Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Firefighter Birthday Party!

James is in love with all things "firefighter," so it was a no-brainer what kind of birthday party he should have for his big three-year old party. I'm also an avid reader of the Shop Tart blog, who I have to give proper snaps to. She had a post on her blog about a year ago regarding child birthday parties that could be held at a local deli/gourmet food store and coordinated with the local fire department (located about two doors down the street.)

In preparation for the party, I had a lot of fun planning all things "fire-fighter," including making and hand piping fire-fighter themed sugar cookies to hand out as favors, fun little goodie bags, fire-fighter hats for each of the children to wear on their visit to the fire station, and a fire-themed children's book for each party goer to take home to remember the special day.

Vicki with Vintage Bakery outdid herself yet again, with this beautiful, enormous birthday cake. The picture doesn't do it justice - it was a 12" round cake that was about 5 inches tall of pure chocolate-ey goodness.

Simply Savory organized all of the party details, including cute fire-fighter paper products (napkins and plates,) balloons, and had the deli tables all arranged in a big long row for the kids to sit at to enjoy their treats. Upon arrival, each child received their fire-fighter hat and were allowed to choose their favorite flavor of ice-cream from the Hershey's buckets in the ice-cream case.

Even Jack got in on the action - and giggled profusely when he got to wear his little fire-fighter hat.

I made two flower arrangements in little firetruck containers (one was given to us by Jack's godparents in the hospital when he was born - the other was gifted to a friend when her son was born.)

And then we walked down the street - and met the captain and firefighters of Ladder #9, Shandon Fire Station.....

And we got to "drive" the fire trucks......

And look at the ladder truck - that they pulled out especially for James - and sent two fire-fighters high in the air...

It was a glorious warm day, with clear blue skies - a welcome break from our rainy and cold week.
And we posed for a picture in front of the ladder truck - which was more like herding 19 little cats than anything else....

And on our way out we got to see the real fire-fighter gear, including their big coats and hats and boots...

Then we walked back down the street to Simply Savory, to the promise of ice-cream, cake, and treats.

Then it was time for the big moment....


After cake, ice cream, fruit, cheese, and crackers (and store-made pimento cheese and pita chips for the grown-ups), James helped me hand out his sugar cookies, goodie bags, and books to all of his friends.
I think he giggled and grinned non-stop for three hours.
Following the party Grandma and Grandpa Long treated us and Uncle Harry and Aunt Mary to dinner at Yesterdays, a local favorite restaurant. Jack had a great time at the 'head' of the table...

Three generations of Long boys...

Our family dinner...

And just for more picture viewing pleasure ... please see Speedy James ... the uber-proud recipient of a new bicycle, compliments of Nonna and Papa, that he LOVES to race around on. We let James open his gifts from his friends and family on Sunday - since it was so crazy at the party on Saturday and he needed some "down-time" to truly appreciate them. He adored every single gift. Hands down, though, was the new bike (and matching helmet and knee pads - thank you Grandpa Jimmy and Grandma Shelby).

We took the kids to the nearby elementary school Sunday afternoon - and let them really test out their bikes. It was the first time either of them had been given a big, flat, uninterrupted place to ride - and ride they did...
The funniest part? When Anna would 'get stuck,' as in, stop pedaling, come to a stop, and couldn't figure out how to get moving again.
I never said she was highly athletic.
James, bless his little heart, would ride up, dismount his bike, give her a push, get back on his bike, and happily pedal away.
Such a sweet little boy.
And thus concludes another happy birthday for sweet James.

James' Third Birth-DAY

Birthday Round-up continues - with pictures and happenings from James' actual birth-DAY. So after we greeted the day with James' Birthday Banner and new #3 shirt, we headed off to our respective days.

We started a tradition when Anna turned one to bring treats and snacks to her classroom at school, and have continued that for every birthday since. Both Deonne and I take off time from work to "host" the party, and bring the other kids out of their respective classrooms to join in the fun.

James is no exception - and given his love of all things Curious George - we held a little "Georgie" party for him with his buddies at school. I made yellow frosted cupcakes (and super big thanks Kathy for the yummy butter cream frosting recipe!) and doused them with an entire container of multi-colored sprinkles - because you just can't have too many birthday sprinkles...

Here's the birthday boy, loving being the center of attention...

Sharing his cupcake with Mommy....

I love this little boy!

Following our school party, we headed home for the birthday present opening extravaganza, where he opened up his gifts from Mommy and Daddy, along with the ones Anna and Jack picked out for him.
He was clearly in no mood to have his picture taken - but I had to. For posterity. Don't you love the exasperated and irritated look on his face, like "come ON - not another picture!"

Digging in - Anna so kindly helped him remove those big colorful bows.

Wow! He loved all of his gifts!

After that we packed everyone up and headed out to our favorite birthday dinner venue, Red Robin. I'm not sure when it became a tradition for our family to go here for dinner - but it has - partly due to the fun of having all of the waiters and waitresses bring out that big ice cream sundae and sing "Happy Birthday!"
James wasn't too sure at first... (don't you love his fireman hat that he insisted on wearing to dinner...)

Jack wasn't too sure about it either...

But once the ice cream arrived all was well!

And James did kindly share his treat with his big sister and his Daddy - but we did make them wait until he'd taken the first bite.

And I'm not sure why I'm adding this here - just to remember what my kitchen looks like in the middle of party-week... keepin' it real...


I love finding new and fun (and in this case, free) things to do with the kids around Columbia. The newest find (which we've actually heard about a while ago but never managed to make it to) was "Pajama-rama" at the local public library.

It was a great program consisting of stories and hand-puppet shows geared for small children.

Kids are encouraged to come dressed in their jammies - presumably so parents can take them home following the program and tuck them directly into bed.

Jack wasn't too sure what to think about the whole thing at first, having fallen asleep in the car on the way there... But after a while - this is what he was up to... crawling away and making friends with everyone he could get close to.

Anna and James were enthralled with the program, participated in the singing and pantomiming of a few kids songs, but loved the puppet show itself the best.

Neither one wanted to leave when it was over, but the promise of returning another time for another program (and with more time to check out books) lured them away.

Thank you Richland County Public Library!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Happy Birthday James

Today my sweet boy turns three! I know it sounds so cliche', but it really feels like it was just yesterday that Deonne and I were at the hospital, greeting our first born son.

The past three years have been such a blessing - full of laughter and fun and silly smiles - all because of this little spirit.
A full birthday post will come soon, but for now - this is how our little boy greeted the day - to a birthday banner (thanks Kathy!) - a new shirt to wear to school (thanks Chasing Fireflies) - and the prospect of a day filled with birthday treats and surprises.
This picture below is so "James" - with the quirky smile, the messy hair, and the beloved Curious George monkey tucked under his arm.

Happy Happy Birthday my sweet boy!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

He Slept Through the Night!

The first words I heard this morning - followed by a quick glance at the clock - "6:09."

Jack has been having a rough time lately with teething, causing him to have not slept through the night for several months or so. He's been up at least once, sometimes twice, each night - and in our sleep deprived state of trying to pacify and lull him back to sleep (and not wake either of the other two Long kiddos) we have given in to letting him have a bottle.

I know - I know - we breed bad sleepers - and don't enforce the "tough love" needed to help them learn how to sleep better as babies - whatever - you try keeping three kids asleep all night long... but I digress...

At any rate, two nights ago he managed to go from 8:30 pm to 4:00 am before he awoke to his nightly tummy growlings. Last night? Last night sweet slumber enveloped our house - Anna went right to sleep (and had no issues with night terrors), James begrudgingly went to sleep (and actually stayed in his bed all night long and didn't cry out for one of us to come lay with him), and sweet baby Jack - well he took his nightly bottle around 9:00 and woke up happy as a clam, full of smiles and baby jabber at 6:09 am.

I'm sure it's a fluke. I'm sure tonight we'll be up with all three Longs - but for now I'm just going to revel in the fact that both Deonne and I managed to have 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep. (Because we didn't go to bed until around midnight - hey there were Olympic events to watch and birthday sugar cookies to decorate.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Southern Snow

When the local forecasters started calling for snow last Thursday night - I was a true skeptic. I've heard the calls before - the ones that cancel school long before the first flake has fallen - the ones that cause pandemonium at the local grocery stores when folks flock to buy every remaining gallon of milk and loaf of bread off the shelves.

So you can imagine my surprise when it actually started snowing - and snowing - and snowing.

Silently it fell through the evening and through the night - blanketing everything in a soft white layer.

I love the sound of the world when everything is coated in snow - slightly muffled - slightly still - and completely at peace.

We had gone out to eat with some friends Friday night - thankfully we were close to home - so we had a short drive to the house. The snow hadn't started to accumulate on roadways when we left our house at 5:30 - but by the time we left the restaurant closer to 7:00 - we found a blanket of white.

The kids couldn't wait to get out in it - so we bundled up Anna and James (and Daddy) and sent them out into the 'blizzard' of '10. Anna immediately started scooping up snow - helping Daddy build a snowman - and making snow angels.

James didn't quite know what to do with it - and sort of stood there looking around - getting his 'snow legs.'

We warmed up after their evening tromp with valentine cookies and hot cocoa (I love their little rosy cheeks and James' hat hair!)

Of course we lost power while we were sipping our cocoa (we always lose power - in every major weather storm) - but thankfully my wonderful in-laws gifted us with gas logs when we purchased our home - so we made a bed on the floor of the den, lit a lot of candles, pulled the pack-and-play out for Jack - and the kids got to camp out. I think we were without power for about 10 hours - enough to put a chill through the rest of the house - but we were toasty warm.

The next morning the kids were up at the crack of dawn - jumping up and down to get out in the snow and play!

After a special 'snow day' breakfast of cinnamon rolls and more cocoa - we bundled up and headed out ....

And made a snowman as big as Daddy!

And didn't let a little thing like snow get in the way of our lawn mowing duties...

The kids had a ball. (Mommy and Daddy did too!)

I for one was just happy I could use my Sorel snow boots - footwear needed in my hometown in the Pacific Northwest but that hadn't seen the light of day since I moved here in 1997.

Now as much as our kids loved the snow - they didn't love how cold and wet they got (because we really don't have proper snow gear) - so we had to take several 'breaks' to warm up and change into dry clothes throughout the morning.

And by the afternoon - much of the snow had started to melt - and it's all but gone now.

A perfect snowy day - something I'm so thankful our children got to enjoy! It will probably be another five years or so before we have as much snow as we did Friday night - and I'm tickled pink that our children got to enjoy it and hopefully remember it.