Motherhood

Toby’s 6th Birthday Party

Toby's birthday party

Toby's costume

On Saturday, we threw a birthday picnic for Toby. It’s crazy, he’s still a newborn baby at heart, but somehow he has transformed into a long and lanky six-year-old! Here are a few photos, if you’d like to see…

Battery Park City meadow

We invited friends to the meadow in Battery Park City, where we’ve had Toby’s first, second, third, fourth and fifth birthday parties. (All the picnics have been under the same tree!) He has grown so much through the years, it’s so crazy to compare the photos.

Hugo and Leo

We all hung out…

toby_birthday_dyptich_2

Played with hula hoops…

Big gold balloon

And the big gold balloon

Julian Cailin

And kicked balls around. (I love how my friend Cailin and her son have the same body language here. So cute:)

Joanna Goddard and Alex Williams

We ordered pizzas for everyone, and Alex, true to form, made spiked orange juice for the adults.

Toby's party

toby_birthday_dyptich_1

Toby's party

After running around for a couple happy hours, it was time for cake!

Toby-is-6--150

Toby always asks for a donut cake, and my mom knocked it out of the park with this beautiful tower! She attached the donut holes with toothpicks to a foam cone. So cool, right?

Donut cake

Toby was thrilled. Oh, that little face. (By the way, Toby is totally into Rescue Bots these days, so when our friend gave him a costume, he immediately put it on and wore for the whole party!)

Toby and Joanna

“If you knew how great is a mother’s love, you would have no fear.” — Peter Pan.

six-number-balloon-gold

Thank you so much to everyone for such a great afternoon. It’s astonishing how quickly time flies, but it has been such a wonderful six years, and we’re so grateful to have this little boy in our lives. xoxo

P.S. Gold birthday candles, and slamdunk birthday presents for kids of all ages.

(Photos by our lovely friend Ana Schechter. Thank you, Ana!)

  1. Michelle says...

    This is so amazing Joanna, and thank you for the parachute inspiration! We love relaxed parties like this, and I want to do something similar for my daughter… I was wondering, how many people are usually there (adults / children)? We want to invite all our friends and family but I’m worried that 50 people will be a bit much for my 3 year old! Does Toby choose the guest list? Or do you guys guide him / invite family friends?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thanks for your note! we usually invite about 20 family friends who he has known forever. toby loves a crowd and feels in his element surrounded by people. anton, on the other hand, gets overwhelmed in a huge crowd and doesn’t love being the center of attention, so we have a much smaller party for him — either 2-3 of his friends or just a relative visiting (like my dad) and doing anton’s favorite activities for a day. to each his own for sure! :)

  2. Toby is 6!? Omg, I think I might have been reading your blog for like what, 10 years maybe? How is that possible! I’ve been following you since you used to write for Smitten and still remember when you told us about Alex. This is so crazy! I don’t think I’ve ever commented here before but just know this Joanna, I love everything you write about and I feel like I know you personally. I wish all of your family all the best <3 May these boys grow up happy and filled with joy!!! Huge kisses for all of you from Brazil xxx

  3. 6?! happy belated birthday, toby! love the idea of having a casual but fun-filled birthday at the park. so relaxing and easy-going!

    hammyta.wordpress.com

  4. Jo says...

    What a wonderful party you gave him ! I have happy tears in my eyes as I look forward to my sons 5th next month x

  5. Laura C says...

    I’m a bit late, I know!
    Currently loving: Toby’s face when he is blowing the candle, Anton’s gorgeous lips, Toby’s incredible blue eyes, Anton without diapers (yes!!), Alex and Jo, the happy Granpa, Anton in general.
    xoxo

  6. Wow, I can’t believe how big Toby and Anton are getting! It’s been a while since I’ve read this blog and I was wondering how the boys were doing so I decided to stop by :) That donut hole cake is really cute… actually, my friend and I did the same thing to make a trial run of a croquembouche (without all the work lol).

  7. Oh, that sweet Peter Pan quote! Tears! I am having a party for my two daughters 7th and 5th birthday this weekend (their birthdays are 3 weeks apart, and we combine the parties into one and they LOVE it!), and this got me all teary. The time just goes by too fast.

  8. Awww amazing! My son is going to be 6 (June 19) soon too and this made me so emotional! Where have the time gone???

  9. Lisa says...

    So so sweet. I love the donut cake idea. My son doesn’t like cake so I need to do something just for him this year…as I always feel pressure to do the cake thing. I am always wishing you and your family well.

  10. L C says...

    Could you please ask Cailin where she got her sweater? It looks great!

  11. Kate says...

    Love that costume!!

  12. Erin says...

    Oh thump thump my heart. Yay for your lovely boy! I can’t believe he’s 6 already!!

  13. Trish says...

    Happy, happy birthday, Toby! :)

    Thank you so much for sharing the photos, Joanna…they’re beautiful. We readers are very lucky to have been allowed to watch him (and Anton) grow from babies into these sweet, smart little boys.

  14. Jackie says...

    Oh this is the cutest and just makes me want to cry. I can’t imagine my little 2 year old at 6!

  15. Irina says...

    Happy Birthday Toby….it’s been lovely to read all his birthday post throughout the years.

    Also, where is your shirt from? It looks great!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you!! it’s ace & jig from last year. xoxo

  16. Susan says...

    That Peter Pan quote brought a tear to my eye. What a gorgeous day for you all. My boy turns 6 in September and I can’t wait!!

  17. Anne says...

    So beautiful picture of you and Toby
    It says all about mother love…

  18. Roxana says...

    I’m a long- time reader and your blog is one of my favorite spaces on the internet. I love your boys – how precious Toby looks! But the reason I am commenting, is that little baby Antoni face, peeking from behind your head (in the picture with the cake) – kills me. Happy birthday, Toby. Have a wonder- filled year ahead.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahahahahaha! so funny that you noticed that! i kept asking him to come over by me, he wanted to sit on that funny lamp post! no idea why. :)

  19. Happy Birthday Toby! He seems like such a sweet soul, glad it was such a fun day. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Love the fact that your mamma made the cake and that you’ve had the party in the same place :-)

  21. Prudence Marule says...

    aww we haven’t had a Toby birthday in a while! hes looks so much like Alex!! Happy birthday to him!.

  22. Rashidah says...

    So wonderful!. Happy Birthday Toby. May all you dreams come true.

  23. molly says...

    Golly, that black + white photo of you + Toby is absolutely BREATHTAKING. So super beautiful. And the Peter Pan quote!! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Happy happy birthday to your darling boy! xoxo

  24. Dilah says...

    Eep. Has it been 6 years? Feels like I was reading about his first birthday just last week! Happy birthday Toby. He’s grown up to be a such a dapper little man. x

  25. kaylie says...

    Happy birthday, Toby! And wonderful pics, Joanna! The Peter Pan quote made me tear up :'(

    But this really reminded me of how time flies. I’ve been reading your blog since your engagement and I can’t believe it’s been more than 6 years! Your blog has always been a source of joy, comfort and all things beautiful to me.

  26. I adore your little family Joanna. Sending hugs to Toby from downunder!

  27. Wish we could’ve been there! Lovely, as always. Happy birthday, Toby <3

  28. RF says...

    Happy birthday, Toby! He’s grown so much! Started reading your blog when he was just a teeny-tiny baby. :) Super love cities where kid’s parties are easily set up in a Park, you guys are so lucky! From where I am at (Manila, Philippines), it’s nearly impossible to do that unless in exclusive / privately-owned parks.

  29. Amy says...

    That Peter Pan quote, along with the photo of you and Toby – beautiful!

  30. Sarah says...

    Oh my goodness — the Peter Pan quote… beautiful! So true! It made me cry!

    Happy Birthday Toby!

    (and gosh… I can’t believe I’ve been reading COJ for so long!)

  31. Joanna this is so magical — echo the above — I love this idea but would always worry about rain. You make me want to cast that notion aside. Happy Birthday Toby!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we’re lucky to have his birthday at the end of may when it’s not as rainy as early spring. but we have definitely worried before! one year, there were some light sprinkles and i emailed all our friends an hour before the party and jokingly said, “DONT BE WUSSES!!! SEE YOU THERE!!!” and everybody came, i couldn’t believe it!

  32. This made me tear up. What a lovely party and sentiments.

    May I ask where yor jeans are from? Such a gorgeous blue!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much! they’re from madewell.

  33. It looks like you guys had a wonderful day. Happy birthday, Toby! 🎈

  34. Jessie says...

    This is amazing. I want to do something like this for my daughters. Does Toby ever want to have his birthday at places? How do you steer away and back to something easy and simple like friends at a park? All of our friends do birthday parties at an art studio, a pool, or a moon bounce?

    • Jen WT says...

      I also like that Joanna keeps it chill every year. I got lucky and most of my friends did this. BUT even if they don’t it is ok if you do. Nobody says you have to have a big splash. Would you look down on someone for having a simple party for their kids? I hope not. I personally have never given out goody bags. I think plastic crap is a waste of our planet’s resources and I think a party is enough. sometimes the kids ask about it but no one has ever said boo to me. You be you! other parent will thank you! Sometimes it is more work, though, especially if you are not outside.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thanks for your note, jessie! toby loves rituals and actually begs to have his birthday at this same park. ever since we moved to brooklyn two years ago, i’ve been trying to convince him to have the party at one of the parks near our house. but he loves this park and always wants to go back to the same tree. :) so we do!

      every year, through the different ages, the kids have loved this very basic grassy area with a couple small things like rocket balloons and hula hoops. sometimes we bring a parachute, which is fun (you can just order them on amazon or wherever). i’m always surprised how much they just run in circles and chit chat, etc. we hang out for HOURS and it’s just so sweet and relaxed. i think your daughters will end up loving it. :)

  35. Liz Lopez says...

    This is so sweet! My in-laws live in the apartments right on N End Ave across the street :) Love this!

  36. Cousa says...

    I love how simple yet so much fun this birthday party is!

    My friends who have babies are crazy with parties and celebrations, I often find them stressed out or panicked about decorations and huge cakes, or how their guests should wear a specific color and stuff like that…It kills the mood for me. Birthdays should be all about fun, play and chat, not about weeks of planning and spending a lot of money on the stuff you’re gonna hang on the wall just once. Detailed parties are very pretty to look at on Pinterest, but in real life kids and their moms rarely have fun. Then again, that’s just my observation.

    I love Toby’s donut tower! I don’t have children and I don’t plan having one one day, but I would love to have a birthday for my dog just like this one :) Meeting in a park, having lots of treats and toys, spending time with friends. And a jerky tower, maybe? That would be perfect!

    • Ellen says...

      I totally agree. My mother was a single parent to 4 of us and was wonderful at making beautiful birthday cakes (Pingu Igloo! Campervan! Tractor pulled by draught horses!) but she didn’t always have the time. In any case, she always maintained that the kids were just as happy with a chocolate cake covered with Smarties or M&M’s. And they’re certainly not noticing whether the bunting matches the paper plates :)

    • Cousa says...

      Your mother sounds like an amazing woman, Ellen :) You were one luck child! Actually I’m very happy that my mother, seems like your too, didn’t stress about the details and just focused on all of our happiness. I appreciated it when I was a kid, I still appreciate it now.

  37. Oh my! I’ve experienced all 6 of these sweet birthdays for Toby through your website. It’s been a joy, thank you! Happy Birthday Toby & yes, Alex – va va voom! ;)

  38. Always love seeing and reading about the kids parties.

  39. Elizabeth Monaco says...

    Dear Joanne, I love your blog. Just want to give you a piece of advice which I think you really don’t need. Enjoy every nano second of your beautiful boys. I have two beautiful men, ages 21, and 19. And I stop and look at the pictures I have of them and it’s shocking how time has flown by. I see your posts and to me that was my life yesterday. Cherish them. Congratulations on your beautiful family and great blog.

  40. Rhonda says...

    I love this. It just goes to show how wonderful a simple birthday party can be. I became a little overwhelmed planning a ‘Pinterest-worthy’ party for my one year old. I spent hours and in the end I didn’t even enjoy it (nor did I feel it was Pinterest-worthy at all). Next time it will be under the trees just like this one xx

  41. Lana says...

    HBD Toby! My daughter’s turning 6 on the 31st. She lost her first tooth last week and as I pulled it out from u see her pillow and replaced it with a milky, white (magical! Fairy!) moonstone I burst into tears. It’s bittersweet watching their baby/chub melt away. Joanna, do you hire someone to take photos during parties? You always get the loveliest shots!

  42. Klara says...

    The black & white picture of you two is so beautiful!!

  43. Danielle says...

    I love this! Is it weird that I kind of want my wedding/reception to be like this.

  44. Whitney says...

    “…but now I am six, I’m as clever as clever. So I think I’ll be six now forever and ever.” — A.A. Milne, Now We Are Six

    Perhaps he needs a book of poetry to impress his imaginary wife? :)

  45. Toby looks so happy! What a magical celebration!

    I always admire your chill approach to the boys birthday parties. I admittedly get a little jealous or feel guilty when I see photos of kids parties that are insane, but once I look back at Luna’s face her joy says it all. Chill parties are the way to go in my book!

    Xo Lendy
    http://www.twoplusluna.com

  46. Laura says...

    About how many donuts are needed for the cake? My son is in love with it.

  47. Lara says...

    That B&W picture of you two deserves to be framed! So beautiful :)
    I love the tradition of having the party under the same tree!

  48. Kate says...

    Happy Birthday, Toby! It’s been so fun to see your guys grow up over the years. Thank you for sharing your lovely family, Joanna!

  49. Katie W says...

    Whooooaaa, hot dad alert! Looking good, Alex. ;) Also, that black and white photo of you and Toby is the sweetest! That’s a framer, for sure <3

  50. Sarah H says...

    Happy Birthday, Toby! Such sweet memories, love how you do it at the same place every year. And there is nothing cuter than baby toes in saltwaters!

  51. Happy birthday Toby! Makes me realise how long I have been reading this great blog :) Keep on keeping on, Joanna!

  52. Madie says...

    That Peter Pan quote (together w/ the beautiful photo of you & Toby) made me burst into tears! (How very unlike me!) Mama love is fierce!

    • Aya says...

      Me too!!

    • Aya says...

      That sweet, fierce love just hit me right in the heart!

    • Sophie says...

      I am feeling the same!

    • Karla says...

      So agree. After a rough night with my 9 month old, I needed that reminder. So, so sweet.

  53. diya says...

    What a lovely celebration for a lovely boy and family! Wee Anton caught my eye in the picture with Toby about to blow out the candle — did Anton put himself in a timeout :)?

  54. Samantha says...

    I still can’t believe Toby is 6. I’m 22 and started reading this blog before you started dating Alex, so I was probably wearing diapers or something lol. It’s crazy how time passes so fast when you look at other people’s lives. Anyhow… Happy happy birthday Toby!

    • Alexandra Katsarelis says...

      Same here! I’m also 22 and have been reading this blog since 8th grade. It definitely makes me realize how much time has passed in my own life. Happy birthday Toby!

    • Claire says...

      Same here – I started reading back in the Smitten days pre-Alex and it’s crazy to think how fast the years have flown by!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      You guys are so sweet! I am touched :)

  55. Happy Birthday, sweet Toby! As a longtime reader, it’s so much fun watching your little men grow up!

  56. j says...

    Lovely photos. You can’t beat a park party. No fuss just fun.
    Thanks for sharing
    J

  57. Golly, hasn’t his face changed recently? It’s really thinned out, he looks so grown up!! Waaaahh!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes totally! he’s not a chubby toddler anymore!

  58. Christina says...

    Alex is looking hot these days!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha i’ll let him know! :)

  59. Theresa says...

    Happy 6th Birthday, Toby! Such a sweet party and love the donut cake. I think I’m requested one for my 44th this year! :)

  60. What a beautiful day! Happy Birthday, Toby! Thank you for sharing.

  61. Toby looks so grown up and Anton so serious!

  62. Yay, happy birthday Toby! I love that quote from Peter Pan :)

  63. Happy bday Toby! I just love the idea of having such birthday traditions of having picnics in the same spot year after year. Really want to do that with future kids! And adore the bodylanguage photo, my boyfriend and his little nephew have that also, it is so so sweet!

  64. Claire says...

    You look so beautiful! Can I ask what lip color you’re wearing?

  65. I just found out I’m expecting baby number three and that Peter Pan quote has me weeping in my office. SO sweet.

    Happy Birthday, Toby!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      congratulations, mel! how exciting. hope you’re feeling well! xoxoxoxo

    • arielle says...

      I’m 31 weeks pregnant with my first sobbing after reading that quote. :)

  66. Fatima says...

    6 already! where did the time go? seems like yesterday when he was born!
    Happy birthday Tobi and i love love the black and white picture of the two of you!

  67. My goodness! Happy birthday to the big boy! My 4 year old loves rescue bots!
    I love the idea of a park party!

  68. That Peter Pan quote! immediately brought tears to my eyes, I’ve never heard it before

    • Patricia says...

      Me too! Just the sweetest and so true.

  69. jill c says...

    this is the sweetest! having followed your blog for years now i love seeing these photos of Toby’s birthday(s). I love the photo of you hugging Toby while holding on to the donut tower….such sweet moments. and Happy Birthday Toby!

  70. leathermansgal says...

    The black and white photo of you and Toby is motherhood embodied. I felt the love all the way over here on the West Coast. Happy birthday, sweet Toby!

  71. I want your mom to make my birthday cake for me too. March 23. Since we missed it, she can make the cake for my kitten who will be a year old in June.
    Thanks ever so ….. lol

  72. Alyson says...

    happiest birthday Toby!!! our babies are all grown up. it’s mind blowing, isn’t it? (also – we’re ace&jig top twins. ;) xx

  73. Happy Birthday Toby!! I love this year’s donut cake!

    <3
    heather
    fashionistanygirl.com

  74. Brittany says...

    Joanna – Spring looks so good on you! You’re seriously glowing and radiant. Whatever you’re doin mama, keep it up. Oh and happy birthday Toby!

  75. Jo says...

    The donut cake is such a cute idea. Happy Belated to Toby!

  76. Looks lovely! I think that parties in the park are perfect for any age…such a great idea.

  77. Cynthia says...

    I’m glad you had decent weather for the party, and it looks like everyone had a great time! We always had our girls’ birthday parties at home, and they were a lot of fun, because we kept it simple and everyone had a good time. It takes very little to make children happy. The donut hole cake is a great idea, particularly for an outdoor party!

  78. Ana says...

    Happy birthday Toby.
    I still remember the time you were born and I also freaked out a bit: “What do you mean, Toby is 6? 6???” :))))
    What a lovely party.

  79. Ana says...

    Congrats Joana! And happy birthday to Toby… hard to imagine he is already 6! You all look very happy… made me all teary imagining the feelings. Oh, pregnancy hormones!

  80. Johanna says...

    How is this child SIX already? Insane. Happy Birthday Toby!!!

  81. Aaaaww and Anton has gotten so big by now!

    Happy birthday to Toby and happy birthday to the proud parents as well :)

  82. Rachel says...

    Such a great way to throw a party! I would love to know how you invite your guests – evite? Text? Adorable invitations? I’d also love to know the kind of language you use so that the laid-back, low-key vibe is communicated. Thank you!! xoxo Rachel

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we just email a save-the-date a few weeks before and then email an invitation the week before — and i put all the basic info and say “bring a blanket if you’d like” and attach a photo of toby! :)

  83. Such a beautiful little boy. And that black&white picture brought tears to my eyes…

  84. Bets says...

    The photo of Toby hugging you while you hold his cake is so beautiful it made me tear up. Happy 6th birthday, Toby. What a wonderful party!

    • OMG, I was about to write this EXACT SAME THING. Seriously, combined with the Peter Pan quote…. Mascara alert!

    • Joanna says...

      Agree with you both. Beautiful and I also welled up… Happy birthday to gorgeous Toby!

  85. Katie H. says...

    What wonderful pictures! It looks like it was the perfect party!

  86. Jenna says...

    Your Toby birthday pics and post always make me cry! I have a son a few months younger than Toby and I have loved watching Toby grow up a little before him. Happy 6!!

  87. Nina says...

    Happy happy birthday Toby! I love how you have such a nice, laid back tradition of fun to celebrate your boy!

  88. Amy says...

    The love between you and Toby is so sweet and obvious. Happy 6th birthday Toby!

  89. Sarap says...

    What a sweet party. Love the cake! May I ask where your top is from?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you! it is Ace & Jig from a few years ago.

  90. Karen T. says...

    Be still my heart! When did his sweet little face grow up into such a big kid!?!?!? I still remember when he was born!

  91. Jillian G says...

    I’m about to become a mom and that picture of you hugging Toby is everything. (and of course love the Peter Pan quote)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      congratulations, jillian!!

    • Mallory says...

      I’m 34 weeks preggo with our second and this photo and quote totally made me choke up!

  92. It’s fun seeing Toby grow up! I enjoy your blog, but it’s these times of posts that make you one of my favorites. You’re a real person with a real life….and the fact that you’re all living in NYC doesn’t hurt at all. Happy Birthday, Toby!

  93. Tina, nyc says...

    Just wonderful! Happy birthday Toby!! What a joy!!!

  94. liz says...

    That boy is destined to be a heartbreaker!

  95. BDubs says...

    Oh, so happy! Love these photos of your boys <3

  96. Kerry says...

    So, that cute little kid in the overalls, dangling from dad’s arms? Yeah, we have the same sandals. I’m 43.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha that’s awesome!

  97. Lauren says...

    Happy birthday, Toby! We also had our daughter Pearl’s 3rd birthday this weekend – her backyard bounce house party with her 3 best friends got rained out so we brought it inside (a small fisher price one that magically squeezed into in our rec room) and the parents drank coffee and mimosas! I will be picking pink glitter out of crevices for years from those girls bouncing in their princess dress ups…a perfect rainy day party!

  98. Jennifer says...

    I had to stop myself from tearing up at work looking at that last photo. It’s just so lovely… Happy Birthday Toby!

  99. Happy Birthday Toby!! Aww! Looks so sweet, I love that you’ve had his party at the same spot each year, that’s so neat. And LOVING the doughnut cake, omg YUM!

    — Dara // http://www.peoniesandhoneybees.com

  100. Audra says...

    I agree with Katie ^
    This party is so simple and sweet! Toby looks thrilled :)

  101. Maywyn says...

    Happy Birthday Toby!

  102. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful memory! I love the idea of hosting a party in the same spot to compare year after year! And that photo of your friend and her son is just precious, so laid back an in sync :)

    xoxo http://www.touchofcurl.com

  103. Tricia S says...

    Joanna,

    I absolutely love the simplicity and tradition of Toby’s party. I throw similar parties for my daughters and love them so much more than an overpriced birthday venue around town that so many parents get wrapped up in. Such a beautiful party with beautiful memories for Toby. This post made me smile!

  104. Amy says...

    Awesome party. That’s how it should be… fresh air, pizza, your best buds and spiked drinks. Happy Bday kiddo.

  105. Jenny says...

    Lovely photos!! If you don’t mind me asking, where did you get your jeans? They look great on you!

  106. He looks so grown up! Beautiful photos, Joanna. Congrats on six years as a mama. xoxoxox

  107. Sam says...

    Happy birthday to Toby! I really like how laid back these parties in the park are. They’re personal and special, but not overblown like most kids parties these days (thanks Pinterest!). Great job creating a special tradition that’s not about the stuff!

  108. Happy 6th Birthday Toby!

  109. I love how low-key this birthday seems and everyone, especially the kids look like they enjoyed themselves! That’s the point, right? Nowadays people have these extravagant parties for kids, most likely to impress the adults, and, I don’t know, they’re kind of stuffy, big productions. I like big, dress up parties, but I think those are more for weddings, etc. and kid parties should be for kids, no frills. The pictures are lovely!