Monday, October 12, 2009

Play Ball! And Every Damn Thing Else Under the Sun.

I may have mentioned once or twice that Sam is way into sports these days. He's absolutely the cutest about it. The other day Alex took the little dudes on the Metro to the museums, and Sam found a sports section on the train, brought it home, and dutifully tried to absorb all the information from it that he could.

So, a few weeks ago, when Sam was asking for all sorts of extravagant destination birthday parties, I carefully suggested a sports-themed home party. His eyes lit up and he got totally behind the idea, asking for modest things like a piñata and a pin the basketball on the player party game.

For all the grief I give Sam, he is really an easily satisfied guy when it really comes down to it. I love him very, very much. Furthermore, I can't believe he's eight years old. And that he has man-feet nearly as big as mine.

In recent years, I've had pretty small parties for Sam, which I think is great and perfect and wonderful and easy. This year I invited 18 kids (including my own), and created personalized sporty shirts for each child. We were ready to party!

We also had about 40 balloons, thanks to a free coupon from Balloon Time. I gave Alex the job of filling the balloons about an hour before the party started. It was maybe the most fun hour of my kids' young lives. But before the fun, Alex insisted that, "This tank doesn't have any helium in it! It's supposed to have something in it, but this one is empty! This tank is empty!"

Then I walked over and pushed the little nozzle down and it started to fill a balloon with helium.

Which, in turn, led Alex to make his own little gesture at me.

But then there were balloons. Glorious, glorious, plentiful, multi-colored balloons!

I was also clever enough to schedule this party at Not a Meal Time O'Clock, so we didn't have to serve lunch. But I still put out my standard party diet of chips.

And that picture up there was my hand drawn preparation for Pin Tape the Basketball on Sam.

Kids started to arrive right on time, and on what seems to have been the last warm, sunny day of fall. Thank God, because if I'd had to let 18 kids play baseball inside my house, I wouldn't be this chipper now. We let all the kids play around for about a half hour and then I went out amidst them to set up my obstacle course.

All attention was on the back lawn as I did so. Kids were watching; the parents who stuck around were watching; only Quinn wasn't watching. Quinn was carefreely running across my yard. And Alex kicked a soccer ball as hard as he could halfway across the lawn...directly into Quinn's shins.

The kid dropped like a fucking rock.

Man, he could not have done that on purpose if he'd tried. I can't quite imagine the geometry and chance that brought Quinn and that soccer ball together, but oh, dear lord, was it funny. I think it might make me a bad mom to admit that I busted up laughing, but if so, every other adult there is just as bad as me, because we all burst out laughing. Even Alex laughed. Although to give him credit, he did it with his head turned away from Quinn as he hugged and comforted him.

Quinn did not laugh.

I looked a little bit like a moron as I ran around the yard with Sam, a whistle, and a megaphone explaining the course, but the kids were way into it. Plus! I learned that I probably would have made a good drill sergeant.

I hadn't really planned the obstacle course, other than looking up "obstacle courses for kids" on the internet a couple of hours before the party, and searching the garage for sticks and balls. But, if I may toot my own horn (or megaphone), it was AWESOME!

In the garage, I did find a most excellent balance beam, otherwise known as a two by four.

And I remembered that we had a tunnel in the basement, so I tossed that on the lawn too. I didn't realize until a bunch of 8-year-olds showed up though that the tunnel was almost comically too small for them. It was hysterical to see all those giant boys try to wiggle through it.

Jack did all right though.

I had also found sticks for a jump over/crawl under obstacle. The munchkins' visiting grandma supervised that section of the course, which came complete with sun basking priviliges.

The rest of the course involved a lot of jumping, swinging, sliding, and slaloming, all accomplished with varying degrees of success by the three to eight-year-old crowd.

After that, I forced the kids into teams for a relay race. Here is Quinn quite obviously cheating.

But cheating fast!

The kids all demanded to know what team had won. I didn't have a good answer, because they all kind of dithered all over the place, at least half of the kids cheated like Quinn, and I wasn't really paying very close attention.

I suggested that maybe they all won. They didn't buy it. One helpful kid said that it was "kind of a tie." And then another kid said, "No. Everybody lost."

Yay! Everyone's a loser at Stimey's house!

But everybody gets to be noisy.

That is, until Sam decides that only he gets to hold the megaphone.

Evidently there's a reason Alex and I are married. He may have taken Quinn down with a soccer ball, but I walked straight past Sam mugging Jack for the megaphone, stopping only long enough to snap a photo. In my defense, they were both giggling. Sort of.

Next up (Are you tired yet? Because I sure was.) was Tape the Basketball on Sam. It never ceases to amaze me how much kids love shit like this. How often will you have 18 (or 17—one kid didn't want to play) kids standing patiently around for a four-second chance to tape a piece of paper to another piece of paper?

Obviously the game is hysterical. See?

Apparently that is what I look like when I laugh. How come no one ever told me this?

I'm not going to say there weren't attempts at peeking and some carefully feeling their way toward the center of the paper with their fingers, but they all did pretty well.

Unfortunately, I forgot to get a prize for this game. (Or any of the other ones.) Fortunately, no one seemed to either notice or care.

Blah, blah, blah, happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Sam(uel), happy birthday to you...

Followed by the frantic fifteen minutes of cake cutting and ice cream scooping that is the bane of any birthday party host's existence. At some point, I rushed back into the kitchen from distributing plates of cake to find my cake cutter (Alex) calmly leaning against the counter eating his own piece of cake.

There might have been some frantic berating at this point.

Next up, piñata time. This is the time in every Stimeyland party when Stimey and Alex nearly divorce because Stimey hisses at Alex to help with the bat, goddammit, and Alex hisses back that he can't do a single damn thing other than hold the piñata string and why don't you put down the camera and do it your damn self, or get one of the other fifty grown ups to help, and then Stimey hisses back something obscene, and then the incident is quickly forgotten as all the parents rush around trying to keep Stimey from taking a whack at Alex with the bat any kids from being hit by a wildly swinging bat.

Here's a tip: if you want a piñata to actually break open when the kids are batting at it, get a spherical one. That is the shape that doesn't need a parent to go all Office Space on it after the kids fail to bust it open.

That said, I now present to you the greatest piñata photo ever taken:

Well, except for maybe this one:

And that was it. I gave the 18 kids the metal whistles that were in their goody bags and sent them home with their annoyed parents. My guys, Sam especially, were tired and happy.

But not too tired to go to our favorite birthday destination, Friday's. Not because of the food, but because of the clapping and singing to the birthday boy.

Sam was delighted to be serenaded. Nearby diners also enjoyed his enjoyment.

I have to say, I've thrown some good parties, but I think this was one of my best. And the most tiring. I was asleep before my kids were that night. Ah, to be 8 again.


  1. That is an awesome party. I've only done girl-parties so far, and my girl isn't sporty. It will be interesting to see how different (noisier!) boy-parties will be! I've probably got another year or so before I really have to find out...

  2. Fabulous party! I'm taking notes, so I'm prepared as my boys get older. Last year, I just blew up those long skinny balloons, gave one to each child as a "light saber," and watched them bop each other with them. At age 3, they were amused for a full two hours.

  3. Oh MAN this looks like a fun party. I love the SHIRTS! And that IS the best pinata photo ever.

  4. Taping a piece of paper to another piece of paper is its own prize.

  5. That's it, you're throwing MY next birthday party! Looks like an awesome time was had by all. Ok, except maybe poor Quinn and his shins...

  6. Oh, to have been there. YM

  7. I can say that I can imagine Alex's chagrin every time a picture of him shows up on your blog. Besides, did you have the camera ready, knowing that you were going to get told "you're number one!"??

    Also, if he's the one that got the shot of you laughing, I'd say you're even. What do you think kept college so funny for all the rest of us??

    Finally, that one of Quinn is priceless. Somehow, he has channeled the Mexican heritage of that half pinata sombrero, and actually looks like he's about ready to collapse from some tequila-laced birthday didn't have liquor at an 8 year old's party did you?? ('Cause I know some people who have...)

  8. OMG - this entire post was hysterical. Thank you! Apparently we have the same kind of husbands...

    Happy birthday to Sam, and congrats to mama, who clearly knows how to throw an AWESOME party. (any chance you live in Oregon and want to help me plan 4 parties next year?)

  9. 1. I love the look on Quinn's face in the balloon picture. "Hey dad, what are you doing with your finger?"

    2. You put their ages on the shirts?!? Ack! I might die of cute right now!

    3. It's so nice of you do invite all those little children afflicted with Blueberry Face Syndrome to your house.

    4. There's a reason I never let people take pictures of me laughing. It's the same reason I'll never let myself be videotaped during sex. If I knew the faces I made during those activities I would be too self conscious to ever enjoy them again.

    5. Sorry for perving up your very nice party post with my sex tape comment.

  10. I'm totally stealing this idea. Unless you start a party planning business, in which case I can hire you to come plan my son's next bday. You have 10 months to open the business.

  11. Ahahahaha! I just saw the pregnant lady in the first picture. I love it! And that's pretty much how I look right now. That totally made my day. Seriously. It's a good thing there's no one around taking pictures right now because I laughed and laughed and laughed and cried a little bit.

  12. Nyah Nyah! I got to be at the party!! It was awesome. I needed a nap afterwards. The best thing about Stimey's parties is that they are always pretty much the same. I know what to expect now- free play, supervised activity, pin something on something else, pinata, cake, I sccop the ice cream, extremely obnoxious goody bag, the end. I congratulate you Stimey on not including a horrfyingly messy craft this time around. I also enjoyed the chip sandwiches. Potato-Dorito-Potato. Delicious.

  13. Awesome party, you're amazing. Happy Birthday to Sam!

  14. Can I hire you? I need to do a party for my turning six year old.

  15. So at our last soccer game, we had the soccer trainers. They said go get your parent. Since I'm a coach, I sent Moe to get her dad (he someone needs to stand around and do nothing, i mean, supervise all the kids and parents). She's running towards him on the other field where he was horsing around with the older two. So she's running towards him and he kicks the ball, square in her face. Poor kid cried 1/2 the game. And then, to make matters worse, since he went back to horsing around, I went to grab the camera since it was obvious he wasn't going to do his job and take the damn pictures, he kicked another ball and hit me in the side of the head.

  16. For a minute there, I thought you said, "If I had let 18 kids play baseball in my house, they'd be in the wood chipper right now."

    But thankfully, it was NOT THAT KIND OF PARTY.

    LOVE the pinata photo! I've NEVER been to a party where the pinata broke open like that! Spheres. Gotta remember that.

  17. "Yay! Everyone's a loser at Stimey's house!"

    That does it. I'm flying out for one of Stimey's parties.

  18. AWESOME. Sounds like a fabulous time!!!

  19. That looks like so much fun! I especially love their sporty shirts! Awesome job! (can I use more excalmation points?!)

  20. It was an awesome party- except for the whistles.

  21. Perfect! I love home parties. I just need a bigger home in which to hold them.

    I love the "almost divorce" part. There's always that moment between Andy and me at any self-hosted event.

    Happy Birthday Sam(uel)! HRH is eight in a month. How shocking their aging is!

  22. Happy birthday Sam, and to you, too! (I always feel like the kids' birthdays aer big events in my own heart, as well.)

    I've been catching up, and sorry that you've been outed. I got outed in a small way awhile ago, and didn't like it at all.:( Everything you've said lately has been pretty glowing,though, and frankly, if they read someone's comment regarding something negative, it would probably be good for them!

  23. I love the obstacle course race game thing. And I love that you posted that picture of you laughing. And you must be able to submit the bursting pinata pic to some contest somewhere - that was awesome.

    Can I come to your house for my next birthday party?

  24. That sounds like the perfect birthday party! I think backyard bashes are pretty cool, especially now since most kids are totally used to parties organized by professional venues. A fun and simple bsckyard party organized by loving parents is a novelty to kids these days!

  25. You are one superstar mom between Camp Stimey and Sam's sports party. And so funny too! I worship the ground on which you walk. Happy birthday to Sam!

  26. January, February, not good months for outdoor parties. Sam's looks great though! Loved the 'apparently look like this when I laugh' thing. laughed out loud for real.

  27. I'm posting a comment on this old post to let you know I have the most awesome memory every. Today, I went to your site and searched "obstacle" because I wanted to find this post. I did, and then I saw that I made a comment 10 months ago that I was going to steal this idea. I had forgotten that I even made the comment, or that I was every before last week planning on an obstacle course bday party. But now, here I am, stealing this idea.


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