Wednesday, April 3, 2013


At long last, I can start talking about Ellie's first birthday party! It already seems like it has been ages since the big day, and I was eager to tell you about it even before that but wanted to keep all the details under wraps to surprise our guests. I got a little carried away with the "Elizabeth Alice in ONEderland" theme and poured a ton of work into this party, although if you ask me, such efforts are not unjustified: our baby's first year of life alone deserves a great celebration, but on top of that, we survived our first year as parents. So let's party!

I want to tell you all about the party itself in this post, and I'll go back and fill you in on all the little details later. For now, let's just talk fun!

Party girl!

The party was held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 23 at a pavilion at Lake Seminole Park. Eric and I got up and went right out there that morning to begin setup, while Ellie spent some quality time with Aunties Kelley and Phyllis. Setup was brutal - it was overcast, cool, damp and ridiculously windy, which made things quite challenging and several curse words may have been uttered. Around 11:00 I left Eric in charge of finishing the setup (Husband of the Year, my friends) while I went home to relieve Kelley and Phyllis, get Ellie down for her nap and get myself ready. My Aunt Debbie, cousin Molly and her baby Santiago came by around 1:00 to pick up the food, and then I had to wake Ellie around 1:30 to get her ready and get out there on time. It was sort of a mad dash all morning, but in the end, everything got done (with the exception of a couple of forgotten details that were hardly missed) and the party went off without a hitch. The weather even warmed up, the wind died down, and the sun came out. Perfect!

When Ellie and I arrived at Lake Seminole at 2:00, many of our guests were already there milling about. We got the food all set up and then instructed everyone to dig in, as we made the rounds. I just loved having so many dear friends and family there, and tried my best to talk to everyone (but, you know how these things go - there's never quite as much time as you'd like). We also made sure everyone posed for pictures with our Alice in Wonderland photo props and signed the guestbook.

Ellie in her Alice-inspired dress, posing with my friend Cathy's daughter Claire, who was celebrating her actual first birthday on Ellie's party day!

Friends and family enjoying the food

Ellie taking a break from the action with her Papa

Our friends Ryan, Amanda and baby Ethan

Fun with Alice in Wonderland photo props!

One of my favorite moments of the whole party was when somehow, all but one of the babies in attendance ended up hanging out in the grass together (the only exception was Ellie's cousin Charlie, who was wisely napping in his stroller). The oldest baby there was my friend Fran's daughter Hailey, who is about 18 months. Next were Ellie and Claire (who, as I mentioned, turned one that day), followed by Santiago (10 months) and Ethan (8 months). Cousin Charlie was the youngest at 6 months. It was just so cute to see Ellie with all her friends, and I couldn't help but imagine future birthday parties when they'll all really be playing together.

Mamas and babies, just hanging out on the croquet ground

Hailey hamming it up! Claire and Ellie are enjoying the balls (Ellie is sharing, as usual), Santiago is trying to escape the grass, and Ethan is just making a getaway. Oh, kiddos!

Left: Bunch o' babies! Right: The adorable birthday girl (who quickly changed into more appropriate party play-wear, as you can see)

Left: Poor Santiago did not enjoy the grass. Right: Hailey was such a sweetie pie!

Happy birthday, Claire!

Here, Ethan, have this grass.

When everyone was done eating and the kiddie play session was over, it was time to open presents. Ellie got some really wonderful things! Needless to say, we're staggering our actual opening of new toys so she has some new stuff coming in over time, rather than giving them all to her at once, because she has more than enough to keep her attention for the near future. She was spoiled rotten!

Time for presents!

Ellie reading her cards

Smiling at one of her new toys

Ellie got not one, but TWO Cozy Coupes! I'm totally jealous. I always wanted one.

Left: Fran and Hailey brought Ellie a set of Alice in Wonderland dolls, and she particularly enjoyed the rabbits.
Right: Me with my baby girl!

After presents, it was cake time. There were cupcakes for the guests, and one cake reserved for the Un-Birthday Girl herself. We laid out a blanket, sang "Happy Birthday" to her (without a lit candle, unfortunately, thanks to the wind picking up again), and then invited her to go to town on the cake. And wouldn't you know, my "enthusiastic" eater, the girl who really "experiences" her food, the girl who concludes mealtimes looking like this more often than not:


That girl? All of a sudden she's the prissiest, daintiest eater you ever saw. She dipped her little fingers into that frosting and was all, "eh, no thanks, I'm good." She entertained the idea a bit to humor us, but anyone who came looking for an Epic Cake Smash, well, sorry to disappoint you. She was just not impressed by cake. (For the record, I also sampled that cake, and it was delicious - one layer red velvet, one layer Funfetti, with strawberry frosting because my kid goes nuts for strawberries. So it wasn't a poorly made cake, it's just my weird kid.)

She was a little stunned when we all started singing to her!

Here we go!

Left: Sampling the frosting. Right: Well, that's more like it! But don't be fooled, that bite is a one-time thing.

She even tried to pawn some of her cake off on her audience.

Here, people. Have some cake.

Even her Daddy couldn't convince her that this cake stuff is supposed to be awesome.

 Not buying what you're selling, Dad.

She did, however, want to eat the candle.

Wax is obviously more her taste.

So, not quite what we expected, but hey. It's her birthday. She certainly doesn't have to eat cake if she doesn't want to! (Plus, that means Mama gets to eat it. Never a tragedy.)

After the cake, we just hung out some more. Ellie continued to work the crowd, making the rounds from group to group and mingling with everyone. She did a little walking with Auntie Kelley and Great-Gramz, and played with her new toys with Grammy, GAD and Santiago. We all chatted with friends and family, ate more food, enjoyed the park, and Gary and Eric played some croquet.

Walking with Auntie Kelley

Aunt Steph and cousin Charlie

Aunt Molly and cousin Santiago, our visitors who travelled the farthest - all the way from IL, just for the party! So glad you guys could make it!

Great Aunt Debbie, Santiago, Grammy and Ellie

Gary and Eric playing croquet

Walking with Great-Gramz

And then, things started to wind down. People said their good-byes and we started cleaning up (thanks to everyone who helped with clean-up, by the way! Much appreciated!). And just like that, the party was over.

The end of a great celebration!

It was such a wonderful afternoon, and we are so happy that all of these people who love Ellie so much could be there to celebrate her first year. She is a lucky little girl to have so many people who love her, and we're pretty lucky, too! We had a fabulous time, and a big thank you to all who came and helped make the day so special. We love you all!


Becky said...

What a fabulous party it was! We had the best time, and Ellie is a socialite for sure. Love you all!

Lauren said...

Looks like an awesome bday party for Miss Ellie, you did a ONEderful job :-)

Kate said...

OMG! I love everything about this party. What an amazing job you did. And you can't help but smile at the pics of the babies playing.