I love to throw a party. I think maybe even more so now, that I am not teaching in an elementary classroom, the idea of choosing a theme, planning all the elements and coordinating colors and activities and food just satisfies a part of me that is not getting to execute weekly thematic units for twenty-some students. Couple that with the fact that Clara's birthday comes right at the end of winter and a season of hibernation for us, I might go just a little overboard.
I am aware though that we live in a day in age where parents do more for their kids than they really need. Birthdays have gotten a bit out of control with consumerism and "keepin' up with the Joneses" mentalities driving us to do more and more and more to the point that it's just entirely too much. I know that. But still, I love a party. Clara's not big enough to really "get it" yet and I know that, but I do it because it brings me great joy. It's not about the presents spoiling her (I really hope!), but her life is worth celebrating and it's a joy for me to join with friends and say thanks for being a part of this journey with us. You matter in her life and in mine and I am thankful for this community. At the end of the day, that's what a birthday is about to me. And there is no one to better celebrate your day of birth than your mother. My mom always made (and still does make!) my birthday super special, so I hope that I'll pass that along to Clara. The thematic details though -- let's be honest -- that's really just for me.
When choosing Clara's second birthday theme, I wanted it to be reflective of something she really loves. We don't do much TV in our house yet, so some of the usual suspects of "character" parties didn't seem like quite the right fit. If Clara isn't playing outside, her favorite thing to do really is read. When she started getting to the point that she could memorize and recite books and songs that she had heard with great frequency, it became very clear how much she loves nursery rhymes. In the months leading up to her second birthday she could (and did, hourly) recite literally dozens of nursery rhymes. While playing by herself, or swinging, or riding in a grocery cart, we'd hear her muttering quietly, "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall......" Ahhhh.... these are the moments that make a literacy educator bust with pride. For real. And so, her Mother Goose Birthday party was born.
I had lots of fun pulling together the parts of this fun day. Her birthday was on a Saturday this year, which made it especially convenient for her friend party. A few cousins and close friends gathered to celebrate her. We'd hoped to be outside, but since the end of March is stubbornly unpredictable we got stuck with a too-cold, too-rainy day and had to improvise with a garage party instead. A couple of days before the party, I fell and broke my hand, so I had just gotten a four week sentence in a hard cast and was still in quite a bit of pain. I was kind of panicking about how I would pull it all off, but my mother-in-law came up the day before and allowed to me to boss her around like a drill sergeant. I couldn't have done it without her. Big thanks, Mama K.
A few weeks before the party, these invitations went out.
And the day of, this is what went down!
Each food item was inspired by a nursery rhyme:
One of the cutest ones was a tray of "Itsy Bitsy Spiders" made from Peanut Butter Ritz crackers with preztel legs and chocolate chip eyes... I'm bummed I didn't get a close up of that one.
I made the bunting from a Nursery Rhyme book that I cut apart and glued back together:
I found Nursery Rhyme Big Books and tiny books at the Dollar Tree which made for perfect favors! Along with a copy of one of Clara's favorite nursery rhyme CDs (Shh, don't report me) and Humpty Dumpty cake pops, made by Mama K.
The coolest part though, I cannot take credit for. Mama K has a super talented friend in GA who helped come up with the vision for and created this awesome Mother Goose cake! It was the talk of the party!
Once the kids arrived, we started out by planting seeds for Mary Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockleshells and pretty maids all in a row. The kids decorated their pots with markers, then we helped them scoop dirt and choose some seeds. They finished it off with a plant marker that had the nursery rhyme on it and a decorative shell to help them remember the rhyme.
While we were planting seeds, the men were helping to "hide" some felt mittens outside. So we read "Three Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens" and then all the children went outside to help the kittens find their mittens! It was a week before Easter and a good warm up for the Easter Egg hunts to come.
Once all the mittens were found, (and it started HAILING... on MARCH 23?!) we came back into the garage to eat lunch.
Clara was excited that it was finally HER
turn to blow out candles on her cake. We enjoyed cake and ice cream and opening presents before every one headed home for naps.
You can't see it especially well in these pictures because she's wearing a sweater (did I mention it was cold?), but Clara's dress for the day has nursery rhymes on it, too. You can see it better here
Thanks to everyone who came and helped us celebrate this special day. We all got a little choked up when she blew out those candles, remembering that two years ago when she was born she didn't have enough lung strength to even support her own life. What an answer to prayer to watch her breathe in and out so deeply, with God given breath - an answer to so many fervent prayers.
Thanks Be To God.