Fonticulus Fides

Friday, August 12, 2005

Birthday Update, Part II

As if you can stand to hear about another one! Well, I figure I get most of my ideas off the internet, so somebody might be searching for some suggestions. And we all know that everybody is entitled to my opinion…

Zooey’s Jedi Training Camp Party

Somewhere along the line, Zooey decided that a Star Wars party would be a good idea. As a general rule, I am not a big fan of status-quo themes, unless they are based on a book (like “Madeline,” below). So we talked it over and instead of just having a standard Star Wars party, we decide to have a Jedi Training Camp. Basically, this meant turning the boys loose in the backyard, with a few thematic ideas thrown in.

The invitations were a letter from Obi-Wan Kenobi notifying the recipient that due to a disturbance in the force and Zooey’s sixth birthday, more Jedis must be recruited. The recipients were chosen based on their agility and integrity and were requested to show up to Jedi Training Camp on August 7 at 1 p.m. I printed these out reverse – white type on black with a Star Wars logo to make it look like letterhead – and signed it with a silver pen.

I also included a brochure made up to “advertise” the camp. I took a couple digital shots of Zooey in training camp gear (swim trunks, armed with a light saber in one hand and a “wookie blaster” in the other – actually just a squirt gun). The brochure included a list of stuff the kids would need (change of clothes and towel for example) and reiterated the time and place.

When the kids showed up, I basically let them run amock. I had to give them rules for squirt guns (not in the face, only shoot somebody armed, a person filling their gun out of the hose is NOT armed). I also had the kiddie pool filled up and a slip-n-slide going.

After the fun of water stuff started to wear down, we let the kids grab light sabers (most brought their own but I borrowed a few, too, which was good because some kids didn’t have them), and we let them do light saber sparring. It sort of looked like that big battle scene in “Attack of the Clones” (of which I have only seen a short excerpt on TV so don’t get picky on me if I’m off.)

When that activity died down, I set up the obstacle course, and the kids took turns running that. They started back by the swing-set. They had to climb up the playhouse, drop a ball into the sprinkler (which has a shoot that the ball spirals down into and then comes up out of the water – this was supposed to be dropping a bomb into the Death Star), then run to a bucket filled with water balloons, grab one and sit on it (bomb detonation practice). From there, they went to a squirt gun station where they were supposed to knock three “bad guy” Star Wars figures off a plank. After that, they ran to another bucket filled with water and “splash bombs” (like Nerf balls covered with nylon), which they were supposed to get into the kiddie pool via slingshot (mimicking the Ewoks at the end of “Return of the Jedi”). The sling-shot didn’t work, though, so they just threw the balls. Then they slid down the slip-n-slide and that was it.

The kids liked this so much, they wanted to do it again and again. Caveat: I bought biodegradable balloons for the water balloons, thinking it would be better if shreds of that got in the soil instead of regular latex. But a lot of them burst spontaneously as soon as you touched them. I think in the hot sun, combined with water, the balloons were already starting to degrade.

When it was time to go in for cake, we herded all the boys into Zooey’s room to change, while Edyn and the one other girl who was willing to get wet changed in Edyn & Lola’s room. (And I changed the baby in there, too, who had refused to nap and insisted on putting on a suit and coming outside to toddle around the playing field).

I followed the general form of this cake for Zooey’s cake, which is based on the new movie’s big battle scene between Obi-Wan and Anniken on some volcano. (We haven’t seen the movie yet, but Zooey likes volcanoes more than he likes Star Wars, so this was an easy sell). I happen to have a 3-D Christmas Tree cake mold, so I used that for the volcano and just put a single layer underneath. Chocolate frosting over all, bright orange frosting for the lava, with broken chocolate cookies pressed in to look like cracked earth. We used smaller Star Wars figures of Anniken and Obi-wan, which I think made the proportions a little better. There was not enough room at the top for both Obi-wan and candles, like I had hoped, but I just put them on the lower layer and it was fine. Zooey had picked bright orange candles that had white stars printed on them – more for the theme.

After cake and ice cream, Zooey opened gifts, and we had another short light saber duel on the front lawn. Parents should have been showing up then, but they weren’t, so we went inside for a game of “Jedi Master Says,” which is just like “Simon Says,” of course.

When the kids started leaving, Zooey gave them each a goody bag of his own design. Well, pretty much. He asked me to buy everybody a light saber, snap off the colored part and fill it with candy, then tape it back on. I declined. Instead, we saved paper towel tubes for the whole summer (I needed 12 of them!) and I used a whole roll of duct tape covering them and making ridges and raised areas, with stripes, rings, grids and the like added in black masking tape. Each one was different, and they looked pretty cool.

Inside the empty tube, we put Star Wars fruit snacks, Star War Kudos granola bars, Star Wars stickers, an envelope of Pop Rocks and a pack of Nerds (which I though were funny when Zooey picked them out because what do you see the most of in a movie theatre showing Star Wars?). For the “light” part of the light saber, I got some of those long balloons that clowns use to make balloon animals. I had to use a bike pump to blow those things up. Man, I don’t know how the clowns do it. The children adored these!

So that’s our Jedi Training Camp party. I think next year, we should just have Zooey invite one friend over…

--Sparki

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