My little man turned four years old last week, and we had quite the celebration. Somehow we never seem to have enough dinner parties or play dates with our busy schedules, so we’ve started a tradition of inviting all our friends, family, and neighbors for one big birthday/burrito/homestead fiesta once a year in the fall.
I planned on taking lots of food photos at the party, but somehow as the hostess, things got a little hectic, and I only snapped a few. This was my burrito before I wrapped it up. It consisted of black beans (I cooked up the most ridiculously large pot), fresh corn salad, avocado, hamburger from Hemphill Angus, and some homemade pico de gallo. We bought several dozen amazing handmade corn tortillas from our Mexican friend Balbina for the wrapping.
In my humble opinion, burritos make great party food because A) You can scale it up or down fairly easily and cheaply for any size group, B) generally speaking, everyone can get something to eat that they like, and C) if you just put out big bowls of ingredients, people will do their own assembly, which cuts down on the prep time.
I made a vat of pico de gallo from our own tomatoes with peppers, onions, and cilantro from my parents’ place. It was awesome. I make pico de gallo once a year for this party, and then I always say, “I should make this more often, ” but I don’t. Go figure.
I cut a bunch of flowers and brought home lots of pumpkins and gourds (sadly not photographed here) from my parents’ farm. We also borrowed a portable fire pit from our neighbors to warm us up on a somewhat chilly fall day.
(That’s Charlotte cuddling with my dad above.)
While we did invite quite a few kid friends, we also had plenty of grown-up friends as guests, too. That’s my mom on the left, Carol of Hemphill Angus in the middle, and our neighbor Mary on the right. Each of these women independently told me after the party that they had a great time talking to the other two.
We are so lucky that Charlotte is going to grow up with a posse of great neighborhood girls for role models. They are so sweet to her and to each other.
Our friends and family are incredibly generous. We made a point of telling everyone that presents were totally optional, and everyone was welcome with or without a gift. They obviously ignored that point because both kids ended up with a pile of loot. The presents people brought were all interesting and thoughtful, too, and didn’t include any cheap, plastic junk.
This is when Levi started yelling “It’s the roller that I wanted!…and IT’S ARTICULATED!!!!” We had actually seen it the week before at the local toy store, and he had been talking about it ever since. Our overly generous friend Jill came to the party with a shopping bag full of gifts including some really fun and exciting toys including this roller. (Thanks, Jill!)
We picked up two “party pigs” (2.25 gallons) of root beer from Oregon Trail Brewery for root beer float making. It was pretty delicious and pretty cheap as far as good root beer goes ($20 per pig + $20 deposit on the vessel).
Henry’s mom made a cool train-shaped cake.
Levi and his good buddy Kale thoroughly enjoyed the sweets.
After we all ate our fill, we took a little hike down to the pond.
The pond is a relatively new addition to the homestead. It serves multiple purposes: water storage, aquaculture, and scenic beauty. Henry stocked it with 160 rainbow trout a few weeks ago, so we thought we’d have a little fishing derby during the party.
Henry cast out the line, and in less than a minute, Levi had a fish biting.
He got one.
We asked the kid if he wanted to throw it back or eat it, and he decided he really wanted to eat it. It wasn’t huge, but it was a delicious element of a meal.
Levi was pretty proud of his fish, but after the novelty wore off, and he decided he’d rather play in the sand with his new roller.
We had a great time.
Most everyone involved went home dirty.
These are our couldn’t-ask-for-better neighbors Mary and Dan. They are so excited in this photo. I think it’s cute.
Fish were caught, sandcastles were built, nature was enjoyed by all.
As thing were winding down, four-year-old Kale ended up slowly and clumsily falling into the shallow water. He was never in real serious danger, and at first it was kind of funny, but when I saw his head go under water, I subconsciously made the call that someone had to get that kid out of the pond RIGHT NOW. I went charging into the water. His mom was actually closer than I was and grabbed him before I had a chance to do anything, so I just ended up wet to the waist with nothing to show for it. Kale came out a little shaken and a little cold, but after a quick change of clothes, he was fine and happily waved goodbye.
A while later, I realized that my iphone was actually in my pants pocket at the time and had gotten dunked. The phone wouldn’t let me turn it off, was giving me all sorts of error messages, and didn’t have any audio. After doing a little google research on wet cell phones, I ended up stowing it in a jar of rice (I used brown, but instant is supposedly better at wicking out moisture, and those silicon gel packs are superior to rice.) for about 36 hours, and miraculously, the phone worked just fine when I turned it on again. I was kind of bummed that I almost ruined my fancy phone, but I was glad to prove to myself that I really would do whatever it took to get a kid (not even my own) out of harm’s way. In this instance, I may have been overreacting a bit, but I’d rather be guilty of overreacting than underreacting when it came to little kid and open water. It makes me glad that the pond is far enough away from our house that I don’t have to worry about my kids wandering down there and falling in. And it makes the case even stronger for giving them swimming lessons.
Overall, the party was a total success. We are so fortunate to have such a great community of friends, family, and neighbors!