A 12th Birthday Filled with Surprises!

by | Feb 10, 2014 | Birthday Parties, Happy Birthday, Lego, Movies, Precious Moments: 02, Ranger's Apprentice | 30 comments

When I asked Rascal Ranger* what sort of theme he would like for his birthday this year, I expected him to say a “Ranger’s Apprentice” theme. . . or perhaps something that would incorporate The Lord of the Rings series, like last year’s Hobbit Birthday Party.   Instead he told me that he wanted it to be a “surprise!”

A couple days later I was out running a few errands with our oldest son and as we were leaving the store we noticed a poster for The LEGO Movie, and that it was going to open on Ranger’s birthday!  How perfect!  We have only taken some of our children to the movies a few times, and after discussing it with Sean we decided the movie would be a fun birthday surprise.  Between The LEGO Movie and Charlotte’s past movie themed party I had all the inspiration I needed to pull together his “surprise” birthday!  
.: Surprise! A Simple Cake :. 

From Instagram last Friday morning: The birthday boy is such a great kid! He knows it has been a busy week and smiled and thanked me when he saw his simply frosted cake this morning after requesting a “surprise” theme this year… Sean just took him to get a birthday hot cocoa and it’s time for the rest of us to get busy with the rest of the decorations!!! His day will be filled with surprises!

He really did think it was all I was able to pull together for his birthday… and he was perfectly fine with that!  Wednesday we had the opportunity to purchase a used bunk bed for the little boys (I’ll post more about that later) and after a trip to the hardware store Sean and I were up until well after midnight assembling the bed.   Thursdays are always filled with lots of schoolwork and tutoring, and just when I was about to start decorating the cake we received a call from Captain’s doctor letting us know that he is referring us to the specialists at the children’s hospital 5 hours away, which had me fighting tears the rest of the night… (Please continue to pray for Captain. They suspect CVS, but need to rule out other diseases. We will also be having him tested for food allergies and sensitivites soon.)  His reaction and gratitude for even a simple cake made the rest of the surprises we had in store for him that much more exciting and fun!

.:  Surprise! A Popcorn Birthday Cake :. 
As Sean was leaving with the birthday boy, I asked them to please pick up some ice cream too, while they were in town.  This would give us about one hour to decorate the cake and the house before they got back!  Thankfully it all came together incredibly fast.  
Ranger did think I was going to do “something” to the cake while they were gone, but all he could come up with for that round yellow cake was the sun!  He had absolutely no idea what I had planned. 
Note: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. 

Popcorn Birthday Cake Supplies:

I bought two 12 packages of the Wilton Dot Candles so we wouldn’t need to use the purple.  These reminded Captain and I of Legos and matched our theme perfectly! 

.:  Surprise!  Decorations :. 
I downloaded the Movie Times font suggested by Charlotte and created the birthday banner using a small hole punch and black ribbon.   You can download my birthday banner document here.  
I found the Movie Director Clapper at Amazon.  I have white chalk around here somewhere but I wasn’t able to find it so I just printed out the text with the Lego font and taped it on to the clapper. Not what I originally had in mind, but I was in a hurry and it worked. 
I had a box of concession candy for each of the children as party favors.  
You can download the Concessions sign here.  I added the yellow lights with marker.
We hung some Dizzy Danglers from the light fixture and set the table with a red plastic table cloth, black plates, and yellow napkins. We also scattered some old fashioned movie tickets around the table, and some Lego Movie items/gifts for the birthday boy! 

.:  Surprise!  Let’s Go to the Movies! :. 
I ran across The Lego Movie Collector’s Edition gift card at Target.  He discovered it at his place setting and we asked if he’d like to go see the movie at noon! 
.: Surprise!  Lego Movie Series Mini-Figures :. 
Captain and I also picked out some Lego Movie Series Mini-Figures to give the birthday boy and use as decorations!  We stood there in the store for awhile trying to find the ones we wanted and were excited that they ended up being the ones we had been looking for:  Larry the Barista Coffee Guy, William Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, Emmett/Construction Worker, Bad Cop/Good Cop (played by Liam Neeson!), and Taco Tuesday Guy.  
.: Surprise! Special Gifts :.

Before we left for the movie, we had him open a few of his gifts.

The first was a tackle box filled with the discontinued Lego Mindstorms NXT that one of my friends son’s had outgrown and she had passed down to us!!!

He also opened the gifts (coins, drawings, a candy bar, etc) from all of his siblings.

“COOOOOOKIE!!!!” said Bud, after his older brother opened the Twix from Twinkle Toes.
.: Surprise! Friends :.


Ranger was surprised once again when we arrived at the theater and discovered that five of his friends were joining us for the movie, and would be spending the rest of the day with us. His one and only past birthday party that included friends was his Bowling Birthday Party on his 7th (Golden) Birthday!

Note: The Lego Movie was fun and entertaining, and it definitely had me laughing at times. However, just like pretty much every Hollywood movie anymore, it included some bad humor, language, and unnecessary scenes that we would have skipped had we watched it at home. We only took our oldest three (ages 10-13) to see the movie and the four younger children had fun with their cousin and aunt during the movie.

.: Surprise! Colossal Pizza Party :.
Colossal Pizza minus the $25 gift certificate I won last time, minus another $10 Restaurant.com certificate = $15.00 for pizza for 14 people, with leftovers!!! 

.: Surprise! Birthday Fun :.
After pizza, his friends all came back to our house for cake, ice cream, and to play for the rest of the afternoon and evening.  

.: Surprise!  More Gifts :.

After cake and ice cream the birthday boy opened the rest of his gifts including:  

The Art of the Hobbit, Lord of the Rings Confrontation, Ent (from the Tower of Orthanc set and purchased separately on ebay)

… and the Lego Movie Trash Chomper and Lego Movie Castle Calvary (from his friends)
.: Surprise!  Ranger’s Cloak and Oak Leaf :. 

His favorite gift was the surprise Ranger’s Cloak (complete with a “Claw of Kalkara” for the clasp!) made by my dear friend Erica, along with a silver pewter oak leaf I ordered from a shop on Etsy! He has been wearing them nearly non-stop since his birthday.  I hope you are planning to open that Etsy shop soon, ELM!  I have four more children who has already requested cloaks for their upcoming birthdays this year…

*I’m officially changing Rascal’s blog nickname, at his request. He was only 5 when I started blogging and quickly outgrew “Rascal” later that year!  I’m hoping that since they both start with “R” it won’t cause too much confusion… 

Happy 12th Birthday, Ranger!  


  1. Charlotte (WaltzingM)

    Ranger is perfect for him! I love the cloak. Tell your friend, I've got two here who wold like to order cloaks. The one I made for The Professor, he has outgrown and it's been confiscated by a younger sibling.

  2. Rachel

    Beautiful! And the new name really suits him. Glad you all had a wonderful day celebrating; thanks for sharing.

  3. Christina

    what a fun birthday party! I just love Chiquita's face in all of the pictures, she just looks so happy for her big brother, so very sweet. I am glad the surprise birthday came together so nicely. You always do such a wonderful job with themed parties…thanks so much for sharing.

  4. mel

    Wow, what a great job! I love the cake, that is so fun. He sounds like a sweetie. I'm so sorry about Captain, that just sounds awful. Praying that they find out that it is something nice and *treatable* after all.

  5. Emily

    My sister was diagnosed with CVS as a junior in high school- I can't say I know tons of details BUT I do know that once they had a diagnosis it was much easier to manage. She recognizes when its coming on and usually a long nap will nip it in the bud. Prayers as you figure out what's going on!

  6. Erin

    Happy Birthday Ranger!:):)
    You do keep inspiring me, one day I may actually do a snazzy party:) btw what fabric did Erica use? I've made plenty of cloaks but used green pene velvet, hers looks fantastic

  7. Beth

    What an awesome day!

    I was just reading the ratings for the Lego Movie on the USCCB webpage as we were trying to decide whether to take our son for a Valentine's Day treat. The ratings were pretty positive–concerns were mild rude humor and "cartoon mayhem."

  8. Unknown

    Honestly … you and Charlotte should go into the party planning business together! Another very fun birthday celebration! The handmade cloak is amazing! Will pray that your oldest child's health issues will be resolved very soon. God bless! 🙂

  9. Anonymous

    You bring tears of sentiment to my eyes with your love for life and ability to celebrate God's gifts and miracles. God bless you, Jessica!

    Happy birthday Ranger. I love the name! Perfect!

    The smiles in all of the pictures are so radiant. I think you have something figured out about giving children a cherished childhood. It is just inspirational and wonderful. You keep up the great work and as easy and as beautiful as you make it all look, we know you out so much of yourself into it all!

    I had something similar to captains medical concern while I was a missionary and it turned out to be linked to lead in the pipes. I don't actually think that heavy metals are bothering him I just wanted to say with great sincerity that my heart goes out to your sweet kido and everything you are going through as mom. Praying for things to be better really soon!!! Will keep praying for him!

  10. Erin

    I had never heard of CVS until now, but maybe that is what I had as a kid/teen… for me, it was triggered by social situations: spending the night at people's houses when I was in elementary school, and beginning dating in high school – not fun!! My mother later said that she thinks I had SAD (social anxiety disorder), which hadn't really been a label at the time, not that we'd heard of anyway. But I did outgrow it by college and it only manifested as a mild upset stomach on a couple occasions after that. I hope that you can get some answers on Captain's stomach issues, because I know firsthand how unpleasant it can be to be throwing up or feeling like you are about to constantly! 🙁

    Happy Birthday to the birthday boy – looks like it was a fun day!

  11. 9peasMom

    What a wonderful, SURPRISE party! So many great ideas, it looks as if he had a great birthday!

  12. wattle_girl

    What a terrific birthday. Bless you, Ranger!

  13. Claire

    Looks wonderful. You always inspire me with your party themes. Mine are never as grand though as we don't eat sugar so not easy to make it look so pretty and colourful 🙂 Sugar causes so many problems so since the last 2 years we just use natural sweeteners like honey, etc..

    So sorry to hear about captain being unwell. It's so hard for a mothers heart. I recently have been doing a lot of research on food, health and sensitivities etc.. My oldest has some issues. She definitely gets worse with anxiety. There is a link between the gut and brain.
    I believe the best latest test out there is Cyrex labs- they also have the best gluten sensitivity test that is very accurate.
    I hope you'll find what the cause is soon.
    You might consider looking into a stool test? It can show parasites/bacteria etc. Metametrix is meant to be good.
    Some doctors I have found helped my learning in this area are: Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, Chris Kresser, Tom O'Bryan..
    I hope you don't mind me sharing this with you. God bless.

  14. Anonymous

    Looks like a happy birthday boy! It's a great blessing when a child is grateful for so little (especially since he didn't know what was coming!).

    I am sure you have had many suggestions and advice, but we have had great success in our own family with the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet) developed by Dr. Campbell-McBride (http://www.gaps.me/). I have seen many blogging moms share their experiences. It has healed two of our children's digestive issues. Just a thought for you….
    And we will pray for your beloved Captain. It is such a heavy worry for moms to watch their children suffer like that, and not know what to do.

    Blessings and prayers for you, Marisa M.

  15. Anonymous

    Absolutely beautiful photos and wonderful memories for your children! Thank you so much for inspiring me and sharing your family with us. I will pray for your son, too. My son has this same disorder. I know it's hard but I would rec cutting out sugar and msg. Do not use artificial sugar either. Just a suggestion you could try and see if he improves. Wouldn't hurt. Refined sugar and artificial dyes are very hard on the body :(. God bless you. You are a wonderful gifted mother.

  16. Krista

    TOTALLY DIGGIN' THE SHAKESPEARE LEGO MINI-FIG!!!!! We'll be doing Volume 3 next year for RC History and THAT would just be PERFECT (daughter LOVES LEGO!)!!!! I ordered three blind bags from Lego.com for Series 11 and got 3 MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS…. 🙁 We were hoping for others, but I think Captain and Ranger wanted that figure? Did you guys ever find one? We've got plenty extra if you need one! 🙂

    Too bad about the LEGO Movie….. Daughter's been watching reviews on YouTube of the video game (and we don't even own a game console!). Will the boys be getting the game, perhaps?

    Cool birthday for Ranger! HAPPY 12th!!!

  17. Jan

    What an amazing birthday!! Thanks so much for sharing your great birthday party ideas!

  18. Angela

    Great job on the party – such a cute idea!
    Prayers going up for Captain for sure – I know how hard it is to deal with these things – my youngest gets migraines complete with vomitting. Thank goodness for homeschooling or she would miss quite a bit of school.

  19. Kimberlee

    Happy Birthday, Ranger! Looks like you had a wonderful birthday with so many surprises!
    Prayers continue for dear Captain (and his Mama)! xo

  20. Jessica Gordon

    Thanks, Emily! I'm hoping that will be the case… If it is CVS, that we will find ways to manage it with diet changes, extra sleep, etc.

  21. Jessica Gordon

    Interesting! Thanks for sharing. Everyone's one experiences have given us so much to think about and discuss.

  22. Jessica Gordon

    Thank you, Claire. It's interesting that you brought up the link between the gut and the brain… It is something I'm planning on discussing with our doctors, since our oldest is also our child with Auditory Processing Challenges. I have also noticed that anxiety might play into these episodes as well, as they were often during extra busy times and he is always trying to help me as much as he can. School is extra challenging for him and I am so thankful we are able to homeschool. We have our required state testing coming up and I'm trying to find ways to make it as stress free as possible for him. I have many food sensitivities myself (I'm severely intolerant to dairy – though it is nearly impossible for me to stay away from it completely, other than the times I've gotten off while nursing for the baby's sake) and I'm very curious to see what sort of sensitivities our son has as well. A friend of ours owns a lab (he did all my testing) and will be doing the food allergy/sensitivity tests for us, while we are waiting to see the specialists – I'll have to find out how the test he uses compares to Cyrex labs. Thank you for sharing your own experiences!

  23. Jessica Gordon

    Thanks, Marisa! I've heard of the GAPS diet, but haven't looked into it yet. I will have to do that soon.

  24. Jessica Gordon

    That's right! When I was looking back at Charlotte's post I noticed your link the comments. I didn't try your version with movie reel around the side either – you did a great job! 🙂

  25. Jessica Gordon

    Thank you! We will have to give that a try. I do try to avoid MSG as much as possible (though I'm sure it is in much more than I realize), but there is still lots of sugar in our diet… as you can see in this post for sure! (Not so much on a daily basis, but on holidays and birthdays for sure.)

  26. elm

    I know. I know. I am just having too much fun kissing the top of that sweet baby's head and sewing and knitting things for friends and family. Is there any way that we can add about 18 hours to the day and I need a couple extra pairs of hands around here, too – laundry. Oh, the piles of laundry!!! 🙂 Oh, and "schooling" and eating (after we cook it and clean it up!) I wish that I knew how you keep things running like a machine all of my dear friends… I am not so well organized, I fear. HOWEVER, I do hope to open a little Etsy shop soon with some priestly vestments for boys' dress-up play, a few dresses for the lovely American Girl dolls, a cloak or two (it appears are desired!)… and the list will grow I suppose! I do not really remember what the fabric is called that I made that cloak for Ranger. I will look the next time I am at Joann Fabrics. It was NOT inexpensive. It was $12.99/yard – but I was lucky to have a 50% off coupon. It sort of has a suede feel and is 100% polyester and washes up like a dream!! I don't know if anyone would want to spend what that would cost to make and put in an etsy store, though! I'd love some feedback before I get it all set up, though! Don't like the idea of getting it all put together to find out that people don't want those things or what it would cost to get it done!!


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Hi! I'm Jessica, a Roman Catholic wife and home educating mother to our nine children. I was home educated myself, along with my eleven younger siblings. I have a special devotion to St. Therese, through whom I have been given much help and many blessings--the beautiful "Shower of Roses" that she has sent my way! Here I will record a few of the blessings I treasure. Please remember that what you see here is just a little glimpse at our lives, so please say a prayer for us, as we continue to strive for holiness.

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