Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jonah's 4th Birthday Party (The LONGEST post EVER!)

Soon after we arrived in DeLand, I was in Michaels one day and spotted a 90% clearance rack of pirate and princess birthday supplies. One side of the display was filled with pirate things and the other was filled with princess things. I got in my mind the idea of a Pirate & Princess theme birthday party for Jonah. Granted, at this time, his 4th birthday was 9 months away but if you know me, you know I LOVE birthday parties for my little boy. So, you can start planning too early, right?

As the months progressed, I came up with a grand birthday idea. I talked to our friends, Frank and Margie Wood about having the party at their house. They live on a lake and have such a beautiful place with lots of room. I began searching for party ideas and came up with the plan of having a massive treasure hunt that ended up with an inflatable water slide. I've always avoided outdoor parties for his July birthday party but since water would be involved, that wouldn't be a problem. I had all the details worked out in my mind and it was going to be PERFECT!

Then came March with the news that Micah was on his way and I got sick. And sicker. And sicker. My energy level dropped and I no longer felt anything like myself. I spent the 12 weeks or so in bed researching birthday party ideas. I ordered his party shirt, planned games, looked at cake ideas and dreamed of the perfect party. All the while, I was hoping I would begin to feel more like myself around 13 weeks of the pregnancy like I did with Jonah.

13 weeks came and went and I still felt rotten. I held out hope that by July I would be okay and plans could go forward. The week of VBS came and by Tuesday afternoon, I was SPENT. I was sitting at the kitchen table having dinner that night and kind of half hearted said to Dan "I'm thinking of having a low key party at home for Jonah rather than the big event at Frank & Margie's. I just don't feel good and I have no energy." I knew he would encourage me to do the big party but instead he said "I think that is a great idea!" Tears started rolling down my face. I'm not naturally a crier so when I do, he knows something is really wrong. I finally was able to get out that "birthday parties are my thing and it is the one thing I do really well and I feel like a failure because I can't do it this year!" It was a long, hard night for me because I finally began to recognize I just couldn't do what I have done in the past.

I finally began to come to terms with the idea of something low key at home. I knew I wanted to stick with the suggested rule for inviting kids to a birthday party. 1 kid per year of age. 4 kids sounded perfect to me. I wanted to avoid a complete swimming party because at this age, some kids still aren't comfortable in the water for an extended period of time. I decided to go ahead with the Pirate theme and started thinking about smaller scale ideas that could be used at home versus the big event. I started with a birthday banner. I looked on and found several I liked but also thought I might could make it myself. I talked to my friend Amanda about the one she used for Eli's party last November. Her mom made it for her and she looked at it to give me some direction.

I went back to one of our guest rooms and pulled scrapbook supplies out. I also bought several pieces of scrapbook paper to coordinate with the colors of the party. I had to stay tucked away in the back in order to avoid all the "help" from my sweet little 3 year old. I spent an entire afternoon cutting all of the six inch squares of chipboard and patterned paper then five inch squares of white paper.

I then enlisted the help of Ms. Dottie for the assembly. She spent most of last Monday here with me working on this banner. She glued pieces and trimmed my over zealous cutting. I headed to Daytona for an OB appointment and she stayed behind to get get ahead on gluing so I could finish making the letters on my Cricut when I returned. Can you tell yet that this banner was a labor of love? By this point, I was thinking the $40 for an Etsy banner was a steal!!!
On Wednesday night before the party, I headed to Publix to confirm the Pirate Ship cake I wanted for the party. The nice guy at the bakery informed me they had never made that cake before and didn't even had the right mold. I was only a little stressed about this. :-) As I was leaving, I (providentially) ran into my friend Kristin. Her little boy Elijah was going to be at the party. I told her of my cake dilemma. She told me about a friend of hers who makes cakes. She went home to see if she could work me in at the last minute. I woke up Thursday morning to find a message from Kristin saying she could and that I should call her ASAP! I cannot say enough kind things about Elisa, her kindness or her cakes. If you live in this area, you must try her when you need a specialty cake. Isn't it great? We worked out all the details by emailing back and forth several times Thursday. I was so pleased!

Another project I chose to tackle were the molded candy suckers. I made the mistake of buying only one mold to make 30+ suckers. The first three took me almost an hour. They weren't that difficult to make, just time consuming. By the time you melt the chocolate, paint the colors in the mold, fill to the top, add the sticks then cool in the fridge, you are looking at one hour for 3 suckers. My goal was to do a few over the course of the week until I was done. But, sweet Ms. Dottie offered to take them home with her last Monday to finish them for me. People kept asking me if I made them. I would smile and say "3...I made 3!" I bought the single color of M&M's to use in the glasses to anchor the suckers. I love how they turned out.

How do you like these 90% off party supplies? I love them. I didn't like the idea of a "dark pirate" party. These were bright enough that it seemed fitting for the little ones. Their treat boxes were filled with fruit snacks, raisins, ring pops, tattoos, gold coins and other pirate treasures.

The finished product! LOVE IT! It was well worth the effort but I'm not sure I'd make another one. I'd probably just buy one. I did put Jonah's name on a different string so other people could use the Happy Birthday portion. Dan said he was only renting it out since it took so much work. :-) This came after he spent 2 hours stringing the thing and tying all the knots to hold it in place. Like I said, a total labor of love!
When you have only four kids, you can do more hands on activities with them. We started the party off by making pirate hats, eye patches and picture frames. I took pictures of all the kids when the arrived so we could send them home with a frame made by them complete with a picture from the day. The used all sorts of jewels and foam stickers to make their creations just perfect. This is the table before they got started.

I made one frame as an example to have by the door as his guests arrived. I have to applaud Ms. Dottie one more time while talking about these frames. I bought them at Michaels a few weeks ago but they were unfinished. I bought white spray paint for them and had that on Dan's list of things to do over the week. She took them home and did those for us too. I told you she was pretty great! Oh, I must also mention that she and Jonah share a birthday. Hers is July 27 also. Jonah asked if she would be 4 too! :-)
One of the things I have loved about Jonah's 3 previous birthday parties is how he has never seen any of the decorations until he arrived at the party. My mom has always kept him at our house while we were at the church decorating. Dan would go home, dress him then get to the party as it began. It was always so fun to see his face and reactions as he took it all in. I was telling Ms. Dottie about this last Monday to see if she might would pick him up for breakfast that morning so we could do last minute decorating. She was happy to do that then said "Well, do you think he would spend the night with me Friday night?" Jonah piped up from across the room and said "Ms. Dottie, I WILL spend the night with you!" It was super cute. So, she came over Friday night and got Jonah and Max. That left us 15 hours to get ready for the big event. We got right to work when they left, got a good night of sleep then got started again that morning. When they drove up, I opened the front door and this sweet boy ran right to me grinning and hugged me liked I was the best thing he had ever seen. It literally melted my heart.

He hugged and hugged me then looked around at all of his "guestess." He kept referring to anyone at the party as "my guestess!" It was the cutest thing. After he noticed all of his friends, he made sure Ms. Dottie got in the door okay!

The kids got started on their various craft projects while the adults visited. Dan helped Jonah with all of his projects. He loved having his daddy help him.

I just LOVE all of these pictures from the party. For the last 3 years, my friend Amanda has been my resident photographer. From Jonah's birth to all of his birthdays, she has been there from start to finish. I was so sad about not having her this year to document the day. I don't like being tied to my camera on days like this and I've never had to, thanks to her. This year, I just knew I'd be doing all the pictures myself. Then, I remembered my friend Melody, who is an awesome photographer, also does event photography. I quickly got her to check her calendar and she was able to fit our party in yesterday. If you need a photographer, call her! Seriously, I could not be more pleased with these pictures. We are already booked with her for Micah's newborn shots.

Are these some mean looking pirates or what? I think they are actually pretty sweet boys but something about putting on an eye patch makes you make a serious face. I love it!

The three little boys at the party were (L to R) Jaxon, Aaron & Elijah. Jaxon lives right beside us. He will turn 4 in December. Aaron lives across the street from us, goes to the same school as Jonah and they recently joined our church. Jonah attended his birthday party soon after we moved here last year. He will turn 5 in November. Elijah's family attends our church and he and Jonah love to play together there. Dan had the privelige of baptizing his mom and dad last year.

Before the party started, there was a nice pile of gifts for Jonah from friends and family that had been mailed. I stacked them up with the full knowledge that he might not open them at the party. We decided to let him open the gifts from all of his "guestess" first. I knew that if he didn't get to the ones from family and out of town friends that he would enjoy opening them on the days leading up to and on his actual birthday.

Here are finished frames the boys decorated. Aren't they cute? I loved sending them home with these cute favors made my them. (By the way, I'm posting pics in the order they were taken and this one was in the midst of gift time.)

One of my favorite things about this age is how nothing is secret with kids. As soon as Jaxon got to the party, he walked right into Jonah and said "I got you a surprise present, it is a Tag reader!" As Jonah was opening Elijah's he said "I got it at Disney world for you and it has pirates and Mickey Mouse!" I love the pure honesty of this age.

These family pictures are some of my favorite. For almost four years now, it has been just the three of us. I'm glad to have these to remember those sweet times. Little Micah will be here before we know it and we will soon have another little boy in pictures with us but for now, I treasure these.

Jonah acted very solemn as everyone was singing Happy Birthday to him. He was concentrating on getting those candles blown out.

You can see us laughing in the next picture. After he blew out the candles, he turned to Dan and said "I remembered to get my teeth out of the way!' If that doesn't mean anything to you, you MUST watch this video by clicking HERE. It was taken on Dan's birthday back in February. Even if you have seen it, you should watch again just because it is THAT funny! :-)
I found this cute little inflatable treasure chest ice chest online. It was a little more YELLOW than I imagined but it was cute.

Check out the haul this little guy got from his party "guestess!" It is all still currently in the middle of our living room so we can play with it. We have only opened one other gift from the pile. I love that he will have gifts to open up until and on his actual birthday. He keeps saying "those are from my family and friends in Bidalia!!!" when he points to the stack of unopened gifts.
After presents and food, we headed outside for the pinata. The original plan was to do a treasure hunt that led to the pool where the pirate had left tons of gold then do the pinata and swim. But, it started raining right when we went outside so we did the pinata first. So much for the surprise element of 344 gold coins in the pool.

Dan and our "we borrow everything from him" neighbor Ray hung the pinata. We, of course, in true fashion, had to borrow the string from him to hang it with. They really are so wonderful to help us novice homeowners!

A few weeks ago, Frank & Margie came back from a trip across the country with a special factory made miniature Louisville slugger bat for Jonah. We decided it was the perfect thing to use for the the pinata. We opted to forgo covering their eyes since they are still so young and so close to the pool. All the kids (and a couple of dads) had changed into their swimsuits by this time. Jonah even had a pirate swimsuit. So cute!

That was one STRONG pinata. Uncle Jeff finally stepped in and helped Jonah hit that thing with some power. Even with all that man power, we couldn't break through. Eventually, Dan just took the bat and started beating the thing. The kids didn't mind. They were just ready for the candy to start falling!

The rain went away long enough for us to do the treasure hunt with the boys. Because they can't read, we opted for a photo treasure hunt. We took a picture of the front of our house then edited it with red x's in the places where the gold was hidden. This was a hit! It was their favorite thing to do. We then wished we had added a lot more x's so they could hunt longer.

Jonah took a picture with Ms. Dottie before she left. Isnt' this sweet?
Here I am with my two Deland sisters. My hair doesn't quite match theirs but they include me and love me anyway. Jonah was thrilled to have Aunt Jen and Aunt Cathi at his party.
Once again, I can't say enough about the pictures Mel took from the day. You will notice why as you keep scrolling down. The rest of the pictures are mine and you can definitely tell a difference. Melody has been such a sweet friend to me in our time in DeLand. We are fortunate to be on staff with she and Jeff. He is an incredible Student Minister and she is such an asset to his ministry. We are truly blessed to serve with them and to have count them as friends. (and she rocks as a party photog!)
Speaking of quality photos, check out this awesome humidity covered lens photo. Yep, aren't you glad I didn't take all the pictures. You would have stopped looking by now! :-) Even with the fogged up lens, this little birthday boy is still pretty cute!
Uncle Jeff took one for the team and hopped in the pool with the kiddos. He helped Dan get all the gold from the bottom just so the kids could throw it back in.
Here are my two sweet neighbor friends. I'm so glad to live on a street with other little boys and to do life with these boy mommas! They have been such good friends to our family. We love living where God placed us.

The birthday boy was happy to pose for a picture with Aunt Jen and Aunt Cathi. He was so sweet about "not getting them wet!"
For the first time in 4 parties, Jonah cried during a party. Although, I can't really blame him. The tears came when the thunder started and they had to get out of the pool. It makes me laugh that Dan took the time to explain what thunder and lightning could do if you are in the pool WHILE he was still in the pool. Nice! :-)
I love that my husband doesn't necessarily thrive on birthday parties but loves them because I do. He never complains about what I ask him to do. He stays up late and gets up early. He is in full daddy mode from start to finish. He does everything he can to make my life and Jonah's life special. He truly is the best thing that every happened to me and I love that he takes his role as husband and daddy so serious. He blesses my heart every day and I'm so thankful to God for allowing us to walk this journey together.
You might notice in the following pictures that the pirate shirt Jonah is wearing is slightly different from the shirt in the previous pictures. I ordered a shirt back in April that never came. The girl closed her Etsy shop and never returned my money or mailed my shirt. I was so frustrated. So, a few weeks ago, I found a different lady on Etsy to make his shirt and got it in last week. Then, the day before his party, guess who finally mailed the shirt I ordered back in April. So frustrating. Oh well! I'd rather have two than none at all!
Check out those crossed ankles. When he is intent on something, he usually crosses his ankles like this. Always makes me smile.

I snapped the picture of Uncle Jeff and Aunt Cathi while they were in the midst of their Leapfrog Tag learning session. Ray was showing all of us how it works and the adults were obviously enthralled. Notice there isn't a child in sight.
It really was a wonderful, wonderful day from start to finish. The first guest arrived at 10:45 and we still had company at 5:15. We loved having people there who love us and care about our little guy. This was such a different party than what we have done in the past but it was still so very special.

I couldn't help but think about all the people who have attended the last three parties who would miss this one because of distance. It was sad to me that they couldn't share this special day but I do work so hard making sure Jonah remembers them, loves them and knows how special he is to them. In looking back at his last 4 parties, I came up with one grandmother and 29 other people from Vidalia who attended the last 3 parties. So, this was different but it just reminded me that our life has changed so much over the last three years but we are blessed even more because of the new relationships God has granted us all the while reminding us of those in our past who helped make us who we are today. What a gift!!


winstead family said...

what a beautiful post! happy birthday jonah and how wonderful that you got a photographer for your party. i loved seeing you in so many of the pictures and jonah will love that as well...nikki, you look just beautiful. :) glowing.

Audra Laney said...

Scaled down or not, this was one awesome party!!! I love all the details you put so much work into. Everything looked awesome, especially that "labor of love" banner! Congrats on a successful party, and you look great, Nicki!

Amanda said...

Such a sweet post and it may have been long, but I really didn't notice. I miss you guys :( I wish there had been a way for us to get to you yesterday because it looked like so much fun! Kudos on the photos though. Melody did a FABULOUS job! Love you guys a lot!

Avery's Mommy said...

Let me just say - if this is your idea of a low key birthday party - you need serious birthday party therapy!

You did a GREAT job. Jonah and Micah are so blessed :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the photos - made me feel a part of things even though my heart was breaking all day thinking about missing that sweet little boy's birthday party! It looked like GREAT fun and he was precious as usual. You and Dan did a good job with the decorations, and all without your peeps...ha Love you guys!

{Louisiana.Bride} said...

The photos are awesome! Love the ones where we can see the baby bump!


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