Saturday, May 15, 2010

Things About Jack's Birthday Party

At some point in the not too distant past, I realized that I had to plan a birthday party for Jack. So I picked a day and time and sent out an Evite. At some point shortly after that, I realized that "planning a party" involved more than just inviting some people over. So I asked Jack what he wanted his theme to be.

Translation: "I'm screwed."

Never one to shy away from a challenge, especially if it will make my quirky guy happy on (or near) his birthday, I set about to do some thinking. I think I pulled it off, if I do say so myself.

Here are some things about the party.

1. The Piñata

You want to hear something weird? No one makes a piñata in the form of a magnet. Huh.

But they do make piñatas in the form of rainbows. And they also make red and silver tissue paper, glue, and scissors.

Would it surprise you to learn that I sat down with all this just the day before the party?

Alex had suggested that I spray paint the piñata, but something inside me spoke up to say that that spray paint might dissolve tissue paper.

"You could test it on the back first," Alex suggested.

The only problem with that idea, however, is that piñatas don't have backs.

So I googled "does spray paint dissolve tissue paper?" I didn't find an answer to that, but I did discover that spray paint dissolves styrofoam, which led me to believe that it might also have an adverse effect on tissue paper. So, back to the labor-intensive option.

I got all the way to the following point before I was completely covered in glue and kinda wanted to kill myself:

Is it just me, or does this look like a particularly jazzy pair of pants?

A long time and a floor littered with tiny red bits of tissue paper later, I was done.

It looked slightly less ideal in person, but for something that a bunch of kids are going to beat the shit out of with a baseball bat? It was more than passable.

And beat the shit out of it, they did.

And then, when they were done beating the shit out of it? They beat the shit out of it some more.

Like, six kids took turns doing this. It was both hilarious and kinda horrifying.

2. The Magnets

We already had a bunch of magnetic toys that I set out for the kids to play with, plus we got Jack some additional magnets for his birthday that we put out for some fun free play time. I also got some magnetic sheets for the kids to draw on and take home. I used a magnetic board that we've had forever to set the stage for the party.

Everyone in my family objected to the hair colors I drew for them.
Well, maybe you should have bought me a brown Sharpie then, people.

Jack objected to pretty much everything on the magnet board. Not being a Gen-X'er, he didn't fully appreciate the "palooza" that I thought was so clever.

Jack's little autistic buddy T was chagrined by "King Jack Day" though, and made his own little "Happy Birthday Jackson" area. Thank you, T. Can I interest you in some Magnetpalooza too?

3. The Cake

Just as with the piñata, I suppose it should not have come as a surprise that the local grocery store didn't have a magnet cake design in their book. More surprisingly, the lady I spoke to didn't seem to know what a magnet is. I ended up just telling her to leave half the cake blank.

I had plans. Oh, yes. I had plans.

I am no master baker, but I do know how to make a horseshoe magnet shape out of a round layer cake.

Now with Bonus Leftover Cake!

The only problem was that I wanted the magnet to be red. I naively assumed that the food coloring tube labeled "red" would turn white frosting red. Not so.

I still think it turned out all right though.

I wasn't taking any chances that my masterwork would be prematurely eaten.

When I picked up my cake, the lady at the store was all, "Black? Really?"

I can't help it that black is Jack's favorite color.

Making this kid happy made all the extra baking worth it.

See him clutching his magnets there?

And the bonus was that the girls in attendance were thrilled that there was pink cake for them.

4. The Jehovah's Witness

This is the heartbreaking part of the day. So you know that E, Jack's best (girl) friend, is a Scientologist, which I find amusing seeing as how Scientologists don't really "accept" autism. This particular family of Scientologists are beyond awesome though. We all love them.

Also amusing, however, is the fact that V, Jack's second best (girl) friend, is a Jehovah's Witness. She lives two doors down from E and her backyard abuts our back yard. I would have invited her to the party, but I know that Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate birthdays.

At various points throughout the party, V would appear in her backyard and would even half-scale the fence to watch all of her classmates and best friends cavorting in my yard. It broke my heart. I kind of wanted to lift her over the fence, but that didn't seem like a good idea.

But ouch.

5. The Pin the Something on Something Else Game

It's not a Team Stimey party unless we're playing a pin the [blank] on the [blank] game. I am always amused by how delighted kids are with this most simple of games. But they always are.

Today we stuck magnets to the poles of a larger magnet. Really, all the game consisted of was sticking a small magnet on the board while I held a napkin over the kids' faces. Kids are easy. (Although at some point, Jack showed up with a piece of paper that he taped to the picture and said, "This is the target.")

Everyone participated except T, who was all honest about his feelings and told me, "I don't think this is a fun game." Then he went to the basement and played with trains.

Alex was all, "Ha! How does the truth make you feel, Jean?"

At least Sam was supportive.

Thanks, Sam.

6. Jack

Considering that this is basically the exact same party I have thrown about 15 times, with slight variation, everyone was thrilled.

Especially this guy:

Happy Birthday King Jack Day, Jack!


  1. They never have the birthday theme I'm going for either. Happy King Jack day. Jack is happy. All is right with the world.

    Our next door neighbors growing up were Jehovah's Witnesses. My parents set some ground rules early on and everything was very pleasant.

  2. You are beyond cool for re-papering that rainbow into a magnet.

    I had red gel food coloring for our red lightsabers, and managed to get a decent "light red" out of it. I was afraid that it was going to turn black, with the amount of dye I was using.

    "pin the something on the something" is the right and proper summary. We did our first this year (pin the explosion on the spaceship), and I sense many more coming.

    Fun party!

  3. I'd say you have some mad magnet skillz Jean! You did a great job customizing the party into just what Jack wanted!

    I had a couple really good friends growing up who were Jehovah's Witness and I always felt bad for them and how they had to sit everything out and their parents would take them out of school early whenever there was a class party or something like that.

  4. Some Jehovah's Witness aren't so strict. They were allowed to go to other people's parties when I was growing up, they just didn't have their own. One mom actually had a big party in the middle of July for all the kids, just not a "birthday" party.

    The pinata and cake were totally, totally awesome. You rock.

  5. I read the theme and then sat here for several minutes thinking What Would Swistle Do? and Swistle would, apparently, draw a blank. You totally pulled this off. The next time one of my kids asks for an impossible party theme, I am totally emailing you. You don't mind doing all that suicide-inducing gluing for someone else's kid, right? OH GOOD!

  6. Love it! I am sure Jack had a great birthday!

  7. Awesome, Awesome, Awesome!!!! I love, Love, love, the pinata!!!I love the cake, I love it all. Jack is super lucky to have you for his momma. (Oh, and I coulda told ya about the "red" icing. Actually, you witnessed it at the boys dinosaur party. We had a pink dinosaur cake. I actually just looked at the pics from that and have the cutest pic of little Jack.)

  8. I don't know another mother who pours as much love into her kid's birthday celebrations. Seriously. A lot of moms (mysefl included) would've ended up settling for something "not quite" but you went WHOLE HOG and King Jack looks deliriously happy. Or is that from the sugar in the frosting? Hmmm.

    Yep, it's official. You rock.

  9. Only the very best of moms would turn a rainbow pinata into a giant magnet - and have her kid's cake decorated with black and adding a homemade magnet besides. Wow! What a success - you can see it all on Jack's face. I would have cowered if one of my kids had wanted a magnet theme. Great job!

  10. YOU ROCK! I am so impressed by everything you did for this party. WOW!

  11. You have some mad pinata skillz! That is an awesome birthday party. :)

  12. What a great theme and incarnation of it! (Would it have been too gruesome to play Nick Gilder as the day's soundtrack?)

    Read your comment on ScaryMommy and agreed full-heartedly---now adding you to my roll of regular reads...

    Suppose you are the steel and I am the magnet... ;)

    Have a great week!

  13. What a great party! It looks like everything went great and Jack had a wonderful King Jack Day!

    The picture of Quinn with the pinata on the ground reminds me of the scene from Office Space where they are beating the hell out of the fax machine. Hilarious!

  14. Love the pink magnet!

    Fourth Breakfast

  15. You are so creative! That sounds like an awesome birthday party (or king day party or whatever) custom made for Jack!
    Too bad about the little Jehovah's Witness girl! :( I remember when I was little there was a boy in my class who was a Jehovah's Witness. Whenever we brought in treats for our birthdays, Damond couldn't even eat them. So sometimes the teacher would send him on an errand right before we passed out treats, and then when he came back she would say we're having treats just for fun, not for anyone's birthday, so he could have some! Is that, like, sacreligious?????

  16. Words cannot express my admiration for that pinata. And for that pink-magnet cake. Holy crap what a lucky kid Jack is.

  17. that sounds like a great party!

  18. Great, now Jehovah's Witnesses make me cry.

  19. happy birthday jack! Sounds like a great party!

  20. You are the best mother in the entire history of the world. Here's how the "I want a magnet birthday" conversation would have gone at my house:
    Joseph: "I want a magnet birthday."
    Me: long befuddled silence followed by "How about dinosaurs? That's a thing kids like right?"

    You never cease to amaze me Jean.

    Oh, and for future reference, powdered icing coloring works a lot better if you're trying to achieve a dark color. But that cake was still awesome.

  21. Happy birthday Jack! And wait a minute, how and when did Sam turn into a teenager? A good looking one at that?!

  22. Great pics! I have a neighbor with a son with sensory issues and I’ve totally seen him meltdown during his parties, so I know how upsetting it can be for the parents. He’s getting better as he gets older and we just went to his fifth birthday party and he did great! I know it gives you a good feeling to see he’s getting better.

  23. I can't believe how creative you were in creating a magnet-themed birthday party. The pinata is especially brilliant. Hats off to you! This is one of the cutest blog posts I've read in a while. :)

  24. you do good work, lady.

    (i think you could have done spray paint...)

  25. Best birthday party ever. That is awesome.

  26. You have 3 kids, how are you stll falling for this one? Correct way to throw a party: 1) Look at paper goods from old parties 2) See what you have a lot leftover of 3) Say "Wouldn't you love a NEMO / Rescue Hero / 40 and over the hill themed party?


  27. Wow, you're amazing. Love the magnet theme and your ingenuity. Happy belated birthday King Jack!

  28. OMG! What a great birthday party theme! I love your mad skilz in transforming objects like rainbows and cake into magnet themed birthday fun!

    Now this is why we want to come to your house for Camp Stimey!

  29. I found this post when I looked up "magnet-themed birthday party" because that's what I'm doing for my little guy in two weeks. I got a rainbow-shaped cake pan and I have some paddle magnets for favors. I love your piñata idea!! Thanks for the detailed post about an excellent party!


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