Saturday, June 18, 2011

First Day of Summer Family Bash

A couple of weeks before school ended, the boys expressed their fervent desire to celebrate the beginning of summer vacation with an extravaganza of epic proportions. It was to include such rare delights as ice cream in a real cone, jello, and those tomatoes that are so little that you can put the whole tomato in your mouth and it makes an explosion.

On Wednesday, the last day of school, with Jeff awaiting my text so he could run to the store after his doctor appointment, I sat the boys down and asked them what they wanted for their party. I seriously expected nothing but a list of yummy food items.

There were food items, to be sure. But that was not at all what the boys had in mind.

As I jotted down one outlandish idea after another, my eyes got wilder and wilder. This was an extravaganza indeed. How in the world would Jeff and I ever be able to pull it off?

With some fast talking, I was able to convince James, master of the Board Game Tournament, to lead the family in one board game per day, rather than trying to play all eight of his chosen games on the same day as our outdoor events. He agreed. Whew.

The next step was talking the whole thing through with Jeff to figure out what the two of us could handle. We didn't get a chance to talk about it on Wednesday because we went from doctor appointment to store to baseball practice to dinner to worship practice to bed. So on Thursday morning, pretty much right after breakfast, I presented my wild eyes to Jeff, basically pleading, "Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope."

Together, Jeff and I agreed to the following:

Then we delineated which tasks were whose. I'm the one who has to make lists like this. Jeff doesn't need this detail in planning. But I do. Otherwise, I short-circuit. Jeff has learned that allowing me five minutes to make the list at the beginning prevents me from stopping halfway through and spending a sudden and inconvenient hour curled up in a ball with the covers over my head, hyperventilating.

Lists made, brain in order, we galvanized into action, as my mother would say. Jeff busied himself outdoors mowing obstacle course paths, setting up the tire challenge, hewing notches in stumps to fit a 4x4 beam. I went online and searched for campfire stories that were neither a) scary, b) long, nor c) depicting any kind of harm to animals, for James's sake. But they had to be bona fide campfire stories, the boys insisted. I found four. This one was my fav.

While Jeff and Jonathan prepared homemade pizza and James tossed together a couple of bag salads, I readied the porch for our Imaginext race, made up a scavenger hunt, and found a Pandora station for the boys called "Phineas and Ferbtones."

Finally, everything as ready as we could get it in the hour and a half we had to prepare, we sat down with our super yummy homemade pizza and began Event #1.

Board Game Tournament ~ Clue

In order to make this a tournament, each of us chose all of the tokens from a specific game. Each board game we play will use our representative token. I am playing for the Clue tokens, Jeff is playing for the Battle For Naboo tokens, James is playing for the Monopoly tokens, and Jonathan is playing for the Goblet Gobbler tokens.

Then the game proceeds normally.

Sort of.

Maybe not.

Even with all his shenanigans, Jeff was able to solve the mystery of Mr. Body's untimely death.

Mr. Green did it, with the rope, in the kitchen. But it wasn't death by strangulation, because that's just not a very happy part of Becky's real life right now. So Mr. Green stretched the rope low to the ground in front of a doorway, and Mr. Body tripped over it and died from hitting his head on the corner of the kitchen counter. Or something.

Moving on to Event #2.

Jumping on the Trampoline with Sprinkler Underneath

Or sprinkler nearby, as the case may be.

While the boys jumped on the trampoline, Jeff and I filled water balloons.

The dogs watched.

When the boys tired of slip-sliding all over the trampoline, we moved on to Event #3.

Water Balloon Fight

After the water balloon fight, everyone came inside, dried off, put fresh clothes on (or maybe the same clothes as before?) and rushed back outside for Event #4.

Scavenger Hunt

The boys had to find a dandelion, a pine cone, a maple leaf, a scotch broom bloom, a maple helicopter, a blackberry thorn, a rose petal, sawdust, a piece of carpet pad, a hand tool, a bolt, a dead leaf, bark, a red leaf, a stick thicker than their thumbs, a stalk of grass taller than their heads, a tiny purple flower, a baby apple, black plastic, a ball, a dog toy, a stick with pond scum on it, a clump of mown grass, and a blade of marsh grass.




After the scavenger hunt, we all went inside, ate ice cream sandwiches, and watched fifteen minutes of Phineas and Ferb before tackling Event #5.

Obstacle Course

First, we walked the course with the boys, showing them each obstacle. They had to start on the front porch, run through their fort over to the rope swing, swing back and forth on the rope swing five times, run in a zigzag course through the orchard, climb a pine tree to retrieve a croquet ball, bowl the croquet ball through five wickets spaced out across the yard, walk three times across the swamp bridge balance beam without being eaten by the swamp creatures below, race over to the RV loop and navigate the tire challenge, jump twenty jumps on the trampoline, run back up to the front porch, and race their Imaginext creatures to the finish line.

Ready, set, go!

Jonathan won the Imaginext race, but James won overall. He's a fair bit quicker than his little bro.

Also, Jeff found a chrysalis. Jeff is cool.

Also, Jeff put a mesh bag over his head. Jeff is weird.

After that, we were supposed to play this game the boys invented called "Ball in the Field," where Jeff stands on the front porch and throws the ball out into the yard for the dogs to chase after, and the boys position themselves in the yard near where the ball will land and try to get to it before the dogs do.

After that, we were supposed to play croquet.

Instead of doing either of those two things, by unspoken mutual consent, we all went inside and crashed. James and Jonathan played computer games, Jeff read his book, and I slept in my chair for an hour.

When I woke, Jeff was hauling campfire stuff down to the woods by dragging the little red wagon behind the riding mower. With promises to the boys that we would play Ball in the Field and croquet the next day, we all put on a warmer layer of clothes and headed down to Event #6, the campfire area Jeff had set up.


Jeff already had the fire going when we arrived.

We ate hot dogs...

...told stories...

...shared new plot ideas for lego game quests...

...made faces at Mom...

...played with fire...

...held Mom's hand...

...watched the sunset...

...and stayed up past bedtime 'til the fire burned to embers.

It was a beautiful, perfect day. Best first day of summer EVER.

Thank You, Abba.

"My mouth is filled with Your praise, and with Your glory all the day." ~Psalm 71:8