Friday, January 31, 2014

December 2

This is the last post about Harrison's birthday, I promise. :)

I wanted to document how we celebrated his actual birthday. I'm a big birthday person. I love my family every day of the year, but birthdays are a great opportunity to be intentional about going the extra mile and making the person feel extra special. So it was a jam-packed, fun-filled day. His actual birthday fell on a Monday and Rick took the day off from work. Rick's mom had come in the day before for his party so she was here to celebrate him with us as well.

To summarize our fun, here is what I typed on facebook at the end of the day:

Harrison turns 4 today! Had such a fun time celebrating him. Started off with our elf returning with a birthday gift (a fish tank), a yummy French toast breakfast, a well-visit to the pediatrician (4 shots, yikes!), a trip to Petco to pick out his first pet fish (which he promptly named "Fishy Boyd"), a not-so-yummy lunch at Chuck-E-Cheese, a trip to the Blue Bell Factory in Brenham, and ended with a fun night at Santa's Wonderland in College Station. Whew! An exhausting day but so much fun! (And as I'm typing this the birthday boy is asking what's next because he's not ready for his birthday to be over) :) 

Did I mention it was a jam-packed, fun-filled day?? 

Chip Chesney has made it a tradition to come back on Harrison's birthday. This year he came with an empty fish tank, a $10 bill, and a note telling him to go pick out his very own pet fish. Harrison had been begging for another pet. His negotiation skills are superb, too. He told us that we had a choice between getting him either a pet fish or a pet bird for his birthday and it was totally up to us to decide which one. How's that for a little Love & Logic thrown back in mom & dad's face? Ha!

It didn't take long for Fishy Boyd to become a beloved family member. I'm not even kidding you. I didn't know it was possible to become emotionally attached to a fish, but it has happened. And not just Harrison....ME. I've never had a fish nor ever cared to have a fish, but I find myself worrying about him and checking on him all the time. I have serious issues. Let's just hope our betta is a fighter.

In my mind it made perfect sense to schedule his well-visit on his birthday. Rick could go with me and help manage the kids. And we had a lot of leverage and distractions when it came to getting his shots since we had fun stuff planned afterward. RIGHHHT. Mom fail, big time! My first mistake was telling Harrison in advance that he'd have to get shots. I thought it would be helpful to prepare him so he wasn't blindsided. That poor kid worried about his shots for days. Out of the blue he'd say he didn't want his birthday to come because he didn't want to have to get shots. And even though we talked about how it was quick and he's so brave and he'd be fine, it took 3 adults to physically hold him down as he thrashed around. Poor kid...he is emotionally scarred now. Next time we will definitely go in for a sneak attack and definitely not on his birthday.
eye exam

Since we were going to Santa's Wonderland in College Station we decided to make an afternoon out of our trip and headed to Brenham to tour the Blue Bell Factory. It was pretty interesting and even held the kids' attention. The tour ended at the parlor where we all got some complimentary ice cream.

stopping to smell the flowers

This was our 2nd trip to Santa's Wonderland. We went last year on Harrison's birthday as well. It's such a neat place and we had a great time!

Happy birthday, sweet boy. We had a grand time celebrating you.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cowboy Party

I didn't even have to ask Harrison what kind of birthday party he wanted this year because he started asking me all about it over the summer. He was set on a cowboy party and was very pumped up about it. It was a ton of fun planning it out because he gave me his opinion and ideas on what he liked best and what he wanted to do. It was a collaborative effort and it's always more special when you know how happy they're going to be when the day finally arrives.

It's starting to get challenging having birthday parties at our home as the kids and their friends continue to get older. Our house gets really small really fast once it's filled with a bunch of wild kids and their parents. But we were on a limited budget, so the house it was. I had to get creative with some cheap outdoor activities to keep the kids busy and then pray for good weather.

Here is the invitation. I created it myself in Word based on a few invitations I liked on Etsy, and then on the back I printed his picture that I added text to. Total cost was nominal (I already had the photo paper and envelopes).

Here is the wreath I made for the front door. I found the straw wreath at Walmart for $3! Then I just added a bandana, a "4" that I spray painted, and designed and printed out the sign and picture. Total cost: $6.

Like all parties, it was a mad dash to get everything prepared and together before everyone arrived, so I didn't get the best pictures. Here is the food table. The "H" on the mantel is special because Rick made it for Harrison's room. I picked up the corrugated tin "H" in Canton and Rick cut and framed out some wood slats and layered it with a solid piece that I spray painted red to give it more texture and dimension. I love it!

I tried to make the food as cowboy-themed as possible. Instead of paper plates I bought packages of tin pie plates from the dollar store. I wrapped the utensils in cow print napkins and tied them with twine, and stuck them in tin cans. I baked and served a cookie cake in a cast iron skillet. Little details like these make me incredibly happy. :)  I already had the tablecloth and the wooden crates are from our playroom and I just turned them upside down and backwards. I bought them at Michael's last year for $6 each with coupons. I stained them and then stenciled on "TOYS" with a black sharpie. But the playroom makeover is a post for another day.

The menu included:

*Buckaroo Buns
*Cowboy Cornbread
*Pistol Pete's Pulled Pork
*Wagon Wheel Mac-n-Cheese
*Buffalo Bill's Baked Beans
*Frontier Fixin's
*Tater Salad
*Rootin' Tootin' Hot Dogs

For dessert I baked chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting (birthday boy's request) and a chocolate chip cookie cake. I also did that Pinterest pin where you scoop ice cream into individual cupcake liners ahead of time and stick them in the freezer until you need them...saved a ton of time doing that. Lord knows you shouldn't have to wait an extra 2 minutes for your ice cream when you have a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie calling your name. That's just cruel. 

For drinks, I served iced tea in my new mason jar beverage dispenser (I'm in love) and of course had to use my mason jars for glasses to continue the country theme. Who doesn't love to drink out of mason jars? I also couldn't resist buying some old fashioned root beer in glass bottles. I'm a sucker for soda in glass bottles. And for the littles whose parents weren't keen on giving them soda, I threw some juice boxes in there for good measure.


 The activities outside included:

*Git Yer Gear (hats and bandanas which also served as party favors)
*Pannin' For Gold (uncovering buried gold nuggets in the sandbox)
*Wild West Shoot Out (tin cans and nerf guns)
*Horse Shoes (kid's set from the dollar spot)
*Steer Ropin' (lassoing)
*Ride 'Em Cowboy (stick horse races)
*Wild West Town (out of large boxes)


I didn't get any pictures during the party, but here in one of the "stick" horses I made. I saw these at the kids' preschool fall picnic and thought they were so cute! Pool noodle from the dollar store, felt ears, fur mane, twine, and googly eyes from Hobby Lobby and you have a quick and easy stick horse for about $3.

And my very favorite part of the party was the wild west town. It's so true what they say about kids being happier playing with boxes than with toys. I could hardly keep mine out of them while I was working on them. A free project with the exception of about $4 in craft paint.

And now on to the actual party!

Such a great day celebrating my sweet boy.

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