Campin' At Four

This summer, Spencer asked if he could go camping.  I told him it was too hot to go camping in the summer--that's true in Arkansas--but that maybe he could go when it cooled off in the fall.  And he didn't mention it for months.  So, imagine my surprise when we were talking about how the leaves were changing colors because it was a new season, fall, and he said, "It's fall!  I go campin'!"

So, in an effort to not really go camping quite yet, or maybe ever (ha!), I planned a Camping Birthday Party for the celebration of his fourth year.  Thanks to the internet, very little original thought has to go into parties anymore.  I do enjoy the feeling of having a great idea and pulling it off; but I also enjoy a little help during this "season"--both of life and of Christmas.  And, in our family, it's also birthday season.  At least half of our family has a December birthday.

Spencer loved having everyone there.  He was his usual, social little self, having all sorts of things to tell grandparents and friends.  It's so fun that he's old enough to really know everyone now.  He knew every person who walked in to the party, and he knew they were there for his special day.  We missed our friends and relatives who couldn't be there, but thankfully, Spencer felt very celebrated and had a great time.  Mission accomplished.

About a week before his party, Spencer let it be known that he expected marshmallows at his camping party.  I don't know why he wouldn't.  So, we had S'mores Trail Mix.  When I was putting the baggies together, he sneaked a marshmallow, tried it and disappointedly told me it wasn't cooked (or something like that).  I think he was hoping for more based on how great he thought they looked.  Other guests enjoyed the marshmallows, though, including Evelyn.

This was the gift and favor table.  It was full of gifts by the time he started opening gifts.  Benjamin brought each gift over to Spencer to open.  It was so cute.  Each year Benjamin has helped Spencer open his presents.  It's a special tradition that I hope continues for a long, long time.  

Spencer also asked me over and over again for a real fire at his party.  I gave it way too much consideration, but it quickly became clear that a humid, seventy degree day in a room full of babies and preschoolers wasn't the place for a real fire. 

The fire place hearth was, however, the place for the bug hunting supplies.  Everybody got a flashlight and a bug bag, and then they got to search the dark-ish campsite (racquetball ball room) for bugs.

His favorite moment was when we lit the candles on the cake and everyone sang "Happy Birthday."  He has always loved to be celebrated--particularly with corporate singing.  

And then, Spencer blew out his four candles.  This was the first year he was able to do that.  It was so fun to watch him.  And, he loved it!  We'd lit a candle on a cupcake for him a few days ago, and, to my surprise, he blew out the candle!  It was such a fun surprise for me.  I think he knew he would be able to do it, though, because he didn't seem that surprised--but he was very proud.

Then, it was time for cake.  While they ate, everyone got their "Good Eater" badge.  The badges were also Spencer's idea (inspired, I believe, by "Max and Ruby").  He asked me a couple weeks ago if he was going to get a Hospitality Badge.  After he asked, I heard myself saying, "Yes."  He can't grow up and say I only ever told him "No."

After they "earned" their first badge, I passed out the flashlights for the bug hunt.  Evelyn was excited to be included in the big kid game.  

Evelyn enjoyed some s'mores trail mix earlier in the party.  While Mallory was busy eating her cake, Evelyn borrowed her bag of trail mix.  She went straight for the big marshmallow.

Spencer is a much loved little boy.  Not only were his grandparents and aunts there, but his mom's grandparents and aunts were there too!  And, his baby cousin Ruby hung out at, what I believe to be her first birthday party.  Spencer went to his first birthday party when he was three months old in this same room for his friend Benjamin.

Here's an "after" shot of the birthday table.  Levi was kind enough to take pictures while the party carried me away to the bug hunt extravaganza.

Spencer got the bugs out of the "lake," and Bonnie and Nana helped him find the ones hiding on the "shore."

I told him about the bug hunt before his party, and he was so excited.  I was worried I'd built it up a little too much and that he'd be disappointed, but he and the other kids really seemed to have fun.  Yay!

Mallory wasn't pumped to go into the dark, echoing racquetball room to look for bugs until her mom clarified that they were toy bugs.  Then, she settled right in, but she preferred that I pick up the bugs we found and placed them into her bag.  She's such a doll.  

Mimi helped Evelyn and Spencer with the bug hunt.  I don't think Benjamin needed any help.


I put Gigi in charge of chasing Evelyn around for the whole party.  Nice, I know.  I thought it might help me "enjoy" it all a little more.  Bonus--Evelyn didn't get hurt very badly once.  She did get hurt a few times, but it was never very serious.  That's a victory in and of itself.  I probably should have assigned a couple of people to watch her.  She's pretty quick.  Towards the end she kept walking straight to her diaper bag and asking and looking for her pacifier.  Poor baby, she was exhausted.  

Spencer did great opening his presents this year.  He's always really enjoyed opening them, but this year we were able to reason with him a bit regarding not completely opening every single boxed toy that he unwrapped.  It generally took a little explaining and a little redirecting, but he was willing to leave most of the toys in the box until we got home.  He's really growing up!  

He did insist on opening the dog-themed nesting doll set from Bonnie.  He wanted them beside him in his bed tonight.  Sweet, sweet boy.

Benjamin also showed remarkable restraint while Spencer opened tons of cool toys.  Bonus, Benjamin was able to explain to me what some of the toys were (when I really hadn't figured it out yet), and he attempted to teach Spencer higher level gift opening maneuvers, such as sliding the ribbon off when it's wrapped around the box instead of wasting time untying it or waiting for someone to cut it off.  

Just when Evelyn was about to completely unravel, Nana gave her a present.  It's a toy made to (loosely) resemble an ipod.  Evelyn loved it.  She took a nap with it and played with it most of the evening.  She loved making it play music and dancing along.  She really loved it when I would dance along with her.  She's such a little love.

Once we got home, I got Evelyn down for a nap and then helped Spencer put his circus tent together.  When Jonathan got home, Spencer had all three of us in there for quite a while.  


If that's not a happy birthday, I don't know what is.

1 comment:

  1. Love it! I've been trying to do a camping party forever and can't get anyone to go for it yet! Maybe I can do one some day! Looks like it was a hit with Spencer!


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