Grady’s 2nd Birthday Farmstead Party


We had so much fun celebrating our tenacious two year old last week at his birthday party!  It took us quite some time to finally decide whether to throw him a party this year since large crowds with attention focused on him are not some of his favorite things (to say the least).  But after much thought, we decided to take the plunge and to make the day as comfortable for him as possible. As I’ve said here before, I truly believe that taking the time to celebrate life’s little (and big) moments is essential to living a fulfilled life.  So, I couldn’t let this day go by without a proper party capturing all of Grady’s most-loved things at this moment in his life.

The idea of having a petting zoo here at our house is actually what originally sold us on a 2nd birthday party for G.  We knew that if we had that, there was  NO WAY he could possibly be uncomfortable during the celebration.  He is literally obsessed with animals and we frequent just about any petting zoo we can.  Once we had that booked, the theme just fell into place as a Classic Farm Party.  At this age, farm animals are some of his favorite things to play with and it was so fun pulling all the pieces together.

I knew I wanted the theme to be classic and simple….not too cheesy and cartoony.  So I went with red and white as the main colors at the party itself.  I designed this amazing backdrop and my parents literally built it from the ground up and made my vision come to life.  I looooooooove the way it turned out!  I took some inspiration from this blog post  (she’s so brilliant) and adjusted quite a bit to fit more closely with a little boys’ birthday theme.

I found the invite on Minted and loved it because it was whimsical enough for a 2 year old party, but it was still fairly simple and clean to match the rest of the party details.  I decided to carry the image from the invite on throughout….my mom recreated the image onto the chalkboard and the painted face backdrop too! She is ridiculously talented and I am still in awe of how those turned out.

And since Grady’s birthday is at the end of October, I knew I wanted to incorporate some sort of pumpkin-patch theme into this farm party.  So, we created this super fun, simple and classic pumpkin patch photo set-up so that all of the families attending could get some photos together (without the crowds of people and hassle!!).  Lucky for me, my sister works at a local farm here who sources pumpkins, so I was able to get a batch of about 45 pumpkins to create the area.  We used old fencing, burlap, and dried corn stalks to create the backdrop for depth. Then we added my parent’s old whiskey barrel and baskets to create a vintage feel…and of course a little pop of red thanks to my mom and some handkerchiefs she tied together for a banner. I love the way it turned out and I think it offered a great place for family photos!

Lastly, it wouldn’t be a toddler’s birthday party with out an activity area.  As part of Grady’s birthday present, I built the red barn dollhouse for him.  My mom was actually able to recreate the “Grady’s Farmstead” lettering we used on the backdrop for his barn…I love that he will have this barn for years to come as a token of his birthday celebration.  My parents gave him lots of tractors and animals to go along with the barn, so we placed those out on some hay for the kids to play with.  Then, we added lots of coloring books, farm animal stamps, and custom coloring sheets to a tabletop.  We had the Radio Flyer Horsie already so decided to add that to the area as well! And my wonderful friend let us borrow her son’s ride-on John Deer tractor for the kids to play with too. Between the activity area and the animals, I think it’s safe to say, the kiddos had a blast!

Of course, what makes days like these so special are all of the people who came to show their love and support for Grady and our family.  We are eternally grateful for all that our families did to make this day happen and to our friends who took time out of their Sunday afternoons to spend it with us.  My husband worked his tail off to get our outdoor yard ready for the event…and it was absolutely the most beautiful backdrop for the day.  Every ounce of blood, sweat and energy was worth it to see our beautiful son smile with happiness.  And in my mom’s words…THAT is why we all do what we do.


Menu: Crudités, Corn Husk Popcorn Treats, Pigs in a Blanket, Chicken Tenders, Chick Deviled Eggs, Peanut Butter Birthday Cake (homemade by my mom!), Chocolate Cow Patties & White Chocolate Haystacks (also made by my mom), Assorted Pies, Cow Tails, Sheep Cupcakes, & Farm Animal Sugar Cookies.

Kids Favors: Egg Crates as the container, Sidewalk Chalk, Washable Paints, Clay, Wooden Egg filled with Chocolates, Animal Stickers, Crayons, and bubbles (all of Grady’s favorites!).  Tip: don’t buy the party favor packages.  They are overpriced and you usually get smaller amounts in the containers. It is much more economical (with better quality) to buy in the normal art or toy section and divvy up the portions accordingly.

General Favors: Small Mason jars with plastic animals glued to tops and spray-painted white. Filled with red-foiled dark Dove chocolates

Birthday Morning Surprise


I decided early on that I wanted to make a tradition for Grady on his birthday mornings with a little surprise waiting for him when he wakes up.  I bought this cart a few months back, and as soon as I bought the cart, I had this vision for Grady’s morning surprise.

I had way too much fun pulling this together, and it pretty much is exactly what I envisioned from the beginning.  I love that it was a great way to display his gifts and show him that this was a special day all about him.

I stacked donuts on a cake stand and had lots of little party animals overlooking the scene. With lots of balloons blown up on the ground for G to play with, we sat around and enjoyed the morning while he opened his gifts and we nibbled on breakfast.  What a wonderful way to start such a special day!


The Birthday Hat and tassels along the side were handmade by my super talented mom!

Bar Cart (a bit smaller than most carts out there, but it works nicely for decoration and events!)

Party Animals – I had a hard time finding all the animals in this amazing party hat tutorial  but I ended up pulling them from Target and Michaels.  The best ones (and the ones in the tutorial are Terra animals)

Paper Fans and Spheres

Felt Ball Garland

Cake Stand — My mom had had this for years, but a similar style is here


Grady Turns One!


It’s been quite some time since I last wrote a blog post, but I’ve been a bit busy between work, travel, and life in general with a growing little one in the house.  We have so many exciting things coming up over the next few weeks, so I will try my best to properly document any of those noteworthy things here.

The first of those exciting things is Grady’s first birthday.  I joke with all of my friends that it’s a National Holiday in our household, because it’s literally been something I have been thinking about and planning for a year!!  I know, I am crazy.  But my love for others manifests itself in these ways — planning and creating; organizing and plotting.  Considering the love I have for Grady is greater than any love I have ever had in my life, it makes sense that I have spent the most time EVER on this ‘event’ :).

The first part of G’s birthday celebration includes a photograph session with our AMAZING photographer, Aimee Nelson.  She is literally the most talented and thorough person around and we are so happy she captured Grady’s 1st year of life for us in such  special way.

I do admit that choosing the theme and outfits for a little boy’s cake smash photo session can be super tricky.  I spent quite a bit of time figuring out how I wanted the colors to come together — I clearly wanted it to be blue, but I also wanted it to be bold and dynamic.  My mom helped my vision come to life with the custom backdrop in his photos.  She also created the adorable little “One” cake topper you see in one of the images.  And I landed on the outfits you see from Janie & Jack, Zara Baby, and Polo Ralph Lauren– out of everything out there, they have the most ‘classic’ boy options.  I ended up being very happy with the results!

I have to say, I will forever cherish these images.  They perfectly capture Grady’s transition from a sweet baby boy to an inquisitive little toddler — I see so much of both of him in these images.  How bittersweet it is.