Friday, January 27, 2006

Kadin's 5—or—How to turn a hazard into an asset

This blog has barely made into the New Year and the month is almost over. I feel about 30 days behind and, what do you know? I AM about 30 days behind. The house has entered a new state of upheaval, I tweaked my back (again), Kadin had a birthday (party) and Rees has decided to change his name (again).

More on all of those in future posts. But first, Kadin's party, or "How to turn a hazard into an asset."

I took a risk and scheduled Kadin's party for Jan 8, the Sunday before his real birthday on Monday. Who knew what condition the house would be in? Who knew what the weather would be like? He picked the theme dinosaurs (after flirting with superheros and pirates) and wanted to have a party, but, being an introvert, didn't want to invite anyone. We finally worked that out and in the end 5 guests (the tradition being to invite as many as you are old) did indeed come.

Next obstacle was location. Being stubborn, I decided to just make do and have it at the house, another tradition. At the house or bust. On the negative side, there was no room in the now kitchen/dining room/office combo, there was a big pit and a big pile of dirt out front, and there was debris (nails, roof shingles, splintered boards) everywhere due to the high winds we've had this winter. On the positive side, the electricians had finished, the first layer of insulation was in, the roof was on (completed the Saturday before the party), and we had lots of unoccupied, but dusty, indoor space that the kids could not trash in any way.

The plan: a dino hunt and dig. We had the tools: paint brushes from the painter, lots of 5-gal buckets from the workers, and some cheap sandbox shovels and rakes. We had the treasures: I bulk ordered some plastic dino skeletons, way too many small plastic dinos, and found a bag of glass pebbles with fish/trilobyte impressions on them at the Dollar Store. The week before the party I made dinosaur eggs by embedding the small plastic dinos in plaster of paris, using old hollow easter eggs for moulds.

We made each guest a "dig" by burying the treasures in sand in a bucket. We still didn't know if we should try to do it inside or out. It was a pretty nice morning. Greg made little cards for each guest with pictures of three hiding places (a tire swing, a wagon, a hose pot). And wouldn't you know it? A half-hour before the party, just as we were setting up outside, the wind started gusting and it started snowing. Typical.

The guests began to arrive. They dressed up with dinosaur tails and had some of the snacks. We gave them each an empty bucket and explained the hunt. We were going on a dig, but we needed to find our tools first. At the location of each picture, there were hidden tools and each person had to find three tools all together. On their way to the hiding places, they could look for and pick up "treasures," of nails, screws, roof shingles, scraps of metal, etc. At the end they could turn in each "treasure" for a penny.

Yes, it was cold, but at least the kids were running around outside, and at least they were looking for nails instead of stepping on them.

We moved the digs inside. For Rees' 5th birthday, outside, in September, with all boys, there was no problem encouraging the guests to smash open the dinosaur eggs with hammers. They could have done that all day. But these kids, for whatever reason (younger? colder? girls?) were not so keen on smashing with hammers. But with Greg and I and Rees and the helpful 9-year-old guest, there was plenty of smashing. The kids put their tools and the finds from their digs in their buckets. Later we put these all in party bags.

Then it was wash hands and cake and presents. I am happy to report that no one was injured and most of the kids opted to keep their pennies AND their "treasures" that they collected. Don't know what their parents thought when they opened party bags with nails and shards of asphalt roof shingles, but the place was a little cleaner as a result.

Kadin had a good time too. Now, I need to find a way to turn a stubborn 5-year-old into an asset…

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