Love of the Game

A recent adventure to the city prompted a visit to my temple, the Nintendo Store. I love Nintendo.

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Anyway, it got me thinking about my early days of mommyhood, and how fast my son is growing. Now, I’m crying. Babies grow fast! He’s not even three yet, but he’s already a big boy. Moving on, I love playing video games. I married a gamer. Naturally, we would love for our child to love games, too! Success!

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When he was just a year old.

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Present day. He’s not really playing, of course!!

While I was pregnant, I didn’t think about the sleepless nights with a nursing newborn. Instead, I was planning his birthday parties in my head. I was thinking about themes, locations, etc. I wasn’t concerned with how I would be able to get anything done. Little did I know, planning anything – even going to the store – was ten times harder with a little one to think about first.

The first party I ever planned as a first time mom was our son, Marcello’s, baptism. The party was phenomenal, as well as the day, but the creating and crafting was so stressful with a demanding nurser! I was exhausted, and so was Marcello! He slept every minute of that party!!! The planning became an obsession from every day excursions to the store to bedtime routines, so when Marcello’s first birthday started creeping up on the calendar, I knew exactly what I had to do – a ONE UP BIRTHDAY PARTY! He was turning one, and in my ridiculous mind, I literally imagined him as leveling up. I’m nuts. After the craziness that I experienced planning Marcello’s baptism by myself, I knew I had to ask for some help, so I did what I could, and sought out the very best for our boy’s big day.

My idea for his first birthday party involved inspiration from Nintendo’s iconic game, Super Mario Bros., which included a one up mushroom, a gold coin box, a goomba, the pipe plant from the game, and some other gaming elements.

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My beloved Nintendo still plays – with a lot of blowing into the cartridges, and prayers.

There is no short supply of Nintendo related birthday accessories, but I wanted something different and hand made. I decided to make a gold coin box invitation, and popping out of gold box would be a one up mushroom that held the invitation information. I made a stencil of the gold box, and cut each element. I did the same with the one up mushroom. I thought I had a novel idea, but if you do a quick search online, you’ll find different variations of this type of invitation. So, like-minded moms — UNITE!

The invitation! 65lb cardstock, gold fasters, printer, word program for your text, pliers to remove the faster clips from the claws, hot glue for the fasteners, paper glue for the cardstock, stencils, pencils, patience!

I also thought it would be fun to take photos of Marcello myself. It was a disaster. I needed a “smash cake,” and thought it would be cool if Mario smashed a goomba! I decided to make a goomba smash cake, and then quickly changed my mind! I happened to be watching Good Morning America one morning, and a nice cake shop had donated a birthday cake to this sweet little boy named Colin, for his birthday. They made the most awesome cake only a little gamer could love! I contacted them, because they happened to be in Queens, NY! My ‘hood!! Heather from 8 Bit Cake Shop: I love you, and you made the most delicious goomba cake ever!

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Marcello’s smash cake – Goomba cake by 8 Bit Cake Shop

For the back drop of his photos, I used a sky blue back drop, and cut some clouds to emulate the background of the game. I found some cheesy brick wrapping paper, it didn’t have that brown brick look, but it did the job. I cut some pipe shaped pipes. The backdrop looked great when it was done!

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Gold coin box from birthdayexpress.com. I’ll post a better photo of the plant, it was nothing special – 99c plastic planter, green paint, dry floral foam, few green pipe cleaners, cardstock hand cut to mimic the plant, and glue.

I needed an outfit for Marcello, so I contacted the only person I knew who could create something for me in a flash, and that is Kiddie Kaps by Vanessa. She is an old friend of mine, and is so passionate about her craft. If you need cute things for your sons, daughters, or their American Girl dolls – contact her!

 

Unfortunately, Marcello didn’t want to comply.

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Needless to say, he never smashed the cake, and the goomba lived for another day.

Poor kiddo.

We had two parties the same day – one for his little friends, and the other with our immediate and extended families.

We had two parties, and not one, not two, but three cakes! And what do you see above? The ultimate cake! The one up mushroom cake baked, designed with love by Ashley! The detail was unbelievable. She even added the brown brick to the cake platform.

 

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There you have it. I learned a lot my first year as a mom, 1. It’s okay to ask for help. 2. Always give your child a nap before you want to smash a cake. 3. Don’t take on too much, and give up some control.

As tired as this may sound, they only turn one once. Well, I’m tired, so I have an excuse.

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Boy, does he make the crazy, sleepless nights worth it. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

 

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Thank you, Paper.

When I was a kid, I really loved to scrapbook. There used to be a store called, Rag Shop, that my sister and I would venture to every Sunday. (Rag Shop was like a smaller, ghetto Michael’s.) This store wasn’t too big, but big enough where we could stay for a good two hours without ever passing each other twice. Many dollars later, we would fill my sister’s Camry with bags of scrapbook sheets, cardstock, funky stickers (those were the best), glue, and other chotchkies (possibly a shadow box, or two). Then the items would stay in their bags for a good week before they saw the light of the day. Hey, it was Sunday, what do you expect?

My point is, arts and crafts has been in our blood, my blood, for a long time. When we decided to add invitations and party accessories to our line on Etsy, we did not think that there would be such a demand for products made from paper. Thankfully, there are people out there that appreciate paper, and how delicate it really is to work with.

In my past life, I worked for a publishing company in a big city with a lot of cool people. One of our vendors was in China (big surprise!), and believe it or not, a lot of the items we asked them to create were hand made! Yes, machines and printers did the bulk of the job, but the actual hand work was all done by them. Even though many people don’t appreciate the overseas factories, you have to give them some credit where it is due. Quality control is an arduous task, so when you do get that one picture book with the registration totally off on your kid’s favorite page, or when the last puzzle piece doesn’t fit exactly right – cue up Alanis Morisette – remember, these are real people building, creating, and following the instructions from the production and art departments.

Thinking about this now, I feel bad for leaving all of my impulse buys from Rag Shop in the bag for a few extra days. Inside that bag was the hard work of a factory worker “half-finishing” something just so I can sticker some 4-color scrapbook pages with some pasted family photos, and call it arts and crafts.

I need to say thank you. Now that we create each item by hand (we buy the paper, of course! We’re not a mill for crying out loud!),  I appreciate the hard work of the factories that were responsible for fulfilling an order of 4,000 units within a three month time frame. That doesn’t include proofing, approvals, etc. Sweet Lemonims turn around time is two weeks for any quantity of order, and that includes design, mocking, proofing, sourcing, etc., it’s a lot.

I just wanted to say, thanks. Thank you, paper.