Friday, July 23, 2010

Happy Birthday to Alex

As I mentioned, Alex's birthday was on the 10th and we hosted a big construction-themed party to celebrate. I mean, I really can't think of a better idea than planning a huge party and inviting a dozen three-year olds and their families over to our house to play in the dirt and water three weeks after giving birth. But while some new moms might see the whole "recovering from childbirth" and "caring for a newborn" and "severe sleep deprivation" situation as an excuse to slack off on party planning for the older sibling, I was even more motivated to give Alex the best party ever. I was so worried that he would already be traumatized by losing his position as the center of the universe when Isaac showed up, and I didn't want launch him into a deep, dark spiral of despair by depriving him of a fabulous 3rd birthday party. That, and I really like to throw parties.

I started planning months ahead of time, designed the invitations and decor, ordered party favors, and made guest lists because I knew it would be pure insanity once Isaac arrived. Here is the invitation and the inspiration for the theme:

We LOVE our backyard now that it has grass, and it was the perfect place to have the party (metal detour sign courtesy of my dad, handpainted party sign courtesy of my mom).

I ordered plastic construction hats online and attached different construction job titles to the front of each so the kids could decide what they wanted to be. Alex was the "crew leader", of course.

When each kid entered the yard, they got a little plastic bucket and shovel and a bag of random construction-related goodies: street sign-themed stickers, a street sign-shaped sucker, and some super cute dump truck soaps that I ordered from a gal on Etsy (soaps by her, cute coordinating bag tags by me ;).

The idea was that the kids would hand the little bag to their moms then use the shovel and pail at the party. We bought baby pools to fill with sand and water and mulch, and I had originally planned on filling the third pool with dirt, but all I could find was potting soil and I got totally paranoid about letting the kids play in something that might be coated in chemicals. It wasn't until after the party that I found out that topsoil is actually "plain ol' dirt" and is totally safe for kids to dig around in. Ya learn somethin' new everyday...We also threw various construction vehicles and random digging tools into the sand and construction-themed rubber duckies into the water so the kids would have stuff to play with.

The party guests were a combination of family members (including my grandparents from Arizona and my aunt and cousin from south Texas), Alex's classmates, friends from church, and Tim's friends from work. As you can see, Isaac was a ball of fire. I can't remember what the exact head count was, but it seemed like a whole lotta people.

The birthday boy and his buddy Jaron, aka his "best friend" as mentioned in his 3-year interview.

The party ran into lunchtime, so I had some sandwiches and lots of finger foods and drinks set out. I did a terrible job of taking pictures during the party, so I really didn't get a good shot of the layout at the food table. I am just sick about it because I spent so much time making the menu and designing paper goods to embellish everything, and now I don't have any documentation of it. Here's a shot by Leah (who deserves credit for many of the great pictures posted here) that shows the plastic pails filled with goodies and the shovels used to serve them.

The menu included pb&j and turkey & cheese "sand"wiches, "wrecking balls" (cheeseballs, watermelon balls, and blueberries), dirt pudding, various "sticks" (cheese sticks, carrots, celery, pretzels, etc.), "asphalt chips" (blue corn tortilla chips), and "gravel" (Reese's Pieces cereal). I designed these construction barrier labels for the buckets, and the sandwiches were embellished with street sign-inspired food pics.

We rented tables and chairs so the kids could sit and eat their lunches. I found these really fun construction cone cups with straws for the kids to drink out of and made them part of the place settings. They have a really narrow opening for the liquid to go in, so I bought little black funnels that the kids could use to funnel the juice into their cups. I really didn't get a good picture of this process, but it was super fun and I think the kids dug it.

Instead of doing a cake, we got chocolate cupcakes from the awesome bakery at our grocery store. I made cupcake toppers and wrappers for each one...

...Unfortunately the wrappers didn't make the cut when it came down to crunch time on Saturday morning. If they had, this is what they would have looked like.

From the time we set up the tables, Alex had been asking if he could have his cupcake. He was very excited when I finally brought it to him.

He blew out the candle before we finished singing and I had to relight it so he could blow it out again. Perhaps he thought he'd get two birthday wishes that way.

After he had blown it out (again), I suggested that he lick the chocolate icing off the bottom of the candle. He decided to up the ante and bit a huge chunk out of the candle instead. I was in shock and kept telling him to spit it out, but he just chewed it up and swallowed it like it was the tastiest thing he'd eaten all day. See, the thing you need to know about Alex is that he has a wicked gag reflex, and if he so much as gets an eyelash in his mouth, he will panic, gag, and then barf his guts out...

...which is exactly what happened. Thirty seconds after I said something like, "I can't believe that didn't make him barf his guts out," I heard a ruckus and was informed that Alex had just thrown up in the grass. Luckily, this was nothing new to Alex so he wasn't upset by the fact that he had just blown chunks at his own birthday party and he went about his business as if nothing had happened.

Guests started to trickle out at that point. It was close to 12:30 by then, and I'd like to think that our party was so much fun that the kids were wiped out and ready to go home and take great naps. Alex's day had just begun, however. He had two tables full of presents to open, and as you know by now, opening presents is Alex's favorite thing about birthdays. I think he had a great day because he kept thanking me for giving him a "digger party" for his birthday. You're welcome, buddy! Happy birthday to you!!


Emily said...

Seriously??? And I was all proud of myself because I made my girls a birthday banner from scrap book paper. My craftiness confidence is basically back to zero. :) What great thought and attention to detail......Alex and Isaac are very lucky little men to have such a creative mommy. Awesome party!!

Jordan said...

You are so creative! I love all the fun decorations!