July 23, 2008

Something Princess This Way Comes

I'm no Biblical scholar but I'm pretty sure that when the Book of Revelations was originally drafted it mentioned that the Apocalypse would be preceded by explosions of pink, the appearance of legions of princesses bedecked in taffeta and, quite possibly, the hosting of a three year old's birthday party in your backyard during the summer. And whichever of those Bible guys wrote it (John, right?), he rethought the content on the second draft and changed it up a bit. You know, trumpets, the beast and his number, four horsemen, zombies. To-MAY-to, to-MAH-to. If John was right, though, the end is neigh.

Mia's birthday was wonderful. We prodded her awake - so I could see her before I left for work - by singing and revealed to her the new playhouse Beth and I had built for her the previous evening. The reveal was in true Price Is Right fashion with the curtain and everything and she was thrilled. I'm not sure how or if Beth got her out of the thing during the day but I'm pretty sure the torrential rain storm which hit our area in the morning got her back inside for at least a few minutes. The house aside, though, the day was really owned by princesses.

I'm surrounded by Ariel, Belle, Aurora, Snow White, Jasmine and Cinderella. Yesterday Mia ate breakfast (donuts) on her new princess placement, donned a Cinderella dress and glass slippers and, thanks to the magic of Disney, Cinderella even called Mia last night to wish her a happy birthday. I think Mia almost passed out. I'm only moderately horrified. I mean, the way Disney portrays princesses doesn't exactly make them look like rocket scientists. They're weepy, fall in love at the drop of a hat and climb on any random sheik's - uh-herm - magic carpet. It's like their entire celluloid existences are geared entirely towards landing a prince. And that's not right.

In spite of bad stereotypes and near-lethal amounts of sugar, Mia's birthday was a gigantic success. Just keep your fingers crossed that we have the same luck on Saturday...when friends, family and kids descend upon our house for the party. Send good vibes. And if you don't hear from me by Monday, send help.

What's the key to making it through a three year old's birthday party?

Posted by Chris at July 23, 2008 6:59 AM

Regardless of what you do, the kids will have a blast. I recommend numerous bottles of wine to dull the senses - princess may be beautiful but they are really loud!
Good luck, have a great time, and more importantly, congratulations on surviving the first 3 years.

Posted by: del at July 23, 2008 7:29 AM

The kids are going to have a great time, make sure you have plenty of wine to ensure you guys have a great time too! Remember that no matter how beautiful princesses are, they are really REALLY loud.
Good luck and congratulations of surviving the first 3 years!

Posted by: del at July 23, 2008 7:32 AM

hey....what do you mean Cinderella called????? i have a girl who would drop if she got a bday call like that. is it a service of some sort?? TELL ME!!!

Posted by: madmom at July 23, 2008 7:35 AM

You built that in an evening? You both are far too talented for your own good ;) Sounds like the birthday girl was properly feted. :)

Posted by: suze at July 23, 2008 8:08 AM

I tend to hide in the kitchen while my mom and sister-in-law play hostess for me :-) It also helps to drink a beer or three at the same time!

Posted by: Alissa at July 23, 2008 8:09 AM

From memory of my siblings 3rd birthdays the way through is to not have too many expectations apart from expecting the birthday child to have some kind of meltdown. Enough toys out in the garden should mean it's a great day though!

Posted by: Katherine at July 23, 2008 8:10 AM

remember that she won't remember any of it by the time she turns 16, and by then the reveal of a huge playhouse just leads to the fact that now she needs a car. yay! And if you do get her a car, she will of course still hate you- because, well, that's what they do. Good news is thats only 13 years away :)

Posted by: shannon at July 23, 2008 8:14 AM

Grey Goose. Olives. Ice.

Posted by: dawn at July 23, 2008 8:29 AM

What's the key to making it through a three year old's birthday party?

Lots of alcohol, LOTS!

Posted by: Jeff A at July 23, 2008 8:45 AM

I'm not sure, but I'm willing to bet the key to surviving involves lots and lots of beer. And sugar.

Also, don't sweat the princess thing too much. When I was little, my favorite movie was Cinderella, and I adored reading the book. Despite this, I spent my teenage years dressing like a wannabe skateboarding......well, boy, kinda. I mean not really, but it was pretty much the opposite of Cinderella. And I was a bit of a prude. And I completely forgot about the Cinderella bit until my Mom reminded me a few years ago. (Possibly in response to me telling her that I was never one of those girls that was obsessed with princess-y things and dreamed about her wedding since she was a little girl....)
I'm not sure exactly what the draw is to the princess scene, but as a little girl, I certainly didn't fully understand the social implications therein.

So, don't worry too much. As long as she's got a good heart and good role models, she'll be fine.

Posted by: Caitlin at July 23, 2008 8:45 AM

The key to surviving is take some deep breaths, try to keep crowd control during the opening of the gifts (all those 3yos want THEIR present opened first and will grab and shove them at the birthday girl), but overall just let them enjoy it.
My son at that age was Batman 24/7: the mansion, the car, the characters, the outfit which he wore 365 days a year along with the little yellow rain boots that REALLY made the outfit. Wahh! he turned 18 last week!

Posted by: NancyJak at July 23, 2008 8:47 AM

Hiding in her new playhouse.

Posted by: Gwen at July 23, 2008 8:48 AM


Posted by: cassandra at July 23, 2008 8:56 AM

Well you already got the obvious answer to survival (alcohol). Just enjoy the ride. She will never be 3 again. Run around like a mad mand playing tag, grab some waterguns and get a mass game of princess water gun tag going on, host a princess smore party a the new manor, have someone take lots of pics, and enjoy the day.

And, seriously, is there a Cinderella calling service??

Posted by: varinia at July 23, 2008 9:08 AM

Actually, my kid's 3 year bday party is on her bday on Sunday - but it's going to be lowkey: family and a cake that looks like a pig (the girl loves her some piggies). But for my oldest daughter, three was a lowkey party as well. It was the last of those parties before the kind where she started inviting friends and I had to come up with games. I figure at this point, too many people and too much activity would just be chaotic, and so while my daughter will groove on the mellow of the day, I'm gonna take it. (Especially since I have to make a pig-shaped cake).

Posted by: Sarah at July 23, 2008 9:20 AM

Ah, I love throwing a party so for me the whole little kid thing is SO much fun! I guess just roll with it. Two hours of play time (inside or out depending on the weather - the pool or a rented bounce house has seemed to be the key for summer parties the past two years), lots of food (lunch or dinner depending on when the party happens), presents, cake, and gift bags for the other kiddos and then it is over. Two hours goes by FAST when there are 3-5 three year olds running around your house! Also, sit back with your camera and enjoy every moment of it!!!

Posted by: Christina at July 23, 2008 9:25 AM

Go with the flow, my man. Ride the tide. Embrace the mess, be-damned the bedtime, but limit the amount of cake. :)

Happy b-day Mia. Your house rocks.

Posted by: Brad at July 23, 2008 9:30 AM

And some good guacamole.

Don't sweat the princess thing. It's about 99 percent inevitable, and none of the little girls in my acquaintance that have gone through a princess phase have gone on to say "Gee, I think I will just sit here and swoon and wait for some prince to come save me."

Generally, the just move on to Polly Pockets or Littlest Pet Shop.

Princesses are fine. It's those damn Bratz that are really evil.

Posted by: Traci at July 23, 2008 9:34 AM

To get through a kid's birthday party just be a kid yourself!

I chuckle at how well you know the princesses' names:).

Posted by: Amber at July 23, 2008 9:45 AM

Probably a nap. For everyone. Have fun!

Posted by: Heather at July 23, 2008 9:46 AM

Surviving? Alcohol.

Princess? Don't know, I had boys, but be prepared for Owen to have toy guns, and don't sweat it. No matter how hard you may or may not try to prevent it, he will have guns because he will make guns out of ANYTHING. Legos, tinker toys, toilet paper cardboard, sticks of wood....

It COULD be worse than aspiring to be a princess. When my sister-in-law was 3, she wanted to be a Playboy Bunny.

Posted by: Peggi at July 23, 2008 9:47 AM

Beer, that's the key...unless you're into Valium, then that's the key.

Summer is 3 and is all into the princesses (if I have to watch the Disney Princess Sing-A-Long on.more.time I'm going to bibbity bobbity PUKE!)so I feel your pain. Oh, and duuuude, you forgot Sleeping Beauty!

Posted by: Mymilabean at July 23, 2008 10:05 AM

I believe the key is reliving childhood and playing all the party games too! and hanging out inside that awesome playhouse. With adult drinks.

Posted by: diane at July 23, 2008 10:06 AM

What a birthday!

I believe in mass consumption of beverages. Good luck mom and dad!

Posted by: crookedeyebrow at July 23, 2008 10:10 AM

Happy Birthday Mia! I love your birthday present!

Good luck with the party. I hope the weather holds for you. We had a very large picnic this year and invested in one of those canopies for just such occasions. We have just offered to lend it out for the third time since June.

Have a great day!!

Posted by: cassie-b at July 23, 2008 10:11 AM


and Mia is going to lobe the present I got her. You, not so much.

Posted by: jodifur at July 23, 2008 10:19 AM

I think the key is to become, if only for the duration of the party, a three year old yourself.

Then you can get back to reality. I also like the "get some wine" comments. ;-)

Posted by: Mike at July 23, 2008 10:28 AM

The keys are, 1) beer for after, 2) don't sweat the small stuff, 3) it's all small stuff. Put up anything that if broken would be a tragedy and leave the picture perfect worries to people like Martha Stewart. Kids only care that there is sugar, friends and family. They are so wise.

Posted by: OS at July 23, 2008 10:54 AM

Rest easy -- the party will be a blast. My newly-3-year-old twins had their big birthday bash last month. It was kind of last minute, and we had waaaay more guests than I expected. The only activity I managed to scrape together was a bunch of jars of Miracle Bubbles. The kids had a blast. They're so easy to entertain at this age, especially when surrounded by their friends. Congrats to Mia and her parents on the first three years!

Posted by: Kelly at July 23, 2008 10:57 AM

Liquor, and lot's of it (for you, not the kids).

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at July 23, 2008 11:04 AM

The bright side to the Princess explosion is that at least it wasn't Bratz. The Princesses know how to keep their clothes on. :-)

You'll know the end is near when someone gives Mia a bedazzler.

Perhaps a few beers would help.

Posted by: Maria at July 23, 2008 11:18 AM

Tylenol, Advil, you choose but in advance!

Posted by: Lesley at July 23, 2008 11:30 AM

Lots of patience and a sense of humor!!! Good luck!

Posted by: sarah at July 23, 2008 11:33 AM

Lots of patience and a sense of humor!!! Good luck!

Posted by: sarah at July 23, 2008 11:34 AM

As another poster pointed out...at least the princesses have some moral compass, even if they do swoon for every man that walks by with a title. And, there are worse things in life than being a princess.

Posted by: Krush at July 23, 2008 11:41 AM

Popsicles, suckers and cupcakes. And trinkets, and balloons!

And beer.

LOVE the playhouse!

Posted by: sunshine at July 23, 2008 11:44 AM

Cake, ice cream and a cold beer.

Posted by: Maribeth at July 23, 2008 11:44 AM

Dang. Cinderella never called me... Although I did get a return letter from Santa once.

Posted by: GreenCanary at July 23, 2008 12:06 PM

How to get through a 3 yr old's birthday party:

1. Tylenol (for you, pre-party)

2. Keeping the minions busy

3. The realization that you can send them all home afterwards

4. A cold beer and a nap afterwards (okay, I don't do beer, but I think you do. The worst I do is coffee)

Just go with the flow. My favorite parties were when Jake was 3-7, pretty soon the kids get too old and their friends aren't nearly as cute.

Posted by: Scattered Mom at July 23, 2008 12:16 PM

Vodka. Yup, and a sense of childlike wonder allowing you to play princess games with all the little guests. But mostly the vodka.

And I'd have to disagree with you on a couple of the princesses. Belle was pretty proactive. She took the Beast on as a literacy coach. She escaped from the cellar of her house to return to the castle and save the Beast from Gaston. And Mulan (who appears with the others on one of my girls' Disney Princess jigsaw puzzles, so she must be a princess) disguised herself as a boy and ran off to join the army. Not all princesses are bad role models.

Posted by: alison at July 23, 2008 12:29 PM

If the party is outside and it is a nice day, that is more then half the battle won. Inside kid parties are never good. Just have the adults agree to help supervise so no one gets too injured during the birthday madness. Smile and take a lot of pictures.

Posted by: Peggy at July 23, 2008 1:29 PM

Aw, you guys are just the best parents... would you look at that house? Holy cow, completely awesome.

As for the party this weekend, I vote for some deliciously strong adult beverages. Good luck! And Happy Birthday to Mia!

Posted by: Erin at July 23, 2008 1:44 PM

hey...at least it's not Bratz ;)
(or Miley Cyrus...like my daughter likes)

Posted by: ali at July 23, 2008 1:48 PM

The key to making it through your 3 year old's birthday party....and many more to come...is to remind yourself while the chaos is going on that one day some less than desirable (becasue seriously....what man will ever be better for Mia than you?) boy will show up with a car and ill fitting clothing to take her out on a date. Everything prior to that event...is cake! Yes...like Birthday cake..

Posted by: Kristy at July 23, 2008 1:52 PM

I remember, more than three years ago, apparently, stumbling on this strange Cactus blog. I was immediately entranced (almost more by the witty writing than by the quirky pictures). I read, daily, both of your websites and followed along for Mia's first year. Then, as happens, I drifted off to other blogs and began a busy career.

Today I stumbled back to your blog due to a bit of goofing off during work (which I do entirely too much of) to see that Mia is THREE! And you have a son too! Holy crap!

Mia is beautiful, Owen is gorgeous, and once again Chris, you made me giggle. Thank you - and congratulations!

Posted by: Randi at July 23, 2008 2:39 PM

I imagine that having a house/yard full of three year olds will be something akin to the locusts descending. It looks like she's quite the happy little princess though. :)

Posted by: Kate at July 23, 2008 3:31 PM


Failing that, sunny weather, plenty of space, and cake. Oh, and balloons :)

Posted by: mamacrow at July 23, 2008 4:00 PM

Sometimes I think hearing you be uncomfortable with the Princess thing refreshes my heart - because so many of the guys I know are sexist assholes without even realizing it. (Because they grew up in the wonderfully misogynistic environment of the church. Woo!) Anyway, so thanks for not being a sexist jerk and in fact being quite the opposite, whatever that is called.
Good luck with the birthday party :)

Posted by: Heather at July 23, 2008 5:54 PM

Although, I just had to add, to be contrary - that Jasmine doesn't fall for the first guy who comes a'courtin and in fact rejects all the self-important jerks before she meets Aladdin - and she doesn't let him get away with much either heh. (She's one of my more favourite princesses.)
Yeah, I love Disney movies, even though they're so bad sometimes. I'm very contradictory. :P

Posted by: Heather at July 23, 2008 5:57 PM

uh, ear plugs and beer? no seriously, just smile and savor it. It goes by too fast.

That is seriously the sweetest play house I've ever seen. Where on Earth did you find that?

Posted by: Deconstructing Jen at July 23, 2008 6:19 PM

She is gorgeous. You guys make parenting look so easy!

Posted by: Amanda at July 23, 2008 7:26 PM

My son will be 15 next month, and 3 is STILL my favorite age.

Posted by: kalisa at July 23, 2008 8:26 PM

Wait... you mean.... princesses DON'T like banana yogurt???

Happy birthday Mia!!!

Posted by: jess at July 23, 2008 9:38 PM

Happy birthday to Mia (sorry I think I forgot yesterday.)

The key to survival? Copious quantities of beer.

Posted by: Nat at July 23, 2008 10:28 PM

The key is alcohol, lots nad lots of alcohol. Which is why we always throw a cinco de mayo birthday party, complete with margaritas.

Posted by: Annie at July 23, 2008 10:40 PM

Deep and even breathing. That will help you supress the urge to lecture all those princess clad little girls on the folly of lying around, listlessly waiting for their princes to come. That and lots of beer and wine for the grownups. Works for us.

Posted by: numbmum at July 24, 2008 9:49 AM

Deep and even breathing. That will help you suppress the urge to lecture all those little princesses on the folly of listlessly lying around waiting for their princes to come. That and plenty of beer and wine for the grownups. Works for us.

Posted by: numbmum at July 24, 2008 9:51 AM

Happy Birthday Mia! Enjoy your princesses.

I've found the key to surviving any child's birthday party is to impose strict time limits. That's the upside of places like Pump It Up, you have a window and then everyone has to leave.

Posted by: the weirdgirl at July 24, 2008 12:00 PM

All I can tell you is that I've been through 2 of these pink princess apocolypses, and here we are still standing. Just breathe. But be careful not to inhale the taffeta.

Posted by: michellew at July 25, 2008 8:04 AM

a purchase of these is in order for my favorite birthday princess... http://www.amazon.com/Fred-Princess-Star-Shaped-Cube-Straws/dp/B0015MPDXG/ref=sr_1_22?ie=UTF8&s=kitchen&qid=1217003351&sr=1-22
I get to give them to her though... mkay :)

Posted by: stinkerbell at July 25, 2008 12:39 PM

The princesses will pass... to be replaced by Hannah Montana, High School Musical and the Suite Life of Zack & Cody. Soon she'll forego dressing like Cinderella to gaze dreamily at her Zac Effron poster and tell you about their wedding.

Posted by: Stacy at July 25, 2008 2:39 PM

The princesses will pass... to be replaced by Hannah Montana, High School Musical and the Suite Life of Zack & Cody. Soon she'll forego dressing like Cinderella to gaze dreamily at her Zac Effron poster and tell you about their wedding.

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