Monday, August 13, 2012


            What a weekend we had!  First, on Saturday morning my three middle children and I headed out to the local airfield where they were given the amazing privilege of a free flight in a little airplane complete with educational information and for my oldest son, a chance to try his hand at the controls.  This awesome morning of aviation and education came via the young eagles program, a program found all over America and worth checking into in your area.  

            But, as exciting as that was…Sunday was even better because Sunday was our youngest child’s third birthday.  Yes, our baby is now **officially** a big girl.  Being three is a pretty big deal.  How do you celebrate something so monumental?   

            Birthday parties are great and our children love them, but Tim and I sort of decided years ago, that parties to celebrate birthdays would be VERY few and far between in our family.  It is not that we have anything against parties, it is just that they tend to be a big production.  Between the expense, the planning, the clean-up (both before and after the party), and the chaos of over-excited, full-of-sugar, wound-up-from-party-fun children running everywhere- it feels as though we do not get a minute to really enjoy the celebration with our child or connect with them at all at their parties.  

So, instead, in our family, we prefer to celebrate birthdays with fun family activities that we can all enjoy.   In July, our oldest son turned eleven and we celebrated by renting canoes at a local park where we could row through the inter-coastal waterways of Tampa Bay.  We have gone camping for birthdays before or spent the day at the zoo or science museum… things like that.

Planning a family activity that would thrill a three year old and still be fun for the older children proved to be a little difficult though.  What is fun for a three year old tends to be not quite so exciting for an almost 14 year old.  So, in order to make the celebration as exciting as the milestone- we spent the big bucks and bought tickets for SeaWorld!  This is huge for our family.  We just don’t go to amusement parks because the expense of getting our family of seven into any of them is insane on our budget.  

However, as Florida residents we were able to get a special deal to pay just a smidge more and turn our 1 day passes into fun passes for the rest of the year.  We will go back in September and celebrate our oldest child’s 14 birthday there as well.  Then, just for fun we will go at least one more time, later in the fall, to make quite sure we get our money’s worth.

Since this first trip there was for the little one’s birthday, I explained to the older children we would only do things the little one could participate in.  They agreed and did not complain once, even as we started our day at the Elmo show.  The big fancy roller coasters were overhead all day, twisting and turning and snaking through the park right above us as went from show to show and rode all the “kiddie” rides in “Shamu’s Happy Harbor” but no one suggested ditching their little sister and riding them.  We walked through the "Wild Arctic" passing by the entrance to the "helicopter ride" that I know the older kids were anxious to check out, so we could still see the polar bears and beluga whales even though our youngest was too short for the ride's height requirement.
mesmerized by the Elmo show
Shamu amazed us all

A big girl, but still little compared to a polar bear!
exhausted by our long day of fun and excitement.
Instead we really did have our fun family day, centered completely around the birthday girl.  We all enjoyed watching her watch Elmo and friends sing and dance on stage before her very eyes.   We delighted in her joy at riding a fiberglass manatee on the Sea Carousel and seeing the animals jump and flip at the Dolphin and the Shamu shows.  We laughed at how cute she looked wearing her blinking dolphin necklace, the one souvenir we agreed to purchase.  It was a fabulous day for all and a true celebration of our youngest member.  The day turned out to be just exactly what a birthday should be-  a joy filled day of remembering and reveling in the blessing that our baby three-year-old is to us all.


  1. Kari,

    Sounds like you celebrate birthdays in a similar way to us. We usually have a family outing or treat too. This year we had a big day out at the zoo to celebrate Andy's birthday. Like Sea World, it was very expensive for us all to get in, but we all had a wonderful time and the memories will last until we can afford another visit, probably in several years time!

    I just love how generous your children were, focussing on their little sister and not on all those older children activities, which must have looked so attractive.

    Happy birthday to your big girl!

    1. Sue-

      My "big kids" handled the day so beautifully. They were really excited to watch their little sister enjoy her special day. It made me realize just how blessed we are as a family. My children, though far from perfect, are certainly pretty good kids and they are close enough to each other and loving enough to be willing to make sacrifices for each other.

      Thanks so much for visiting!

      God Bless, Kari

  2. Happy birthday to your little one, Kari!

    We don't have big parties, either, but we do try to make the day special. I know of a family who celebrate each birthday with a large gathering of extended family members, rather than organise a children's party. They all seem to be really close and loyal to each other - it's nice to see when so many families are scattered far away from each other, these days.

    It was lovely to read about your fun day, Kari:-)

    God bless:-)

    1. Vicky- Thank so much. A big family party with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins around sounds wonderful. It would be so nice to celebrate that way, but as you said, so many families are scattered far away and most of our family is. Still, we had a great day with our little one and that was what we were hoping for.

      Hope you are your family are all doing well.

      God Bless, Kari

  3. Happy Birthday to your daughter. Seaworld is wonderful and Elmo is still my favorite.

    God bless you and your family.

    1. Thanks so much! How can you not love Elmo? He is so cute and always so happy. Of course, none of that impresses my 13 year old, but at least she loves her baby sister enough not to show it.

      Blessings to you!

  4. A happy birthday to your youngest who will always be the baby...maybe! LOL

    We don't do the extravagant friend birthday parties either! Mary had her first "friend" party last summer at the local pool. It was simple, easy, and relatively inexpensive. I got $5 pizzas from Little Caesars to feed the party kids and the parents (who I asked to stay to help supervise) and then brought in our own cake and ice cream. Two hours later and moms to help me clean was done!

    Usually though, we just celebrate as a family of 5 and if Chris' Kansas City family can join us for tacos or burgers on the grill we do that! I think family birthday celebrations are the best!

    1. Valerie-

      It sounds like your daughter's party was the perfect balance of simple and special. I'm sure she will remember her first friend party forever. Parties means so much when they are little and we have done a few of them (though I tend to not do so well with keeping it simple and I drive myself crazy planning every little detail). Maybe that is why family celebrations will always be MY favorite way to celebrate my children's birthdays!

      God Bless you and yours!

    2. As far as our little one always being the baby?!?!?!?!?! We shall see what God has planned...... For now- she is definitely still the baby around here. :-)



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