Sunday, February 20, 2011

Eliza's Birthday

So turning eight is a really big deal in our family.  You get to have the birthday party of your dreams (within reason), you get your own set of scriptures with your name engraved in gold on them, if you're a girl, you get to have your ears pierced if you want, you get to go out to a fancy restaurant with your parents and learn about "the most beautiful thing in the world" (check out the whole story on this here), and most importantly, you get to be baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

For Eliza, my little planner who has visions of the perfect version of everything in her head (wonder where she gets that from???), turning eight was an especially big deal.  Her birthday traditions are to decorate sugar cookies and have a tea party.  She's done it since she was 2.  This year she wanted to keep with her tradition - but she wanted to go big with it and had precise ideas about how everything should play out.  Luckily, the stars were aligned and everything turned out remarkably well!

In previous years, she's just had a couple friends and her brothers for the cookie decorating and tea party.  But this year she got to invite 12 little girls to the party.  In St George, we found that if we invited 12 kids to a party, maybe 5 would show up.  So I warned Eliza that she might want to invite more girls if she was going to have the dozen she envisioned.  Luckily, she didn't listen to me because as it turns out, all 12 girls she invited came to the party. 

When I was a little girl, I lived in England.  I went to actual tea parties.  Kids dressed up in lovely dresses for little after-school tea parties hosted by their friends quite often and birthday parties always involved everyone dressing up.  I liked those parties.  I was disappointed when we moved back to America and parties were a much more casual affair.  I missed the tea parties with the manners and the dress-up clothes and the lovely little cookies and cucumber sandwiches.  So I was so glad when Eliza thoroughly embraced the whole proper English party idea.  We'll see how long she keeps wanting to do this.  But I'll enjoy it while it lasts!

You know, when little girls are dressed up, they act different.  In the case of these little girls who came to Eliza's birthday party, they took to speaking with British accents and calling each other "dahling" and that sort of thing.  It just sort of happened.  And they were really into saying "please" and "thank you" as they sat around a crisp embroidered table cloth and enjoyed their cucumber sandwiches and fancy treats.

Anyway, enough words - here's the birthday party (on Sat Feb 12th) and the actual birthday (on Sun Feb 13th) in photos.
The lovely ladies of Eliza's birthday party - notice an imposter?  When Isaac was told only girls were allowed at this year's tea party, he found himself a wig and lovely dress and tried to blend in.  Most of the girls didn't know him so it was pretty funny watching them eye him suspiciously until Eliza pulled off his wig and yelled "imposter!"  The girls all squealed with joy and surprise and Isaac ran away laughing his head off.  Pretty good gag.
Here they are "looking like proper tea party ladies"
Here's the dance.  All the girls insisted that they needed to have a dance.  So we cranked up the classical music and the girls did a lovely job dancing away.  They wanted me to teach them some proper dance steps.  I reached way back in my mind to my days in England and remembered some English Country Dancing steps we learned in school (a lot like square dancing) and we put together a nice little dance that they wanted the brothers and Jared to come watch.  They were so cute!
After dancing, it was present-opening time.  Eliza got so many wonderful gifts!  She's never really had a big party before so she's never really received a lot of gifts before.  It was all VERY exciting and she was cute about wishing each present-giver something - we played the old-school "Heavy Heavy Hangover" where the giver hangs her present over the receivers head and everyone chants "Heavy heavy hangoever thy poor head - what do you wish with a bump on the head" (then the giver gives the birthday kid a little bump on the head with the present).  Not sure where this little party game came from but it was a standard at birthday parties I went to growing up.  Sort of odd  -  I like how this little game gives kids a chance to focus on each giver individually and enjoy each present separately.
The final part of the party was cookie decorating.  Wow, those girls came up with some creatively decorated cookies!
For Eliza's actual birthday (on Sunday), we celebrated by all speaking in church (Eliza was actually thrilled when we were asked to speak on her birthday - she loves speaking and did the best job of anyone with her talk).  It was a little stressful getting all the birthday activities in while preparing talks, but somehow it all worked.  Anyway, Grammie and Grandfather came to hear us speak in church then came home with us for Liza's big birthday lunch - her favorite penne in cream sauce with broccoli .
After lunch, we opened presents - Grandma, as always, sent the perfect gifts of a book (which Eliza has already read - she's such a reader) and a cute teddy bear plus some candy.  Grammie and Grandfather gave her some fun international gifts from their travels.  Jared and I gave her the gift of dance classes - something she's been wanting for a long time.  And we found the perfect class for her at the Eccles Art Center right on our block - Virginia Tanner Dance.  I took and loved Virginia Tanner creative dance when I was a little girl and it's so fun to see that the classes are still much the same - totally took me back to see Liza leaping and twirling with a scarf to live piano music.  I love creative dance.   
We finished the day with Liza' favorite dinner - grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.  Can you tell she's smiled for too many pictures today???

We're still celebrating.  Eliza got her ears pierced a couple days ago and in spite of a little indecision after seeing the baby ahead of her in line have a pretty hard time with it, she emerged triumphant with newly sparkly ears.  We've got Eliza's baptism scheduled for March 5th and she's busily memorizing the Articles of Faith and we finally found her the perfect confirmation dress.   

Last night we took her out for her special dinner at a really wonderful restaurant and she reveled in the personal attention and the fancy food.  After explaining the miracle of how babies are made to her big brothers, Jared and I had our message down pretty well this time round and Eliza took it all in with beautiful innocence and wonder.  I really love the approach my parents teach that helps kids learn about everything step-by-step in a very positive light and we've added in our own methods of explaining things that makes everything feel so simple and logical and wonderful and not strange or "icky" at all.  We really had a wonderful evening and Eliza seemed to understand everything so well.  Of course, we'll need to have plenty of follow-up talks but I'm so glad we're getting to our kids with this very important information before anyone else gives them a tainted version of anything.  

Before the talk, I asked Ashton and Isaac for tips on what we should be sure to cover when we talked with Eliza.  They thoughtfully offered a few pointers and it was a great chance to reflect back on what they remembered about their special dinner when they turned eight.  They seemed to have really great memories.  I'm so glad it's worked out so well.  


April Perry said...

So cute, Saren! I love the Isaac-imposter. What great memories! Will you teach me the English dances?

bjahlstrom said...

I was laughing so hard when I saw Isaac in a wig. He is so funny. You capture your kids' personalities so well, and although I don't know your family personally, it's hard not to feel endeared to everyone.

I love the idea of making sure to have that special talk at age 8, and I read your parents' article. It was wonderful. Even though my husband and I don't have children yet, we discussed this idea, and agreed to start that tradition in the future.

He grew up having never recieved the information from his parents, and I got my information at age 8, but it was a little TOO much info to take in the first time. I think you guys are doing it really well.

Jennifer Knight said...

Those pictures of Isaac are going to be so fun when he starts dating!

Sydney said...

Eliza is one lucky girl---to be celebrated and loved by so many. 8 is great!

Eyrealm said...

Darn! I just found "the books" for "the talk" at Bear Lake this week. Sounds as though you did just fine without them. Maybe you have your own. Anyway, I've never seen such a wild conglomeration of beautiful girls! What a fun party! You just never know when that country dancing is going to come in handy!

Paige said...

You are amazing! Eliza was on cloud nine on Sunday telling me about all the birthday festivities and esecially when she told me how she had gotten to go out with you to a fancy restaurant and learn about how babies are made!
I have to admit I have kind of started Blog stalking you by reading all your posts and reading the power of moms website every day! I have told all my friends about it - LOVE IT!
I also love all these traditions you have in your family. I'm learning so much from you - look forward to getting to know you better

Tiffany said...

I was on a country dance 'team' in my school in England--and until reading your post--I didn't realize I don't remember any steps! I'm sad about that. Hopefully some more important things have taken their place in my mind, but who knows actually...


Related Posts with Thumbnails