Birthdays are tough on three-year-olds, I warned my sister about it a little beforehand. I literally have not been to a toddler birthday party without seeing the child of honor break down at some point. There are just too many expectations, and they're too prone to tantrums anyway. Sure enough, Josie pitched a fit when I moved her presents because she would not wait until everyone was here to tear into the first one. Then her and her friends are always fighting, so there was lots of screaming, wrestling, throwing, head-bumping, complaining, whining. Okay, I'll admit, when they get together it's completely insane.
But since it was her birthday I didn't sweat too many small details, none of the kids ate the hamburgers or hotdogs we made, in fact they really didn't even eat cake either although they acted totally excited when we said it was cake time. At the end of the party, playing outside, they ate watermelon. That's a fruit. So I feel pretty good about how the party went, nutritionaly speaking.
Josie opened all her presents in about sixty seconds, just grabbing toys out of bags and putting them in a pile while we tried our best to slow her down with "WHO'S IT FROM? READ THE CARD!"
Baby Olive slept on various people's shoulders, like she does.
The worst freakout was at the end of the evening, I'd mentioned to Marc that I thought each birthday guest should take home a balloon and he was like "great idea! we don't want all these balloons here anyway!" Well Josie had been running around with the balloons in a giant bunch all evening and did not want to give any up and was CRUSHED. But Marc said we should stick to the plan, I was a little conflicted at this point, I don't know if it's good parenting to give in to a tantrum because it's her birthday, or wrestle two balloons away from a kid with a dozen balloons because sharing is nice? Either way I felt awful, Josie felt awful, the parents of the kids felt awful, and I know Josie will survive because she had TEN BALLOONS left and there are starving kids in china who get no balloons etc but holy crap.
Theory for next year: get balloons earlier in the day, so she's basically tired of them by the end, maybe? Or just skip sharing lessons on your birthday. The kids got party favor bags.
Anyway Josie got lots of new dress-up clothes from her friends, a bug house from her aunt, new crayons and chalk, and I bought her a squinkies aquarium playset which is totally not an "age 3" toy but it's so darn cute and hey, her and I had a BLAST with it in the evening when everyone had gone home. It's like a gumball machine, you put little "coins" in and it has these plastic easter-egg like bubbles with little tiny animals that are total choking hazards. When you get them all out, you put them back in the bubbles and repeat all the coin-op fun again. And it's sparkly and colorful.
When she was a baby I noticed that toys that way "age 3 and up" start to get to be a little cool. I can think of a hundred things I want to get her, totally indulging the nerd in me who just wants to play with toys, but I gotta ration things out a bit. It's sort of made me think back to my own childhood, we had some really awesome toys, like an entire precious places town with streets and characters that moved with magnets you'd run under the floors... I'm going to ask my parents if they didn't secretly just sort of want to own all that themselves. Of course we were asking for it, but there are things your kid asks for that you're like "lame". And there are other times, like a few months ago Josie was always finding stuffed animals in stores she wanted and we kept shutting her down, until one day she asked for a tiny chewbacca from Star Wars and Marc was like... "Yes. Yes you may have that." She probably sees no pattern. ha ha.