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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

in which Ilya turns nine

Thanks to my sister-in-law Rachel for taking such lovely pictures for me so I could focus on the party.

This past week we celebrated Ilya's ninth (ninth!!) birthday, and it was pretty great. His actual birthday was Wednesday, and even though the party was slated for Saturday, I am a firm believer that your real birthday needs to be just as special as your party day. So we started the day with homemade cinnamon rolls which came out beautifully. Then some friends came over and hung out, bringing a special cupcake just for Ilya. We had homemade pizza for dinner and then we opened presents. We got Ilya his first real compound bow and he was ridiculously excited. And he's pretty good at it, too.

The rest of the week I spent getting things together for the party. I'd wanted to do a mostly outdoor kind of party, so I planned an obstacle course and a treasure hunt for the kids. I built a balance beam. Set up some pallets on cinder blocks for an army crawl area. Hammered stakes into the ground to make a zig-zag slalom. Built hurdles out of PVC. Art picked up some junk tires from some tire shop in the ghetto, and I got a water balloon launcher from Target. It took up our whole front yard, and it was awesome.

For the scavenger hunt I wrote silly little poem clues and put them all over the yard, each clue leading to the next, which ended with the kids finding their goodie bags inside Art's shop. But it wasn't gross or exciting enough, so I had to add in a little somethin' somethin' just for fun. I found a recipe for making realistic looking blood worms out of jello and cream and figured that would add a layer of ickiness to the hunt. Well. Let me just say those things were the biggest pain in the butt to make--literally hours of me squeezing out straws full of slimy jello and thinking, "Why didn't I just buy gummy worms?" But the end result was totally worth it.

I added in a little Oreo "dirt" into the mix and it was perfectly gross. I hid the clue at the bottom in a ziploc so they'd have to eat the worms to get the clue.


The day of the party arrived and I was frantically trying to finish up preparations while also finishing sewing a wedding dress due the same day. Yikes. Then everyone started arriving and I settled down into my usual sweaty unfocused hostess mode. There were a LOT of kids. It was crazy. I was super glad I'd decided to do outdoorsy things but once seventeen kids start having a pillow fight in your living room getting them out becomes a top priority.

We started the obstacle course first, and because I'm evil I thought it would be super funny to wind them up on the swing and let them get good and dizzy right before running on the balance beam.


 I was right, it was funny--kids falling off the balance beam left and right and a few close calls near the army crawl tunnel.




My friends said I should have had the parents sign waivers before the party, ha. We timed them and they all took turns, and even the littlest members of the party wanted to have a go.




Once everyone had had a turn, we did the scavenger hunt. The first clue led them to an empty chicken coop. The second to a paper chain in the tree house.


The third let them into the woods behind our house, where the bowl of worms awaited.



A few of the kids flat out refused to try them, but most were good enough sports to dig in. They actually tasted pretty good.

The clue at the bottom of the bowl led to the playground bell, which told them where their goodie bags were.


Then we did presents.


Then cake and ice cream.


Last year he had that funny, gross moon cake. This year his cake tastes were slightly more sophisticated. He specifically asked for chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting and raspberry jam between the layers. And then he drew a picture of what it would look like with the fresh raspberries on top. Hahaha well how can I refuse such a specific and, um, detailed request?


The rest of the time was spent just hanging out. Here's my niece on the swing.


For me, the best part of the day was when I was alone in the house, trying to clean up the explosion of cake and chips all over the place. I was sweeping, and Ilya came in a gave me a big hug and told me it was the best birthday party he'd ever had. And then he asked me if he could help me clean up.

"Aren't your friends still here?" I asked.

"Yeah, but you're all alone and I want to help you," he said.

I love that boy. I am so grateful for the joy he's brought us in the last nine years.



Esther said...

Looks like it was a lot of fun. I bet Ilya feels really blessed to have such a cool mom who knows what 9 yr. olds like! Love the pics!

B.A.L.|5iveArts said...

That last part made me teary eyed. :)

Elizabeth said...

SWEET BOY! I can't believe he said that at the end of the party. Good job, Jenn. :)

Steve Nelson said...

Looks awesome! ...especially the worms. XD Wonderful update, and fabulous pics!

Jennifer R said...

As my kids replied, exhausted and waisted in the car afterwards..."BEST TIME EVER!"

mrs.deane said...

Beautiful. Happy Birthday, sweet boy! And happy ninth anniversary of being a mommy :O) That's a big deal! I'm so glad for these family blog updates. Thank you for taking time out from your clearly busy schedule to post some things :O) Love, Susan

smileatmee said...

Love you friend and miss you greatly.

Your boobalted tit friend...
or something of the that nature right?

Anne's House said...

What sweet pictures! What a wonderful mommy with an awesome family! I have a 9-year-old grandson who would love a party like this!