a peek inside the fishbowl

18 Apr, 2012

Sarah is 11

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Easy ways to make kids happy

Last week was Birthday Week here at Casa Fishbowl! Sadly it also coincided with The Week of the Plague, so I was feeling pretty miserable the whole time. Oh well.

I like to use this space to describe each birthday as it happens. It’s more for my own scrapbooky kinda benefit, but if you want to see how it all went down, read on!

First, I want to backtrack a bit and show what our invites looked like. I thought it was a pretty cool idea.

I bought punch balloons, inflated them, and wrote the party details on the balloon. Then we let the air out and made wee envelopes for them:

balloon invites

This worked out perfectly, except for the guest whose balloon was “accidentally” popped by their little sister. We had to follow up with birthday co-ordinates by email. :)

Sarah’s actual birthday was on Wednesday, so the celebrations started then. As always, they included a birthday dinner. Sarah requested the usual.

Sushi for dinner (what else?)

… and special dessert:

Birthday cupcakes

Our gift to Sarah was The Scooter that Surpasses all Scooters. I sent an email to Fishbowl patron Tagalong Toys about scooter options, and after a few back and forths, here’s the one we chose to buy. (Thank you Tagalong!) This is Serious Scooterage. No foolin’.  It’s a dream machine. Goodbye wobbly wheels that can barely tolerate sticks and stones and regular city sidewalks! This baby glides. In fact, it was impossible to nail Sarah down long enough to snap a proper photo:

off she goes

Mark is jealous and is secretly coveting a black one.

We also bought her some pretty earrings made by a local artist, and this pillow from a cute shop in Almonte called Blackbird (which I will write more about later):

owl pillow from Blackbird in Almonte

Saturday was the day of the real birthday deal. We’d already wrapped her thank-you gifts. (These were in lieu of loot bags.) Sarah chose a special little stone for each guest:

Thank you gifts

Saturday morning, as per tradition, Sarah received breakfast in bed:

The birthday girl gets breakfast in bed

And I put the finishing touches on the birthday cake. It was all about meerkats this year:

Meercat cake in the making

And then it was time to head out to our party destination: FUNHAVEN. (Note: we were the lucky beneficiaries of a discounted party, but as always the opinions here remain my own.)

Given how worn out I was feeling as a result of my health issues I was really pleased that we weren’t hosting the party at home this year.

Funhaven truly is an excellent place to have a birthday, and Sarah was the perfect age for it. There is an excellent assortment of things for kids to do, lots of comfy places for parents to sit, and the place was clean and brimming with happy people, whether it was staff, visitors, or other party participants.

We had two party hosts assigned to our group for the whole two hours and they stuck to the kids like glue. I swear they did a better job wrangling the kids than I would have. The two young ladies (Madii and Hannah) were totally on the ball, energetic, funny, and friendly… the perfect pair for a bunch of 11-year old girls. And seeing how lousy I was feeling (I had in fact totally lost my voice at this point) I really appreciated their help. (They even brought me tea! Wasn’t that nice?)

First up on the agenda was the ball pit and climbing zone. I wasn’t 100% convinced the girls would enjoy this part very much. I wrongly assumed this area was skewed younger – but you know what, they had a blast, even our almost 13-year old had fun. But then again, who doesn’t enjoy pelting other people with squishy balls and then loading them into a giant cannon?

Funhaven ballroom and climbers

The rest our time unfolded as a perfectly orchestrated birthday should. I felt nary a moment of frustration. I was able to watch and enjoy, and eat multiple cough drops.

These people know what they’re doing. We had time in a quiet room to eat pizza (which was very good, made on the premises) and eat meerkat cake (which I deliberately made smaller this time, knowing how much food there was going to be as well as a limited amount of time to eat it).

Our meerkats were surrounded by tiki torches (11 of them):

Meerkat cake

After we ate our fill the hosts lead us around, making sure we had a turn at the bumper cars:

Funhaven bumpercars

… the climbing wall, and the laser tag (which the kids LOVE LOVE LOVED). There was also time for the arcade, which everyone enjoyed very much:

Funhaven arcade

Me, I like the old skool games, like this one.

Funhaven b-ball game

There are a lot of high-tech things here too (some of which I wrote about in this past post).

Everyone was sad to leave and the end of the party was a little like herding cats, but it was well worth it. (You can read more about Funhaven and their party packages on their website.)

Here’s the best thing about Funhaven (which we didn’t know before). As long as ours guests kept their bracelets on, they were allowed to come back after the party (only on the day of the party) and play all the games and attractions that were included as part of the party package. So that’s what we did! After a long goodbye (see above about herding cats) we went home to rest and eat dinner. Then Mark brought Emma and Sarah BACK for Birthday Fun Phase Two. They did everything all over again: laser tag, climbing wall, bumper cars, and played their favourite arcade games. Can you believe it? Imagine how worn out they were when they came home. (YAY.)

Sarah didn’t actually have time to open her gifts during her party (we didn’t want to take away from their time having fun!) so she opened them when she got home. I took a photo of her with each gift, which she then emailed as a thank you to all of her friends:

Sarah and gifts

That’s it! That was party number 11. It was a lot of fun, but I’m glad to go back to normal life for awhile. Or at least until Emma’s birthday in May. :)

5 Responses to "Sarah is 11"

1 | Brenda A.

April 18th, 2012 at 12:18 pm


That birthday ROCKS! What an amazing time your sweet one must have had!

2 | Martina

April 18th, 2012 at 1:18 pm


Happy Birthday to your Sarah. I’ve never heard of this place before, but it looks fantastic. I also didn’t know we had arches in Chinatown until I read your post :)

3 | wendy

April 18th, 2012 at 2:11 pm


I love the breakfast in bed, idea!

I want a scooter!:-)

We went to Funhaven for the Easter Bonanza. I couldn’t tear my Grandaughter and her friend out of there.

Funny, they loved the (can’t remember actual name) simulation thingy.:-) The two of them sit side by side and pick a theme.
Then off they go. They loved the Haunted house. The chairs shake and wind blows their hair etc.
They had quite a crowd watching them by the time they were on their 5th turn!
The Easter egg hunt I the laser tag room was fun too. Parents went up to the viewing room , all I could see were white socks! LOL

Thanks for the great ideas, Andrea.
I really hope you feel better soon!

4 | Alex

April 21st, 2012 at 9:13 pm


I want to be 11!!!:)

5 | Welcoming a new patron: Funhaven… your destination for family fun in Ottawa! >> a peek inside the fishbowl

December 6th, 2012 at 11:33 am


[…] written about Funhaven before. We’ve had birthday parties here and on top of that, had many many hours of fun as a family (which you can also read about […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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