Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ava's birthday (part 1)

Any of you who have known Tam for any length of time know that she is, at heart, a planner. So it should come as no surprise that as Ava's first birthday was approaching, ideas for her 1st birthday party were tossed around, discussed, built upon, discarded, reconsidered, etc. She was born on Feb 22nd, so naturally this planning began somewhere around the middle of March.

I'm exaggerating a bit, but not by much. Realistically, we started planning baby girl's party in November. There were lots of good ideas, and we went with something that fit Ava's personality - "Ava's Sweet Shoppe." Tam scoured the internet for crafty design ideas, and she found a lot of really fun things we could do to decorate and make it a lot of fun for Ava while also being fun for our guests. With these decor ideas came a lot of craft work. The projects included banners, big lollipops to put up along the walkway, lots of apothecary jars for a good candy assortment, goodie bags for our guests to fill with said candy, Dum Dum topiaries, Ava's highchair skirt, and working on our big gift for her.

We felt like we got a nice jump on things, beginning projects towards the beginning of January. We worked on things in the evenings and on weekends, getting a little done here and a little done there. We used our garage as a storage space and workshop so we could have a place to leave projects out as they were in progress.

Tam found a freelance designer on who put together a graphics package that we printed, cut out, and assembled into her banners, signs, labels, tags, party hat, etc. We painted, glued, and wrapped styrofoam plates to make big lollipops. We scoured Target, TJ Maxx, Pier One, and other stores for an assortment of apothecary jars. We shopped for a mix of classic old-fashioned candy for the sweet shoppe. We toiled for HOURS making the Dum Dum topiaries (this alone called for plant pots, spraypaint, styrofoam balls, dowel rods, acrylic paint and a 40-lb bag of concrete). We worked for hours sanding, priming, and painting Ava's rocking horse, which was originally built by Ava's great-grandfather.

Of course, no matter how big a headstart we feel like we get, the last minute always comes and brings a mad scramble to finish projects. True to form, we were up until midnight the two or three evenings before the party, but it was worth all the hard work, because our sweet girl certainly seemed to be enthralled by the decorations. She gave plenty of "ooohhh's" and pointed at and reached for the banners, balloons, candy, and cupcakes.

After all the planning and all the work, the party was fantastic. We've said it before, but we feel so lucky and blessed to have so many friends and family who care about our little girl. She had around 40 people come to help us celebrate her first year, and she really knew that everybody was there for her, so she was hamming it up as usual. She had a great time playing with the big kids, playing with her buddies, opening up presents, and smashing/eating her birthday cake.

We can't believe a year has gone by already. Our baby girl has gone from a fragile little swaddled-up munchkin to a walking, babbling, sassy little toddler. It's been amazing to watch and take part in, and as difficult as it has been at times, having her is the best thing that we have ever done. Happy birthday, Ava. We love you.

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