Sunday, June 26, 2011

Party Surprises

I think I mentioned in a previous post that Zach got sick the day of his birthday party, so we had to reschedule. So, instead of having his party just a few days after his actual birthday, it was about 10 days later. We had paid to reserve the shelter at a nearby park on the date of the original party, and I really did not want to pay for it a second time. Thankfully, the day of the rescheduled party, nobody else had the shelter reserved and we could just set up and now worry about it. It's one of those things were on most days, we could probably skip the reservation and be fine, but you know the day you want to have your function there and you don't reserve it, either the park will be packed or somebody else will have reserved it and you'll be out of luck. When we arrived at the park on the make-up day, which also happened to be Father's Day, there was not a soul in sight. Whew!

So we got to the park and quickly got our stuff set up. I'll admit- I didn't put a whole lot of thought into this party. With Mike being gone the whole week before the originally scheduled party, and my parents being in and out of town, and just life in general, it wasn't nearly as planned-out as Zach's pirate party last year. But, I also think part of that is due to the fact that when I asked Zach about games he wanted to play at the park for his party, he said he just wanted to play on the equipment with his friends and not do any games, so there wasn't much to plan. And finally, since my sister Becky had a Star Wars party for my nephew in March, and my parents brought out her supplies when they came to visit, I felt like I had what I needed without having to put much thought into it.

So, as the boys arrived, we got them set up with Star Wars tattoos and Jedi robes and light sabers. Then we basically set them loose to play. We told Zach he could invite 6 friends since he turned 6, and he decided on 2 friends from preschool last year, 2 friends from kindergarten, and 2 other friends. Zach wanted to invite a girl he went to preschool with, who was the only girl at his pirate party last year, but we talked him out of it. It's tough because I definitely want Zach to have friends who are girls, but I know poor Sydney felt a little out of place last year at the pirate party, and I'm sure she'd feel the same at a Star Wars party. We asked Zach how much fun he'd have at a princess party (not much, he thought), and used that as reasoning to stick with just boys this time around. Then we discussed setting up a playdate with Sydney some other time. One little guy, Zach's best friend from kindergarten, came to the party and wouldn't leave his mom's side. Then he ended up going home. Mom was actually going to take him to the doctor, because she thought maybe he wasn't feeling well. Zach was bummed that he didn't stay. Here are the rest of the Jedis with their light sabers.

The boys really did just want to run around and play. Mike did instruct them on a Jedi obstacle course at one point, just to give a little more direction to their play.

Drew mostly jumped right in on the playing, but he felt he needed his own obstacle course since he's "just medium" (his words), so I made one up for him.

Halfway through the party we had a delicious dinner of pizza and watermelon. A bunch of six year-old boys eating pizza is an interesting thing. I definitely had a couple of thoughts like, "Well, if Zach doesn't stay friends with that kid forever, that'd be okay," like when one kid was belching really loudly or another wouldn't listen to anything Mike or I were saying. But, I suppose with 3 boys of my own, I'm destined to deal with plenty of that kind of thing over the next 18+ years.

After dinner we did our gift exchange. In the past, I've asked people not to bring gifts, but nobody ever follows that request. Or a couple of people do, but most people don't, and then the ones that did follow it feel bad because they're the only ones who didn't bring a gift. So this year I decided to do something different. I got the idea from the mom of the little boy who left the party early. Instead of kids bringing gifts for Zach, I asked that each child bring one gift, no more than approximately $10 in value, wrapped but without a name on it. Then I had Zach pick a gift first, and then he drew a name out of a cup, and that boy got to select one gift. Then that boy drew a name out of the cup, and so on. Once all the boys had gifts in their hands, they could open their present and see what they got. I had a separate gift for Drew, just a little car from the Cars 2 movie, so he wouldn't feel left out. So this way, instead of doing cheap party favors that are just junky, and instead of Zach getting a bunch of gifts, every boy went home with one decent gift. The kids loved it, and I loved it. Zach still got something, and it seemed like everyone was happy with what they got. There seemed to be a lot of water guns/sprinkler toys. Oh, and the boys could trade after they'd all opened their gifts if they wanted to. I think I will always do this from now on- I really liked it.

After opening gifts we decided to have cupcakes. It was a bit windy, so the candle in Zach's cupcake didn't stay lit very well.

As the boys were finishing up their cupcakes, our special guest made his appearance. This was Zach's face when he saw the guest come around the corner.

All the boys were excited. Drew might have been most excited.

I had set it up for Darth Vader to come to the original party, and then had to call him to cancel when Zach was sick. So then the rescheduling got a little tricky because Darth Vader was busy on Saturday, which is why we ended up having the party on Father's Day. He said he'd arrive at about 4:45 to be ready for a 5:30 appearance. When he wasn't there at 5:05, I decided I'd better call. Seems he had gone to the wrong park, so I had to give him directions from his location, and by the time he got to the park it was 5:20, and he made his appearance at about 5:55. The party ended at 6:00, so he was just in time. I guess it takes a lot of time to get all that gear on.

The boys enjoyed talking to him and asking some questions, and Zach received a certificate and was made an honorary member of the Imperial Army or something.

Here are all the boys with Darth Vader. Zach said later he wasn't that surprised that Darth Vader showed up. He knew there were some Storm Troopers at his cousin's party in March, and he had said he really wanted someone to come to his party, too, so he thought maybe this would happen. I tried to get more than just Darth Vader, but apparently nobody else was available. The guy who came as Darth Vader is a member of Vader's 501st Legion, a group of volunteers that dress up as Imperial Army members and Darth Vader and make appearances, mostly for charity work. We agreed to make a charitable donation in their name in return for Darth Vader coming to the party.

We also got individual pictures of each boy with Darth, except for one little guy who didn't want to get too close. I'm going to use those for thank you notes (another idea from my wonderful sister).

Drew was not one bit frightened by Darth Vader. He kept saying something like, "I can't believe Darth Vader's at Martin's party!" (See previous post if you need explanation on the Martin part.)

As I was directing kids for pictures with Darth, suddenly this lady jumps in and puts her arm around him and says, "Can I get in on a picture?" It took a split second for it to register and for my jaw to hit the ground as I realized this lady was in fact one of my very best college girlfriends whom I had not seen in probably 5 years. "SARAH FREED!" I shouted, "What are you doing here?!" It turns out Freedo (there were a million Sarah's, including myself, at our college, so we often went by last name) was driving through town on her way to northwest Iowa to visit her parents for a week. Freed lives in Indiana and has 3 kids- her oldest son was born 2 days after Zach, her next son was born 2 months before Drew, and her newest addition is a 6 week old daughter. Freed's brother lives not far from us, so they decided to pick up some dinner and eat it at the park. She said she knew I lived around there, and then once they sat down she thought maybe she saw me, and then she heard Mike's voice and knew it was us. To say I was shocked is a total understatement. It was fantastic. So while Zach's fever may have been a pain in that it caused us a bunch of rescheduling (and a lot of cupcakes to eat initially), I'm so glad he had it, because otherwise I'm sure I would have missed out on seeing my friend.

The party ended up being a success. The kids seemed to have had fun, and it really was pretty low-stress for me. Now I get a little birthday break until it's time to plan Jake's first party in 6 more months.


Goldenzinns said...

Looks like the boys all had fun and you got a bonus seeing an old friend!

zinncaulfield said...

Glad it went well!

sandstorm said...

Looks like everyone had a great time. It sounds a bit sad but I would love Darth Vader at my 25th Birthday party which is coming up! I'm new to blogging so if you could come and check my blog and website out that would be great.

Many Thanks

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