PREFACE: HIS BIRTHDAY IS IN AUGUST SO THIS POST IS SOOOOO LATE!
Having a little boy who has to deal with some major anxiety and Autism on a daily (constant) basis makes things like parties and social gatherings harder to do. Usually if we have people over he tends to go and hid in his room or our room and not come out until everyone has left. Even if we are just having someone over for dinner, he would rather hide then eat with everyone. He has a system in place that works well for him but it does make things like birthday parties, things where we celebrate HIM, a bit more difficult. For his 5th birthday we invited everyone he asked us to invite and he hid in his room for the first hour of the party. Last year we decided to try out something different. We decided to take him and a friend out on an adventure, he asked to go out to eat and go see TMNT, so that’s what we did. Afterwards he wanted to know where his party was. GAH! What?
He still wants to be like his siblings and sometimes doesn’t understand why we can’t do everything the same for him. So this year we decided to do a “party” the same way I would have done it for the other kids, but not invite anyone, it would just be a party for us, as well has take him and a friend on an adventure. I usually go all our for parties so I know that he felt like he was missing out on that last year. This year he wanted a shark themed party and wanted to go swimming.
I threw him a little family shark themed party and we took his friend with us to Wet and Wild for his birthday. This year was probably the most successful year we had in reference to him actually enjoying his birthday.
I made him what I thought was a really cool cake and then he wanted to know why there wasn’t a shark coming out of it!? Hmmm…. good question. Apparently the water and shark fins were not enough so I had to get creative and fast.
Thankfully I had some left over frosting as well as red and gray fondant so I got to work making a shark head. My shark head making skills were pretty on point! Well for an amateur shark maker that is but my skills at getting it to stay on an already finished cake where I had already put brown sugar proved to be a task that I would fail miserably. That shark did not want to stick on the cake AT ALL. I had to pull out every single trick in the book and in the end the shark lost some teeth, looks like he has some really bad gum disease, and put up quite a fight in some sort of battle. But the birthday boy loved it and thought it was the coolest thing and I got a few, “Wow, Mom you’re the best!”, “That’s the coolest shark” and “I love you mom”s out of it so I’d say I accomplished the task of making the birthday boy happy.
I made my own fondant and frosting so I was able to make a few different thicknesses to my frosting which was how I was able to get the different dimensions to the waves. I used brown sugar for the beach and little candies for the turtles and fish in the ocean.
He really wanted some red lemonade to look like shark blood, but he is allergic to red dye so I had to get creative. I ended up making Lemonade and adding in frozen strawberries, pineapples and cherries to make the chum part of the water (the strawberries and cherries gave it a bit of a pink color but not really a blood-red color) so I ended up adding in 100% cherry juice. It tasted fabulous. A little bit like a fruit punch cocktail. It’s always a challenge coming up with red things for a kid who can’t eat red dye (red is one of his favorite colors too), So I love it when I figure out how to make something work.
For all the signs I just went onto Picmonkey.com (if you have never used it, you really should, its amazing, and free!). I found some pictures online and added them to the signs that I made. I just printed them out and let Braddoc cut them for me. He was begging me to be a part of the birthday party decorations so I figured that was the perfect project for me. I love being able to get the kids involved, it’s so much fun to see the pride fill their face when they finish and especially when people compliment their work.
We had made some cupcakes for his friend who came with us to Wet & Wild because she was busy the next day for his party, so the two of them made cupcakes and did all the decorating of the cupcakes, so of course we had to put the left overs out for his party. I think the almost 7 year olds did a pretty good job decorating.
For every kids party I sit down with them and work out a party theme with them. After we come up with a theme we sit down on Pinterest and browse different ideas for party food and decorations. Braddoc loved the idea of sharks in water. The concept is super cute but the actual end result is a bit strange. The kids thought they were the coolest ever so they were a success but putting them together was a bit tricky. I put the handsome hubby to work making them and in the end we figured out that it was best to fill half the cup with jello and let that solidify in the fridge for a little bit and then add in the sharks. The tricky part came when we had the add the next layer of jello… some of the sharks decided they wanted to flip over and look like some dead sharks floating on their backs. No matter how many times we tried to turn them back over we failed, they just kept ripping up the layer below them. In the end we just admitted defeat and let some of the sharks roll over. After we added the second layer of jello we put them back in the fridge to solidify the rest of the way. The kids thought the “dead” sharks were pretty hilarious! Mission accomplished (I guess.)
We also saw these really cool Skewers with sharks on them. I told Braddoc that I wouldn’t be able to find a bunch of candy with out red dye and he told me it was okay because he would just eat the ones with out red dye and everyone else could have the rest. I am so grateful that he is so laid back about the allergy. Allergies are rough on kids.
How can one possibly assume to catch a shark with out some Shark Bait? The chum of course was not enough, apparently Sharks really like worms too. Or so I’m told.
And of course if you are in the water with Sharks the best way to survive is a Life Preserver, Right? Boy, do I not want to be in the water with Sharks and only a Life Preserver, but for the sake of the party we shall pretend its necessary.
I love that he decided to put on a tie for his party. This little boy is seriously the cutest and has the most personality. I am grateful for him everyday. He keeps me on my toes as a mom, and teaches me patience more than anybody else does. Autism is rough, there is no denying the fact that some days I do not feel cut out for the task of being an Autism mom, but as each day, week, month and year passes, I learn a little bit more about what he needs from me and how I can help him. Sometimes he throws me some curveballs and totally changes the game plan but he is always prepared with a hug or a cuddle afterwards to help us both calm down a little bit. I am very glad that he is a child that needs physical touch. There are days where I hate it, the days where he is biting me, punching me, hitting himself, kicking me, and trying his best to get himself some deep pressure input. But the flip side of that coin is that because he wants physical touch he also wants to be held, squeezed, cuddled and have his back and head rubbed. I will take that. The good with the bad. That’s the deal with Autism, finding the balance and trying to see the good in those bad days.
This is the year he decided he was ready to try out some team sports. So he asked us if he could sign him up for football… we took the leap and did. I’m loving watching him take small steps outside his comfort zone and loving it even more when I see him excel at something because of it.