Two hands. The minimum number of hands required to demonstrate your age. Six is big to a little girl. It a even bigger to us parents. Sophia’s embarked on her seventh trip around the sun and I’m stunned with disbelief. I feel as though we just celebrated her fifth, fourth, and even first birthdays.
On the one hand I’m in no rush to see Sophia (and Eliza) grow up but, on the other hand, I’m curious to see what kind of people they’ll become. Sophia is warm, intelligent, substantive, kind, mild-mannered, and responsible. She’s also temperamental, insistent, awfully stubborn, and witty. Above all, she’s loving.
We celebrated all weekend long with two parties. The first was a gymnastics extravaganza at a local little gym and the second a picnic with very close family. The weather mostly held off for the picnic and we made the best of the slightly damp conditions. The kids, however, clearly enjoyed themselves with carousel rides, a round of Spooky Minigolf, and much, much time at the playground. These diversions were just the reason we decided to hold the party at a park instead of our home. Public spaces become natural extensions of the home as urban living, for most, doesn’t lend itself naturally to hosting 20+ people.
This was, by all accounts, a three alarm fire children’s party weekend. Evan and I hosted one for Sophia and we attended two others. To say that I would very much like a weekend to unwind is an understatement. I have vivid visions of pillows and blankets, lazy mornings, and fluffy buttermilk pancakes.
For the first time ever, Sophia had a clear vision for what kind of a party she wanted. “A mermaid party with a chocolate and vanilla cake, all our friends, and Alex…” said Sophia when we first spoke to her. I haven’t done too many themed child parties but decided that even I could tackle this one. Purple tablecloths, starfish, sea-shells, and pink and gold confetti set the stage for the tablescapes. I felt that though pretty, the sea-themed decorations would, on their own, will not have enough height to really stand out in the room. We decided that purple/blue and white hydrangea would add height and delicate femininity.
Hydrangeas, confetti, and balloons were mere decorations, but the real stars of the party were those who made time to come and celebrate Sophia’s BIG 5! Eliza, as we can see here, did not suffer greatly as the birthday sister. Not only did she get a few small birthday sister presents, but she was loved on by her aunt and uncle.
That’s a wrap. See you next year when we’re shifting to much smaller, more exclusive celebrations for the kids’ birthdays.
Two. Eliza turned two yesterday. These past two years have been a whirlwind—a happy, chaotic, tumultuous whirlwind. Eliza is truly a little piece of sunshine. She has captured our hearts and souls and we love her to the moon and back, twice over.
We spent the day celebrating as befits a newly minted two year old. There were birthday pancakes with sprinkles and a candle followed by a luncheon with family and a homemade birthday cake.
This year, I opted for a strawberry cream cake which was a chiffon cake with macerated strawberries and a cream/cream cheese frosting. It was incredibly light, not too-sweet and tasted of June, of strawberries, and of family celebrations. Eliza, much like both of her parents, liked the frosting and the strawberries over the cake itself.
I would be remiss if I let on that we celebrated Eliza’s birthday over just one day. Two years apparently meant two celebrations and two cakes, too.
And because two is so big, we decided to capture this age, this magnificent little girl, and the day on camera.
Most will agree that there aren’t enough days in our lives that we devote to celebration, family, and ourselves. April is upon us, and once again, my birthday. In years past, I’ve adhered to what had become a tradition for birthday celebrations. This year is not too different in that I carved out a little bit of time for myself for a very leisurely cup of coffee and spent that time thinking on … whatever. That cup of coffee did come after making the girls’ lunch first thing before Sophia headed off to school—because birthday girl or not, I am first a #workingmom and an #early bird.
So how does it feel to be in my early thirties? Marvelous. I now recognize that these are the best years of my life. The kids are young (and oh so delicious) and the inconveniences of old age haven’t yet appeared. I may no longer be in my twenties but I still feel like my whole life is ahead of me, that there isn’t anything I cannot do, and more importantly, that I have a huge bucket list of things to do, places to travel to, and experiences I’d like to have. It is good to have goals and even better to have someone to share those goals with.
Sophia turned four. Four is a big deal! Almost like a recipe — a party, a good party requires a few key ingredients. Good food. Check. It also requires good cakes, several cakes. Check. Some drinks — juices for the kids and beer/wine for the adults. Check, check. Last, but absolutely critical, a good party requires friends and family.
We started planning Sophia’s party a few months ago because we like to take our time working out the menu, guests, and the theme. She was set on a Lego theme and no amount of persuasion helped convince her to change her theme. Evan and I had our hearts on a Totoro theme. We’re hopeful she’ll want to have that as her theme next year and if not, there’ll always be one of Eliza’s parties. We invited our close family and a select few friends. We would have invited more but space was limited and we wanted to leave plenty of room for the kids to enjoy catching up. As it was, there were over thirty people and lots of cousins and friends.
We made all of the food ourselves, save for a salad, a side and a kugel. There was the sausage and peppers, chicken baked in an asian broth dressed with scallions and sesame seeds, rice, a corn and edamame succotash, grilled cheese two ways, an apricot kugel, a fiesta and a quinoa salads, and stewed eggplant. I baked two cakes–a lemon layer cake and a chocolate cake. The lemon cake was a rich pound cake base with a home-made lemon curd and iced with a lemon-cream cheese frosting. The chocolate cake was death by chocolate a triple layer chocolate cake filled and iced with chocolate ganache. Lastly, and because we enjoy cooking together, Sophia and I made chocolate balls which were a rich chocolate cake mixed with ethereally light vanilla buttercream frosting and dipped in bittersweet chocolate. They were such fun to make and a huge hit at the party.
The adults socialized, the kids played, we sang happy birthday, blew out candles, ate cake, and opened presents. Sophia was thrilled that her friends and family made the time to join us in celebrating her birthday. She loved her presents. This birthday was for Sophia but it was a family party where we came together with people we love and spent time catching up.
The picture is a bit fuzzy… it is the best one I have until my sister and brother-in-law look through their pictures. They hosted the party opening their house to our guests and helped enormously. Their selfless generosity is the very definition of family. This is what families, real, close-knit families do–make time, open their home, their hearts, and enjoy the pitter patter and laughter of tiny guests. I couldn’t be happier that Sophia and Eliza are learning by example. And thank you Anna, David and Alex for your open home and open hearts. Truly.
We’re half-way through summer and, for our family, that can mean one thing — birthdays! The summer birthdays have arrived and we happily celebrated our cousin’s 9th birthday. Sophia couldn’t wait to get to the party and once there, enjoyed playing with all her cousins. She especially enjoyed the backyard—something that we don’t have here in the city. Eliza enjoyed all the attention and copious time with her aunt, uncle and grandparents. And for us, as usual, we got a break from being 100% hands on with the kids and caught up with our cousins. Both Evan and I look forward to “the birthday season” that has become a yearly tradition. We also have a similar season in October with three kid birthdays that month, too!
Having not gotten enough of backyards and the quiet, we ventured out to celebrate Evan’s Dad’s birthday. We didn’t do the celebration justice last year having just welcomed Eliza, so there was little chance of us missing his special day this time around. Replete with chocolate cake, we headed home to nap, rest, relax and get ready for the week. We did brave the hot evening and headed to Race Street Pier to catch a breeze, a view, and let the kids run around.
Sophia loves going to the pier and watch the yoga classes that are offered there. She is now trying to imitate #mylittleyogi
Let me state right up front that the 4:40 AM train I was on bound for Washington D.C., this morning is quite an experience. Having to wake up at an uncivil hour of 3:45 AM sparked thoughts of changing my day job to that of a stay-at-home mom. I was fortunate that I could wake up as close because the trip to the train station takes me 10 minutes vice 30+ minutes from the suburbs.
I could have taken the train yesterday or even late at night but I didn’t want our wonderful weekend to end. Independence Day was July 4th and most everyone, myself included, had a 3-day weekend. We took advantage of the luxury that is a long weekend and spent time with family in the country. We visited Evan’s family on Friday where the kids played and splashed in the still-too-cold pool and the adults doted on them.
Saturday brought a visit with my family where we celebrated my sister’s birthday. Though the celebratory dinner was in the evening, we headed there early to spend as much time with my family as possible. My parents set up a corner for the kids with crates of toys and games that were once Alex’s (my nephew). In addition to the toys and games, there were crafts (Sophia’s favorite). Sophia played so beautifully on her own. She explored each crate and made sure to put its contents back before moving on to another activity. Eliza made use of her not-so-new walking skill to explore the house and run around in the yard. Both the girls spent some time exploring my mom’s vegetable garden and ate its bounty at dinner.
Not believing that anyone should bake a cake for their own birthday, I baked peach cupcakes with brown sugar cream cheese icing in honor of my sister. My brother in-law is not a fan of chocolate and these were perfect since they were light, not chocolate, and incorporated peaches which are finally in-season.
We headed home rested and relaxed, and with lots (and LOTS) of delicious eats packed to-go. I mean really, who would say no to home-made blintzes, apple cake, and the likes?
We couldn’t think of a better way to round out the weekend than a trip to a playground and the farmer’s market. I was sad to see the weekend come to an end especially since I had an awful early train, but I know the next weekend is just five days away.
The good kind of tired. The kind when your ankles and knees ring from running after little ones. The very same kind that overfills your heart after spending an afternoon with family and friends. We hosted Eliza’s first birthday. Nothing major, just some sandwiches, pizza, a vegetable tray, fruit and cake (of course).
We were pleased with the cake I designed inspired by my mother-in-law’s suggestion of something with ducks. We wanted something playful and fun, without being too girly yet dainty enough. The owner of Sweet Elizabeth’s Cakes helped put together a cohesive design that included ducks, a pond, a park bench, balloons, a carousel, and a dog (Eliza’s favorite!). The pinks and purples in the balloons were a nod to the fact that the cake was for a little girl.
And so our little Eliza is finally ONE. For whatever reason, this feels like a huge milestone for me. It is as if I’ve been waiting with bated breath for her to get a little older. Perhaps this is true and I have been restless waiting for her first smile, first laugh, and first tentative steps. Really, I’ve waiting for her to become a little girl, and with that, a little friend for Sophia.
And of course, big sister Sophia was on hand to help get the party started!
Last, but not least, a special thank you to my brother-in-law for capturing the memories.
I am ready for the weekend and it is too bad that I have to wait five days. Time seems to fly by during the weekends and especially when we are having fun. The weekend sort of started earlier than Friday afternoon but went by at warp speed. Firstly, there was my birthday which fell on Tuesday this year. The day of, I took as, what my job refers to, a floating holiday which is also, what my friends affectionately call, National Sass Day ;-). Among other things, there was a visit to Milk Bar. It was, needless to say, a busy day capped off by some Indian fare together with those truly responsible for the day—my parents. All that activity and it was just Tuesday.
The weekend approached and after a thankfully uneventful Friday evening spent at home, Evan and I headed on a date. This would be our second or third date night since Sophia’s birth (3.5 years ago). Needless to say we were very excited to get to spend an evening together in such gorgeous weather. So excited that I may have put on mascara andeven accessorized. A brief stop at a speakeasy and dinner were just what we needed to remind ourselves that after nearly seven years of marriage, we have not run out of things to talk about and, more importantly, still make each other laugh like we did when we first started dating in … 2002. This, of course, would not have been possible had my in-laws & sister not come into town to babysit. Truly grateful.
Speaking of marriage and because the wedding season is fast approaching, on Sunday, I joined Evan’s family in showering a special bride with attention and gifts. I admit that I like weddings but am not always a fan of bridal showers. Mediocre food, terrible yet mandatory games and endless hours of present opening can make for quite a long afternoon. I have been to great showers as well as quite poor ones and this one was one of the best.
Held at the Philmont Country Club, the shower was styled beautifully. Each table was accented with a gorgeous arrangement that would befit a wedding table scape in lovely greens and lavenders. The food and company were outstanding and even though I was joining Evan’s family for the event, I felt quite at home and part of the family. That got me thinking about families and marriage. I believe that you don’t just marry a person but that you also marry their family. In the case of Evan’s cousin who is marrying a beautiful girl (who also happens to be Russian), I can, with absolute certainty, say that she is marrying into a wonderful family.
Capping the weekend off was a beautiful Boston Cream Pie, Candy Land and various shenanigans from the tiniest of mischiefs that will melt your heart.