Tuesday, August 23, 2005

She's Four (now it's official)

You know the birthday party rule: the child's age plus two = the appropriate number of guests. Maybe next year we'll get to try that out, but since Julia doesn't go to school yet, she doesn't have a pool of children to invite from, which means we invite the cousins. All the cousins. Plus the next door neighbor.

(For you sticklers: Yes, Alex is an only child. They're his cousins' kids, but I never did learn whether that makes them second or once removed.)

So we had 14 kids and, I think, 11 adults. But it went well. There is a Costa Rican Birthday Party Formula which makes things pretty easy. I've never seen it done any other way: You serve rice with chicken (all mixed together as a single dish), refried beans, potato chips and soda. You have a piñata and goody bags. You serve ice cream cones and cake.

Sometimes there are games with prizes, but with so many kids (aged, by the way, 2-11) I didn't bother with that (my official reason was that I favor cooperative/creative activites rather than competitive ones. But nobody asked.) Instead, I printed out a bunch of Dora, Blue's Clues and LazyTown coloring sheets from the Nick, Jr. website (including the picture I used for the cake design) and set them out with a stack of plain paper, pencils, markers, etc. at the table. I set the box of matchbox cars out in the playroom, along with a bunch of smallish cardboard boxes I got at PriceSmart last week to (eventually) reorganize the toys. I put the wooden train track set in a corner of the living room, and I made a bucket of bubble stuff for outside. I couldn't find the big bubble toy thing Dad brought down for our wedding (how many times have we moved since then?) but I do have the book that came with it, which included some suggestions for homemade devices and a soap recipe. A lot of the kids were able to make large bubbles using the two-straws-on-a-loop-of-yarn contraption. (I had thought that might be something an adult would have to do more as a show for them but several of the older ones got the hang of it.)

And I didn't see any bored kids at any point. With things spread out like that the only time we had a problem with crowding was at the beginning when everybody wanted to do the bubbles at once. I made a second batch of soap, which helped.

I even remembered to save out a bag of piñata stuff for the (inevitable) crying child who didn't get enough. Ironically, the crying child was the one who had gotten plenty, but resented his mother topping off his brother's bag from the extras, so maybe it backfired after all...

Yolanda, of course, made the food, and with a party full of Costa Rican mothers there's never a shortage of people to help with the serving & cleanup. We saved the presents for after everyone had gone, which ended up being a little later than anticipated because the bus never came (turns out it has a shorter schedule on Saturdays), so I made two trips down the hill to take people home.


DAD August 24, 2005 7:36 AM  

Genealogy lesson:

If you diagram a family, each level down from the parent generation is one level of “cousinship.”

For instance, Carol and Bryan, as brother and sister, would be the same generational level.

So their children (one level down, e.g. you and Valora) are first cousins.

Your kids and Valora’s kids are second cousins.

If you compare up or down one generational level, that’s one step removed.

So, Valora’s children are your first cousins once removed.

Got it?


Jennifer August 24, 2005 9:26 AM  

I really had no doubt that a stickler would pop up to explain it.

So how big a geek are you: did you aleady know how to spell "Genealogy" or did you have to look it up??

Dad August 24, 2005 9:02 PM  

Since I'm now a "stickler" you'd have to assume that I already knew how to spell "genealogy" and you'd be right.

And aren't "geeks" computer-related? As in computer geeks?


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