Thursday, January 2, 2014

I'm gonna wreck it!

When I started this blog, a dozen posts or so ago, I was also writing another blog in which I gave voice to all of my various triumphs and trials and day-to-day minutiae.  It was completely photo-free, and I didn't really share it with too many people outside of my own family.  I can't remember exactly what prompted me to start Sartor, except I think it had to do with having the urge to break my no-photos rule while writing about some costume or another in a Disney World trip report.

I intended for Sartor to just be about costumes.....but, it turns out:


I don't know what that means, in terms of posting...I might repost some old stuff here, I might post trip reports...but I do plan to expand upon the definition of Sartor to include more of my creative endeavors.

So, without further ado, did I tell you about the time my kid wanted a Wreck-it-Ralph birthday party?

I should confess up front that I am one of *those* moms;  I go completely overboard on my kids' birthday parties.  Max's first birthday was a pretty low-key, backyard barbecue kind of thing, but by age two I had really amped things up, throwing him a Mad Tea Party complete with backwards lunch and UnBirthday Presents for all of the guests to take home.  Age 3 was Under the Sea, for age 4 we took him to Disney World so his party was a much more reasonable at-the-playground type deal.  Age 5 was themed around an obscure PBS show called "Animalia", age 6 was Around the World, and age 7 was a full-on Renaissance Faire.  All themes of his choosing, all ridiculously executed by me and my band of merry men (read: my patient husband and whatever sisters and friends I could rope into helping me). My 3 year old has only had one birthday party so far...but there were ponies.  Okay, I admit it.  I have a serious problem.  Anyway, at some point all of those parties I just listed will have their own links, but today I'm in a Wreck-it-Ralph kinda mood.

Max picked the party theme partially because he really liked the movie, but I suspect it's because he realized that he bears a not-so-passing resemblance to the titular muscle man:

 The kid really cannot resist a good costume.  This one was super simple:  I found a pair of brown overalls and cut the cuffs off in a jagged line.  A green t-shirt with the plaid shirt from his Mater costume, bare feet, and a couple of Ralph hands from the Disney store.  Done and done.

Not only that, but he had his own, perfectly proportioned Fix-It-Felix all ready to party:

Okay, so designing this party was so fun!  The video game realm of WIR really gave us endless possibilities for activities and decorations.  I loved coming up with ways to have a video-game themed party that didn't involve the kids sitting and playing any actual video games, AT ALL.  Getting to nerd out and make all the signage and stuff was an added bonus.

The games were set up in stations, and I had a grown-up or two nearby each game to help out, if needed (refill water guns, mostly).  The idea was that the kids (about thirty of them, ranging in age from 2-13) would play each game and collect coins (stickers).  Once they had 5 coins, they could visit the candy bar in Sugar Rush.  I somehow failed to get any photos of the candy bar, but we had six or seven different candies in separate containers, as well as small bottles of bubbles and kazoos.  There was a stack of the Chinese-food type containers, and the kids could just grab one and fill it up with whatever they wanted.  The box then became their take-home goodie bag.  I set the candy bar up inside near the food table, so that it could be easily protected from marauding party-goers.

First up, Fix-It-Felix, Jr., the game where Ralph and Felix live. This is a Donkey Kong type game, and involves Ralph climbing an apartment building and smashing it, while Felix, you know, fixes it.  I drew the game logo on a sheet of poster board and just tacked it to the side of the house:

We collected cardboard boxes and spray painted them a brick color, then drew mortar lines with marker (the kids were able to help with this part).  A couple of boxes were painted blue, to be windows.

The idea for the game was that the kids would build as tall a tower as they could before Ralph came and knocked it down.  Pretty simple, and there were no clear rules or even a determination of how the game ended, but I've got to tell you, the kids, particularly the 5 and unders in attendance,  spent hours stacking and restacking these boxes.  

Of course we had to have a Hero's Duty activity:

I painted some small (8 oz.) water bottles black (put the paint inside the bottle, put the cap back on, and shake, it's much easier and virtually mess-free! Just pour out any extra paint once it's completely coated) and turned them into Cybugs with pipe cleaners and wings and eyes cut out of fun foam.

I strung the Cybugs up across the front of the garage, and of course made a Hero's Duty sign.  The letters and green outline were cut out of fun foam and glued to a piece of black foam core board.  For the highlight, I cut strips out of tracing paper (I did a double layer to get the correct opacity).  The idea for the game was to shoot all of the Cybugs with water guns - you knew you got a hit when the bug started swinging.  This game was also very popular, and I felt a little bad for the dad who got roped into  this station, he was refilling water guns for hours.

So here's a game I was particularly proud of:  Pac Man Croquet.  

Max really wanted to help me make the sign, so I cut out the letters and let him color them in.  Those of you who know me know how difficult it was for me to let him do this.  ANYWAY, he did a pretty decent job of it, so I curbed my urge to "fix" them and glued them to a piece of black foam core board. I cut ghosts out of, you guessed it, fun foam, and attached them to the wickets, and made a couple of cherries for the tops of the pegs.  The balls were the best part.  I cut the necks off of a bunch of yellow balloons, and stretched them over the balls (2 balloons per ball, otherwise the color of the ball tended to show through).  Then I cut half-circles out of black duct tape, and covered the opening in the balloon with a big wide Pac Man mouth.

For the game, I set up two courses (so that two kids could play at a time), just a simple zig-zag of ghost-topped wickets.  Each kids got three Pac Mans (you know, three lives), and you had to hit all three through your wickets and peg-out at the cherry.  This game was more popular with the older kids, for sure.

Space Invaders is a classic, and had to be included.  I loved making the aliens for this one, but the lettering on the sign gave me fits.  

The train has nothing to do with the game, it's just where we stuck the sign.  (I have a train in my yard, yes.  It's made of plywood and tricycle parts and extra wheels from a golf bag caddy.  My 8 year old has the same insanity I do.  Poor kid.)

Yeah, the game was just straight up corn hole.  Space Invaders Corn Hole.  It works, right?

Q*bert is a particularly pathetic figure in the Wreck-It-Ralph-averse.  So naturally he had to be a part of the fun.  I couldn't really come up with a good game for poor old Q*bert, but I did happen to have these  colorful wooden boxes around that I use for set pieces in this theater program I do....they made a perfect photo op station.  Max made Q*bert's speech bubble all by himself, I am so proud that my child has mastered the art of writing fake expletives.

Max's cousins arrived for the party, and delighted all of us by coming in costume.  Rebecca had a spot-on Vanellope Von Schweetz outfit, and little Danielle was all in orange, as an homage to the Q-man himself.

Last but not least was Sugar Rush.  I toyed with several different racing game scenarios, and really couldn't come up with anything that didn't seem overly complicated.  In the end, we decided that Sugar Rush would be the food.  We set up the candy bar in Sugar Rush, and also lunch.  One of Max's favorite meals is a big green salad topped with chicken, so he wanted a salad bar at his party.  I thought it would be pretty funny to have a salad bar set up in Sugar Rush, so I was tickled by his suggestion.  

The carrots, celery and tomatoes were meant to look like they were in gumball machines.  I dropped the ball a bit, and failed to get the decorations onto the front of the flower pots that made them look like they had a coin slot and handle and all that...but I think they came across, anyway.  The kids ate a surprising lot of salad, or at least chicken nuggets and cut veggies, and the parents liked it, so I was pleased with how that all turned out.

To decorate Sugar Rush, I hung oversized candies from the ceiling of the back porch:

The candies were made from paper lanterns wrapped in cellophane.  I also made giant lollipops to line the path from the backyard to the house.  The lollipops were balloons, also wrapped in cellophane and tied to PVC pipe stuck into the ground.

In this photo, you can also see one of the GREATEST OUTDOOR PARTY IDEAS I HAVE EVER HAD.  Fitted sheets as tablecloths.  You're welcome.

And, finally....the cake.  I always leave the cake for last, and I always stress about it and it looks like crap.  This year was no exception.  I had grand ideas for a cake that looked like this:

And in my mad scramble to decorate it, mere minutes before the singing and the candle-blowing, I did this:

I'm not proud.  The best thing about this cake is that I finally conceded defeat in the cake arena, and pledged to order all birthday cakes from here on.

So, yeah, it was a pretty great party.  Fun for a broad age-range, even the parents had a good time (very few parents drop-off at our parties, they tend to stay).  I made a playlist with the WIR soundtrack and other awesome video-game-themed tunes (think "Pac Man Fever" and the Donkey Kong theme mixed with "Pinball Wizard" and even "Space Oddity") and one of my favorite moments was all the kids spontaneously singing and dancing along to "When Will I See You Again" by Owl City.  The kids stayed outside, the house stayed clean, and everyone went home happy.


  1. You are AMAZING. This obviously is the work of a very talented, loving mom.

  2. this is just plain awesome!!!


So, whaddya think?