What is your secret to surviving your children's birthday parties? Hire an event coordinator? Seek out the help of a therapist? Take a Zanex? All of the above?

Who knew a 1-year old's birthday could cause such a flurry of crazed activity and require a day of rest to recuperate? The week leading up to my daughter's first birthday party was a blur of cleaning and tidying up the house. Yes, it took a full week because Martha Stewart I am not and you would need a map to navigate through the normal mess. So my house was clean and ready to go (provided you didn't look under the bed or open up any of the overstuffed drawers.) Party-ready house: check.

To accommodate for our large blended family, we had two parties - a small, intimate luncheon on Saturday and a larger child-friendly party on Sunday. Since Isabella is a little fashionista at the tender age of 1, she of course had to have two separate outfits befitting the occasions. Although Aunt Amanda is trying to train my daughter to be a contestant on "Toddlers & Tiaras," I decided that we would stop short of dressing her like one. So Isabella was dolled up in a pretty little polka dot party dress for the luncheon, and kicked it casual in a pretty little birthday tutu for brunch. Well-dressed birthday girl: check.

Of course, you cannot have a birthday without party decorations. One hundred and fifty dollars worth of pink poodle napkins, plates, party hats, balloons, streamers, and signs: check.

Eiffel tower-shaped kid-friendly cups that leaked red juice all over the floor: check.

Pink poodle favor boxes that would had to be taped up to stay intact: check.

So far, so good. But what, other than the birthday girl and the presents, is a hallmark for a great party? Why, the birthday cake of course! I spent hours of research looking for the perfect pink poodle tiered birthday cake design that would draw ooohs and aaaahs from the partygoers. With my design in mind, I purchased all the supplies I would need to bake this masterpiece. Move over Sylvia Weinstock ... Mommy Morgan is about to give you a run for your money. Or maybe not. After spending an entire night in the kitchen, I threw away my visions of grandeur with the burnt scraps of a lopsided cake. Cake from Genuardi's that did not follow the theme of the meticulously planned party: check.

As the time on the clock ticked closer to the debut of her parties, both days I found myself running around like a crazy woman trying to dress the baby, set out the food, and find my lost sanity. I recall at one point when I had just walked in the door from picking up last-minute items and was still trying to get out all of the food before all of the guests arrived, I felt like I had my entire family talking to me at the same time, about different issues, and not all related to the party. Jenny, here is your mail. Jenny, can I give the dogs these treats? Jenny, where should I put the ....? Jenny .... Jenny .. .Jenny. That was about when I hollered "EVERYONE STOP! GIVE ME ONE SECOND TO GET MY BEARINGS!" Everyone just stopped talking. Dead silence. And then my poor dad chimed in, "should we leave now?" I just needed to take one thing at a time and answer one question at a time. I am pretty sure I could have handled that better, but since this is my first children's party, I am going to chalk it up to a less learned. Yelling at a family function: check.

After things had somewhat settled down, I made sure to make my rounds to those same family members who were victim to my roar and kiss them hello. Or lick the wounds as they say.

Perhaps I was just hungry from lack of eating. After getting the food set up, greeting my guests and monitoring my daughter, I was quite famished. I made my way over to the food table and was able to get a tiny crumb of a leftover from the almost empty pan of egg bake. Growling stomach with a side of hunger pains: check.

Huge mess to clean up after the party: check. In addition to tidying up the disheveled house, I think I also need to clean up my party-throwing skills. Thankfully I will have many more years to practice being the hostess with the mostess and learn how seasoned moms juggle it all. Please, please tell me how you do it. How do you throw a children's party without throwing in the towel and maintain your sanity? (Sanity is optional)