Friday, March 17, 2006

Birthday season has begun...

Well, I did it. I got the birthday invitations in the mail- whew! B's 10th birthday is just 2 weeks away (April 1st) so I just made it within the polite, 2 week notice deadline. It makes me wonder sometimes, how time get's away from me so easily. No wonder I love scifi & manga so much- it happens to those folks all the time...

Birthdays at our house tend to be a strange mix of low-key & very intense. We do not do the "invite every kid in the class" blow-outs at another location (like laserquest or a bowling alley), although I sometimes think wistfully of not having to clean the house before a party... B has only been able to go to big, echo-y places comfortablly for the past couple of years, making the birthday parties of other kids quite problematic at times. One time, when C took B to a bowling-alley party. he had to take him outside & walk with him until cake & ice cream time, because B just couldn't handle being in the place. One year, B's best buddy E invited B over for a separate "party" just for them because B couldn't tolerate the place his party was located (you can see why they've been best friends since preschool :). As of about 1 1/2 years ago B has been able to handle the laserquest thing, although it's very stressful for him. He puts up with it, though, because it's so very cool & spy-ish.

So, the low-key part of our home-grown parties is that there are always less than 10 kids there, including the birthday boy, from school, church, & neighbourhood. We plan the party to last about 3 hours & have cake & ice cream & prezzies as part of the festivities. There are usually at least 3-4 other adults on hand to help out (E's parents are always invited, & Grammie too, when she's in town). B sets a theme ahead of time- this is the intense part- & I make it happen :) The first party in this mode was B's 6th, when we had a Harry Potter theme. We dressed all of the participants as wizards & their goody bags contained the glasses, scar tatoos, & wands, among other wizardly stuff. They played home-made HP games (I drew a big Harry face & we did "pin the scar on Harry") & had a potions lesson using various combos of vinegar & baking soda. The piece de resistance was a quidditch cake- B requested that I dye the icing green- & then I wired his Harry & Malfoy lego minifigs on brooms to look as though they were flying through the air playing quidditch. After that, we had 2 years of science parties, where we dressed them all in lab coats & did experiments, made simple flashlights, used a lemon to power a clock, that sort of stuff, & I used mini Ehrlenmeyer flasks on the cake to hold the candles :) Last year was the most intense- the spy party. I set up an elabourate treasure hunt/spy mission that included locked rooms, secret codes, & lots of alarms that had to be disarmed. My only regret is that I didn't have the camera glued to me as we followed them around the house, because I wished I'd caught the "deer in the headlights" looks on their faces as they tried to get through B's booby-trapped room to disarm all of the alarms. (cue evil laughter... :)

For some reason, I am having a terrible time wrapping my head around this year's party... **sigh** It's another spy scenario, per B's request, & I'm beginning to think I burnt myself out doing last years (heck, I had to flow-chart the treasure-hunt part to get it right...). I am having little luck finding ideas for this years' party. I forced myself to bring it up with C & B repeatedly, over dinners, so that I would be spurred-on by their enthusiasm. C says that I don't have to have it be as over-the-top as last year (although I reminded him that I have standards to uphold...), but my main concern is that B not be disappointed. I did find some inexpensive decoder sets at American Science & Surplus (I loooove that site!) for the goody bags/toolkits & plan to use them as part of the "treasure hunt". It has turned out to be a good thing to include B on the planning- we are seriously considering having him disappear at some point, requiring everyone else to use his spy tracker set (which will be provided after they solve a code) to find him :) He thinks that would be a hoot... I will definitely have harder clues for the participants this year (last year, those that actually co-operated -don't ask- breezed right through them), with extra hints given out right before frustration sets in. We are inviting Paula & Chuk, too, & hoping that Chuk will enjoy participating as an "informent" (specific task to be determined). B is desperate to have his spybots involved somehow, although the "somehow" is eluding us at the moment... The main thing is, the invitations are out! This party's gonna happen no matter what....... & it's a good thing I work well under pressure!!


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