Toby’s 4th Birthday Party

This weekend we threw a picnic for Toby‘s fourth birthday. (It’s crazy how time flies!) Here are a few photos, below, if you’d like to see….

We got a few giant balloons, spread out a couple blankets and served pizza, plus juice boxes for the kiddos and (sneaky) mimosas for the grown-ups.

Antoni celebrated by drumming with a spoon and letting all the ladies squeeze his yummy biceps.

I can’t believe we’re parents of a four-year-old!

(Those little toes!!!)

Per Toby’s request, we served chocolate cupcakes and glazed donut holes. It was eight-year-old Ella’s idea to arrange them into a number four, which made them feel super festive! Thanks, Ella!

Toby had a shy, excited smile on his face as we lit the candles. That morning, he had assured me that he wasn’t going to be scared of the Happy Birthday song this year. “I am not going to cry, Mama,” he explained. “I am four.”

The candles took a while to light because of the strong wind…

…the suspense was palpable.

Finally Toby blew out the candles…

…and everyone dug in!

Then the kiddos played. One thing that always surprises me is how little kids need to have fun. They just ran around. For hours.

It was so sweet!

Plus, a few classic jokes…

…some naps in the grass…

…and at the very end, we brought out a parachute.

It was such a lovely day celebrating this little treasure.

That night, I had a momentary pang that he was growing up too quickly—four feels a little like the end of baby/toddlerhood, the beginning of the end. But then he asked if he could sleep with his new firetruck and taxi, and suddenly seemed so little again. Oh, Toby. He will always be my baby.

P.S. Toby’s birthday picnics when he turned one, two and three—as well as his birth story, which feels like a lifetime ago!

  1. Hi! Love the party ideas- did you need to get any type of permit/ permission? Thinking of doing this for my daughters bday next month when the grass is open

  2. Happy Birthday to Toby.. my eldest is turning four later this month and I know what you mean.. sometimes I see such a big boy.. and then there he is my little baby again..

  3. So nice to see Leigh in your photos. I still miss reading Marvellous Kiddo…hope she & her family are doing well.

  4. I like simple birthdays too. I looked back at the other bday celebrations and you’re wearing chambray or navy blues in each of them. I’m a navy loving girl too. :)

  5. Timeflies so quickly!,its ever since september 2013 i found this youre blog joanna,and toby is amazing children! hbd toby gbu…..from indonesian people :))

  6. And happiest birthday to your little man. The last bit broke my heart and filled it up at the same time :)
    Four is a great age. We’re there now and my old-soul-little-baby melts my heart every day.

  7. We looked in BPC last weekend! Husband loved it down there. I was freezing at night. We ate at Distillery. Highly recommend it – great for kids too. We were the only ones there at 9pm on a Sat night w kids, but it was a looooong day and we had to get them fed before bed. Try the duck and waffles – so good – and I’m from the south. ;-)

  8. big happy birthday to you Toby and well done Joanna and Alex for making such an awesome kid. my big boy tuned 7 |(!!!|) this year and it broke my heart a little. He still goes to bed with a bunch of softtoys though and Doggy the favourite still gets some big love when he is asleep. I dreading the end of “mummy’ and being called ‘mum’.

  9. big happy birthday to you Toby and well done Joanna and Alex for making such an awesome kid. my big boy tuned 7 |(!!!|) this year and it broke my heart a little. He still goes to bed with a bunch of softtoys though and Doggy the favourite still gets some big love when he is asleep. I dreading the end of “mummy’ and being called ‘mum’.

  10. Even when they are all grown up, they are still your baby. My baby turned 24 in February and in many ways it feels like just yesterday that I was a new mother trying to figure things out.

  11. My son was born a day after Toby and his 4th birthday party is Sunday. It’s nice to read your thoughts since I’m having the same ones! Sometimes like talking to a friend, then I’m reminded he’s still a little guy. I love it.

  12. can i please commend you on your lovely and thoughtful birthday parties? i love the simplicity in them and that they focus around what is really meaningful, friends and family. especially so in a world were perfection and image is everything. thank you for being normal! x

  13. happy birthday, toby! I need that firetruck and taxi for my vehicle obsessed toddler. Where oh where did you find it??!

  14. Kids having fun running around- had the same revelation last weekend at a fantastic botanical garden in Grand Rapids. They have a crazy fun kid garden area and my kids would have stayed there the rest of their lives if I let them! Huge Tarzan /Swiss family Robinson tree house, little beaver and frog puppets in hallow hole homes, water tables shaped like the Great Lakes, just an incredible place.. Anyways I wondered why anyone would haul a little kid to Disney.. They do not need the bells and whistles and best of all my husband and I were able to sit and relax in the beautiful michigan sunshine!

  15. This looks like so much fun. May is the perfect time for a picnic party. I just did a post on picnic essentials.

    Handle with Karo

  16. My “little boy” just turned 16 and I still feel those’s even harder when you only have one.

  17. I adore the last photo of Toby sleeping with his new toys! What a beautiful representation of still being a kid :) Happy birthday sweet boy!

  18. I love the celebration! Love the cupcakes in a number 4, love that every one got to just run around!
    Happy Birthday to Toby!

  19. love your simple park party ideas. always so good! parties nowadays often seem pretty elaborate but i’m firmly in the old-fashioned fun camp :)

  20. hilarious that he cried at the birthday song before! also donut holes > cake :)

  21. wowo! My son will turn 4 in DEcember’s 1st… the weather is always a downside, but we manage to have fun in other ways.

    PS – How crazy is Anton’s position, on his knees! Funny! Not very usual for a baby his age!

  22. Time flies… it’s crazy! What a cute party. I agree with other commenters, simple parties can be the best. I can’t believe all the expense/fuss some people go through for a kid’s bday.

  23. Happy Birthday Toby!

    Have a wonderful day.

  24. I love the simplicity of the party and that the kids were free to just run around and have FUN. What a refreshing change from those really elaborate and complicated birthday party ideas you see on Pinterest.

  25. Happy Birthday, Toby!! Looks like such a sweet afternoon : )

  26. Joanna, seriously that little Emma is fashionista!! Can you ask her mamma where she got that super cool gold necklace? I want one!! :-)

    Also, perfect party for Toby!! Great job.

  27. I _love_ that celebration. No nonsense, no pretense – just timeless. Love it. What a happy scene.
    Your kids are lucky!

  28. i have followed your blog for years, and yet never commented…. but must say, I CANNOT believe he’s four. I have a four year old and three eight year olds (triplet girls) and the time flies by so quickly. LOVELY picnic, he looks so loved and adored :)

  29. What an adorable birthday celebration! I love how it’s so casual and fun, no decorations or favors to worry about, just having fun with your friends and family. It’s the birthdays like this that he’ll remember.


  30. That last photo is SO sweet! Happy birthday, Toby!

  31. Love this celebration. Anton fits right in. Maybe next year I’ll try the cupcake cake option. We just did a big cake (too big) for our 4-year-old son. The kids liked the cake, but it was too much. Cupcakes are so easy, especially for the young crowd. The whole gathering looks effortless and fun! Thanks for sharing! (and would love to know A’s birth story.)

  32. I love that you kept the party about the pure and simple fun for the kids (and adults… yay for mimosas!). This is really such proof that parents don’t need to lose their life savings planning a birthday party. All of the children are adorable and that last photo is perfect. Such a wonderful post (as usual:)

  33. I must know where the red and white striped jumper is from!

  34. jm says...

    Such a relaxed and gorgeous party! Happy birthday, Toby!

  35. Hi Joanna! I am one of the sisters that stopped you on the Brooklyn Bridge last week when you were taking a break on your bike!! It was one of the highlights of our trip!! So wonderful to meet you and we are now even bigger fans of yours :) beautiful birthday party for Toby– so cute and so much fun!! xo

  36. Yes, miss munks, because I realized that it was misleading: we were never planning to bring toys since we figured the kids would like playing together in the grass and there’s a sculpture garden and playground in to the park. So I corrected that wording in the post. My posts are always being tweaked/polished before, during and after I post them–I’m constantly fiddiling with them!

  37. Did you delete the part of forgetting to bring toys?

  38. happy birthday toby💕

  39. Great photos! Anton’s outfit is super cute too! Can you share where it is from? Thanks! Cheers to Toby!

  40. Happy Birthday, Toby and happy birthing day to you!

    That little girl has a great instep and releve!

  41. my son is almost 8 and he still sleeps with his blankie and stuffies. happy birthday toby!

  42. thanks for the comments! sarah, the sheets are from dwell studio, if i remember correctly; and the chambray dress is from everlane. i got an early version of the dress, luckily enough, but i think it officially comes out next week or so.

  43. julie, yes! i’m planning to share it on his birthday in july, if i can get it done! :)

  44. So many stripes! Awwww, happy birthday, Toby! Such a big boy now. You can’t believe it until it happens to you, but time really sure does fly.

    It looks like you had such a great day. Kudos for keeping it simple!

    Maria xx

  45. What a sweet party! Ours turned 1 last week and we got rained out of our park party. It’s ok though ’cause it was just grandmas and grandpas in attendance, I agree with PP – pinterest parties are fun to attend but not to plan and certainly not necessary to show your children that you care. A stress-free mama, donut holes (yes!) and some time in the sun sounds perfect.

  46. I can’t believe how quickly that little cutie is growing up. So glad he had a fun birthday with his friends <3

  47. um nope. His 3rd birthday was just like 5 months ago so…J/K. But seriously, what in the hell is happening to time?

  48. Happy Birthday Toby :D I myself cannot believe it has been a year since his last birthday post (OMG)!

    Lovely photos. Funnily enough, I think I have the same shoes as Ella. I am 27 (and a UK size 3/US 5.5). Heh…

  49. Love your dress! Where is it from?

  50. Do you mind telling where those polka dot sheets (in the last photo) are from?

  51. i love what a simple celebration this was. just pure joy. Happy Birthday to your little dude.

  52. Pizza + mimosas in the grass…now that’s a kid’s party I could get on board with :) And it’s true about kids having fun with nothing at all – they really just want to run :)

  53. Happy birthday! I guess he’s already 4 and we didn’t get the end of potty training story? And Pre K coming up this year! Very exciting! Welcome to this great age Toby!

  54. Thank you for sharing this with us! can’t believe he is 4, I have been following this blog for more years than he is!

    I wonder, could you tell us where your gorgeous dress is from? thank you

  55. Joanna, will you share Anton’s birth story with us? Happy birthday Toby!

  56. Oh Toby is just such a sweetie. And Anton’s pretty delicious himself.

  57. Happy Birthday Toby! I love going back and re-reading those pregnancy posts, your excitement pours out of each one!

  58. Happy 4th Birthday Toby!!! Hope your day was special. Cheers to you!

  59. i have two (twin) of those four year old boys, who will be five in october…which really freaks me out! five?! kindergarten?!! i continue to have a hard time not thinking of them as babies (so says my husband) and sometimes find myself doing things for them that four year olds should probably do for themselves. whatever, soon enough that most certainly won’t be an option so i will take advantage of their “littleness” as long as i can. congratulations on your four year old! (and kudos on the sneaky mimosas! they always add a little extra fun to the kids parties!).

  60. leticia, we were at the esplanade in battery park city. we’ve had a picnic there for toby’s birthday every year!

  61. You know what I love about this party? It’s so genuine and simple and perfect. Running around in circles and eating cupcakes and doughnut holes! Thanks for this post.

  62. Happy Birthday Toby! The last image is so cute….brought on a teary smile.

  63. Glad to see my four year old is not the only one constantly covered in tattoos.

    My guy turned four in march and I keep getting struck by how big he is too. Great point about being on the edge of baby/toddlerhood!

  64. Toby is the cutest!

    I was just thinking about ideas for my 26th birthday this year and I think I’m going for a picnic after reading this post. So easy and fun!

    Joanna at what park were you guys? I’ve been no NYC many many times but cannot peek where it is. Battery?



  65. emily, i thought the same thing! perfect arches! :)

  66. Great photos of a great party! Looks like everyone had such a fun time! Happy birthday Toby!

  67. The cutie in the flowered top has future dancer feet. I love seeing kids just play the old fashioned way- one of the best parts of being a camp counselor!

  68. The cutie in the flowered top has future dancer feet. I love seeing kids just play the old fashioned way- one of the best parts of being a camp counselor!

  69. 4! How time flies! I started reading this blog before you even announced you were pregnant! I love the park party idea.

  70. Oh, I cried reading the last bit. Night-night Toby. ;)

  71. Happy Birthday to your little Toby!! I remember everyone constantly telling us “time flies you’ll see” and now that Luna is about to be 16 months I’ve become one of those parents that says “OMG time flies!”

    Another thing I wanted to applaud you for is your continued simple celebrations!! I love seeing all the happy faces at the park. With all the mommy Pinterest craze I feel like moms feel the pressure to throw all out bashes for their babes when really the simple gatherings/parties are always the best (and least stressful). I’m happy that we took the simple route too!

  72. Isn’t it great when the weather cooperates? Looks like a fantastic picnic!

    My oldest is turning five at the end of the month. That’s killing me right now! Why is my Lilybug so big?