On this date, eleven years ago, I gave birth to my first child, Jase. Man…it is hard to believe that it has been 11 years since I first held him in my arms. Sometimes it feels like he has always been a part of our lives.
Our tradition of celebrating birthdays is ever-evolving.
From the first birthday through the fourth, we just celebrated with family. That included going out to dinner and then eating cake and opening presents at home.
On their fifth birthday, the kids started having birthday parties where they could invite their friends and classmates. For birthdays five, six and seven, each child had their party at a party location – Chuck E Cheese, Funtastic Playland, Inflatable Wonderland or Pump It Up. (Less work for Mom.)
Then on parties starting in second grade (eighth for Lexie and ninth and tenth for Jase), we let the kids have a party at home. We went all out with working with their themes. (Legos, Minecraft, How to Train Your Dragon)
But it is getting where it is not as practical to invite the whole class to a birthday party. Jase is not friends with everyone in his class. He now has a select group of boys that he hangs out with. So we decided instead of inviting everyone or just the boys like we have done in the past, we let him pick 2-3 close friends to invite over for some birthday fun.
On Saturday afternoon, he had two friends over to play. (He invited three kids but one couldn’t make it.) We tried to make it a little less structured than our typical home birthday parties but did plan activities to keep the boys occupied for three hours.
We started off with a few science experiments.
Chalk Rockets (aka Exploding Chalk) – this is simply liquid chalk (corn starch, water and food coloring) placed in film canisters. You drop in some Alka-Seltzer tablets (or in our case powder), replace the lids and stand back and watch the canisters take off. It leaves an interesting pattern on the driveway of chalk too.
Mentos and Diet Cola – this is a classic experiment. You drop Mentos into a 2 liter diet cola bottle and watch it erupt. My husband made devices to drop the Mentos in that also allowed the soda to fountain even higher than normal.
Balloon Racers – this was a simple one too. We put a string through a straw and then tied one end to the deck and the other to the fence. Actually we did this three times so each boy had his own string/straw. The boys blew up balloons. Once taped to the straw and let go, the balloons would race off toward the fence.
Unfortunately, it started to rain as we did the balloon racers so we had to postpone some of our other outdoor activities. While we originally planned on letting the boys have a “war” with Nerf guns, we moved inside for some video game action. (And a snack of popcorn and sodas.)
After a few different video games, we let the boys decorate their own cupcakes. That was a messy but fun project. I let them use as much icing and sprinkles as they wanted.
Then since it was still raining, we decide to move the Nerf Gun war into the house. We placed the guns and extra bullets in different locations and let them have fun. They could go anywhere but Lexie’s room. (She was at a friend’s birthday party and had specifically said they couldn’t go in there.)
To top off the afternoon and run off some of that sugar, we went back outside for a water balloon fight. We tried a new water balloon package that allows you to fill 120 water balloons in 60 seconds. It worked great and was well worth the money. (For Jase’s ninth birthday we had a water balloon fight and it took my husband and I quite a while to fill and tie all those water balloons.)
The boys all had a great time. Jase then got to celebrate on Sunday with the family. We went out to dinner (Olive Garden was Jase’s choice), and then opened presents and had cake at home.
And today, on his actual birthday, Jase is going with the other fourth graders on a field trip to the state capitol (Austin). They left at 8 am and won’t be home until 5 pm – two and a half hours after school is over. Add in that we had him celebrate his birthday at school last Friday (donuts for the class) and he has had a great four days celebrating his birthday!