Tuesday, January 24, 2012

backyard camp- Asher's 7th birthday

Asher's birthday is December 20th.
We've always celebrated on or before his birthday.
This time around, I asked if he was ok waiting to have his party until after Christmas.
Asher said "ok" (quickly followed with, "can we have the party on the 26th? 27th?)

on New Years day as I thought about the new calendar and the additional week off school, I realized, "it's now or never".
In about 30 minutes, we had a guest list, party theme and a text message sent to all the moms.
Thursday, January 5th, it is!

We decided to have a Camping party-minus the sleeping over and leaving our own home and backyard part.
Here's a run down.
who: 12 kids (which turned into 20+ once I included siblings who wanted to come and some friends visiting from out of town). John and I plus a few other adults who offered to help or just wanted to stay and enjoy the fun.
time: 5-8 pm
decor: camping gear set up in the backyard. Tent, chairs, a few sleeping bags strewn about along with a couple bare christmas trees.
menu: for snack: trail mix, chips and salsa, apples and dip
for dinner: hot dogs, homemade chicken nuggets and oven fries and more apples
dessert: smores, blueberry muffins, and rice krispie treat birthday cake.

activities: As the kids arrived they ran around the park adjacent to the backyard. This was planned. Asher specifically suggested that as friends arrived, the time would be for "free play" . That was easy enough. They loved their free play time. It made me wonder why I even worried about how to keep them busy and what to do. They just ran around 6/7 year olds.
granted there was a little bit of drama too, like when Ivy came to me crying saying "I'm the youngest one and they need to learn to take it easy on me." I think she was tired and hyped up for the party, she got over it quickly.
we attempted a potato sack style race using three sleeping bags. (this didn't draw a lot of interest or take a lot of time- bummer)

Once John got the coals nice and toasty, we gathered all the kids for snacks, hot dog roasting and making their orange muffin. Roasting hot dogs with that many kids was obviously kinda dangerous and also a bit hilarious. Nobody got hurt, I think ALL of the kids wanted a hot dog, probably only half ate one. It was cute. Some came to me ready for a bun and condiments but their dog was still kinda cold. John later told me that anytime a kid asked if their dog looked done enough, he said "yes" and sent them to start fixing and eating it.
in addition to roasting things over the fire, our wild animal hunt was also a big hit.
I purchased flashlights for all the kids as part of their party favors. Ahead of time I gathered about 30 stuffed animals (most were from a friend who was moving and didn't want to take them back to America- some were cute, nice big toys and others were small arcade quality stuffed animals.) While the kids were roasting hot dogs we hid the animals all over the park. We pretty much just scattered them around, since it was dark, we didn't actually "hide" them under or behind things. Then, we gave each kid their flashlight and they went "hunting". They loved it and were finding and hiding amongst themselves for quite a while.

At one point Asher was in tears because he didn't find any stuffed animals and some kids took more than 2 (he's a big fan of enforcing rules). I felt bad, mostly because I knew he didn't want to be crying at his own party. We quickly tried to remedy the situation by hiding a few more, but the few more I hid were quickly found by kids who brought them to Asher to "make him feel better". He then cried worse because, of course, he wanted to find it himself. This lead to lots of re-hiding and re-finding by different kids and Asher being slow and tearful. It was pretty ridiculous. After trying too many times to re-hide animals and console Asher, I just gave up and went to take care of the food. Asher soon returned with flashlight and friends and an armful of 2 or 3 animals. I'm not sure how it was all resolved, I'm just glad it was.

Smore's, muffins cooked in orange peel, and a mound of rice krispie treats topped with birthday candles, served as the dessert.

goodie bags contained their new flashlight, gummy worms and frogs, a bag of trail mix, a glow stick and the stuffed animal (or 2) that {they couldn't believe} they got to keep.

my take away thoughts:

birthday parties are work (and fun) no matter when they happen, so in the future I will try not to fool myself into thinking that procrastinating is helpful.

text messages are very efficient and effective invitations.

Colored marshmallows don't roast, they melt.

it's ok to put time and effort into the details, if just for the satisfaction of a job tastefully done. Even if nobody (especially 6 year olds) notice, but I should really watch the time thing.

Dubai rarely fails at turning what should be a quick trip to Target into multiple hours, a trip to the mall, 2 or 3 different grocery stores and lots of driving. Oh, and more money spent. BUT- as stated above, I'm ok putting effort into the details, even if it is just for me AND I'm kinda banking on the idea that these obstacles and resistance that we accept as part of living here, are making me that much stronger and more efficient once I return to the good old USA!

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