Have Courage and Be Kind – a Cinderella Birthday Party

If I recall correctly, I have already spent thousands of words discussing in detail how passionately I adored the new live-action Cinderella movie. You can read all about it here.

But what you may not know is that another one of the reasons I loved the movie was…

ahem (materialism alert)…

this dress.

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The one on the left, not the one on the right.

I mean, I love the one on the right, too, it’s just that I’m personally still too postpartum to wear an ankle-length all-over floral fabric, even if it was broken up in the midsection with a darling pink apron.

Nevermind the fact that my “baby” is almost 2 years old.

ANYHOW, where was I?

Oh, yes, the dress on the left.

It just basically sent me into sentimental hysterics before I was ten minutes into the movie. Don’t judge, mkay? Wardrobes speak to me. Always have. Always will. Even if I joined a nunnery!

Therefore, well after the movie had concluded – all the way home, in fact – my mind was sort of racing, daydreaming intently about how I could find such a dress for Rebekah.

It is, after all, one of my favorite ways to celebrate girlhood, this adorning of my daughters in frocks that pay homage to the timelessness and beauty of being little and free and pure. It’s such a short season. Let’s frame it in a floral print and a bit of lace, yes?

And, just like that, before I could really consciously make the decision, the “Rebekah of Sunnybrook Farm” birthday party I had been planning for my soon-to-be 6-year old was kicked resolutely to the curb and a new vignette was replacing it.

Goodbye, gingham and haybales and overalls and teacup pigs.

Helloooooo, Cinderella!!!

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First things first, where in the world was I going to find a dress like Ella’s for this party?

I could hardly sleep that night, I was so excited, and well after my family had dozed off, after perusing all my favorite stores for a suitable dress, I withdrew to Facebook and shared the above photo with my little friend, Leslie (“little” as in much younger than me, much smaller, and much like a tiny, beloved pixie that I would keep in my cupboard, if I could).

Leslie has always shared my love for nostalgia and vintage, and I have long felt that she, young whippersnapper though she be, might rival me in her ability to find all the stuff that must be bought on the internets. Thus, if anyone could help me out or, at the very least, sympathize with my plight, it would be her.

And, on this night, she totally won the title of Internet Shopping Queen. In one fell swoop, she dethroned me and I now will forever bow in reverence to my successor.

Because, before the night was up, Leslie had somehow miraculously found THE EXACT FABRIC of the dress in the movie and had promised to sew up a dress for me.

(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Yes, sure, the fabric was in Great Britain, and, okay, it was $36 per yard (more than I even paid for my couch upholstery!), and, granted, Leslie lives in Kentucky and this entire project would have to be done through the mail, but…

still…

how often does a girl get the chance to have the exact same dress as the actress portraying the younger version of Cinderella in a blockbuster movie???

(Leave me alone. I know I’m a weirdo).

Obviously, I was giddy with my peculiar brand of excitement, and the following Cinderella party sprang forth from that first night of scheming on the internet.

The following week, I proceeded to purchase a “Have Courage and Be Kind” print at Etsy.

I next bought a ceramic goose at Hobby Lobby. (Because…duh…have you seen the movie??)

I then began to pressure my amazing friend, Tammy, who HATES making cake balls, into making thirty cake ball pumpkins.

And it was sometime after purchasing the goose, I think, that I realized I had better get more bang for my buck and make this another SISTER party (like this one that we did two years ago!).

Betsie and Rebekah celebrate birthdays only nine days apart, and it just seemed crazy this year to invest in two separate girl parties when we could do this one big shindig together.

Leslie quickly began scouring the internet for another fabric that would coordinate with Rebekah’s dress and soon added another Cinderella-inspired frock to her sewing line-up and…

well, the rest is most definitely history.

Wanna see?

 

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First, I obviously have to show you the dresses.

Leslie mailed them to us by post in this gorgeous packaging that may or may not have made me cry, a personalized garment bag for each girl, along with two little mice boasting ears made of matching dress fabric (I know, right?!)…

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And the actual dresses are everything I hoped they would be, lightweight and gorgeous and comfy and perfect.

I paid for the fabric and supplies and shipping and Leslie wrote the rest off as “an experimental prototype” (a.k.a. the sweetest and most generous birthday gift ever), but if you have wealth of any sort and would like to have a Cinderella dress custom-made for your little girl, Leslie is offering a very limited number of these in her new Etsy shop, My Dear Poppy.

I cannot praise my friend’s work highly enough and I am SO VERY proud of her. You can find her – and the dresses! (and lots of cute vintage-inspired baby clothes!) – by clicking here.

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Here’s a picture of just Rebekah in her dress. You’ll see more of Betsie’s dress in the weeks to come! She’s a wiggly little thing and hard to get a picture of. 🙂

This picture is a little fuzzy, but you get the gist.

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Now, backtracking just a bit, before the party started, I had several hours to myself to set everything up.

If you watch the show “Fixer Upper”, this was my JoJo moment, where I had time to myself to create and use my noggin. Many thanks to my sweet friend, Kodi, for understanding a mama’s need for quiet on birthday days by offering to watch my children all afternoon!

First up is the food table, bedecked with pretty flowers from Sprout’s. The butterfly clips were purchased at the $1 bin at Michael’s (and were on sale for 15 cents apiece!), and found a perfect home on a branch that was winding its way around this tree. The “One Shoe Can Change Your Life” sign is from my bedroom, given to me when Mr. Gore proposed to me with a pair of engagement shoes in 2004.

Whoopsie, I’ve never told you that story, have I?…

Someday, I promise.

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Here’s some plates and whatnot. This tuh-die-fer chair was my Christmas gift from my mama. You can find it in an assortment of colors here. The little pink table is from my favorite antiques store in the state, The Pink Lily, in Jenks, Oklahoma. You can find the shop on Facebook by clicking here.

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The party was set up in front of an old grape arbor that is currently holding up our climbing roses, which, by the way, were blooming brilliantly the week BEFORE this party.

Not so much anymore.

Whatevs.

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Here’s the dessert table, our antique buffet, dragged outside and heavy-laden with treats and sweets. Tiny cupcakes, mini bundt cakes, raspberry cookies, and lots of chocolates!

One thing I couldn’t really capture on camera were the wooden butterflies tied all along the arbor. They were purchased at Michael’s, spray-painted pink, drilled with a tiny hole and tied up with twine in various lengths. The end result, in our famous Oklahoma wind, was what looked like a dozen pink butterflies fluttering all around the dessert table.

Rebekah was atwitter. “They look like REAL butterflies, flying!!!” she laughed.

“I know!” I cried, daubing my eyes with a hankie.

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And here is another of my favorite parts of the party, this precious “Have Courage and Be Kind” print from You Doll Design on Etsy. I framed it with this lovely piece from the Studio Decor Savannah collection at Michael’s (I’m kind of nuts about these frames!), and it will soon be hanging between Betsie and Rebekah’s beds.

A true party keepsake, touting my favorite quotation of the year. Buy one of your own (and see MANY other beautiful prints) by clicking here!

(p.s. I can’t wait to do more business with this company – in fact, I’ve already put in a custom order for August that you guys are sure to love! Stay tuned!)

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This little wooden birdy was also purchased at Michael’s. I believe it cost a dollar, and I felt all kinds of crafty when I painted it blue.

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Now, I don’t really even want to THINK about the fun I could have had if this birthday party had landed in the fall — it kind of hurts my tummy to consider it — with pumpkins out the wazoo.

I tried to find pumpkins in June, I really did, but alas, even the Asian Supermarket had none. (It’s a long story).

As it was, I grabbed some fake pumpkins from our church’s decorating stash at the very last minute, and they did just the trick.

Again, could we all just applaud Leslie for adding the little mice with Cinderella fabric ears to our birthday package? I can’t even.

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Lastly, these floral paper straws that I bought at the last minute were a lovely touch to the party. Thank goodness for Prime shipping! The girls absolutely loved these straws. It’s the little things, truly. To find them at Amazon, click here.

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On the menu for the evening was a big plate of chicken salad croissants…

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berry-centric fruit salad…

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Pepperidge Farm butterfly crackers (a no-brainer, that one!)

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along with pimento cheese sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a plate of cheese slices, for Jacques and Gus Gus, of course.

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But real-people food is kinda boring, isn’t it? Let’s take a closer look at the desserts.

I made these mini cupcakes from a box and Wilton’s icing mix, but my friend, Tammy, made the fondant bluebirds for me. You can find some like these on Etsy (click here), or if you live in the Tulsa area, you could just ask me to contact Tammy for you. 😉 She can make crazy things out of cakes and sugar and such. CRAZY, I tell you!

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And here are the little pumpkin cake balls she made, too cute for words.

(And tasty, too! I will never tell you how many of these pumpkins were in my tummy by the time the clock struck midnight).

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My mom made miniature versions of her famous “Kentucky Butter Cake” with my mini bundt pan from Williams Sonoma. Find a similar pan by clicking here. And the “Eat Cake” cake server can be found here.

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This is my favoritest cookie ever, raspberry rugelach from Merrit’s Bakery in Tulsa. So pretty and perfect with a cup o’ coffee.

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At 6:00 p.m., as I was putting the finishing touches on the set-up, our guests began to trickle in, and I was just so tickled when my nieces showed up in costumes.

The children in our family are growing up and are really beginning to get into the spirit of things. I think our fun must just be beginning around here!

Here’s Anna in a darling Cinderella maid costume that she bought with her own money for the party. (You can find it at Etsy here).

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And Abigail used her own money to procure these “ugly stepsister” aprons for her and her friend, Katy. HOW CUTE IS THIS?? You can find your own here, and my sister-in-law, Amy, reports that this shop was great to do business with, ensuring that they got their last-minute orders in super-speed time.

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By the way, Abigail and Katy are the sweetest girls on the planet and had a really hard time pretending to be mean and ugly. Here they are just being them:

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So now that you’ve seen the basic set-up of things…

let’s party!!!

One thing I love about the young Ella in the movie (you know, the one with that FANTASTIC dress!) is that she was not a princess, but just a girl who loved her family and loved her life.

My daughters are not princesses, either, and neither are their friends, but they are little girls, and little girls are DIVINE!

Especially when they’re sitting on old quilts on the lawn, sipping tea and pink lemonade.

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The dessert table was, as usual, a big hit…

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Betsie was a fan of being allowed to help herself to her own treats. That doesn’t happen every day, you know.

Only every other day.

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Here’s my niece, Kate, in a beautiful floral dress, just being her awesome self…

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We were also so happy to have Rebekah’s music teacher, Christy, join us for this party.

Not many young ladies would give up a Friday night to party with a group of younglings, and that’s just one of the thousand reasons we love Christy.

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And here are my little birthday girls! Eating cake balls and feeling pretty!

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So after the girls had snacked and guzzled to their heart’s content, we pulled out our new favorite party trick, led by my eldest niece, Abigail.

Last year at their church, Abigail and her sisters were introduced to the fun of barn-dancing, and it is catching like wildfire ’round here.

These girls can’t get enough of the Virginia Reel!

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This dance is so easy and SO much fun!!! These little ones get absolutely dreamy-eyed when they are Virginia Reeling.

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And what would a dance be without some boys watching standoffishly from the sideline?

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Grandpa wasn’t afraid to join in, though, but he had to have two partners, Shepherd, and my cutie-pie niece, Harper.

Harper, by the way, came dressed in a Disney Cinderella dress, carrying a doll dressed like Cinderella. I was impressed by her thoroughness.

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After a couple of dances, we took a break and moved on to cake and presents (and refills of lemonade – it was hot out there!)

I couldn’t find a link for these, but I nearly did a jig when I glanced over during a shopping trip and saw these magic wand candles at Wal-mart. How fortuitous! They were still there, in the baking section, last time I checked.

(psst! If you are reading this from the future, this is June of 2015. I’d hate for you to make a special trip to Wal-mart only to realize that this blog post was written six years ago and that candles are now digital instead of wax. I’m thoughtful like that).

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Okay, the following isn’t the BEST picture of Betsie, but…

her dress matches everything in this picture!

It makes my eyes happy!

Doesn’t it make your eyes happy, too? All those pastels…

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Rebekah blows out her candles…

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Betsie blows out hers…

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And then we tossed the cakes over our shoulders so we could move on to the PRESENTS!

I do love a big pile of presents, don’t you? Our daughters were so blessed by many thoughtful and fun gifts from our friends and family.

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Rebekah was especially thrilled by this photo album from her dearly beloved cousin, Kate. We call them “You and Me” because they have made up a theme song about themselves and they sing it together whilst skipping through meadows.

“You and me…

“And me and you…”

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This is mayhap my favorite picture of Betsie from the night. A present as big as she is!

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Have I ever mentioned that I love this crew of kids?

I do.

I really, really do.

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There were lots of fun Cinderella gifts at this party. Like this picture book.

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I’ll post some Cinderella gift ideas at the end of this blog post.

I’d hate for this blog post to be too short and not have enough shopping links in it, you know?

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After the presents were devoured, we just spent some time together, talking, cleaning, dancing and making general merriment.

I love this next picture because I adore my boy Shep and his BFF, Daniel, but also because these hats were NOT set out for the party.

Shep reportedly found them in the sunroom, and next thing you know, he and his friends were birthdaying it up, all on their own.

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Well, sweet friends and party lovers, as you can hopefully see for yourself, even though I almost truly DIED from party exhaustion, this turned out to be a great night for all of us, being with friends…

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being with family…

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and doing it all in the dress of my…er, OUR…dreams.

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Happy birthday, Rebekah and Betsie, and many, MANY more.

Oh! And we all lived happily ever after.

The end.

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And now, for anyone who is interested, I present to you four fun Cinderella gifts. To find any of these products, just click on the picture:

1. We bought this book for the girls to share. It is a thick, hardcover volume with a soft, velvety feel to it and I think it is really beautiful.

2. Our girls were really excited to receive this small paperback book with images from the movie. Especially when they received two of them!

3. And this “Cinderella Day Dress” by my favorite dress-up clothes company is just the CUTEST. Both girls received one, and they have lived in them since. Little Adventures dress-up clothes are great because they are very comfortable. No scratchy fabrics, no glitter falling all over the house. I’m a huge fan. And this little dress might be my favorite of all that we’ve brought home!

p.s. Here’s a picture of Rebekah in her “day dress”:

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4. Lastly, the following product is not one I actually used, but OH how I wanted to! My deepest heart’s desire was to buy this necklace for each of our little guests but, by the end of this party’s planning, I barely had a penny left to my NAME.

However, this would be such a great gift with a great message for any little – or big! – girl in your life. Find them by clicking here.

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And that’s REALLY the end. Thanks for partying with us today! I hope this gives you plenty of ideas and inspiration for a Cinderella party of your own. If you have any questions, feel free to ask below or find me on Facebook. Happy endings to you all!

Want to remember or share this party? Pin it!

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Miss Sunday’s Third: a Farm Stand Birthday Party (Part 2)

Did I say 3 days ago that I would post Part 2 of Rebekah’s Farm Stand Party “tomorrow”? Silly me. I meant to say “I’ll post the rest of it when I get around to it.” 

Which, lucky for you, is today.

This post will be a tiny bit more random than the last, and there is only one reason…

Amy just took too many good pictures at Rebekah’s 3rd birthday party. And I adore them, every one.

And I’m trying to include them ALL!! 

But we’re almost done, and I think I can wrap all this birthday madness up in a couple more days. Until then, I hope you enjoy joining me for the rest of Miss Sunday’s Farm Stand Birthday, as we blow out candles and open gifts and swing and slide and swim and enjoy the sweetest parts of life to the fullest. Children are such a blessing, and I love nothing more than to make magic for them and then watch them enjoy it.

{Oh, and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you should probably take a look at Part One. And if you really don’t know what I’m talking about…as in “Who’s Rebekah?”…well, then, you’ve got a LOT of reading to do, bless your heart. But, welcome! I hope you stick around…}.

Ready or not, here is part TWO!

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I actually took this picture before the party began, but it was important that I added it, because…I couldn’t have pulled off this party – or any party, really – without my Mom’s generosity and help. I told her just today that she has more stamina than any other person I’ve ever seen. She never. stops. working. And her work is most usually for others. She’s unreal. And unbelievably pretty, don’t you think? If I look anything like my Mom when I am 30 years older than I am today, I will be THRILLED…

One of the most random things that happened at the party had to do with this plastic swimming pool we had just brought home from Wal-Mart: we looked over at one point to notice that the kids were intensely playing in it…without any water. It kept them occupied for about 30 minutes. We didn’t realize all these years that we didn’t really need to fiddle with adding water to the pool! I wish we had known sooner…

and it wasn’t just the toddlers, either. The “big kids” played in it, too, including 8-year old Abigail.

Also funny: as the guests began enjoying the food, Amy gestured for me to take a look at Rebekah, who had assumed that the berries on the table were divvied up in individual serving baskets for the taking, and was stealing away with a full pint of her fruit of preference – and she wasn’t about to put down her soda, either. She had to put the berries back, but not until Amy took a picture.

A few more sweet party pictures: Baby Betsie inspects a strawberry with her wonderful Grandpa…

and Kate looks for a place to enjoy her lunch. She had obviously already been enjoying her soda…

and here is beautiful Anna with a cherry red mustache

But let me backtrack for a minute…

Before anyone had started eating lunch, we kicked off the party by singing “Happy Birthday” and blowing out the candles. I picked up this tip from Amy, who started Abigail’s party the same way. In so doing, the birthday girl is free to get dirty and messy while she eats her food and treats, something Rebekah Sunday is particularly gifted at doing.

A little sea of friends and family gathered in front of her to sing and watch her blow out her candles…

it took lots of blowing…

but she did it! I hope all her birthday wishes come true.

Now, I’ve shared this product before in Easier than Apple Pie, but in case you weren’t paying attention, I’ll share it again. This little apple peeler/corer/slicer (yes, it does all 3 at once!) is magical. Click on the picture to find it at Amazon.

Mr. Gore set up station near the food table and ensured that lots of little children got their “apple a day” – because I’ve noticed that even children that “don’t like apples” enjoy eating them this way…

although I’ve never seen one do this Slinky trick before…impressive, Henry…

While beautiful Izzy chose to eat hers like a sandwich!

After lunch, Anna gives Miss Sunday the best gift by taking time to push her on the swing. Her favorite pastime next to snacks.

a happy 3-year old

and a lady, through and through

Rebekah received so many wonderful gifts at her party, but this pink cowgirl hat from Grandpa and Grandma was special for many reasons: 1. keyword: PINK, one of her 3 favorite colors. 2. its from a real Western store and 3. it is just like the hat Rebekah’s character wears in the stories we tell the children at night about Sheriff Gid and his trusty Deputy Sunday. Gideon, of course, has all the things he needs to dress the part of Sheriff, but Rebekah had nuthin’…until today. If only she had some snazzy boots to wear as well…

done.

“Rebekah, tell everyone ‘thank you’ for your gifts!” I prodded. “THANK YOU FOR MY GIFTS!!!” she bellowed across the meadows and o’er the plains. Amy, showing me this picture, said “I don’t know where she gets it…”

And now came the time for our wardrobe change.

And now comes the time when I make some confessions to you…

I’ve been all “bad American Dream” and “no more paper plates” this year, but…I bought this swimsuit from Janie and Jack, full-price, in FEBRUARY for THIS PARTY. It looks like a strawberry, you guys. And it had Rebekah Sunday written all overrrrr it. Worth every penny. Would this be a good time to mention that I also bought her a birthday dress from Janie and Jack on the same day? And that she wore it in the Spring? And so I bought her another birthday dress from Janie and Jack, the blue one she actually wore to the party (that made my stomach hurt it was so precious)?…

Birthdays are so obviously my weakness.

But seriously, look at my birthday girl in her new swimsuit and dare to judge me.

HOW I love this strawberry girl

and her strawberry kisses, even though they are extremely messy and sticky!

After the wardrobe change, we moved the kids to the front yard for some swimming fun – I love the pools at my Mom’s house – they’re cheap (she buys a new one every summer), but the little slide on the side is ridiculously fun (and functional)! And the best part: they’re so shallow, I don’t have to suit up and join them. All the grown-ups can sit and watch from a safe and comfortable distance.

But mostly, I love the joy that is written on my girl’s face in the following pictures, and I can’t thank Amy enough for capturing them for me…

but then, swimming is fun for EVERYONE…

After an hour or more, we all drifted back to the backyard for a few more snacks…

and as the party finally wound down to a close, so did Rebekah Sunday. Crawling into my lap, she snuggled close, and before I knew it, she gave me the best gift of the day by falling asleep in my arms.

I live for these moments – no, really, I LIVE for them – and I must have kissed her forehead a thousand times before she woke up.

And it hit me with startling clarity…

these kid birthday parties are SO for the Mamas.

Miss Sunday’s Third: a Farm Stand Birthday Party (Part 1)

Congratulations!!!

You hung in there through an entire week of posts concerning my middle child, the opinionated and unsinkable Rebekah Sunday. Welcome to the 2nd week. (I can’t stop…I love her!)

To be honest, I was afraid I would lose some of you in this process, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the feedback and the consistency of my site stats…which, 1 1/2 years into the blogging experience, I still check about a hundred times a day. Thank you, for staying with me as I relive this very special week in our lives, and for continuing to encourage me with your kind words and compliments.

I happen to adore both.

Today, I am nigh unto bursting to finally share with you this collection of already treasured photographs from the 3rd birthday party that has been in my heart for well over a year. It was a special day, through and through, and Amy did a fantastic job capturing the spirit and beauty of the event with her photography.

By the party’s end, I was positively ebullient, heart overflowing with joy and contentment…

the day had been perfect.

The weather was more than agreeable. The party was unhurried and comfortable. The food was delicious. The fellowship was heartwarming. The love and goodwill was tangible. And no one had died in transit. Yes, this is something I always worry about. I’d hate for a loved one to die on ANY day. But on a PARTY day?! Say it ain’t so.

And if you enjoy looking at the pictures from this party even a fraction of what I experienced actually being there, well…I’ll be a pretty happy girl.

Without further ado, I humbly and happily present Rebekah’s Farm Stand Birthday Party. Part One.

If you remember, Betsie Fair’s Pat-a-Cake party was soft…pink…lacy…rosy…doilyish…all things that represented (to me) the innocence and babyish beauty of my littlest one. But Miss Sunday is at an entirely different stage of life. If I close my eyes and think of her, I see sights and colors so different than those that come to mind with Betsie: gingham…health and robustness…blues and reds and pin dots …daisies…strawberries…in other words, timeless country simplicity and fun. This party matches her spirit. I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much:

Remember how I did Betsie’s Pat-a-Cake party on the cheap? Rebekah’s not so much…

Fruit is kinda ‘spensive.

but what a beautiful party table it makes! We borrowed Gideon’s Radio Flyer wheelbarrow to give us some layering with old-fashioned country charm.

My Mom is a long-time collector of blue-and-white dishes, colanders, pottery and serving pieces, so I didn’t have to look far to pull off this Farm Stand color scheme. I particularly love this little enamel strainer, holding a couple of handfuls of bright, red (delicious) cherries. On the table is my Mom’s old red ticking sheet, pulled out and ironed at the last minute.

The turquoise berry baskets came from my favorite online party supply store, Shop Sweet Lulu. To see their precious collection of party goods, click here. This store is delightful in every way, all the way down to the way they package your purchases for shipping. I especially enjoyed the complimentary piece of taffy I found in a pretty package at the bottom of my box, along with a sweet little “Thank You” note. You can also follow this shop on Facebook by clicking here.

Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, Red Delicious apples and perfect Porter peaches…

and Miss Sunday was more than happy to share it all with her friends!

including old-fashioned bottles of soda pop for the children…

“What kind of soda,” you ask? NuGrape, purchased at Cracker Barrel, and Stewart’s Black Cherry, found at Petty’s Fine Foods in Tulsa. Both were so tasty, and the children were intrigued by the bottling and delighted by the taste.

 And for Miss Sunday’s grown-up friends there were plenty of mason jars filled with yummy sweet tea.

I happened upon those canning lid covers at Wal-Mart the week before the party, and bought them without even knowing how or where we were going to use them. But 12 covers for $2 was pretty hard to pass up, and they seemed destined to take part in our Farm Stand party…

The fruit, though delicious and healthy, was not enough to sustain all those hungry tummies. Thus, for each child there was a simple sack lunch consisting of peanut-butter-and-strawberry-jam sandwiches and a small bag of potato chips.

I bought these strawberry canning labels the same day I bought the lid covers (also on a whim!), and they were perfect for dressing up our sack lunches a bit. We just folded the bag over, punched 2 holes near the top and tied a strand of heavy twine into a bow to package it up nice and tidy-like.

See? Nice and tidy.

Kate Belle helps herself to some berries…

and our friend, Isaiah, poses for a strikingly handsome picture.

Miss Sunday greets her friend, Henry…

while I bring out the last of the food table goodies (such a cheeseball!)…

Paula Deen’s Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake (for the recipe, click here), turned into cupcakes with a freshly sliced strawberry on top…

and a Martha Stewart gingham cupcake liner on bottom (available at Michael’s).

that just left one thing…close your eyes, Rebekah!

a gorgeous strawberry and cream birthday cake!

We wouldn’t normally indulge in such a cake for a 3-year old girl, but as this was the same cake Mr. Gore and I had at our wedding, and since our anniversary was only 2 days away, we thought it was only fitting. This lovely and delicious cake is always available at my favorite eatery in the state, Queenie’s Cafe and Bakery. I seriously could eat 2 meals a day there and be eternally happy. If you’ve never been…go! Right now!

And if the strawberry cake was not tempting enough, we made a special little treat for the grown-ups: strawberries, piecrust and heavy cream, a favorite recipe of our family’s. I promise to share the details of this slice of heaven in the near future. But for today…

I’ll just let you be curious. And maybe a little jealous?…

Henry enjoys his soda pop in the yard…

while Jackson tries to figure his out on the porch.

And Kate and Rebekah (Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane) guzzle theirs before even making it to their lunch.

As far as birthday parties go, this one is going down in the history of my most beloved and memorable…

and the party is only just beginning!

We still have to blow out candles, open presents, swing and slide, and go swimming!

Part Two…coming up tomorrow!

Miss Sunday’s Third: The Prequel

I’m having a difficult time over here…

Last Saturday, I threw the party of my dreams for Miss Sunday, an idea that has been ruminating in my head and in my heart since at least a year and a half ago. I scrapped it last year when I realized I couldn’t pull it off – her birthday was only 8 days away, and I was sitting in a hospital bed holding a newborn Betsie Fair.

But this year, I was determined. It was going to happen, even though it would be taking place a mere week away from Betsie’s first birthday party…

I did it, y’all!

And the finished result made me so happy that I am having a mighty difficult time honing down the 350 photographs that showcase that party.

And I’ve just got to wonder as I go through my photos ~ aren’t you guys sick of me yet?

Pictures of my kids. Coordinating outfits. Parties, parties, parties. Birthdays make me cry. Cherish each moment. Pictures of me laughing like a goober. Cakes and cupcakes.

I hope I’m not being redundant.

And I really hope you know that I know that we’re not the berries. My kids are no more good-looking or talented or intelligent than the next kids. Our clothes are not more special. Our parties – though admittedly awesome (I jest!) – are not what life is about and they don’t hold a candle to what the professionals can do. I’m not always happy. And on most days, we eat cereal for supper.

But I love life.

And I love children.

And I love laughter and celebrations and beautiful colors and flowers and family and friends and…

I really love sharing the journey with you.

So, I know I’ve already said this two days ago, but THANK YOU. Thank you for liking what I post and for putting up with my never-ending picture-sharing and party-displaying and Mrs-Gore-focused jabbering. I examine my heart quite often, and as far as I can tell, I’m not trying to make a name for myself (I’m a hermit, for crying out loud), nor am I trying to display my children like an obsessed pageant mom. I’m also not trying to get noticed by Martha Stewart or Country Living, although at the number of pins I’ve added to Pinterest from my own site, one might assume that is the case!

I just feel compelled to share and to proclaim – on an extremely regular basis – that…

LIFE. IS. BEAUTIFUL.

Heartbreakingly beautiful.

And speaking of beautiful…Rebekah’s birthday was beautiful. And I’m not just talking about the party.

The entire celebration of her life — from the ice cream we ate on the porch the night before her birthday, to the breakfast party we had the next morning, to the day of memories we made as a family, to the sleepover we had at Grandmother’s house, to the official celebration we had the next day, to the summer water party in the front yard — was lovely and heartwarming, and everything I could possibly have dreamed of when I first envisioned this party so many months ago.

So that’s why I’m having a little trouble.

I have a lot to share, a lot to say, and it all seems to focus on Miss Sunday and Miss Sunday alone.

But as you read and view what I post in the week ahead, I hope that you’ll keep in mind this isn’t really just about Miss Sunday.

It’s about cherishing the lives that God has entrusted to us.

It’s about pouring love upon them in the best way we know how.

It’s about using our time and our talents to proclaim that love is the center and the heartbeat of our home.

I don’t know how you accomplish that – you might sew, you might cook, you might teach or coach or lead, you might build, you might travel, you might read, you might plant…

But Mrs. Gore parties.

I seriously cannot wait to share this one in particular with you.

Here’s a teaser…