May 27, 2015

Birthday Party for Mice

We typically do a big combined party for the two older girls, but so far just small affairs for the youngest child. He had a lot of fun at the girls' party last fall, and this year for his fourth birthday he asked for pinatas and many friends. So we decided to switch the big party to the spring and make the fall events smaller.

Child 3 is insanely into mice. His favorite game is pretending he is a mouse, and his favorite video entertainment is classic Tom & Jerry. It's amazing how dated those seem now, but our kids think they are absolutely hilarious. He was delighted when I found a family of mice nesting in our compost bin this spring, and would often open the hatch to catch a glimpse of them.

Becky made two paper mache mouse pinatas with the kids in the month or so leading up to the party (shown at top of post). Child 1 used her circular knitting jig to make pink tails for them. Child 3 spent many an hour asking if he could just eat the lollypops that were going in the pinatas.

On the day of the party, we drilled some holes and fished through some hug-snug seam binding ribbon to hold the pinatas up.

I operated an active up and down line to disadvantage some of the stronger swinging kids, and between that and a blindfold for the older group the pinatas lasted long enough for everyone to get two or three times at bat.

The best game from our last kid party was the scavenger hunt. Becky walked around the neighborhood the day before the party and planned out the hiding places, then made up 22 rhyming clues for three separate groups and wrote them out in calligraphy on little scraps of paper.

She had the idea of making a little mouse to hold each clue, one for each kid (22 of them in all), and enlisted my help to make the mice.

We couldn't agree on how to make the mice so Saturday morning we engaged in a mouse-off to see whose design could be executed in the least time with the best result. Her mouse took 16 minutes and was really easy. Mine took twice as long and was finicky to get together. See if you can guess which is which.

 I was fond of my mouse, but the prospect of making 20 more was daunting and her's looked pretty good anyhow so I conceded on the mouse making strategy.

As it was we were up until the wee hours that night finishing mice while listening to podcasts of RadioLab and The Moth, and by the time we were done I was feeling very thankful that my wife is more practical than I when it comes to doing things the quick way.

The kids were eager to help as usual, so we set up an assembly line Saturday evening. Becky cut and ironed the pattern pieces, and Child 1 put them together and passed them to Child 2 and I to sew using the Singer 99.

Child 2 managed quite well mostly by herself.

Then Child 1 turned the little bags inside out and passed them back to Becky for pressing.

Everyone wanted to put rice into the bags with the funnel!

I pinned shut the bums, also catching a piece of pink felt for a tail.

Later on that evening Becky closed mouse bums by hand while I cut and sewed on ears and whiskers. The eyes were fabric paint applied before we went to bed. The next morning, the mice were ready to go.

Just before the hunt, Becky ran around the neighborhood hiding mice and clues. I accompanied the big kids' group on the scavenger hunt. Child 1 had requested that Becky make the clues really hard. She obliged, and the kids had a great time trying to figure them out. A friend of mine had recently told us about a project he was working on involving braille, so she used braille for one of the clues. There was also morse code, roman numerals, and math puzzles.

For cake, I made two of the now standard vanilla chiffon cake with whipped cream and strawberries.

A couple strawberries were made into mice to go on top.

This time didn't turn out was well as some previous ones; the cake was good but I put on too much whipped cream, and the cream had too much gelatine and not enough sugar. Still, it got eaten.