Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mischief of One Kind and Another...



Oh, Max.  He's now three, and he is one wild thing, frequently engaging in mischief of one kind and another.

Max (about 9 mos.)



He loves all things "bad" and "fierce."  Bad witches, bad guys, bad stepmothers (think fairytales), anything bad.  He loves all animals, but especially fierce ones.


A while ago as we were driving and talking about birthdays, Ruby said that she wanted to have a cake with "all the princesses on it, and Santa Claus in the middle."
I asked Max, "What do you want on your cake?"
"Fierce animals and bad guys," was the reply.

So, for the past few weeks, I've been pondering how to have a birthday celebration which incorporates fierce animals and bad guys.  I'm pretty pleased with how everything turned out.

For his actual birthday, we just had a low-key family day.  It started with a stroll to Heavenly Donuts...

Looks like eye-patching needs to be making a comeback for Ruby :/
We hung out at home and Max got to do all the fun choices like lunch, dinner, and what show he wanted to watch.  After his birthday dinner--macaroni and cheese from the box, mind you!--we went to Cold Stone Creamery, because Max opted for ice cream instead of cake.

I think Max ate about two bites before announcing, "It's too cold!"

For the party, we went with the theme of "fierce animals and bad guys."  This came about when, a month ago, I was having birthday cake conversations with the kids while we were driving.  Ruby requested a cake with "all the princesses on it and Santa Claus in the middle."  

Check.

"What about you, Max?" I asked, thinking that there couldn't be anything weirder than what Ruby had mentioned.

Max had no hesitation: "BAD GUYS ON MY CAKE!"

Well alrighty then!

It took a while for me to figure out how I was going to combine the love of fierce animals and bad guys into a coherent-ish party theme (true coherence would be wasted on a three year old, in my opinion).  Here's what we came up with...

FOOD: In parties past I've included lunch with the party but this year it was just cake and juice.  Cupcakes, actually.  They were chocolate-from-a-box-mix cupcakes with homemade whipped cream as icing.  In the middle, emerging with all the terror something gelatinous can muster, was placed a gummy great white shark.  The great white was a stand-in for an orca, meant to be plunging up through a hole in the ice in the Arctic waiting to eat a harp seal cub.  (Listen, these are FIERCE animals we're talking about!)  



Nom nom!


Ben approves
I will not buy the foil wrapper cupcake liners again, though, because they were extra slippery and I think three or four cupcakes met a very bark chippy end that way. 

Kids were offered milk, water, or juice to drink; for the adults, iced coffee.  Nice 'n' easy!

GAMES:
This was my first kid birthday party which involved games.  My only other parties have been held at playgrounds where we just cut the kids loose and let them entertain each other that way.  I still think it's not at all a bad idea, but I wanted to give the game thing a go.

Since 3 is still a young age, I ruled out any kind of competitive game, and limited the number of games to three, so as to leave plenty of time for free play.  

First, I hid about 20 of Max's animal figurines and "bad guys" (which to his mind also includes various superheroes and army men) around the yard.  Max and his guests had to "hunt" for them.  Thankfully, the two older kid guests restrained themselves since the pickings were easy.  The game was still over pretty quickly, though; our yard is not that big!

The next game was the overwhelming hit of the day, I think.  For a couple of weeks I had been stockpiling boxes (and since we get diapers and wipes from Amazon Prime, they aren't too hard to come by).  A day or two before the party I taped several of them on top of each other, snowman-style, and let the kids decorate them with markers, crayons, and paint.  Meanwhile, I filled balloons with dried beans to make beanbags.  

The night before the party, Allen put his scrap collection to good use and, with the aid of a hot glue gun and other tools, attached various scrap parts to the boxes to turn them into "bad robots."  
Don't they look awesome? The one on the right even has a "laser beam" (the red setting on a headlamp light)

At first I was afraid that it would be really easy for the kids to knock them down, and the game would be over in less than a minute.  

Thankfully, that fear was based on a huge overestimation of my children's throwing abilities.  I think all the metal Allen added helped as a ballast, too, so that knocking them over required quite the team effort.  
I think the 3 and under crowd enjoyed picking up the beanbags as much as throwing them!

Eventually we allowed a soccer ball as a projectile
The final game (which we set up after the cupcakes were served) was my homemade version of a pinata.  I was inspired by Kendra's homemade piƱata and decided that if my kids were going to whack the stuffing out of something, it might as well be a bad guy.  And Max's very favorite bad guy is Goliath.  So...

Looks like the kind of guy who'd threaten, "I'll feed your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field," doesn't he?
 I'm really proud of how well it turned out.  I used paper bags (the head and part of the chest were stuffed wth crumpled up plastic grocery bags) and instead of putting the goodies in "loose" I pre-assembled goody bags so that things wouldn't be all over the dirt.





The kids had a lot of fun whacking away at it, and it lasted a long time before we let the big kids finish the job with a bigger and heavier stick.  (The big stick was one of Max's presents from our guests and even came tied with a ribbon!  Clearly these friends know Max well! It now has a place of honor on top of our refrigerator after Max hit Ruby with it one time too many.)

After Goliath was decimated, the kids played for a while.  Our very thoughtful neighbors brought over some more presents for Max.  Allen put back the blue bouncy ball and raised it to tetherball height, which was a source of great entertainment for the kids.  It was just such a nice, low-key gathering.  

NUMBER OF GUESTS:  I have tried to abide by the rule of thumb that the number of children invited ought not to exceed birthday child's years of age.  Given our small house, I decided that even though Max was turning three, two guests would probably be more manageable.  Then, at the last minute, one guest wasn't able to attend, so I invited the whole Fuller family instead of just the younger two kids.  It was very enjoyable and the older kids seemed to have a good time, too, even though everything was geared towards preschoolers.  

Ben's slightly younger lady love (he really does adore her)

Hitch up those pants, soldier!

Liam shows off his mad vertical jump skills

A good time was had by all!  In fact, our friends' kids went home so inspired that they spent the afternoon making their own robots.  Now all I have to do is figure out how to make a cake with "all the princesses" and Santa Claus next month when Ruby turns (eek!) FIVE!

And of course, I'm so thankful for my dear rascally Max-Pascal.  Although he knows how to drive me batty, he's sweet and tender (most of the time).  He and Ben are thick as thieves and already in cahoots against their sister.  He and Ruby play imagination games all the time and usually have a lot of fun together (except when he's hitting her with sticks, or won't follow her every command, that is).  He loves stories and has a great memory and his little heart is being won over quite nicely by Jesus.  He makes strange sounds and could teach the Ministry of Silly Walks a thing or two.  I look forward to what this year will bring (please, Lord, let it include the completion of potty-training) and am so blessed that he was put into our family 3 years ago. 
Max's first smile caught on camera (about 7 weeks old)