It was here:  the big day.  Months of planning, arranging, and even a date change had gone into making this event happen.  Our girls were turning one {meaning that we, their parents, had survived a whole year}, and we were going to make sure to have the biggest celebration possible.  Not just for us, mind you, but for all the people in our lives that helped make this day possible by their endless love and support as well.

Our plan had been in the works for months.  The theme was set and the invitations were sent out.  Over 100 friends and family were requested to join us the Florer Farm for a Garden Party, complete with dinner, drinks, dessert, and crafts for kids and adults alike: pipe cleaner flower decorating, custom barrette making…even a potting station for guests to start their own garden.  Missy really pulled out all the stops preparing for our little shindig, planning and organizing to the max.

So naturally, the one thing that we had no control over (the one thing we had counted on for a mid-May outdoor gathering) making things difficult for us:  the weather.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever visited so many weather-related web sites in one year (let alone one week) as I did leading up to the party.  With each passing day, the forecast looked increasingly dismal, until we finally made the decision to hold the whole thing indoors, as part of a massive four-part-party:

  1. Crafts, Apps, and Drinks – in the house, throughout all three levels
  2. Dinner & Dessert – in the Shed (where Steve runs his business; a large Morton building which is unheated, but at least out of the wind and rain)
  3. Present Opening – Back in the house
  4. After Party – house & shed; basically anywhere you could find space

With some last minute scrambling, we were able to secure 10 tables, 88 chairs, and even an outdoor propane heater to convert the shed into our temporary dining hall.  However, since there is a full-time business being run from the shed, dinner set up couldn’t start until Friday evening.  So with the help of Shannon and our BFF Bridget, we set to work decorating the house.  You can imagine our surprise when we opened up a (packaged) birthday banner from Target, only to reveal this:

I think that mAYbe something is missing...

By then we realized that sometimes you just have to laugh, even when things are going as you had planned.

Saturday was a mad scramble from the start.  In the shed, Missy strung balloons from the rafters and decorated the tables with homemade centerpieces and brightly colored tablecloths.  She even made a special kid zone with a bubble machine and bug nets, Little Tikes play equipment, and gate for the smaller children (all padded with old carpet from our townhouse, no less!).  I ran errands most of the morning: getting drinks for the party, picking up the main dinner course from Ames, and buying lunch for our helpers.  Yet I was still watching the weather all morning, but by now the highs were only expected to reach 54° F, and temps would be closer to 48° F by dinner time.  There was nothing we could do about it now but make the best of our situation.  Which is exactly what we did.

With the girls dressed in their birthday dresses, our guests began to arrive after 4:00, and the party officially began:

Sienna & Grandma Cindy

Rowan Anna

Jovie and (Great) Aunt Sarah

Missy and I played host and made the rounds…

Tommy & Joey

Bridget, Kelsey, and Missy

Tommy, Missy, and Bridget

…while our guests settled in…

Hangin' out in kiddie-ville.

…and enjoyed good drinks, good apps, good company.

Chris, Kevin, and Jason catching up.

Meanwhile upstairs, adults and kids alike enjoyed the craft stations that we had throughout the house!

Theo & Mayzie playing with their flowers and masks.

Kelsey working diligently on her barrettes


Greta showing Mama Mandy the flower she decorated.

Lauren & Molly Hansen with their new homemade barrettes.

Good times were being had by had by all, and soon the cold, wet weather felt almost like a distant memory.  Before we knew it, we were migrating to the shed for dinner; Hickory Park of course, (in true Hardinge fashion 😉 )!

Dinner in the shed!

{I took a series of shots to create the above panorama…you’re gonna want to click & enlarge…totally worth it!  We tried to “pretty”  up the shed as much as possible…and we sure packed everyone in tight!}  

Before dessert, the children went wild for the bubbles and games we had made room for in the shed.

Alyssa and Rowan enjoying the fun!

Sienna LOVES bubbles too!

And so did every other child at the party...who knew?

Finally, dessert was brought out.  Dirt dessert in Gerber baby food jars (Missy’s idea of course) for the guests…

Dirt Dessert

and homemade cake for the girls.

Missy-Made Birthday Cake

Which they tore right into after we blew out their candles…so fun!  I loved watching them eat their cake…it totally reflected their personalities: Rowan went right in with both hands, Sienna delicately picked at the frosting, and Jovie…well, Jovie plowed in face-first. So classic!

Rowan getting after it!

Princess Sienna

Jovie, cross-eyed, face first. That's my girl.

Pretty much the best birthday ever.

My girls, digging in!

Now that’s a lot of pictures. Are you still with me? Ok, good. Let’s break here until Thursday, when we will reconvene for part two: present opening and the inside scoop on the after party. Stop back!

This entry was posted in All by Tom Hardinge. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tom Hardinge

Loving husband to my wife Missy, loving father to my four daughters Sienna, Rowan, Jovie, and Lola. I'm a chronic over-packer who loves good coffee, good music, running, waffle tee's, fleece pants, and Jesus Christ!

10 thoughts on “HAPPY BIRTHD!

  1. Missy! So much WORK! So much patience it took to put together all these elements of a totally cool party. Can’t tell you how we minded not being there. Loved the pictures of the cake eating. The girls will be honored at how you all went to such lengths to celebrate their lives when, one day, they study their albums.

  2. Looks like so much fun! I have my next ultrasound tomorrow and am praying for good news. If there is anything you have to get rid of we’d love to take it off your hands!

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    • Yesssss….I’m glad somebody is! I found this great free program for mac called Hugin that helped me stitch the shots together. It was a little complicated to get my arms around at first, but once I just let it do the leg work, it’s pretty easy!

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