Feb 20, 2011

Birthday Bug Hunt

Fresnel The last couple of weeks have been a crescendo to the fortissimo of birthday activity, culminating in the party to end all parties, or at least our sanity.

Before we had an idea for the staging of the birthday party, the invite request was for the old Prep D to be invited along together with a selection of kids from Eloise's new class as well as a few externals. This wound us up with a potential undertaking of significant proportions so a home party was pretty much out of the question and a Skating Party was poo-pooed as too... what's the word.... and swimming too much hassle.

Eventually we settled on something fun, interesting and outdoors and decided that we would go to the forest and conduct an enormous bug-hunt with butterfly nets, specimen bottles, a walk in the woods, all that jazz.

Needless to say Nicole embarked upon a massive project of themed catering with a massive bee-hive cake with sugar paste bees together with various entemologically based cup-cakes of every conceivable confection, green ice-cubes and insect blood drinks, and a sausage sizzle over real-fire barbecues up at Ironbark Gully.

There were many trips to Dollar Shops to procure the necessities of butterfly nets et al, plus plastic insects and bubbles for party bags, et cet, et cet.

And as the invites went out and the replies tricked back we realised that the acceptance rate was going to be cruising around 90% and we were going to end up with around 40 little darlings to supervise, and a developing sense of horror at the scale of it all.

In the end though it was kind of fun... we pitched up about 20 minutes in advance to find our table was hoccupied!! so headed up to a higher location and commenced to demount the Eskies. Half-unpacked we noticed that the interlopers had vacated our preferred tableux and were therefore in the process of moving down the stairs onto the wide forest-flanked grassland when the first people turned up.

And these Aussies - when there's a party to be had, punctuality is a watchword.

Before long we were in the midst of a throng of people, Nicole hanging out butterfly nets (named) and dealing with gatecrashers, I deploying foodstuffs and finishing the unloading of stuff, insect tattooing deputised to a willing volunteer, balloon-inflating likewise.

The dregs arrived, and the last nets disbursed, it was time to send out the prawns with whistles to round up the Adventurers for the journey into the deep dark unknown woods.

"Kids" I intoned. "Stay nearby! If you should get lost then please use your whistle and someone will come and find you! Do not interfere with snakes! Do not leave the path! Or you will! Die!"

And forty kids promptly hoofed it into the woods, whistles blaring.

Some had parents with them, and their pace was moderated by wise age. There were boys though. And they just ran away.

I managed to hold them up for a while when we saw a big Goanna up a tree (a Goanna being a three-foor long scavenging reptile) but then the were gone, at high speed, whistles once again blaring.

I tried to follow them but the girls couldn't keep up, and they started to get scared, after all there weren't any pavements or anything! Sympathetically though, even though you couldn't get lost in that forest if you tried, I hadn't actually told them that. I shared a giggle with a little girl about that before swearing her to secrecy. Ho Ho Ho.

I went around the circuit fixing nets, accumulating broken ones, picking stones out of shoes, tying shoelaces etc. and eventually got back to base camp.

It turned out only one child was missing, so we headed back in the other direction and did the circuit backwards, but no sign of him.

When we got back again, he'd turned up.

That bit over with, we played some games: tug of war (boys vs girls, and kids vs adults) - one casualty to rope burn.

Tadpoles in the horse trough were popular too. Many were collected. I think the horse trough may have been sterilised.

The food needless to say was demolished, except for the 80 sausages, which weren't. It's Matilda's lucky day, too.

So after the food, the cake, and after the cake the Pinata... we were on a schedule and people had to get going.

The Pinata was a bit disappointing and came down after only a mild beating. After the orgiastic melee of scrabbling for sweets, Nicole handed out the party bags and the guests disappeared like mist on the wind. Poof.

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