A Mistmantle Birthday

Yesterday we celebrated John Paul's birthday with a Mistmantle party.  It's a pretty great thing that nine year olds can be a part of the planning and they take over lots of the work for it when it's their party.  He and I came up with the plans and he was hard at work the last week getting all the preparations ready.  It was so fun to do with him and a joy to watch him take so much of it on.  And it was so great.  My niece even told us "it was the best birthday part she's ever been to."  How fun is that?

He and I read these books over the past year after glowing reviews from my sister in law and especially my niece.  They were right.  The books are really well written.  They have complex and engaging story lines without dabbling in the ever popular moral relativism of modern lit.  They take place on the island of Mistmantle and the main characters are squirrels, otters, hedgehogs, and moles who partake in battles and adventures all in service of The Heart.  (The themes and violence can be a bit intense, though, so know that before you plunge in!)  We've loved reading them - enough that John Paul wanted to celebrate his birthday with all things Mistmantle.

(Try not to be jealous of my stellar word processing skills.)

I made simple "riding stars" to hang which would probably look way more impressive in a room that wasn't also white.  But John Paul's face lit up when he saw them so it's a win.

Before the party we presented John Paul with his last gift from us.

(Patiently listening to Papa's rules of the gift lecture before opening.)

A real metal sword.  Oh, yes.  I think he likes it ;)  Fear not.  It's been filed down and we greatly impressed upon him all of The Rules.

It totally does make the coolest sound when it's pulled out of the scabbard.  

John Paul assigned everyone at the party a character complete with name tags.  He, of course, was Urchin.

Michael lived it up playing King Crispin.  We came up with the best matching character for every person coming which was quite entertaining.

We had people over in the afternoon so it was just snacks and cake which made things way simpler since everything could be ready beforehand.  I had a moment of genius while driving one day and decided to make a snack for each of the Mistmantle animals.  John Paul and I had fun thinking up what each one would be.

Nuts for the squirrels...

...ants on a log for the hedgehogs...

dirt cups with organic (read: expensive) gummy worms for the moles...

...and fish for the otters.

We thought it would be fun to have real sardines, especially since we knew that at least Grandpa would eat them :)

I was so proud that John Paul actually tried a bite!  (...aaand promptly spit it out...)

The Island of Mistmantle cake

There isn't an official map of Mistmantle so this was based off of a drawing that John Paul made a few months ago:

From the moment he knew he wanted a Mistmantle party John Paul began brainstorming a few games.  "Shoot the Raven" was his first idea.

We made this together using a black garbage bag, crumpled paper bags, poster board, and twine.  We were kind of proud of how it turned out!


Urchin attacks the raven.

The kids each got several way too many shots at the raven.  Eventually we had to bring the swords out to bring the raven to his final demise and release the candy within.  
(Ha!  Look at Luke trying to make a break for it...) 

 Ouch.  You should've seen him when we were done.

The next game was Ring Urchin with the Circlet

Beer bottles perform many functions in this house.

And finally, John Paul hid the Heartstone and Baby Catkin before the party for a game of Find the Heartstone and Find the Heir of Mistmantle.  The kids got to go search and find them.

We used the Heartstone painted and sent to us by my nieces.  The whole time we kept saying how much we wished they could have been here to play!  John Paul sewed that Catkin baby by himself.  It's just a head (the body is rolled up fleece), but still!  I was impressed.

A few gifts (and Grandpa and Grandma didn't even know we had started reading Lord of the Rings!)

A real foam target!  He also got several books, that chainmail, and a gift card that will be spent on "probably a baseball bat and some arrows."

The day before on John Paul's actual birthday we had given him a few of our gifts.  This picture is horrible (someone please teach me how to take indoor pictures.) but I had to include it because just look at Michael's face.  He was so proud that he had bought two arrows for his brother with his own money.

Today John Paul is coming down from his birthday high.  He roped in a woman before Mass this morning and told her all about his celebrations.  The best part was that he included today in his narration ("and now we get to go to Mass!").  That kid really is something else.  And I get to be his mom.


  1. So nice to see the pictures of the party. John Paul told us about it on the phone before hand in such great detail. Very well coordinated theme for the party and I think he had as much fun planning it as the party itself. Cute games.

    Grandma & Grumpy

  2. It was a great party and the kids had so much fun! You have set the bar high-:)

  3. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!! You really must have John Paul write to M.I. McAllister and tell her all bout his party - she is so gracious and I'm sure she'll write him back. I got her email from the website, but I also still have it around here somewhere if you want it.

    It was fun to see the heartstone : ) and all your snacks and games were great. I'm predicting a Lord of the Rings party next year.

    Love the sword! I'm sure it will be a treasure to John Paul. Miss you guys!

  4. That raven was awesome & the snacks for each animal were clever. You definitely get an A+++ for creativity!
    John Paul is truly a bright and imaginative young man. He was also a very gracious host to his cousins & brothers, making sure each had turns with the bow & arrows. We loved how he gave Sarah lessons on proper bow form. Such a sweetie!

  5. That last picture is so perfect! I love reading your posts - your boys are clearly enjoying an awesome childhood and an awesome mom!

  6. What sweet sweet children! I truly enjoyed looking at each and every photo! Looks like a little boys' dream birthday!


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