Friday, March 1, 2013

The Party.

Sort of like when I tell my husband it's in the drawer and obviously he should know which drawer I'm talking about. This conversation may have happened a time or two over the course of the party weekend, so that's why I'm bringing it up. Blog marital counseling, basically.

So, the party. For only the coolest cat 1-year old I've ever had the pleasure of parenting.

This one was unique on so many levels. Without stating too much of the obvious, it was the first birthday party I have ever planned for a child of my own. That in and of itself was special. Then there's the part where we had him baptized, in our home on his birthday. Our good family friend, Jim, was the person who baptized Benjamin and all of our local friends who will be a part of Benjamin's life as he grows were in our home for the ceremony. About forty people were gathered in our home for the baptism and party and while chaotic at times with lots of little voices, we wouldn't have had it any other way.

Our firstborn was very much a part of the event as well. We held the baptism in our formal living room where Andrew, his candles and photos are present. Andrew's candle was lit during the ceremony as well as Ray's baptism candle from his childhood. We loved the idea of having Andrew "present" during the baptism of Benjamin and also baptizing Benjamin on his exact birthday, just like Andrew was baptized on his own. Any way we can connect our sons as brothers is a gift. We hope that if we do have another child in the future, that they will also be baptized in our home.

Both sets of grandparents were in town to celebrate and that was such a special treat. Each traveled from opposite coasts to love on our little guy and we just wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Benjamin was followed, chased and played with all throughout the house (and outside in the snow!) during their visit and it was so fun to watch him fully engaged the whole time. Those Skype images came to life in 3D form!

The Invitation (front/back):

Birthday Breakfast:
The day started with a new tradition. Well, I've had this in mind for a loooong time, but finally was able to put the wheels in motion! B had a pancake with sprinkles on top. It was a special treat for sure! I love the idea of him being a cute third grader and while still having to go to school on his birthday, he would be sure to start the celebration off right with a sprinkles pancake. Besides, what elementary kid doesn't like going to school on their birthday? I mean, you get all kinds of attention and teachers probably give you a special treat. {When I was teaching fourth/fifth grades, I would write each student and note and give them a fortune cookie. Imagine the horror when one autistic student received a fortune about a loved one taking him to the movies.}
As I said, it was a special occasion to have B baptized at home in such an intimate setting with friends and family gathered around. The ceremony was perfect. We were so honored to have our friend Jim officiating and just love their family... so it was beyond special that he baptized our boy. Before the actual water, Jim brought the bowl over to the children watching and allowed them to touch it. That was definitely a special part of the ceremony. I may have made a crack about it being extra holy tap water from our kitchen faucet. Maybe. It may have been caught on video as well. We also had two good local friends say a prayer of blessing and thanks at the end of the baptism before lunch.

The bowl used to hold the baptismal water was actually a gift from Ray's parents for our engagement. It's a bowl made from a metal craft company in Pennsylvania, Wendell August. They make gorgeous stuff and this bowl was engraved with our engagement date: June 15, 2007. When we were thinking of a bowl to use, this was the only actual bowl that we own with real sentimental meaning, so we went with it. It's made of a heart shape and just gorgeous. I love that the idea of our marriage and our children coming full circle and definitely surrounded by love. Andrew's candle was lit during the ceremony and throughout the birthday celebration as well as Ray's baptismal candle lit during the ceremony. Grandparents were in the front row, as seen in the picture below to the right.

Pinterest gets a bit of credit for the creativity in this area. We didn't do much, but we did have 3 banners, balloons & hats for the kiddos. One of the banners is your standard Party City purchase, but the other two were made entirely by me. They were a labor of love that took nearly a solid week of naptimes. Now that is love.

The balloons. They get their own paragraph. Benjamin woke up at 6:15 that morning, so we assumed he'd be down for a nap two hours later like usual. Except, that would be too awesome and perfect. At 9:30 a.m., he still wasn't napping and his party was set to start thirty minutes later. Ray and I left and decided to go out and get balloons at Party City. Yes, I know we could've just blown them up ourselves. But this was the very first birthday I've ever thrown for my kid and he was having helium in those balloons! I could not be talked out of this. And really, no one tried to. No napping Benjamin + party starting soon + parents leaving to get balloons =  Benjamin taking a nap in the car. Success. Except, when we got home, there was a very tired kiddo still sleeping. We sent my father-in-law on assignment to chill in the car (in our garage) with the babylove while the party guests arrived. Perfect job for him because they both got in a good nap. We woke Benjamin (and my father-in-law) up about 15 minutes before his baptism and it was genius. He was attentive and adorable.

After a solid week of talking over just about every idea under the sun, my brilliant husband came up with the idea to donate a Benjamin ($100) to March of Dimes. It was a bit of an Andrew tribute as well as in honor of party guests. A subtle way to celebrate and love both of our boys at the same time.

I feel it completely necessary to list out everything at the party because the Costco trip alone with Benjamin cost me almost all my sanity and about 10 samples. Thank goodness for my mom being in town to help with the prep work, otherwise we would've ordered pizza. And in the future, that just might be in the cards because oh-em-gee did that take a lot of work. A week later and I'm not fully recovered. Why didn't anyone tell me that you all get your parties catered? But in all honestly, I needed to make this food myself. I wanted his first birthday to be completely planned and orchestrated by our hands. Something about pouring everything into it was just necessary this go around.

After the baptism at 11:00 a.m., we served lunch. Kids were served first as we feverishly prepared mini cheese pizzas and then started in on adult pizzas (aka: pizza with toppings). In the 5 minutes it took to cook the pan of pizzas, they were able to get started on the other fare that was already set out. After lunch, Benjamin we opened gifts and had cake/ice cream. Did we really expect a 1-year old to sit still for presents? Hah. 
Menu {Mini Foods}: 
1. Mini pulled pork slider sandwiches {I endured pork smell cooking all night long. That's love, people.}
    - sweet rolls purchased at Costco in the bakery section. They make delicious toast as well. Mmmm.
    - 10 lbs. boneless pork loin cooked in stock for about 15 hours in the crock pot + BBQ sauce. Optional sliced red onions on the side.
2. Mini sandwich thin pizzas
    - I originally intended for them to be English muffin pizzas, but saw these at Costco and thought they resembled pizza the most, were super cute, delish, more nutritious, cheaper, sliced already and would cook faster.
    - Toppings included: Canadian bacon, mild sausage, jalapeno, pineapple, mushroom, olive, onion, bell pepper.
    - Pizza sauce: large Cotsco-sized can of tomato sauce + 1/4 container of Italian seasoning (to taste). Cheese was also from Costco.
3. O Organics squeeze packs for the small kids as food or snack.
4. Mini veggie skewers
    - celery, carrot coin, cucumber {repeat x2}
    - Do you know how difficult it is to find vegetables that are raw that kids like to eat?
    - Also, do you know how difficult it is to skewer celery? Not recommended.
5. Mini rainbow fruit skewers
    - Strawberry, orange, pineapple, pear, blueberry, red grape
    - Most difficult part was having to do these day of because fruit doesn't remain as crisp & fresh.
    - Hooray for Benjamin's grandmas for saving the day and handling those!
6. Drinks
    - Lemonade in that fancy drink dispenser borrowed from my friend Liz.
    - Bottled water
    - Apple juice boxes for the kids (or adults like me. My husband is quick to remind only one juice box. Hah).
7. Chips
    - Assorted bags from Costco: Chicago mix popcorn, Kettle Chips, Veggie Straws
    - Bought the veggie straws for two reasons: kids love them & B ate so many on our Costco trip for this party from the sample lady that I felt obligated to buy a bag myself.
1. Mini vanilla and chocolate-chocolate chip cupcakes & Benjamin's sprinkles smash cake
    - You've already seen the cake, but the cupcakes are displayed here. Nothing fancy, but they're mini.
    - I baked about 75 of those minis.
2. Trader Joe's mini vanilla and chocolate ice cream cones
    - perfect for little hands, delish, and super cute!

The Smash Cake:
Yeah. Didn't go off without a hitch. No smashing ever really occurred. In fact, he didn't want much to do with the cake at all. Until the next day. Having 40+ people singing to you is enough to confuse any little one, I guess. So, he put his head down instead. #adorable

The Smash Cake, Take II:
We tried again the next day with two gawking grandmas by his side and he had no problem taking down large chunks of the sugar laden pile.

The kid made out like a bandit, I tell you. I was surprised by the sheer number of gifts, to be honest. I guess I just didn't think there would be so much generosity and in such great number. B had no interest in opening presents, so we attempted to speed through them {hello melting children all around me} without people feeling like we didn't acknowledge their abundance of kindness! B is not a deprived child in the least. He deserves to be loved on and showered with excitement, especially on his first birthday and baptism day, but wow! Just wow. My favorite is that he received some super cool books that I'm personally excited to read him. Yay for new material! I'm a little bummed African man wasn't decked out in a party hat, but there's always next time. He's usually quite festive.
p.s. Kristi, that is totally your daughter caught in the act {top right!}
Thank You:
For those near and far who have celebrated, dreamed, loved, hoped and cared for us, thank you. This is starting to feel a wee bit like an awards ceremony acceptance speech. Having a whole year of this boy has flooded our home with love. We will never, ever lose sight of how Andrew has shaped our family, but we're thankful for the little brother that provides tangible joy in our lives daily. We might be generating some postcard thank-yous. Maybe.
These pictures are impossible now. This must have been the 100th picture we attempted.
Pinterest Inspirations because this post is long enough and I'm tired... so they'll all go down here. Consider these like movie credits, mmmkay?
    - Rainbow fruit skewers
    - Birthday invite
    - Mini pizza picture... though the idea was all mine!
    - Smash sprinkles cake
    - Photo head/hat banner
    - Mini ice cream cones from Trader Joe's


Brie said... [Reply to comment]

Love the Benjamin from Benjamin. Stellar idea....and Thankyou for continuing to support such a great cause. (:

Happy birthday little man!

Hope's Mama said... [Reply to comment]

The first birthday party for the first baby who lives is something SPECIAL. You went to a lot of effort but it was all totally worth it. I think it looked like a brilliant day for a very special little boy and I loved how involved his beautiful big brother was in the day.
You did a great job, mama xo

Molly said... [Reply to comment]

Looks like a great time! Good job lady! Lmao that he put his head down next to the cake! Those ice cream cones ate Sloane's addiction. Never thought to serve them at a party. Good idea!

Darcey said... [Reply to comment]

What a special day for a special boy and that is an AMAZING food set up...and yes all parties should be catered or pizza delivered. I learned that by my second child when I tried to duplicate what I did for my first...impossible!!!
I love how you are able to create family traditions including Andrew. Looks like everything was definitely a success. Great job Mama!!!

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

I love the sprinkle pancake idea. May need to copy that. And I just love the Benjamin donated to Marh of Dimes. Just perfect.

So glad you got to celebrate this special day.

Veronica said... [Reply to comment]

Now that's a party!
You did a great job. Hosting a party in the dead of winter is no small feat. And 40 people in your house at once...congratulations.

Cater shmater! You pulled it off! Happy Birthday Benjamin!

LauraJane said... [Reply to comment]

1) I thought that drink in the dispenser was margarita.
2) the sideways head in lieu of cake smash = adorable!
3) The Benjamin donation? Totally genius!
4) OMG he's so cute!
5) I love bowl you used for the baptism. Love that Andrew's candle was involved.
6) Love both your babies

Suzanne said... [Reply to comment]

He could not be cuter. And I am so impressed! That party looked amazing. The menu, the decorations, the invited. Everything was so well thought out and lovely. Happy birthday, little guy! You only turn one once!

Kelly said... [Reply to comment]

Happy Birthday Benjamin! Looks like a great day. I love that you had him baptized on the same day, what a great idea! He's so cute. :)

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

1) I also thought you were serving margs at the party, and I thought that was a great idea.
2) Love the candle connection to Andrew AND the beautiful heart shaped bowl from your engagement.
3) The Benjamin donation was brilliant (and so well-written, haha)
4) My favorite thing? Might be the banner of Benjamin faces wearing party hats! I want a tutorial on how you made that.

Renel said... [Reply to comment]

What an awesome party! Good job mama! I love the give a Benjamin idea ... Brilliant. I'm so glad Andrew got to be there via a candle being lit for him and that Ray's was used as well. Very special. I love the banner with his adorable little face on it. I am glad you got to share the day with so many people who love him and you and Andrew too. It sounds very successful. And you even survived pork smell in your house... :)

RyAnne Carr said... [Reply to comment]

What a great party and baptism! I feel ya-I could not have done Abigail's party without my mom-no way! And needing a week to recover from it-glad Im not the only one....Im just now feeling rested from that long weekend that was her birthday party! I love his little sideways look at the cake! adorable!

Kristi said... [Reply to comment]

We loved being there to celebrate Benjamin!! We love him so much! Too funny that Kirstin was caught in the act of opening Benjamin's gifts...not surprising at all. I did TRY to prevent that from continuing though. :-)

SG said... [Reply to comment]

OMG brilliant and touching - all of it. Good job, you!

That picture of Benjamin with his face on the table by the cake made me laugh and coo out loud. <3