Captain’s Log, Stardate 04-05-14: Report from Planet Lego…

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Another Big Bite - Finn

Saturday was a big day for us.  Finn’s birthday party started at two, which meant we started our day at six…  Cleaning, prepping, decorating…  And that was the easy part.  Once the house was packed with four- and five-year olds, the cake really hit the fan.

Originally, Finn wanted to have a “Lego Superhero Party,” but I made the executive decision to edit if down to one much simpler theme; LEGO.  Although I’ve been known to blow lots of cash on seemingly useless things in the past, I was determined this was not going to be one of them.  If that meant that everything was going to be cut out of construction paper, I was fine with it.  We had one activity that broke the bank, but more on that later…

Another Big Bite - Lego Party

One of my biggest conundrums was figuring out where to seat a whole bunch of kids; I don’t have an army of folding chairs.  After going over the math on how much it was going to cost to buy enough cheapie end tables at Ikea to have everyone seated on the floor, I had a moment of clarity…  I made Nae take the legs off the dining room table and cut short ones out of scrap wood.  Then we sat everyone on the floor.  We covered the cushions from the House with Wheels (our camper) for seating.  It worked like a charm!

Another Big Bite - Lego Man Cake

The cake turned out pretty good; though I skipped using fondant in favor of taste over beauty.  It was far from my best work, but little kids aren’t what you call sticklers for perfection.  We had Finn blow out the candles on the big Lego Man head cake, but then gave all the kids cupcakes.  No forks, no cutting, and only one kid even mentioned that he wanted some of the big cake.  Major crisis averted.

Another Big Bite - Lego Cupcakes

The cupcakes didn’t exactly turn out how I wanted them to.  I envisioned red cupcake papers, blue cake, white frosting and a yellow candy Lego Man on top.  Meh.  At least they tasted yummy.

We had a bean bag toss and did “Pin the Face on the Lego Man…”

Another Big Bite - Lego Party 2

Only Alice & Finn's faces are still up there, though...

Only Alice & Finn’s faces are still up there, though…

Another Big Bite - Lego Car

Alice, Nathan and Finn's cars.  Ten bucks if you can tell which one is the little lady's.

Alice, Nathan and Finn’s cars. Ten bucks if you can tell which one is the little lady’s.

But the big event of the day was the Lego Derby.  We ordered the parts to make a Lego car base (the plate, wheels and tires) from three separate sellers over on Bricklink and then ordered a giant box of regular Legos from Amazon.  At the very last-minute (the night before), we made the trek out to Denver’s Lego Store to pick up steering wheels, headlights, fins, propellers, shifters, control panels and other random parts from the Pick-A-Brick wall.  In the end, we dropped about sixty dollars on all the makings of fifteen Lego racers, but it was money well spent.  It was our biggest expense by leaps and bounds, but when the kids lost their minds when I said they were for them to take home, it was worth it.

Another Big Bite - Lego Party 4

Since only about half the kids showed up (do not even get me started on how bummed I was that only three of the parents from Finn’s class RSVP’d), we had parts for extra Lego cars.  I asked if the dads each wanted to make one.  One of the dads promptly declared to his son, “Sorry buddy.  You are on your own; I’ve got my own to build.”  And he was equally excited when I told him to take both his and his son’s cars home with them.  It was awesome.

And so we had a “Dad Division” to the race.  The pull of playing with Legos follows us into adulthood, I suppose.

Another Big Bite - Lego Party 3

Nathan built a racetrack out of scrap wood we had leftover from Finn’s bedroom and the kids had a good time shoving the little cars to victory.  Finn cheated (and was subsequently disqualified), Nathan came in DEAD LAST in the Battle of the Dads, but little Alice pulled a third place victory out of nowhere.  In the end, all three winners were girls, and I had to fight the urge to bust out a 1998-Spice-Girls-ish “GIRL POWER!!” Though I totally said it in my head.  With a mental fist-pump.

Another Big Bite - Lego Trophies

Another Big Bite - Eating

We had cake and made our own ice cream sundaes before the presents were opened.  Finny always blossoms in front of an audience, I tell you.

Another Big Bite - Lego Party Bags

Everyone got a goody bag on their way out, though it wasn’t epic by any means.  Fruit snacks, a lollypop, a bouncy ball and some stickers never looked so good.

Both Nathan and I were exhausted at the end of the party; I have no idea how teachers do it for an entire day with three times as many kids…  We ordered pizza for dinner and everyone crawled into bed in a Lego haze.

Another Big Bite - Lego Cake2

Another Big Bite - Finn 3

Another Big Bite - Finn 4

It wasn’t quite over, though.  Finn’s actual birthday was Sunday.  Nathan had a full day of work, so we woke the kids up at six to sing Happy Birthday, open presents and have cake.  Since Alice’s birthday in December, I think we have a new tradition on our hands…  Birthday cake for breakfast is the bomb-diggity, and they kids get all day to play with their new toys.  In Finn’s case, twelve Lego sets to be exact.

Another Big Bite - Finn 6

Over the course of 24 hours, he put every single set together.  I was on hand to affix decals and find little missing pieces that jumped and hid (or were pilfered by Alice), but by four in the afternoon on Sunday, he had everything done.  He was still in his pajamas, but I figured if there was any day where he was allowed to forget the rest of the world, it was his birthday.

We took him to It’z (a bigger version of Chuck E. Cheese) for dinner, and when we got home, there was one last package to open from Uncle Mike and Aunt Tamara…  A robot fish.  Which made him squeal with delight.  And made me breathe a sigh of relief since it was the only toy he had gotten that needed batteries.  Robot fish for the win!

Lordy, I’m exhausted just reliving the whole weekend.  But to see this look on Finny’s face;

Another Big Bite - Finn 5

… I’d do it all over again.

On Loving Forgetful Jones – For a Decade

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lisa and nathan 3

Ohmygod.  He’s going to propose without a ring?  Seriously??

And when I think back on that story, I realize those two kids were twenty-two when it happened.  And that now they have two beautiful children, live in Colorado and aren’t quite as fit and firm as they were.  I don’t even know who those kids were anymore….  But at the same time, absolutely nothing has changed.

I find myself being a little retrospective this morning, seeing as how today marks an entire decade of official Nathan + Lisa.  Ten years ago, I was waking up uncharacteristically calm.  It felt that even though it was our big day, things weren’t really going to change that much.  To be frank, a marriage certificate didn’t change anything.  In our case, change came gradually.  We moved across the country a few times, bought a few houses and popped out a few heirs to the throne of our kingdom, and before we had time to count how many pairs of Abercrombie & Fitch jeans we had outgrown, we were adults.

But six months before we got married; the night Nathan proposed, I knew Nathan would always be, well… Nathan.  We were on vacation with my family in Disney World, watching the fireworks; seemingly the perfect time and place to propose, and I knew the ring was a thousand miles away in Nae’s bedside table.  We had already set a date, put down a deposit and bought the ring.  I asked Nathan to propose for real, though…  I was in my early twenties and being proposed to was a right of passage as monumental as going to prom or getting your period.  In short; I was being ridiculous.  (So again; nothing has changed, though now I have the wisdom to realize how obnoxious I’m being at that very moment and can try to temper myself as best as possible.)

We departed for that vacation at four a.m., and try as I might, there was no shaking Nathan from his grogginess.

“You sure you haven’t forgotten anything?” I asked pointedly.  “Maybe you want to bring your silver rings with you?  Did you get your watch from the nightstand?”

Nope.  He was good.

As Nathan walked out the front door of our apartment, I took one last look in the nightstand.  There it was.  And Nathan was leaving without it.  So be it.

That scenario was replaying in my head as Nae got down on one knee at Epcot.  He is going to efiing propose with no ring.  He will never change.  This is going to be my life for the next sixty-

And there was the ring.

lisa and nathan 2

No matter how much of the wedding we had already planned; no matter the fact that we were already calling ourselves “fiancées,” I was surprised…  And I cried a little, not only because I was supposed to (which I did – I was twenty-two, remember?) but because I was excited.  A new chapter of my life was going to start.

Nathan had forgotten the ring.  He enlisted a little help from one of our friends and my grandmother (who owned the building we lived in).  Grandma Toni let our friend Will into the apartment to get the ring.  We had cleaned the apartment before we left but never did get around to doing the dishes.  After helping with the dishes at Grandma’s behest (poor, poor, Will), Will got a package ready to be FedEx’d to Orlando.  I was made sure to be otherwise occupied when it arrived at our hotel room and I never did question my brothers’ oddly staunch resolve to get to the fireworks on time.  After being told by the hotel bus driver that he was only “going to garage,” all of us ran the mile to Downtown Disney only to find there weren’t any busses to Epcot.

After hoofing it from a nearby hotel, we all arrived as the fireworks started; out of breath and sweat poring from our bodies.  A few minutes later, Nathan and I were officially engaged.

lisa and nathan

And on April Fool’s Day, ten years ago, we started the next chapter of our lives.  Turns out the next chapter was much like the previous one; just with new jewelry.  As much as Nathan and I have changed, we are still those kids that forget engagement rings and are worried about being proposed to without a ring.  I can always count on Nae to be totally predictable one minute and pull a surprising victory from his ass ten seconds from the buzzer.  Our ten years is a testament to this; real love isn’t love without faults.  It is love despite them.  (Heaven knows how he has put up with mine this long.)

This whole post can be summed up with one sentence, really.  Nathan will always be Nathan.  And I love him for it.

Love you, Nae.  Here’s to ten more. :)

Biding My Time Until Halloween

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alice snow white

Though I seem to repeat myself time and time again that I am not much of a “pink” person, I am a girlie-girl on a ridiculous level.  Alice wants her room painted pink? Pink bubble mower?  Nope.  But tempt me with an all-day Disney Princess marathon and I’m yours.  Whether it is an extension of my love for all things Disney World, my incredible nerdiness or my denial that dude, I’m like, an actual grownup now; who knows.  What remains is this; if I could dress up as Tiana from the Princess in the Frog on Tuesday and rock out Anna’s coronation gown on Wednesday (and have it be an accepted social norm), I’d be on my way to the satin aisle at Joann Fabrics instead of of tapping out this post.

It seems like it was just a few months back when I wondered if and when Alice would want to play dress up.  Once she tried on a twirly Cinderella gown at our local bouncy house place she was a woman obsessed.  Suddenly I was getting the evil eye from Nathan as he realized that Alice was wearing a crushed velvet, tulle and silk flowers over her jeans at Costco.

snow white dress 1

But one dress will not suffice.  As long as I have a working sewing machine and an arsenal of rotary cutters and (don’t-you-dare-use-those-to-cut-paper!) scissors, I might as put them to work.  Alice was going to get an Ariel dress, even if I had to sacrifice two nights of sleep for her to get it.

Nathan doesn’t have to remind me that I do this stuff more for myself than for the kids.  I do have to question what my outlet for girlie stuff would be if I didn’t have Alice.  The fact of the matter is it is NOT socially acceptable to run to Walmart dressed as Belle.  (How slippers, jammie pants, fishnet shirts or flesh colored leggings are deemed as appropriate Walmart gear and flouncy gold ballgowns are not – that is beyond me.)

Truth be told, the Ariel dress I made for Alice was a bit of a let-down.  Not that she cared much.  I still could not shake this image of my little lady tugging at the Snow White dress that we had her try on in Disney World last June.  Even Nathan considered forking over the enough cash to buy a week’s worth of groceries… She was THAT cute in it.  But hated it.  Now that she was older; decided to strike while the iron was hot.  This girl was going to have a Snow White gown; damnit.

dresses

I adapted this pattern (I picked it up when it was on sale for a dollar); I made the skirt a bit longer and spent more time than I’d like to admit wrestling with fusable interfacing to get the collar to pop.  I added blue satin ribbon to the red sleeves and a stripe of yellow fabric down the middle of the bodice.  Once it was finished; I realized that it HAD to have a cape; Snow White has a pink one in Disney World.  Alice would, too.  Hers attaches with velcro on the sholders and loops over a covered button in the front.  (It also hides the hack job I did on what was supposed to be an invisible zipper – win.)

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We had a total “mirror, mirror” moment the first time she tried it on…

photo 1

Now she wears it around the house singing, sweeping, making pies and playing Disneyland Adventures on the XBox with her brother.  You know, all things Snow White would do.

alice

Sure, Alice loves it.  But not as much as I do.  And I think she could totally get away with wearing it to Walmart.

LEGO Man Pencil Holders

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Another Big Bite - LEGO Man Pencil Holders

We’ve been busy prepping for Finny’s 5th birthday party over here.  We’ve been making banners out of paint chips, making LEGO inspired trophies for our very own LEGO Derby and cutting out a bajillion circles out of construction paper for a large-scale LEGO backdrop.  While that sounds pretty exciting (or not), what I have spent the most time on is making all manner of yellow objects into LEGO man heads.  Yellow paper cups, yellow paper bags, yellow paint chips…

Yes.  LEGO MAN ALL THE THINGS!!

Since this is the very first birthday party I’ve ever thrown for kids, I’m terrified.  I’m taking a page out of Finn’s teacher’s playbook.  While everyone arrives, they are going to color.  It was that or play with Play Doh.  I’m sticking with colored pencils.  Which means that we needed something LEGO themed to put colored pencils in.

Sidebar…  When I started planning this shindig, I made it a priority NOT to go into Pinterest-Overdrive-Mode.  Suddenly, I am painting the inside of an empty artichoke jar.  It is a slippery slope, this birthday party shit.

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I started with two Anchor glass jars; the 32 oz ones that you can pick up at Walmart, Target or Hobby Lobby for about four dollars.  I thinned out some LEGO man colored acrylic paint and swirled around the jar to cover the entire inside.

photo 1

After sitting upside-down for a few hours, I flipped them over and let them dry overnight.

photo 2

For the faces, I printed out a few pictures of LEGO faces that I found online and used the same method to cut them out of vinyl as I did with Finn’s globe light.

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Once all the pieces were cut out, I taped the sheet of paper I cut them out of on to the glass so I’d get the placement right.  I positioned my vinyl and poof!  Done.

Another Big Bite - LEGO Man Pencil Holders 2

This little LEGO family has been chilling out on the windowsill in the kitchen awaiting the big day.  The kids have been on a major coloring spree lately, so they’ve already gotten some action.  I wish I had a little foresight to think about spray painting the insides…  I think it would have been a lot more durable.

For now, they are holding up well!  Next up on my list is to paint our LEGO Derby track that Nathan has been building.  I have to do something, ANYTHING to keep my mind off the fact that not a single individual has RSVP’d.  I suppose the upside to no one showing up is that I’ll have a dozen cupcakes to drown Finn and I’s sorrows.

Celebrating Half a Decade… With Construction Paper

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Realizing that my little boy has been on this earth for HALF A DECADE sends me into a round of dry-heaving sobs.  He just asked me if we could look for his stuffed frog’s friends on Facebook for pete’s sake.  (I don’t know how he knows about the old ‘Book.  He certainly doesn’t hear it from me.)

photo (1)

All this mourning of his little-ness does not change the fact that there is a party to plan, though.  And thanks to the advent of preschool, we actually have more than two friends to invite.  Fourteen friends, to be exact; including the twelve-year-old girl down the street that Finny has a crush on.

The little man decided that he’d like to have a LEGO superhero party, but after begging and pleading with him to have just ONE theme, he settled on plain LEGOs.  (And for those of you purists, I don’t give a rat’s ass about what the proper pluralization of “LEGO” is.)  So we got to planning.  And after spending hours and twenty-five bucks on BrickLink (and thirty at Amazon), Finn had a change of heart.

“Mom.  I want a Skylanders party.  Not LEGOs.”

This was the moment where my fifty-five dollars worth of VERY specific LEGO bricks to build fifteen LEGO racecars said otherwise.  And though we had a very tense few days – once the LEGOs came in the mail, this little man conceded.  LEGO party it was.

This weekend, I’ll be addressing these f-ing awesome (if I do say so myself) invitations:

Finn's Birthday Invitation ABB

Cutting out another 150 green construction paper circles:

photo 2

And re-gluing 17 letters on to the birthday banner (because spray adhesive is one fickle bitch):

photo 1 (1)

My very biggest concerns?

ONE: Where do I seat a dozen and a half red-frosting-smearing preschoolers?  This is the only time I have ever questioned my sanity after deciding on white slipcovered dining chairs.  They are washable, but Red Dye #40 stains.  Fo’ reals.

TWO:  Am I being an asshole for putting a LEGO man head cake up for show, but serving only cupcakes?  I want to make this cake (above), but also those cupcakes.  And cupcakes means no cake-cutting and no forks.  And then we would have our own family-only special cake for his actual birthday.  Can I do that?

THREE:  Finn had his first birthday party to go to last weekend.  I was the only parent that just dropped off.  Is this, like, a thing???  I felt like a bit asshat after I realized I was the only one who didn’t stay.  So, what do I do with a dozen adults?  Do I feed them?  Where will they sit?  What will they do?  Now the pressure is on for my house to look its very best; meaning trim needs to be finished and I should probably spend the next week covered in paint while the 80-something stair balusters get one last coat of paint.

I have a few weeks to get everything together.  Invites have to go our next Wednesday, thanks to spring break and parent-teacher conferences.  Will anyone come?  Oh my god, this is just like giving a speech in freshman-year english class.  But with construction paper.

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