We have a teenager in the house! I can't believe it, but Nathan is 13 years old. He's a great kid, very bright, a natural leader, and a friendly guy. He's always willing to watch his younger siblings. We are so glad he's a part of our family.
It wasn't a friend party year, so his birthday celebrations were pretty simple. He wanted eggs, bacon, and pancakes for breakfast and requested stroganoff and peas for dinner. He didn't want a cake this year - instead he asked for apple pie.
He got a Lego set, Pokemon cards, game, and clothes for his gifts. He asked for clothes this year!
This year was the perfect year to surprise Nathan with a friend party. I poked around a little bit, finding out who Nathan hangs out with at school. One of his church friends, who also goes to his school, helped me contact his buddies. Nine of the 11 boys I invited were able to make it (after postponing on the first scheduled Saturday that was a 3 day weekend and not so good). We ended up doing the party about 3 weeks after his birthday, so he had no idea what was going on. I did party preparations while he was at school, cleaning during the evening. I thought with the house being clean BEFORE Saturday might have tipped him off, but it didn't. Ha ha. One of the tricky things was doing the cake, but I ended up baking it during the day - cleaning up all the evidence. Then we watched a movie late on Friday night, so I didn't get to start decorating the cake until about 1:00am. Yep, it was a long night - didn't get finished with that and cleaning up until about 3:30am.
We also had to go to plan B on Saturday afternoon. Alex was supposed to get Nathan and all the boys out of the house for a few hours (hiking) so that I could get the party set up. However, it was also pinewood derby that day, and they ended up way behind on that. So Alex was stuck at pinewood derby and Nathan was still with me... I texted one of Nathan's friends who was coming to the party and asked if they could invite Nathan over. They were getting ready to go swimming at the YMCA, so it worked perfect to take Nathan along. They brought him back over when it was party time.
Nathan's friends had a lot of energy! Most of the balloons were popped by the time Nathan got there, and they cracked me up on surprising him. Instead of hanging back and hiding, they stood right around the door so they could yell in his face when he walked in! Nathan didn't even know it was a birthday party at first. He asked a couple of times, "What is this for?"
Once the surprise died down, I divided them up into 2 tribes - we were going to do challenges like they do on the show "Survivor." They picked green or blue bandanas out of a bag to determine which tribe they were on. I made the banners beforehand, so that we didn't waste time picking names. I chose the Araali and Zuberi tribes - African names that both mean "strength". The simply made PVC banners didn't last very long before they got shredded.
We headed over to the local elementary school for some of the challenges. We needed more space than we had in our yard.
The hard thing for me was no prior set up. I didn't want to set everything up and then leave it for an hour, so I had to set up each challenge as we went. If I did it over again, I would definitely plan on trying to set up beforehand so that I didn't lose them between challenges. Our first challenge was fairly simple - a coconut roll. I set up a small box of cones about a bowling alley length away, and they took turns seeing who could roll their coconut the closest to the "box". They competed against another person, and the best 2 out of 3 rolls won it. At the end, we totaled all the points, and Araali won it. They actually won nearly all the challenges! The coconut roll came down to a tie-breaker roll, so each tribe chose one person to roll again. Owen was chosen for Zuberi because he had nearly the perfect roll. But in the end the blue tribe won it.
Our second challenge didn't work very well, and I actually have nothing to document it. I dyed a whole bag of mini marshmallows blue and green - even numbers of them. Then I dumped all the marshmallows out and they had to scramble to get the most of their color marshmallows at their home base "circle" (of cones). But they could also take out the marshmallows from the other team's circle. The tribe with the most of their marshmallows in their circle after 1 minute won it. It was a disaster, because they started just holding onto all their marshmallows until the last 10 seconds, or hoarding the other team's color. After counting, the blue tribe won it, but what was painful was picking up every last scattered marshmallow off the ground when we were done. Not fun.
Our next challenge was fun, but harder than I expected. Each tribe had a caller, who would call out directions to blindfolded teammates to colored bags. Each tribe also had someone reserved who would put the puzzle together. They had to collect 7 bags, and then deposit them at their homebase. Once all the bags were collected, the puzzle solver could open them and put it together. There were 70 dominoes, numbered on the back, for each tribe. They just had to put them in order on the puzzle board to win. It turned out to be a harder task than I thought it would be. But again, Araali (blue tribe) won it. It was also a reward challenge - the winning tribe each got individual bags of chips.
Jared solved the puzzle for the blue tribe.
The next challenge was probably the most complicated - taking much more patience than 12-13 year old boys have. I placed 8 colored paper plate rings in a line, with the ones further away requiring them to tie sticks together to snag them. But first they had to run and pop one of their colored balloons and see which colored plate they had to snag. I put little colored pieces of paper in the balloons that corresponded to the colored rings. Then the work began. They were not allowed to cross the line of cones with anything other than their sticks. They had 4 sticks and rope to tie them together. They had to pick up a ring with the stick, get it over their line, and then deposit it on another stick. The first tribe to get all their rings on the stick first won. I think the green tribe happened to get the brown ring first, the one furthest away, and they had trouble tying the sticks long enough. The blue tribe ran into some problems too, but had too much of a head start. They won it pretty easily, also winning the reward of Gatorade that went along with it.
The next challenge was another puzzle, but they had to collect the bags again first. We took advantage of the playground structure for the obstacle course. They had to climb up one side, touch the top, over to the next part, touch the top, grab a bag and head back. Once they collected all the bags, they could open them and put the puzzle together. It turned out to be a super close race, within one piece. The green team, Zuberi, pulled out the win on this one. The reward was a package of mini donuts for each tribe member.
After I cleaned up everything at the school, we came back to our home for some more challenges. We did "worms in dirt" where they had to dig out 3 gummy worms out of pudding and Oreo dirt with JUST their mouth. Yep, they all ended up with "dirt" in their nose!
Then we did the yucky food challenge - the food items were under a covered bowl with a number on it. They each drew a number to determine which food they had to eat and who they would compete against. They had to eat jello worms, drink vegetable juice, eat green olives, spam, sardines, and kale and brussel sprout salad with no dressing. They got 1 point for finishing their item, and another point if they finished it before their opponent. Nathan got sardines, and he gave it a go, chewing it up in his mouth. He had to spit it out though - where was Weston when they needed him? He loves sardines! The worms looked fairly real and disgusting, but before they realized what they were, one of the kids had already started eating them. No fear. The other guy wouldn't even touch them, until he realized they were jello. And even then, he had a hard time. I wasn't eating any of that stuff! The salad is even pretty gross with the dressing on it - eating without dressing is like eating grass.
We did a math challenge, where they had to solve 4 equations, which were on the back of a paper coin. When they solved the equation, they had to find the real corresponding coin from a bowl of coins. The answers to the equations were years on the coin.
Another fun challenge was a quiz about Nathan. Our boys were not allowed to participate in this one. They had to answer 10 multiple choice questions about Nathan which had a correct answer. They got a moment to think about it and then had to hold up their answer (one of the A, B, or C cards). Then they had 10 majority rules questions, that didn't necessarily have a right answer. The choice that got the most votes won it. Some of them tried to cheat on the trivia. I should have spread them out a little bit so they couldn't show each other cards before they held their answer up.
Here's the quiz:
1. Where was Nathan born?
A. OK B. TX C. CA
2. What is Nathan's middle name?
A. Alexander B. Robert C. Ray
3. Which foreign country has Nathan lived in for 3 months?
A. Australia B. Ireland C. Canada
4. Which of these fruits does Nathan like the best?
A. Apples B. Bananas C. Cantaloupe
5. What is Nathan's favorite subject?
A. History B. Math C. English
6. What is Nathan's favorite kind of soda?
A. Rootbeer B. Sprite C. Dr. Pepper
7. What is Nathan's favorite dessert?
A. Apple pie B. Brownies C. Cake
8. Which of the following is one of Nathan's favorite teams?
A. LSU Tigers B. LA Lakers C. Alabama
9. What did Nathan's Kindergarten teacher say that he needed to improve on?
A. Raising his hand B. Zipping his jacket C. Hopping on one foot
10. What was the first sports team Nathan played on?
A. t-ball B. soccer C. basketball
Majority Rules Questions
1. What does Nathan complain about the most?
A. Homework B. calls/plays during sports C. things his parents won't allow him to have/do
2. What is Nathan's best personality trait?
A. Friendly B. Leader C. Smart
3. What is Nathan most afraid of?
A. the dark B. losing/failing C. talking to girls
4. What will Nathan most likely be when he grows up?
A. Accountant B. Professor C. PE Teacher
5. Who would Nathan most like to meet?
A. Taylor Swift B. Jimmy Fallon C. Donald Trump
6. If Nathan had to pick from these sports, what would he play?
A. Water polo B. Bowling C. Ping pong
7. If Nathan were an animal, what would he be?
A. Monkey B. Dog C. Parrot
8. If Nathan could change one thing about his appearance, what would it be?
A. Hair B. Freckles C. Height
9. Where would Nathan choose to go on vacation?
A. Hawaii B. Switzerland C. New Zealand
10. If Nathan was a superhero, which would he be?
A. Superman B. Captain America C. Spiderman
These guys were probably too old for cute gift favors, but I enjoyed making something to go along with the theme. Rice, beans, rope, water, and matches (pretzels with a dip of red chocolate).