Friday, April 15, 2011

River's 4th Birthday

Earlier this month we celebrated River's 4th birthday with a superhero party for 20 kids.  We might have gone a little over the top...

A little back story: we're usually in Las Vegas sometime during March and end up celebrating the plethora of March birthdays in our clan (Uncle Nelse, Thom, cousin Finn, me, River, among others...) with one or two large family gatherings.  This leaves us back in Cambridge celebrating the actual day with a simple dinner or fun day out. Since we didn't travel in March this year, I realized it was an opportune time to host a party for my boy, and with a few weeks to plan we shot for the stars.

We've also been in the process of re-decorating a few rooms in the house, the last of which was the kids' playroom in the basement.  The party was a good excuse to finish the work on that room, so in addition to sewing capes and baking cupcakes for the party, we out-fitted a tumble room with giant soft blocks and a huge mural.

If I accomplish half as much in as short a time for the rest of the year, I'll count it a win.

See more after the jump

On River's actual birthday the three of us celebrated with River's favorite dinner and present opening.

No idea where the kids' wild hair comes from...

He had a wonderful day.  His dad got to spend the morning at school with him, he got a special trip to Chuck E. Cheese with mommy, and he capped it all off with a ride on his new balance bike.

The next weekend was the party, and we worked and worked to get everything looking nice.

 Superhero capes all in a row.

This was the scene greeting our guests as they entered the house, and each kid got to pick a cape off the hook to wear that day and take home with them.

I sewed this bunting out of some leftover fabric from the capes, and the box in the background was for used books and games for a gift swap.  (My friend Sarah gave me the fantastic idea to do a swap instead of gifts for River.  River received plenty of presents from family and we certainly didn't need anyone to buy more stuff for him.)

With coats off and capes on, the kids moved downstairs, which was the main scene for the party.  Here's the snack table set up and a photo collage of River and his family on the wall.  The frames on the table feature pictures of River throughout the years.

Here's the playroom as it looked on the day of the party.  Easy streamers and balloons made for festive decoration.

 Here's a couple shots of the room as it is today (streamers still up, balloons long gone).  I painted the mural over the course of a week.  I'm really happy with how the stylized landscape turned out.  River says it looks like a stage, which is the perfect response, as far as I'm concerned.

When we decided to make this a rough house space, we knew we would need some flooring that would keep the kids safe enough to launch, jump, and fall.  So we got heavy-duty mats like you'd find in a gymnastics class.  The soft blocks are the heart of the room, allowing for all kinds of construction and gross motor play.  Both are a sizable investment, but from the way the kids use this room (every day) it seems worth it.

Not pictured: Bean bags I made last year and a mini trampoline (Christmas present) that offer even more opportunities to get the wiggles out.

One final word on this room; a huge factor in buying this house was the space available for a kids' playroom.  It's taken nearly three years to accomplish that vision, and now that we have, I could not be happier.

 The party in full swing.  

The kids all seemed pretty excited by the tumble room and made great use of it throughout the day.  River's room which is usually the loudest and wildest at any gathering ended up being the quiet room in this case.  It was nice to have a space for kids and grown-ups to escape to for some less rambunctious activity.

After a bit of free play time, we had pizza for lunch and then all the kids were instructed to get their capes on for a super secret mission.

Thom had prepared a fantastic scavenger hunt for the kids, complete with a video of himself dressed up as the super villain Badger Beard threatening to ruin the party by detonating dynamite.   The kids broke into teams and scoured the house and backyard for the sticks we'd made the day before.

After a successful mission, the kids were rewarded with cupcakes featuring chocolate medallions.
After all my work to get the room ready and party decorations done, I was going to skip on that detail, but the crafty queen inside got the better of me.

As soon as the cupcakes were brought out the table was immediately swarmed.

Here are some of River's playgroup friends enjoying their treats.  It was fantastic to have a mix of school and playgroup friends there to celebrate and I only wish we could have included more.

Finally, my little man blew out his candle and we enjoyed the rest of the party as it wound down.  It was a memorable event and definitely worth the effort.  Happy Birthday, River! 

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