i remember when she turned one, how upset i was that a year had passed, and she was no longer a baby anymore. we were nearly done nursing, she could feed herself, put herself to sleep, close to walking, she could say a few words and sing some songs. she just seemed like a big girl already. and i was saaaad. but this year, i was REALLY excited about her birthday party because it seems like she's been two FOREVER now. she's just so BIG, and so intellectually developed, and so physically capable... i've been saying "she'll be two in a couple of months," for a couple of months already! so this was just a great excuse to finally have a party that honored this life event for all of us. what a big girl she is!
my mom flew out here for the event, and she and i spent a few days before shopping for the party: streamers, party favors, food, paper plates. but the night before the "big day," she got violently ill. so she was down for the count, which normally i think would have totally stressed me out, since i was counting on her! but i don't know, i just went with it... i thought to myself how much does a two year old really care that the house is a mess, or the cake didn't turn out right, or the decorations aren't exactly perfect? and it turned out to be a HUGE help. that, and adam, of course. that man is a freaking rock star. he helped me get the place cleaned up, dug out the decorations, hung them up, and basically did everything that needed to be done. i just hung out in the kitchen and made up the food. he did all the work!
so it was the night before the party, and we stayed up until about 10:30 pm decorating and prepping. i scrubbed the bathroom before bed. (not the ideal time to scrub a bathroom, but really, what is?) woke up early to shower, get dressed, finish up the food... you guys, seriously: we were SO on top of it, that we were ready for the party a full hour before the guests were set to arrive! so proud of us!
it was so much fun to see the expression on gracie's face when she woke up that morning, and found the living room all decorated with streamers, balloons, and signs. she kept pointing and saying "lookoo dat! lookoo dat!"
at about 10:00 a.m., the first party guests arrived. and they just kept streaming in, until our house was bursting with activity and friends and sticky little toddlers. i think we had about a dozen weebies, all of them under the age of three (check that: there was ONE four year old), plus their parents, plus some grandparents, plus the neighbors, plus people from church, plus the neighbor's kid's friend. it was AWESOME. what i love the most is that we've only lived in this town for a few months -- and we already have a huge, loving, supportive community of friends. i really do love living here!
when adam and i greeted gracie's guests at the door, we explained to them that there was no plan for the day: there was food on the table for when they wanted to eat, and things to do outside for when they wanted to play. i think having a flexible outlook on the morning's activities really kept us (and our guests) laid-back. trying to navigate a dozen two-year-olds is like herding cats anyway, so why not just follow their lead?
when people arrived, they graciously offered gracie her gifts: seeds, plants, flowers, and herbs. we did a garden-themed party since this is the perfect time of year to get your seeds started, and gracie loves to dig, and our yard needs a load of work done on it anyway. even though it was cold and grey outside, most of the kids went outdoors anyway to dig in the dirt. some children brought flowers, which they planted into pots. some children brought seeds, which we planted in the dirt. some children brought plants (strawberry plants, a tiny rosemary bush, etc.) which we planted in the yard. it was so much fun, and just precious to see how excited they were! i asked the children to label what it is that they brought, along with their name on it, so that when that thing is big enough they can come back to gracie's garden and pick it with her. gracie's friend milo brought carrot seeds (among others) which we planted in the soil. i've been told that every day since then, he's woken up and asked his dad if the carrots are ready to eat yet. he's very excited, and we are too!
after we finished planted things (omg, there's still so much more to plant out there! i'm so excited to get it all in the ground!), we came inside and found that people had started to eat lunch. god bless americans! they make throwing a party soooo easy! i love how they just help themselves, so i don't have to be constantly running around, filling drinks and offering more food to eat. just point them in the right direction and they'll do it themselves! hallelujah! so when we came indoors, we found that everyone inside had already started to dig in to the homemade macaroni and cheese i had set out in a couple of crockpots. the kids headed straight for the fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, mangoes, and kiwi!), and the lemonade and juice boxes were replenished in people's hands.
after eating our lunch, we got out gracie's birthday treat: dirt cake! crumbled up chocolate graham-crackers, layered with pudding, whip cream, butter, powdered sugar, and cream cheese. and gummi worms throughout! yum! i screwed up the recipe the night before, as i realized i only had half the amount of pudding that i needed, but again i figured that a 2-year old wouldn't care, so why would i? it was a huge hit, and the kids kept coming back for more gummi worms to pull out of the dirt. (plus, it was uber-easy to make, and i'd totally do it again, and if you want the recipe just email me and i'll send it to you!)
the rest of the time we all just kinda hung out, dancing and throwing balloons around. playing in the ball pit, playing with gracie's "elmos", and playing with each other. the party was a huge success, and i think everyone had a good time. most importantly, GRACIE had a good time, and adam and i felt calm and happy throughout. it was so much fun!