We have had a few birthdays around the lair this week. Zaltu turned three, along with a few other mini-minions around the neighbourhood. And with birthdays come the parties, and with parties come balloons.

At one party, Zaltu became enamoured with a big bright blue balloon. It had a shiny skin and a sparkly silver tail trailing down to her tiny little wrist. It was almost as big as her eyes.

And then she stepped outside.

And whichever numpty tied the balloon to her wrist was clearly not a knot-expert.

<it was me>

There is nothing as forlorn as a small child watching their big bright blue balloon float up into the big bright blue sky.

Well, except for seeing said child staring helplessly at the balloon stuck in a tree just out of reach. 

To Zaltu’s credit, she didn’t freak out or throw a tantrum, or collapse into a meltdown. She was upset, and there were some quiet tears, but instead she turned to me and asked: “why does my balloon fly away?”


<insert dodgy 80’s music>

And we talked about Helium (remembering she is 3yo):

We talked about how the air we breathe is made of lots of different gases; some gases we want to breathe in like Oxygen because it is how we live. Some gases we breathe out, like Nitrogen because we don’t need it in our body in such a large dose. Another gas is Helium, which we can neither see, taste, nor smell. 

Helium is really light compared to other gases. For example, the nitrogen we breathe out is about 8 times heavier than helium. When we blow nitrogen into a balloon, the balloon weighs it down so it only has a light buoyancy – enough to sort of bounce, a bit.

Helium, however, is light enough to lift a lot of things, at a rate of about 1 gram to every litre of helium you are using.

This also means you can weigh down a helium-filled balloon, without impacting on its buoyant appearance. This could be a rock, or a tree, or a person. 

Over time, the helium will leak out the balloon – it is a gas do it can leak out even the smallest gap. The more that leaks out, the less helium available to float the balloon.

While we were having this discussion, the lovely hosts of the birthday party brought Zaltu another balloon. They also taught me how to tie a better knot. Because evidently, I suck at it.

However, Zaltu stopped them from tying it to her wrist.

Instead, she looked at the balloon. Then looked at her body, then looked at me.

Back to herself. Back to me… 

“Mum. You better hold my balloon. Your bigger weight is better to hold my balloon down.”

Yeah. Thanks for that. 

Fine. I’ll have another piece of cake, thanks – for Zaltu’s sake, of course. 

Sidenote: there’s a bit of debate on whether helium balloons are environmentally friendly. The Surfing Scientist said it best with his fairly detailed answer. And yes. We did go back to collect the ribbon once the first balloon came down from tree.

One Birthday Party at a Time (Nefarious is now 4)

Happy 4th Birthday Nefarious!

Nefarious has an awesome birthday.

His first birthday was on Free Comic Book Day. Coolest morning ever. We went over to the local comic book store and introduced him to Daleks, Imperial troops, and The Batman.

It has since become a bit of a tradition for young Nefarious to celebrate his birthday with some sort of comic book festivity. No complaints from the rest of the family, of course.

This year was Nefarious’ first birthday party – and he wanted a super-hero/villain theme. With a trip to the comic book store. In costume.

Our first cosplay.

And it was brilliant. Thanks to the many minions on Facebook and Twitter who provided suggestions for my pregnant bump to still be in cosplay.FCBD 2

But how did the rest of the party go? What wonderful birthday tips can I give to my minions for their own celebrations? Here’s the list:

  1. Stand by your theme: Super-hero/villain. Spawnlings love it, but they love it even more if the parents are in theme too!FCBD
  2.  Carry the theme through everything: There are some really easy ways to carry a theme through food and decorations. For example, EG Dad was responsible for the Batman Biscuits (below). They are simply Arnott’s Arrowroot biscuits with a slather of yellow icing and black writing-icing to draw the Bat Signal. So easy! photo (2)
  3. Keep it simple but strong: You don’t need to go over the top with the games and decorations. Just change the name for the kids. 4yo spawnlings loved “Pass the Kryptonite” as the pass-the-parcel game, with each layer wrapped in green paper. And since Nefarious is a Ben 10 fan, we included “Pin the Omnitrix on Ben”.
  4. Music makes it: Music can be a tricky one, but a little thought goes a long way. We happen to have a Star Wars Episode II CD (only good thing from that disaster of a movie…) and it was an  absolute hit for the spawnlings! So easy to recognise the theme! A bit of Buble singing Spider-Man seemed to appease the parents who stayed too.
  5. EsmeSave a bit of creativity for the Party Bags: We had a few older siblings tag along – so we kept a couple of Free Comic Book Day comics for them. Personally, I prefer to do something different with birthday bags. So this time I made capes – I think there was a bit of Esme-defiance kicking in here. Nevertheless, the capes definitely The Thing. Still played with around our Lair and other houses in the neighbourhood.
  6. Birthday Cakes are ESSENTIAL: I don’t care whether you make it or not. The kids don’t care whether you make it or not. But it has to carry the THEME!! Fortunately Nefarious was ecstatic with an Omnitrix cake. Seriously – how easy was that! photo (9)

So there you go. Don’t over-do it. Kids like it simple. Nefarious absolutely loved his birthday party, and was still talking about it later. It was easy-going and popular with the other spawnlings. Talk about simple mind-manipulation. I think I have a team of potential minions for my spawnlings, all set and ready to go. That, to me, is the greatest sign of success.