Belly up to the bar | Living with Gleigh

My youngest daughter turned 15 years old yesterday. She had a sleepover, which is another way of saying she and her friends stayed up all night.

I like planning birthday parties. Over the years we’ve had Winnie the Pooh themes, Blue’s Clues themes, Tea Parties, garden themed parties and paint your own hat parties and that’s just a sampling of parties we’ve had at home. We’ve also had parties at other locations like a bike party in the park, skating parties at the TLC rink before it became a Chinese Buffet; Bouncy Place parties, and a party at the Renton Water Park.

As my kids have gotten older, the theme is often just the fact that it’s a sleepover. This year my daughter decided to have an ice cream sundae party. I have to admit, though, I usually try to direct my kids to the theme for their parties. This year was no different.

I take pictures of all our family events and outings and put them in scrapbooks. Five or eight years ago, I bought scrapbook paper that had ice cream sundaes all over it. I was scrapbooking last month and ran across the paper which I had forgotten about. So I convinced my daughter to have the sundae themed party so I could use it. She didn’t agree right away, but when I described all the possibilities to having an ice cream sundae themed birthday, she decided it would be a lot of fun.

I sure had fun buying all the fixings for an ice cream sundae party: butterscotch, caramel, and chocolate toppings, Heath bar and orange crème hard shell topping, bananas, strawberries, lemon cake, peanuts, M&Ms, gummy worms, and of course, whip cream and a cherry on top!

I also bought extra-large, plastic, boat-shaped bowls at the Dollar Store for them to create their sundaes in. They were much too large, but I imagined it would be a funny and fun addition.

My daughter ordered tacos for dinner and waffles with strawberries and whip cream for breakfast the next morning. As I was preparing the strawberries the day of her party, I had a laugh when I realized I was allowing these minors access to bars: a taco bar, a sundae bar and a waffle bar.

As is common with teen girls, they acted reluctant about the taco bar, because that would be real food. From their seemingly disinterested teen attitudes I heard, “I’m not very hungry.”  “I ate a snack before I came.” “I don’t know if I’ll eat.” But once one of them approached the food, the rest followed. Ultimately, they ate with gumption.

My husband and I cleaned up the taco bar and started setting out the ice cream sundae bar. I thought they would be equally reluctant about it. So I figured the ice cream would have a chance to thaw for 15 or 20 minutes before they would allow themselves to indulge.

I almost had everything set out when one of the girls walked in, took one look at the ice cream sundae options elicited an exclamation of glee, “It looks like a fantasy land in here!,” which prompted the rest of the girls storm the kitchen.

They descended on the sundae bar like a pack of wolves, shoving my husband out of the way because he wasn’t scooping the ice cream fast enough. There were gasps and grunts of joy; no sign of the indifferent teens that had been around the taco bar.

As they made their way out to the patio, I made them wait to start eating so I could take a picture of their creations for my ice cream sundae scrapbook paper. Any angst I had about them enjoying themselves dissipated as they dug into their sundaes.

The next day’s waffle bar brought results somewhere between the taco bar and sundae bar. But it was all okay. You just gotta tell them to belly up to the bar and then step back and watch it happen.

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to writing about the humor amidst the chaos of a family. You can read her column every week on You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website

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