Phase I: The Little Gym
I don't know about you, but I like a birthday party where the guests sing "Happy Birthday" like 6 times. Really feels like a celebration. And of course, it wouldn't be the Little Gym without a thousand songs.
Also a rock wall.
And a cheese mat on which to collapse with exhaustion if your big brother's 3rd birthday party happens to fall directly in the middle of your naptime.
This was Harry's first "friend" birthday party, and Little Gym was the PERFECT venue. In addition to his cousins Max and Lucy, and his brother Jack, Harry had 2 kids from his preschool class (we invited everyone, but lots of people were on vacation, which I suspect will be the case every year because that's what happens when you have a summer birthday), his longtime frend Josephine (whom he met at Little Gym when he was just 7 months old), and his friends Ben and Hunter (who might be the most well-behaved preschoolers I have ever met and whose mom went to college with me and Ben and whose dad is a native Central Illinoisian, too).
If you have a preschooler and a Little Gym, book your party NOW. They did everything from welcoming guests and entertaining the kiddies, to serving and cleaning up the cake and pizza, to providing all the paper ware, favors, and decorations, to choreographing and recording the gift opening (no small feat in a room full of mostly 3 year olds). AMAZING.
Clearly. the kids had a blast
Not pictured: the adults hurling balls at each other as hard as we could. My brother Ben started it. My husband Ben ended it by pelting our little niece Lucy n the tummy when Ben's dad ducked out of the way.
I love how red and sweaty Harry gets when he exerts himself.
Most of the kids loved taking a ride and a flip on the donut. The preschoolers thought the notion of a rolling donut was out-of-this-world funny.
The babies wondered what the heck just happened to them
This dazed look on Jack's face after he flips and is righted is one of the reasons I signed him up for Little Gym for the summer and fall.
Ahhh, the Air Track. The bane of my existence when I was pregnant and we had to sit on it while it was inflated, and all the other moms and kids popped right up to the top but Harry and I just sat in a hole because I was so heavy.
The kids like it though, and this party was ALL ABOUT THE KIDS.
Harry closed his eyes and paused for a moment before he blew out his candle-- he was MAKING A WISH-- how cute is that? (When asked, the greedy little guy told us he wished for more Santa and more Easter Bunny. Nice).
The kids were pretty darn cute eating pizza and Batman cake. The frosting stained everyone's teeth, lips, hands, and I imagine their clothes, too.
The obligatory family posed shots that we take every year
Miss Molly was awesome at handling the gift opening, and Harry was a peach-- he loved all of his presents, and he hugged each party guest, which was adorable.
Phase II, Our House
After the kiddies went to bed we all reconvened at our house for a ton of Thai takeout, Batman cake, wine, and what we hoped would be a grown up party. My brother Jon and his girlfriend Brae even drove in from Chicago. 2 things stood n the way of an adults-only soiree. First of all, this guy woke up for more cake:
Second, Ben and Ben wrestled
for a really awkward amount of time
twice actually, and I have more pictures, but they're kind of creepy.
Phase III, Harry's actual birthday morning
HB woke up early, excited to get more presents.
Here's jack offering him the stuffed Woody doll Ben and I bought in a panic because we were unable to buy Toy Story dolls like the ones in the movie because greedy Disney has pulled them all from the shelves to make kids REALLY want them next summer when Toy Story 3 hits theaters. We finally did find the whole cast of Toy Story on Amazon, so we gave him the stuffed Woody and Buzz the night before his birthday as a way to bribe him back to bed. It worked.
At first, he was overjoyed, but then he wondered why Buzz Lightyear didn't have a mission log and where the Stinky Pete doll was (Stinky Pete the Prospector? Never actually manufactured). Then he threw them all in a heap
and modeled his new roller skates, sans pants.
We capped off the morning with breakfast with both sets of grandparents. At breakfast, the birthday boy told the waiter that he didn't need a menu; it was his birthday, and he was going to eat chocolate cake. Okay then.
**** Interlude: Urgent Care****
On the way out of the restaurant, my brother Ben accidentally tripped over Jack, who fell face first onto the cement. Then Ben sort of stepped on his head a little.
Our doctor had hours at urgent care, so we stopped by. He laughed at Jack's red nose and said he wanted to take a picture. Then he casually asked us if Jack's nose had been running before the fall-- you know, just so he could make sure the clear liquid wasn't brain fluid. Cool. In the end, he said Jack was fine, but his injuries might require some vaseline.
Phase IV: Lake Geneva
We capped off the birthday weekend with a surprise (to Harry) trip to a cute little lake town, where we stayed at a hotel with a ginormous waterpark.
Jack? Not so into water.
Here we are in our hotel room, which was a never-ending source of wonders to both kids. Bathroom cabinets?? Aweosme! A Kitchen table? Astounding! A TV in the bedroom? WOW.
Jack bounced in this thing for awhile-- the only thing he'd do without crying
It was hard to take a picture of Harry because he was a little wet, joyful blur. He loved the water slides.
This picture was taken about an hour after the first one. Still bouncing. We traded who got to hang with J and who had to keep H from drowning.
We swam until Harry was a prune, then we got dressed and headed downtown for dinner at a place called Harry's and a horse and carriage ride
I thought Harry or his Crocs were going overboard any minute.
Jack was super happy-- he squealed with delight when he saw the horse and smiled almost the whole time. He sneezed once-- a big glob of black goo that made him cry.
Harry had Superman ice cream (rainbow sherbet creatively named), and he was very serious about eating it with gusto.
More swimming-- the outdoor pools were closed, so no bouncey for Jack, but one of the indoor pools had a baby swing above the water, so he was happy-ish until Harry sprayed the crap out of him with a hose.
The next morning, Harry and Jack swung by the gift shop as we checked out, and Jack picked out a moose he first spotted when we arrived at the hotel. Pretty cute that he remembered it and still wanted it the next day.
After a quick breakfast at the cute little cafe at which we announced Jack's impending arrival to Ben's parents a couple summers ago, we hit the public beach. Where we learned that Jack hates sand.
On our way to the beach, Harry threw change in this fountain and again wished for more Santa.
Jack really disliked the sand. And the water.
Harry spent a couple hours digging a whole and filling it with water and demanding that we all swim in his pool.
Jack did not like the pool.
He perked up a bit for the old bury your feet in the sand game
And moments after this picture was taken, he ripped off my bikini top, and I flashed like 3 other families. Classy.
Despite his love of cold water, Harry tripped and went totally under, and had to bundle up for a bit to recover
Jack longed for a water noodle.
Ben was super proud of his sand pool-- and he should have been, since he spent the whole morning wading in and out of the freezing lake with Harry and his buckets.
We supervise Jack well, huh?
All in all, a pretty fun birthday weekend. Harry says now that he is 3 he will not ride in shopping carts, but he will poop in the potty. Sweet.