happy birthday, sweet girl


Lo Hicimos! We did it!

~ Dora the Explorer, at the end of every show

One year later, we find our little heroine in a whole new place. Her sixth birthday party, thank God, looked far different than her fifth. Only the birthday ‘hat’ remained the same. Oh, and the Dora theme (minus Halloween). But this year, there was something new. And beautiful. Something that lit up the room. And now glows from the screen.


My baby’s SMILE.


This year, as promised, Mama got a clue. Gone were the twenty-four children (what the HELL had I been thinking?) and their parents (no, seriously, what was I thinking?) all packed (what’s that, like fifty two people in total?) into a low ceilinged room (torture chamber?) for a party (that despite the efforts of a wonderful entertainer was about as much fun for my baby girl as an enema.)

This year, we kept it small. Very small. It wasn’t easy to do. We had to draw a line and stick to it. We invited only the girls from Brooke’s class. Not a single extra friend. Not even her adorable little buddy, Clara or her darling pal, L from preschool. Not even the twin sister of one of the attendees. It felt awful knowing we were leaving out some dear, dear friends, but it was the only way to make it work. Lessons learned the hard way tend to stick. We sent ten invitations in total. We had eight guests. It was perfect.

Brooke wanted her party to be at home. She asked for a lovely local children’s singer to come and entertain the troops. The eight grandparents all generously chipped in again and helped to foot the bill. Katie, bless her sweet heart, asked if she could participate. She begged and pleaded and made those irresistible googly eyes at me as she presented her idea. She wanted to do face paintings for the girls as they arrived. When she told Brooke that she would have a red star, she was all for it. How could I say no?

Katie set up her shop in the den. She made a ‘menu’ of choices that the girls could choose from. She had two little chairs facing each other and a third grown-up sized chair perpendicular to the others. Just in case a mom or dad stays and wants to watch, Mama. The girls loved it.


Within short order, the singer settled in with her guitar and began to sing. The girls sat around her and watched. After a song or two, they joined in. They happily sang along to songs like “Sticky Sticky Bubble Gum.”


And “Yahoo, Cowgirl!”


And “I’m gonna get you; you’d better run!”


They danced together.


They wiggled and jiggled and laughed together.

They played tambourines.


They clapped and sang some more.


They curled themselves into little balls (well, maybe that was just Brooke).


And they did, um, this …


They devoured the cake that took Mama a really, really, really long time to make.



In short, they had FUN.

Yes, it’s a year later. We’ve learned last year’s lessons. There will plenty be more to come, no doubt. But for now, we’re twelve months smarter. Our toolbox is armed with a whole year’s worth of new tools. More importantly, so is Brooke’s.

One year ago, while holding my crying, shaking little girl in the den while her party went on without her, I never would have believed we would be here. Singing. Laughing. Dancing. ENGAGED. It is possible.

A happy new beginning indeed.


Happy birthday, my sweet girl. Mama loves you more than anything in the whole wide world.









27 thoughts on “happy birthday, sweet girl

  1. What a beautiful, happy six-year old.

    This does my heart good to hear.

    We’re all learning, all the time, aren’t we?

    Well done, Brooke. And Katie. And Mama.


    P.S. I’m lovin’ the “possibly related posts” – Blogger Perez Hilton throws star-studded party… Miley Cyrus fans pay $250 to celebrate her 16th birthday… LOL!

  2. Perfect party! Love it! Brooke looks happy and peaceful.

    We went thru a similar learning curve. Our “lesson” happened at a Family Reunion that we drove 6 hours to attend, only to have Charlotte refuse to ‘attend’ and instead stayed upstairs at the hosts’ house the whole time – vs down in the huge well-lit walk-out style basement where the party was. It was awful. But we learned a lot from that – not the least of which was – Charlotte doesn’t do crowds.

    Impressed with your Dora cake, by the way. You are a multi-talented woman!!

  3. I know you can hear me squealing from delight all the way from my work desk to yours. My heart is lifted and my soul is soaring. CONGRATULATIONS to you, Luau and Katie for getting it so right this year and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your beautiful baby girl. Oh, I am so, so happy about this.

    Love you, April

  4. You and Tanya this week. Thanks for the hope. This is what breaks my heart the most is going to/having a birthday party and Devin has no use for the other kids.

    Now I have to go find the tissues.

    Lova ya!

  5. Oh and the cake is just perfect and I applaud your bravery in showing it knowing that our favorite Sweet Lisa will be viewing it (that brave I am not!). 🙂

  6. that is FANTASTIC!! i’m cheering for you all! happy happy birthday to your dear baby girl. those pics are wonderful and that cake woman– you are a genius!!!

  7. Sweet victory…made all the sweeter by the lowpoint preceeding. Live and learn…all things are possible (in moderation). Great pictures to capture it!

  8. Love the cake! AWESOME. Love the pictures! She looks so happy. Im so glad that this year was so different than the last. Imagine what next year will bring. 🙂

  9. Congratulations to all and happy birthday Kendall. Hey do we get to see the Boots Fire Chicken? I’m curious to see how it turned out and to hear if Kendall liked it.

  10. Not reading the comments yet…crying too hard & gotta write this before I chicken out. I needed to read this post so badly today, Jess. I *needed* to see Brooke’s gorgeous smile and that bright red star. But most of all, I really, really, really needed these words today—

    “I never would have believed we would be here. Singing. Laughing. Dancing. ENGAGED. It is possible.”

    “It is possible.” I’m holding on to this lifeline.

  11. There really are no limits to the possibilities. What a glorious birthday! Love how Katie thought to set up an extra chair for the parents. Love Brooke’s smile. Love. xoxo

  12. What a beautiful day for a beautiful little girl and her rock star family! And serious kudos on that magnificent cake – I feel like it’s a little microcosm of all of the devotion you have as a family. Nothing half-assed in your world, that’s for sure!

  13. What a beautiful post. How far you’ve all come in a year. It stuns me sometimes, how things that looked so utterly bleak and unchanging a year ago are practically forgotten this one. My little girl too is working her rear off this year and has made such incredible strides that it literally takes my breath away.

    I never could have foreseen years ago that the sentence “mom, I want to bring these three Barbies to (Passover break) camp today so that I can play with them with my friends” would reduce me to a happy teary mess, but there you have it. Yes my darling, you can bring your dolls, and you can play with them with your friends. Your friends! Friends I often wondered if you’d ever have, and now you’re playing dolls with them. It really is amazing what a difference a year can make.

    Sorry, done hijacking now, and back to wishing your wonderful Brooke a year to match her wonderful birthday.

  14. Awesome update from last year. Parties have continued to get better for us from 5 to 8.

    Oh, and that Dora cake? I made that one for my daughter once. 12 icing colors! 12!!!!!!

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