Friday, January 22, 2010

Callie’s Birthday Party and French Eenie Meenie

Since we are headed to the Alps this weekend, we had Callie’s 7th Birthday party last Saturday. We had a party for her last year, with games and cake. Last year, I let her invite too many people and I also wasn’t really prepared for the high energy level and short attResized_HPIM4228ention span of the kids. I ended up feeling like the party was only OK – and that’s not OK with me!

This year, I vowed, would be different. We ended up with only 8 kids in total (including mResized_HPIM4227y 3) and 3 adults. PLUS I spent basically every free moment (besides when I was basking in fame) last week looking through my files of ideas and then planning and preparing crafts and games. If you want to know details, read on! Maybe one day, when C,Z or G has a kid of their own, they can re-create this party….

They came in to do a craft – this was “baguettes de magie” or magic wands. We used wooden skewers, covered them with beads and stuck small Styrofoam balls at the ends they could decorate further with sequins or craft wire. That’s Alicia, at left. Everyone loved the craft and Resized_HPIM4229it was a good time filler while we waited for everyone to arrive. Of course, Zander (right) came up with his own version of the craft. The only problem was they weren’t too sturdy and when the kids wanted to cast spells, they sort of started breaking apart. I was turned into a crapaud (toad) several times. It was no big deal, I needed lots of energy to hop around anyway.

Then we did a classic game from my childhood – the Memory Tray Game. The girls beat the boys by 2 items and everyone had a great time participating. I was particularly impressed by how Griffin remembered several items.

After that we did Limbo – forwards, backwards and with no hands. We didn’t have winners for the first two rounds but, amazingly, Griffin won the no hands competition. He invented his own technique which included, by the end, his hands clasped behind his back, his body between his wiggling knees and his head as the third member of the tripod that helped him keep his balance as he wiggled under. You can see him celebrating below with our tutor/babysitter Augustin who helped out during the party.

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Then we went on to do a game called Disappearing Island. It’s like musical chairs but you use a blanket or big towel and keep folding it in half each round. The kids can share the island. Evan is watching the end of the game from the couch! The final 4 were Callie, Alicia, Zander and Lilou. They really didn’t want to lose and I got the best photo ever (imnsho) of them clinging to each other. I finally took out the towel and used a napkin…

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Then we moved onto a traditional Philippine birthday game called Pabatin. It is pretty common for birthday parties here (and sometimes in the US) to have a piñata filled with candy or small toys but I’ve never really liked piñatas since there are always more aggressive kids that end up getting way more stuff than the other kids. The Pabatin is cool since each child gets a turn to jump up and try to grab a little package hanging from a lattice and then keeps what is in the package. That’s Lilou at right going for her prize. You’d be surprised at how high six year olds can jump. They got those things pretty easily.

In between here and there we ran into the kitchen where I had out chips, dips, drinks and carrots.

When I was coming up with games, I ran them by Callie and asked for her input. She vetoed a few and then asked for one more Cache Cache (which is Hide ‘n’ Go Seek). I told her that would be too hard with 8 kids and no one allowed downstairs but then we came up with a compromise. One child was allowed to hide. The next child was sent to find that child and hide too (in the same spot). Repeat until they are all crammed together. This ended up being great fun, as you can see below. I love the different counting techniques shown in the first photo. We have: Alicia-eyes covered, Lilou-on her back looking at the ceiling, Emma – just looking around randomly and Evan (on the right) with his face planted in a pillow. There has to be some sort of psych study going on there – like how people eat their Oreos…

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The game was a bit wild though, so we decided not to have more than 2 turns. Of course, the problem then arResized_HPIM4269ose of who would get to be the second hider. I thought, of course, of Eeenie, meenie, minie, mo. But then, the culture shock of the day happened. I got to see French eenie meenie minie mo!!!! It goes like this:

All the kids put their one foot in the center of a circle (as photographed at left) and then they begin. I am soooooooo sure the spelling is wrong!

Plouf! Plouf! (this is done in the center of the circle and then, one sound on each foot)

fa ma la ba ra di tu ba haut bou deux trois un deux trois

Whoever is the last ‘trois’ is out. Repeat until only one is left standing. They are the winner (incidentally, that was Evan who hid in the bathroom but everyone ignored him and headed back to the bathtub – poor guy!)

Of course, I got curious about counting out rhymes or Formulette d’elimination as they are known in France and there are about a million and half of them and all the variations are mind numbing. I will put the links I found here since some might want to read all about it. I haven’t heard of two-thirds of them that are supposedly American. This one is wikipedia on good ole eenie meenie, this one is one counting rhymes in general and this one is on ip dip and this one is the French wiki on counting rhymes and finally one where you can listen to them in French- if you want… I just can’t leave this topic behind, however, without immortalizing the counting rhyme I grew up with… it was a combo of several – I’m not sure why we combined them, but we did…

Eenie, meenie, minie, mo,

Catch a tiger by the toe

If he hollers let him go

Eenie, Meenie, Minie, mo

My mother told me to pick the very best one and you are I – T, it!

Mickey Mouse built a house

How many bricks did he use? (person you end up at says a number ex. 5)

1, 2, 3, 4, 5…

We also did one potato, two potato, three potato, 4…. I remember about that if you were the counter you used your chin as your second hanHPIM4250d. Then there is the classic rock, paper, scissors…. which I sometimes do with the kids now (but not too often since they argue and they cheat) Do French do that one???

But off memory lane and back to the party. Gotta keep these guys moving since pauses lead to screaming and chaos! We did a great cooperative game where you pass a hula hoop (or exercise band since we didn’t have a hula hoop) around the circle while everyone holds hands. We did it the first time in about 3 minutes and the second time in about a minute and a half. They loved it!

The last game before cake was Pass the Parcel. The night before the party I spent aResized_HPIM4277bout an hour and a half wrapping a chocolate bar in about 15 layers of wrappings. Each layer had a silly command on it like Pretend to take a Bath or Do 20 Jumping Jacks (by the way, French kids have no idea what jumping jacks are). There were a few kids who Resized_HPIM4280were shy but everyone still had fun and I liked the way no one got ‘knocked out’ but instead they all shared the chocolate at the end. It was hard to prepare, though…

FINALLY, it was 4 pm and time for cake and presents. André and I had used Nestle’s Famous Chocolate Wafers to make another classic treat from my childhood – cookie cake! We sang the birthday song in two languages and then had fun opening the gifts. She got a Barbie doll, a My Little Pony, a bunch of Littlest Pet Shop crafts, a Pucca diary, a few Polly Pocket houses, a lovely drawing from Griffin and finally some produit (French for perfume?). The video shows her facility in French as she opens her loot.

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At this pResized_HPIM4300oint it is only 4:30 and party goes until 5pm. Luckily I had a few more games up my sleeve. First we pl

ayed a coin drop race where two teams race to drop pennies into an egg carton. Zander started cheating during this one so we had to have him sit it out but Griffin continued his highly involved ways. He loved the party!

We also tried a game called Cross the Sea where one kid is land, one kid is the boat and the other kids are rocks. The boat is blindfolded and the land has to direct it around the rocks to get safely to shore. The problem with this game was that the land wasn’t very good at directing, the boat wasn’t very good at listening, neither half knew their left from their right and the rocks kept moving!

Then we did a traditional German birthday game called Pot Hunting. This was perhaps my favorite – it was absolutely hysterical. You have the kids take turns and blindfold them. Make all the other kids sit up out of the way and hide an upside-down pot somewhere in the room. They are handed a wooden spoon and have to crawl around banging with it and looking for the pot. When they find it, there is a small bag of candy or prize underneath. We put pillows around the roomResized_HPIM4311 as other obstacles to make it more interesting. All the kids were yelling contradicting directions or useless ones (no, not there!) and kept on pointing as well, even though the kid wResized_HPIM4305as blindfolded! It was so funny….

At last, a craft, 10 games, cake and presents later, 5pm had arrived. The kids left with their loot and huge smiles. It was a terrific party. I got a few parents coming up to me later in the week and telling me how ‘super’ (yes, the French use this word) it was. Also Callie told me her friends said it wa

s the best thing they did all weekend. That’s what I want to hear!!!

Zander was disappointed he didn’t get to do the mummy game (which was planned if time hadn’t run out) so we let him get wrapped up at the end. Of course, he immediately went on the attack.

André and I were completely wiped but the kids still had energy to burn. Here you can see Daddie playing with the (almost) birthday girl. It is one of her favorite games and involves him not letting her escape from the couch.

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Happy Birthday Callie. I love you!Resized_HPIM4334

I’m adding an additional note to this since I’ve been having trouble uploading the video and today was her ‘real’ birthday. We had red cream Oreos (sent for the holidays by Grammie but saved) for breakfast. I made her class chocolate cupcakes with butter cream frosting and then, for dinner we had her favorite Mexican Casserole. I bought her a bunch of tulips and she ended the night by opening her two packages. One from Grammie and one from Grandma. Grandma composed a really sweet story all about Callie for her card – I hope you can read it. Below you can see her with her gifts!


I think her favorite might have been the powder – and both she and Zander were thrilled to use it after bathtime. After she was supposed to be in bed tonight, I found her with her legs through her pajama shirt sleeves, her torso somehow stuffed into one leg of her pajama pants with her underwear as an exotic hair band. She may be seven, but silliness is not gone yet. For that, I am supremely grateful. May it always be so!

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