Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Mason turned five years old last week. FIVE! Oh my gosh I cannot believe it has been five years since I first became a Mom. How fast the years go by and even faster, how you settle into your new routine. The ease at which you transform from a daughter, to wife to a mother and never look back. So it is only fitting that he chose to have a Transformers themed birthday this year.
I had quite a bit of fun planning this party. O.K., I have fun planning all my kids parties, but this one was especially fun. Mostly because of the age of my son and his party guests. I was able to do so much more, be more creative and actually plan some fun activities to go along with our traditional pin the tail, pinata and cake. Even more, it was fun because I kept it simple.
Yup, that's right, I said simple. The decorations, the favors, and the food, all quick and easy. It really helps to make early preparation a priority. Establishing that theme early on and then buying things like streamers, balloons, and tablecloths weeks before the party; even before I made the invitations. I scored them pretty cheap thanks to sales and coupons. Of course I could not go shopping for any of this stuff without my co-planner. He has been a part of the process from the very beginning. Since he could talk (which was two) and had an opinion, I've respectfully run my ideas through his approval. He usually agrees, but every once and while we butt heads. Still, it's fun to get the kids involved.
Having a Transformers theme, it was pretty easy to pick the colors. I assumed we'd pretty much be doing black and yellow for BumbleBee, Mason's favorite character, but he insisted we have blue, red and grey as well. Representing Optimus Prime and Ironhide, respectfully. We split the five colors up between the streamers (Red, Blue, Black) and balloons (yellow, black and silver). I then made two banners. One that says Happy Birthday, replicating the yellow and black stripped Camero that is BumbleBee. The second, a blue and grey banner to represent Optimus with alternating Autobot and Decepticon images. I hung them up the night before his birthday so when he woke up that morning and came downstairs he saw them and immediately said, "I love it Mom. Especially the Transformers letters."
For the favors I made yellow and black playdough. After having made my first batch of playdough last year, I have never looked back. The batch you get is huge and it a lot softer and stays moist for way longer than the store bought brand name dough. I packed them in cheap tupperware containers, printed out the recipe on sticker paper and wrapped them in ribbon.
That night after everyone was in bed I stayed up way too late and decorated the house. I am a bit of a night owl. I work best, creatively, when I am alone with no distractions and it is quiet except for my music or latest podcast I listen to while working. I think it was 2am by the time I finally crawled into bed but I had the satisfaction of having everything that could possibly be done, done. Weekends are my days to sleep in so thankfully I got to sleep later than everyone else after pulling the all nighter. I missed Mason's reaction when he walked downstairs, but my heart soared when Fred told me that he went on and on and on about the decorations and how, "this was the best birthday ever!!" And "Daddy, isn't this great? Isn't this the best birthday ever? How are you not more excited?!" I guess I got it right. If everything else fell apart or didn't go as planned, I could be happy anyway.
The most exciting part of the planning, and the party for that matter, was the activity I had planned.
Are any of you familiar with a show called Dino Dan? It is a show about a boy who is really into dinosaurs and you get to learn all about them and see them in action. It's a neat show as we have stumbled upon it a few times. On one particular day we watched an episode in which Dan was having a birthday. As one of the activities, his mother created a hunt for the kids with clues to find out which dinosaur was on the cake. Mason turned to me and immediately suggested a hunt to figure out which Transformer was on his cake. For months, he would mention this idea to me. However, I soon realized that finding a Transformers cake, much less getting a say as to what character was on it, was extremely difficult. So the plan had to be altered. I thought back to my childhood and remembered the summer reading programs my Mom would drag my sister and I to, as her helpers. One summer, the program had a pirate theme and she did a treasure hunt with the kids. I remembered how much fun that was for the kids, and despite the fact that at the time, I hated being there, it was actually a lot of fun for me too.
So our cake clue idea became the Hunt for the Allspark. Mason immediately thought this was a cool idea. However, we needed a way for each kid to get their own Allspark to take with them and how in world would I make 14 Allsparks? As I searched for ideas, we found ourselves at Walmart, shopping for who knows what, and ending up in the party isle where they have all those little trinkets for favors. You know the ones that are like $1 or less. There we found these cubed erasers, that are a puzzle, and immediately said, "this is our Allspark". They were perfect.
I then spent the next week leading up to the party, creating and coming up with clever clues to hide around the house leading the kids from room to room and ultimately the Allspark. The morning of the party, I hid all the clues in their appropriate places and anxiously awaited for the time to start the game. Below are the clues I created.
I started off by explaining the deal with the war between the Autobots and Decepticons, for those who are not familiar with the Transformers. I then explained that we needed to "find the Allspark before Megatron and save our planet from the evil forces of the Decepticons. Who is with me?" All the kids started jumping up and down, raising their hands and screaming, "me! Me!" The funniest part was after all the kids got quiet as I was about to read the first clue, Sophie runs up to the group and yells, "me too! " (Have I mentioned how much I love this girl?) This actually might have been more fun for me, but I think I got the kids excited enough. I watched as they ran from room to room, looking for the clue and getting so excited once it was found, ready to hear where they were heading next. Once they found the cubes, they were rewarded with a pinata. What an excellent way to get rid of excess Halloween candy.
After some more playing, it was time for cake. Being the family documentarian and always having my camera, my only regret was not having taken pictures throughout the party. No images of the kids all hitting the mark on the pin the symbol on BumbleBee, no images of me reading the clues to overexcited kids, no images of them pulling the strings on the pinata, no images of them them just all around having a blast and playing. However, I did grab my camera long enough to take a photo of the cake and Mason blowing out his candles. Which was a fun event, because jokingly I told Mason was going to use those trick candles on his cake and he then convinced me to actually use them. So two of them, no one knew which ones, were the trick ones and it took him a few tries to blow them out.
All in all, it was a fun day. I think it could have potentially been more chaotic, especially if more people were invited. I am learning that at this age most parents assume parties are drop off. I ran into this last year with Mason as well. I don't know about you, but I would not drop off my 4 or 5 year old preschooler at someones house for two hours, especially when I do not know them that well. Though this does not seem to be an issue for the majority of the parents at our preschool. A few of the kids got dropped off, which was fine, as we had a sufficient number of parents who did stay, but if it had been all 12 kids in my house just me and my husband, I would have lost it. Knowing this, and knowing it was only going to be expected for next year, Fred and I decided that future parties for Mason will be held somewhere other than our home.
I'm glad Mason had a great time with his friends, I'm glad he loved all the planning that went into it and I am especially glad I have gotten to see him grow from year to year. When it comes to transformations, this past year has been the biggest for him. Baby fat is gone, and his skills are expanding. With that, since he is learning to write, this year I am having him write his own Thank You notes. I created fill in the blank cards and he has been busy writing them out this week.