I made it five years, but we finally caved this year and let Kaden have a birthday party with friends. I tried so hard to talk him out of it. I tried to entice him with a trip to the beach, but not even the allure of a day of boogie boarding and an overnight stay in a hotel could sway him. He really wanted this.
He wanted it so much that he changed themes on me a half a dozen times before he finally settled on a science party, because, "I love science sooooooooo much! Remember, Mom? I even watch Cosmos!" Which he does, and which I find totally bizarre, since it is not a show created for an audience of five year olds. Or even for a single five year old.
I'm telling you, this birthday party thing stressed the crap out of me. (It probably didn't help that the event ended up coinciding with one of the most emotionally exhausting weeks of my life.) Thank goodness for pinners and bloggers. Those women saved me. I may not have a lot of original birthday ideas swirling around in my head, but man alive, I can combine other people's ideas with pristine skill.
We kept things small, even though we would have loved to invite every friend Kaden holds dear. I just couldn't imagine conducting science experiments with 15+ kids in our modest home. I'm so glad I went with my gut instead of my guilt meter. Not everyone he invited could attend, so we ended up with a group of 7 kiddos total. I kind of think the party ended up being a huge success, and Kaden was so over-the-top sweetly appreciative that it made it so worth it! He kept saying, "Thank you soooooo much for my party, Mommy!" and "I had the best birthday party!"
A friend of ours works for a chemical company, and I was over the moon when he got us some paper lab coats for free. It was like Christmas morning when I saw them on our doorstep. They were size 4XL, so we cut and safety pinned them for a better fit. I ordered safety glasses for the kids on Amazon, and them promptly shipped them to my parents' house in Salt Lake City, UT by mistake. So the day before the party, I picked up the dollar store version instead. Here are the junior scientists, all decked out in their lab gear (I mean, really. How cute are they?!):
I bought a few cute printables on Etsy, made some of my own, and borrowed tons of "sciency stuff" from friends to use as decor.
Chad may have incessantly mocked me, but the teacher blood in me runs deep. Thus I had a schedule of events for the party broken down in 15 and 30 minute increments. Which I typed. And printed on green paper. I know. I'm a sick person. However, I like to think it also led to two and a half hours of scientific fun!
As the children arrived, they put on their science gear, then got to work building some molecular structures out of fruit. They seriously LOVED this activity. It was a way bigger hit than I anticipated, and their creativity was super fun to watch.
Then we watched Chadwick create some dry ice bubbles in the kitchen, before splitting into two groups for some serious experimenting.
Half of the scientists went outside with Chad and Poppy to inflate balloons with vinegar and baking soda and explode sandwich bags. The other half stayed with Gigi, Grandma, and me to make rainbow slime (which never cooled down enough to play with before the party ended. Whoops!) and elephant toothpaste. Then the kiddos switched places and tried the other set of activities.
We all combined for a Mentos and Diet Coke geyser extravaganza, which was a little anticlimactic after all the other experiments, I think.
The kids hunted for plastic bugs in our backyard, trying to find all 10, while Chad and Poppy grilled hot dogs. We ate a quick lunch, sang Happy Birthday to Kade, and then it was time for every kid's favorite part, the only reason they show up to these things to begin with: cupcakes and ice cream.
In the end, we had about 15 minutes to kill, but we decided not to go with one of my three back up activities. (I'm a former teacher, remember? At the end of every lesson plan, I had a list of "activities to avoid wasted time." I used a kitchen timer in my classroom to keep us on task. I hate wasted time.) We had dry ice left, so Chad took it out to the yard and let the kids go crazy. Time not wasted and no extra prep work required. It was a win-win.
As the scientists left, they each took a goody bag filled with a few fun treasures.
After his party, Kaden really wanted to watch an episode of Clone Wars with his friend Mark (we've recently become Star Wars obsessed), so we arranged for him to hang out with us a little bit longer. After a quick Star Wars fix, it was time to open presents.
He was spoiled rotten! He has been begging for Legos and finally has some to start his collection. All the new Star Wars gear was pretty thrilling for him, too.
Giving Daddy a hug after he opened one of our gifts, a telescope he's been asking for:
Mark is such a good little buddy. It was adorable how excited he was about all of Kaden's gifts; I think just as thrilled as the birthday boy! Papa said Jamie and Andy should hire him out to people whose kids don't have enough enthusiasm about their presents.
Nana and Papa even surprised Kaden and drove to Raleigh to watch him open his gifts.
It really was a special day, and even though I kind of dreaded planning and executing this event, it ended up being a lot of fun. I'm still rooting for no party or Chuck E Cheese next year, though.
Kaden Cub, you are such a special little boy. We are so happy we got to spend a Saturday celebrating you, by doing things you love! Happy birthday, Kaden! We are so grateful you are ours!