Friday Reflections: A Fun, Frugal Birthday Party and Our Summer Theme Verse

When I’m not blogging, life is happening.  Here’s what has been going on in my world this week.

Is it really the end of June?  I feel like I’m just starting to get my bearings with the summer schedule, and one-third of summer has already passed!  I am realizing that I can’t put off summer until I get this or that out of the way.  Busy weeks with camps and birthday parties and work coming due are all part of summer, not something to get done so summer can begin.

I have determined to embrace each summer day, whatever it holds, and hold my tightly scheduled plans loosely, allowing for moments of joy and wonder to flourish.  Oh, there will still be work to do, meals to make, and lessons to learn, but these gloriously warm, green days are too few in the northern tundra to miss enjoying a single one.

Fun and Frugal Birthday Party

On Tuesday, we had fourteen boys at our house to celebrate Phinehas’ 10th birthday with a sports party.  It was a gorgeous, sunny day, and, with the help of some family friends (and a guest appearance by my husband- who can tell when it’s cake time from miles away), we kept those boys out in the yard, playing hard the whole afternoon.

Pinterest became my best friend and my worst enemy in the days leading up to the party.  I was able to find some simple, fun, and cost effective ideas, though. My husband painted the outline of a small football field onto the back yard, where the boys played football, Red Rover, Sharks and Minnows, water balloon baseball, and more.

red rover birthday
Red Rover, Red Rover

During breaks, the kids ate watermelon, pretzels, popcorn, peanuts, a fruit platter of cantaloupe and grapes, and cake (of course).  To keep all of these kids fed and entertained (with prizes and to-go bags containing stickers, Baby Ruths, Butterfingers, and boxes of Cracker Jack) for three hours cost less than $150.

The cake from Costco was $20; I removed the flowers and used our Football Guys figures and goal posts to decorate the cake, feeding the discarded orange frosting through a plastic baggie to add Phinehas’ name.  I bought approximately $25 worth of giveaways and prizes, including the water balloon machine, which will last us all summer.  The snack foods (the party lasted from 1-4pm) were the greatest expense.  I insisted upon buying more than we ultimately needed, but we are using the excess to fill our kids’ snack bags for the weeks ahead (more on that tomorrow).

autograph the baseball
A fun memento from the day: a baseball autographed by all the boys who came to the party.

In lieu of gifts, we asked Phinehas’ friends to bring non-perishable items for Family Sharing, our local food pantry.  I was blown away by the generosity of these families, who brought whole grocery bags full of food, totaling approximately 160 lbs!  When we dropped off the items, the food pantry director came out to personally thank my son and take his picture for their newsletter.

Phinehas at food pantry

160 lbs of food donations!
160 lbs of food donations!

Of course, when she commended him for his philanthropic efforts, he responded with, “It was my mom’s idea.”  True enough, and he wasn’t exactly on board with it, but I hope the outcome helped him, in some small way, to shift the focus off of himself and his desire for presents, and on to the benefits of helping those in need through self-sacrifice.

All in all, it was a great day, and I am so glad to have it checked off my to-do list (sigh of relief).

Our Summer Theme Verse

As of Wednesday, we finally began our summer schedule, much to my children’s chagrin.  At this point, they are still moaning and groaning that summer is supposed to be all about fun and free time, not chores and schoolwork, but I think we will fall into a rhythm the more we follow the routine.

Our family verse for the summer is Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  It is not enough to make the children do work for us as parents.  I hope to teach them that, in whatever work they do and in every interaction they have (with each other or others), they are representing Jesus to the world.  If they do all things for Him, I predict they will become more eager, diligent workers and more loving, giving individuals.

First, they must understand how much He has done for them, how He gave up Heaven and His very life out of love for them.  Even I still struggle to comprehend this Love and to live my life in gratitude and obedience (worship).  I am a selfish creature, constantly striving for my will and my way.  “I surrender all,” as the old hymn says, is easier sung than done.  This summer, I hope to grow into the truth of Colossians 3:17 with my children.

More Summer Fun

2015-06-19 20.03.00Other highlights from the week included our oldest son pitching for his team for the first time.  He and his brother had the privilege of playing baseball last weekend at Halfaer Field, a small-scale baseball stadium located at Miller Park, home to the Milwaukee Brewers. It was there that Judah pitched for the very first time- the only perfect inning of the game- and his coach said he’d put him on the regular season schedule.

We also celebrated his amazing achievement, placing into high school algebra as a 7th grader this fall.  We made him a cake and surprised him with the good news, celebrating with him as a family, and reading the acceptance letter from his teacher.


Another fun activity the kids got involved in was the youth “Plein Air” Art contest (from the French expression for “in open air”), held by the Cedarburg Cultural Center.

plein air art

We spent an afternoon at Lime Kiln Park, where the children drew pictures of their favorite locations, using pastels, colored pencils, and markers.  Once they completed their works of art, they enjoyed splashing around in the water, collecting shells for the seashell farm they were creating.

lime kiln park lime kiln park elijah at lime kiln park  autumn at lime kiln park  skyler at lime kiln park

Tomorrow, I will share the details of our summer schedule and announce our summer kit giveaway!  What kinds of summer fun have you been up to this week?


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