Friday, June 29, 2012

Cutie Pants

And in case you haven't seen the lusciousness of his crazy-curly hair:

A few pictures with the bros:

And while he's stinkin' cute, Ryan and I learned that we have both independently referred to him as "The Hulk." When he gets mad, there's really nothing like it - it's like a scene straight out of a movie. You can see it building...building...then he explodes into a fit of rage - sweeping his arms across the nearest table or dresser sending papers and paraphernalia hurling to the ground; rushing at chairs and trying to throw them to the ground; slamming the drawing easel into the wall, looking to smash throw or bite any nearest object... it's really something else.

And he's a daddy's boy like I've never seen. As soon as Ryan walks in the door Diesel starts yelling if he's not being held by him within about 2 seconds. I never take care of Diesel when we're both home because he'll have nothing to do with me! Here we are visiting his favorite person at work at the hospital on Father's Day.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Ninjago Birthday Party

Cash's highly anticipated 6th birthday Ninjago bash finally rolled around last week! While I sometimes opt to keep the birthday festivities a surprise for the kids, I think having Cash help out and watch it develop made it even better for him. (And not a complete failure like the huge water balloon fight I launched at his 5th birthday which left him screaming in tears after the first burst of water got him....)  I looked online finding all the perfect elements I wanted and became quite the Ninjago expert myself (these are Lego ninjas for those who don't know). I'll start at the beginning of my pictures as my prep started.

First up: invitations.

Those ninja eyes made for a great theme to base my decorations around. While I liked the look of this first invitation better, I didn't want the girls to think it was totally a boy party and so added in the only girl character on another invitation that I gave out to the girls:

I worked on all my designs and printables first so the next item up was:

Super awesome water bottles. I've never done the custom labels before and I have to say I might be a fan. Especially since this design looked so cool!  I adapted it from a free handout from another awesome Ninjago party I saw here, resized it for the water bottles I had, and added this on the back based on another idea I saw somewhere else.  Even the bar code had meaning.  :)

To further the beverage coolness, I decided to make some "Ninja Boost Activator" for the kids to add to their water.  Individual serving Crystal light packets covered with these labels made out of sticker paper (I use that stuff for everything).  Man did the kids buy into this or what. It's been days and my kids still insist on drinking ninja juice every day as opposed to regular water. 

Next up?  Well....

I made 20 ninja masks.  Now originally I made 16 - four in each of the colors of the Ninjagos - red, white, blue and black. And then thought better of it and made some pink ones for the girls, even though it went against the colors I was trying to stick with. I was glad I did though - I was pretty sad they were all gone at the end of the party!  I hadn't had nearly enough running around my building like this.  :)   And while I have zero sewing skills, it really was just a matter of figuring out how to design and cut it (turned out two pieces looked better than one mask) and then I just hemmed down one side on each piece and sewed on the extra fabric for straps to tie in the back. Voila.

My nephews helped try them on when they were in town.

The swords (the ones pictured on me above) also took a little adjusting. When I bought them here, they were originally pictured with a strap which I was totally excited about. Ninjas have to wear their swords on their back to be ready for attack, of course. But alas, when I got them there was no strap and they said that must have been an old picture (and have since updated it). So I had some more engineering to figure out how to attach straps and sewed straps out of thick ribbon on all of them.  I loved them. And even though I tried to make them so they were quite snug on me, it turns out kids really don't have a thick enough body to hold those on tight and still be big enough to get over their heads. Maybe some type of elastic material would have worked better, besides the fact that over one shoulder thing was way beyond any of them!  And as I was jumping around the hallways of my building  yelling as I drew my sword at people, it occurred to me that the 30" sword may even be too long for their 6 year-old arms to draw out of the sheath...and I was right.  But it was still a great effect.  And they loved them.

Then on to one of my favorite details!  

My Ninjago suckers. I used Tootsie pops and covered them with crepe paper and then stuck on the ninja eyes also printed out on sticker paper. Used some double-sided tape here and there to make them look better. Loved them.

Next project was the take-home goody bags. Only with the Asian ninja flare.

Fortune cookies, martial arts arm bands, a cool looking roll of gum, a wall-walker (there were cool ninja ones but I couldn't find them in stock anywhere), and a couple ninjago stickers I had made out that I didn't really end up using. (There were also cool ninja band-aids I wanted to use but I couldn't find those in stock anywhere either). All packaged up in:

Chinese take-out boxes with ninja eyes.

Then came the food, as Ninjago-themed as I could come up with. 

Spinjitzu sticks. (Spinjitzu is their form of martial arts, they have toys that the ninjas spin around on with their weapons to battle each other.) I figured these could pass as those staffs they battle with.  Pretzel rods dipped in different colored candy melts and then rolled in sprinkles, chocolate chips, and my personal favorite, the blue toasted coconut (they didn't have blue sprinkles at the last store I went to so I got creative).  I also did some in an intermediate size (a bit bigger than the small pretzel sticks) and put them in take-out boxes figuring adults would probably like to sample different kinds without having to commit to the whole rod. Originally I thought I might put the big pretzels in take-out boxes to serve, but they turned out to look disturbingly like french fries sticking out of a box and took away from how pretty they were!  (Maybe it was the fact I tried a red box first and it just looked so much like a McDonald's french fry box....) But the small ones were cute in there.

Of course the Asian theme couldn't do without some "sushi."

Rice krispie treats wrapped around Swedish fish or gummy candies and then wrapped with some fruit rolls.  Huge hit with the kids.

Then there was the veggie tray:

The Ninjagos fight the snakes this year, so we went with a cucumber snake with extra carrot tongues you could even stick in your mouth and try yourself.

And of course Ninjago cupcakes.

While the prep all went well, I was super anxious about the weather. Living in an apartment is a big drag for having birthday parties because there is just no space for everyone. So we were having it out at the park by our house - a huge risk since notoriously, all my birthday parties get rained on. The party was Thursday night from 6-8 (since most of his friend's parents work). The first half of the week was beautiful.  Gorgeous, pleasant evenings that weren't nearly as muggy as Miami can be in the summer. Then I heard the weatherman say, "but the last half of the week will be nothing like the first half."  Oh great.  But by Wednesday night and Thursday morning, it looked to be no threat of showers during party time, just HOT. Sure enough, the day looked beautiful, but the temperature was holding steady at a steamy 95 degrees by 6:30pm.  And then, 20 minutes into the party we heard huge claps of thunder!  We were so caught off guard - none of us had even seen anything coming.  But it thundered and thundered and had us all so anxious that we were going to have to pack everything all up while getting dumped on in a mess of kids, food and all that party setup that we were fairly in panic mode and tried to speed up the party a bit in case we had to run for it.  What do you know, but the first raindrop fell at 7:59pm.  It was pretty miraculous for being surrounded by the constant rumble of thunder for an hour! So thank heavens it turned out well.

While I would have loved more tables, more space to have everything set up, a house where I could have everything set out in different areas so I wasn't trying to remember details all throughout the party, we did the best with what we had and it was a great time.  My other favorite detail had to be these Chinese lanterns.  I found these criss-cross paper lanterns here (along with a lot of my other party favors and decorations), which I thought looked even more like a ninja mask wrapped around their head.  Again, sticker paper for the eyes. They're still hanging in our house and make me so happy.



I just read that you can put packing tape over your labels if you want them more waterproof. Might have been a good idea with the humidity here. And then ninja boost activated....

I had made some layered jello (lemon in the middle) named after Kai, the ninja of fire, but you can see the humidity turned these into more jello shooters than I had planned on.  :)

I had also skewered some fruit, which I really thought was a big eyesore, but I made the mistake of asking Cash if I could just throw all the stickers I wasn't going to use into the treat boxes for the kids or if he wanted me to make some fruit skewers with them.  He chose fruit.

After some food, we gave the ninja masks out to the kids. 

And I loved the response to "show me your best ninja moves."


Then Sensei Wu stepped out for some ninja training.  (Sadly the strap for the cute Sensei Wu beard I made broke right as Ryan put it on so he just wrapped the thing around his face however  he could just to get it to stay).

 Cash said ninja training was his favorite part. He took it very seriously.

Ninja swords were demonstrated and distributed. (Yeah, that takes some coordination even if you're 33.)

Attempted some instructions that ninjas don't hit other ninjas and to stay a good arm's distance away from each other...

And unleashed them on the enemy....



A couple of bop bags that I had gotten to give them something to unleash their 6 year-old sword-wielding fury on.  (I thought it would have been fun to play the Ninjago theme song while they battled the bop bags but I didn't have anything that would have played it loud enough at the playground.)

And I'm pretty sure some people had to be cursing my name for giving a bunch of 6 year-olds swords on the playground!

Eh, you only turn 6 once.

Um, did someone forget I've been strapped in this stroller this whole time??

Um, yes. Yes, I did.  Thank heavens he wasn't his usual fussy self for a little while so we could run a birthday party.  No matter, he would still prove to be the most unwieldy of all with those ninja swords.

I will say things like this definitely make you wish you lived by family (and them glad you don't). But just for the sheer fact that who watches your kids while you make all the trips back and forth to the park taking all this stuff? Thank heavens for my neighbor Betsey. I would have been a disaster without her!  Too bad I didn't get any pictures with her in it because she was behind my camera the whole time. We will be so devastated when they move away this summer. :(  (And I keep saying I'll need a counselor. Who else will listen to all the unimportant details of my life that my husband has no interest in hearing or give me input as to which shade of red they like better on my ninja labels??)

I know this is a lot of detail for a party, but I sure poured over blogs looking for ideas, and I loved hearing the details!

And just like last year when as soon as Cash turned 5 he lost his bottom teeth, this year wasn't much different!

Happy birthday Cash!! We love you!

I have finally got files up so you don't have to email me, so help yourself to any files you want (I also made an invitation with Lloyd since he wasn't around when we had our party, and a file with more party detail for those interested):


**If for some reason this doesn't work, don't leave a comment, just email me directly if you want me to send you anything. . I don't come back and check this post for comments and they don't come to my email.