Bad Mom,  Bug,  party party,  spilling my guts,  the dogs

The “13 Doesn’t Succ…” Succulent Party


It rained all week and then suddenly on Saturday, the day of Bug’s thirteenth birthday party, the sun came out, the rain dried up and it was a brilliant lovely summer day. Pretty much perfect for an outdoor succulent-themed birthday lunch!

(Of course we had a back up plan. We would have went ahead and had a birthday lunch inside and crowded everyone into our dining room. I would have pan-fried the hamburgers three at a time and it would have been a smokey mess but we could have pulled it off. I’m just so glad we didn’t have to.)


From the outside everything looked perfect. It was sunny and warm day in January. The napkins I found stuffed in my party box were the perfect color of orange to match Bug’s neon orange shirt that she picked out last minute. The adorable little succulent plants fit perfectly into their little terra cotta pots. The cupcakes were the most cute! The hamburgers were delicious and the avocados were even the perfect amount of ripeness to make a big bowl of tasty guacamole. The puppies were happy guests in the side yard petitioned by a puppy gate. Everyone was happy.


I, however, was not as happy. A shame, I know. It’s just that I’m think I am ready to retire from party-throwing. I know. Nobody believes me. And maybe I’m just all talk. Come May when it’s time to throw Joon’s “baking challenge” birthday party, I’ll probably be rearing to go again. But right now I just feel like I’m done. I’ve spent way too much money on these parties over the years and it’s starting to get to the point where the wonderful creative aspect of party-throwing is not outweighing the financial and operational stress of making them actually happen.

It’s finally come to that. Maybe 2018 was a rough year for me and I’m finally growing up.

I love parties. I just don’t love who I become during party prep count-down time AND I don’t love how much money I spend. Unfortunately I’ve set the bar pretty high and the kids have come to expect this kind of festivities but I think it’s time to train them out of it because this can’t sustain itself. At least not for a while while I recuperate from losing my laptop and camera in Italy.

But you are not here to discuss my mental health and my party planning retirement. You are here to look at the details.


Details! The green bar, the green lemonade, the sunny day, the succulents everywhere… It was all lovely


Bug and I fell in love with the idea of succulent cupcakes. They are all over Pinterest these days. I didn’t really put a lot of effort into researching the how-to steps to make them though because Joon has become the baker in the house and I figured between the two of them, (Joon is the baker, Bug is the decorator) they would probably pull it off. I bought the Russian tips and let it all sit on the counter for a week until the day of the party.

Well, as luck would have it, the girls let me down. Not terribly but they kind of expected me to pull it off for them like I usually do and they were off in the bathroom somewhere doing their hair. So maybe you could say I let them down. Chalk it up to a miscommunication.

So there I was a the eleventh hour trying to figure out how Russian icing tips work. The kit I bought was super complicated with widgety plastic parts that for some reason with the last minute stress of it all turned into a rubic’s cube mystery operated by Greasy Fingers Mc-frustrated. Nothing worked and the cute little succulents of icing turned into smooshy blobs instead of leaf-like peaks. The color was perfect (because Bug, the color expert added the food coloring) but the shape was just a mess.  Of course it was 101 degrees in the kitchen because that is how our house works when the sun is out (pretty windows have an ugly side effect) and that probably contributed to my stress.

I grunted and screamed and pretty much turned into a Tyrannosaurus rex for twenty minutes. Poor Payam hovered nearby but there was really nothing anyone could do to calm me down or fix the situation.  I muttered through it and in the end the cupcakes turned out pretty cute. And since no one was comparing them to the Pinterest pin I had in my head, nobody realized they were a collassel failure.

Typical Brenda. Freak out and nobody knows.


Payam cooked the hamburgers. Joon had perfect hair…


And the party went off without anyone knowing that I was officially throwing in the towel. Last party I vowed.


A funny thing about Bug and Joon. Bug loves to draw (of course! She’s just like me) and many of Bug’s friends like to draw too. Joon does not like to draw and many of Bug’s friends don’t like to draw either. So the party kind of split into two groups: the drawers and the game players.


Joon LOVES any kind of game. The more active the better. I never realized how much I hated games until I met someone who really loves them. There are just so many games I am bad at!  Pretty much anything to do with math or being on the spot gives me anxiety. So that rules out all games except Pictionary. I love Pictionary because I love to draw. Sadly nobody else really loves Pictionary as much as I do.

When the party started out Joon was kind of moping around because it was a day for Bug and all of Bug’s friends were there. Joon didn’t get a chance to invite any of her friends, an oversight on my part. She was sad and bored.


But then when Bug went off to a corner with her drawing buddies some of her non-drawing buddies got bored and wandered inside to find Joon who was standing by to save the day with TWISTER! and CARD GAMES! All the gamers were so happy and so was Joon. And that’s how that worked out.

It’s funny though because Payam came to me and said, Why are there two groups? Why are Bug and her two lone buddies off being anti-social to which I turned to him and said, Let them be. That was me. I always hated parties because I hated games and I just wanted to be off in a corner drawing. So we let them be.



And that was that! Thirteen didn’t suck so much. But being the party planner did so maybe this is my last party. At least until May. And then THAT will be my last party.


  • Jen Wilson

    I gave up on parties too, but I didn’t do anything like you do. Entertaining a bunch of kids I don’t know gives me so much anxiety. What if they don’t have fun? Will they tell their parents terrible stories of a boring party? So my kids have 1-2 friends over and they do some things outside the house. A movie, a kid game place, pottery painting, anything that does not involve planning or large amounts of kids.

  • Courtney

    I can’t believe she’s thirteen! I’ve been following your blog since she was born!

    I do appreciate the green theme though, it’s like it’s come full circle. ??

    Happy birthday, Bug!

  • Kuky

    Hey you. I haven’t been reading any blogs in a long while and for a random reason I decided to stop by. Can you believe it??? We have 13 year olds. I can still remember Bug so small and pulling food out of her mouth to share with Isabelle. ???

    And I think I told you on Instagram that I thought your cupcakes were real succulents!

    Oh also have you tried the game Telestrations? It’s a drawing game but not competitive so you might like it.

  • Jenny

    I don’t blame you at all for wanting to retire from party planning, but truly, your cupcakes look exactly like real succulents! I’m so intimidated by hosting lots of kids for parties; my daughter usually just has a sleepover with one or two friends.

  • Sarah

    I would never ever have guessed that the cupcakes were the source of your discontent. I thought they were incredible when I first spotted them on Instagram. And I’m right about that. They were ;)

  • Cathy

    I would be sad if you stopped your parties and I only see them from here. I get stressed just going to parties, so I get that, but don’t be so hard on yourself. Your gigs always come out beautifully and always seem appreciated. Hope that 2018 only made you stronger and this year is much less stressful. The party was just as beautiful as Bug, like always.

  • BeachMama

    Shhh… I was done with parties two years ago! I did a final couple for our youngest as it wouldn’t be fair if she didn’t get her last few in like her brother, but OH. MY. GOODNESS. I am so over kids parties!

    Adults, no problem, I can throw together a dinner or snacks or potluck at a moments notice for adults, but thinking about throwing another kids party makes me want to squirm and run away. I think it is because I work so hard to make it perfect, then these kids show up, do everything half haphazardly in about 5 minutes flat then say they are bored.Done!

    I do love your parties though, always inspirational!!

  • gingermog

    Hi sorry I’ve been so long commenting as I read the post one evening last week. lots of teaching going on and I’m still getting over the flu, please send Californian sunshine. :) As creatives I think we hold ourselves to such high standards. Wow, I can appreciate the stress you must have felt when the “Russian tips” didn’t work but may I say you pulled it off with aplomb, I thought those cakes were real succulents on IG I have no mad icing skillz like you, once I went to a 3 years old birthday party and when I walked through the door, I was handed a supermarket icing kit and asked to ice a dinosaur onto a plain white birthday cake as the center of the birthday feast…EEK!

    I’m a bit worried to hear you feel like your “done” with party panning as your so “magic ” at it, but I agree sometimes it good to take a hiatus and try something else. I have more energy to teach since I took a break. I hope you are ok and wondering if the Italian trip has shaken you up. Its good to give yourself space to breathe and grow in another direction. Sending love xx

  • lynne

    Lovely party maybe 13 is a natural stopping point for parties the jump to teen from tween seems like a good point to leave behind. Maybe in future an experience with one or two friends, no sister, just for her. I am not sure how my kids would have reacted to a party for 14 or 15 yr old. sweet 16 okay of course

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.