Motherhood

Toby’s 9th Birthday Party

Toby's 9th Birthday Party

Last weekend, we celebrated Toby’s ninth birthday outside Jane’s Carousel. After Toby talking about it for six months, the day had finally arrived! He loves nothing more than being surrounded by his friends and running around, so we kept it super low-key. Here are a few photos, if you’d like to see…

Toby's 9th Birthday Party

We went to Brooklyn Bridge Park and were lucky enough to nab a picnic table outside the carousel.

Toby's 9th Birthday Party

From the carousel, you can see the Manhattan skyline and both bridges (Brooklyn and Manhattan). After nearly two decades in the city, it’s one of those places that still makes you feel like you can’t believe you actually live here.

Toby's 9th Birthday Party

The kids also ran around, as kids do. (Anton literally either skips or runs, even at home; he has walked like three times in his entire life.)

Toby's 9th Birthday Party

Toby's 9th Birthday Party

Toby's 9th Birthday Party

Toby's 9th Birthday Party

Per Toby’s request, we played Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Since there were no walls, I tried my best to be one and held it up, and the kids used a blindfold that was definitely see through. But they loved it!

Toby's 9th Birthday Party

Toby's 9th Birthday Party

Our beloved babysitter, Grace, gave Toby the sweetest gift: homemade travel itinerary sheets. His favorite thing to play is travel agent/rental car attendant/world traveler. Her thoughtfulness made me tear up — isn’t it moving when people really see your children?

We ordered pizza and managed to get the coolest cake (more on that later! update: here it is!).

Toby's 9th Birthday Party

All in all, it was such a lovely day…

Toby's 9th Birthday Party

for the loveliest little boy.

Thank you so much for reading. I cannot believe this was nine years ago! (And this face, squeee.)

P.S. Toby and Anton in conversation, and Toby goes on a date.

(Photos by Ana Gambuto for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Barbara Jane says...

    like many others, i started reading right around when toby was born. 9 seems so big, and yet still so little! happy birthday to toby, and congratulations to you and alex for raising him these past 9+ years!

  2. Mary says...

    Oh my! This means I am also following your blog for nine years now! Happy birthday, Toby!

  3. lindsay says...

    that gift from your babysitter was so sweet :) made me tear up a little bit as a complete outsider! HBD toby!

  4. Lena says...

    This post makes me so happy! Happy birthday Toby! And thank you Joanna for the inspiration to keeping birthday parties simple!

  5. Claudia says...

    Happy Birthday Toby! he’s growing up so fast ! I remember your post about his birth! thank you for sharing parts of your life with us. I am a long time reader… love your blog!

    xo,
    Claudia

  6. Laura C. says...

    Happy birthday Toby, and happy birthday Joanna,you did an awesome job that day. <3

  7. Caroline says...

    Please tell me he’s standing on something in the main photo – he looks SO tall!!! Almost as tall as you!

  8. mollcoll says...

    Wow. Like many others, I am a longtime reader. I just love seeing the total joy on Toby’s face on the carousel. Great party for a great kid.

  9. Summer says...

    I started reading *right before* Toby was born – you went to like a Martha Stewart event and when there were no updates for a few days, I knew you’d had a baby!

    I also love the low key birthdays yall have. I’m a May baby as well, and ALL of my childhood birthdays were in a park with friends, pizza, and cake. What a great time to have a birthday! Happy birthday, Tobias!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!!! hahah toby was 9 days early, and i remember all the comments were like, um….WHY THE RADIO SILENCE? it was such an exciting time!!!

  10. My goodness, Johanna, I have to share with you this little passport that I am sure Toby will be crazy about!
    https://www.amazon.com/Passport-Activity-Book-Robin-Jacobs/dp/1908714247

    We found it at the Modern art museum in Oslo, and it has since become our go-to gift for kids aged 6-10 who like to travel (since we live in Paris, France, we also found a French version. I can’t wait for my daughter to be old enough to use it!)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, this looks wonderful! thank you so much for the suggestion!!!

  11. SMK says...

    I still remember when you posted your birth story! I’ve been a reader for almost 10 years (I started just after my daughter was born and she just turned 10!). I am more of a lurker than a commenter but I read every post and just wanted to say Happy Birthday to Toby! Honestly feels like yesterday!:)

  12. ann says...

    I so enjoy all of your blog posts; but especially those pertaining to children and raising children (can you guess that I’m a new grandparent of a beautiful grandson?!). It’s really refreshing and reassuring to see a birthday party (in NYC) for a child that is not over-the-top, doesn’t require a crazy expensive venue, is age appropriate and most important, adheres to it’s purpose: celebrating him and what makes him happy and brings him joy. Gives me hope that my grandson (who happens to have 2 amazing moms) can and will grow up with great values and not a skewed view of what is “normal”. Your children are also very lucky to have you as their parents.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      congratulations on your sweet grandson!!! what an exciting time xoxoxo

  13. Happy Birthday Toby! He looks SO happy.

  14. Devina from Jakarta, Indonesia says...

    The post titled “Toby is here!” was the first post I read here. Can’t believe it was NINE years ago. Thank you, Joanna, for making this blog such a wonderful go-to place on the internet. And for all the readers for making the comment section feels like a community. Happy birthday sweet, sweet Tobes! I love you and your little Sneijder brother.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      awww, that makes me so happy. thank you.

  15. rindi says...

    What a wonderful day! Happiest of birthdays to Toby. Joanna, I started reading your blog not long after you had Toby, when I was somewhere in the fog of having my own first son. I have really appreciated your willingness to share about your life, parenting, some of the difficulties and many of the joys. Especially in those early days, it helped me to feel like there were others out there who were experiencing the same bewildering emotions and joys and frustrations that I was. Being the last one of most of my friends to have children, it helped so much to hear from someone else in the same phase of life. My second son is a year older than Anton, so I’ve appreciated the sweet brotherly posts and I’ve read many of the Toby and Anton posts to my boys. Isn’t it amazing how different two boys from the same genetic materials can be? I have a tribe of three boys (the youngest is 4) and am amazed and humbled (and sometimes maddened) by them every day. Thank you for sharing your life, and for not being afraid to discuss difficult topics that need to be addressed. Most of all, thank you for all the joy and wonder you share – it always helps me to see more clearly the joy and wonder in our lives, too.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      bewildering is the perfect word for new parenthood. thank you for your lovely note. and sending love and high fives to those sweet boys of yours. xoxo

  16. Mar says...

    Que tous tes désirs se réalisent. Joyeux anniversaire !

  17. Wesley Sneijder says...

    nice jersey

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha

    • Hoi Sneijdertje! But seriously, happy birthday Toby. And Go Holland. My Alex has the same jersey as Anton, of course.

  18. Malissa says...

    Oh! Happy b-day, Toby! He’s such a sweet soul and what a great party. Side note, all I wanted to be when I was growing up was a travel agent. Now I’m a college counselor, but we live abroad; I’m still obsessed with planning flights and hotels/air bnb’s, etc. And always have things organized and mostly encased inside a plastic portfolio wherever we go.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      you and toby sound like travel soulmates!

  19. Maya says...

    Happy birthday Toby!!!
    I also can’t believe he’s 9 years already. All the best to you and your sweet family!

  20. VP says...

    I just love the birthday posts! I have been following along for several years now, and it is so heartwarming to see your two lovely boys grow. Thank you for sharing.

  21. Allie says...

    Happy birthday Toby!

  22. Alexandra says...

    Ah, this touches my heart. I’ve been a reader for a couple of years and love following along with your family! You have such an honest, refreshing approach to parenting, life, and making the little moments feel extraordinary, and the extraordinary, feel approachable to all. Thank you for always making my day brighter and more enriching.

  23. Shaina says...

    Happy birthday Toby! You always have the best, simplest, sweetest celebrations that inspire me to keep it low key for my kids and focus on the simple joys of being a little kid. I love watching you grow!

  24. Claire says...

    Happy birthday to Toby! It looks like it was a pretty wonderful celebration! Joanna- where did you get your party dress? I am a sucker for a dark floral print.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you for asking! it’s from sezane: http://bit.ly/2HZSIbN

  25. Cynthia says...

    Happy birthday, Toby! So glad you had wonderful weather for his party. I love carousels, too.

  26. Lindsay says...

    What a lovely day! My youngest is a few months younger than Toby. Doesn’t 9 feel so bittersweet? I love this age and wish I could freeze time in so many ways. Happy birthday to Toby and happy 9 years of parenthood to you and Alex!

  27. Lorna says...

    Happy birthday Toby! It looks like it was a wonderful day, full of all of his favorite things. I’ve been a long time reader from since before Toby came to be – it’s so special to see snippets of him and your family growing up together. xo

  28. Andrea says...

    Congrats to Toby the travel agent. Where is his cute T-shirt from?

  29. Julia says...

    That picture you posted on Instagram of Toby getting breakfast in bed was so adorable, the expression on his face truly made my heart smile! I even called my husband over to look at it because it was too precious.

    (I thought this was a little too cheesy for an Instagram comment, but I’m comfortable enough to share it here!) Happy birthday, Toby!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you xoxoxoxo

  30. Katie says...

    It’s so crazy seeing pictures of 9 year old Toby right next to pictures of newborn Toby (“Surprising Parenting Advice”) and toddler Toby (“Talking to Kids”). How did he get to be so big?

    It makes me so wistful, actually, because our Toby is the perfect squishy age right now (14 months), and I just want to freeze time.

  31. Kathleen says...

    Happy Birthday to your sweet son, Toby!
    I love your comment about becoming tear-eyed when people actually “see”your kids.
    I have two boys and my older son will graduate from college this Sunday and I’ve been teary-eyed all week because I feel that so many of his teachers and mentors actually “saw” him, and inspired him to explore unexpected paths. And I too am seeing him for the young man he has become, and I am so moved by what I see. Thank you for your wonderful post and pictures!

  32. Annie says...

    Look how tall Toby is becoming! I was just thinking this morning how great it is that I can easily bend my head and perfectly touch the top of my 9 year old’s head to kiss it. Thank you for sharing the small and big moments of your family’s life with us.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “I can easily bend my head and perfectly touch the top of my 9 year old’s head to kiss it” = sweetest.

  33. Alyssa says...

    Such a big kid! Childhood flies right by, doesn’t it? Have another wonderful trip around the sun, Toby!

  34. Bex says...

    Happy Birthday Toby. I cannot believe he is nine, Joanna. I love his travel itineraries. Such a sweet gift. X

  35. NN says...

    What? No donuts?!

    I’m teasing. :) It looks like a wonderful day! Happy birthday, Toby!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha the end of an era!

  36. Happy Birthday to Toby! Brooklyn bridge park is my favorite place in the city and there is no better place than that park to celebrate your birthday. I love the carousel the view of the two bridges and the city line. He is lucky to have his birthday at a time when it’s just so beautiful in NYC :)

  37. Tania says...

    Whoa Anton suddenly looks so grown-up!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i know!!!! but then again, he still sucks his thumb at bedtime so he’s still a baby underneath it all :)

  38. Lane Hinson says...

    Your precious boys are close in age to mine, and I’ve loved watching them grow up! Toby’s all long legs and lashes these days. I know that he’s absolutely your heart. Happy, happy birthday Toby!

  39. Anna says...

    I’d love to know where Grace’s beautiful dress is from! What a sweet gift from her and what a lovely party. Happy birthday Toby xx

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hi! grace’s dress was so pretty! she said it’s vintage, but here are a couple dresses with similar vibes:
      http://bit.ly/2HMavmB
      http://bit.ly/2VXECBa

      hope that helps! xo

  40. katie says...

    happy happy birthday to Toby-tones! This is awesome. Looks like a total blast. Hope his whole year is full of love & fun & a lot of complex travel bookings for his travel agency.

  41. Sarah says...

    Posts about your boys always make me so teary eyed! I’m glad Toby had such a nice birthday:)

  42. Katie says...

    That first photo of you with all three of your boys made me teary! You all seem like a wonderful team. Happiest of birthdays to Toby!

  43. ana says...

    Those are some happy looking kids – i love chilled out kids parties like this
    Happy 9th Birthday!

  44. Hilary says...

    I always admire how simple and fun your kids’ parties look! In the age of Pinterest and social media there seems to be more pressure to have these over the top, picture perfect parties. Love seeing something affordable and most of all, everyone is having a great time!!

  45. Kim says...

    Awwww, this was a sweet glimpse into what looks like a perfect 9th birthday party!

  46. jillian bedell says...

    My children’s birthday parties have been some of my very favorite days. Moments when I actually feel like, this is your life, these are your people, hold onto it all! Lucky and fleeting.

    • Sasha L says...

      Same. You put this feeling into words so well.

  47. Silvina says...

    I started reading your blog right after he was born. Happy birthday to him!!
    I loved Grace’s present, it’s such an original idea!

  48. Nikki says...

    Hey! I live in DC, I can easily grab lots of fun travel brochures and send them to the COJ office. Would he be interested in that?

    • Allison says...

      I’ll send some from OKC too! :)

    • Meredith says...

      That would be so fun! A ton of mail for the COJ team to open lol, but I bet he’d get neat brochures from all over the world if we got the go-ahead to send them :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that is the kindest offer. our office is 47 bergen st fl 3 brooklyn 11201, if you ever really would be up for it. he would flip out! that is really such a sweet idea.

  49. h says...

    Happy Birthday, Toby!!!! Wish you many excellent travels (real and imaginary) in this year ahead! (Also, how is he approaching double digits?!! My first is a few months younger, so Toby’s birthday always reminds me to start planning! :-) )

  50. Marie-Eve says...

    9 years old!! I still remember when you were writing about your pregnancy! Time goes by so fast! What an amazing, perfect b-day this must have been! You all look so happy! Happy Birthday Toby!!

  51. Janey says...

    Last year of single figures! It goes way too fast. These photos make me excited for our family trip to New York with our boys this summer!!!!

  52. Abesha1 says...

    I love that you invited your nanny, and spoke about her. 😍

    • Jackie says...

      Second that! And her gift!! So lovely :)

  53. Fay says...

    This made me SO happy :) Playing travel agent was my favorite game as a child-I would collect all those tourist brochures in the wooden bookshelves in hotels and has a binder with all of them-ha! How incredibly thoughtful of your babysitter to see and encourage Toby’s creativity. What a gift! And happy anniversary of 9 years of motherhood to you!

  54. Stacey says...

    Great photos!
    Looks like the perfect party.

  55. Susan says...

    Happy Birthday to Toby! I can’t believe it’s been 9 years already! That is the age I really noticed time started to speed up with my kids…💙

  56. Lisa says...

    Love this! I’ve been a reader long before you were even engaged! Time flies.

    Also: is Anton wearing the Dutch football team T-shirt??

    Hugs from the Netherlands 😊

    • Floortje says...

      I noticed it’s Sneijder’s shirt! Rooting for Holland :)
      Cheers from another Dutchie

  57. Traci says...

    From one Travel Agent (Me) to another in training (Toby) wishing you many happy travels!!! Happy Birthday!

  58. renae says...

    Happy birthday to Toby! Wow – it feels like a blink ago he was a chubby little toddler and now he’s up to your shoulder. Looks like an amazing day – great job Mama!

  59. Shelley says...

    Can’t wait to hear about the cake either!! It looks like Toby’s six month of party planning was a huge success!

  60. txilibrin says...

    Need nanny’s dress!!!!!!!!!!!1

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’ll ask her!

  61. Maywyn says...

    Happy Birthday Toby!

  62. Breamons says...

    TELL MEE ABOUT THE CAKKEEEE!!!! I NEED TO KNOOOWWW!!!

  63. Julia says...

    Happy birthday, Toby! I’ve followed your blog since before you were married and it’s been so cool watching your life and your children change and grow. Toby seems like quite the special and sweet little dude. What a lovely (and low key – kudos to that!) celebration.

  64. Lauren says...

    How did this happen? In the time I’ve read your blog, I have also gone from single to a married mom of two kids. Toby was born in the same month as my first niece, and the first grandchild, so many of your milestones make me remember my own families growth too. Happiest birthday to Toby! Thanks for sharing your life with us.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you for sharing this. so much love to your family xoxoxo

  65. I love that we have kids that are the same age! My daughter’s 9th birthday is in a few days. Doesn’t the time just fly? Happy Birthday Toby! It’s been so fun following along as you grow :)

  66. Yeji says...

    As a fan of Cup of Jo for the past decade (it’s my lunchtime “treat” to read your blog while munching on my food at my work desk :) I can’t believe the emotions I felt while reading this post. I feel like I “grew up” with you and your wonderful family. Thank you for always keeping it real, warm, vibrant, informative, and refreshing. And Happy Birthday, Toby!!!

  67. Kate says...

    Happy birthday to Toby!
    As a fellow mom of a child with a summer birthday, how do you manage to plan an outdoor party and have such beautiful weather every single time? Do you get stressed about the weather at all? Every year I try to plan a park party (in July), and without fail, it rains and I need to find a back-up magician and an indoor location.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! we have our apartment as the back-up plan, and once we changed the picnic time from 11-1 to 1-3 because of morning rain. we just try to figure it out on the fly! not foolproof haha.

  68. I remember reading about Toby’s birth! What a special little guy. I am so glad he had a great birthday.

  69. Catie says...

    Happy Birthday, Toby! I can’t believe he’s nine years old…it feels like you shared the announcement of his birth here about six months ago (!). A low-key, outdoor hang with tasty treats and wonderful friends is always my favorite way to celebrate. Glad you all had a beautiful day!

  70. Lauren says...

    I adore the picture of the woman in the yellow dress with her arm around Toby. So sweet! (and love her dress!). Happy Birthday, Toby!

  71. Lauren E. says...

    In an era of Pinterest-worthy kids’ parties that cost thousands and take months to plan, this is so refreshing. The kids look like they’re having the time of their lives! So sweet. Happy birthday, Toby!

    • tina crisas says...

      Yes to this! I For my daughter’s 1st birthday last year, I didn’t quiiite pinpoint the perfect “pinterest” affair. So, I took notes and spent 6 months planning her 2nd birthday party which was in April. It was a pinterest success but I would not do it again. I was SO anxious and wanted everything to be perfect that I was completely absorbed in and focused on the design. As my husband confirmed afterwards, “you got it out of your system, it was great, but next year, let’s lie low and have carefree FUN!”. Absolutely!
      Happy birthday, sweet Toby!

  72. Claire says...

    What a beautiful day for a lovely celebration! I loved Grace’s gift – how thoughtful! You seem to find the most gentle-hearted babysitters. :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we really lucked out with her, she’s the sweetest. :)

  73. agnes says...

    What a lovely day! happy birthday to Toby, but also to you, it’s your birthday as a parent! I always feel emotional on my son’s birthday.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      same. so emotional!

  74. I love the thoughtful gift from his babysitter. Goes to show that you don’t have to spend much on a gift! It’s the thought that really counts! Reminds me of when he loved getting a waiter/waitress notepad! Kids can be thrilled with the simplest things!

    Happy 9th birthday to your sweet boy! His celebration sounded perfect!

    • Vanessa says...

      I would love the details on your dress!

      Looks like a perfect birthday 💗

  75. Maggie says...

    Happy, happy birthday, Toby! Hope the year ahead is excellent.