Summer Updates

by Suzita on June 30, 2011

Due to my expanded summertime childcare hours, part two of our D.I.Y. home project, and a train trip to San Francisco, I will not be posting for the next two weeks.  In the meantime here are some updates people have requested.

A summer evening at Chautauqua park in Boulder

Natural Consequence Outcome

Daniel had an amazing time in Yellowstone with his grandparents and cousin on their Road Scholar intergenerational adventure.  Although the weather forecasts had suggested the trip would be cool and wet, luck shined down on them and their weather was ideal.  Great conditions for learning about and enjoying Yellowstone.  Subpar conditions for suffering through the natural consequence of being cold due to forgetting your fleece jacket.  (See post.)  I guess Daniel will have to learn the importance of packing carefully on another vacation.

New Pet(s)

Those of you who read the post, Lizard or Snake?, may be interested to know that on Daniel’s 11th birthday, after hoping and waiting for two years, he received a lizard.  He named his new leopard gecko, Zorro.   Since leopard geckos typically have a twenty-year lifespan, Todd and I were hoping to find a “previously owned” gecko, thinking we could perhaps cut the lifespan in half that way.  I know that sounds callous, but twenty years of life!  This means that my own grandchildren might play with Zorro some day.  We struck out on the “used lizard” front and ended up purchasing a young gecko, our only pet store option.

Zorro sports a rainbow of colors overlaying black dot designs, which would make a college kid choosing a first tattoo jealous.  His cage needs to stay between 80° and 90° F, a bit of a challenge.  Once a day Daniel feeds Zorro a live cricket.  Crickets cost 11¢ apiece.  They often die before Daniel is ready to feed them to the gecko. We’re still figuring how many crickets to buy at a time, but Daniel buys them with his own money.  We don’t have an abundance of crickets in Colorado, but I think our next step will be to have Daniel learn the cricket catching trade (as long as local crickets won’t injure Zorro’s delicate Middle Eastern constitution.)

On Annie’s 8th birthday she became a “parent” as well.  She picked out two Chinese dwarf hamsters.   She’d been hoping for a hamster since last year and dutifully checked out hamster books on each library trip.  After all that reading I’d learned a thing or two about these little creatures.  I knew most hamsters are loners, but dwarf hamsters are an exception.  I also read that their lifespan was 1-2 years, and they had no special temperature requirements.  Since Jumper and Puffer reside in Annie’s room, she is learning the true meaning of nocturnal.

Stephen’s Lesson in Consumerism

My sister, Heather, gave Stephen her old iPod complete with hundreds of great tunes.  After a while, though, the battery stopped holding its charge.  Hence Todd and I took a trip to the Apple store.  We went alone because we’ve learned not to bring our children into this computer “candy” store.  We showed the teenage salesman Stephen’s iPod and asked if we might purchase a new battery.  He looked at the gadget, declared it to be in good condition, and informed us that it was what Apple refers to a classic model.  Then the salesman said they don’t sell replacement batteries for classic models.

When I related this experience to Stephen, he responded in an incredulous whisper, “Planned obsolescence!”  After my disappointment at the Apple store, I was buoyed by Stephen’s accurate use of knowledge gained from the Story of Stuff video.

Stephen came home from science camp today saying that for those of us who use Google, there is a lower energy alternative called Saveswatts.com.  It’s sponsored by Google but has a black background, among other small differences, and uses less energy per search.

A Birthday Party Game that Makes Kids Think

My friend Marsi has always had a knack for birthday party games.  One year Todd and I followed up on one of her good ideas and created a complex treasure hunt.  We’ve now done the treasure hunt for probably five birthday parties over the past three years.

A small warning:  Once you create this type of treasure hunt, the children (your own and previous year’s guests) will request one each year.  So be sure to keep your clues filed somewhere easy to find on the computer for future year’s modifications.

For the actual treasure hunt, it’s worked well to split party guests into two groups, each group having a coach, as well as completely different sets of clues.  Make the clues fairly challenging and feel free to throw in a few rhymes.  Here are some examples we used this year with 6-8 year-olds.

1.  Annie likes me but I’m not to Stephen’s taste.  We’re friends with tea, ice cream and toothpaste.  (mint growing in the garden)

2. Without me people would stay on the ground.  With me they check out the mountains around.  (the staircase to our neighbor’s upper deck)

3. I have numbers but am not a phone.  I have letters but am not a book.  Outside is where you should look.  (our car’s license plate)

4. I can swallow it all, even worms too.  Then come next year, your garden looks new.  (our outdoor compost)

This game takes some work to set up, but the kids’ pride in working so hard to decode the clues makes it well worth the trouble.  More than one parent informed me that their daughter had come home that afternoon and created her own treasure hunt for her family to follow.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

MutantSupermodel July 1, 2011 at 9:02 am

I love your treasure hunt idea. My son’s 8th birthday is coming up and I think this would work very well with his group. Does it lead to a prize?

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Play. Fight. Repeat. July 1, 2011 at 11:50 am

Yes, we had the last clue in each of our teams lead to a spot where we could store some treasure (which in our case was the kids’ goodie bags). Have fun!

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