Each year on our children’s birthdays, my husband and I compose letters to mark the passing of another milestone. We plan to share these with our children when they’re grown. Below is the letter I wrote to my daughter last week, the day before she turned two, followed by some images from a very DIY tea party we threw in her honor.
30 July 2014
My little dumpling,
Tomorrow, you turn two, and I am unprepared. I can see, in retrospect, how stark this demarcation was with your older brother. I see now that before he turned two, he waddled so gently from baby to toddler, lived often in a gelatinous indecision between the two. Then the birthday fell like a cleaver, and he was a child, unambiguous. I am unready for your childhood.
Because your now-hood is the best thing in the universe. I love the ridiculous things that come out of your mouth in that miniature Japanese robot voice. I want a lot of so many popcorns. Hi, meat. Peek-a-boo, booger. I love the way you narrate everything. My elbow is itchy. I going to scratch my elbow. I scratching my elbow. I love your chipmunk smile and your open heart. I love that dragon sign you were born under, now rising in your personality. The decisive insistence on exactly what you want. Two ice cubes in your milk. No, the rocket sandals. Lie next to you, but without touching you. The defensive instinct that can lay your brother out with a well-placed shriek. The little performer who sings Frere Jacques at Chinese storytime. The tough cookie who can’t resist a roll in the dirt. The sweet-faced daredevil surfing on the arm of the couch.
I know, ready or not, it’s coming. It’s already pouring in through the seams in your babyhood. You’re potty-trained sleeping in a bunk bed jumping off every possible thing using adverbs. I will let it all happen and witness it proudly. Tomorrow. But just for today, I am going to enfold you as tightly as I can, absorb every memory of the you that you are at this moment into my cells.
I love you so much, my girl.
The Invitation: For the cameo on the front, I took a profile pic of my daughter into Photoshop and traced it with the pen tool, selected the path, and filled it with black. My daughter thinks it’s a picture of a chicken, no matter how many times I remind her, “No, honey, it’s your face.”
The Dress: Because how can you throw a Jane Austen tea party without the dress? I got some old curtains at Savers and Thrift Town and turned them into the cuteness you see here (here’s a tute, if you want one of your own).
The Table: Here again, Savers and Thrift Town save the day. The punch bowls and cups totaled maybe $14, the vases were under $1 apiece, and I made the table linens (tablecloth, table runner, cloth napkins) from curtains and bedsheets that totaled about $16.
The Favors: I took the same cameo I made for the invitations and made them into a bookmark along with a Jane Austen quote. I printed them 4 to a page on heavy stock on my home printer, cut, hole punch, bit of ribbon, and bam!, cheapie favor. In addition, the boys got homemade, real, tie-it-yourself (or make your grown-up do it) bow ties (pictured on my son below), and the girls got handmade fascinator headbands. Close inspection will show you that I made the flowers out of leftover table linen fabric, plus a couple little touches from East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse and a whole lot of hot glue. (I took lots of inspiration from At Second Street!)
The Food: Simple tea sandwiches, made with homemade sourdough: pb&j, of course, plus cucumber & cream cheese, prosciutto & fig preserves, ham & apple & brie, and watercress & butter. Also, miniature homemade apricot galettes for each child, lots of strawberries and grapes, and a nice British bread pudding. I did a lot of baking in the week prior to the party, and it’s all due to these beautiful books from Tartine.
The kiddos spent a lovely day snacking, playing, and feeding farm animals. Most of the finery was lost on them, but the grown-ups sure enjoyed it!