Saturday, July 19, 2014

DIY Percy Jackson Birthday Party

My daughter turned 11 yesterday. I love this girl so much. She is a bookworm, artist, athlete, and budding writer. She is currently immersed in the second Percy Jackson series. I can usually find her curled up with the laptop on her bed writing PJO fan fiction. (How does she know about fan fiction?!) An obsession has taken hold. Naturally, the theme for her birthday party was...Percy Jackson!

It is not easy to find party items for Percy Jackson. There is a party pack of ideas and printables on the Percy Jackson website. I didn't use much of this. My daughter was the only one who really knew the stories well so I just used it for ideas without using the games themselves. I searched for Percy Jackson themed plates and tableware, but no luck. I was on my own.

Thankfully, PJ is well-known for his favorite color: blue. No problem! I purchased blue table covers, plates, and napkins from Dollar Tree and Target. I cut blue flowers and put them in a blue vase next to the blue cupcakes. Perfect!

I searched for other PJ themed parties and found this blog and this blog. Tons of great inspiration! We wanted to have shield painting and a quest so these blogs got us off to a great start. I wrote scrolls of clues for each task, mostly my original rhymes or based on the other blog's ideas. At the completion of each task, the Questers received Ambrosia, in the form of a Pixie Stick, to give them energy for the next.

My daughter made up demi-god characters for everyone. We put all the names and descriptions into a bag, which we called the Oracle, and everyone got a new name for the party. It was fun and she loved seeing everyone's reactions to her characters.

We kicked off the party activities with shield painting. I purchased the cake rounds as another mom suggested. My DH attached tight elastic straps through each one for ease of carrying throughout the quest. The kids loved it! The painted symbols related to their characters. They carried these with them throughout the Quest. We also made swords out of foam core by cutting out the shape and then covering the blade with foil and the handle with brown floral tape. All the supplies were purchased at Dollar Tree keeping it very cheap.

Cake rounds purchased from the craft store and spray painted black or bronze.

The elastic straps were great for the kids to carry the shields for the whole party.

Foam core swords covered with foil and floral tape 

While the shields dried, we played a TP toga game. I didn't want a heavy competitive feel to the party so we used the Oracle to determine the teams. I was very pleased. There was no arguing or debating about who was whose team. Perfect!

The winning TP toga design!

Our main party activity was a Quest. We set up 5 different games. At the end of each game, I handed a scroll to the birthday girl to read aloud. The scrolls contained clues about where to find the next task and what it might be. Each Quester had to complete every task before everyone moved on. This worked out great since we had 7 kids of ranging ages 8-14. I loved seeing them cheer each other on and stay focused on what was happening instead of wandering off once they finished the task.

Birthday Girl reading the scroll leading to the next task

The first task was to find Zeus' lost lightning bolts. DH and the Birthday Girl made posterboard lightning bolts and covered them with foil. I hid them around the yard before the party. The kids really liked this game. Although, one lightning bolt was so well hidden no one found it until hours later. Ha ha! I called time after 10 minutes and we moved on.

The pile of found lightning bolts. Each one was about 3 feet long.
The next scroll led them to play ball with Cerebrus. This was a game made by DH. He used foam core board and a picture printed from online. Then he cut holes over the dogs' mouths and glued cups behind them. The kids took turns tossing one whiffle ball at a time into the dogs' mouths. They had to get all three balls into the cups before they got the next scroll. It was harder than it looked! I was happy that the younger party-goers were the champs at this game.

Play ball with Cerebrus! 

The next scroll took them to the basement doorway. I hung a blue table cover over the doorway and set up a black bucket with some giant plastic coins. This represented the River Styx and to enter the Underworld, aka the basement, each Quester had to flip two coins into the bucket. The coins were huge and floated more then they flew so it took some skill to get them into the bucket from across the room. Once everyone accomplished this task, they entered the Underworld.

In the basement, we turned out the lights and turned on thunderstorm naturescapes. The floor was covered with balloons. Inside seven of the balloons were plastic snakes. Each Quester had to pop balloons any way they wanted until they found a snake inside. This game was incredibly loud! And a lot of fun. The Quester's got to keep their snakes, too.

The snakes were part of the next clue, which of course, led to Medusa. We again used foam core and attached a hideous picture of her found online. I poked sparkly green pipe cleaners through the board as an added touch. We purchased a plastic archery set from Dollar Tree and each Quester had to hit Medusa in the face with an arrow. Not as easy as it seemed! There is certain timing to releasing the arrow just right and each Quester struggled at first. We gave six arrows per turn and by the last arrow almost everyone hit the target.


The final scroll led the Quester's to search for Athena's weapon, a white owl, hidden in the yard, containing their prize, a plastic gold medal. Once this was found, I presented the medals to each Quester, proclaiming them all Olympian heroes. Then Birthday Girl presented them with a carved bead on a leather cord, representing their achievement from Camp Half-Blood. They loved it!

We ended the party with cupcakes and presents. Birthday Girl received PJ themed gifts in the form of the new book in the series and a necklace of all the book covers in the first series. She was so excited.

This party was a great success!

Monday, July 14, 2014

In Limbo

I'm a certified barista
Sometimes I look at the circumstances I'm in and I wonder if I've hit the lowest point. Or is there still further to sink? My job is not generating the income we need. I have a line on a new job, but no control over getting an interview. My DH is job searching still. We believe moving was the right choice for our family. We are still waiting to start our new lives. We are in limbo.

Waiting is difficult. Being patient does not come naturally. Where is the open door or window? It's impossible to see. Sometimes you are just standing in front of the door or window waiting for the person on the other side to get their act together and open up. DH had an interview scheduled for today. The interviewer called in sick. He has no idea the turmoil into which this threw DH. Waiting for other people is the worst. You have no control.

We are taking advantage of this time with each other. This is the most time DH has ever been able to spend with the kids. He's outside practicing baseball, football, and soccer with them. He's watching TV and playing video games with them. He is redeeming the time.

I am working and making the best of my barista job. Starbucks is a fun place to work. I really enjoy most of the customers. Most of them. Not all. Definitely not all. Some people are simply rude. Some people are condescending and rude. Some people are idiots. Really it's a mixed bag when it comes to the customers I can't stand. The fact that I'm a 30-something, mother of three, working because I have to, is not public knowledge. These terrible customers treat me so poorly that it makes me laugh. If they knew my life, would it be different? Maybe not. But this experience have absolutely changed the way I view minimum wage workers and anyone in food service.

The view is amazing here. The trees and water, the fresh air and changing clouds, all point to the Big Move as a right decision. My sister and her family, coffee and Cokes, marshmallows at the fire pit and crabs on the beach, all point to the Big Move as the right move. I don't doubt it.

We are waiting for our new life to begin.
Enjoying the evening