I follow James and Julia’s wishes and organize a puppy-themed birthday party (originally suggested by Teacher Mindy from Mountain View Parent Observation Preschool). Unfortunately, I make the mistake of mentioning the possibility of a Cookie Monster-themed party early in the planning process, and after I switch to a dog party and stuff is already bought, Julia isn’t so happy. However, when I mention that she’ll get a dog bowl she’s on board.
|A Julia with a dog bowl is a happy Julia.|
Our guests include kids from our old Mom’s Night Out playgroup (Josh, Sam, and Ronan), kids from Mountain View Parent Observation Preschool (Lyra and Phoebe), and kids from both (Zoe and Zachary). I actually invited four sets of twins (not including mine) but two sets couldn’t come. Julia plays in the leaves with Lyra - our first guest to arrive - and Papa greets guests from his chair on the porch.
|Signs on the front door|
|Lyra and Julia play in the gingko leaves.|
Upon arriving to the puppy party the kids visit four stations.
Adopt a Puppy
Each kid gets to pick one puppy to adopt and bring home from a box of stuffed puppies. (Unfortunately the Beanie Baby ones I bought on eBay didn’t arrive in time so I had to scramble the day before the party to buy 10 more. Of course later I have 10 Beanie Baby puppies that the twins end up getting from Santa.)
|Basket of puppies to adopt|
|Julia with Pink Bunny and her new puppy|
Make Collar for New Puppy
This station has foam strips for collars that the kids decorate with foam shape stickers and jewel stickers. The kids also choose names for their dogs and have grown-ups write them on dog tags. My parents graciously sit at this station and help the kids assemble their collars. James’s dog is named James Junior (J.J.) and Julia’s is Bunny Junior (B.J.).
|Dog collar making station|
|Gaga helps string collars.|
|Papa helps Ronan.|
|One of the finished products: Lyra’s Ruffy.|
Vet and Grooming
This is a place where kids can play with their new doggy with vet and doctor instruments, a vet’s lab coat (thanks, Tracy), band-aids, and grooming tools.
|Phoebe gives Barkley (she calls it Coco) a check-up. My kids are prone to hiding this dog before Phoebe comes over for playdates because she loves it so much they think she’s liable to keep it.|
Become a Puppy
There are headbands with dog ears (only Phoebe wears the ears for more than a minute), and a make-up kit and example dog make-up pictures so the kids could dress as dogs. The only ones to get make-up are Zachary and Zoe.
|Puppy James with his dog ears (and if you look closely, Puppy Papa - or should I say "Paw-Paw"?)|
|Me and my puppies|
And there were other activities:
Each guest gets a dog bowl (cleaned before the party) personalized with puffy letter stickers. They are surprisingly popular. The kids eat their snacks out of them (along with pizza, Jello, and cupcakes). Phoebe really gets into character and, unprompted, eats on the floor out of her bowl with no hands. As I write this, Julia and James continue to love their bowls and play with them all the time.
|All the kids get their own personalized dog bowl.|
|Zachary sits on Sharon’s lap while eating snacks out of his bowl.|
|Ronan rides around on the Plasma Car with his bowl.|
|Feet out of the bowl, James!|
|No one is as committed to being a dog as Phoebe.|
I present snacks in real dog bowls, which really help make the Cocoa Puffs look like real dog kibble. The similarity is a little disturbing. Thick pretzel twists double for rawhide chews, and graham cracker Scooby Snacks are our dog bones.
|Sam holds up kibble.|
|Zoe gets a closer look at the snacks.|
Hunt for Dalmatian Spots Game
I drew a dalmatian on white foam core board with no spots and then hid black construction paper spots in the living room for the kids to find.
|Ronan and Phoebe put the spots they found on my sad drawing of a dalmatian.|
Lunch and Bone Jello Jigglers
Mark picked up lunch from Pizza Hut and the kids all drank from bone-shaped cups with straws. The second course is bone-shaped Jello jigglers. We made them in the hopes that the kids would eat them like a dog (a.k.a. with no hands), but Ronan is the only taker.
|James with his bone cup and Jello jiggler|
|Jello jiggler close-up!|
|And then Ronan really digs in!|
For the third year running we have mini chocolate and vanilla Whole Food cupcakes. (If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.) The vanilla ones are studded with chocolate chips and Peppermint Patties to make pawprints. We sing “Happy Birthday” to each of our kids in turn. Since James and Julia were born at 12:13 and 12:14 p.m. respectively, and the party is on their true birthday, they turn four exactly during the party.
|Vanilla pawprint cupcakes|
|Chocolate cupcakes, with and without bones|
|The doggy family|
|James’s and Julia’s candles are lit.|
Julia listens to us sing Happy Birthday.
After two previous years of swiping Julia's cupcake when she didn't eat it, Ronan saunters over while the candles are still lit.
|"Ronan, at least let me blow out the candles before you take my cupcake."|
|This picture makes it look like Julia ate her cupcake, but I’m pretty sure she barely took a nibble.|
Dog-Related Activities We Don’t Do
We run out of time for some dog-related activities I had planned such as having a barking contest, a freeze dance to Who Let the Dogs Out and other dog songs, and having each child introduce their puppies and tell us what makes them special. I also forgot to have our guests bark instead of sing Happy Birthday.
I don’t have gift bags but each child gets a pretty good stash of dog-themed goods including an adopted dog with collar, dog bowl, bone cup, dog ear headband, and dog balloon.
|Puppy balloons at every seat that guests could bring home|
|Puppy balloon close-up|
End of the Party
For the last 45 minutes or so the mood is comfortable and chill, and it doesn’t seem appropriate to drag everyone together for another dog-related activity. The moms chat and the kids play. Papa wrestles with James and Julia and then Josh and Sam join in to try to take him down.
|Sam pulls Papa’s beard.|
|Julia and James watch as Josh and Sam wrestle Papa.|
|Papa with James and Julia and Debbie with Josh and Sam, read a book together.|
|After everyone leaves my kids wrestle.|
Later when I ask our kids, James declares the cupcakes his favorite part and Julia says “all of it.”
|Happy grandparents with their grandpuppies.|