People love to give you advice when you’re pregnant. Friends, family, and even strangers have pearls of wisdom to impart. We hear different opinions about how dark baby’s room should be, how much baby should eat, and we all know to “sleep when the baby sleeps.” But the most common comment has to be this: “Enjoy every second! It goes by too fast!” Mothers with 10-year-olds say it with misty eyes. Empty-nesters say it with misty eyes. People you don’t even know stop you at the playground and say it with misty eyes. And, now that I am a mommy, I can concur. Parenthood is a bizarre time warp. I can’t believe my baby is 3! It feels like yesterday that we were bribing him (with bacon) to take his first steps on chubby legs, but at the beginning of March, we celebrated Oden’s 3rd birthday. Whoa.
I’m a big birthday person. I believe in celebrating another year of life, no matter your age. I love the idea of one special day each year that’s just for you! I have fond memories of birthdays as a child, fun activities that set the day apart. I want my kids to feel that specialness on their birthdays, too. Oden’s first birthday celebration was more of a high five to all of our adult friends with kids. YES! We survived the first year as parents! We threw a big “UNO” fiesta and had a ball, adults and children alike. (Check it out here!)
Oden’s second birthday was more low-key. A birthday doesn’t have to include a ton of gifts or a huge party to set it apart from other days. My parents visited and we did fun little things all day long, like surprising him when he awoke with balloons and decorating a birthday crown. In the afternoon, we splashed around in an indoor pool with kid-sized waterslides and toys before ending the day with a birthday cake that Oden decorated himself. (See his 2nd birthday here!)
My plans for this year’s celebration were pretty similar to last year: decorations and gifts, a special tee shirt, a birthday breakfast. I think of the gooey birthday brownies my mom would make for my brother’s birthday on camping trips in our trailer. It’s these simple traditions that become the best memories! We also decided weeks ago to revisit the waterslide pool. Oden loves swimming and I thought he’d really be into it at this age! Sadly, my parents’ visit had to be canceled last-minute due to a back injury for my Dad. While everyone was disappointed (Oden continues to tell everyone that “Uma and Papa couldn’t come” with a very serious face when we mention his birthday), I told Oden that we would get to celebrate his birthday again when they could visit!
A couple of days before his actual big day, our sweet nanny picked up some cupcakes for Oden and he had a little birthday celebration with a couple of the kids he plays with during the week. One of them even brought him a gift- a monster truck that made Oden’s jaw drop! I love seeing him play with his little buddies.
The night before his birthday, I like to decorate so that when Oden comes downstairs in the morning, there’s no mistaking that this is HIS day. I tied balloons to some streamers for him to walk through and hung a birthday banner over his little pile of gifts. I loved seeing his sleepy face taking it all in with a big smile! The first thing he noticed was a jar of bubbles, which made me laugh because we literally get bubbles every time we go to the store. I didn’t even buy these- just grabbed one of the extras from the cupboard. It was a good little reminder that it’s the simple things that kids love! He also tested out the noise-makers and I introduced him to Silly String. It was maybe not my smartest idea, as I realized later when cleaning up the mess from the leather couch…but his squeals of joy were worth it.
Not surprisingly, Oden dove right into the rip-and-tear moment with the gifts. He took some time to play with a few of them, singing “Happy Birthday” to himself. We kept a few gifts unopened to spread out the fun a little bit over the next week or so.
Next, he decorated this year’s birthday crown with Daddy before helping make special vanilla sprinkle pancakes! We do pancakes pretty often, but the sprinkles were something different, just for his birthday. My little chef helped make the pancakes and even flipped one. Cute!
The rest of the morning was spent playing with new toys and batting around some “happy birthday” balloons. I almost passed out blowing them up for him! During Oden’s nap, I baked his little cake for him to decorate later and packed our pool bag.
The pool is at the rec center in Kamas, just one town over from Park City. It has a shallow kiddie area with a play structure and little waterslide. There’s a lazy river and, over by the deep pool, a much bigger waterslide. We hadn’t visited the pool since his 2nd birthday, but Oden was beside himself with excitement when we got there. Last year, he walked out in awe, taking in the scene. This year, he said, “This is going to be fun!” and headed straight for the water! Look at the difference a year makes.
I was only partly surprised that Oden wanted to head straight for the big waterslide. Last year, it was a bit much for him (he only did it one time). These days, he truly has no fear! Mo and I watched as he landed in the water with Dad not far behind. John was pretty much on Oden Duty while I played spectator with Morrison. Oden’s friend, Madeline, arrived to swim (along with her mom and baby brother). It was so fun to see Oden interacting with other kids, looking at them after making a big splash on the little slide like, “Did you see that?!” At one point, John and I switched out for a bit and I got to swim with Oden. He took me to the big slide, and we went down together with him on my lap. I’m not kidding- it was so slick and fast that I screamed around a couple of the curves! I couldn’t believe that this was the slide my little 3-year-old was playing on!
As predicted, it wasn’t easy to get him to leave the pool. Luckily, they sell ice cream at the front desk so we had a bribe option. It’s a birthday, right? A sweet man came over and offered Oden and Madeline each a balloon, leftover from another birthday party. We drove home in a snowstorm and I could tell that Oden was already tired. I thought back to the days I spent at my neighbors’ pool, splashing and playing for hours, and how utterly exhausted I’d be afterward. Good fun is hard work!
When we got home, Oden had some dinner and then it was cake time! He decorated it with stars and sprinkles and was adorable as we sang “Happy Birthday, dear Oden….” He wore his crown as he blew out three candles. Poof- another year passed.
I mentioned to someone recently that I found it difficult to realize that each phase with Morrison is the last one I’ll experience. His newborn phase is over, for example, and I’ll never have those moments with another baby. It’s actually quite heartbreaking for me. But she said, “Yes, that’s true, but there are so many phases ahead.” It’s amazing to watch your child grow and learn and experience new things. Just the difference in one year is shocking! But each phase has its own fun things that come along with it. Oden can practically swim. He can speak to us now and tell us how much fun he had. He can sing “Happy Birthday” to his stuffed lamb in bed. He can surprise his mama on a big waterslide. Each new chapter in his life is wonderful…it just goes by so quickly. Another thing you hear often from experienced parents when you’re a newbie? “The days are long, but the years are short.”
And yes, my eyes are misty.
Happy birthday, Oden! You are so very loved.