We read a lot of Little House on the Prairie books over here. In fact, it happens to be my 11 year old's favorite book. There is endless giggling over here about how Mary and Laura blew up an empty pig bladder and used it as a balloon, which gave my children the idea to jump rope with the intestines of a chicken last slaughtering day. Or the time Mr. Edwards was left to babysit Carrie, so he tied a rope to her and attached it to a tree while he finished a roofing project. (I may or may not have awoke one morning to have my three year old 'tied' with a rope, which was attached to a chair in our living room...being babysat by my then nine year old...with toys surrounding her to play with). But her favorite is the Christmas story where the children open their gifts to be overjoyed by a peppermint stick, a tin cup and red mittens. It isn't the gifts (or lack of) that excite my 11 year old, but the simplicity of the holiday. Because of this, she is always put in charge of planning out birthdays. Even when it is her own, which happens to be tomorrow.
In our house, we generally don't have parties (which I am thankful for, as my introvert hosting capabilities need some...eh... work.) What we do always have (after birthday breakfast in bed), is an early morning scavenger hunt around our farm. Although this was Presley's idea (my soon-to-be-twelve year old), the creating of the riddle-based clues and hiding them, falls into my domain. Because of this, it happens to be one of the most looked-forward-to events on my children's birthday. Each clue leads to another clue, and another, until the last clue leads them to their birthday gift. The clues are based on their age and usually involve chasing down cows, climbing ladders to catch chickens or searching out a special rock down by the creek. Sometimes the hunt takes an hour or more and usually include lots of silly string or water spraying, depending on the time of year. Tomorrow, I think a clue hidden in the haybales or tied to a cat might be fun.
And then there is the birthday games. This is where Presley really shines. Last year the favorite was, "chicken catching". The timer was set for 3 minutes and whoever caught the most chickens in that time frame, won. It seemed a bit unfair, as Presley has developed this 'skill' of catching chickens with her toes. A skill she might have gotten from me.
She also won the game of 'guess that cow'. All of the children were blinfolded and then led to our various cows. By feeling the shape of thier faces, they were to guess which cow or calf it was. She might have had an unfair advantage, as milking cows is one of her favorite activities.
Toss the egg was messy and a new version of 'Bozo Buckets' was created with electric fence insulators and grain feeders. The day usually ends with a whip cream eating contest with hands tied behind your back. They are birthdays to be remembered and not because of the gifts or the parties, but because of the simplicity that each involves. And really, catching chickens with your toes? How can you forget that?
And tomorrow for Presley's 12th birthday? Well, what country birthday would be complete without a trip to the county fair...unlimited rides on the tilt-a-whirl, too much cotton candy, and strolls through pole sheds viewing the most beautiful cows and chickens around. Now, that's my kind of party. Happy birthday Presley!