...That's what we called it.
Jude had his fifth birthday party today, and to escape the whole "we are preparing stuff for 30 people because we are inviting our friends and all their siblings and parents too" thing, I suggested a sleepover with three friends. Also, a safari theme was decided on, because Jude LOVES African animals. ("The cheetah is my favourite!")
The three got stretched to four, then to five. Not such a big deal, actually--five five-year-olds. Not so scary. If only they would go to sleep!
For their favour bags, I made them all cloth "book bags" out of a khaki material to keep all their stuff in for the night. Not long after arriving, the kids made "binoculars" out of toilet paper rolls, masking tape and string. ("You need binoculars to search for the animals!") Then they made little wooden-beaded "key chain" markers, to help identify their bag from everyone else's.
Ahead of time, I had prepared little "Wildlife Guide" books for all the kids that had one page for their name, age, favourite African animal and something they learned today. The rest of the pages were "spec sheets" of the different animals we were going to see on our travels. We were going on a "photo safari"--I had enough photos of the animals for each child to pop into their albums after our safari was over, which I left with the animals when I hid them.
The animals were all little stuffed toys that were on sale at the drug store this week. The "Serengeti" was in our dry, brown, chilly, but (thankfully!) snow-less backyard; there we found the Black Rhino, the African Elephant, the lion, and some giraffes. Uganda was back in our wildly-house-planted living room, where we found the mountain gorilla and the leopard. With each animal's discovery we went over a few of the interesting facts found in their guides. The kids all had lots of fun talking about the animals. (I mean really, what kid doesn't think African animals are just really cool?)
The only other planned activities were a jungle mural they got to draw on a long stretch of kraft paper on the wall, and watching "The Wild" after supper. The kids had a blast playing with all the animals once the safari was over, and are still having a blast playing in the living room. Unfortunately. They have been "in bed" for two hours now. (Yeah, right.)
Thanks to The Sneaky Chef, (see this post), I was able to make a birthday cake I didn't feel guilty about, for once. Yes, it was chocolate--but it was also made with whole-grain spelt and wheat flours, with the hidden ingredients of blueberries and spinach. Yes, I said spinach.
Unfortunately, Jude happened to notice the spinach as it was just about to get thrown in the blender to be puréed.
"Are you putting spinach in my cake?!" he asked.
I refuse to lie to my kids about their food being healthy for them. If they don't ask, I may not say anything, but if they ask straight out, I'll always tell them the truth. (It is, after all, what I expect from them.) Plus, I think it's good for them to realize that a food that's good for them could also be something they like to eat!
"MOM! I don't want spinach in my cake!!"
"You won't even taste it, I promise. It's going to be a chocolate cake."
"Chocolate?" with a glimmer of interest. "But I don't want spinach in it!"
"When you eat a cake, do you taste the eggs?"
"No," with an accompanying shake of the head.
"Do you taste the flour?"
Another head shake.
"Do you taste the butter?"
A look that said, That's silly, Mom!
"You won't taste the spinach either, I promise."
"I won't?" Still skeptical.
And he didn't. Neither did the other seven kids and four adults who ate it.
It was delicious.
Well, the plates are cleaned up and the animals safely returned to their homes.
Oh—except the monkeys that are still awake in the living room!
Where did I hide those tranquilizer darts again?...