Sunday, October 02, 2011

Aint No Party Like A Glow-Stick Party


During all-night labor watches one of the things Tara and I talk about is the ups/downs/facts about trying to to raise kids in a third world country.  How do you make holidays special in a place that doesn't sell canned pumpkin or those weird, crunchy onions that go on top of green bean casserole during the month of November?  How do you run out and buy your kid a birthday present in a country that has extremely limited options in the shopping department?  How do you "run out" and do anything?  You can't.  Something as simple as buying drinking water can turn into a several hour ordeal.   How do you throw a birthday party when we can't even find one flippin' package of balloons without driving 2 hours to a party store up the mountain that will probably not even be open when we get there?  And what about when you invite a bunch of people over for a party and there's no water.  Nothing says, "Happy Birthday, let's celebrate your life, glad you were born" like poop floating in a toilet that can't be flushed.  You can thank us for not documenting these parts of our life in Haiti.

Last year I made Aaron a birthday cake.  I went to buy candles.  We sang Happy Birthday, and Aaron blew out candles that said he was 89 years old.  The store only sold a number 8 candle and a number 9 candle.  This is life here.

I want our kids to look back on their childhood and love it.  Doesn't every mom want that for their kids?  During hard times here I worry whether we're ruining our kid's lives..if they have enough...if they will look back on this time in Haiti and be thankful or resentful.  Raising kids in a place far from "home," and "normal (for us)" takes faith I rarely feel like I have.

I want our boys to enjoy this time in Haiti, to look back with fond memories but I also don't want to care too much about things that don't matter or spend an insane amount of money on silly purchases.  It was hard for me to justify that in the States, but here it seems like most things are more expensive and take 10 times longer to accomplish.  Buying stuff for a stellar birthday party could cost a lot of money and take a full day of shopping to get what we need.  I'd go so far as to say spending our time and money that way actually makes me feel a little squeamish when we live among severe poverty and there seem to be more important tasks to accomplish.  I want to pull of "Happy Childhood" without pulling off "Made you a brat and convinced you the world revolves around you."  This goal keeps me good and neurotic.  Surely there is a happy medium in here when it comes to birthday parties, right?  I think so.  I hope so.


This summer I asked Anson to please decide on what kind of birthday he wanted to have so I could buy stuff in the US and bring it back to Haiti with us in our luggage.  Our conversation went a little like this, "What kind of birthday party do you want to have?  Think "cheap" and "light."  Cheap and non-heavy.  Cheap..and light as a feather."  We decided on a glow-in-the-dark party.


Noah Livesay glowin' it up

 I bought glow sticks and even remembered to pack some candles in our suitcase. I was feeling like mom of the year. But the candles melted in transit.  Only 11 could be salvaged.  Anson was turning 12. Of course.

 

We had glow-in-the dark Kool-Aid.  It tasted like butt and our kids will probably grow a third arm from the "make-it-glow" chemicals, but it GLOWED.  Does anything else matter to kids?


 There was glow-in-the-dark bowling.


There were glow-in-the-dark cupcakes.
They didn't actually glow.
So they just tasted weird, but without any of the glow-fab benefits.

 

Glow-in-the-dark Kool-Aid, glow bowl, and gross glow in the dark cupcakes that did not actually glow, are all great and good...but here's what I learned from this party:
 

Get a bunch of kids who love each other together..... 
 

 


Give them some glow-sticks
 Crank up some music...


And you have instant fun.

So save yourself the trouble...don't make the cupcakes or Kool-Aid. Don't drive around town looking for black lights and quinine laced beverages.  Don't even blow up a single balloon (four stores later...we never found any).  Just hand a bunch of friends some glow sticks, turn up the music...and watch the magic happen.

Anson told me this was one of his top two favorite parties.  Both of his top two parties happened in Haiti.  Both felt crappy and thrown together to me compared to what I used to pull off in the States. There are many, many difficult things about raising kids in a country like Haiti, yet I am constantly amazed at the fun and joy we find here.

24 comments:

jessie said...

Hi Heather! We taught our Mission Friends class about you guys tonight.We made dolls out of scrap fabric, golf balls, and embroidery thread and I think this was the lesson they have enjoyed the most, out of the 2 years Ive taught the class. Just wanted to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions so that a bunch of 3-7 year old girls could learn about how you serve Jesus in Haiti!

Small Town Joy: said...

This post was so cool, and then right there at the end you had to go and make me cry with that last line. Geez.

That was the coolest birthday party I have ever seen. My husband is totally going to use that glow-in-the-dark bowling game with his boys at church.

hotflawedmama said...

I don't know what it was about this post that I loved so much, but I just had to link it. Happy birthday, sweet boy!

Marla Taviano said...

I love this so much. What a perfect party. Your boys are awesome. Which one can I have for a son-in-law?

T & T Livesay said...

ain't no party like a glow stick party cuz a glo stick party don't stop ...

well, except maybe when you bite your glow stick and it comes out in your mouth in your bed and you come screaming for help to your parents because it kind of burns .... then it pretty much stops. But only then.

Jemma said...

"Only God can turn a glow-stick into grace"

Beautiful theology... Beautiful parenting. Thanks for writing.

yellowgirl said...

love your blog...we raised our kids on the 'field' (whatever that means) too and they are now adults raising their own kids on the very same field. (phiippines) their weird memories of all the same stuff you guys are going thru have bonded them together and given them a rare and special story that most people their age (then and now) envy. home is where we are all together, and parties are about when we love and have fun- not about balloons and stuff. blessings for all you do and in 20 years- i promise- your kids will love their story. and you will be glad you did it all.

Sarah R. said...

just an encouragement. i was raised in west africa 30 years ago. it was like pioneer life. we literally had absolutely nothing "material" that we didn't bring with us (packed into 50 gallon drums every 3 years). i remember my childhood with such joy! my mom tried to create small, but simple traditions for us (like hiding the xmas presents around the house and sending us on a scavenger hunt for them since we didn't have a tree). but most of all i remember the people. our deep relationships with the people around us brought joy, laughter, and fun that far out weighed any of the material trappings.

boys and glowsticks! perfect combination! :-)

Anonymous said...

gosh...i think i would love that haiti would force me to keep it simple.....getting tripped up on birthday consumerism guilt....easy to do....i can see why anson loved the glow stick party....because he is loved........

keri

mandi said...

AWESOME party! Y'all had a mini rave up in there!

Now I have "ain't no party like a glow-stick party...hai...hai..." in my head. great...

rooney said...

you are a good mama. authentic. real. loving. your sons are fortunate to have you. the party looks like a blast!

Susan, wife of 1, mother of 4 said...

I totally agree with yellowgirl. The things our kids have loved the most had nothing to do with materialism and everything to do with deep, meaningful relationships. I felt sorry for them in England where they were one of the only (if not they only) Christians in the their school. When I asked them about it, I was SHOCKED that they instantly smiled and sat up bigger and said they LOVE being Christians - it is so much BETTER! We didn't emphasize ANYTHING that their school/friends did, and they thought it was all BETTER! God is SO good! You are doing a TERRIFIC job. I wonder which of your boys will choose to continue ministering to a 3rd world country when he is big.

Nuclear Girl said...

Frankly, your kids are having a blast with the simple things in life and have the security of knowing they are loved unconditionally. PRICELESS! I was able to give my daughters wonderful material things, extensive vacations throughout Europe, music lessons etc. but because their Dad never displayed love for them, or loved them unconditionally, it was all for not. My efforts to create a beautiful childhood for them missed the mark because it lacked unconditional love from their father here on earth. They are now 18 and 22 years old and still long for a dad who will engage in their life and demonstrate real love.

Chrissy said...

As an MK in South America, I thought everybody celebrated 4th of July with hot chocolate and donuts at an embassy and I'll never forget the year we had taco salad for Thanksgiving. Until a few weeks ago I never realized that my favorite house we ever lived in didn't have a phone and my mom used to worry about how we could get help if we needed it.
Your kids won't just be ok, they will be better for it!
Happy Birthday Anson!!

GAP-Haiti Mission News Blog said...

I am coming to Haiti the first week of November and would love to bring you pumpkin in a can or those onion things that go on green beans and even baloons if you wish! Please let me know. Mandy Walters

Anonymous said...

Don't listen to the lies of the enemy about how deprived your boys are/will be, etc. They aren't and are richer for their experiences. Glow stick grace---He shows up in ways we least expect. Hang in there.

Captain Murdock said...

This is the best idea ever!!!! Seems like your walking the line between great childhood memories and raising brats perfectly!

Jeremiah and Stephenie said...

Looks like fun! My parents went to South America as missionaries after I got married, but 4 of my younger siblings were raised pretty much down there. Sounds like some of the things they encountered.
I was curious about the glow stick bowling...did you just drop a glow stick in the bottle of water or did you break it in the water? Thanks!

Hendrick Family said...

All you do is fill a bottle up with water, activate a glow stick, then drop the whole thing in inside. Very easy!

Anonymous said...

I was raised by my dad. I went to work with him. He did constitution and we lived in motels. I thought my chiild hood was the best. It isnt what you have but who.

butterfly27 said...

what did you use as your bowling ball?

Anonymous said...

What a great message you have in this post,and so true! I ran into this post because I've been searching the web for party ideas, spending too much money and generally making myself crazy. Sometimes in all the chaos you forget that what the kids really need to have a great time is each other (and something cool and glowey like a glow stick) THANKS for reminding me of that!!!

mccart said...


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