Alexander's Birthday Party, Sunday 18th May 2003

Alexander's 8th birthday party was generally voted a success, certainly by Alexander. This year, for once, we didn't do a theme party, a trip, or hire any kind of outside help (eg clown, jumping castle, gyrothingummy). We just made plenty of food, invited a good handful of people and ran some games (a treasure hunt, Twister, blind man's buff and silent ball). What we did do, since Cathy was working, was organize some adult reinforcements, ie Andrew and Virginia. Andrew deliberately surprised me by turning up early, ie 10.20am. He was responsible for the treasure hunt, which comprised clues of such a high literary standard that I've included them here (see right). He typed the clues on the computer then printed a dozen copies which were then cut up and the first clue distributed to the guests while the others were hidden with the various caches of treasure (under a pile of fallen leaves; between the septic tanks; by the chook pen; under the rocking horse and by the silky oak). The boys really enjoyed this, and only minor adult supervision was necessary to provide additional clues, or to ensure that the first arrival didn't abscond with all the treasure.

Viginia efficiently chopped vegetables and made guacamole. I'd made all the dips the day before, as well as the chocolate cake, cornflake crackles, flapjacks, pitta bread crisps and smoked trout pate. Cathy made her trademark rice bubble chocolate crackles, and did the grocery shopping. She also stayed up till (wait for it) 4am, tidying and cleaning the house till it was spotless. This certainly surprised and pleased me when I woke up on Sunday morning. She also wrote a series of little advice notes on what still needed to be done, and labelled all the plastic cups with the guests' names.

I should also mention that the boys all helped too. Cameron tidied the quiet room (which on the day of the party was anything but); Alexander put away the race track; Brendan tidied upstairs and made the cake icing. All the boys enthusiastically helped decorate the cake on Sunday morning with a rainbow pattern of brightly-coloured chocolate chips.

The preparation (helped by the fact that the soccer games were cancelled due to rain throughout the week), and the 12 noon start time, meant that Sunday morning was relatively relaxed, basically tidying the kitchen table, chopping vegetables, cooking sausage rolls, cocktail frankfurts and pastries and setting out the spread.

The guests arrived en masse at 12 noon on the dot, and chaos immediately commenced. We let them charge around for about an hour, and play with the new games they'd brought as presents, and then rounded them up for the treasure hunt, for which, mercifully, the sun came out.

Twister was the next game. We have two Twister games so we were able to efficiently run a tournament with elimination rounds, semis and finals. I believe Martin Wyburn came out the winner.

Cathy turned up at this point, taking a break in the middle of her work day so that she wouldn't miss the party entirely. This was a nice surprise, though I don't know how she managed all that driving on 3 hours' sleep.

Cathy and Virginia chatted in the kitchen while we played blind man's buff in the 'quiet room'. The conventions in this game seem to have changed since I was a kid. My recollection (possibly faulty) is that the non-blindfolded people crept around quietly trying to keep out of the way, and felt real fear at the touch of the blind man. Now the blind man is beaten over the head with balloons and generally harassed and teased, even occasionally tackled to the floor. However no-one was seriously hurt and another half hour went by in a flash.

Brendan taught them silent ball next - a game he learned at school - which I didn't see as I was playing table-top (actually floor-top) soccer with Cameron and Andrew. This was the major hit amongst the presents.

Somewhere in among the bedlam the boys actually ate some (but not much) of the food, and at 2.30pm we lit the candles and sparklers and sang Happy Birthday to Alexander, whose face was definitely glowing with happiness. The parents all turned up at 3pm or shortly afterwards, Virginia left, and soon we just had Joshua Zolfel left out of the guests. Martin turned up at about 3.30pm just in time to join Andrew and I for a cup of tea and a light snack of party food on the verandah, and Angus also suggested a game of cricket, which actually went quite well as long as I bowled and he was batting, as I bowled underarm, he didn't hit it too hard and on the few times when it rolled off the deck Brendan was there to fetch it. It became impractical as Cameron took over the batting as he drove it at about 100mph just over the heads of the tea drinkers.

Martin left about sunset and it cooled down quickly so we moved inside, cleared the table and played a few more games of tabletop soccer before driving down to collect Cathy from Parramatta.


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Zac & the spread
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Alexander with presents
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Balloon fight on verandah
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On the stairs
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Soccer game

The Treasure Hunt

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When autumn takes its chilly grip
And to the earth the leaves then slip
Their golden carpet on the ground
Is where the first prize may be found
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Two giants stand above the grass
So go no further - do not pass!
For where they make their gurgly sound
The second prize shall there be found
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Our fluffy feathered friends are beat!
They know its there, but they can't eat!
What you turn up will let them see
Where we hide prize number three!
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Oh this is such a lovely view
I sit here thinking on my pew
A little horse over to my right
Has the fourth prize in his sight!
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Though autumn now, here we find spring
At least upon this playful thing
Nearby, we see the lilies thrive
Under the tree where lives prize five!

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