Liam’s 8th Birthday Party

January 22, 2017 at 8:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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In years past I’ve planned activities, carefully scripted each moment, or rented out a venue for Liam’s birthday parties. Nothing fancy, but still requiring some effort. This year, I decided I’d let him handle it. He elected to have a slumber party, guests arrive at 6, we’d get Happy Meals from McDonalds, open presents, run around and play, eat cake, then watch a movie before they go to bed. Sounds like a good plan! And that’s pretty much how it all went down, except no one spent the night. Which was perhaps for the best. We’ve never had anyone spend the night before, and I get the feeling eight is still a little young for boys to handle sleepovers. I had my first slumber party at eight, but girls seem better equipped for that sort of thing at that age. Liam was a little bummed no one decided to spend the night, but I told him we could try again next year.

Opening presents started out civilized, then somehow all the kids ended up on top of the dining room table. We totally forgot to put candles in the cake and sing happy birthday before eating it. He didn’t even notice. Mostly they shot each other with Nerf guns (or rather, fake shot each other. No one was firing actual darts, I think at Liam’s request). Then they found the swords and shields we got at Disney, and they ran around the living room doing battle. I think everyone had fun. We put in The Goonies, which elicited varying degrees of attention, but by the time the pirate ship escaped, they all sat down to watch. All the boys behaved well, and no one woke Violet. They ate a ton of junk food and were probably bouncing off the walls when they got home. Maybe another good reason no one spent the night! Ha!

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Liam Turns Seven

December 14, 2015 at 11:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It’s been chaos here in the Fletcher household: the post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas, pre-trans-Atlantic move rush was complicated by a bout of suspected food poisoning amidst all of my birthday party planning. So while I booked Liam’s party at Jumpy Jump Land a month ago and sent out invitations two weeks before the event, the actual party only came together by sheer will and the incredible generosity of friends, family and neighbors. I doubt Liam will ever know the difference – he had a wonderful time jumping, eating massive amounts of pie from his favorite Derby restaurant, and opening lots of presents. He didn’t notice that: A) I didn’t remember to bring birthday candles; B) Nobody actually sang Happy Birthday; and C) There were no presents from me and daddy. I also didn’t bring anything to properly cut the pies with, so my poor mother did her best using plastic cutlery to dole out rough pieces of delicious Holiday French Silk and Pumpkin with Whipped Cream. Being the birthday boy, Liam got a piece from each. He must have worked up an appetite from all that jumping. He made short work of them.

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Because we have a limited amount of space for Liam’s things in the move, we decided to request books as gifts. Though Liam is only just starting to get into reading, he loved the idea and was delighted to open all of his gifts.

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Notably, he got several Magic Treehouse books (his favorite series at the moment), a “7” shirt from my mom, picture books and activity books that will be great for those dull moments on the way to Greece, several other chapter books, and a really cool travel atlas from Jill.

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He even got a $20 bill. Evie was green with envy.

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We had about a dozen kids in attendance, which turned out to be a perfect number for the venue. We had plenty of food and drinks, and I think everyone had a good time. I had to mind the baby quite a bit, so I relied on Jill to snap most of the photos and mom to feed all the kids. Violet was pretty good about letting my friends take turns holding her so I could get a break from time to time.

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At first I was a little concerned about having the party so early – 10 AM was the only time I could book it – but I really appreciated having the rest of the afternoon to recover. Evie, Milo and Liam played all afternoon (read: tore apart my house), then we all watched Home Alone that night. None of the kids had seen it, and they absolutely loved it. They kept telling and retelling their favorite parts to each other while brushing their teeth before bed. And the next morning Milo went on the hunt for paint cans to hang from our stairway. Thankfully he’s too young to get up to TOO much mischief. Yet.

Tomorrow I’m planning to take Liam to the bookstore to exchange some of his Magic Treehouse duplicates and get the rest of the books in the series as our gift to him. Good save, yes? That was my plan from the very beginning…

Liam’s Sixth Birthday Party

January 11, 2015 at 6:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Happy Birthday to Liam! Again! This time we had no illnesses and no weather events, so the party was a go. I had it all planned out:

I would hang decorations:

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James would make cotton candy:

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And the kids would decorate animal masks and creature power discs, which tied in with our Wild Kratts theme:

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I even made a sample mask. Hoot, hoot!

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Then the kids and parents arrived, and it got a little chaotic. Liam started running around like a lunatic. Some kids didn’t want cotton candy, some kids didn’t want to make masks. But somehow I managed to get them all seated at the table and instructed them. Liam colored his Gila monster in about 5 seconds, didn’t want to make his creature power disc, and didn’t want to put his mask on. But most of the other kids seemed to enjoy it, particularly the girls.

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I was hoping since Liam had gotten so crafty lately this would be right up his alley. But I think it ran contrary to his particular mood, which was “I want to run around the house like a crazy person and eat my cake!” So what I hoped would take a full thirty minutes of coloring, stapling, gluing and taping was instead finished in about 10 minutes. We had eight kids, including Liam, and just as many adults, but I think the set up worked well, allowing the kids to craft in the dining room and the parents to visit in the living room.

And at least I got the kids to pose with their masks – that was part of the plan! Though Liam was supposed to be in the front row…you can’t hear him in this photo, but he’s off camera whining, “I want my caaaaake!”

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My cousin Sarah came with her eight-year-old twin boys, Logan and Ethan, and her husband, Vance, who I hadn’t seen since Marvin’s 80th birthday four years ago. A few of our regular play dates we met in preschool came: Amia, Chloe and Brayden. And we had Sophie and Ethan, our neighbors that we’ve gotten to know quite well this year.

The cake was great – I ordered a personalized marble flavor sheet cake from Dillons with a jungle theme decor that Liam picked out, and Happy Birthday Liam in white icing. Then it was on to presents!

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Brayden was happy to help. His mom kind of scolded him, but our Liam is always happy to get help opening presents. (Oh, the present fatigue!)

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He got a couple of lego sets, a couple of remote control cars, a big truck and a nerf gun. All great toys, which he immediately wanted to play with that evening.

So craft, cake, presents…I looked at the clock, and we still had more than an hour left of this party. Do’h! So we set the kids loose downstairs and hoped for no major altercations. Liam cried a few times over slight injuries, mostly in the trampoline, which is hard to manage with a lot of kids. I had told them one at a time, mostly because of the bigger kids, but it was hard to supervise them. So instead I decided to have some well-earned grown up time upstairs, enjoy my hors d’oeuvres and adult conversation, and let the chips fall where they may. A few guests left before I remembered to hand out the party favor bags (D’oh!), but they were guests we see often, so no big deal. Brayden was having so much fun, and I was having so much fun talking with his mom and bonding with her new little six-week-old, that we let them play until about five. Liam did a lot better one-on-one. I think all of the noise and activity was getting to him, though he did a lot better than we thought he would. A year ago we would have had to take him in another room for some quiet time, but kindergarten has come a long way in helping him handle crowds and chaos.

James, on the other hand, needed his quiet time after the party was over. I think he initially thought he’d get to hole up in the bedroom while we had the party, but I really needed his help, and he stepped up without complaint. It helped that we had a dad and a grandpa there for him to chat with. But come four o’clock, I think he was ready for this party to be over. They both were, really. My sweet introverts! 

Overall I’d call this a success, and I had a lot of fun putting it together. I so rarely get to entertain that this was a treat for me. Though I’m thinking next year we’ll forego the party and just invite a few kids out for bowling or something.

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