Gideon’s “War” Birthday Party, Part 3 – The Battle

Well, we’ve finally come to the end of this series featuring my 6-year old son’s “army” or “war” party, and I have to thank you all for sticking with me as I have revisited and celebrated this super-fun and special day in my family’s life…

you are literally the best. (said in my best Chris Traeger voice).

So as I told you before, I had the party part of this party down – the menu, the decorations, the vibe – they all came together quite nicely (and thankfully, with little expense). And I knew we were going to have a “war”…

in fact, if you’ll remember, that was how I sold this party to my son in the first place. And I had made  a big, big deal about it. We talked about it nearly every day.

But secretly…I was stumped.

How in the world were we going to actually have this so-called war? With a group of Preschoolers, Kindergarteners and an 8-year old, no less…

So I did what any self-respecting female would do.

I dumped this part of the party on my unsuspecting husband, nonchalantly mentioning that I needed help with this one teensy little bit of the planning.

He accepted the challenge…

but then stalled for weeks.

Secretly, he was stumped, too.

And then, in a stroke of last-minute genius, he called me up with a full list of party game ideas for me to choose from (including the paper airplane activity we also did), and the minute he mentioned the following idea, I knew he had struck gold:

Operation: Rescue Abigail

(Abigail is Gideon’s eldest cousin and beloved friend)

Two teams: bad guys and good guys.

Adults on each team to help the kids.

One prisoner in distress.

Bad guy weapons: big marshmallows dipped in all-purpose flour.

Mission: rescue Abigail (or other prisoner) from the bad guys. If you get hit with a marshmallow (which leaves a huge flour mark on your clothes), you  have to run to the field hospital and get bandaged. Then you can return to the battle.

Could we all just give a round of applause to Mr. Gore for coming up with this awesome game? We played 2 or 3 rounds of it, and it was too. much. fun. Kids this age (at least in my house) love nothing more than tying people up and saving them, playing “doctor”, pretending to be good guys defeating bad guys…my husband somehow incorporated all of Gideon’s favorite pastimes into one awesome party game that made his little 6-year old heart soar. I couldn’t have been more pleased.

For older kids, a capture-the-flag type game would have been ideal, but this game perfectly suited our younger crowd. If you are planning a “war” or “army” party of your own, and have any more questions about the details of this game, please do so in the comments section. I will make sure to get back with you as soon as I get the chance.

Now how about some pictures?…

Gid was in character long before the party began…

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Ready for battle, Katerbelle? Yes, SIR!

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Mr. Gore led the kids in a few pre-battle drills to start off, lining them up…

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and leading them in a rousing rendition of “I’m in the Lord’s Army”. This was a CHRISTIAN war party, mind you…

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Attention!

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jumping jacks…

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Let’s do this thing.

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Our pretty nurses had the hospital ready to go, eager to come to the aid of the wounded once the game commenced…

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First prisoner: Abigail. And the fact that we played several variations of this game with different prisoners was because this fun-loving girl wasn’t content to just be a prisoner. She wanted in on the battle action, too! Her Daddy – the baddest of the bad guys – led her to a tree in the nearby woods to tie her up.

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I now present to you…

Operation: Rescue Abigail, starring Mr. Gore – the goodest of the good guys – and his army of tiny soldiers!!!

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they’ve been spotted and attacked! Run to the hospital! Quick!

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our nurses sprang into action, doing their best to get the soldiers back to the front as soon as possible, giving each soldier a bandage and a candy pill…

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but, with a little teamwork and perseverance, they did it! Good prevailed, and Abigail was rescued.

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and the “good guys” felt like macho superstars.

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Next battle…

Operation: Rescue the Birthday Boy. Mr. Gore was probably very glad to add a quick-as-lighting 8-year old to his team. He rallied his troops, gave them a few tips, and the 2nd battle began…

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(sidenote: can anyone spot my Daddy in the next picture? This is why people use camouflage. It actually works!)

 

 

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and lickety-split, Gideon was saved.

Then, in the scariest and most melodramatic battle of the night (our soldiers and nurses were taking dramatic liberties with the game by this time), our two hospital nurses were taken prisoner by the scariest bad guy in the woods…

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Things got ugly for our soldiers during this battle…

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but our field nurses were so brave and helpful in the face of duty…

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reviving our soldiers on the spot so they could return to battle and save the hospital nurses!

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which they did, right as dusk set in. The hospital nurses were a bit shaken up, but a quick stay at the hospital fixed them right up…

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and I am happy to report that, by the end of all of our battles, every soldier was still accounted for, though they all looked a little more ragged than they had before…

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Our rescue operations…and thus, the biggest part of my son’s party…had been a huge success.

~

A few more notes on our war party:

1. It dawned upon me and Amy both (sometimes we share a brain!) that an activity like this doesn’t have to be saved for a birthday party. This was just a super fun night for all the kids and families involved, and it would have been even easier to throw together if we hadn’t been trying to do birthday cake and presents and spend as much time as possible with the birthday boy. You could do this with so many different themes: spy games, princes and princesses, cowboys and outlaws…the possibilities are extensive. Then, on birthday party days, you could just kick back with your family, have a cake and a few gifts and call it a night. I’ll be mulling this over…

2. I also wanted to tell you that, by the end of the battles, all the kids were congregated at the hospital, playing their little hearts out. It looked like an ant hill. Which means that I will probably be setting up the hospital sometime soon for a fun play day. I’ll share more on that in the future!

3. Thank you again for indulging me for this week-long series and for all the sweet words you’ve shared. I love your comments and encouragement so much and thank God for you, always.

And good news – I have some VERY unbirthday blog posts coming up next week – stay tuned!

~

To read about all the ideas and products that went into this party, click here.

Gideon’s “War” Birthday Party, Part 2 – The Party!

So enough with all my blither-blather and product-sharing (if you don’t know what I’m talking about and want to know more about this party, click here)…

let’s get to the PARTY!!

~

For starters, my Daddy loaded a bunch of the kids up at the house and brought them down to the party in his electric Gator. They were so excited…

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even though my Daddy looked like a scary freak. When he told me he was going to wear this camo facemask to the party, I was like ‘Cool! Gid will love it!”…but then when I saw him I was like “Dude. You have NO idea how scary you look…” Still yet…Gid DID love it, and it didn’t seem to traumatize any of the other children.

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Booya. See the girl on the left there? A REAL nurse from the 1940’s come to our party. Or at least that’s what the kids thought…

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And so this is the part of the blog where I need to stop for a minute to give HUGE props to Mackenzie, a beautiful, precious, sweet, kind, secretly hilarious (she’s so quiet but has the funniest dry wit in the world) young lady in our church. How many 16-year old’s would give up their Friday night to administer bandages and candy pills to a group of hyped-up little kids, faithfully wearing the nurse’s dress that you pulled out of your dress-up stash in the attic? Thankfully, I know at least one…

(and I thank God for her!)

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Speaking of dress-up clothes, Amy made the coolest shirts for her girls (and one for the birthday boy!), using bleach. I wish I could instruct you further, but…that’s all I know. And it’s too late to call her. Amy, if you’re reading this, could you leave a comment at the bottom of this post and tell us how you made these awesome black party shirts?…

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Once they arrived at the party site, we let the kids make and decorate paper airplanes. The plan was to then have a contest to see whose could fly the best, but it was wayyyyyy to windy…

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this was still good busywork, though, and kept them happily occupied while we finished setting everything up.

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My niece, Kate Belle just hanging out and…being Kate Belle. We love us some Kate Belle.

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As the kids finished up their airplanes, Amy started working on their camo face paint…

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I think this was probably Gid’s favorite part about the party. He is constantly donning costumes and playing different characters and to actually look like a soldier…

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well, he probably didn’t realize it until it actually took place, but this must have been like a dream come true for him.

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Which is what birthdays are all about, right?

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The girls were a little…creative…with their facepaint. Anna is the prettiest soldier-kitten I’ve ever seen…

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And please excuse me for a bit while I drown in some Rebekah Sunday cuteness.

My eldest daughter was born to be a nurse – she has been ministering to our family since before her 1st birthday (I’m not exaggerating), and when we decided to do the Red Cross field hospital, it was unanimous that she would help Mackenzie tend to our wounded soldiers. She ate it up! And I ate HER up! Please join me in a moment of appreciative silence as we observe the following series of pictures…

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Sigh. I love her.

And time for another shout-out, this time to my amazing Grandmother, Janice. It was so special to have her visiting us during Gideon’s birthday, and it was an honor to have her working in our chow line during his party. By the way, she is an actual nurse – the best in the world – and was actually around during actual WWII. Let me know if you would like her autograph.

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It is important to note that between the face painting and chow time, we had our first battle. I decided to share all of those pictures tomorrow in their own post, but you’ll notice that everyone is bandaged up and battle-worn now. And hungry!!!

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My soldier-boy. SIX years old. (but I’m still baby-talking to him with my mind right now…goochie goo).

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I interrupt the flow of this post to show you my wide-awake, always-happy, precious little nephew, Abel. If you want to pinch those little baby cheeks, you’re going to have to get in line…

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And here he is, fast asleep. “Fatigued”. Amy…after you share your shirt tutorial, could you also tell us where you found that onesie? And then tell us the truth…how does it really feel to be a Supermom/aunt/sister-in-law?

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Before we wrapped up, Amy took a couple of pictures of our dirty, tired, sticky, battle-weary family…

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And here’s one of me and my gal…

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As dusk approached, Gideon hauled his presents back up to the house for the last part of his party…

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He opened his gifts at the same table I used to open mine at…

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and I brought him his old-school-looking soldier cake (my eldest brother assured me this was an essential part of growing up for a little boy)…

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just like my Mama has always done for me.

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Happy Birthday, little soldier! I’ll always keep the home fires (or at least the birthday candles) burning for you…

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~

And finally…the 3rd and final installment…”The Battle”…coming up tomorrow!

(Read Part Three here)

Gideon’s “War” Birthday Party – The Prequel

Warning: the following post might give you a startling glimpse inside the sickness that is in my head, and I hope you still love me after you read it. I am kind of a weirdo about birthday parties. Not yours – I never judge a party we attend, and am just happy to have free cake – but ours. It is how I show love and is one of the most utmost expressions of my heart toward my kids. We’ve all learned to deal with it, but I do always worry that my potential over-the-topness in this one area will discourage others who don’t “do” parties…

Therefore, it would make me so happy if you would read this post before continuing on. Thanks a million!

~

Oh boy…

I always think the party we just had was my favorite party ever…

until the next one.

And so I can safely say, a couple weeks past my son’s 6th birthday, that his World War II-inspired “army” or “war” party was my favorite party ever.

And I really mean it this time. For reals.

(I think).

It doesn’t even matter that the planning stages for this party were a little different than normal…

Usually, the day after Christmas is over, I start involuntarily daydreaming about his March birthday party. I can’t help it. I love birthdays!!! Love them. It’s what I do, yo.

Therefore, I usually have two really good months to get a handle on what we’ll be doing and to start finding ideas and recipes and so on and so forth.

This year, however, I was unknowingly pregnant on the day after Christmas, and the month of January and most of February became a black hole on the calendar. I know I was alive, and I know we continued to do stuff like go to church and I think I brushed my teeth a couple of times, but…that’s about all I remember. ‘Twas the worst first trimester I’ve ever endured.

And once I emerged from this twilight zone of sorts, I had other important things to do, like pluck my giant, untamed eyebrow, and make food for my family (they were almost emaciated), and so, really, Gid’s birthday party had been pushed to the furthest back burner on the stove…you know, the one no one ever wants to use with leftover oats and and dried-up rice and the singed bits of paper from the tea bag…

(apparently, no one ever wants to clean that burner, either)…

Thankfully, we had at least settled on a theme earlier in the year, although even that took a little work this time, mostly because I made the mistake of asking my son what kind of party he wanted. Silly me.

“Ummmm…a Batman party!” he exclaimed.

“Well, Gid…we don’t really do parties like that…” I hedged, turning my nose up at the thought of all those paper party decorations I would probably have to buy – and then throw away – from Oriental Trading Company. If I’m going to buy party supplies I want to be able to use them again and again.

“How about a superhero party?” he asked.

“Well…Anna had a superhero party last year…” I said. I didn’t mind the idea of having the same theme as my niece, but Amy and I had already been there and done that, feverishly sewing capes and eyemasks in a Sunday School room at the church 24 hours before the party. I wanted to do something different.

“How about…a knight party?!” he said.

“Hmmm…a knight party…” I replied, as my mind started quickly cataloging all the things we could do with that. Lords and ladies. Big turkey legs for everyone to eat. Kid jousting?…

“We could maybe do that…” I said, the idea sort of intriguing me. But it wasn’t really hitting me in the heart like our birthday parties normally do. It wasn’t quite right…

and then I had a brain lightbulb, the really bright kind that turns my eyes all buggy and psychotic.

“How about a war party?!” I exclaimed. “We could have a REAL war with two teams, and you can wear camouflage and you can hide in the woods at Granddaddy and Grandmother’s house…

his face lit up, even more than my brain lightbulb, and I knew. This was our party. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

And right then and there, I determined that this would be our first full-out BOY party for my son since, you know, he is really and truly entering the realm of boyhood. No frills. No cutesy. No baby stuff. Just fun awesomeness for Gideon, in the hopes that he would feel like he was in paradise on the day of his birth.

But then I fell into that first trimester abyss I just told you about.

And when I came to in late February and realized that we only had a few weeks left until his party was here, I started that silly daydreaming process I usually start on December 26th.

And in the course of one of those daydreams, I accidentally injected some Mrs.-Gore-weirdness into his perfectly normal little-boy “war” party and turned it all vintage and whimsical, and before I knew it, his laid-back camo-heavy party had turned into a World War II-inspired affair, complete with a Red Cross station, a Mess Hall, a playlist full of nostalgic soldier songs, and lots of googling…

“What did soldiers eat during World War II?”…

“Vintage army recruiting posters”…

“Military songs from World War II”….

“Vintage mess hall plates”…

And I began to be truly grateful that I didn’t have much time to plan this party, because it became very obvious to me that I could have gone wayyyyy overboard with this one. I love me some 1940’s, and, if I had had my typical 2 1/2 months to plan this party, I am almost positive I would have had veterans from each of the armed forces there, and possibly a USO stage where I would have crooned song after song to the horror and embarrassment of my immediate family, especially my brothers.

As it was, thank God, we did a lot of “making do”, substituting the tin mess hall plates I found at Etsy with disposable cake pans from Wal-Mart, forgoing all the awesome WWII posters I could have purchased (again, at Etsy) by finding, printing, and matting free images online, and using our trusty ol’ Martinelli apple juice bottles for drinks rather than buying the canteens or enamel mugs I was dreaming off.

That first trimester saved us a LOT of money.

And when you are a collector of old things, and you have friends who are also collectors of old things, it is absolutely crazy how quickly you can throw a party together full of…old things.

That’s right, I’m talking about authentic WWII helmets, ammo boxes, and…wait for it…COTS that belonged to actual soldiers during the actual war (I think). I’m still over-the-moon about it, and I am so grateful, as always, to my friends and family for so generously pitching in and lending their hard work, their generosity, and mostly, their understanding; that I am surrounded by people who “get” me and love me, nonetheless, seriously humbles me to the core.

ALLLL that to say, I am pretty excited to share with you (if I haven’t already lost you with this blog post), in a 3-part series, Gideon’s “War” Birthday Party.

Here’s a sneak peek…

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Part 1…coming up tomorrow!!