Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Noah's 3rd Birthday Party (Buzz/space)

Over the last six months or so I've had a lot of fun planning Noah's birthday party! Noah has been fanatical about Toy Story for a long time now, so this was an easy choice...last year we did the cowboy theme (like Woody), so this year we did a Buzz Lightyear/space theme. I know that I won't always be able to be the one to choose the theme (especially so far in advance)...so, all more the reason to take advantage of picking the party theme way in advance the first few birthdays!

So! This is going to be a very thorough (long) post...you've been warned! Here are the invitations that I made. Thanks to Mark for his help in cutting out some of the Buzz characters that I printed out. The silver stars are brads, and the Buzz Lightyear was raised up from the rest of the paper. I'm not a scrapbooker, so the invitation part of parties is always a feat for me! Here you can see the front & back of the invitation...

I bought Buzz Lightyear sucker molds online and tried a few different methods of adding the details. Ironically, this little system that I rigged actually worked the best. I melted the candy that I was using & mixed it to the right color. Then I put them in these metal containers that we had, and put them on our good ol' George Foreman (on low) to keep the candy warm and melted while I worked. It worked like a charm. Of course it took me several hours of trying different things before I figured that out...and after spending 10 hours making a measly 16 suckers - I opted to just make the last dozen solid purple.

Here's a quick snapshot I took while working on the suckers. I've decided that I won't ever choose to do a character (or anything with so much detail) again. Besides, it's hard to make a face look perfect enough that it's not goofy. The boots & hats I did last year were sooo much more simple.

However - Noah really loved the Buzz suckers, so it was worth the time.

Now on to the cake! Over the weeks prior to the party I had a lot of fun going over ideas with my friend Claire about the cake. She has made some beautiful fondant cakes & wanted to teach me how to use fondant icing. And, Claire's mom Ann (who did wedding cakes for 12 years) ended up being in town during the days prior to the party - so that worked out great too! The two of them gave me a bunch of tips and I went to baking. I made enough cakes to make a 3 tiered layer cake - two tiers chocolate, and one tier lemon. Later, Ann taught me how to make the most delicious buttercream frosting, and showed me the proper way to frost a cake. We ended up making each tier 4 layers, and I did end up frosting it a bit too thick, but it didn't cause too many problems...and it tasted good! Here's a quick shot of the top tier after I got done frosting it.

Next, Claire taught me how to knead and roll out fondant and to cover a cake. It was so cool! I really loved it. In fact, I'm already excited about doing it again in November for Lincoln's 2nd birthday! How great is it that I was able to get a one-on-one tutorial on cake decorating? I had a great time doing it too, and it was even nice that we had a few hiccups during the process. That way I was able to learn a few tricks about how to fix some common problems, plus I was also reminded that doing things like this can often require improvisation. I could never have pulled off this cake by myself & it turned out exactly like I'd hoped it would - thank you so very much, Claire & Ann!

Anyhow! Back to the cake creation. As we covered a tier, we would put it down on the dryer. It was nice and cool down there, and it cleared up more working space.

After the cakes were all covered it was time to try out Claire's new toy! She had gotten a pressure sprayer that she'd never used before, and we were excited to use it. We mixed black into the blue until we got the perfect shade of night blue that we were picturing, and then it was time to spray!...

After the spraying was all done, we were quite pleased with the way things turned out! Claire turned around and smiled at me, and I tried not to laugh too hard - her teeth were blue! Then she pointed out that mine were too! Aaargh. I guess that we should have been wearing those paper masks like the ladies in the nail salons do. Anyhow, I wasn't thrilled at the idea of breathing that fine blue mist into my lungs...and then I thought back to when I lived in Taiwan. I would go running in the mornings, and after I would come home I'd always blow my nose & my snot would be a grayish-black color. Gross! So, with that thought in mind, I suggested that we blow our noses & see what it looked like. Yup. Blue. And we continued to have blue snot not only that whole night, but the next day too! Gotta document that.

Claire also showed me how to mix colors into fondant by kneading it, and then we used some cute little cookie cutter shapes that I found to make stars, planets, and a moon.

Now, we recognize that the shower isn't the most glamorous place to spray and decorate a cake. However, after dealing with that fine blue mist we're even more glad that we did it there. And thank goodness for that cake turner of yours, Claire!

After the color was all dry it was time to hold our breaths and transfer the cake to the stand. Then the last steps for the cake were putting the rocket (which was completely Claire's creation) on top and adding the stars on wires that we made! It was so fun to see it all come together. We put three silver candles on the top tier, draped star gossamer (that we also hung over the windows) behind the cake, and ta-da!! Also, I suppose this point in the post is as good as any other to mention that no I did not lock my children in a room for several days prior to the party...Mark took vacation time for the three days prior to the party (what a sweetheart, huh?) and other than the birthday celebrating that we did with Noah on the 25th, Mark took care of our boys while I focused on party stuff. Even though I was up until 1:00 or later for 3 nights straight working on stuff, I still couldn't have pulled things off without his help with the boys. I'm sure there are women that could. Not me. So, I'm grateful to have a husband that doesn't mind using vacation time for stuff like this.

Noah's cake in all it's space-like glory.

And, then to add a bit more 3 year old appeal to it...we added some little green men (courtesy of Claire) and a Buzz Lightyear that Mark's brother's family was able to bring fresh from Disneyland that week! Thanks, guys! Noah had been talking for weeks about his cake (even to complete strangers), so I was glad that it lived up to his expectations. He loved it!

Next...decorations and other buzz-themed stuff. I collected decorations bit by bit from a wide variety of places. The banner, gossamer, silver star & Buzz balloons were all from Shindigz. The buzz confetti & favor bags were found in a 50 cent bin of a party store that was going out of business. OTC supplied star confetti, table covers, LGM streamers, glow sticks, solar system kits & silver cardboard stars. The pinata & colored balloons were from Celebrate Express. The paperware and Buzz stickers were from Pretty Party Place. Buzz goggles were on a clearance on Disney's website. And, since I gave myself so much time to plan the party, I was able to wait for sales & watch for online coupons. Bored yet? Sorry to document all these random details, it's more for myself than anything else - I find that I actually do refer back to them for future parties. Moving on...

A photo of the front room - notice the picture displayed on the television. Mark had the great idea of putting together a slide show of pictures of Noah that could play on the tv during the party. It was a lot of fun and I think we just may make that a new birthday tradition. Oh, and since there always has to be something that I don't get done because I run out of time...I had tons of silver stars that were supposed to hang all over from the ceiling. I think that 4 or 5 got hung. And we were going to wrap the liters of soda pop and add fins to make them look like rocket ships. Didn't happen :)

Here is a picture of the suckers, the space ice cream, and glow bracelets that everyone got to take as a party favor.

Finally! On to telling about the party itself! As guests arrived, the adults were given a survey with questions about Noah - his first word, favorite zoo animal, etc. (my mom was the only one to get all of the questions right, but a couple others were close). The kids were given these personalized "coloring books" that I made.

Noah was more interested in running around pretending to be Buzz Lightyear, or in this case...giving this Buzz balloon a ride on his shoulders.

Noah and his friends Drew & Michael...all in their "space ranger" shirts! Cute boys!

Next it was time to hand out the space goggles. I don't know who was more excited about them, me or the kids! I bought them months ago & thought they were so cute. They slide up and down, and when they're in the down position the lights on both sides of the goggles automatically turn on. Sweet, huh? Anyway, this picture of Drew cracked me up...

...and so did this one! Drew and Michael both have such funny expressions on their faces, and Noah is just about to take off "flying" while yelling "To infinity and beyond"! It was so fun to see all the kids in their goggles and I was particularly glad that the birthday boy liked them so much.

Again, "To infinity...."

We tried to get a group picture of all the kids at the party (Ava wasn't there yet), but it's more difficult than you'd think. These two pictures were as good as we could do.

Lincoln, Drew, Michael, Isaac, Noah, Jacob & Spencer (back-front, left-right).

Then it was on to present opening. This clip is of the first present that Noah opened. I didn't get my camera rolling until after he shouted out the names of each of the little figurines in the box (from Toy Story), but he was pretty excited...and had no interest in opening any of the rest of the presents. In fact, when we suggested opening more he adamantly declared that he was "All done!"...and emphasized his position by clearly signing that he was done. Pretty funny.

As you can see, Noah was pretty excited to get his RC. He's always called RC by the right name (before the party & since), so I guess the fact that he called it ECR, ARC, and a variety of other acronyms just shows how excited he was!

This gift was obviously not the same thing the box said it was, but I thought that Noah was pretty politely excited considering...

He loves his etch a sketch, Matt! Thanks!

More present opening.

Grandma Mary & Grandpa Mont gave Noah a cute book and a "Bath Blizzard" and play dough soap that has been a huge hit! The blizzard blows bubbles into the bath and Noah requests it every bath! (this is him opening it)

Noah abosolutely loves this flying Buzz Lightyear that Josh & Emily gave to him. It has a tether that you attach to the ceiling, then you turn his fan on and he actually flies in a circle!

Claire made Noah this cute art box with a bunch of fun art supplies in it AND an adorable smock (she used my favorite sock monkey fabric)! I seriously don't know how she does everything that she does. Thanks, Claire! Super cute, as always!

Cousin Henry sent a couple of books that Noah has been enjoying reading. One can never have too many books! Thanks, Henry :)

I got such a kick out of this gift from my friend Allison (and her cute son Isaac). They gave Noah a set of cool Lincoln Logs (that he loves), but just to be clear that they're Noah's (not Lincoln's) she put Noah's name over "Lincoln" on the box.

Now I don't have a picture of each gift that Noah opened - and unfortunately Noah got quite hasty with how quickly he began opening one before moving on to the next (oh, the social graces that one must learn), but he really does love each of the thoughtful gifts that he received at the party...so thanks to each of you that brought such nice gifts! He really does love them! Here's an example. I thought that this Buzz Lightyear spaceship that he can wear would be one of the highlights of the party for him (yes, it was another ksl.com find - and it ended up taking so long to be able to get it from the lady that she just gave it to me for free! wahoo!). Anyway, Noah didn't give it much attention at all and just sat on it while he opened a few presents before just leaving it behind. He has enjoyed playing with it since the party however, and I remain convinced that used is the way to go for a decent majority of kids toys!

The last gift that I wanted to be sure to include a blurb on is this blanket that we made for him. I love how soft this fleece fabric is, and I think that it turned out pretty cute. Noah loves his space blanket and sleeps with it every night. He was excited to point out that Andy (from Toy Story) has a space blanket with planets and rocket ships too!

The next thing that we did was the birthday cake! Noah really cracked me up too. The entire time that we sang he stood there with one hand on his hip, and his other hand on the bar - all casual and cool. I think he appreciated having the little practice run that he had on his actual birthday, so he felt all confident that he knew what to expect while he was the center of everybody's attention.

Noah trying to blow the candles out. A bit too far of a reach though...

...so Grandpa helped a bit.

Then, immediately after he blew the candles out Noah went straight in for a bite right out of the cake! I didn't really care about Noah taking a bite out of the cake, but aaaah that blue (it took a good 24+ hours for the blue to come completely off of his lips)!

The chunk Noah bit out of the cake.

Before serving the cake, Claire showed me how to peel the fondant off the cake (it doesn't taste very good, just looks pretty) and we served it all up. There certainly was plenty of cake! Here's a picture of Claire and I serving the cake.

And I forgot to take a picture of one of the more beautiful plates of cake before serving it...so here is a picture of my plate at least. The lemon cake looks a bit sloppy here, but it sure was yummy if I don't say so myself!

My beautiful niece Ava enjoying some cake.

Michael. What a cutie.

Grandma Shirlene & Grandpa Paul.

Jake, Grandpa Mont & Ava (Grandma Mary would've loved to have been there, but she was in South Africa volunteering her skills working with deaf children).

Mark & I showing off our shirts (that Claire printed at her house for us...thanks again, Claire)! Mark's has Zurg on it, and quotes the line "I am your father" from Toy Story (obviously a play off of the line in Star Wars). Mine has the LGM (little green men) on it, and it says "ooooooh...Noah is 3!" (since they say ooooooh in the movie). Noah thought it was so cool that Mark and I wore those shirts. He talked for days about that Dad was Zurg and Mom was an alien at his birthday party!

My dad with his father & my grandma Dorothy. We're so glad that they were able to stop by for a while despite a prior engagement that they had to attend.

This is a picture of the goodie bags that we handed out for the kids after they collected their pinata loot. When the kids left, each goodie bag contained: pop rocks candy, a glow stick, a Buzz backpack clip, a sticker solar system project, Buzz stickers, a Buzz sucker, astronaut ice cream, a glow bracelet, space goggles, and their pinata loot (little toys & candy...including milky ways - get it?) Too much fun!

The pinata was a pull-string. Besides it being an easier, safer option for kids this age...there's something just strange about teaching kids not to hit and then handing them a bat and telling them to go to town on an astronaut. Hmmm...maybe we'll at least hold off for a few more years on that (I will admit that I loved swinging a bat at a pinata as much as the next kid).

A picture of the kids going after the pinata's goodies. I don't know how my good friend Allison, and Mark's brother Matt, and my mom managed to avoid being in any pictures (grrrr), but that's Allison in the bottom right corner of this picture with Isaac - how cute is that little hat he has on?

Emily & Josh with Noah.

My brother Matt with Noah.

My dad taking Lincoln on a walk as the party finishes.

Dad. Noah. Mom.
We're glad that you had a good time at your party, Noah! We love you...to infinity and beyond!


Sylwia Lipinska Hardman said...

wow what a wonderful party and an awesome cake!

Heather said...

WOW.... i don't know what else to say but you are so amazing. love, love, love, love, the party. wow.
such hard work.

Joanna Taylor said...

I think this is the most amazing thing I have seen in a LONG time. Holly, you are an amazing woman and mother. Wow!!

kathy said...

Wow. You are aMAzing! Um, could I order some professional-looking suckers and a gorgeous cake?

Chris-Chelsey-Audrey said...

Holy *&%! Are you serious? What on earth could you possibly do next year? Will Walt Disney himself arrive to the party and take everyone to Disneyland? Wow, you put in some hard work and it looks like the best birthday party EVVVAAAAHHHRRR! By the way, in case you weren't sure, Chris left this message, not Chelsey...she would have bypassed the colorful verbage...bet really, great work sis! Happy B day Noah!

Jana said...

Every detail of the party was perfect and so much fun! They have wedding planners-you shuld be The Party Planner. Noah loved it so much, and it was fun to be together and watch him. We'll always remember his 3rd birthday and party. Love that little Space Ranger!


What a party!! Loved the suckers & cake and LOVE your lengthy posts. I really enjoyed reading it!

M & S Eagar said...

Wow Holly - what an amazing birthday party and cake! You go girl...I can't wait to see what you come up with next!

Rhodenizer Family said...

Holly! You need to give yourself more credit!! You are a VERY talented perfectionist....and your attention to detail is AMAZING! I wish I was there!