I once heard a theory of parenting that when you have the first baby they come home on a velvet cushion, all milestones are documented and celebrated to the tiniest degree. If you get to a third baby they come home with the shopping!
It’s fairly tongue-in-cheek but I am determined that Elma’s milestones will not be any the less than her sister’s simply by accident of birth, and that meant that if she was turning one, we were having a party.
We did wonder whether it was a good idea two weeks before Christmas, with our not terribly enormous house already slightly smaller by reason of the Christmas tree, and little to no chance of getting out in the squelchy wet garden. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and as these things so often do, it all worked out on the day.
Kitty’s first birthday party had a butterfly theme, an echo of my earlier baby shower, but for Elma something wintery, and just as dear to my heart, seemed appropriate: snow. Well, snowflakes and stars, all the loveliness of the winter for my little winter baby, even if the requisite frost and cold didn’t exactly make an appearance.
But in some ways, mild weather was no bad thing. The London branch of the family braved the M25 to come north for the day, and Grandpa made a herculean effort, leaving home at 6am and spending four hours each way on the train (not arriving home until well after midnight) to come and celebrate his smallest granddaughter.
And from closer to hand, some of my dearest Mama-friends and their families came to help us celebrate. We ended up with three 3-year olds causing blissful disarray, particularly when they all tried to pile into the ball pool,
and three babies; Elma, my tiny nephew, and another tiny miss, a couple of weeks younger than him.
And so our home was filled with chatter, peals of laughter from the children (especially when H pulled out his disappearing handkerchief trick), twinkly lights streaming from every plug, and the joy of celebrating together.
I’d spent much of Friday cooking while the girls helped, napped, and watched a bit too much CBeebies; but it was worth it, we had snowflake and star topped mince pies, little star-shaped smoked salmon pate sandwiches (described to me by Kitty as “these delicious cheese sandwiches”), nibble and dips and for the piece de resistance, Elma’s birthday cake.
Lemon sponge, filled with lemon buttercream and homemade lemon curd (home made on a whim on Saturday morning when I realised that (a) the cake would be better with lemon curd in it, (b) we didn’t have any in the house, and (c) it was far less effort to make some than dress both children and wrangle them around a shop – God bless Nigella’s recipes), and covered in a buttercream crumb coating, and fondant icing. It’s the first time I’ve ever crumb coated or successfully fondanted a cake, and is entirely due to having my sister on hand to pass on the wisdom accumulated over a number of cake decorating classes.
The snowflakes are cut from fondant and dusted in blue lustre and Elma’s real name is written across the front (which is of course why this is a picture of the back).
The young lady herself smiled happily at everyone from the safety of my arms while everyone sang to her, and then mostly watched while she and Kitty blew out her candle together. But she wasn’t going to let Kit eat her portion of cake, not a bit of it!
She was given some beautiful cards and presents which we and she love, but even more than that, we got to share the heart-full-to-bursting-with-joy feeling that she brings to our lives with some of our nearest and dearest friends and family. It was a wonderful day.
And of course, before they all went their ways, we had to take just one (*cough 70-something cough*) photo of my half of the family, all come together to celebrate our one year old.
One day I’ll persuade the children to smile – one day!