Fireman Party

When I asked Jack a few months back what theme he wanted for his birthday party this year, I reminded him that his 2nd birthday was a choo choo party to help him understand what a theme was.  Of course, then he said he wanted a choo choo party.  SO, I took the liberty of deciding on a theme on my own (while I still can!!).  Fireman theme it is!
(Shirt purchased on etsy.com from seller: SweetThingsforBaby)
We had a great party with our immediate families and some of our closest friends.  We got fire hats and fire safety coloring books for all the kids courtesy of Grandma Clayton, who works at a fire house.  We also gave each kiddo a fire-themed book in their goody bag: a board book for the babies, Curious George and the Firefighters for the preschoolers and The Fire Cat or Little Critter: Going to the Firehouse for the big 1st and 2nd graders.

Austin Kuehler a.k.a. Ozzie

Charlie the Fireman
We also were inspired by some ideas we saw on pinterest and made cardboard fire trucks to play in.  I had the idea and planned to make just a handful of them, but my crafty husband was having none of my planned half-hearted attempt and took the project and ran with it.  He ended up making 10 fire trucks - one for each of the kids (excluding the babies).  They were a hit and were an extra favor for the kids to take home with them.

 A fire truck race (I use this term loosely):

The highlight was the real fire truck that came to visit!!  Grandma Clayton arranged for the guys to come  make a visit and let us check out their truck for the small price of to go plates for the three firemen (and Jason smoked them each a slab of ribs the following week as a thank you).  Side note: I'm told most fire stations will do this for you if you ask, so it might be a good idea even for those that don't have the awesome hook-up we had.  ANYway, this part was a surprise to Jack because if the fire house gets a call during that time, they obviously have to back out.  We didn't want a disappointed birthday boy!!
Jack was pretty shy, especially at first.  He eventually warmed up and explored the truck a little bit, but only with one of his parents or grandparents very close by.  Some of his friends were really into it.
Grandma Clayton & Jack

Connor Neu
Paige (our niece) & Sloan Schneider
Sweet Lily Bug (our niece)

Grandpa Lang, Lily, and Jack helping Charlie with his hat

Nathan Mincher
Kate & Zoey Kuehler
Aidan Neu

All the kids EXCEPT the birthday boy, who refused to be in the picture.  Of course.
I'd say the Kuehler kids enjoyed it the most.  Here is Zoey spraying water with Austin nearby
Charlie & Grandpa Lang
Charlie & Austin checking it out
Grandpa and his boys
When it was time for the truck to leave, they asked Jack if he wanted to blow the big horn.  He agreed, and climbed in to step on the pedal.  He was impressed by how loud the horn was and was then very excited about the truck and firemen (too late!!).  They pulled away and he wanted to stay and watch until they drove by again after turning around, when he very enthusiastically waved at them and yelled thank you.  Fun.

I also attempted to make this cake from Betty Crocker's website

My version is not nearly as pretty, but at least you can tell what it's supposed to be.  That's a success in my book.  I used Oreos for wheels, rolled black licorice for hoses and gumdrops for lights.

We also had a pull-string pinata (perfect for the three year-old crowd!) shaped like a dalmation with a fire hat on.  It was fun.  I had to post the video below because my mom was the very inexperienced videographer and It. Is. Priceless.  I seriously laughed out loud.  Sorry Mom, this is just too good bad not to share.

Jack received lots of great presents, many of which were Toy Story-themed, so he was a happy camper.  His favorite was the big Buzz Lightyear he got from Grandma and Grandpa Clayton, but he also received a Leap Frog Leapster (handheld learning/games), a TAG Reader, a Buzz sleeping bag, baseball bases (heavy duty, I might add), an adorable ball cap that says "jclay II" (thanks Aunt Kelly!) and lots of other fun toys.

All in all, the party was a success and everyone, most importantly the birthday boy, had a nice time!!  Thanks to everyone who came and celebrated with us and spoiled our little three year old with gifts!


Happy 3rd Birthday, Jack!

Jack's third birthday was on the 17th.  In some ways I can't believe he's already three and in other ways I feel like he's been three for a long time.  Three sounds so much older than two, no?

I decided to start a fun tradition beginning with the third birthday - an annual questionnaire.  I've seen several variations of this idea on pinterest, but I decided to model mine after the one on this blog.  I asked Jack 20 questions and will ask him those same questions each year near his birthday to see how his answers change.  I framed both the questions and the photo collage below at his birthday party and then will retire them to a scrapbook for safe keeping.  I also videotaped him answering the questions, which was pretty cute, but also very long (over 7 minutes!).  It will be fun to someday combine all the years' interviews onto one (insert whatever the technology will be then, as it surely won't be a DVD) to hear how his little voice and pronunciation changes, along with the responses to his questions.
Some of his responses were surprising, for example: I have no idea where Kiki came from as his nickname; I thought he would answer Jacky since that's what Addi and his friend Juliana at school call him.  I didn't know he had such an interest in hockey, which is a sport he has never played and has rarely watched on TV.  Deer for his favorite animal?  Not sure where that came from, so I wasn't surprised when he changed his mind to elephant after we moved on to the next question.  The rest were pretty predictable from our big guy though!
And here's the video for those with a lot of time on their hands...
Jack's birthday was on a Friday so we decided to take the day off and take Charlie to school for the morning so we could have some Jack, Daddy and Mommy time.  We went to the zoo and had a nice time.  We got to see the new sea lion exhibit, ride the train (of course), come face-to-face with some baboons and see the elephants, which as we just learned is tied for first for Jack's favorite animal.  One highlight was the carousel ride; I mentioned to the ticket-taker that it was Jack's birthday and he asked Jack what his name was.  We didn't think anything of it until the ride was about to start and they announced "everyone on the count of three say 'Happy Birthday Jack' and then the ride will begin."  That was really special.

Jack still makes us laugh every day.  He says and does the funniest things, so I thought I'd share some recent examples:

  • Similar to all parents of preschoolers, we often give him choices (i.e. Do you want to brush your teeth first or go potty first?  It's your choice), so the other day we were on the way home and he said "Mommy.  Is Daddy working or is he at home? It's your choice."
  • He really likes to start a lot of his sentences with "Remember."  For example: "Remember. (dramatic pause) You need to put the coal car after the engine."
  • One night a few weeks ago it was warm in our house so we took our little sweaty guy Charlie's shirt off.   Jack noticed and immediately wanted his off too.  He started asking questions so I explained the boys can wear no shirt but girls always wear shirts.  He realized Daddy doesn't always wear a shirt and it was all over.  He didn't wear a shirt to bed for a week!  It was pretty cute seeing his little skinny bare torso but I'm glad that phase is over - I was worried he'd get too cold at night!
Jack started in a new classroom at school when he turned three, so he is now a Cardinal.  His transition is going awesome!!  I wasn't sure what to expect because the new teachers (Ms Kellie and Ms Teresita, who are both great by the way) don't arrive until 8:30am each morning, so we drop off with a different teacher, which they are in the process of hiring.  In the meantime, it's been a different teacher each morning.  That hasn't phased Jack though.  A few things have helped make this so easy: 1. several of the kids were in his Butterflies class, 2. the new classroom is connected to his old one, so he was already familiar with the teachers and 3. there is a sensory table that is currently filled with sand, much to Jack's delight.  We have had four drop offs now and each one has been a piece of cake.  He also gets to play on the big playground now that he's a big three year old, so that is very exciting.

We also have another big change at our house: the loveys no longer leave the bed!  For some reason he started to become very attached to his loveys at about 18 months, starting with just "blue" but then progressing over the past year and a half to where he was taking "blue," "white," "brown" and now his dog (my sister's old Pound Puppy that he found at Grandma and Grandpa's house) basically everywhere he went.  We've been telling him for the past month that when he turns three the loveys will need to stay in his bed.  We honestly weren't sure how that would go over, but so far he has put up very little fight with the new rule.  Such a big guy!

We're very proud of our Jack Man!  He's such a happy, fun little guy most of the time and we just love hanging out with him!


Birthday Balloon Countdown

I saw this fun idea on this blog for a birthday balloon countdown and decided to make one for Jack.  I blew up ten balloons and numbered them, and filled each with a note or a special treat to count down to his birthday.  He loved it and most days the balloons were a big hit!
I hung the garland Tuesday night after Jack was in bed, so Wednesday when he woke up he said "Hey! Who did this?" when he saw the balloons.  I explained that each night when we got home he would pop one and would get a surprise.  He wasn't overly excited initially; I don't think he quite understood it until after he popped that first balloon.

Here's a recap by day:

Day 10:  Spiderman Pez dispenser in the balloon = big hit!

 Day 9: His choice: ice cream or a sno cone.  We did this one at Grandma & Grandpa Lang's house so Daddy could work on the patio, and Jack was pretty disappointed when all that came out was a piece of paper promising a treat after dinner.  We had a little talk and I explained that something wouldn't fall out of each balloon and that the surprises would vary.  He recovered, but I learned starting with the Pez dispenser was kind of a tease.
 Day 8:  $5 to spend at the Toy Store

 Day 7: This one I stole from the blog with the original idea.  She played the hot & cold game which led her daughter to Reddi Whip waiting in the fridge.  Her daughter, however, is a little older than Jack, who didn't quite understand how that game works.  He liked the Reddi Whip though.

 And so did Charlie...

 Day 6: A surprise waiting in Mom & Dad's room (Toy Story figurines: Buzz & Woody)

 Day 5: Pop Rocks - his first experience with those crazy candies.  He enjoyed it and made a big mess!

 Day 4: A surprise under his bed: a quarry for his train table (I love Jason's face in this first picture)

 Day 3: A surprise where he does his cooking (in his toy grill): a fire engine choo choo (my face is not any better in this picture)

 Day 2: We actually didn't pop one that night because I went to the Cardinals game and Jason took the boys to Grandma & Grandpa's for dinner so the balloon was forgotten.  We did pop it a day later on his birthday and it was the second dud of the series: Watch your new movie while you're eating dinner (not usually allowed at our house).  The movie was The Lorax and he took one look at it and said "I want to open my last balloon now."

Day 1: Birthday gift waiting in the garage: new golf bag and clubs!!!

We had a lot of fun with the balloons and it was a fun way to get him excited about his birthday and give him a few little gifts in the days leading up to it.  I'd like to say I'll do this every year, but time will tell.

More on his birthday in the following posts.