Friday, June 8, 2012

Monkeying Around to Celebrate Our First Birthday!!

I'm SO excited to write this post! Hence, it wins the award for the most photos ever to be put on our webpage at one time! You've been warned! :)

We have been in full Big Birthday Bash mode over at our house! Even though the kids were born on February 23, we haven't been able to celebrate their big one year milestone with extended family and friends due to their immune systems. We did have a small little gathering of our immediate families the weekend after their birthday, but we saved the big party until last weekend.

It ended up being AWESOME because Little Monkey Bizness in Shawnee Mission, Kansas saw an article in KC Parent Magazine about our family and emailed us last summer. They offered to sponsor the babies' first birthday party in style! And because they had read the article, they understood that we couldn't really do a party on their birthday, so they readily agreed to wait a few extra months until it was safe to take them out!

Okay, I just have to say, I was a little nervous about this whole idea. While it's really neat that a local business wanted to sponsor their first birthday party, it meant that, *gulp* I had to take my babies into a giant play land where other kids had been (what if they had been sick? What if they hadn't washed their hands recently??) and trust that it was going to be a safe place to take them. This was going to be a big stretch for me. Especially since I'd never been there.

When I called to book the party in March, I talked to the General Manager, Taelor. Without me even saying anything, she told me that they wanted to do the following:

  • Donate the party to us! HUGE!
  • Give us a private party room to eat dinner and cupcakes in! It was actually two big connecting rooms where they set up a line in one room for hot dogs and chips and another for cupcakes. Plenty of seating for everyone and lots of room to move around.
  • Allow us to bring our own food in. I had already started brainstorming food and didn't want to pass up on the chance to get to participate as much as possible in the party preparations. I'm so glad because I loved making the babies' cupcakes!
  • They shut the facility down to the public so that it was only our guests in the facility. They completely shut it down! Taelor told me that they wanted me to feel comfortable allowing my kids to play and not worry other people or germs.
  • Taelor also offered to re-clean the play area just prior to our party so that is was squeaky clean. They didn't want us to worry AT ALL!


So, I signed on for all of it (seriously, who could turn down an offer like that?!) and got ready to party!! And what a blessing to me to have nothing to worry about. I was already in love with Little Monkey Bizness, and I hadn't even been inside the doors yet!

It was the best first birthday party ever! It was as great as the list above makes it sound! Nothing was left undone! The staff were incredibly accommodating and friendly, even going so far as to set up our food for us. The mother/daughter team (Carrie is the owner/Taelor is the General Manager) who run the facility both showed up to celebrate the event with us. Since it was on Saturday evening, I'm sure they had other things to do, but they both were just as excited as we were with our big milestone! The play land had areas for crawlers and bigger kids, perfect for letting our kids warm up slowly and move into the bigger area.

But for me, being the NICU mommy that I am, the best thing by far was how spotless it was. It was the cleanest kid place I've ever been to...ever! One of the other mom's who came used to manage another kid party place sort of like Little Monkey Bizness. She made a point of coming up to tell me that she was incredibly impressed with how clean it was and was actually having a blast herself even though she is an adult. I know for a fact that this place goes out of it's way to keep it clean for everyone  (not just us), because it has a reputation of being that on top of it! Yeah, I'm spending a lot of time talking about how clean it was, but for me, that was my main concern right from the beginning. The place was as clean as if I had done it myself...and we have stock in Clorox wipes at this point!

So, between me and my brother Mike, we took around 300 photos. I don't want to overload you, so I've narrowed them down to my favorite....40. Hehe!

Waiting just before our time slot began: Let's get this party started! 
Ma holding Abby and Ellie, and Me holding Caleb and Elijah

Ready. Set. PLAY! We started out in the crawlers area to give the kids time to warm up.

Ellie and Abby. You can tell Abby was ready to get to it!

Braelyn and Bailey with Eli, Beth, Ellie, and Abby P. in the background

To much to do to hold still long enough for Mommy to take a photo!

Abby, Daddy, and I think that's Caleb. :)

Abby taking a little break with Mommy

Some of the sweetest friends in the world! I could go on and on about how these women have invested in our kids lives, but if you read our blog, you've already seen their names and photos pop up several times. :)
Sarah (the other Sarah), Keri, Sarah (the sister-in-law) holding the other Sarah's daughter, Rachel, and Beth (Thanks, friends, for lining up in a way that made it really confusing to label this photo! LOL!)

And then Channel 41 came out to do a news clip on Little Monkey Bizness and our party. If you haven't had a chance to see it, click here, to watch!
Sean and I getting ready for the interview (I always get nervous doing these kinds of things!)

Once we finished with that, the kids were ready to move to the big kids area!
A view of the giant play land from the Crawling Area

Ellie took her time getting used to her new surroundings. For a kid with sensory issues, we were surprised by how well she did! Way to go Ellie!

Cita and Ellie taking it all in.

Peek-a-Boo! Elijah found this mirror in the toddlers area and loved it!

Awesome toddler treehouse to climb through! Wouldn't that be fun in our living room?!?!


Elijah also found this fun climbing toy to play on. Such an explorer!

Who doesn't love a good slide complete with tunnels? It was so fun to see the kids' friends having a blast also!

Braelyn and Morgan taking turns down the slide

More fun!


Rock climbing toy for little people

I never got a clear read on who this guy was, but I know he was an employee (quite helpful!), and he was running around in a monkey outfit. I think he must be the Monkey Mascot! :)

Monkey Mascot and Rachel

Don't these guys look like they are enjoying what exists beyond our living room? "Mom! You didn't tell us it was FUN out in the great big world!" I know kids. Just so you know, I really enjoyed getting out of the house too!
Daddy and Caleb

Mommy and Eli

At the far end of the facility was the whole huge area for older kids. A bounce house and things like that.

Not sure how Uncle Josh managed to get Elijah all the way up in the bounce house to the slide, but he did!
Uncle Josh and Eli

Lots of areas to climb around in!
I can't tell which kids the are from the back. Anyone want to claim them? :)

After about an hour, the kids started to wear out. Abby definitely was ready to move on to the food. I didn't realize until later that I forgot to give them their afternoon snack because of the timing of the party. Oops!
Mommy and Abby

So we moved on to the two connecting party rooms that they set up for us!

They drew this on the chalkboards in each party room. :)

Singing Happy Birthday to the Babies! 
Grandpa (my dad) holding Ellie, Me holding Elijah, Sean holding Caleb, and Pa (Sean's dad) holding Abby

The first party room with hot dogs, chips, and drinks!

The second party room with cupcakes and a few mementos of the babies' first year (since this was the first time a lot of our friends had met them).

Because I forgot to feed them their snack (oops!), the kids snarfed (seriously the best word for it) their food down. Ellie ate two hot dogs, a couple pieces of cheese, and part of a hot dog bun by herself! A few hours later, I discovered that I probably should have held her back at one hot dog, when she emptied the contents of her stomach all over my clothes (oops, again!). Thankfully, we were home at that point. BUT at least they all enjoyed it! Even Abby ate her dinner! :) 



Eli and Ellie

Daddy surrounded by his four favorite babies!

And this is the amazing mother/daughter team who worked so hard to make our First Birthday/Introducing our Kids Party absolutely perfect!
Taelor, the General Manager and her mom, Carrie, the owner.

Thank you SO much!

And thank you for making it all the way to the end of this post and celebrating with us in spirit! It was SO nice to be free to take the kids out to Little Monkey Bizness and watch them have so much fun!

I'm thinking we need to head back soon. Anyone want to go with us? :)

Disclaimer Statement: Little Monkey Bizness did not ask us to write about their venue or the party on our blog. They did not in any way reimburse us in exchange for what I wrote above. We had an awesome time celebrating our babies and just wanted to share it with everyone else!


  1. I just wanted to say how Josh got up the slide. I stood at the bottom of the ladder thing, and josh climbed up the ladder to the top, and then we CAREFULLY lifted Eli up for Josh to slide down with him.

  2. I have little bit of tears just at the JOY in these pics and in the lives of your wee ones. God Is So GOOD!!!! :-D


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