A Star Wars Party In Less Than 12 Hours

My younger boy turned 8 and we celebrated his birthday over the weekend. What was initially planned to be a simple gathering eventually became a Star Wars Themed party. The party decoration was put together in less than 12 hours!

I broke my own record!

The birthday boy who initially agreed to a simple celebration secretly read my whatsapp messages and found out that I was planning to get a Star Wars toy for him.

At 9.30pm the night before the party, he told me that a Star Wars party would be great. I told him it was too late because all shops were closed and shooed him to bed.

Yet, like all parents who couldn’t bear to disappoint their kids, I thought I should at least try. I listed out the things I needed to have. It was almost 11 pm and the party was next day lunch.

Skipping the customized invites minused off one huge item from my list. We wouldn’t need any fanciful party food with creative labels because the Dad already had his menu all planned out. In fact, his pot roast was already cooking in the oven!

I found out that I ran out of colourful cardstock paper and had to use normal A4 printer paper for whatever decoration I needed to print. Thankfully it was Star Wars and anything black and white seemed appropriate.

I printed out some black and white Storm Troopers to hang around the house and some alphabets to decorate the walls. The boys had recently made a wooden plane and I thought it would serve as some sort of a Star Wars flying craft. No?

After an hour or 2 of working at it, I could finally see the Star Wars Theme slowly coming together. It was almost 2 am.

The next morning, the birthday boy came storming into our room. He was so excited and thrilled to see the decoration that had been put up overnight. It was like waking up from a dream. The expression on his face was simply priceless!

We had a couple of hours more before the party started and I decided to work on a table centre piece.

I dug out some of the kids’ Star Wars soft toys, some Legos (mostly with missing body parts!) and an old light saber. Stuck a few more alphabets to the wall and brought out the Oreo cheesecake that the birthday boy had requested. While I was busy, the birthday boy had cut and glued some cardboard pieces and chopsticks together. He had built an Imperial AT-AT Walker which looked perfect on his birthday cake!

It was a simple set up where the Dad and the brother handled the food while I did the dressing up of the house. The birthday boy clearly had fun and couldn’t stop thanking us for the surprise.

I realised that if given more time, I would have the tendency of going overboard with the details. From designing the invites, decorating the place, brainstorming ideas for games to food list and cake design. It can get overwhelming when you do not know when to stop.

So I’ve learned that whether you start planning early or late does very little in reducing the amount of stress of planning for a birthday party if you do not have a clear scope.

The key to a relatively stress free birthday party is to keep it simple and don’t be greedy! It might just turn out to be a good way for the family to get creative and have fun together!

 
 

Wooden Craft Teacher’s Day Gift

So my boys have been spending their free time in front of the computer. On one hand, I reasoned to myself that they have their fair bit of outdoor time every week doing sports so I should let them continue with their screen time especially when they are doing considerably well in their studies.

On the other hand, it just can’t be good staring at the computer screen for long hours even if they are indeed learning something! It got me really upset and it struck me that I might be the one who needs to come to term with my own dilemma and manage my own expectation.

I finally sat them down one day and explained to them the importance of balance. I admit to them that it is not easy because even adults can’t get it right. Like most tools, technology is a double edged sword. They can kill or help to improve our lives if used wisely. I am glad we had the conversation, not so much because of miraculous change in their behaviour but because it helped me straighten out my thoughts and articulate my fear.

Since Teachers day is just round the corner, I decided to use the occasion to get the boys to do something useful with their screen time.

Every year, we would make something for the boys’ teachers. The boys usually aren’t particularly interested in making cards, so I was surprised by my teenager who happily announced that he had already made cards for ALL his teachers in school. I am not sure whose initiative it was but thought it was good that the school or someone reminded them to show appreciation for their teachers. This time, I tasked him to help his younger brother out and make good use of his screen time to search for ideas.

After spending some time searching and watching some YouTube videos, they hauled out their soldering iron, hot glue gun and saw. Dug out some wood scraps from our craft room and got these out.

The elder one did the more challenging job of sawing and soldering the wood pieces while his younger brother cut and hot glued the little air planes using popsicle sticks and cloth pegs.

I thought these hand-mades look pretty cute even though I am not sure what the teachers can do with them. A friend suggested using the wood burned pieces for signage, wall art, coaster or even bookmark. As for the air planes, we could actually stick a magnet  and turn them into fridge magnets.

If you ever thought of trying out wood burning, all you need is a piece of wood (we get ours from Daiso) and a soldering iron. Here’s a couple of things we learned about wood burning,

  • It is easier to solder along the grain of the wood. Maybe it might be better to get wood with smoother surface or sand down the wood before burning.
  • From our experience, a soldering iron is not the perfect tool for wood burning. It takes a long time to heat up (and cool down) and it is difficult to control the stroke because we are holding the rod further from the tip (mainly because it is too hot to hold any nearer). The tip and the temperature also weren’t ideal for wood burning thus making it harder
  • Sketch out the design on the wood before burning. You can even use a carbon paper to trace out the design you want on the wood!

There are tons of tips and tricks for wood burning on the internet. So yes, it is good to be internet savvy because ultimately, it was the internet that gave my boys the ideas and taught them how to make their Teacher’s Day gifts! 
 

I Think I Can Paint

I have been a little bit caught up with my new pastime lately and it was my elder boy who reminded me to write something on this space! Yes, he’s my biggest fan, more so than his Dad.

After reviewing the Hello Spring Kit in my last post, I went on to play with the remaining paint that came with the kit and discovered that I could actually paint!

I’ve always been fascinated by people who could sketch, paint or draw through visualizing and imagination. It is amazing how they can store every single details of any object of interest into memory, recreate reality or create something that they have never seen before and put it on paper or a blank canvas.

I have met a couple of these people and it was simply mind blowing seeing them work. When you ask them how they did it, they usually can’t provide a very concrete answer and would probably throw you a perplexed look and answer something to the effect of ‘It’s simple, you mean you can’t?!’. These people have an innate skill, they are talented. I am lucky to have met these people but it has also discouraged me from trying because I knew I don’t have that kind of skill or talent.

So what I did the last couple of weeks was really not something I would usually do, to try something that I am totally not cut out for. It has been fun so far and I have been spending many quiet mornings mixing paint trying to get the perfect blend and attempting different kinds of pictures.

This was painted from a photo I took over the weekend. My younger boy playing with his cousin.

We were at one of those shophouses with an old back alley and these 2 boys spent a long time playing there. There were some rocks and a big bag of sand left over from some renovation work.

They set up a battlefield with little rocks as troops and played for hours. When I showed him this picture and asked him how they played their game, this was his explanation.

‘The rocks are the troops, defenders, king and queen. We are the canon. We fire striker rocks to attack the other person’s base.

To play this game, you must build a mountain with flat and smooth edges on the side. You use the rocks as troops and you stuff them into the sand to stabilize them. After you have built your army you can start the game.

Whoever’s older will strike first. You can use your troops to defend your defenders (which are big and fat rocks) who will defend your king and queen. Once the person has no more troops, defenders and king and queen, he loses’

Watching the boys play reminds me of painting. They might have played there for hours but they barely noticed how long they were there because they were having so much fun. Time flies when you are having fun.

So it doesn’t really matter even if I am not cut out to be an artist or a painter because time seems to zip by the few mornings when I sit down to paint. I guess I must be having fun and that is reason good enough to continue painting! Besides, who knows, I might be able to teach my boys a lesson or two. That even though we are short of talent, our abilities can improve if we put in enough effort.