Months ago, after we attended a friend's birthday party, Arie started asking how long it would be until he turned four. We talked about how first the snow had to melt away, then the tulips would come up, then the sun would warm the earth until we didn't have to wear coats outside anymore… and then- in June- his birthday would come! When strangers asked him how old he was at the grocery store he replied, "I be four in June!" His birthday was long anticipated.
Just as soon as he started asking about his birthday, he began requesting a pirate party. Le sigh.
I love all things sweet and whimsical and classic and tender. Basically everything pirates are not. But my boy wanted a pirate party so I grimaced and tried to hide my reluctance as I agreed.
Luckily for me, Arie has a tender spirit and doesn't actually like any of the fighting or plundering or plank-walking that pirates are really about. Once we tried introducing him to the Disney show Jake and the Neverland Pirates
and he only watched for 45 seconds before exclaiming, "Too scary!! I don't like it!!" If you ask him what pirates actually do
he replies simply, "They say ARRRRRR!" Fair enough.
Our take on a pirate party was pretty tame. We kept skulls and cross bones to a minimum and focused on treasure hunting and those fantastic boats that pirates sail.
Arie loved it.
I found this free printable pirate themed nature scavenger hunt from theflourishingabode.com
and I knew it was the perfect pirate-but-not-scary-pirate activity for my little man!
After I got all excited about this find I immediately started thinking about where we should host the party. Last year we hosted in our backyard, but there aren't exactly an abundance of acorn caps and berries back there! We decided to host at our favorite forested beach front park instead.
As soon as June 7 popped up on the 10 day forecast, I checked it compulsively. It started off a cool 69 degrees which I knew would be even cooler at the beach front but, much to my relief, warmed up to a blissful 80 degrees by the party date! Sunny and no chance of rain. I could not have asked for better weather!
John and I packed up the food and party supplies and headed to the park an hour before the 4:30 start time to get set up. This park is fairly large with a few picnic tables close to the play equipment; I was trying hard not to get my hopes up for a pair of tables near the play equipment (it would be perfect!) but as we drove into the parking lot both John and I spotted two tables exactly where we wanted them! Near the play equipment, in the shade, and even perfectly positioned under two trees so we could hang our banner.
John and I looked at the tables and then at each other with wide eyes. "I'm going to park the car and RUN!" he said.
John fell out of the car as fast as he could and sprinted through a field of picnickers. Jumping onto the table he laid his body across them both yelling breathlessly, "MINE!! THESE ARE MINE!!! WE GOT HERE FIRST!!! I CALL THEM!!!"
Okay he didn't really lay on the tables but our enthusiasm at the ideal location grossly outweighed what the situation called for. This was a four year old's birthday party! We were dorks. But happy dorks!
Soon our guests began to arrive. Much to Arie's delight his friend Ben arrived dressed as pirate! Ben's mom- my friend Sara- remarked that she will mourn a little when our kids are too big and too cool to do such things as arrive at a party in a fully themed ensemble. I agree!
Arie's best friend in the whole wide word arrived soon after. Danae was the first friend Arie ever made after he came home, since I took care of Danae and he baby sister when I was still doing daycare in our home. To this day no one can delight him like she can! He still squeals in delight at just the mention of her name!
When Danae spotted Arie across the park she took off on a full on sprint toward him. We all watched with grins on our faces, expecting to watch them fall over in a giant embrace when at last they met, but when they reached one another they stopped short and just stood there, awkwardly.We all laughed as they smiled nervously and soon enough they were off to play.
Once everyone arrived I handed out pails and the "treasure maps" to the kids and our scavenger hunt began! It was so much fun to watch parents and kids work together, hunting through the woods to find their treasures. I was a little nervous about our guests being bit by ticks or contracting poison ivy, but thanks to bug spray and clear trails I think we all came away clear!
Dinner was pulled pork, coleslaw, pasta salad, and watermelon which turned out delicious if I do say so myself! The food is always my favorite part of any party!
|Danae and Arie making eyes at each other during dinner. ;-)|
I tried my hand at cake balls for dessert and made an effort to style them like sailboats. I won't quit my day job! They looked somewhat like the perfect pinterest picture I modeled them after. Somewhat. But they tasted good and Arie loved them so I'll call it a success.
Arie was both delighted and overwhelmed by all the gifts. As parents John and I reveled in this showering of attention for our little man. It was a true joy to look into the faces of our dear friends as he unwrapped each gift and thanked their giver. The looks of affection on their faces and excitement on their children's was blissful. I feel immensely grateful and blessed to belong to such a precious community!
After present were opened and cake pops eaten, we lingered a while, said goodbye to our guests, and took a final walk on the beach before heading home to bed.
As I tucked him under the covers my big boy asked me to please hold him "like a baby" for a while.
"Even though you're a big boy, you're my baby forever." I whispered.
He looked up at me with sleepy eyes and whispered back, "Yea."
Happy, happy four-year-old year, my boy.