I had been dreading Sylvia's birthday, ever since we learned we were going to expatriate in the month of July. Her August birthday was, ahem, planned for - with the rest of us born in January AND a February anniversary, neither Josh nor I wanted yet another party to plan in the winter months. But that meant last year that her special day was the second day of preschool, too chaotic a time to plan much of a celebration. And this year it meant we would have just left all of her friends behind, the first year that she was old enough to really want them around to celebrate. All spring and summer long she asked for a My Little Pony party with Gracyn, Shireen, Morgan, Niko, and her other friends from school and our Simpsonville neighborhood. She would ask Nana and Pappy whether they were coming. And the pit in my stomach would get a little pittier.
But there was nothing to be done about it, so as we settled into our French apartment and August crept closer, I planned a little gathering in the park. Some of our new expat friends were traveling in August, but many were still around. Thanks to a happy accident, we wandered into a party supply store that had My Little Pony invitations - Sylvie was overjoyed! And a local chain store had all of the baking supplies I was missing; the cookie sheets and cooling racks and spatulas that didn't make it into our shipping container. The birthday girl chose a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and strawberry filling, and together we found all the ingredients we needed to pull it off.
When the weather forecast showed rain and cold for the morning of the big day, I looked around at our enormous flat and decided to hold it here instead of the park. This place just begs to be filled with people, coffee or wine in hand and kids off making mischief in a bedroom. So we obliged.
|It was beautiful outside when the day actually came, of course. Birthday girl with friends in our little courtyard.|
|So nice to see our big window framing happy friends!|
|And here they are from the inside.|
|We made short work of the cake!|
|I love this picture of Josh!|
|Birthday girl and friends, in the thick of the hunt!|
And that was probably the sweetest moment of the entire party. All of the kids, even the youngest ones, saw her crying and brought her treats from their own collections. The Kinder Buenos, mini chupachups, and plastic rings were a hit, and everyone wound up happy.
It was such a sweet, busy, fun party that I forgot all about my anxiety earlier in the year. Friends who have been here longest taught us the birthday song in French, new friends who'd just arrived came and were introduced around, and a bunch of us semi-newbies grilled the expat veterans about school supplies, first day schedules, and how to operate French appliances. Everyone left before lunchtime (morning party means no conflicts with nap times), and Sylvia declared it "her best France birthday!" And that was even before we started opening Legos, puppets, art supplies, and other thoughtful gifts late that afternoon. I needed another coffee for that process.
I'm so lucky to be Sylvia's mom. I am so proud of this brave, sweet, brilliant, hilarious four year old kid who can just roll with a thousand big and little changes. I can't wait to see what the next four years will bring.