I’ve always liked odd numbers, maybe because of a rule I learned early on about odd numbers creating pleasing, balanced compositions, I don’t know.  Already in the even year of 2010 we’ve celebrated the magical turning of ages– from 4 and 6 to 5 and 7–in reverse order and in the same week.  Five and seven feel like round, solid milestones, just as my kids feel to me to be solidly who they are, even as they grow and change.  I’m continually fascinated by their individuality–these brothers–so close in age and close to each other, with many shared life experiences, but who couldn’t be more different.

little brothers help paint the dragon

Helping each child plan their birthday party highlighted some of these differences, in a good way.  While one brother envisioned a knight-themed party with jousts and sword fighting and invitations for everyone he could think of (we talked him down to 13), the other brother’s main concern was that his party “not be loud” and have a piñata.  The mom/artist/art teacher in me got to wear all three hats at once, and approached the doings with all of the creative tricks I’ve got up my sleeves, and some I didn’t know I had.

sewing crowns on a rainy day

With a little convincing, the knight party got steered more toward outfitting and knightly tasks than real battles,  and with the help of fabric and paper we had all the props we needed to set the scene.  Luckily for us, a week-long heavy rain stopped just in time for the party to happen in the backyard, a much better place for a knight tournament than our living room.

After all of the young ladies and sirs arrived, and after a short introduction to heraldry, the novice knights made their own shields.

Paul was amazed at how the girls were so focused on painting their shields, while the boys were more interested in getting it done so they could go off and be knights.  I wasn’t surprised…

The first test of knightly bravery was to PUT OUT THE DRAGON’S FIRE.

And they did!  The next project was for each Sir or Lady to decorate their own crown…

Every knight got to choose a cut fabric singlet to complete their outfit for the next task (made from metallic yardage on sale from the local fabric store, plus a goldish old curtain), the Messenger Relay.  The two knight teams were to gallop with a stick horse in one hand and a rolled up message in the other, and successfully complete a hand-off of the message to the next team member.

Watching and steering the knights through this game reminded me that kids really do love relay races in all forms.

When the race was run, we opened the scroll of paper to read the important message congratulating the knights on their efforts, and sending them off with the command from Her Majesty to “go eat cake and ice cream!”

And yes, at the end, the boy & girl knights did quite a lot of running around waving sticks and galloping on horses, but there was also a focused archery lesson (the girls loved this!), and some good old-fashioned party play happening.  The grown-ups who stayed appreciated the good fun that the kids had, and everyone left happy and more or less intact, and in full knight gear. 

With the knight party under my belt, the request for a piñata and a quiet party, seemed like… well…a piece of cake.

The weather stayed sunny enough so that we could work in the backyard to make our own star-shaped piñata  from a hanger, a balloon, some cardstock, masking tape, and papier maché.  And some paint.

piñata drying

The almost 5 year old had a few more requests to fill out the party:  one friend plus her mom and dad and a grandpa as his guests, that he would get to hit the piñata first, no blindfolds, and that he would get to break the piñata open.  I told him that we could promise everything, except his last request, and he accepted that.

The four kids loved having a whack at the piñata, over and over again, and all to themselves.  Each one contributed to the breaking, but it was the 7 year old who cracked it last…

and that last hit did it– a candy free-for-all–enough for twice as many kids, at least!

chocolate and lollypops

To finish off the party, we ate what we called a star cake and more ice cream…

candles out

There is nothing like being 5, or 7, is there?

New birthday blanket