Garden Party

Can ya’ll believe that Rachel is 8 years old!  Well, I can’t!  A few weeks ago, a lady in the neighborhood asked about the age gap between my daughters, and I said “6 years – actually almost 7”.  She plainly looked at me and told me that she thought that Rachel was my youngest.  Ouch….  Technically speaking, it would be very feasible for Bryan and I to have a 14 year old and an 8 year old, but that didn’t work out for us.  I guess Bryan’s residency and fellowship but the brakes on such things…

It seems like birthday parties have started to dial back a little bit.  I think that around ages 7-9 birthday party invites are given to a much smaller and tighter groups of friends, because parents have just grown tired of dealing with 15-25 kiddo birthday parties. Whatever the case, the pressure surrounding birthday parties doesn’t seem as intense.  However, I still have a little bit of guilt that Sarah Amelia’s birthday wasn’t as awesome as it could have been – maybe birthday party #2 will have to dial it up a notch.

Last year, Mom suggested that I have Rachel’s birthday party “at some place where you just show up”.  I was relieved and horrified at the thought.  Sarah Amelia was still an infant and I didn’t feel able to do all of the work for a big at home party, but how on Earth could we do something so non-personal?  It took about 10 minutes for me to decide that Mom was wise to suggest a “just show up party”.  About 2 weeks out from her birthday (which fell on Easter), I managed to

Rachel and Sarah at a friend's 8th birthday party celebration a few days after I managed to set-up Rachel's party.

Rachel and Sarah at a friend’s 8th birthday party celebration a few days after I managed to set-up Rachel’s party.

book a science museum birthday party on Good Friday – it felt a little bit like heresy!  After another round of feeling guilty, I reconciled to the fact that everything was fine.  It was better than fine, because Rachel and her friends had a great time!

Back to 2014, Rachel had talked me into a “slumber party birthday party”.  Hmmm, ok.  After Sarah Amelia’s b-day, I knew the timeline for prep was coming in fast.  Of course, I was quickly distracted from that deadline since the rest of life seemed chaotic.  Like last year, I didn’t seriously think about concrete plans until about 2 weeks from the fast approaching date!  Around this time, Rachel and I were at Barnes and Noble shopping for another little 8 year old’s b-day party when she informed me that the slumber party was really a “stay up all night party”, and that her and a friend had “made plans that were supposed to be secret”!  Ok, that was the line in the sand.  Sleep is precious, and unnecessary interruptions could not be risked.  By some miracle, there was an “American Girl, girl of the year” display in the store.  There were miniature versions of the doll and girl of the year story books.  Rachel was interested and I realized – American Girl doll party!  OMG – genius!!!!!  Isn’t this popular now?  I had seen several Facebook posts of little girls at those parties, so it must be a thing.

At the Barnes and Noble coffee shop, I quickly googled the contact information for American Girl stores and got in touch with a perky representative.  Lucky for us, there was one opening – the Sunday before her actual birthday!  I couldn’t book the deluxe party, but the basic option was available.  It was still pricey, but I felt satisfied that big price = big time.  While I was on the phone, Rachel had been checking out some Easter books that I had gotten for Sarah Amelia and eating a cupcake.  After she finished I told her the good news.  Fortunately (very fortunately), this was even better than a “stay up all night party”.  YES,  big money does = big time!

I quickly texted the select inner circle of friends.  You see, the price on the party was determined by total number of guests, which included the parents.  No problem, it was cool.  I think. My husband is extraordinarily generous with kiddo stuff.

The day of the party, we shuffled from a “burgers, brats, and baseball” celebration at church to the American Girl doll store.  Rachel wanted to wear a casual outfit to church, because most of the church kids would be dressed casually for the “bbb” party.  After explaining that her birthday party was indeed a “dressy party”, she agreed to take a nicer outfit to change into before her birthday party.

Here we are - Rachel with her sisters' doll.  She is wearing a little dress from her Great Aunt Nadine :)

Here we are – Rachel with her sisters’ doll. She is wearing a little dress from her Great Aunt Nadine 🙂

For those of you that have never been to an American Girl doll store, let me tell you something, it’s like walking into little girl nirvana.  The people in charge of setup and display have excelled in manipulating both kids and parents into gladly purchasing lots of finely crafted toys.  Sarah Amelia already had an American Girl doll, which was a birthday gift from her Great Aunt Margaret. Fortunately, Sarah Amelia was in a sharing mood before the party, because I told Rachel that Sarah would share her doll with her at the party.  After walking through the entire store (very clever American Girl doll store set-up people – we had to pass by every product on our way to the “party room”), there was the lovely birthday table with the Girl of the Year seated beside the seat of honor for the birthday girl!   The doll of the year is “Isabella”, and she is a little dancer in training.

I was really touched with how grown up Rachel seemed.  She noticed all of the sweet details of the table and was thrilled with her doll. There were “conversation starters” that the little girls read to each other.  I thought the entire arrangement must be what an old-fashioned Garden Party must be like.  It was sweet that

Posing with Isabella :)

Posing with Isabella 🙂

Rachel was on one end of the table with her doll and my little Sarah Amelia was on the other with her “Bitty Baby”.  I thought the length of the table was akin to the distance in age, but still connected together by family and friends.  Of course Rachel bought an accessory for her new doll – a ballet barre.  Even though I did nothing more than text the mom’s of Rachel’s friends and get our little family there, I did nothing for the party.  Big money = big time for everyone (including me).










Two ends of the table, but connected by family and friends :)

Two ends of the table, but connected by family and friends 🙂

Happy birthday to you!

Happy birthday to you!

Sarah Amelia and "bity baby" enjoying the party

Sarah Amelia and “bity baby” enjoying the party











My real-life "American Girl dolls"!

My real-life “American Girl dolls”!


The next day was Rachel’s actual birthday.  I took her to school that day, and she took cupcakes for the class.  She had gymnastics practice directly after school, and she took cupcakes for her teammates.  When I picked her up from practice, one of her little friends thanked me for the cupcakes and Rachel for having a birthday!  We we finally arrived home, she had leftover cake.  Of course I couldn’t find the candles, just a “?” candle.  To my surprise, she thought that was funny.

Haha – good job.  Kiddo 2014 birthday celebrations complete!!!

Nevermind the weird birthday candle, we still have leftover cake!!!!

Never mind the weird birthday candle, we still have leftover cake!!!!

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