Alden is THREE!! I can't quite wrap my head around that. He was all about his birthday this year. For the month leading up to it (pretty much from March 1 on... which is when Will turned three), Alden kept saying, "I'm NEARLY three!" And, he would hold up his pinky, ring and middle finger to demonstrate his nearly threedom. It was hilarious.
As is our habit, we spent several weeks celebrating Alden's birthday. It has been a crazy travel month for me, so was a bit of a feat to also pull off the birthday celebrating. The week before his birthday party, I was in Seattle, Los Angeles, Sacramento (for a day), Santa Barbara, and then Los Angeles again. My parents were with me for the last trip to LA (it was the 25th anniversary of my organization, and they came to the annual dinner). We flew back to Sacramento together to kick off the birthday weekend.
We decided to have a joint birthday party for Will and Alden since they are such good buddies. Given the travel schedule the week before, it was REALLY nice to have someone else co-coordinating the party. Honestly, I was like 1/4 coordinator. Cathy and Aaron were very gracious about doing the lion's share of the work. I owe them!!
Will's favorite thing is ice hockey. Alden loves horses. So, we combined the two and had a Horses and Hockey birthday party. It was really just like two separate themes, but for the gift bags I did find a google image of horses playing hockey!! I printed them onto large stickers and put them onto brown paper bags and filled them will horses and hockey treats. As we were setting up for the party, Will wandered over to where the gift bags were displayed and cocked his head to the side while examining the image. Alden came up next to him and started to giggle. Will looked a moment longer and then exclaimed, "those horses are playing hockey!!" Alden burst into laughter, pleased that Will got the joke, and said, "it's so funny!" while covering his mouth and laughing hysterically. It was so funny.
Maybe to prove that all my travel doesn't get in the way of mothering or maybe because I'm a glutton for punishment, I decided to make Alden's birthday cake. I found a template for a horse cake made out of cupcakes (you arrange the cupcakes in the shape of a horse and then frost them all together so it looks like a horse). I like baking and cooking at this point. I've done it a lot over the last nine years and have gotten good enough at it. But, I am not crafty. And, of course, Kai and Alden wanted to help. Which is a good idea in theory. But, when I'm bringing the cake someplace where there are going to be 60 people -- I get a little OCD about it turning out right. The first attempt at brown frosting was a nightmare. Why didn't we just make chocolate frosting for the horses mane, you ask? Well, because I didn't. I made cream cheese frosting to go on the carrot cake cupcakes and then had to dye some of it brown for the mane. And it was not a successful first attempt. There is no way I could mother without google. At least, not in any way that makes me appear crafty. But, after a failed first attempt (it was the color of your baby's first poop)... we looked it up and google told us the correct combination of colors to mix together. and it turned out OK. Alden LOVED his horse cake. So, even though I was a sweaty mess making it, I think it was worth it.
The party was great fun. We had it at Cathy and Aaron's house and it was a nice day so the kids played in the backyard and had a great time together. We had a few games to play, but mostly they just played with each other. Alden was quite the host -- greeting his friends and playing a little with each friend that came. He didn't just stick to one person. And he didn't have any meltdowns. He loved his party and seemed quite in his element. He is such a social and friendly little boy. His daycare providers confirm that he is always first on the scene when someone gets hurt, always asking what happened and offering a hug or a Band-Aid. He is a helper. And he is a socialite. He loves interacting with people.
On Alden's actual birthday, he had his birthday circle at school. What a fantastic tradition!! I didn't know what to expect, but was told to bring a big poster board with one picture from each of Alden's birthdays (including his original birth day). So, we made a poster and also made birthday treats for him to hand out to his friends. I asked him if he wanted cupcakes and he said, "No... I want Christmas tree cookies." This was several weeks ago and when he first said he wanted Christmas Tree cookies for his birthday, I kind of ignored him. Or I forgot about it. I figured he'd change his mind. But, the weekend before his birthday, he affirmed again that he wanted Christmas tree cookies. I guess he has really fond memories of making cookies at Christmas this last year (he did that at Nonnie and Papa's house and really liked it!) So, I made up sugar cookies and the night before his birthday we spent time cutting them out (in all sorts of shapes... bears, trees, stars, leaves, and cats.... we have kind of an odd assortment of cookie cutters) and sprinkling sugar onto them. Alden loved it.
The next morning was his actual birthday and his birthday circle. We were there for the circle celebration. His teacher set up a special rug in the middle of the room with a sun in the middle of it and a candle in the middle of the sun. Then, coming off the rug was a placard for each month of the year. On March, there was a counting stick with three pegs in it. Alden got to go up in front of his class and say he was three, counting the pegs on the stick. He then recited the months of the year, with the help of his class, and talked about how the earth travels around the sun each year. He then talked about the picture from the day he was born. After that, he was handed a globe and he took a trip around the sun. When he got back to March, his teacher handed him a flower that he put in a vase and everyone sang a song that ended by saying, "and now you're ONE!" He then talked about the picture from his 1st birthday, took another trip around the sun and then put another flower in the vase. He was two! And, a third time. And he turned three.
It literally feels like it's gone that fast. Watching Alden excitedly wave his hands when his teacher was looking around the room to see who had a birthday smile on their face, and talking in front of his class about his first three birthdays... it definitely made me teary. He is so poised. So excited. So full of joy and happiness. So smart and funny. I love how his smile lights up his whole face. How he walks with an excited little bounce in his step. When he got to the picture from his second birthday, he jumped up and down in excitement recounting his Elmo cake.
He has gotten to open gifts over several days and every time he gets a gift he exclaims, "I LOVE presents" And, then he opens it and says, "I LOVE this!" And, it isn't just that he is super charming (which he is) -- he LOVES presents. He loves opening them and he loves whatever he finds inside.
And he is so smart. He knows how to count to about 15. He knows his ABCs. He is getting close to being able to spell his name. He's also a critical thinker. The other night, he was squirming around and goofing off while I was trying to put him to bed. He was trying to stay awake. I wanted to leave the room and get to some alone time. I told Alden, "you need to close your eyes" and he replied, "No... because I cannot see when they are closed so I need them open." So true.
I cannot believe my sweet, cuddly little boy is already THREE. But, we couldn't be happier to be his mom and dad and get to see what a tremendous little boy he is becoming. Happy Birthday, Alden!! I'll end it with our new favorite routine:
Me: I love you
Alden: I love you two
Me: I love you three
Alden: I love you four
Me: I love you five
Alden: I love you six
Me: I love you seven
Alden: I love you eight
Me: I love you nine
Alden: I love you a MANY (his word for a million)
I love you a MANY, Alden!