Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ladies and Gentlecars...

Start your engines!  It's time to race on over for Drew's 5th birthday party!

I'm not sure if I've written before about how important it is to me that we celebrate our kids' birthdays. I don't find it necessary to be extravagant or to give our boys their every wish and desire, but I want them to feel special.  And I want them to know what a great day it was when they were born.  Certainly, I hope these are things we show them everyday, but birthdays are special.  And there is a reason they are so special - on that particular day, God blessed us with one of His greatest gifts, and that right there is reason to celebrate!

We have hosted small birthday gatherings since the boys' first birthdays.  Because we have lived so far from family for the past few years, it was such a blessing this time around to be able to host our family for Drew's big day.  Shortly after Christmas, we began to plan a party that, per Drew's request, was Lightening McQueen themed.  (His affection for Cars has only increased since his 3rd birthday.) :)  Although I consider myself a creative person, I'm a creative cheat.  I see ideas I like, and use them.  I heart the internets. :)  I began scouring Pinterest for ideas and came across quite a few ideas that I thought I could pull off, on a budget, and produce for Drew a fun-filled day.

First up, the invitation.

I took inspiration from the images I found after Googling "Lightening McQueen party invitations" and was able to use Photoshop to create my own.  (I can't find the specific one I modeled this one after, but it is very similar to mine.)

Next, the cake.  I found a handful of options and narrowed it down to two that I thought I could make a reasonable facsimile of, then presented them to Drew for him to pick which one he liked.  I had my preference for what I thought would be easier for me to pull off, and really played it up for Drew, and then just kind of said "and here's the other one."  He, of course, picked "the other one."  *sigh*  Anything for my kid, right?  

and here's how mine turned out.
Not too shabby.
I really do enjoy the process of making cakes, it just takes a really stinkin' long time. :)

I also really enjoy the process of party planning.  I like the "details" and I enjoy pulling it all together. So after surfing the web and spending a morning running from store to store, searching for products and doing price checks, I had a clear picture of how things would all come together.

And here is where I interject and say, yes, I know that Drew doesn't care.  He wants a cake and he wants to open presents, and that's about as much interest he has in the details of his party.  I know this.  I get this.  I am completely aware that all these little details are simply for me.  HA!  It is 1) a creative outlet for me and 2) feeds my desire to have all things themed, labeled and otherwise organized.  Cuz I'm a little nutty like that.  My desire truly comes from wanting to do it for Drew, to add to the specialness of his day, but I'm not delusional enough to think he really cares.  He doesn't.  And I'm okay with that.

So in keeping with the Cars theme, I wanted to introduce more characters from the movie, and I saw in my online searching one very fun and specific way that others have accomplished this - by pulling familiar things from the movie and drawing parallels with them to the party.

Here's what I mean:

Ramone's House of Body Art is a temporary tattoo and coloring station for the kids.
(First seen HERE.)

Sarge's Surplus was where the guests' party bags were located. 
{First seen HERE and HERE.} 
{Inside each bag was a race flag, a sheet of Cars stickers, and Cars fruit snacks.} 
I also had the "guess how many tires are in the jar" game on this table.  I typically like party games, and try to have a few just to occupy some of the time, but they were kind of a last minute thought for this party.  I came up with this game last minute, and then got out one of our road map play rugs and a bean bag toss for the kids to play with.

Each party guest (under the age of 8) also received a Pit Crew Pass.  I had seen these on a few other blogs and it was something that I wanted to do, but really didn't want to spend the money to make.  I don't want to come across as being cheap (I do like a good deal, though, as you know) but I wasn't thrilled about spending money on party gifts that typically don't last long beyond the end of the actual party.  But then I had an Oprah "ah ha" moment and remembered I had a laminator.  Brilliant!  So after modifying the party invite and purchasing a spool of heavier ribbon for $1, I was able to whip these babies up pretty quickly and inexpensively. 

As for food, the party wasn't scheduled around a meal time, but what kind of party is one with no food?!?!  So, again, taking inspiration from online, we created our own Flo's V8 Cafe.

(Food ideas taken from HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.)

I made the race flags and the checkered pennant bunting for decor.

After all of our guests arrived, and we began snacking and tattooing and playing, it was time to open gifts.  Just like when he opened his gifts on his birthday, Drew was so much fun to watch.  He genuinely was interested in each and every gift and was thrilled and thankful to receive them all.  {Next week we'll be working on thank you notes!}

After gifts, pinata time!  There is a cute little story to go along with this: back in September, at Perry's party, there was a pinata, and Avery had one at his party in November.  I wasn't necessarily thinking we'd do one for Drew - it wasn't on my radar - but Avery asked me one day what kind of pinata Drew was going to have.  Ummm....well....lets see....  So I quickly came up with something like, "Well, I'm not sure, I haven't really thought about it.  He's having a McQueen party, so maybe a tire pinata or something like that."  Avery seemed satisfied with that answer, and eventhough I wasn't convinced we'd have one, I considered making one.  I made one last year for Drew's party, and although it takes a while, they are fairly easy and straightforward to make.  Then, on a quick trip to Target later that week, I found a McQueen pinata on clearance for $5.40.  Sold!
Everyone got a good whack or two at it...but because it was designed to be a pull string pinata and not one that should be beaten to death, it broke off at the hanger and we ended up using the pull strings to release the trap door for the candy.

The kids didn't seem to mind. :)

Then, let's eat that cake!

It was good. :)

The party guests included our families and close friends of ours.

Jeremy, Ashley, Avery and Addy.

Mindy, Justin and Perry.

Scott, Kathy, Grace, Norah and Charlotte.

Our super special guests: Grandma, Grandpa, Lauren, and Ali, who drove the farthest to spend the day with us.  Awe. some.

And Grammy and Papa.
{They never left so I didn't get a photo of them by the door.} :)


It was a fun day.  I think everyone had a good time.

And I hope that our big man knows exactly how special he is, not because we had a party, but because he's ours.  And we are so, so happy about that. 

He's 5

Last Thursday, my big man turned another year older.

I kinda feel like it's a big deal.  #3 and #4, not so much a problem.

#5?  It feels big.  Probably because "5" translates to "kindergartener."

Thank goodness September doesn't come for 8 more months!

Drew woke up on his birthday and was smothered with kisses and "Happy Birthday"s - and he very adamantly declared, "I'm not five until I open my presents."

Well, let's get on that, then, huh?

He opened gifts from us and from Grammy & Papa, and it was awesome.  
He was genuinely excited for every gift, and it showed on his face.

Take a look...

His big gift this year is a new bike.  I scored a sweet deal prior to the holidays and I couldn't pass it up.  Besides, it was time.  I think he's ready to learn, although he looked a little nervous sitting on it in the living room.  I guess it's a benefit for him that his birthday is in January and we have a couple more months before we'll head outside with it!   

And as per our tradition of having the birthday boy pick his place for dinner on his big day - well, I don't think I need to tell you where we went. :)

 I'd be excited too if I got custard AND cupcakes on the same day!

Blowing out those candles with a little help from the guy on the left. :)

We had a truly awesome day.

And I still can't believe he's five.

Nope.  Doesn't get any easier to say.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Project Life {Week 4}

We had a really full week this week, which means there's a lot to squeeze into my scrapbook.  Our week began with the loss of a friend, and ended with Drew's 5th birthday party - which I'll be blogging about soon. 

 {It snowed!  More!  The boys gave Papa and Dad a helping hand in the driveway.}

 {Conversations at lunch.}

 {Sledding!  In the snow!}

Drew turned five!

 {Birthday lunch at Culvers, with custard AND cupcakes for dessert.}

 {His birthday celebration at school was on Friday, and he brought these to share with his class.}

Drew's birthday party was Saturday, the 28th.
Here's a sneak peek... ;)

I'll also be including a few other tidbits in this week's layout...

  • The Smurfs movie poster - we had family movie night on Sunday
  • The obituary of a dear friend who passed away on Tuesday
  • The red envelope that Drew got from a Chinese classmate when they celebrated the Chinese New Year at school
  • Drew's party invitation
  • The sweet story of Drew telling me I'm the best mom in the world  :)