I remember the first really big birthday party I threw for one of my kids. It was for my first-born, when he was about 4 years old.

I worked for weeks to plan. I had everything lined up and ready to go. And with a summer birthday, what better way to celebrate than with an outdoor shindig?

We filled water balloons, staked down the Slip-N-Slide, set up tables full of goodies and prizes. We even hired a magician to keep the kids entertained while they ate. Goodness knows they can't be bored for one second.

And then the unthinkable happened. It rained. No ... it poured! My yard looked like a soggy tee-peed rainbow full of torn crepe paper, assorted-colored napkins and party blowers. Not to mention wet cupcakes, candy and chips. I was devastated. Weeks of work, literally down the drain.

And then something happened. The magician saved the day! "You guys were planning on getting wet anyway -- what's the big deal? I'll still do my show for you if you'll still watch!" Not only did they watch, they participated and became little magician's assistants. It was one of the best birthday parties ever.

It just goes to show, parents don't have to throw perfect parties. We just need to have a little imagination, a lot of patience, and maybe a bag or two of candy. It's all how you view "fun."

This month's issue features our annual Birthday Party Guide, complete with ideas on how to have the best b-day parties for your little ones. Wanna hire out? Got that. Planning an at-home, do-it-yourself deal? Got that too. On a budget? The BAG Lady's got you covered.

Also in this issue, we'll talk more about magic and why it's so ... well ... magical. And learn why kids get flu and cold bugs, even in the summer. Plus, when was the last time you had a checkup? We have a rundown of the most important health tests for men and women, how they're done and when to have them. Post this on your fridge!

Feeling frustrated? By now the kids have been out of school for a month or so and you probably need to read the story about yelling. We'll let you know a few tricks to keep your cool.

All of us at Columbus Parent Magazine hope you have a wonderful, safe and magical summer!