It all started with a blog link my mom sent me from my aunt. "This reminds me of Becky," she simply said. And who was I to disagree? Good thing I've got a place nearby that's a treasure trove of small, plastic toys (see aforementioned references to local markets), a creative sidekick of a friend to drum up idea with, and kids who love a good mystery. Mix it all together and you have Dinanuary.
Yes, I know it's supposed to be Dinovember but we're most likely going to be in the States in November and my prehistoric pals will not be allotted that much suitcase space. Yes, I know that phonetically speaking, Dinovember rolls of the tongue much more easily. But you work with what you've got and what we've got is Dinanuary.
In case you've not seen the original blog of the family who invented this game, the gist of it is that the dinosaurs come alive at night and get into all sorts of trouble for the kids to discover in the morning. It's like Elf of the Shelf but cooler (in my humble opinion) because who needs one more thing during Christmas to distract from Jesus?
As all month-long extravaganzas do, Dinanuary kicked off on Jan 1. We spend the night at a friend's house, and the dinos welcomed us home in New Year's reverie. I'm sure if they had vocal cords that were not made from plastic, they would have been serenading us with a roaring version of Auld Lang Syne.
This one actually took a bit of foresight on my part since I didn't have the sleeping hours to get things set up. It went off without too big of a mishap--except for Micah finding them all arranged on my dresser and asking me why the dinos had letters. Oh well. Kids are thankfully quite unassuming about these things.
The next night, the dinos decided that Christmas was over and that something needed to be done about the house.
But you know how dinosaurs are...easily distracted from the task at hand. So while the workhorses lugged the tree across the living room, the ADD dinos scavenged for overlooked stocking stuffers...
...had a holiday treat...
"We do not eat candy at 9 AM!" Micah exclaimed in the morning. Not saying my kids get up at 9, just a phrase that he's heard from a certain matriarch figure more than once.
...made an ego statement by posing as a present...
...and made new friends. It's uncertain if the dinos wanted to adore & worship Baby Jesus or eat him.
On day three, the dinos showed their literary prowess.
Some got acquainted with their species.
Some enjoyed a fictional tale.
Some would rather play games than read.
And some just always have food on the mind.
The dinos let their wild side show the next night with a high stakes game of Tumbling Monkeys.
The odds were not in T-Rex's favor. He's an emotional eater, so it's a good thing there were monkeys involved.
One might assume the dinosaurs are reckless and immature because of their gambling ways. However, in fact, oral hygiene is of great importance to them, evidenced by the next night's adventure.
Our kids eat oatmeal for breakfast every morning, so the dinos thought they owed it to me to help out in the kitchen after the terrible mess they made in the bathroom the night before.
Some of their efforts were less than helpful.
In the beginning, I thought it would be difficult to come up with a new idea every night. Plus, my mom pointed out that I chose the longest month of the year. But I've been pleasantly surprised with how easy it has all come. Even my kids have been offering their two cents of what the dinos might get into next. "What if," Micah pondered one night, "they came into my room at night? I wonder if I would hear them!" So onto the dresser they went, with a sign of morning greetings, and the coveted Mr. Incredible sticker in tow.
The baseboards throughout our entire apartment were more or less installed with a hope & a prayer instead of an actual adhesive substance. Thankfully, the dinosaurs turned out to be quite the handymen.
They made use of every sticky substance their pea brains could think of.
I am said to report, however, that my baseboards are still broken.
The next night, our dinosaurs showed just how culturally aware they are. It was La Ba Jie here in China, which basically translates to Porridge Day. A neighbor friend brought us a big pot of date, walnut & rice porridge for our kids to enjoy (which they did). Our neighbor probably did not predict that our kids wouldn't be the only ones to partake of La Ba Jie.
To round out the meal, the dinos drug some left over bao zi out of our fridge.
On La Ba Jie night, the triceratops got separated from the rest of the pack during set up. When they woke up in the morning, Micah noticed immediately that he was gone and was very concerned that he didn't get to eat bao zi and zhou (porridge). He went and found him in order to bring him to the table to eat before I cleaned it all up.
La Ba Jie must have put the dinosaurs in a festive mood because they celebrated a birthday the next night.
The triceratops did not have porridge for his birthday but cupcakes instead. (Actually, they were bran muffins. We throw a mad party around here.)
All the dino friends were in attendance. The balloon bearers...
the present bearers...
the hat wearers...
and the guy that no one wants to invite but you have to...
Tired after all the birthday & porridge jubilee, the dinosaurs had a laid back puzzle night the next day.
I've read that the herbivores were not the smartest of dinosaurs. Seems to be true in light of the puzzle progress of our fine brachiosaurus...
Some dinosaurs were more interested in farm snacks than the actual puzzle itself.
And others were too busy with family reunions.
So there ya have it. Installment one of Dinanuary. It's been a roarin' good time. I'm pretty sure that Kevin & I (mostly me) are having more fun with this than the kids! More pictures to come...