Category Archives: parties

The 3 Year Old Dinosaur Tea Party

Little Aussie, parties

I’m fairly rubbish at most things that make pretty parenting blog posts. I don’t make cute lunches. I think craft is the actual worst. I don’t even keep a very clean house unless guests have pre-announced themselves well in advance. I’m more of a go out and do things kind of parent. But, the one cute thing I quite like doing for my kid is her birthday party.

This is the first year that she’s been old enough to have some opinions into the matter, so we went with one of her favorite things for the theme – dinosaurs. To step just a bit sideways from the uber-masculine dinosaur decor I saw most places, I decided to add a feminine touch, and turn it into a dinosaur tea party. (Note to everyone who makes toys/decorations/clothes for kids – GIRLS LIKE DINOSAURS, TOO!).

Hushpuppy’s primary concern was about the cake. It had to be a dinosaur, and it had to be purple. Thankfully, a mother friend tipped me off to this completely do-able dinosaur cake from Betty Crocker. And, because I believe with all of my heart that birthday cake should actually taste good, I went with a layer of vanilla, a layer of chocolate with crushed Tim Tams, held together with salted caramel honeycomb ganache (yes, you may have the recipe), and covered in flour buttercream. We quite liked our dino.

I had fun with the food table.

So the dinosaur trays I made couldn’t bear any weight… details!

I got a hot glue gun blister from this one.

And, I made these, which the kids looked ferocious in.

Oh, and these monstrosities, which I thought would be cute for the coloring table. I got the idea from this tutorial, which assumes that you are handy with a needle and thread, which I pretty much am not. As I wrote on Twitter while making these, hot glue is my earthly penance for not learning how to sew. 

But, speaking of the coloring table. Thank you, KMart, for these awesome dino cut outs. I had a little coloring/craft table at Hushpuppy’s party last year, as well, and it’s definitely a big winner, especially because the kids can come and go from it.

And, on the topic of KMart. $2. Winner, winner!

Activities … I thought the kids should probably do something at this party, so, we went with:

  1. The dinosaur dig – This project was my Kilimanjaro, mostly because I had to actually remember to do it a week ahead of time and then keep my kid’s touchy fingers out of it all that time.
    Right, so, I got one of those under the bed storage boxes, filled it with 9 bags of corn flour (corn starch), and enough water to make it gloopy, but not runny, plus some green food coloring. It’s really fun to play with, and Hushpuppy and I did for an hour or so. Then, we sunk in a whole bunch of plastic dinosaurs and let it sit outside and dry for the rest of the week. On the day of the party, we collected a pile of leaves, branches and flowers to cover it with.
    I set it up on top of a couple of old sheets, with some play hammers, spoons, shovels and whatever else the kids could pry the dinos out with.
    Then, they could take their dinosaurs to a little table where there were paint brushes and water for cleaning them, little magnifying glasses for inspection, and a “chart” for identifying their dinosaurs. All of the kids engaged with it in different ways, but it seemed to go over well.
  2. Dino egg hunt – Don’t tell the kids, but it’s just an Easter egg hunt, except I called them “dinosaur eggs” really menacingly.
  3. Dinosaur dance party – This was certainly my favorite part of the party. We just put on some dinosaur songs nice and loud, and the kids stomped around and roared their hearts out.
    Three songs was plenty – I went with “We Are the Dinosaurs” by Laurie Berkner, “Dino Stomp” from Playschool and “Dinosaur Roar” by Justine Clarke. (I thought “Walk the Dinosaur” would have been cool, but when I gave it a listen, I realized the first line talked about lighting a cigarette, and I thought we’d be better off sticking to Playschool at least until they’re 4 or 5).I think all pre-schoolers should be encouraged to have dinosaur dance parties, any time of the day, any day of the week.

I loved putting this party together, and I think it got a big RAWR from my little dinosaur, as well. 

Dino cake for everyone!

The 2 Year Old Music Party

parties

Hushpuppy turned 2 this weekend. I’m still not certain how she went from this to that in two blinks of an eye, but it happened.2yrWe wanted to celebrate, but as I spent a lot of effort on her party last year, and I also figured that this is the last year that she won’t have strong opinions on the matter of birthday parties, I swore to take it pretty easy this time around. We decided to have the party at home and just to invite half a dozen fellow toddlers who she enjoys playing with. I settled on a music theme because I thought that would both be easy for decorations and provide a lot of entertainment for the kids.

My first purchase was a bunch of inexpensive instruments – maracas, castanets, and wrist bells – which I put into little envelopes for the kids to pick up when they arrived so that they could play with them during the party. Basically, they got the party favor first thing. Here’s Hushpuppy showing off the little packages.

IMG_0030 (1)

For decorations, I went almost all homemade. I bought a package of disco ball ornaments, which I hung from the ceiling with some paper cut out music notes I created from an online template. I got a package of colored felt and cut out shapes, which I glued to an old white sheet, and then I duct taped it to our existing rug to make a “dance floor.”  We made good use of streamers, colored paper, and balloons.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For the party food, I went all snack-ish, as it was a late afternoon party. And, also, toddlers love snack food. I tried copying a sandwich “piano” I saw on Pinterest, but I couldn’t find any pumpernickel bread anywhere, so it didn’t really “read” as a piano. But, I did like the music note sugar cookies. And, the xylophone cake was my big project. It was my first time using fondant, and I was relatively pleased with how it came out. Oh, and I decided to deviate from the standard “yellow cake” this year for something more interesting, so opted for this recipe for “Hummingbird Cake,” (just the cake, not the frosting – I couldn’t figure out how to make it dairy free) which I thought was pretty delicious.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI spent some time making a playlist of upbeat songs that I thought toddlers would enjoy. It was a combination of songs from kid’s CDs I owned, a few that I picked up from the library, and adult songs that worked well for children. I made sure to have some “action” songs like “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” “I’m a Little Teapot,” etc., but honestly we didn’t make much use of those. My attempt at getting the kids to “Hokey Pokey” turned into a few mothers looking a little silly while disinterested kids looked on. I did some searches to get ideas for adult songs toddlers might like, so if you happen to need any inspiration, a few of the ones I settled on were “If You Want to Sing Out” by Cat Stevens, “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, “ABC” by The Jackson 5, “1234” and “I Feel It All” by Feist, “Roar” by Katy Perry, “Shiny Happy People” by R.E.M, and “If I Had a Million Dollars” by The Barenaked Ladies (by the way, I started playing around with the idea of having an “If I Had  Million Dollars” theme birthday party for myself where we eat Kraft dinner and dress in green dresses, but I haven’t quite fleshed that one out, just yet). The playlist took me awhile to put together, but I love it so much that it’s going to be our go-to music for a long time.

On the day of the party, I cleared our living room of most of Hushpuppy’s toys, leaving just her instruments, some balls and blocks, a dress up box, and a couple of other things for the kids to play with. At the last moment, I remembered that I had some bubble solution in the garage, which I dragged up, and good thing, as the bubbles were probably the most entertaining aspect of the whole party for the kids. The parents spent so much time blowing bubbles, I wish I’d invested in a bubble machine!

I also covered our dining room table with butcher paper and put out some craft items like markers, googly eyes, pom poms, etc so that the kids could decorate their own “shakers,” which were just cardboard paper towel tubes in which I’d put some pasta and covered the ends with tape. The kids had a good time with that, as well, probably more with just drawing on the paper than actually doing the craft. I mean, they are only two.IMG_0070 (2)

 

Other than the one organized craft, we really just let the kids play, dance, and enjoy as they wanted. It was everything I’d hoped from this year’s party – easy to manage, joyful, and festive. And, most of all, befitting a two year old and her noisy, fun-loving friends. It was a great way to ring (and shake and rattle) in two years old.

Edited: A friend requested my playlist, so here it is. I didn’t order it, just put it on Shuffle.
Click on the photos to make them bigger.
aplaylist1 aplaylist2

 

The Breakfast for Dinner Party

parties

One of my strongest convictions is about breakfast, in particular about its significance as not only the most important, but most exceptional meal of the day.

prbreakfastI have had the idea floating around for ages about sharing my love for the morning meal with a breakfast open house party, and our recent move presented itself as the perfect opportunity to throw a housewarming. Unfortunately, Partner-in-Crime’s nocturnal work schedule makes morning parties inadvisable, so we decided on a late afternoon/early evening Breakfast for Dinner theme.

What a marvelous time we had thanks to our cadre of phenomenal friends and the joy inducing qualities of breakfast food.image2

Our new apartment The food, obviously, was the star of the show. I spent a long time thinking about the menu, wanting to strike just the right balance of sweet and savory, familiar and festive. I finally settled on:

  •  Raspberry french toast cheesecake bake with raspberry maple syrup (adapted from the recipe from “strawberry week” because, honestly, frozen raspberries were a lot cheaper than strawberries this week, but I actually liked the raspberries better because they are a bit more tart, which added to the complexity, and offset the sweetness just a tiny bit)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Bagels and cream cheese (best bagels in town are from Costco)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Fruit plate (because, you know, health and stuff)
  • Mini frittatas adapted from this recipe. I used salami, goat cheese, black olives, and red onion. These were a particular hit with the toddler set who seemed to be running a steady line to the table for more. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Crepes (Costco again), with either Nutella and bananas or brie and ham as fillings
  • Cereal pops (basically rice krispie treats formed into balls with 1/3 Fruit Loops to make them more colorful)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Hash browns and bacon (streaky American bacon from Costco, natch) cooked by P-i-C on the grill. The grill stuff was a big hit.

Per usual whenever we host a party, I was worried about not having enough food, lest anyone go home hungry, so I over compensated ridiculously to the extent that there was an entire second casserole that I never even put into the oven to bake. We are going to be eating breakfast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next week. Not that I’m complaining.

I also overcompensated in the drink department. I didn’t want to leave and beverage stone unturned, and so my drink menu was:

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Bloody Marys
  • Make your own mimosas
  • Assorted juices, including a “house” juice that I made in my juicer and named “The Stay Awake,” which was a blend of watermelon, apple, cucumber, lime, and ginger.
  • Cold brew coffee
  • Assorted teas
  • Assorted wines (OK, wine isn’t really a breakfast drink – for most of us, anyway – but this is Australia. You can’t throw a party without wine.)

I went with a white and yellow theme for the decor because it seemed bright/new day/new home-ish. We just picked up a few little touches at the party store to add some tsuj (did you know that’s how you spell it?!? I didn’t.). I think the tablecloth and the little chalkboards went the furthest in adding that certain Pinteresty touch. And, of course, liberal and well-placed flowers are never out of place.

All told, I think we had about 20 adults and 5 children, a mixture of our American friends and their partners, our friends from the apartment complex, and a few others from different areas of our lives. Our dear friend A, who moved back to the States from Sydney earlier this year, even arrived in the morning to attend our party … and maybe some work meetings this week, but we sure were happy to see her, either way. The hum of conversation never slowed to the point that I completely forgot to turn on the playlist that I made. The toddlers were a bundle of energy and fun. My favorite moment of the party came when Hushpuppy and one of her little friends were taking turns begging food off someone’s plate. Hushpuppy suddenly decided that the little nibbles she was getting weren’t sufficient and, like an expert pickpocket, snatched half a Nutella crepe off the plate and took off running out the door and to the furthest corner of the balcony past half a dozen laughing adults. Clearly, the insatiable desire for breakfast food is genetic. I’ve never been prouder.

After the party, P-i-C and I reflected on what a nice time we’d had. We were both relaxed and tried to visit with everyone instead of stressing the details.  Today, it feels like there’s still a glow of our newly warmed home, a testament to our generous friends and the comforting power of breakfast food.  The leftover Bloody Mary I’m sipping on this afternoon surely doesn’t hurt, either.

Australian Citizenship Party and the Incident With the Door

food, Little Aussie, parties

I’m laying very low and quiet with my kid, a lot of coffee, and Playschool videos today so as not to disturb any forces in the universe that might make this anything other than a quiet, uneventful day. 

After yoga on Friday, we had quite the unexpected drama. Hushpuppy and I had just finished with our weekly mums & bubs class and were in the lobby packing up, chatting to the other mothers. Hushpuppy was wreaking her usual havoc, attempting to infiltrate the trash can (rubbish bin, if you want to be Aussie about it), throwing potting soil on the ground, and so forth. The studio owner/instructor, who has know Hushpuppy her whole life, made a comment about how curious she is (i.e. – your kid is into everything!). True to form, Hushpuppy decided that she wanted to check out the smoke detector next to the door. I was standing right next to her telling her no, but am still unsure how the next split second transpired. Another mother walked out the door and, somehow, Huspuppy got her hand into the open space between the door and the frame. Her two bottom fingers became completely lodged in the door, and the door could not be moved in either direction to free them. None of us could believe what we were seeing, and poor Hushpuppy was clearly in a fair amount of pain and panic. One of the mums grabbed some baby massage oil to try to loosen her fingers, but it was clear that they were completely stuck. All I could do was sit and hold her, and talk to her, and kiss her head. For a moment, panic overtook me, and I started shaking and crying, but then it went through my mind that I’m the mother here – I did not have the luxury of freaking out. Hushpuppy needed me to stay calm and level-headed for her. The studio owner was quick to action, calling 000 (our 911), and the other mothers tried to be helpful, though there was little to be done. 
Seven hours passed and the ambulance arrived … OK, it was actually maybe 10 minutes, amazing time on their part, but for me it felt like seven hours. The paramedics tried to free her fingers with whatever tools they could find in the studio, but they couldn’t get her loose. They told me we’d wait for the fire truck, which was on its way. Three more hours a couple of minutes passed, and the fire fighters arrived. They sledge hammered a couple of large wedges into the door, freeing my poor little monkey, at last. 
I was so relieved to have her out, but still very worried about the fate of her fingers, as they’d been so stuck for a long time. I was sure they’d be broken, or worse, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the thought she might lose those fingers crossed my mind. Seeing them didn’t help – they looked flat  as pancakes – no, actually, much flatter than any pancake I’ve seen, and had large indentations from the door frame. The paramedics were so nice and said that there was a good chance her fingers would be absolutely fine, as their bones are so small at this age, but I didn’t know if they were just saying that to calm me. I got a hug from the studio manager and got to have a quick cry.
We rode to the hospital in the ambulance, thankfully only a short distance away, and the paramedics took turns trying to entertain Hushpuppy as we waited to be brought to the ER. They were the sweetest guys. She slowly started to calm, as we got to the waiting room, and was really happy to see her dad walk in the door a few minutes later (as was I!). By the time we were seen by a doctor a few minutes later, her fingers already looked immensely better. She was given some Panadol, which helped with her pain. X-rays were taken, and they found no breaks. I was amazed and overwhelmed. By the time we left, Hushpuppy was playing happily in the pediatric ER’s play area. I couldn’t believe how lucky she was to come out so unscathed. We took her home, fed her dinner, gave her a dose of Nurofen, and she slept all night without waking, certainly exhausted from her ordeal. I had a couple of glasses of wine, and also slept all night, needing my own repair from the experience. 
The next morning, Hushpuppy seemed as if nothing had happened, and her fingers were a bit red and swollen, but not so much that you would even notice if it wasn’t pointed out to you. It was a relief, especially because I needed her in good form. We were hosting a party that afternoon to celebrate Partner-in-Crime’s recent birthday and newly acquired Aussie citizenship. I had a somewhat ambitious menu planned, and needed a cooperative toddler to make it all happen. She was surprisingly obliging, and I spent the day in full-on food prep mode. My menu for our Aussie themed party was:
  • Appetizers (entrees, if you’re Aussie): Meat pies and sausage rolls (from frozen – full disclosure!), Vegemite sandwiches (ewww), fresh fruit plate. We also had a box of Anzac biscuits out that we set out, but completely forgot to open.

  • Mains (entrees, if you’re American): Kangaroo burgers (even the buns from scratch, thank you very much!), lamb roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and prawn and mango salad.
  • Dessert (universal): Pavlova. Fairy bread for the kids. 

Click to make larger
We had a few decorations and P-i-C turned out to be an ace with the green and yellow streamers – who knew?! I’d spent some time crafting the party playlist, and P-i-C had put together a beautiful slideshow with images from our travels around Australia, both of which were cut short by some meddling little hands “helping” with the SmartTV set up. But, hey, here’s my playlist, in case you’re ever hosting an Aussie themed party and need inspiration. It would have been good.
Look at that skill with streamers!
Aside from the tech glitches, I think the party went well. We got to enjoy a few hours with some of our dear friends, people who have made us feel like we have a home here for the past four years, and some of the new friends who have come into our lives since having Hushpuppy. It was also fortuitous for me to have such a busy day after Friday’s drama so that I didn’t have the time or brain space to spend a lot of time replaying the terrifying door incident in my head.  Certainly much better to be able to focus on something constructive and positive. 
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Very glad that we have so much to celebrate this weekend.

Sydney Harbour Pop-Up Dinner Party

parties, Sydney
pop up dinner partyApril is proving a hard month for me with too many of my expat friends completing their assignments and going home. I’m happy for them, but sad for the hole left in my life here in Sydney. It’s not easy to make friendships as an adult, and being across the world, friends become your family, so I mourn how often we have to say goodbye to the wonderful people we meet for too short a time. My friend L and her husband, whose little daughter and mine played together, and with whom I felt a real kinship went home to the States at the beginning of the month. I’d only known her a few months, and was so sad that we didn’t have more time together. My friend A, who I wrote about here, completes her expat assignment this month and heads home, as well.

The Book Club Girls all agreed that A has been such a dear friend, and done so many kind things for all of us that we were going to send her home in proper style. We knew right away how to celebrate, as A had already given us the perfect idea. For some time, she’d been talking up the idea of a “pop-up dinner party,” a fancy dinner party in a park. Of course, living in Sydney, it would have to feature our famous Harbour view. It’s an amazing idea in theory, but when you get down to it, one that requires a fair amount of work and resources. Thankfully, we had no shortage of hard working, generous, and resourceful ladies amongst the five of us Book Clubbers turned Party Planning Committee.

We agreed on Blues Point Reserve, a park on the north shore which features a stunning Harbour view and is rarely crowded. For theme, we decided to go with an elegant Australian send-off. Our energetic friend G agreed to Project Manage the whole event, and thank goodness, because she’s an ace with spreadsheets, and just plain getting things done and she kept all the pieces together.

We always knew that rain was a possibility, and though we had a backup location at someone’s house, nothing would be as special as our park on the Harbour, so all we could do was cross our fingers. When the day arrived, it was one of those days where it was blue and gorgeous one moment and grey the next. The weather forecasts were little help, some promising scattered showers and others saying no rain until late that night. The five of us went back and forth all morning until we finally decided to take the chance and go for the park. Hallelujah! The weather gods were looking out for us, as we ended up with perfect weather, and not a drop of rain. We would have been so disappointed had we played it safe and moved it, only to have no rain. There’s a life lesson in there, and maybe just a touch of hubris.

The set up was extensive, but thankfully we had lots of hands on board to help move furniture, set places, and put all the fine details in place. We hired a caterer and two servers so that we could all enjoy the party once it got underway.
A knew that a party was being held in her honor, as she picked the date and provided the guest list, and we advised her as to dress code, but she didn’t know any more than that. I suspect she may have guessed that we ran with her pop-up dinner party idea, as we did tell her to dress warmly, but certainly she didn’t know any more details than that. We greeted her with a champagne toast and a rousing chant of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!”

The first hour was mingling, hors d’oeuvres, and bubbly, followed by the sit down dinner, and finally an Aussie dessert of pavlova and macarons. We finished the night with sparklers and lingered over a bit more wine, an incredible view, and great conversation.
A’s farewell pop-up dinner party turned out to be one of the most magical events of my time in Sydney, thus far. I know it was a special send-off for A, but it was just as special for all of us who put it together and got to take part. To have dear friends coming together with a postcard view to sit outside sharing good food, a cool breeze, beauty, laughter, and a few tears – I can’t think of a better way to honor our friend and remember what a special place we live.
The decorated wine bottles across the table spelled out AUSTRALIA.
Photo by Ivan Stojic.
Jars with candles wrapped in twine on posts decorated with eucalyptus and other Aussie flora made a perimeter around our party.
Candles in jars and some twinkle lights provided our lighting.
Macarons for dessert.
Photo by Ivan Stojic.
Photo by Ivan Stojic.
Aussie flowers decorated the table in the wine bottle vases.
Photo by Ivan Stojic.
Hushpuppy particularly enjoyed the pavlova.
Photo by Ivan Stojic.
Photo by Ivan Stojic.
Photo by Ivan Stojic.

ABC-123 and All the Colors of the Rainbow: A First Birthday Party

Little Aussie, parties

1st birthday

I go a little stir crazy without projects. In November, I had Thanksgiving to plan for. In December, of course, there was Christmas and all that goes along with it. February was the blog challenge, and March is yoga. And January? In January, I became consumed with Hushpuppy’s first birthday party.

I wasn’t even sure if we’d throw her a party, as first birthday parties always seemed a little silly to me. I mean, the kid has no idea what’s going on, so why bother, right? But, as we neared ever closer to the milestone, I realized that Partner-in-Crime and I had been through the most exhausting, trying, relentless, surprising, miraculous year of our lives, and it was worth marking with, at minimum, some cake, a champagne toast, and the friends who got us through.

I declared that the only stipulation was that this party was going to cause me no stress. And then, I did what anyone wants to do when setting out to throw a party with no stress or expectations – I got on Pinterest. Oh, Pinterest, the maker and breaker of dreams.  If you were to see my Pinterest board for this party, and then look at the pictures from the party, you’d know that I have not a single creative bone in my body. I’m a fake, but you know what, both thanks to and in spite of Pinterest, we had a lovely, festive, and -yes – stress free party.

In hindsight, I think the keys to throwing this stress-free first birthday party were:

  • I picked a simple theme – Letters and numbers with rainbow colors. So, finding and buying decorations was easy. They only have red tablecloths at KMart? Great! Red is in the rainbow!
  • Held it in our local park, so no need to get the house extra clean or worry about any rentals (we also lucked out with good weather).
  • Put an end time on the invitation. We, of course, did not plan to send anyone home, but everyone knew the party ended at 5, and naturally drifted out about that time. Two hours was a perfect amount of time for Hushpuppy.
  • Plenty of light refreshments, but no meal (holding the party from 3-5 meant there was no expectation of a meal).
  • Hired a young friend/aspiring photographer to take photos so that we didn’t have to worry about it and could be in the photos. Best money we spent, hands down.
  • Accepting help. My friend L offered to come early to help set up, and I thought, “who am I to turn down help?”. Her being there meant that Partner-in-Crime could hang out at home with Hushpuppy for the hour before the party, so she was nice and fresh when she arrived. L and I got an early start on the first glass of wine and had a nice hour setting up and chatting.
The only thing that caused me stress was not allowing enough lead time for ordering things. My lovely invitations got lost in the mail, so I had no time to re-order and had to email. And, I missed out on giving super cute alphabet fridge magnets as favors because they didn’t arrive on time.
We didn’t have any games or anything like that, seeing as the party was about 95% adult, and 5% people who’d rather eat grass than pin the tail on the donkey, so all of my January prep work was spent on decor and menu planning. My big project (and, I’d like the mention, the one thing I did think of from my very own brain, not nabbed from Pinterest) was the photo bunting with pictures of Hushpuppy from each month of her life. It was a time consuming project, but I loved how it came out.
My food table was full-on Pinterest.
I spent HOURS cutting those letter/number sugar cookies out by hand because the cookie cutters I ordered turned out to be tiny for cutting fondant (see the cake).
Thought they looked lovely in the glass cookie jar I found at the Salvos, and I wrapped the lid in alphabet washi tape, which also went around the forks and drink glasses.
Actually, these might have been out of my brain, too.
Rainbow cake. So very Pinterest.
In case you’re ever in need of a dairy free cake recipe, this is the one I used.
And a dairy free buttercream frosting. Thanks, vegans! You make my dairy free cooking life easier.
Hushpuppy didn’t really go all cake-smashy with her birthday cake. I blame baby led weaning for the lack of frosting face pictures.

Outfit was from Etsy. Natch. She wouldn’t wear the adorable headband that came with it, so we skipped it. No stress.

Hushpuppy spent most of the party eating ice with her friend, trying to run away, and digging through other people’s purses. She did seem to like opening her presents, though.
And, we did do a champagne toast! To our friends who supported our family this year. And to Hushpuppy. And to us!
Oh, there’s that headband she wouldn’t wear. Ended up on my wrist. High style.
By the end of the party, we had one tired Hushpuppy and Mama.

Day 27: A Tradition

holidays, parties

Prompt: A tradition I maintain.

Some traditions are quite hard to maintain as an American in Australia. 4th of July without fireworks is a pretty pointless exercise. North American Christmas is something I gave up on in favor of new traditions more fitted to the summer. But, one tradition we’ve held dear is Thanksgiving.

On the first Thanksgiving we spent together in Florida, Partner-in-Crime told me it was his favorite holiday, and a very special day to him. This was unexpected for me because he did not come to the U.S. until he was 18, so it wasn’t a holiday he grew up with. But, now that I’ve spent a few Thanksgivings away from home, and shared Thanksgiving meals with other non-Americans, I understand why it’s so dear to him. I think when you grow up with a tradition, it can be something you take for granted, not really making an effort to internalize the true meaning of the event. But, experiencing it for the first time as an adult, you have to give some thought as to what it is about. Also, I’ve learned, celebrating in a foreign country means sourcing items or making do, so you start to think about what the essence of the day is, rather than the letter of the tradition-law. Thanksgiving is a holiday that is so pure and wonderful. It’s about giving thanks. It’s about breaking bread with your family and your community. It’s about making space in your life for being welcoming and grateful. What a thing to celebrate.

I have, in my adult life, mostly celebrated “orphans’ Thanksgivings” with a different band of friends each year (I wrote about it here, and, incidentally, it happened to be during my first blog challenge), and our Down Under Thanksgivings have been a continuation on that theme. The first two years were spent at Mimi and Joe’s, their gorgeous Harbour view a constant reminder that we weren’t in Kansas anymore, Toto. Our third year, we dined at my friend N’s with a great group of American, British, and Irish guests. Then, the next week, I cooked an entire Thanksgiving meal for our Unitarian Universalist group, where P-i-C and I gave a little talk about Thanksgiving to the mostly Aussie gathering and served what was the first ever Thanksgiving meal for most of them (the one Canadian member was thrilled about the feast). They were a little puzzled by some of the food, but I think the consensus was highly favorable for the whole experience. For the record, I was 7 months pregnant and cooked that whole meal on a day when it was 95 degrees outside. Thanksgiving dedication!

Last Thanksgiving, P-i-C and I bit the bullet and finally hosted for the first time. We had about 20 guests, covering 5 nationalities. One of our friends served up latkes for appetizers, as one of the days of Hanukkah fell on Thanksgiving this year. It was an honor to be able to open up our home to people dear to us and share wonderful company and delicious food (it was potluck – I’m not bragging on my own cooking!). Putting in the work to make a day like that come together makes you put real thought into the importance of the day, and there was no doubt that Thanksgiving is something special that we’ll continue to ensure is part of our lives every year. More than ever, I appreciate the beauty of the day and the richness of the celebration.tgiving

The Instagram masterpiece our friend G made on the occasion of our Thanksgiving party last year, a special day to be sure.