For your last two birthdays, Mommy and I didn’t keep things simple.
We combined both friends and family to have an official birthday party, each time.
Even though our “family life” is so much more stabilized and easier than it was for the past two years, without giving it much thought, perhaps by default, Mommy and I decided to have a purposesly low key (!) birthday party for you.
So we did things a bit off beat…
First, on Saturday, the morning of your birthday, we had your first and best friend over, with her parents.
As this picture collage that Sophie’s parents made illustrates, you two had plenty of unscripted fun.
My favorite part to witness was when Sophie suggested, “Come on, Jack. Let’s go upstairs!”
So we all trekked up to your boy cave.
I’ve mentioned before, we have the top half of a rockasan in your bedroom that serves as a “boat.” You and Sophie had a great time giving each other rides in it.
And somehow, even though I was only feet away, I missed the moment when Sophie ended up with the toy basket on top of her head.
Of course, after lunch, both of you were in need of a nap, so the celebration came to an end, but not before we all had some of Mommy’s yummy vegan cupcakes!
After Sophie left, we aimed for a nap, which I think ended up turning into us watching part of Monsters, Inc. that Sophie got for you. (You now own your first Disney movie!)
Then later in the afternoon, we had two more of your friends up with their parents, and essentially repeated what happened earlier that day.
It wasn’t until just now, as I put these pictures together, that I realized only girls came to your birthday party.
(Your friend Troy was out of town and couldn’t make it, by the way.)
So it made it that much funnier that in the goody bags we gave to them, each friend received a Hot Wheels pick-up truck.
Yes, and that’s pretty much your 3rd birthday party. Of course, we’re going to spend next weekend with my family to celebrate your birthday with them… and I have a special surprise being shipped in from Atlanta… or I should say, driven in…
You’ll see what I mean in a couple days!
(Plus, I just have a feeling that to be so mellow about your 3rd birthday party, we will end up making up for it with your 4th birthday party.)
I no longer have a 2 year-old son. As of today, I can start referring to you as my “2 and a half year-old.”
You are just as close to your (assumed) monster truck & dinosaur themed 3 year-old birthday party as you are to your Thomas the Train themed 2 year-old birthday party.
I look at you now and see how you’re clearly looking more like both Mommy and me.
Sure, the (now darkening) blonde hair and blue eyes are still a surprise, but gone are the days when I would write about how you don’t really look like either of your parents.
Something I was thinking about this week is how in classic sitcoms, by around the 5th season, the family would typically have another child, to better engage the audience with fresh new story lines.
From there, the next season would feature the zaniness of life with a new infant and baby. Then magically, the following season, that toddler who could barely talk instantly became a wise-crackin’, catch-phrase coinin’ 5 year-old.
Okay… here we are. Let’s find out. As a 2 and a half year-old, falling in the category of what I call “the flyover years,” will life still be interesting? Will you still be just as funny and entertaining to Mommy and me as you’ve been for the past 2 and a half years?
I’m thinking yes.
I’m eager to prove writers of classic sitcoms wrong, as if that’s even a thing that matters.
If you were a character in a family sitcom in 1988, you would be replaced today by a different, older actor.
Well, I’m keeping you. I predict life won’t skip a beat, even if you’re entering the flyover years.
There’s a decent chance you will begin actually remembering certain events now. I say that because my own 2nd birthday party in April 1983 is the very first memory of my own life.
I remember my Italian grandfather holding me in his lap as everyone around the table sang “Happy Birthday” to me. It was somehow overwhelmingly sad, so I cried until it was time to open presents.
It is from that experience that I planned your 2nd birthday party. I wanted to make sure that you would have a fun, memorable party for you, your friends, and our family.
So I implemented 3 simple rules for planning your 2nd birthday party:
1. Find the right-sized location for the amount of people invited.
We invited about 30 people and they all showed up. (Yes, Jack, you’re that cool of a kid!)
Fortunately, our church had a mini basketball court for you and your friends to chase each other around in. My top priority was making sure you didn’t get antsy.
I also wanted to make sure you didn’t get overwhelmed by the amount of people there. With a location that open, you never felt closed in or crowded. That kept you happy.
2. Downplay the eating and singing part.
I think the real reason I got scared and starting crying at my own 2nd birthday party was because I couldn’t understand why so many people surrounded me and were singing a song I didn’t know. It freaked me out.
So as non-traditional as it was, I made sure we purposely didn’t sing “Happy Birthday” once it was cake time.
We didn’t even have you blow out candles in front of everyone. We just let you enjoy your cake while we served the guests.
Actually, you were more excited about sampling the Teddy Grahams, Animal Crackers, and Angry Birds crackers.
You were actually quite proud of them; as you see in this picture I took of you.
3. Speed up the gift-opening.
When it came time for you to open your gifts, your Mommy was equipped to jot down who gave you what. Then as I quickly read the cards to everyone, you opened your gifts.
I wanted to prevent stop-and-go action, ensuring a continuous flow instead.
That gave your guests time to see you actually react to and play with your new gifts beyond your initial reaction of opening them, because you didn’t necessarily know what everything was at first.
So that’s it. I’m not sure you actually will remember any of it, but in an attempt to help jog your memory, I conveniently saved the pictures from your 2nd birthday party for you on this link to The Dadabase Facebook page.
You didn’t cry at your 2nd birthday party like I did 29 years ago. Good job, son.
Your child’s first birthday party is coming up. Don’t freak out- I’m here to help. Just follow these 7 easy steps and your child’s birthday will be a piece of cake! (Insert laugh tracks here.)
1) Have a theme that somehow symbolizes your child’s personality. Because our son Jack regularly speaks in a foreign robotic-sounding language and has walking skills that have just been recently programmed, we decided to go with a robot theme. My wife renamed the snacks accordingly: “computer chips” for corn chips with salsa, “nuts and bolts” for Chex mix, and “spare parts” for veggies.
2. Do it after lunch time. Jack’s party was from 2PM to 4PM on a Saturday. The light snacks and heavy desserts served as a great follow-up to whatever everyone had for lunch. Also, that time slot assured that Jack would not be in need of a nap.
3. Invite the very most supportive people. If it were up to me, I would have invited all of the readers of The Dadabase into my home. But we had to draw the line somewhere; which for us, were the people who came to visit us when we moved to Alabama. (We since moved back to Nashville.) This ended up making the total number of people around 18, but thanks to Jack being such an outgoing baby, he didn’t get overwhelmed by everyone.
4. Let the birthday kid be the entertainment. At Jack’s party, there were no games. Instead, our son simply was the show. Especially for the fact he had just begun walking a few weeks prior, it was cool to watch him play with all his random toys. This kept a good vibe going from the very beginning; which naturally helped people to start conversations with each other, since many of them had never met before.
5. Have other people take pictures for you. Three of my guests had better cameras and picture-taking skills than me. So I didn’t have to sacrifice my hosting duties due to the need to visually document the whole shebang.
6. Serve cupcakes instead of a traditional birthday cake. I didn’t want my wife to bother with making some perfect cake for everyone. So since we knew Jack loves anything with bananas, everyone got a banana (or chocolate) cupcake along with some premium ice cream from Publix. It was more fun and original with cupcakes.
7. Open the presents quickly. Don’t wait for picture op’s or for your kid to completely unwrap each gift. I started a tear in each gift and let Jack pull it along a tad, then I instantly finished the job. This way, everyone had more time to actually watch Jack play with their gift, instead of drawing the whole process out.
I have to say: Jack’s first birthday party really was a breeze. We kept it simple and organized; and therefore very stress-free. Not to mention, we had Jack Johnson playing in the background.
Well, would you like to see some pictures from Jack’s party? Our friends Jeremy and Cheryl Crawford, who are expecting their first child literally any minute now, took these for us.
Travel now to The Dadabase Facebook wall to further this adventure, where you will find the photo album, “Jack’s 1st Birthday Party.”
Here’s the invitation design we bought off Etsy from “BusyBeeDesign1.”