What an unbelievable day we had today at our home! My baby had an incredible celebration of his life, surrounded by dear friends, lots of laughs, smiles, and loads of fun. His birthday is truly an event around here. We look forward to this day wholeheartedly, planning for it weeks and sometimes even months ahead. Every detail is carefully planned and although the day always goes by too quickly we savor each and every moment.

I can’t thank enough all of Brooks’ friends for joining us in our celebration of his special day. I am always so touched by the love showered on him by his friends. He truly enjoys his friends company as much as they enjoy his, and it’s such a wonderful thing to witness.

Brooks was especially blessed this year by the presence of his two dear friends, who slept over this weekend, and joined in making it extra special for him. There was definitely a lot of laughter in the house with those three together. We stopped in Cove yesterday to partake in a little lazer tag and I was not the least bit surprised when Brooks and Jason passed out rather early, as far as sleepovers go.

Brooks was even able to phone in while we were moving between activities and was able to speak to both of us. Those phone calls, in the middle of important days like today, are always bittersweet. They are especially treasured since he is missed so acutely, but they are painful reminders of his absence. Regardless, Brooks and I were both so thrilled to hear his voice on such a special day.

And so a quick breakdown of his party:

I hate to spend loads of money on Brooks’ parties. I try to make as many decorations as possible to cut down on the cost, preferring to spend money on food, balloons, and prizes for the kiddos. In fact, most of our budget goes to those items, his gifts notwithstanding.

Every year, around February, The Boy and I sit down and begin perusing the internet for birthday party themes. Usually he has several he really likes, so we give it a few weeks then sit down again and I show him ideas that we could incorporate into each theme. I make him pinpoint a theme around that time, so that I have time to plan ahead and begin compiling/making supplies.

This year Brooks chose to have a Video Game themed party. I was a bit flustered at first. Sure I know what video games are but basing a whole party on that theme seemed crazy to me. But that we did.

I decorated the trees in the yard. Those we decorated with homemade paper streamers. Brooks and Marilyn helped with those, since they were sewn, and sewing is fun. The patio was decorated likewise, though we did add a mini balloon streamer for an extra t0uch of fun.

I decorated the inside of the house to reflect the video game, Viva Pinata, with bright colors, mini pinatas, and loads of streamers in corresponding colors. We also added lots of balloons before the party began. The effect was pretty nice, if I do say so myself.

The dining room table was our gift table, the sideboard served as our prize table, and the living room was the general assembly area/game area. Our house is pretty small so I really had to think things through in terms of where I was placing activities.

As far as games went, we began with a human version of Pac Man. We laid out a condensed version of the Pac Man screen to the ground using ground stakes and bright cord. We included an inner rectangle that was the area for the ghosts to begin the game. We added four pieces of fruit to the four corners. We selected five kids, four ghosts (who wore ghost costumes)  and one child to be Pac Man. On the ground we included water balloons to act as the round pellets that Pac Man eats, which in our version Pac Man stomped.

The game was loads of fun, though some kids understood better than others not to cross lines, etc. They had tons of fun and I think if we ever redid this we would go even bigger with the screen. Although it was big enough, I think the kiddos would have had more fun had it been larger.

After Pac Man we all went in the house to play a game based on Bowser’s Inside Story, which was a modified version of Balloon Pop. I’m terrified of balloons popping, I wonder if anyone noticed that today 🙂 The kiddos paired off and then had a set number of time to pop as many balloons as they could, collecting points inside each balloon as they popped them.

The kiddos loved this game. Afterwards I let the kiddos pop the rest of the balloons and we handed out confetti eggs so they could smash them. I LOVE confetti! Confetti makes anything more fun, I say!

From that game we moved on to a game called Mario’s Treasure Hunt. The kiddos went into the yard and collected one box, in our version a mini colored paper bag since I couldn’t find small boxes that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Each bag had either a flower, mushroom, or star on them. The kiddos found a bag, opened it and then collected a certain amount of tickets in return. The tickets were being collected by the kiddos during the party so that they could later exchange them for prizes.

After the treasure hunt the kiddos had a go at Pinata. We have to have a pinata at every birthday. It’s a tradition. A birthday is just not a birthday without one! I knew we were expecting between 20 and 25 kiddos so I packed the pinata full of tons of candy and mini toys, and then handed two moms an extra bag of candy each to throw all over the floor once the pinata was broken. The pinata was fun and I was happy to see everyone got a fair amount of candy and toys.

After the pinata the kiddos were broken into four different groups. I had planned for each group to rotate through each activity, and even wrote out a rotation schedule to hand to each parent that was helping me. The rotations were the following:

Cupcakes/Drinks

Links Challenge (based on one of Brooks’s Wii games)

Prizes (where the kiddos redeemed their tickets for prizes)

Ice Cream Sundae Bar (where the kiddos made their own sundaes with various toppings)

Before we let everyone begin rotations we sang to the birthday boy so he could blow out his candles. He immediately broke into a dance and jig. That child is not the least bit shy or self concious!

I was surprised I didn’t break into tears, though tomorrow is certainly another day!

Links Challenge was a Nerf Gun dart game, based on the Wii Game. In the game Link has to shoot targets that are in different areas. Sometimes the targets move too. My mother gifted me a classroom set of easy wipe paddles she used when she was teaching. I thought they would make perfect targets, especially when I drew on them to resemble targets. We set them up all over the yard in different locations, at different heights, etc. The goal of the game was to load up a vest with darts (for easy loading of ammo for their Nerf guns), run around the yard shooting targets, aiming to hit every single one. Knowing that in the video game version sometimes monsters pop out and move around I took a large wipe board, drew a monster on it, and when the kiddos had a turn, picked it up, roared loudly and moved from one end of the yard to the other. I may have enjoyed that more than the kiddos 😉

The kiddos really enjoyed the rotations and it helped ease congestion since we had so many of Brooks’s friends in attendance.

Afterwards Brooksy opened his presents. He was so touched by everyone’s thoughtfulness. It’s a humbling thing for sure.

From there we moved on to the last game, Water Balloon Dodgeball based on the Wii Playground Video Game. My friend Tanja is amazing for coming over yesterday to not only decorate with me, but she also helped with the water balloon prep. My sister in law, Melissa helped too! Thanks, ladies! The kiddos LOVED the water balloons and went pretty nuts with them. I was super thankful that they were amazing enough to pick up all the pieces from the yard! These kids are great kiddos for sure!

I loved every second of Brooks’s birthday party. I was touched that my sister in law and my nieces and nephew came down to visit for such a short time, to be here on Brooks’ special day. It really made the whole thing extra sweet!

Happy birthday, sweet, sweet Brooks!

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