Friday, September 27, 2013

All Board for a Thomas and Friends Birthday!

I'm dreading the day when birthday parties become a huge production, which has already sort of started. But Zoey is still young enough that I can make her feel special without breaking the bank or my back.

I never had a big birthday party growing up, like my friends seemed to do every year. I brought cupcakes to my kindergarten class then decided to never do that again. These people were mean to me and teased me and now I was giving them fucking cupcakes?!

This year when I asked, Zoey said she wanted a Thomas birthday. Toot toot!

A quick sweep through Pinterest - crack for the Martha Stewarts of the world but might as well be a science lab to us talentless crafters - showed me the possibilities were endless. The party aisles in my neighborhood Target and Party America stores were a different story but I still managed to find some fun things.

Her birthday landed in the middle of the week and on a day Jacob had to work late, so birthday activities were rather limited. Mostly, though, how on earth was I going to throw together a train-themed day?! Lucky for me, there is a museum close to our neighborhood with a train engine out front that - according to Zoey - resembles one of Thomas's friends. We drive passed it all the time so we thought she'd enjoy being able to get up close and person with it. We weren't wrong.

 The best part: walking around the engine and her pointing out and naming things.

 I don't know what this is but she wanted to "go see the horsey."

 When she plays cooking and brings you something she "made," it is always "birthday cakes." When you ask what flavor, it's always "strawberry." So that's exactly what I made: strawberry birthday-cake cupcakes. They're no Katie Cakes Gourmet Cupcakes of Lakeside, California (which are the most amazing thing ever) but a box-mix I was lucky to find in the cupboard. That is, however, my first attempt at homemade cream cheese frosting with the mixer I got for my birthday last year and I'm proud of how it and my first ever real piping job turned out.

 Stupidly, Party America didn't have Thomas cupcake papers or toppers (I learned later they did, I just couldn't find them because they weren't included in the fifth of the wall dedicated to Thomas) so I slapped a Thomas whistle party-favor on top and called it a Thomas Cupcake. She was pleased and that's what matters.

It was her birthday, I could afford to be annoyed for the day. It was funny watching the dogs respond to the whistle, though.

 Thomas didn't mind that we took a break from Thomas-related activities for something she loves just as much: bubbles.

 Then we got dressed in our Tuesday-best and headed out to paint the town Thomas. My friends Ashley and Mer wanted to take me out for cocktails for my birthday but since Jacob was working late, we headed to our favorite neighborhood bar and grill, Apple-grease-your-colon (because they recognize if you're out with your kids, you need easy access to alcohol).

 I would have surprised her with a Thomas balloon but I didn't have an opportunity and thought she'd have fun picking it out anyways. I wasn't wrong.

 Birthday wouldn't be complete without party hats!

 Eli knows how to work it.

Bust my boilers, it's a birthday!

 A table with two children feels like a table with five so it was no secret we had a birthday going on. The waiters gathered and sang a birthday song to Zoey and gave her an ice cream sundae, which she LOVED. She was grinning from ear to ear then shouted, "THANK YOU!" when they were done. I don't have a picture because I was too busy sobbing.

 All Aboard the Thomas birthday! Toot toot! (Let's pause for a moment and recognize Mer as the greatest friend in the world to sit in an Applebee's on Kid's Night with two toddlers, one having a birthday.)

 Second to her Daddy, Mer is only Zoey's other favorite person on the planet.

As we walked into the restaurant, Thomas cupcakes to share with people she likes and who are nice to her, she said to me, "Thank you, Mama. Thank you for my birthday, Mama." Mission: Accomplished. Whew!