Six years ago, 32 minutes after his due date was over, William arrived in the world. He was a big baby, and looking back at pictures of him now, he really was a butterball. He was my first baby, and frankly he could have been an actual turkey and I would have thought he was the most beautiful baby on the planet. In his short life on earth William has lived in 4 states, he’s attended 3 different schools, and he’s had 2 little brothers. He’s got a temper on him, that we are actively working on eradicating, or at least strategizing how not to explode. He gets that for me. I regret every day not teaching myself calm down strategies earlier on in life. We won’t make the same mistake again.
In William’s dream day he would wake up, have breakfast, then take him self off to our spare room, that he thinks he’s subtly turned into his own “building room”. There is nothing subtle about it. There are creations all over it, stacks of instruction booklets, and discarded half built projects he moved on from. There are various plastic tubs full of k’nex pieces. Sometimes I sort them out, sometimes I just let him work in the chaos. He seems to know where everything is. He will disappear into the room for hours, tinkering, quietly building. Every now and again popping out to ask me to come and see something, or replace a battery in a motor. As this new year goes by it’ll be interesting to see if his brothers show more interest in building, and start trying to go in there, or whether its become so much of “William’s kingdom” that he’ll manage to keep it separate.
We have a family tradition that we open birthday presents in the morning, after breakfast, and that they are on the kitchen table with the book belonging to whoever’s birthday it is open. You can read about how I have never done birthday or Fathers/Mother’s Day cards here. For William’s 6th birthday J set up “Happy B-Day Noo Noo (a nickname his brothers have for him) on the table built out of K’nex pieces. William was STOKED.
This year for William’s birthday he really wanted to have his class over and go to the movies to see the Scoob! movie. With Corona this obviously wasn’t a possibility. However I promised him that we would watch the movie at home and make it as much like going to the movies as possible. Planning wise I’d ordered movie theater candy in our regular grocery store shop last week, and had the balloons already in the garage in a massive bag of balloons that have been left over from events over the last decade. I built the bed for the boys to watch in from the playroom sofa cushions, and the boy’s duvets from their beds. I moves side tables outside and covered them in sheets for the concessions stands.
We’ve absolutely adored playing on the deck since J built it back at the end of April (I will eventually write a blog about how he did that!) so I decided I’d try and set up a movie out there for us all. Frankly looking back on this now I’ve done it, it went off pretty well, but 3 days before the longest day of the year isn’t the best time to promise kids they can watch a film in the dark, outside. We all had to stay up ridiculously late, and we won’t be doing it again! The winter babies in the family will get the outdoor movies from now on, with hot water bottles, once its dark at 4:45pm!
For the screen we used an old double sheet I had in the airing cupboard. It could have done with an iron, highly recommend taking the time to do that if you’re going to try this. You can buy actual screens pretty cheaply, but all the reviews said that they were basically just a see through a a sheet, so I didn’t bother. I set up a little concession stand with boxed theater candies, and the incredibly rushed leaning tower of Pisa cake that I put together. I couldn’t miss the candles, so we made do with some sparklers from last 4th of July. No one noticed!
On the other side of the screen I drew a large popcorn box on some card and then added a tons of white and yellow balloons on top and cascading down the side to look like giant popcorn. It was pretty easy to put together, but had a pretty good visual effect. The boys thought it was cool, and it got me a “best birthday ever” from William! We have had a projector for the past 8-9 years that we used for movies when we lived in NY. We faithfully moved it from state to state and never used it until I had this idea to do an outdoor movie at home. Back in the day it was much more expensive than they are now. Now you can get mini projectors much more affordably on Amazon. I highly recommend them as a way to watch a movie as a family, and we are definitely going to be making this a summer fixture as we have to be safe at home in Oklahoma this year instead of back in England.
All in all watching a 90 minute movie was a pretty easy way to celebrate a birthday, and even with all the extra decorating this wasn’t more than a couple of hours of planning and executing. It was well worth it, and even though a Covid birthday isn’t quite the same as a birthday “out in the wild” this is one we won’t forget anytime soon.