A Very Vaquera 2nd Birthday July 11 2011

The toddler K loves horsies, can't get enough of them on the carousel at the National Mall, or the bouncing one she has in the living room, or seeing them in her picture books or pulling a princess' carriage. They're her favorite--except when they're real. Then they totally freak her stuff out. Literally, like she's clawing away at you to get her the hell away from them. But no matter, I knew she'd love it if horses were the centerpiece for her 2nd birthday party. So that meant we just had to do a cowgirl birthday party. And I'm not talking Gretchen Wilson or Carrie Underwood cowgirl-ish types. I'm talking about opening up your Texas and California history books and check out who really got this party started. I'm talking about taking it back, vaquero-style. Check out how wikipedia breaks it down, nice and simple:

The vaquero is the original cowboy of the Americas, developed in Mexico from traditions brought to MesoAmerica from Spain.

And if you wanna dig into this a little deeper, according to this in the late 1800's one in every three cowboys was a Mexican vaquero, and everything cowboys know today came originally from the vaqueros.

Vaqueros were proverbial cowboys—rough, hard-working mestizos who were hired by the criollo caballeros to drive cattle between New Mexico and Mexico City, and later between Texas and Mexico City. The title, though denoting a separate social class, is similar to caballero, and is a mark of pride.

The vaqueros have a long and proud history among Hispanics in Texas. This party was a nod to our roots, even if the only horse in sight was a huge cardboard horse I bought online and some little plastic ones from the dollar store -- all Made in China, of course.It was the first kids' party we've ever put together so of course my husband and I were pretty babosos about knowing what sorts of things to do and not do. We had haystacks to sit on, pink cowgirl hats for the girls, blue ones for the boys, fake sheriff's badges,  horseshoes and pin the tail on the burro. I also gave all the kids water guns. Yeah, I'm obviously not one of those moms who thinks about not giving toy guns to kids. It's water, people. And it's just Coke, and chocolate and chips. The effects wear off eventually.

For drink and food I got some bottle root beer and I ordered two gallons -- yes, I know that's chingos -- of chili from Ben's Chili Bowl and we made Frito pie and chili cheese dogs for everyone. The toddler LOOOOOOVED the Frito pie. If you don't know what it is, you need to run to your nearest 7-11 and buy some Fritos and a can of Wolf Brand chili, go home and feast on this salty perfection that is the food of choice at Texas football games. I can seriously be sitting at my desk at work on a random Wednesday and think of Frito pie and my mouth salivates. It's that awesome.

And as for the music -- Pandora on George Strait radio all the way. Because in the end, George Strait really does have a vaquero heart.

It was a pretty good fiesta, even if we didn't get a pinata because I refused to get a pitiful Party City one which seemed to be the only real option in this area. I remember as a kid all the little grocery stores in my hometown had pinatas for sale, hanging from the ceiling. They were imported from our neighbors in Mexico, and they were humongous burros or estrellas that would break by the time the ten-year-olds got around to beating the crap out of it. Now those were good parties.

So my toddler K, a big pinata blow-out party is what's up for year three -- when I hear you'll really become a bad child (the terrible two's are just the warm-up, parents of 4-year-olds tell me with a sadistic laugh). We'll welcome it with a bang. I'm gonna say just once more and then el famoso cumpleanos that we talked so much about is over til next year. Happy birthday once again, mi muchachita.