Oct 20, 2011

Messy, explosive, and FUN

Zach's turn for an every-other-year party came around with his 10th birthday.  We planned the theme back in June, when I hosted two rounds of Mom Camp: Science Edition.  I think Zach was a little worried that a science party wouldn't be cool enough for his friends, who all seem to have their parties at gymnastics gyms, indoor theme parks, and laser tag venues.  Happily, the party did not disappoint.  It's nice to have a few points in the parental "win" column.

We thought it would be fun to have Zach's party on his actual birthday.  We circulated these invitations to a few neighborhood friends, a few church friends, and a few school friends (sadly, there is no overlap in these groups).

I lined up a few key elements that ultimately contributed to the party's amazing success.  First, Garry took a half day off work and helped with final preparations and the party execution.  Second, a sweet friend watched Kate at her house during the party.  And third, I did tons of prep work beforehand.

I love all of the "before" pictures Garry took.  The neat rows of jars and the uniformly-filled cups and the tucked in chairs and the decorated table bring order and peace to my soul.

At 4:00, the guests began to arrive, and order flew out the window!  With one no-show, we had 11 boys plus Gavin and Lexi (who were full party participants).  Can you say, "Full house?"

The kids first constructed marshmallow-and-toothpick towers.  Everyone thought this would be super easy, but it proved to be a trickier venture than expected!  Tommy won the prize for tallest tower with a 13.5-inch free-standing structure.  Second place went to Jacob, whose tower was 10 inches tall.

While I led the kids in making Gak (recipe here), Garry ran to Little Caesar's to get pizza.  [Note to self: sending the help away during a very messy project is a bad choice.]  Despite my logistical error, making Gak may have been the highlight of the party.  The recipe worked perfectly and the boys were thrilled with the results.  Once they mixed their goop into malleable blobs, they enjoyed throwing them into the air.  And at each other.

Then it was time for dinner and some free play in the back yard.  Having glorious afternoon weather at the end of October was certainly a blessing from heaven!  The kids took their pizza and root beer to the playground and had a marvelous time.

I took advantage of the empty house and cleaned up a bit.  The mess was rather extreme.

After dinner, Garry helped the boys play with fire, which was also very exciting.  During Mom Camp this experiment largely failed, but Garry played around with a few combustibles this week and determined that cotton balls produce the perfect flame.  Twelve out of 13 eggs were sucked into the boys' jars.  The kids' reactions were priceless.

We released the energetic crowd into the back yard again, this time because we had lots of time left to fill.  The kids found all kinds of crazy implements with which to start a friendly war. I laughed at Nathan, who chose a unique form of camouflage in the wagon.

Garry and I quickly prepared a last-minute activity (one we initially nixed from the agenda).   Water+oil+alka seltzer = lava lamps!

Zachary had a blast opening gifts from his friends.  Wow!  They were quite generous gifts, too.  Zach is a lucky boy.

Our final "experiments" of the evening were outdoors.  First the boys played with film canister rockets (vinegar and alka seltzer), and then, the grand finale was Coke and Mentos geysers.  We launched four of those.  Several of the boys soaked themselves in the Coke spray.  I'm sure their mothers loved me for that!

Finally, as it was dark and getting pretty chilly outside, we dried off the kids and went inside for cake and ice cream.  Somehow we didn't get an aerial shot of the birthday cake, which had a black radioactive symbol on the top.  Simple design, lopsided cake....not my finest work, but good enough for the birthday boy!  He blew out his candles with gusto.

The party ended at 7:00 p.m.  Our children were in bed 45 minutes later.  It took Garry and I another hour or so to clean up the party rooms.  I haven't looked in the back yard yet, but I'm sure it, too, is littered with remnants of Zach's raucous, loud, crazy, messy, and super FUN birthday party.

Now that we've got the science party all figured out, I think each of our kids has to have one.  But not for a while.  I need to catch up on my sleep first.

Today's joys:
*Having the health, strength, and energy to host a party.
*Having a big enough space to host a party.
*Playing with my kids and other people's kids.
*Watching eggs get sucked into bottles.
*Watching 10-year-old boys watch eggs get sucked into bottles.
*Seeing Gavin and Lexi revel in a "big kid" event.
*Having a husband who happily helps me with all my hare-brained ideas.
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