The end of an era. Chubby thighs and squishy cheeks are no more in the Party house (unless you count mine - and let's not go there...) No, they've been replaced with long legs, angled jaw bones, and busy bodies. And while it is lovely to see our children grow up into (somewhat) self sufficient little people - it tugs at this mama's heart to know that we won't have the essence of baby in our house again for many years to come.
I wish I could somehow freeze time - capture this moment in our lives so that when I'm old and gray and not caught up in the day-to-day grind of child rearing I could revisit it - I could hold this little blonde haired boy on my lap, tickle his belly, and hear his giant laughs.
Jack has always been a love - a sweet and cuddly love. I tell him all the time that he is so sweet, I'm going to eat him up with a spoon. His retort? With big eyes and a tilt of his heat and in all seriousness 'Mama, I love you too, but I don't want you to eat me with a spoon.' Followed by lots of hugs and kisses.
When it came time to think about an appropriate birthday for our little man, we knew it somehow had to incorporate music and guitars. The boy L-O-V-E-S to sing and dance, and has mastered the air guitar - complete with toe-tappin' to the beat. His favorite song? Um. Red Solo Cup. Yeah - we teach our kids awesome stuff.
ANYWAY - we had to incorporate guitars - but I didn't want to make the leap to the electric 'rock-and-roll' guitars that Jack is so fond of. But strumming along with wooden guitars - that didn't sound so bad. And once I happened across this bad boy at the Mast General Store - I knew we had a theme.
And thus, the cowboy party was born. Oh, it was fun to plan - I can tell you that. A little bit of time on Photoshop with some free downloadable vectors and images and I had the 'logo' of the party - this sweet little cowboy silhouette. No Woody or Jesse stuff 'round these parts. Ha!
I used it on everything - from the invite to the stickers, an iron-on t-shirt for Jack to banners, and even as a template for the cake. So. Much. Fun.
So our little cowboy started his third birthday a few days before his actual big day - with a small shin-dig at preschool. The kid can't get enough of his favorite treat 'do-no's' or donuts, so it came as no surprise when I asked him what kind of treat he wanted me to bring to school. I offered cupcakes and cookies. He asked for donuts with sprinkles. Perfectly easy.
A few Mickey Mouse accessories in the form of hats and napkins and stickers, a few boxes of donuts, some other snacks, and we were set.
And it's not a part without games, right? So we played Pin The Tail on the Donkey (or rather stick the tail sticker on the donkey) which was a hoot. The kids would try to lift up their little blindfold - and I'm not entirely sure any of them knew what it was they were doing - but they had fun - and that's what counts.
Jack's birthday on Sunday started with his favorite breakfast - you guessed it - more donuts. (disregard my awesome appearance - it was early - and I was in party-prep mode - so ignore my pretty hair...)
Followed by presents from Mommy, Daddy, James, and Anna! It was pretty funny - this year Jack was very into opening his gifts. When Anna and/or James would try to 'help' unwrap - he would immediately snap 'Hey! That's MY present!' What goes around comes around my dear older children... He got lots of fun things like some new books, and puzzles, bath crayons and outside bubble blowers...
... his own set of REAL cowboy boots...
... and the big gift - of his very. own. real. guitar!
Boy. Oh. Boy.
And then - then it was time to p-a-r-t-y.
Like I said, I really enjoyed creating all of the fun things and putting it all together. I know a lot of people think I'm crazy to do all of this for a two hour birthday party. Perhaps I am. But it's a labor of love. A chance to celebrate surviving another year of parenting with no marked scars. And it gets the creative side of my brain working...
I can't and won't take credit for all of the creative ideas - I scoured the web to see other similar parties - got ideas for cakes and treats, decorations and menus - and what you see is a conglomeration of them all.
The Dinner Table
Since we used tin pie plates as dinner plates, I needed a place to put dirty dishes. After raiding my mother-in-law's shed - I came up with this.
Ceramic strawberry containers from Sur La Table
Sweets for my Sweetie
S-mores Pops - from my friend Kathy's son's birthday celebration
Chocolate cake with chocolate ganache filling.
Bandana print cowboy cookies.
A real 'dinner' bell.
Deonne created the General Store (to be later used as a lemonade stand).
Fun red cowboy hats and bandanas for all the little cowboys and girls.
Old-timey candy at the general store - and cracker jacks - for the kids to take home when they left.
Jack had fun minding the store.
Activities included a rope toss (that Deonne built.)
And horseshoe painting.
Simple table settings.
In the tents - because of course, it was raining the morning of the party.
I made her this apron skirt with fabric leftover from the banners.
And the big entertainment of the afternoon - Jack - who serenaded us.
See his foot lifted up on the left of the picture? He's got the whole toe-tappin'
to the beat down whenever he plays his guitar.
Jack literally followed everyone around for a while - singing his songs - a
bit like a mariachi band at times ...
I Three Mama!
And then it was time for the real star of the afternoon to arrive, Cisco!
(A total geriatric horse who was quite content to stroll around with kids on his back
in exchange for the carrots he received at the end.)
Jack had NO fear. He hopped right on Cisco and said 'giddy up horsey.'
I think he was secretly sad the horse didn't go any faster than it did.
We lined the brave kids up youngest to oldest to ride the horse...
Some of us preferred the swings.
I put the kids hat on my head to demonstrate once and for all just how small my head
really is. (And the hat was actually loose on my head if that tells you anything...)
And finally time to feed Cisco carrots.
'It tickles Mama!'
The carrot feeding might have been the best part.
And then time to blow out his three birthday candles.
The sun came out right about the time we lit the candles.
He's under that hat somewhere ...
Anna and Ella Grace had a great time minding the 'Mast General Store.'
They doled out the candy to each of the kids - even drug the old toy
cash register out of the basement to make sure they 'charged' everyone fairly.
All in all - a great party to welcome in Jack's third year. A good many friends and family were sorely missed - especially my mom and dad. But I'm certain my dad had something to do with the rain clearing just in time for the party - or for the sun suddenly coming out when it was time to sing Happy Birthday. Perhaps that was his way of wishing my boy a happy day from his perch above in Heaven. Maybe so. That's what I'm going to believe, anyway.
Happy happy day to my sweet sweet boy.
And just for fun -
My boy's feet won't always be this small. I'm glad we have this photo of our boots lined up together,
so I can remember him on this day. Big red cowboy hat, new cowboy boots and guitar, grinning
from ear to ear.