actual eye was over the peephole. Creeptastic!

As the boys were arriving, we passed around a bag of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans and the boys bravely bit into each one, then spit the nasty ones into a different bag. Classy? Not so much. Right up the alley of 8 year old boys? YES.

Next, the boys received wands handcrafted out of drumsticks by my step-dad, Bret, and were off to Wand Spells and Dueling class, with Mila as the very capable instructor. All the pictures of this activity were blurry, but it was an action-packed course!

I led Potions class next, which involved Pop Rocks and making bright fizzy colors come bubbling out of cauldrons. It was pretty cool, I must say!

For lunch, we had pizza and homemade butterbeer. I got the recipe from my stepsister and it was awesome! It will definitely be a new Halloween tradition.

We used Harry Potter Legos that we already had to top off the Quidditch-themed cake, and one of my favorite moments is when the boys began yelling out spells and curses in between the lines of the birthday song.

Each boy took home a goodie bag with homemade chocolate frogs (super cheap molds found on ebay), HP silly bandz, their mini cauldrons, and wands.

All in all, I'd say it was a success, even if one boy left crying. After we ran out of activities and food, I let them play Lego Harry Potter on the XBox and I think the sugar-charged competitive energy was a bit overwhelming for some of them...

It has taken me three months to write about it because it's taken me that long to recover! Just kidding, but let's just say that it's a good thing I don't have another one of these things to plan until July 2012, as my kids only have friend parties on their even-numbered birthdays. One of my best grown-up decisions ever.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The day Ben got out of Mother's Day

Just so you are in the loop, Ben had a mini stroke this past Saturday. Before you freak out, please know that he is fine. We are all fine.

He was in the car with a woman from our church, headed to Cub Scout day camp. They were discussing allergies, when all of a sudden, Ben wanted to say the words "allergy clinic." Only he couldn't. Instead, what came out were a series of jumbled words that made no sense. He knew in his mind what he wanted to say, he just couldn't say it. This "expressive aphasia" lasted about 90 seconds. Ben tells me that it sounded a lot like this lady:

It's unfortunate that people ruthlessly made fun of this reporter for suffering a stroke on air.

Long story short, Ben went to the ER (which is a post in and of itself), managed to get someone to take him seriously, then later that night, he received a CAT Scan and an MRI. The CAT Scan was negative, the MRI was clear, so yesterday he had an echocardiogram, which showed a PFO, or tiny hole in his heart.

And that's where we're at now. Again, he is doing fine, and we are hoping he comes home from the hospital today. Prayers are always a good thing. I feel calm and optimistic currently, although Saturday night was pretty scary (and not just because of the lady screaming about her son being stabbed.)

The following people are rock stars: Clayton Jones, Michelle Walker, Lisa and Cameron Van Tassell, Tagg Grant and Lisa Piorczynski, Nate Olson, and Branden Berns. And of course, everyone else who has offered their love and support via phone calls, e-mails and texts. I would be a hopeless wreck without all of you!

Friday, May 06, 2011

What to do in NYC

While I slowly put together more blog posts documenting the last few months of our lives, here's a link to my friend Sharon's post about what you should do when you come to visit (besides hang out with me, of course.) Sharon moved here about the same time we did, has the cutest identical twin boys in the world, and has already met Alec Baldwin and I'm really jealous about it!