Saturday, August 29, 2009

American birthday down under

Michele: Today we celebrated Robin's 9th birthday with 7 of her Aussie friends from school. All girls of course, 'cuz boys have cooties. Will was permitted to participate on an advisory level. The party was as all-American as we could muster.

In the pool they played 'Marco Polo', which in Australia goes by the name of 'Marco Polo'. They thought I was hysterical for introducing this new American game to them. After that, they played 'Fishy Fishy Cross my Ocean' which is has equivalent with a different name here. Aussie kids are trained early to relish in competitive sports (we think this is why Australia has by far more Olympic medals per capita than any other country) and the games went over quite well.

Lunch featured an America menu of:
  1. hot dogs with ketchup, which ended up being beef sausage with tomato sauce.
  2. potato chips
  3. home made chocolate chip cookies; Aussie speak -> biscuits
  4. cut up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Aussie speak -> peanut butter and jam
  5. small blue berry sourdough pancakes rolled up with real Maple syrup
The kids were very dubious of the blue berry pancakes. Blue berries don't grow here and very few of the girls had tasted one. As for the Maple syrup, when I told them it came from the sap of Maple trees, several of them were certain we were certifiable. To their defense, blue berry pancakes can look quite unappetizing, but remember that this is a group who cherish vegemite! Why should lumpy blue food turn them off? After much prodding, I convinced one kid to give the pancakes a try. She reported that it tasted good and two others girl braved up enough to try one. That is as far as they went. Ah well, more for me! At one point I asked them "Would you rather have a peanut butter and jam sandwich or a vegemite sandwich?" We got three enthusiastic peanut butter and jam vote (but two of them were my kids) and we got 4 enthusiastic vegemite votes. I suspect the non-voters were being polite about their distaste for peanut butter.

After lunch we made puppy dogs out of balloons and a large birthday banner for Robin. Then we headed down to the beach for a sand castle contest. Three teams each had 20 minutes to make a castle with any materials found on the beach. I joined a team that was short and we made a grand fort with crenulations, towers and a door woven from palm fronds. The judges (Gavin, Lorna and Will) gave first prize to the sea turtle mom and baby pictured. Well sure it is creative but how are the turtles going to defend against invading marauders? Huh!

The girls played together v
ery well and had a great time. We ended the party with the traditional song, birthday cake and goodie bags.

The birthday song, goodie bags, cake are similar to aussie birthday parties. However after the song, they tend to give several hip-hip-hoorays to the birthday child. We just clapped. Another major difference is that here the birthday child opens the presents and thanks the party goer at the start of the party, when the guests arrive. We ended up doing things in a hybrid way as Robin opened presents in the middle of the party when she was bored while Gavin and I blew up balloons for making the puppy dogs. After several dud balloons and several popped balloons, we lucked out with just enough viable balloons to make one dog for each child. *whew* In an amazing coincidence, each child ended up with a different colored balloon.

The idea of opening presents at the start of the party is interesting. It gets all the thank yous done with. When the child opens the gift, they say thank you and then everyone runs off to join the party. No notes to be sent nor guilt over delays in sending notes to the party goers. I like it! I'm thinking that I may adopt Aussie birthday techniques into future birthday parties in America.

Robin: When we did the balloons mine popped,and how unfair is that!
I'm the birthday girl for goodness sakes!! Well, I suppose it wasn't that bad I still got a balloon dog, kinda well here's what I did:there was a only-body-and-legs dog and the one I made had only a head. We attached them together and Voila! Perfect...well sorta,Oh Well!

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