Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Eight


The LB turned eight two weeks ago but we held his birthday party this past weekend. With both small Bears' birthdays two weeks apart in September, it can get a little hectic. I tend to hold his birthday parties in early October. This way the parties can be about four weeks apart, giving me more time for shopping, planning, cooking, guest-list management, decorating and anything else birthday parties require. I didn't plan it this way; he wasn't meant to be born in September at all, and I barely made it to that month before I had her. But this is how it worked out and it's actually really fun to have so much going on. I love fall and I enjoy kicking off the season with birthdays and parties to celebrate them. Actually, we start that in August with the Bear's birthday and then mine comes in November. So we have more than three months of birthday festivity in this family, but none at all during the rest of the year!

The LB had a really fun birthday party this year. He is a very math-and-science-oriented boy and we decided to have a science birthday party for him! Or, as we called it, a Mad Scientist Birthday Party. It was great. The Bear, who happens to be an engineer, did a lot of the prep-work because, well, science isn't really one of my strong suits. He devised fun experiments and games for the LB and his friends to enjoy at the party. We had six boys aged seven to nine and they were so excited, hyper, really. Fortunately, the Bear's parents were here to lend a hand. Would you like to see some of what we did? It was a very different kind of birthday party.


We made "tornado tubes," using 2-liter soda bottles and special connectors. We bought some of our science-experiment supplies, including the connectors, from a great educational supply website called Educational Innovations. The connectors are inexpensive and the bottles would have been recycled. This is a really fun thing to do with kids. The bottles contain water dyed with food coloring. We did two different colors so the kids could have races with them!


This was difficult to photograph but the lights you see, projected onto the bricks of our fireplace, come from two laser pointers. The laser pointers are mounted to the inner parts of an old stereo speaker, in an arrangement with mirrors. When music is played, the laser beams move in time to the music. This works especially well with a song that has a heavy beat; I gathered that the song "Tarzan Boy" by Baltimora seemed to work best, given the vast number of times it was played during the party.


This was another laser-based experiment. It involved lasers and mirrors and the kids had to make the laser beams go in different directions by moving the parts around. They could stack wooden puzzle pieces under the mirrored blocks, or build supports for them with K'nex building components, trying to hit different targets with the laser beams. The Bear loves this stuff. He's a great guy to have around whenever you want to plan a children's science party.



The party moved outdoors after awhile because there was one experiment that could not be performed in the house. It was chilly out and I think some of the kids were annoyed but it was necessary...


The Bear, in safety goggles, is preparing two bottles of Diet Coke for a pretty thrilling event. Have you ever seen the Diet Coke and Mentos Eruption experiment?


 No, seriously. We could not have done this in the house...


The Diet Coke sprayed thirty feet in the air! We did it with both bottles of soda. It was hugely messy but the kids loved it. The back of the house, the chimney, the family room windows, the barbecue grill and patio storage box all had to be hosed down - but hey, at least Diet Coke is sugar-free. It was worth it.


Everyone stayed out of the way of the Diet Coke geyser except our own merry prankster, who stood under it and then poured out the rest of the bottles onto his own head. I guess he got caught up in the excitement. He was bathed mercilessly later in the evening.


Continuing the theme of scientific wonders, we used these amazing candles which burn with different-colored flames. We got them from the above-linked teacher-supply company. They're treated with chemicals to make the colors develop in the flame; you have to put them in special little plastic holders to burn them, presumably to keep the chemicals out of your cake. Maybe a little risky, but they were really interesting.


Party-planning and decorating are more my speed. I kept it simple, just crepe paper, balloons and a party tablecloth.


This tablecloth is one of my favorite bargain finds of the past few years. It's a nice, heavyweight vinyl tablecloth with flannel backing, so it's wipeable and reusable, and it fits on both my kitchen and dining-room tables. The best part is that I found it in a clearance bin at the grocery store for only $2.50! What a deal.


Do you love crepe paper as much as I do? I wanted to do more but certain folks thought it would look weird. I made a special fabric bunting to use for the GB's parties but the LB didn't want one when I offered it. Maybe bunting isn't really a boy thing. So I do crepe paper for him and I like that too. I need to buy some more balloons before next year's birthday-party season begins; I'm down to only a few colors left in the current bag.


The food was simple, but the kids liked it just fine. I made two family-size take-and-bake pizzas from Papa Murphy's (one with just cheese, the other with pepperoni), served with grapes and the famous Velveeta-and-Rotel dip (I've been making it in my crockpot lately, and it's even easier this way!) with tortilla chips. The kids had a choice between Capri Sun juice packs or small bottles of water. The cake was from a mix, yellow with chocolate frosting. They were so well-behaved at the table; I was kind of dreading it since I had been hoping they could spill out onto the patio with their food. But it was really cool outside and I didn't blame them for wanting to stay in. The GB was holding court at the table, the only girl among six big boys!


The favor bags contained candy (mini chocolate bars as well as Smarties - because they're all learned scientists!) and small, inexpensive science-related items: rubber-band launcher toys, a "tornado tube" connector and little kits I made up with UV-activated color-changing beads (SO cool!) and a length of cord, so they could make themselves bracelets at home. We got the beads from the teacher-supply site too, and had planned to make the bracelets during the party, but we ran out of time with all the other fun stuff going on.


And just for fun, this was the invitation, which I emailed to the kids' parents a couple of weeks ago. The Bear made this on his computer, using a photo-editing and illustrating program called Inkscape. He used a photo of the LB and made it like a cartoon by tracing all of his facial features, hair, etc., and colored it in to match his hair, eyes and skin. He put him in a lab coat and gave him a laser and mirror to hold. It really looks just like him! I love it so much. I want him to do one of me now! This is actually a redacted version of the invitation; I removed the LB's name, our street address and my email address for blog privacy, but you get the idea.

We were really tired by the end of the party but it was so much fun. The small Bears slept like logs that night and we did too. I'm glad it went well; I wasn't sure if we'd planned enough games or experiments to keep them busy but we had more than enough for them to do. They were really fun to have in the house too; they got a little loud at times and there was a lot of raucous singing and many, many jokes that didn't really make sense to any of the adults present, but they were certainly having a very good time.

I can't believe I am the mother of an eight-year-old! Eight. I can't fathom eighteen, or twenty-eight. This is staggering enough. I love being his mother. He is mostly calm, not especially outspoken, typically quite obedient, though he has his moments (ahem, Diet Coke shower). He's growing like crazy; he's now only about fourteen inches shorter than I am! He's very smart. Pretty soon, he'll pass me by in math. I'm trying not to let that happen, but it's inevitable.

He's tough. I haven't shared this before, but he lives with only one functioning kidney. He has endured painful and invasive testing regularly since birth. He has taken medication every single day of his life. It hasn't been easy. But he never complains. It's normal to him, he knows it's all to keep him healthy. We have been fortunate to find good medical care for him and I'm grateful. I do what I can to keep my own kidneys healthy, in case he needs a new one someday. We've worried a lot, but he's thriving in spite of his condition. He's wonderful and we're blessed.

35 comments:

  1. Your party looks like a blast - my son is into that stuff too :) I haven't heard of Inkscape before, but I love how the invitation turned out. I can't imagine the worry you must have endured - hopefully you don't have to worry as much now that he is 8 :) xoL

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  2. Wow, what a great party, i'm envious that my science lessons never seem to be that much fun-even when I tried the mentos experiement-it was a bit of a let down- very impressed with your ideas- what a fantastic party. I'm sure he'll remember it for many years to come- and in all probability, getting soaked in coke will be the bit he remembers most! It must have been very worrying for you over the years- Hopefully all stays well with you all. :)

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  3. It looks as though you had an amazing time, so I can only imagine how much fun the children must have had! I have seen that coke experiment on the TV, and I wondered if it really worked like that or if they did something to pep it up a bit, so I was interested to see that boy, it really does go that well. You definately would not have wanted that going on in your house. How great that LB is 8 and that you and Bear threw him such a great party. I hope that you don't find it too shocking when he turns 28! Happy Belated Birthday to LB. xx

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  4. That all sounds great! What a lucky boy! Love the tablecloth. The kids must have really enjoyed that party, and I'll bet you were exhausted when it was over. But it was worth it, wasn't it? Sounds like you have the kidney problem under control, and I'm sure he'll be fine. We will keep him in our prayers. xxoo

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  5. That is the most awesome birthday party ever! I am sure your son, along with every boy who attended, will talk about it for years!

    I understand the worry about the kidney problem. Alexandra has kidney disease, has been through many painful and invasive tests, and takes a powerful drug every day of her life. It is hard to watch, but also very inspiring when you see them handle adversity with so much courage.

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  6. What a fantastic idea for a birthday party, it just looked like so much fun! I have to say, I had tears in my eyes reading your last paragraph, what a wonderful brave boy you have and your words show what an amazing, loving mother you are.
    Marianne xxx

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  7. Wow, next time can I come you sure can plan a party. It sounds perfect love all the experiments. Bathed in diet coke what fun

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  8. First, your LB is just the cutest boy! Your Mad Scientist party theme is just incredible, what a wonderful theme. What fun for all the kids. I've heard about the coke experiment but never seen it. The kids must have been awestruck.

    Yes, you are blessed. Just want to share...my one-kidney BIL grew up just fine, married my sister, and they have 3 beautiful children of their own. :) Pam

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  9. What a fabulous party. I wish I had thought of something like this as it would have been right up Daniel's street (he's studying Astrophysics now at uni). All boys have their moments, but your son sounds like a really lovely boy. Happy belated birthday to him.

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  10. What a fun party! I just love this idea, and it's something I bet the kids never had before. LB is a cutie!

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  11. It sounds like the party was a huge success, I bet it was one to be remembered.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  12. Jennifer, I absolutely love this! Looks like it was a blast! The invitation is way awesome! Happy belated birthday to your son.

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  13. Belated happy birthday to the young man! You guys did a super awesome party!

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  14. What an awesome party! You must be the coolest parents around - happy birthday to your big boy, and congratulations to you for being so caring and positive in the face of his illness. Happy memories! Chrissie x

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  15. What a fun party you put on for your son! Did you hose him down before he went back into the house? LOL! Goodness.. sorry to hear of his medical issues.. poor guy.
    *H*A*P*P*Y* * *B*I*R*T*H*D*A*Y*!*!*!* to him from your friend in Oregon! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  16. Wow that party looked awesome, my daughter would love this kind of party shes a science geek!

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  17. It looks like you all had a great time at the party, what a great idea for a party theme, I'm sorry to hear about his medical problems and hope he continues in good health, you must be so proud of you brave little man.
    Clare xx

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  18. Aww, bless him! What a great party! My two are real science geeks and their party trick is to test each other on the periodic table. The coke and mentos has been done a few times in our garden... yes, it is not an indoor thing. xx

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  19. That looks like a great party, it's so much nicer to create a party that is unique They must have loved the coke experiment! When the children were younger we use to have planned themed birthday parties and I can understand why you have the parties apart, it can be hard work! You must be so proud of your son especially with the difficulties he has faced with his health.
    Sarah x

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  20. Fantastic, Jennifer! The love and creativity of you and your family shines through this post and inspires me. Thanks.
    Gracie xx

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  21. Oh my gosh, this is the greatest birthday party for a little boy! I love it. So creative and fun. All the detail and the way you described your little boy is exactly how I remember my boys when they were that age. Yep, very smart, but a little wild and crazy sometimes. :-) I know it's hard to envision them as older, especially 18, but trust me on this one - it happens in the blink of an eye.

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  22. What a fabulous party! It looks like a blast and I love the science theme. I am so glad he had a wonderful time, he sounds like such a great boy. x

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  23. I love the Mad Scientist theme... so fun! The party decorations are really festive and fun! And it sounds like everyone had a wonderful time. LB sounds like a wonderful little boy, and is so fortunate to have such a wonderful family.

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  24. How about that coke and mentor experiment! What huge fun all round, and what great parents you are! Your LB is a brave intelligent young man and I wish him good health as the years roll on. I thoroughly enjoyed your post Jennifer, certainly a party to remember. What will you do for yours?!!!! Haha!
    Warm hugs, Joy xo

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  25. Such a lot of fun!! Thanks for visiting me too and happy birthday mr 8 ☺

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  26. WOW!! What an amazingly fabolous birthday party! I love that you managed to make science fun for a bunch of boys, it is such a great idea :) sounds like your son really enjoyed himself. He sounds like one incredible boy :)

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  27. Happy birthday to your son, what a fabulous party I bet the kids all loved it, sounds so much fun. I'm taking 9 , 12 years down to a water park this Sunday, for my sons 12 th birthday.

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  28. What a brilliant party, so original, love it and it sounds like the boys (including the big one) all had a fab time. My boy's 25 now, goes so fast, your LB sounds a wonderful lad :) xx

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  29. Blessed indeed sweet sweet lady!!!!! He is adorable and you are such a good mama!!!!! This party just rocks!!! From the experiments ( that diet coke experiment looked awesome!!!!) down to the invitations!!! Pure happiness happening here! We have all of our birthdays in the fall too...all 5! I can't even imagine having an 8 year old but I'm sure it will happen faster than I'm ready for. Happy weekend to you!!!

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  30. Aw looked like a wonderful 8th birthday party! My daughter turns 8 in February I think she'd love the exploding coke bottles and having a bit more of a different theme for her party.
    x

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  31. Happy birthday to your little bear. You were very creative with the theme of the party! Very fun and unique. Have a great weekend!

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  32. That looks like the best kind of birthday party, and just the kind a great kid like the LB should have :)

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  33. WOW! That is one amazing party, and you are one amazing mum. It all looks wonderful. So sorry that he has had health complications, he sounds very brave but it must be hard for you all. My biggest boy was ten yesterday. I can hardly believe I've had him for a whole decade. There's still so much to teach him, it's a bit scary how fast the time flies by.

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  34. A very belated happy birthday to your boy. Everything looked amazing, from the fun invitation all the way through the to party favours. The diet hole explosion looked such fun, wow it must have been super messy. I love the tablecloth and it sure was a bargain. I could do with one of those. You did such a lovely job for him and I'm sure he loved every minute of it. I'm so pleased to hear that he is thriving on one kidney, long may it last. Time goes by so quickly and before you know it (and be that is) they will be leaving home, but we won't be thinking of that yet. Xoxo

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  35. Looks like it was a great day! Yay for exploding Mentos!!
    Tammy

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