Sunday, November 29, 2015

Peter's Lego Birthday Party, September 2015

Peter's blue-eyed grin when he saw how I had transformed him into a lego minifigure for his birthday invitation almost made the pain of the emergency c-section that preceded his actual birth worth it. 

I originally designed this invitation for Peter, but since then, I've created personalized minifigures with a variety of hairstyles and clothing and accessories and even light sabers. (My favorite was a lego stormtrooper that I made to say "This is the birthday party you're looking for!")  If you have a lego lover that would like a personalized invitation, go to my etsy shop here

I think this is one of the first parties I've planned for the under-ten set that didn't involve a "craft project" like painting t-shirts or sewing scarves or rolling around in glitter as part of the party. When I made this fact known to Eric he reminded me that the older kids and I had stayed up late into the night before the party making homemade lego gummies, so he was still counting it as a craft project. 

Our huge lego brick piñata was the quickest, easiest, most indestructible piñata I've ever made. We just wrapped up a diaper box in a red plastic tablecloth and then glued on the tops of red plastic cups. Bam. Lego piñata. 

Each of the kids whacked that over-sized brick with all of their might, but it wouldn't break open until Holden, who towered over the little kids like some sort of pinata-obliterating Goliath, smacked it with an actual baseball bat several times with no blindfold on.

One of our more extroverted partygoers kept yelling, "It's rigged! It's rigged!" (Why would we rig a birthday pinata? I'm not sure. But the kid wouldn't stop yelling until he was  showered in minifigures and candy. Then he stopped complaining.)

For their party favor, each child received a basket into which I had glued a flat lego base. They also received a bag of crayons shaped like minifigures, lego gummies, a mold to make their own lego gummies and the recipe for lego gummies (Eric says I need to stop saying the word "gummies" now.)
We divided the kids into teams and then a "builder" from each team had to build a certain object. The other members of their team tried to guess what they had built before the other teams guessed to get a point. 

We played our own lego-based take on the game "Hungry Hungry Hippos" at the church gym across the street from our house. Our party guests each had to take turns scooting out to the middle of the gym and trying to bring back as may legos as possible back to their corner.

The only rule was that they had to be on their scooter the whole time. Most of the kids struggled to bring the legos back to their team's corner while trying to maneuver the scooter with their arms.

The winning team was lucky enough to have a team member who thoughtfully considered how to be able to have his hands free, but still bring back a load of legos to his team. He sat on his scooter, scooped up legos into a big pile in his shirt and then happily scooted back to his team.

For our final party game, we played Ultimate Lego Head, which is like Ultimate Frisbee, but played with an oversized yellow head. It was mighty funny to watch the kids toss the giant plastic cranium while screaming and yelling and running around.

The lego head cake was created out of two dome-shaped ice cream cakes that were sandwiched together. I used vanilla cake with vanilla ice cream for one half and chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream for the other half. The face was made from edible black fondant.

(I'll refrain from making any Biblical allusions the cake on the platter brought to mind.)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Camp d'Evegnee 2015: Sherlock Week

Eric and I had been sleuthing for ideas for Sherlock Week for months, plotting the mysterious twists and turns of Camp d'Evegnee 2015. We'd huddle together like Sherlock and Watson on our Friday nights, deducing which of our ideas might help our little detectives have the most exhilarating time, no matter what their age.

I'll admit that during the last strangling, straggling days of my third semester in a row without a substantial break, I would think to myself while gasping through grading, "As soon as this is over, you can do Sherlock Week!" 

Sherlock's Mystery Meal

We started off the week with a little lesson about deductive reasoning (you know, as most parents do on their vacation), and then Eric played some logic games with our novice investigators. For dinner our first night, we had "Sherlock's Mystery Meal," which was a four-course meal comprised of giggles, guesswork, and a few groans. The kids had to try and figure out which food or utensil might match with which clue. 

There were some interesting culinary combinations like a complete course with only a knife, pepperoni, chocolate sauce, and a napkin. I've put both the menu and the answer key here. Eric and I used some of our best word-play skills to some up with the clues. I especially liked "Apricot Tree's Fruit" (popcorn), "Piggy Polka Dots" (pepperoni), Jonah's Weekend (whale crackers), Personal Shouting (Ice Cream), and "Favorite of the Lazy Student" (spoon). 

You'll notice that in the photo below, Peter has a full-blown brownie sundae with ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. I was quite impressed with his deductive ability until the other kids told me that he had been getting brownies and ice cream for more than one course.  Peter blatantly ignored the rule about only ordering each thing once, and he said, "Well! I figured out which numbers I needed for the dessert and I just kept ordering them!" (I honestly couldn't decide whether to be appalled or proud. . . maybe a little of each?) Eric and I didn't notice because we were too busy scurrying from the dining room to the kitchen with a total of TWENTY-EIGHT different courses for our greedy gumshoes!

Mystery Dinner or The Blind Feeding the Blind

Our second dinner for Sherlock Week involved dining at what Eric called "Café Aveugle." I don't think a group of seven little detectives could possibly be more delightful, despite being blindfolded and forced to eat whatever we placed in front of them.

We had them eat in two shifts so that the younger kids wouldn't be too nervous about what we were going to do to them. 

We tried to choose foods with unpredictable tastes and shapes like drinkable yogurt, potstickers, and cheese curds. 

One of the best moments of the evening was watching Marie try and eat a perogi. She couldn't see how big the item was that she had dangling from the end of her fork, so she kept missing her mouth. 

Clearly our Peter, Peter picky eater didn't love some of the items he ate. 

Later, when I asked Marie if it was scary to eat with a blindfold on, she said, "Oh no! It was fun!"

Mystery Meal #3
Our last dinner for Sherlock Week was a little less  precarious, and we served the kids Korean Barbeque because they hadn't ever had it before (it was a bit tricky to think of something our adventurous eaters hadn't ever tried).

For dessert, we let them create wild liquid mixtures and called them "Mystery Drinks."

On our final day of Camp d'Evegnee, I woke up to a full day of Camp d'Evegnee on the horizon, glanced around at the mountainous peaks of folded laundry piled in my living room and said in my best chirpy Mom voice: "Hey guys! Who wants to play a Sherlock-based game??? It's called. . . 'See If You Can Figure Out Which Closet the Clothes Go in!' YAY!" They were surprisingly willing to play along, those blessed offspring of mine.

The Mystery of the Lost Boy

Our coup de grace for Sherlock Week for Camp d'Evegnee was on Friday when we asked our flock of budding detectives to go and get Charlie so we could get ice cream. This is the note they found in his bed (hopefully slightly bone-chilling, but not too creepy). They DID find him in the end, though, through a series of adventures involving deductive reasoning and the reconstruction of a ghostly back-story.
Where would you go to find the first clue?

"I've taken the boy, You can have him back if you can find him. I saw him with you yesterday when I was with my friend, David Saylor, who is an expert on that place. He has even written books about it.That little boy looks just like my Joseph--the boy I lost in the tragedy on 6/5/76/. That blonde hair and those blue eyes. I thought I would never see him again. We named him after my grandfather, Joseph Ricks. If you can find all of the clues i will consider you worthy enough to get him back."

If a grieving psychopath lost a son on 6/5/76 in Rexburg, what kind of house would he build?
With the back-story about a man who lost a son in the Teton Flood, how could we not involve this awesome house somehow?
It was almost like someone had visited earlier that day and had coached the nice man working at the front desk of The Standard Journal about what to say to six kids who might come in later that day.
Again, it was almost like some people had visited earlier that day, making a donation to the museum, and asking the nice woman volunteering at the front desk to let the kids in for free to look at the newspapers if they just happened to show up later that day.

Our cute babysitter/caregiver of the kidnapped was reluctant to let me pay her for babysitting. I looked at her seriously, handed her some cash and said, "You have to take it. It's ransom money."

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