Happy Birthday Connor! My sweet baby is now two. I can’t believe it! Where did the time go? It seems such a trite saying but now I know the depth and bittersweet feeling behind this common parental question. Connor has changed so quickly and I wish there was some way just to slow down time. Her stages seem to whirl by at lightning speed and I want to hold on to every wonderful milestone.
On her special day Connor learned all about stickers since Lin Lin brought some for her. She loved sticking them all over her arms and face!
I had been envisioning and planning Connor’s party practically since we arrived in Brussels. My family always did birthdays up right when I was growing up and I just think there is something super special about the day – a day we were lucky enough to receive the miracle of a healthy, happy baby to keep and love and protect. Definitely worthy of celebration.
I decided to take the risk with the crummy Belgian weather and plan Connor’s party in the Royal Parc de Bruxelles. There is an old-timey bandstand pavilion in the center of the park and it just seemed a special, festive spot to be merry. Very European!
The only hiccup we had came once we got there and unloaded everything and once our first guests were arriving. Two park police approached the pavilion and asked me in French to produce our reservation for the spot. My heart sank. I had come countless times to try to find an information sign and tried to ask everyone I knew if a reservation was necessary and everyone assured me no. I had sweat it out hoping the pavilion would be free when the big day actually came and breathed relief when no one was there. I didn't think I would then have to translate with the park police on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. When I didn't have a reservation they told me in French it was their job to shut down our party. I begged them to please let us continue and that I didn't know we were supposed to register the party at the city commune (oh joy!). I mean give me a break it was a 2 year old birthday party and there was not another soul in the park. Luckily after a few nervous moments they begrudgingly backed off and the party continued. I was ready to pull out the tears if I needed to after all the work we put into the shin dig! Why is everything in Brussels so dramatic and bureaucratic?
Thank goodness my Mom was here to help with all the preparations. I guess what I didn’t anticipate was how much work a “simple” do-it-yourself party can be when you have a toddler in tow and have to haul everything in a teeny tiny car up to the park. We had sandwiches, strawberries, caprese salad and of course pink cupcakes with fluffy white icing and sprinkles. Mom brought most of the party loot with her from the States along with all the decoration goodies for the “Old MacDonald” birthday party!
As the fates would have it, the day was a grey one heavy with clouds and a cold, persistent sprinkle. I tried to keep my chin up about the weather and just kept pressing on with preparations despite Mother Nature’s gloom. I am so glad we did too because even though the sun was hiding, the covered bandstand sheltered us and the weather wasn’t as big of a factor as I feared. The kids ran and ran in the structure, so they were warm with all the activity. We had a great turnout and every person who said they were coming came. Pretty amazing given the newness of our expat friendships. My heart swelled in thanksgiving for new friends.
We had animal paper bag puppets for the children to color and play with and the classic balloons were a hit. I also bought these yellow and green bucket barrels from IKEA for folks to use as seats, but the kids ended up riding them as horsies! Too funny!
Connor definitely loved the spotlight and hammed it up. She flitted around and enjoyed her friends. She danced with Brady and with her beloved Thomas in the middle of the gazebo. She swatted the balloons and laughed at the blow-out horns. It made all the preparation of our do-it-yourself party worth it. And having my Mom there to hand out nametags, welcome guests and help with delivering favors was icing on the cake. Not sure what I would have done without her!?!Happy Second Birthday to my wonderful daughter! I love you more than you will ever know. This day two years ago was one of my very best. We love you. E-I-E-I-O!
Click here for more photos of Connor's Second Birthday (full album)