Well, Big Brother's cowboy birthday party has come and gone. Have you wondered where I've been? The answer is under a hay bale and a pile of cowboy hats.
The party was a blast--we had perfect, sunny weather for the first time in a week, a gaggle of four year olds, lots and lots of hay, and most significantly (for the kids) four tiny ponies for our brave buckaroos to ride.
See, we have connections in high places when it comes to the equine world. Jim's great aunt has spent her entire career raising ponies and putting on pony parties, and for years she has been telling us that we needed to cash in on her kindness and have her ponies over for a birthday party. And what better time to do it than the year of the cowboy? The ponies were adorable, and we were thrilled that Big Brother found them to be more than just a passing interest--he rode one or the other of them for almost the entire two hours of the party.
And so, happily, did our littlest cowboy.
Many of the cowpokes arrived all decked out for the occasion, but we had cowboy hats and bandanas ready as favors for the others, as well as bags of trail mix for riding the range. Because roping cows makes you hungry, you know?
And then there were a few games in the backyard, for those that tired of riding. We made these "lassos" by wrapping small hula hoops in sisal rope from Home Depot...
and the funky horse from a sawhorse, a two by four, and some leftover yarn. The kids had a blast roping and "taming" him by pulling him to the ground.
And of course there was birthday cake, served at this fun little table in the backyard.
The table was probably my favorite part of the party--I just loved the idea of having all of the kids around one table outdoors, and of course, it was fun to create a place where "real cowboys and cowgirls would eat" (because when Big Brother dresses up as a cowboy, it is not a game--he IS a cowboy). We made the table from two sheets of very inexpensive plywood (read, the cheapest in the store) and six bales of hay, all from Home Depot. After setting it up, we layered a few yards of utility burlap and a borrowed checked tablecloth over the seam and tacked them all down with thumbtacks and a hammer to withstand the wind. The chairs were all borrowed from friends.
Along with the cake, we served ice cream and lemonade in mason jars (with a sprig of mint for the adults and the most adventurous buckaroos, thanks to Jenna's bountiful crop).
On a whim, I bought the red and white straws from a local five and dime shop about a month ago. I felt sort of guilty about it at the time--I mean, one doesn't really need fancy straws for a birthday party--but I found that they were a perfect whimsical touch for the drinks. The kids loved them--in fact, Big Brother asked at bedtime tonight if we could recreate a "birthday drink" in the morning.
Once the horses left, the kids entertained themselves by crawling through the "tunnels" under the table, jumping off the hay bales, and using the various party props to play cowboy (that yellow thing is a stake for horseshoes). Moments like these remind me that it takes very little to make the outdoors fun for children. These toys probably would have been enough for the entire party.
It was a wonderful day. Big Brother had a blast playing with his friends, and he felt loved and celebrated. One day later, I'm still a little tired, and I'm thrilled to be headed into a week without errands, tasks, and late nights wrapping hula hoops. But, overwhelmingly, I'm thankful that we were able to make such special memories for our precious son and his sweet buddies.
Now I'm ready for a week of sewing. Giddyup!:)
p.s. In case you haven't seen them before, you can find pics of our fringe-y cowboy invitations here and instructions for making a cowboy get-up like Big Brother's here.
p.p.s. If you liked this post, you might also enjoy reading about Big Brother's fire truck party or Little Brother's Waffles and Water birthday.