Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Avery's Third Birthday

It's hard for me to believe that Avery is three. Actually, truth be told - every day when I would go into the Y and sign her in I was still writing down 2 years of age well after her third birthday until a friend of mine went with me and said "I thought she was three?!" I'd like to take full advantage of the state I'm in and claim baby brain....because I can. It's just hard to accept our babies growing up, isn't it Momma's? 

Now y'all who know me know that I like to throw a good ole' birthday party but part of the reason I feel like I go all out on the first couple of birthday parties for each child is because once their three, they are ready for EXPERIENCES. I mean - nap time is no longer an issue, potty training has quite possibly taken place, you don't need to pack everything but the kitchen sink and great joy can be found in the simple - playgrounds, zoos, etc. If I'm totally honest, I'll admit that I enjoy watching them experience new things at this age too - watching their little brains work and watching their wonder and excitement over the newness of things around them. 

The experience of choice for Avery's third birthday party: Lazy 5 Ranch. Thanks to Chelsea, we had a jump start on this locale due to a very thoughtful gift card she gave us for Christmas last year. This place was SO cool. You can read all about it at the link above, but the Cliff Notes version is this: a drive through safari where you can feed animals out of your hand. I'm not talking every day run of the mill animals. I'm talking animals from all over the world that will literally walk right up to your car or in our case wagon and eat right from your hand. Our tour guide educated us all about each animal as they came up and told us how to properly feed them...ensuring we left the park with all our fingers. I wasn't entirely sure how all of our kids and our party guests kids would handle the nearness of said animals but I'm happy to report everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and Avery definitely did! 

It was a tad chilly that morning, but I wanted to go first thing in order to beat any kind of potential weekend crowd but also because I had heard the animals would be most receptive earlier in the day. In the end I was glad we needed gloves because the kids were covered in much less animal saliva than they would have been. I know...ew! 

Without further from our wagon ride at Lazy 5!
Our youngest guest and passenger: Ellie!

 Avery was so excited that Catherine and Maggie could join us and thankfully she sat with Catherine the whole wagon ride which made it possible for me to take lots of pictures of the fun!
 Grey was not afraid and seemed to really enjoy looking at all the animals up close. 
 Declan was really into feeding all the animals. Every time one would eat out of his hand he would just belly laugh and get the biggest grin. 
Seeing the Bison up close was really neat and feeding them was funny too, they would just tilt their head back and open wide while you poured food into their mouth. 

 Tim and I decided that this was the cow version of a basset hound. 
Such the animal lover - you know she ate up every moment!

 Grey eventually got in on the action. Brave boy!
 I thought the giraffe feeding section was pretty awesome too. I mean, being this close to an animal that massive - it's just ridiculously cool. 

 After the wagon ride, whatever feed we had left we were allowed to take over to their petting zoo section. There were goats, geese, lots of different species of birds, kangaroos, camels and llamas. 

 Aside from stunning, I also find these birds to be utterly fascinating. They were not only in this particular enclosure but they were all up in the trees in and around the petting zoo section. 

 This sign just made me laugh so I needed a picture. 

After the wagon ride and the walk through petting zoo, we were all frozen and in desperate need of potty breaks & warmth. I had done some research ahead of time on nearby playgrounds and there was one not far from there where I figured we could play and have our picnic birthday lunch so we all loaded up and headed to Hope Park. After reading this review on Yelp about the park: We've been a fan of Hope Park since they opened last year. This is the little park that could. Built on land donated by Lowe's YMCA and maintained by the town of Mooresville, Hope Park was designed by a company that takes kids' ideas and brings them to life and was built by community volunteers and donations.
and seeing the pictures that were online I was "sold". I'm so glad we decided to head over there because the park was all I thought it to be - nothing like one I've been to before and they even had shelters with grown up and accompanying miniature/kid picnic tables - SCORE! 

Deciding on the party menu was a tad difficult just because I knew I needed to be able to pack it all up and it travel well, you know? We landed on big sub sandwiches, pb&j's, fresh fruit, broccoli salad and a couple of different types of chips. It all turned out well and seemed to go over well with our guests (kids and adults alike). The cake or cupcakes obviously needed to travel well too, so after doing some research (hallelujah and praise the Lord for Pinterest) I decided to make cupcakes in a jar. I was so excited with how these turned out. Avery had been telling me for weeks she wanted a rainbow cake and thanks to this site and this one I made a combination of the two and came up with my own little creation:
 I thought these turned out so cue and I mean - the possibilities are endless (red, white and green for Christmas, red, white and blue for the 4th, different shades of pink or blue for baby showers.....and on and on). 
I'm also happy to report that they were perfectly portable and stayed just like this until consumption. 
 There was just enough room to fit her #3 candle. 
 Yay Avery! 
 The cake was a big hit with the kids. 

 I love the way this kid loves his food!

 Time for presents!
 All things Frozen...a purse...

...the soundtrack (which we now listen to non-stop thankyouverymuch)...

...Elsa, Olaf and Anna figurines....
 ... & to tie it all together, the dress up gown.
 She also got a toy pony and a new Pete the Cat book which has been a big hit. I really wanted a group kiddo picture, but Avery was too enthralled with her new CD to look at the camera. Hey, she's three, right? 
After all Avery's gifts were opened, it was playtime! 
 I wanted to get some good pictures of the playground but I only got a few and they don't really do it justice. It was REALLY neat! 

 Poor birthday girl fell and essentially caught herself with her own face. She handled it like a trooper but it left some nasty road rash on her face :(. 

 I should have opted for a different lens, but I'm happy I have a group picture from her party. In attendance: Honey & Big Jim, Uncle Kevin, Aunt Catina, Catherine Page & Maggie, Aunt Melissa, Declan and Ellie. 
 The ladies!
 Right before we packed up and headed home, I had some news I wanted to share face to face with my sisters. Enclosed in a card I'd prepared for both of them.....
Was a little story (if you will) that Tim and I composed together:
Once upon a time there lived a royal family. 
They enjoyed each other very much and were ever so happy.

The King and Queen cherished every moment with their daughters and son, 
Marveling at their uniqueness and growth and loving each one. 

Sadly, the birth of the beloved children did things to the Queen that were not good. 
Because the Queen was sad, the King was sad, and so they set out to fix her as best they could. 

Unfortunately, the Royal Doctor's work would mean that the family would grow no more. 
This saddened the Queen and the debate left them torn. 

They decided to restore her and bring back her joy, to heal her body for the sake of their kingdom. So with the appointment made and preparations aligned, all that was left to do was look forward to freedom. 

But then.....

enclosed in the card was this photo and the remainder of our poem:
The Ruler of all the lands sent out a royal decree stating: "You should not only have three." the royal family was shocked and said, "What?! This cannot be, we've made up our minds and with our decision we will proceed."

"Dear royal subjects." the Ruler replied, "My plan is always perfect, I'm the giver of all good things. My plan is already set in motion. Despite your unbelief - you will be adding another in 2014."

Although it took time to adjust to the news they'd just heard, 
The King and Queen knew any reaction but JOY would be absurd. 

The Great Ruler will provide, as he always has and always does. 
So we rest in his hands and abide in his love!

Join in the Joy of our Miracle this October. 

The Taylors

We really wanted to share our news in a fun and creative way and I'd say we accomplished that goal, wouldn't you? I think shock is the only way to describe my sisters' reactions. I mean, in their defense - I had surgery scheduled and so it was a total "what?!?" moment for everyone close to us who we shared the news with. We skyped with my sister Angel later that night and I read her the poem too...she was shocked but elated at the same time. 

 What we said in our poem is true - the Lord, aka Ruler, truly IS the giver of all good things...including this precious sweet miracle that will be joining us in October. 


  1. Love the birthday party pictures. It really sounds like a fun time and that park looks like it rocks! I also loved how you told the family - very creative - and I must admit, I got all teary-eyed reading the last bit. So excited for you all!

  2. LOVE the way you "announced" baby #4. And all the pics of Avery's bday party are great!!

  3. Ok this party looked like so much fun!! Love the animals. And I love the poem! Such a fun way to tell your news!!! So exciting:)