While my letter to RR for her first birthday is still in draft mode pending some edits, I figured I’d give a post-party update!
For the record, birthdays are serious business in our house. Well, not THAT serious, but I’ve always loved my own birthday, mostly because it’s the day I get to talk to everyone I know and love. Growing up, that mostly boiled down to talking to my dad first thing in the morning when he’d call me and sing happy birthday over the phone (my parents divorced when I was two). He passed away when I was 11, so it’s been forever since he’s called, but I remember those mornings so fondly. My wife has spent her life sharing her birthday with one of her sisters, and a day apart from her mother’s birthday, so we like to celebrate her birthday as if she doesn’t have to share it with anyone!
Yesterday morning, RR woke up around 7am after a rough night’s sleep, so she was groggy when I sang happy birthday to her in my gravely morning voice when I scooped her out of her crib.
We spent the day mostly in party preparation mode – cleaning, moving furniture to accommodate the potential 18 guests who were invited, and setting the table in true event planner mode, complete with layering tablecloths and using a crate in the middle to elevate the birthday cupcakes, and getting out the china platters usually only reserved for holiday turkeys.
At 11am, we headed out the door to RR’s photo shoot. A local photographer put out a call for baby models from 9 months to 1 year old to model for a class she was teaching, and RR got the job. So we put an adorable purple flower dress on RR and crossed our fingers that her fear of strangers would be eclipsed by her love to have her picture taken. Thankfully, we gambled right, and we spent 20 minutes wandering around the photo site, sitting RR on the ground, propping her against brick walls, and making ridiculous faces and noises while 9 (!) photographers snapped billions of photographs.
The shoot took place in a public spot here in town, and the weirdest part was when complete strangers (not in the class) stopped to also take a picture of RR. It was like being out with Britney. Or maybe those folks thought she was a famous baby? Totally bizarre. Anyhow, she smiled a lot, in between sticking out her tongue and sticking her hand in her mouth. We spent most of the shoot acting crazy to get her to smile, and racing to stop her from crawling into the pool of photographers.
Afterwards, we stopped to pick up some catered tea sandwiches and bags of ice, and headed home with enough time for my wife to make the-most-amazing-cupcake-icing-ever, and to put the finishing touches on the party fixins. I had pre-party panic, wondering if only two people would come, or if all 18 would show up. If you guessed all 18 people showed up, you guessed right. Honestly, I didn’t even think we invited 18 people, but I suppose we did.
We had a good mix of work folks and friends, as well as our neighbors, who got invited old-school-like, with hand-written invitations left on their doorstep. At some point, we had 13 adults, and 5 kids: one guy turning 1 in two weeks, 2 guys who are 13 months old, a three year old little girl, and RR. Thank goodness RR’s big birthday present from us, the Zany Zoo, kept all of the little ones occupied, in addition to the basket of percussion instruments we have out all of the time for banging and shaking.
The most overwhelming part of the whole shebang was the fact that every little one, with the exception of one, are our neighbors. This was the first time that the three sets of us had hung out – usually, it’s reserved to drive-by waves and over the fence chit-chat. I feel so fortunate to have RR grow up on a street with kids her age. I looked over sometime during the party, to see them all playing and sharing and thought that we couldn’t be any luckier.
Everything went well – people devoured the fruit, cupcakes, lemonade, and beer. Work folks mixed with neighbors, and everyone mingled well. My wife and I have actually never thrown a party together before, so the fact that it was a success was such a relief. We took pictures, but not nearly as many as you would think. I think we all got caught up in the party itself – everyone singing happy birthday, blowing out the candles on the cupcakes (we asked everyone to blow out their own cupcake candle and make a wish for RR), opening wonderful presents, and having a good time.
Everyone eventually trickled out, and at 5pm, RR collapsed in her crib for a post-part nap while we cleaned up.
We finished out the evening by calling aunts and grandma’s to tell them about RR’s day, and RR’s best birthday present to US was a few instances of her taking 2-3 unassisted steps toward both me and my wife. We ate a later dinner, and then all of us collapsed in bed.
The bottom line: More than 5 kids would have been too many, and more than 18 people, total, would have been way too many. Don’t underestimate the amount of beer parents who live within walking distance will consume. The kitchen sink full of ice makes a great place to store said beer (and always provide an obvious bottle opener and dish for bottle caps). The Zany Zoo is badass. Toys received as presents need to be opened and played with immediately. Having a three year old on hand to help with cupcake duties and present handing-out duties is way underrated.
Happy Birthday, RR. We’ll have another party when you’re 10. Maybe.