“Nate & Zeke…we have to name the puppy, do you have any ideas?”

“Mommy, I think we should call her Sprinkles. No, Sweetie Pie. NO…CUTIE PIE!! Because she’s so cute.”

“That’s a really sweet name, Nate. What do you think about that, Daddy?”

“Eh hem…I think Zeke should have a suggestion. What do you think, Zeke?”

“She smells like cake. I think we should name her Cake.”

Mark is grimacing at every suggestion. In a whisper-growl to me he says, 

“I always picture myself with a big, beefy dog. Like a Mastiff or something. It’s bad enough we have a 4 lbs dog called a YorkiePoo…I’m not yelling, ‘Here, Cutie Pie….’!! And there will be no pink collars or bows!”

“OK, calm down John Wayne. Hey boys, it’s Daddy’s turn to suggest a name. What do you think we should call the puppy, Daddy?”

“Well, she looks like an Ewok to me. How about Wicket?”

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“She DOES look like an Ewok, Daddy! But Wicket was a boy Ewok…our puppy is a girl.”

“Well Nate, we could make it a girl name by adding a ‘te’. She could be Wickette”

“What do you think of that name, Zeke?”

“I like Star Wars, so I like it.  Mommy?”

“Yes, Zeke?”

“When Wickette dies…can we get a kitty cat?”

(Sigh) 

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Ever since I hit 35, time is on fast forward. I’m usually getting down the Easter decorations while I’m on the ladder putting away the Christmas ones. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve uttered the sentence, “But I just paid the mortgage, how can it be due again?” I’d be able to pay the mortgage.

But as a kid I remember thinking the time it took the clock to go from 3:00 to the 3:15 dismissal bell seemed like 4 lifetimes and the time it took for your birthday to come around might as well had been in the next millenium.

I am reminded of this phenomenon 362 days a year. The other 3 days? That’s Halloween, Christmas and Nate’s birthday. The destinations of his eternal journey through time. “Mommy, how many days until Christmas? What comes next, my birthday or Halloween? When is it going to be August, my birthday is in August. If today was Dec. 1. Is Christmas tomorrow?” And that was during his bedtime story tonight.

Then it hit me…both Nate and Zeke’s 1/2 birthdays are only a month apart and they fall in Feb. and March. Two months that don’t have a lot going on. We could celebrate their 1/2 birthdays each year! No parties or anything like that, just one extra day where each of my boys get to feel special and I don’t have to answer the “How many days until…” questions.

We woke up and told Nate,

“Guess what today is?”

“The day you write your blog and I have to find something to keep me quiet?”

“ehem..uh…no, Nate…it’s your 1/2 birthday!”

“WHAT?!!”

“You’re 5 and 1/2 today!”

{grabbing his face in disbelief and joy} “I’m 5 1/2 TODAY? Right now? Right this minute, I’m 51/2 years old? If someone asks me how old I am, I can say I’m 5 1/2?”

“That’s what I’m saying. What would you like to do today to celebrate your 1/2 birthday?”

“I can pick anything I want?”

“As long as it’s within 30 miles and legal.”

{Thoughtful, careful pacing ensues} “Mommy, Daddy…I know what I want to do today! Since I’m 5 1/2 now, I am brave enough to…I’m finally ready to…I want to join the Jedi Training Academy and fight Darth Vader! Only Darth Vader…I’m not brave enough to fight Darth Maul. He has 2 light savers.”

“Wow, Nate…that’s huge! I’m so excited for you. Let’s pack the backpack and head out to Disney’s Hollywood Studios so you can become a Padawan!”

Nate told EVERYONE in our path (including the car next to us at the red light) that it was his 1/2 birthday so he was joining the Jedi Training Academy to fight Darth Vader…NOT Darth Maul…NEVER Darth Maul.

Nate waits with the other Younglings to get his instructions.

I have to tell you that while Nate was given his uniform and herded into a group to get “debriefed” by the Jedi “drill Sargeant” Master, I had a mini panic attack. Flash forward to him joining the military to go off to {?} to fight {?}. Note to self:  Have a moving-to-Canada party for Nate’s 17 1/2 birthday.

The training begins...

The party is crashed...Darth Vader!

Nate was sent into battle..."The force is strong with this one."

It's official...my eldest son, like his father...is a Star Wars Geek. At least I don't have to worry about him dating until he's in college.

Then we all went home and had 1/2 a cupcake and sang 1/2 of “Happy Birthday”. As I was tucking Nate into bed he was still bubbling with pride and excitement:

“Mommy?”

“Yes, Nate.”

“This was the best 1/2 birthday I’ve ever had!”

“I’m so glad, Nate. I had fun, too.”

“How many days until my other birthday? Does Halloween come first or Christmas? It’s so hard to wait…”

Hmmm…should we cash in some of our 401k and contribute to the increasingly elaborate, hire a planner, children’s birthday bashes?  OR…should we have an old-school, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, musical chairs, cake and goodbye party in our backyard? Not having 40 kids and parents to clean up after is written in all caps on the pro side of the “rented hall” list. And as much as I hate to admit it, there is that “coolest party ever!” competition I’m in with all the other parents at Nate’s school. {tsk-tsk}

When Nate declared (through a town crier) that his 5-year-old party would be a Star Wars party, I immediately did some surfing to see what other Moms of Jedi-Junkies had done with this theme. Maybe it was the cleverness of all those Moms, maybe it was purely the unconditional love of my eldest son, or maybe (probably) it was how very cheap thrifty I am…I decided to go with the home-made, DIY party in our backyard.

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We decided to call it a “Jedi-Training” party. That way, everyone was on the same side…the good side. We didn’t want some poor kid coming to the party dressed as Darth Vader and getting his “dark side” kicked all over the yard. We try to teach non-violence to our sons, but it’s hard when your husband is a Wookie-lovin’, Solo wannabe. I was determined to make this party as peaceful and Zen as Yoda himself.

The preparations:

Who wouldn't want a "Wookie-Cookie"?

Who wouldn't want a "Wookie-Cookie"?

Melted chocolate will give you 3rd degree burns on your tongue...FYI

Melted chocolate will give you 3rd degree burns on your tongue...FYI

Obi-Wan Cannolis??? We bought these just for the joke!

Obi-Wan Cannolis??? We bought these just for the joke!

We also had Jedi-Juice. It was green Hawaiian Punch. If you add 7-up it’s Yoda-Soda! In keeping with the cheap thrifty theme…I made the cake myself and decorated it with Nate’s Galactic Heros:

Nate chose the white frosting because it "looks like snow" and he wanted to create the snow-something attacking Luke while he's riding on that kangaroo-looking creature.

Nate chose the white frosting because it "looks like snow" and he wanted to create the snow-something attacking Luke while he's riding on that kangaroo-looking creature.

Sure, it looks home-made and uneven to us but to the kids at the party….”Woah! Cool cake, Nate! Can I have a piece with Luke on it?” Mission accomplished.

The party schedule was this: (Of course there was a schedule! I’m still type “A”) When the Jedi arrived, they were given their Jedi robes and their very own light saber. Both of these items were handmade from online tutorials I found.

The robe was easy. Rectangle of fabric folded in half then cut a "V" out on the fold side. Tie a cord around their waist and viola! You're a genius. The light sabers were pool noodles cut in half with duct tape wrapped around the end! This way, they could beat the tar out of each other without leaving incriminating marks.

The robe was easy. Rectangle of fabric folded in half then cut a "V" out on the fold side. Tie a cord around their waist and viola! You're a genius. The light sabers were pool noodles cut in half with duct tape wrapped around the end! This way, they could beat the tar out of each other without leaving incriminating marks.

After each Jedi was uniformed and armed, they entered the training center for some light saber training:

Keeping a balloon in the air using your light saber. Lots of fun and most importantly...keeps Nate from asking, "Can I open just ONE present now?"

Keeping a balloon in the air using your light saber. Lots of fun and most importantly...keeps Nate from asking, "Can I open just ONE present now?"

When all the Jedi had arrived, we herded them outside for the Jedi obstacle course:

The playset turned Jedi trainer! Swing over the lava, climb the stairs and slide down into the swamp. Who knew the red vinyl table cloth playing the part of the lava would be such a big hit! PS. 50 cents at Goodwill!

The playset turned Jedi trainer! Swing over the lava, climb the stairs and slide down into the swamp. Who knew the red vinyl table cloth playing the part of the lava would be such a big hit! PS. 50 cents at Goodwill!

We borrowed a bubble machine from Amber (aka life-saver) so the Jedis could wack at the bubbles while waiting in line. So, I have a fear of snakes...apparently, Mark has a fear of bubbles..

We borrowed a bubble machine from Amber (aka life-saver) so the Jedis could wack at the bubbles while waiting in line. So, I have a fear of snakes...apparently, Mark has a fear of bubbles..

Then we played,  “Get Han Solo out of the carbon-freeze” I had taken 3 of Nate’s Galactic Hero Han Solos and froze them in a container of water. We separated the kids into 3 teams. Each Jedi had a cup for water. They took turns dipping the cup into a pail of water and running to dump the water onto their frozen Solo. The first team that got Han out of the ice won.

They were mesmerized by this game and got so excited when Han Solo was finally free! The winning team started helping the other teams..."Must save Solo!"

They were mesmerized by this game and got so excited when Han Solo was finally free! The winning team started helping the other teams..."Must save Solo!"

It wasn't a game to them...it was a science project! That's our Montessori dollars working for us.

It wasn't a game to them...it was a science project! That's our Montessori dollars working for us.

After light saber shaped popcicles, we moved back inside to cool off. We played a Star Wars version of the old cake-walk game:

Mark printed out photos of Star Wars characters and I taped them to the floor. An adult game of "Name the character" was also going on. I'm not sure but I think illegal bets were placed.

Mark printed out photos of Star Wars characters and I taped them to the floor. An adult game of "Name the character" was also going on. I'm not sure but I think illegal bets were placed.

When the music (Star Wars music, of course!) played, everyone jumped from photo to photo. When the music stopped, you stay on your character. I pulled a name out of the hat and whoever was standing on that character sat down. Last one standing wins!

When the music (Star Wars music, of course!) played, everyone jumped from photo to photo. When the music stopped, you stay on your character. I pulled a name out of the hat and whoever was standing on that character sat down. Last one standing wins!

About halfway through this game, I pulled out R2-D2 and looked up to see that Nate was standing on that photo. I said, “Nate…that’s you! Sit down.” All of a sudden I hear  what sounded like a helicopter, “pssst…psst…shhhh..ssssss…” I look up to see EVERY other parent starring me down. “Did you just call the BIRTHDAY BOY out?” They all whispered at once. “SHHHHAAAME ON YOU!” I didn’t know you let your kid win just because it’s his birthday. I’ve seen way too many Lifetime movies about parents who cheat for their kids. I guess I was being overly honest. “Nate…I made a mistake…stand back up!” (before this angry mob lynches me!) So, after a few more rounds…”And the winner is Nate!”

Then it was cake time:

Mark serves the cake. 3 cups of Jedi-Juice spilled on the carpet. Which gave Mark the right to say, "Told ya so!" Little did he know it was my way of getting the carpets cleaned after the party.

Mark serves the cake. 3 cups of Jedi-Juice spilled on the carpet. Which gave Mark the right to say, "Told ya so!" Little did he know it was my way of getting the carpets cleaned after the party.

Nate wanted a pinata. Even after I showed him all the “America’s Funniest Videos” of people getting  hit and mamed for life trying to bust open pinatas…Nate wanted a pinata. I found a Darth Vader pinata online but really didn’t like the idea of hitting him in the head with a bat. Even though he’s the bad guy. We’re trying to teach, “Bodies aren’t for hitting…only for hugging”. Then I found one at the Party Store that was non-violent. It has ribbons attached to the bottom. Everyone takes a turn pulling a ribbon until someone pulls the one that spills the goodies all over the floor!

Pinata/camera tricks! The best present we got was a disc filled with photos from the party. Thanks, Fed and Wendy aka Darth Mom.

Pinata/camera tricks! The best present we got was a disc filled with photos from the party. Thanks, Fed and Wendy aka Darth Mom.

Nate pulls a ribbon...nothing.

Nate pulls a ribbon...nothing.

Andrew (thinking he has the answer) pulls all the strings at once....Taa-Daa! Goodie scramble.

Andrew (thinking he has the answer) pulls all the strings at once....Taa-Daa! Goodie scramble.

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Where ever Sam is...a party's sure to break-out!

Where ever Sam is...a party's sure to break-out!

The Jedi were awarded their "Certificate of Mastering the Force" and then headed over to the banner for their "class photo".

The Jedi were awarded their "Certificate of Mastering the Force" and then headed over to the banner for their "class photo".

Oh, yeah…there’s Zeke! Wondering what happened to Zeke? Well, Mommy and Daddy decided to hire a personal escort for Zeke. Thanks, Danielle for keeping Zeke safe, happy and away from the cake!

Mark brought home a life-sized Darth Maul. "We're trying not to emotionally scar the kids for life, Mark!" So he taped a photo of Nate on it! Danielle and Zeke check out his handy work.

Mark brought home a life-sized Darth Maul. "We're trying not to emotionally scar the kids for life, Mark!" So he taped a photo of Nate on it! Danielle and Zeke check out his handy work.

After everyone left Nate got to finally open his gifts:

It was like Christmas for 7 kids! I really should have put 3/4 of it away for Christmas.

It was like Christmas for 7 kids! I really should have put 3/4 of it away for Christmas.

That night in his thankful prayer, Nate was thankful for, “The best birthday party I ever had or even went to!”

Old-School wins.