Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Birthday Sleepover

Our oldest son turns 9 tomorrow. In the past we've let them invite one friend for each year of age. Last year he invited 8 friends over. This year, since he's getting bigger, we gave the option of having a sleepover. We mutually decided that two friends was a good start for the first non-family sleepover.

We did it simple and low-key, but I think everyone had fun (except for the friend who was homesick and went home before anyone was asleep, but he knew coming into the party that he would have a hard time staying away from home--and he had fun except for bed-time).

Personally, I think a lot of birthday parties have gotten out of control. It's great to celebrate and have fun, but we're not going to spend a few hundred dollars on a party. And we find that we don't need to in order for the boys to feel celebrated on their birthdays. They mainly want to hang out with friends anyway (okay, maybe open some presents, too).

So we did a grilled supper outside. The birthday "cake" was a frozen fruit bar.

It has become a tradition, I guess, that we make an obstacle course in the yard. Since this one is a summer birthday, we incorporate the swimming pool and water guns. By the end, it's just a water fight with very wet kids.

After drying off, they gave their gifts, played a few games on the Wii together, and then watched the old Disney Swiss Family Robinson movie while munching on popcorn.

They were pretty tired after that, so the got a fair amount of sleep. We told them the rule of the house was not to wake anyone else up--if you're the first one up and don't want to try and get back to sleep, you're welcome to go downstairs and have a bite to eat (fruit and cereal was on the table) and play. Once everyone was up, we did the real breakfast.

It also turned out that it was the Kid's Workshop day at Home Depot, so we headed there and did their building project.

Simple. Fun. Enjoyable. And the 9-year old had a good time.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Making the Drive Go Well

When we go on long road trips, we try to line up a few books on CD for the boys to listen to as we drive. They usually have a backpack full of books to read, notebooks to draw in, and things to play with. But we don't do video games (except for an occasional game on the iphone) or movies (except for really long cross-country trips).

Of course it's important to find stories that all of us can enjoy. What the 9-year old likes, the 6-year old doesn't necessarily. And not all children's stories are appealing to the parents.

The classics are generally good ones--especially if read by a good voice actor. Last year we heard Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn (one was on our way to visit the Tom Sawyer Cave in Hannibal, Missouri.

Last year we also listened to Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean. We enjoyed the follow-up story to the original. I've also heard that Dave Barry's stories of Never Neverland are also good.

We recently listened to The Amazing, Astonishing, Incredible and True Adventures of Me!: Charlie Small in Gorilla City. It was a fun, imaginative adventure as read from a 9-year old's journal.

We also just finished Room One: A Mystery or Two by Andrew Clements. We were all pulled into the story of a boy in a small town in Nebraska who stumbles across a mystery. The story is about the importance of keeping promises, being kind to strangers, and being person of character. But it's all tied up in a great story that kept us wanting to drive some more so we could hear the next part.

Those are our current recommendations. We'll keep you posted on what we listen to next.