Wednesday, January 29, 2014

When a Party Planner Resolves to Throw a No-Stress Party (ha!)

I made some New Years Resolutions this year and I'm off to a crazy impressive start, I must say. Normally I think of resolutions as being things people do if they want to loose weight or stop smoking. But this year I decided that I too, could use a resolution- or two. So I went big and made two:

1) Get my business in gear and figure out just what in the world I'm doing with it 
2) Let my children's birthday parties be about them, not the business
... And don't let the week before the party (aka Party Week) be hell on the family. (As I've mentioned in a post before- I think I've thrown some parties where the recipients- my kids- wish they were never turning a year older.)

As for the first resolution: Check. Mate. I signed up for a class. A full blown business class. As a woman who gets seriously confused by word problems this is a BIG DEAL for me. I wouldn't exactly call myself studious.... But it was time for me to stop making excuses and figure some ish out. Like really, really figure it out. Here's to hoping this investment I'm making financially and with my time is majorly going to pay off. I start February 11th and I'm crazy excited and nervous all wrapped up in to one little very easy to understand word problem.

On to the second resolution- in which I'm half way there... Let me explain.

It all started about 5 months ago when my son eagerly told me he wanted an "All Boys Golf Party". I was thrilled. Smaller party (because we were essentially eliminating half of the guests) which hello- meant WAY more detail (my thang thang), plus the obvious lots-of-argyle-and-plaid options going on AND the fact that it was a pretty unique theme that I could do differently- I was sold. "Cormac's Boy's Club Golf Party"... ZING! I hit the ground running (I mean pinning) and before I knew it I had purchased an amazing new table cloth and 8 matching cloth napkins- I officially had my color palette, the hard part was over.

Party designed by TomKat Studio
And then, then it happened. As he was coloring at the kitchen island that one day in early November he looked up at me and said, "I changed my mind. I want an Art Party with Twisting Balloons!" Gulp. What in the world? All I could think about was how my husband HAD to stumble upon his old balloon twisting bag and twist up a few amaaaazing creations... The nerve of this guy. And then Cormac HAD to realize how much he in fact LOVES art. (Like lives for art.) Damn. I had a situation on my hands- why didn't I see this coming? I was stumbling upon my words trying to answer his requests for this sudden change in party... in SPIRIT I should really say... And there he was planning- planning away, "Balloon Art Party mom- how fun!"

All I could think about were all the bad 80's balloon art engrained in my head from years of begging my parents to buy me just one balloon dog at a carnival and never getting one- an image in my mind so dated that it couldn't even be cool in a "retro" way.

And an Art Party... the FAMOUS Art Party.

You see, in my industry- Art Parties are the new Rainbow Parties. Not tracking with me? They're the new Pirate Party. Still not tracking?! The new LALALOOPSY PARTY! Oh for goodness sakes- they're over done- do I have to spell it out?!! They've been done extremely well already by a number of crazy talented party planners and need be done NO MORE. If I see a Rainbow Party on Pinterest (other than Birdie's, which still totally excites me) I'm literally yawning unless it's like shooting gold coins out of the bottom of the rainbow (Oh ya, I've done that too)- so pretty much I'm just yawning. As a party planner- I am trying to do NEW themes- to excite the masses! Anyone feel me?

Now I know you might be thinking, "Aren't you doing an Art Themed Party for the show 'Take Me To Your Mother'? And, yes- yes I am... but somehow it works on TV where an everyday theme is exactly what we were looking for (don't want to spoil it too much!). And also because of my awesome contributors- I'm getting to do some really unique and fun things I wouldn't be able to do on my own.

I mean, we're talking serious competition...
However, for my own personal children's party- I wanted something NEW, UNIQUE... BOLD. I tried to stay positive and view it as a challenge. Ya, that's it- a challenge! I started channeling Jeff Koons and his famous balloon dog sculptures and thought about POP Art and BALLOON Party. POP: BALLOON, brilliant.

And thank God I'd remembered Pop Art and how cool/different it is because I KNEW, I just KNEW this had to be the year that I considered doing a theme change because #1- who makes their kid pick a theme 5 months out? Oh ya, party planners do- sometimes 6 months. #2- we were moving a month before his birthday and I just wanted him to be happy as I knew the move would be a hard on him... and #3, I was really aiming to throw as normal a party as a party planner can throw a child because that was in fact- going to be my New Year's Resolution- I was gearing up for it. Would it still be over the top? A-duh. But my goal was to really not bring my kids in to the stresses of the actual party planning OR the stress of Party Week. Like for instance last St. Patty's day photo shoot when both kids and their friends all got serious time-outs for throwing a stuffed horse around the house- almost harming my cake pops? Ya, I was going to try and stay away from that version of my party self.

Annnnnd... I am really proud to say I did. It takes a lot for me to be proud of myself (are you new to this blog- or what?) but I can honestly say my kids did not see "ugly-Kenna" (or as an old friend used to say, "The Wrath of Kenna"). My mother-in-law picked them up mid-day Thursday and took them until the party started on Saturday (our little amazing tradition) and I was able to shield them prior to that from Miss Party Mom- and instead just be a mom planning a really awesome party. I had Cormac coloring art to showcase at his party while I was wrapping napkins and putting together "Art Kit" favors. Both children also had clean underwear all week, were fed 3 meals a day and didn't start calling me Miss Party Mom instead of just mom... Winning!

Here's a couple phone pics- I can't wait to show off the professional photos!
Oh I know what you're wondering....? Did the husband, the intern, Hannah and any other person who was dumb sweet enough to arrive early to try and help all experience "ugly-Kenna"? Well duuuhhh... of course- what am I a flippin' robot?! Things need to get DONE people! It doesn't happen at the snap of a finger! (Trust me, if it did- I'd have no thumb print left) but that's a resolution for 2015... right? Something to aim for, nice.

To my party girls: Hannah. Kristin. And my newbies Lauren, Ben and Mirielle. I love you. You're amazing and I'm sorry that Ugly Kenna exists. But helllllooooo- was it a great party, or what?

xo Party or Die xo

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Fear of Failure (as Learned Through "The Biggest Loser")

I have always been a fan of The Biggest Loser. There's just something about people setting a goal for themselves and then working their tail off (literally) to achieve it that gets me all worked up- hooting and hollering at the TV as if I'm watching a sporting event.

If you're a regular reader you know I don't often get super vulnerable on the blog... or really in life probably... But after watching The Biggest Loser tonight I feel like just plain putting it all on the table, err... blog table. I actually had NO plans to blog this week as I'm in pre party-week mode for my son's Pop Art Party. But then I sat down and got wrapped up in an episode of The Biggest Loser. I saw this girl trying (and failing) to jump on top of "the green box" while Jillian screamed cheered her on. Every inch of me wanted to yell at the girl, "JUMP ON THE FLIPPIN' BOX!" because it did, you know- seem so easy. But I couldn't yell because I actually knew the reason she wasn't jumping on the box. For pretty much the same reason I'm not REALLY trying to make Miss Party Mom a reality, like a full-time job reality- which is what I truly think I do want. It's simple: Fear. The thought that if I put everything in to this party business and it doesn't "take off"- it's really quite honestly paralyzed me from trying to learn anything about actually running a business.

In the same way Biggest Loser contestants have an emotional block when it comes to eating- I'm pretty sure I have a real honest-to-goodness emotional block when it comes to learning to run the business like an actual business. In the past few months I've given it an effort- for sure I can say that, but it's just so unnatural for me. Profit and Loss? Bleck. Networking? Shoot me. Worrying about a profit? Who really cares if you're having fun? I mean, I have every intention of eventually making it a real business, you know... in the future. For the past year plus though- just sort of doing it for fun and the occasional profit has really taken the pressure off of the whole "succeeding" thing. And for me- the easy (and fun) part is to just create (which I assume if we're relating this to The Biggest Loser, would be eating). And not worrying about an actual budget or profit- the part that takes discipline (the same way a proper diet does). In another scenario- it would be like handing a Wall Street financer a pack of wrapping tissue and telling him to make a tassel banner out of it... Yes, that right there- THAT is how I feel when I'm trying to figure out the business. So not only is it really not an easy task for me... when paired with the fear of failure- it's kind of like, I don't know... impossible? (Hey smarty-pants Wall Street person- ever heard of Googleing a You Tube video?!)

The Party Creative on Etsy

And the thing I'm coming to grips with lately is that I used to be an incredibly driven person. At a young age I started a career at Mattel Toys and made a successful life for myself. Looking back 10 years later I don't know if doing that so young was a good thing for me or not. It really set me up mentally to feel as if I will never be able to top "being a Barbie designer". I left Mattel after 5.5 years and went on to pursue a dream I had to open up a vintage/consignment clothing store with my best friend. We ended up closing the store after 3 years because we weren't making enough money.

Something happened to my entrepreneurial spirit at that point. Not being able to profit the way we set out to really screwed with my driven "make it happen" mindset... and if I'm totally honest- I lost confidence in my ability to do something on my own again. In my mind I'd gone from being at the pinnacle of my career (unhappy for sure- but successful nonetheless) to having to walk away from something I wanted to succeed so badly. The whole not achieving what I set out to do thing has since really held me back, as a business woman for Miss Party Mom, a blogger... heck, probably even a mom, wife... Um, human?

For me: the fear of not being successful, it's powerful. I've heard this saying: "I'm my own worst critic" and that saying couldn't be more true for me. I have a really hard time taking pride in the small successes I accomplish- like recently being chosen to film an episode for Nickelodeon coming up in February... instead always looking for the HUGE success, like, "Why am I not filming my own show?" And the weird thing is- I don't know where this need for success and perfection came from- I'm sure a therapist could tell me! I don't think my parents were involved... I mean trust me- they screwed me up in a ton of other ways- but I don't think they ever required all that much of me- they weren't ever the "striving-for-perfect-kids" parents. So how did I get here?!

Back to the girl not jumping on the green box... Hearing Jillian yell at her- it was literally like she was yelling at me. I was thisclose to breaking down and trying to actually find a damn green box and jump on it. Except my green box would be getting serious about making a profitable job for myself as Miss Party Mom. When the woman was babbling through her tears to Jillian, "I'm scared! What if I fail?! I've never been athletic- I can't do it!" I felt like I was yelling, "I'm scared! What if I fail (again)? I've never been business-smart!" Forget The Biggest Loser- I need The Business Loser!

Ok- so, are you ready for the punch line?? I signed up for a business class. I mean I kind of did this before Jillian screamed at me the white girl who couldn't jump but now that I can kind of wrap my head around why the hell I've been dilly dallying so long... I think I'm REALLY ready. I know, I know... I've said this before. But Jillian wasn't yelling at me that time. And with all the change in our lives lately... New city, new home, new church, new hair (?!)- I think it is time to start the year with some new goals... Like, making my dreams a reality? Ya, that sounds good.

New hair, don't care.
While I'm being vulnerable I mind as well put a no makeup pic on the blog. Don't get used to it.

SO. Check back in about my class. Hopefully it starts in February, I'm on a [short] waiting list right now.

Wish me luck (on every level), I need it.

xo Party or Die xo

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Moving. It Kind of Sucks.

We moved and I haven't blogged in forever, again. It's been the farthest thing from my mind because I've just been in survival mode. Moving Survival Mode.

No matter how much you want to move, are excited to move and need to move- nothing- and I mean nothing can really soften the blow of ACTUALLY moving.

Moving to a new city. Selling a house. New jobs, preschools, churches... Everything's. Ah. Changing.

This move has been hard, that I cannot lie about. Our hardest move yet, for sure. I think if I had remembered how much I don't do well with um, ya pretty much every aspect of moving- I would have realized it wasn't going to be a fun. Instead, I just thought about the things I love, like decorating. And visits to Ikea. And not the things I hate (err, despise) like unpacking random boxes full of things that don't even belong in the same room- let alone box. This is the style of packing you do when you've just given up: throw it all in, hope it doesn't break and slap some tape on the box. You're angry when you're doing it and even more angry (at yourself) when you're unpacking it. Unpacking it is a blunt reminder of how much you procrastinated packing. And that right there is pretty much my entire style of packing. (Incase you don't remember, packing isn't really my "thing".)

I hate chaos, I hate being out of a routine and I hate not knowing where anything is. I like being in control and I hate feeling like a spaz, which- even when I'm in control I am somewhat spazzy- so during a move it's like amplified to a level 11. It was definitely too much for the husband to handle. I locked keys in the house, in the car, in the garage... who knows where? Everyone was over Kenna, even Kenna. Whomp, whomp...

I would go so far as if to say, if people decided to just divorce in the middle of a move- I would not blame them. If they stated on their divorce papers, "We Tried Moving Our Family" instead of "Irreconcilable Differences", I would totally just nod and say, "Ahhh yes, The Move got them- totally..."

And here's the thing- I am not a novice to moving. I may sound like one, but actually in fact I am quite the opposite: I am a habitual mover. Before I was married at age 25, I moved 9 times. Since being married we have moved 8 times. In 7 years. It makes me anxious to even add those two together.

Moving as a single woman was almost a game to me. I had a great job and was kind of, in a way- always looking for a better place to live. Closer to the beach. Bigger. Cheaper. Better roommate. I would move on a whim, and often. I had an Ikea credit card and used it like a gas card. I was always designing new rooms in my head and I can't ever really remember a move actually STRESSING me out. I can remember powering through my living room, bedroom and kitchen in about 48 hours, max.

Moving as a married couple became a little harder, but still- Shawn and I's usual moves were usually to gain space. With almost every move we "upsized"- and there is really nothing that stressful about throwing things in a spare bedroom and closing the door and getting to it when you can.

Now let me tell you some things about this move. We moved to one of the most beautiful places in the world: Santa Barbara, 4 blocks from the strand to be exact. We're moving in to a church denomination we've wanted to be a part of for a long time. The husband is getting a nice raise. And did I mention we're moving back to the beach? We are. We've missed it- although I don't particularly love frolicking in the water, I do love living by the beach and the lifestyle it provides. Lots of major pros for this move. In the midst all of these pros... there's been just one con- if you want to look at it like that... We're downsizing. Fact: to move to Santa Barbara, unless you are Oprah (who lives 10 minutes away) you WILL be downsizing. I won't go in to the logistics about the space but we're missing some serious square footage. 


As we finalized our plans to move in to the new house we had to PURGE. I mean amongst the obvious kid's-now-sharing-a-room reality-- the pink couch didn't fit. My beloved pink couch, my baby... There were almost tears.


It took us 2.5 weeks to move in, which I'm sure in the grand scheme of everyone who's ever moved with a family- is like warp speed. In Kenna-time 2.5 weeks is like slow motion... a painful, tortuous slow motion where you can't ever see the light at the end of the tunnel until you have less than 5 boxes left to unpack. I have not had anxiety like I had with this move for a long time, and I forgot how much anxiety sucks. In the midst of the move was Christmas. Who moves during Christmas? Oh ya, we do- twice. Christmas almost killed me. Santa's elves were majorly lagging, especially that damn Elf on the Shelf who gave such a pathetic attempt it wasn't even worth one Instagram photo. I mean, everyone knows if you don't Insta your Elf you've committed a parenting crime! 

I was shopping on Christmas Eve for 75% of my gifts-my heart racing as I was mad about everything, including the fact that I was standing in hour long lines purchasing less than amazing gifts because I couldn't even handle the fact that Christmas decided to show up in the middle of our move. I mean, the nerve. Let me tell you I was NOT feeling the Christmas 2013 spirit. I tried my best to decorate our house around the boxes, just so the kids wouldn't miss out... but nothing was helping this Grinch. I was so happy to de-Christmas- I've never been happier to not see Christmas d├ęcor all the more cluttering my already cluttered home. (Should I publicly admitted that last sentence? Probably not.)

I made a pathetic attempt at getting our family's Christmas pics in to one of those annoying "Facebook Christmas card" status updates- something I swore I'd never do. I learned that during a move you are capable of doing things you swore you'd never do.
Aside from the annoyance of unpacking box after box... there is also the emotional aspect of moving. Realizing that the friends you've spent every day with for the past 5 years are all now an hour away- not a block away. When your son is asking you 10x in a day if we can meet our friends at the park or if he can see pictures of our old house- it just makes you sad. And sad people can't unpack, they can only wallow. Wallow in boxes.

Fast forward: As of New Years Eve I declared us "officially moved in" (I had to declare it in order for it to be real, you know?) We even had friends over New Years Day which my kids were beyond excited about. We still don't have a complete back yard (yet) but we're unpacked and comfortable, like we can actually walk through the house without tripping- always a plus! It's crazy because the minute I put away the last box in the bathroom I felt like I could function again. And breathe. And text people back. My tunnel vision for parties is the same with moving- I physically can NOT do anything else except the task at hand.

Enjoy some pics of the new digs... Including the kids new Neverland room which I had a great deal of fun designing.

THE headboard. If you don't know why I capitalized THE, you missed this post.

New Years Day!
The kids and I have been exploring the last few days since Shawn's been back to work and I know we're going to love it here. We've found amazing parks and made a trip to Michael's today to get a start on Cormac's 5th birthday party. I still got lost (what is up with these One Way streets?!) and it is still crazy annoying that there is no Target (WTH?) but I can definitely remember why we decided to move here. I mean, we've been the beach alone like 10 times since moving here- thanks to my husband's pleading to get away from "the move". We've discovered elote and helado and they're going to make me go broke!
Sometime soon I plan to blog about our decision to send Cormac to a Spanish Immersion Elementary School this Fall but until then I will be working like a mad woman on his Pop Art Balloon Party- sewing 19 aprons for all of his little artist friends! See- I'm back to my normal self ;)
To follow the Pop Art Balloon Party fun- come follow me on Instagram!

xo Party or Die xo

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