Three years ago, my husband and I welcomed our first baby. I remember the feeling of panic as we nestled her tiny body into her car seat and drove, ever so slowly, home from the hospital. When we walked in the front door, with a third person in our arms, that was when it really hit me that our lives would never be the same.
Fast forward what seems like a lifetime, and we’re celebrating A’s third birthday! Looking back, it’s hard to remember what life was like before we had kids. It seems like so, so long ago. But somehow, all those old ladies who cooed over my baby and warned me that, “It goes by so fast,” were right, too. Every time I put a onesie on Baby J that once fit A’s littler self, I’m transported back in time. Where did my baby go?
In marking the passage of another year, I always want A’s birthday celebrations to feel special and memorable, because everyone knows nothing’s more important to a child than her birthday! This year, we went with a theme that no kid could turn down: ice cream! When we discovered that we could rent out our favorite old fashioned ice cream shoppe for the party, I knew we’d found a party-planning match made in heaven.
Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream is a place my husband and I have frequented since we moved to Virginia almost ten years ago. It sits on the main street of Old Town Alexandria, where George Washington and other founding fathers would meet up for beers, just across the Potomac from the Capital. The little shops that line King Street and the neighborhood’s waterfront location draw visitors year round. It’s the perfect place for a family stroll, and Pop’s is one of our favorite stops.
Daddy and the birthday girl in historic Old Town
Besides the ice cream that draws crowds, I also love the red and white decor, the chalkboard menus, and the retro fixtures and decorations in Pop’s—so charming.
On the day of the party, the weather could not have been more cooperative. At an unseasonable 90 degrees, ice cream was the perfect treat! Dozens of unsuspecting, would-be patrons approached the store front over the course of the party only to be disappointed by a sign on the door saying the shoppe was closed for a private party. This was the place to be, and A could not have been more excited!
She looked so proud in her special birthday Bella Daniella pastel pettiskirt.
(I’ve also got to thank our friends at Petite Lemon for sending A her very own personalized birthday tee, which she promptly spilled milk all over just prior to the party, causing a last minute wardrobe change. Oh geez! Here’s the shirt we loved —>)
Even though I didn’t have to worry about preparing any of the food, decorations, or entertainment for A’s party, I still wanted things to feel personalized, so I made up a birthday chalkboard, a special #3 m&m cake, and DIY ice cream favors.
Inspired by Keeping Up with the Morgans’ DIY birthday chalkboard
A’s birthday cake of choice, m&ms being her all-time favorite candy (inspired by Bits of Everything’s #3 bundt cake). What a lot of work! I’m never doing that again. Sorry, Baby J!
Did you know you can make ice cream with nothing but rock salt, ice, cream, sugar, and vanilla powder? (Inspired by A Subtle Revelry’s ice cream in a mason jar)
After the kids did some coloring and crafts, and ate dinner, they moved on to the main attraction: the ice cream! Pop’s has dozens of flavors—some traditional, like A’s choice of strawberry, and some more exotic, like my Kahlua Chocolate Chip.
That’s one happy kid!
Even I indulged, making Baby J horribly jealous, poor girl. There’s always next year…
My absolute favorite part of the day was seeing A’s face when we all clapped after she blew out her candle. Priceless!!
By the end of the party, we were all worn out, especially the birthday girl. All those friends, all that excitement, all that sugar…
Such a daddy’s girl
The day was truly special. We’re lucky to have wonderful friends to help us celebrate when our families are so far away. Of course, all the little details that go into planning a birthday party make it feel cohesive, but a party’s not a party without your friends.