Jan 1, 2014

New Year's Day and A Birthday Boy.

I remember last New Year's Day like it was only yesterday.

New Years Day 2013 - recovering from the night that was.

Cocooned away from the rest of the world in our hospital room, this little man and I were recovering from a pretty memorable New Year's Eve. He was neatly swaddled in that way only midwives know how. Precise folds, no lumps in odd places and the ends of the blankets arranged just so that even when I picked him up, the whole arrangement stayed firmly in place.

Way back then, micro was the preferred size of Baby SSG's sleeps so I never quite got around to 'sleeping when the baby sleeps'. Instead, it was restful enough to just sit up in bed and look at him, marveling once again at the miracle of life. How it all seems to easy and effortless once it has happened, the tears and sadness of the past evaporating with that first lusty howl and simultaneous punching of fists.

What a difference a year makes. Toddler SSG pondering the options for his party decorations. He passed on the bling....

These days, the sleeps are longer (and mostly through the night, thank goodness) and though the gratitude for our little miracle is still very much in my heart, the irony is that I have even less time (and quiet) than before to reflect. I've moved on from the soothing and settling phase of motherhood and have entered the toddler wrangling phase from which there's no turning back.

We celebrated Toddler SSG's first birthday early this year because I'm working New Years. As he gets older, though, I can just see his birthday being the perfect excuse to kick off New Years's Eve drinks with his mates just a little earlier in the afternoon or even the mid morning. I don't even want to think that far ahead just yet. But it'll happen one day, won't it? Our lounge and kitchen becoming a temporary B&B?

Back to the present. You know how all the lifestyle magazines have a particular vision of children's birthday parties? Artful, fully co-ordinated themes in muted colours (hand) made entirely from sustainably sourced paper products? The natural light shining just so on polished floor boards or lush, manicured lawns?

Two things. I just didn't have it in me so close to Christmas and secondly, I wanted the slightly wonky, glittery, home made riot of colour and clashing synthetic materials I remember from the birthdays of my childhood. As I bought my decorations and party supplies, I thought back to my parents and my friends' parents blowing balloons and draping streamers around the house as the chocolate crackles set in the fridge and the cocktail franks cooked.

The party scene sure has changed since the early eighties. Even on a modest budget, your dollar can get you much more than just bags of balloons and rolls of crepe streamers.

These tissue paper puff balls were $2.50 each and I felt a little like Martha Stewart as I sat in the spare room and 'crafted'.

May I just put it out there that crepe paper is the work of the devil when toddlers are around? Because the colour runs on contact with water, it doesn't take long for the little ones to get unnaturally rosy lips and scary looking welts on their chubby arms and ankles. It's a testament to my full year as a mother that I didn't panic and bundle Toddler SSG straight to ED when I realised what had happened. Instead I watchfully waited (after winning the battle for the remaining shreds of crepe) and nothing untoward happened.

There's probably a reason crepe streamers don't often feature in birthday party magazine features. There's not much you can do with them and they're a bit tricky to work with. Even if you don't put them in your mouth. I ended up making tassles of lengths of crepe that I stapled together then hung from the ceiling over the blow up swimming pool filled with those colourful balls that are perfect for 'floating on' when you weigh about 10 kilos.

This is a picture of the lounge room the evening before our little party. It sort of matches, it sort of clashes. There's tasteful bits and there's garish bits. It's a little bit wonky. No, make that a whole lot of wonky. But you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. The memories I'll always have of the shopping expedition and the various tricks I employed to keep Toddler SSG away from the decorations will be with me until those long off years when birthdays will be at places with bar tabs....

The party itself was a great success. Sliced strawberries and plastic cheese were devoured by the toddlers as their mothers reminisced about the year that was. The host was generous enough to let his guests play with the remote controls and to have a tear at the covers of his mother's Donna Hay magazines (it's the artful covers and that satisfying rip as you tear the cover off the spine that gets them every time).

Toddler SSG looking sort of hipster for a test shot we did on my new Fujifilm Instax Mini. They're the best cameras for parties.

It was impossible to get any posed photo from any of the little ones. After their early months of obliging their mothers' iPhones, the time for rebellion had arrived. I did manage to get Polaroid photos for each guest to take home with their gift bags.

It was just as well I got started on the Polaroid project early because the moment the cake was cut, Toddler SSG lead his guests in a hearty round of tired crying which was the sign that the party was over as far as the little ones were concerned.

Another reason I could tell the party was a good one was because 50 % of the guest list slept soundly for 2 hours the moment they left our house.

As for me? No, I still can't sleep when the baby does. I did a bit of tidying up, poured myself a drink and cut myself a chunk of birthday cake and put my feet up.

We did it, Toddler SSG and I. Mother and baby are thriving one year on.


  1. Happy birthday to baby SSG, it looks like a wonderful party and it's so good you got lots of photos to show him when he is older.

    Hope you have a happy new year.

    Away From The Blue

  2. Looks like a fun party! I love looking back at photos of when I was a baby...my first birthday involved a beautiful red velvet dress my Nan made me and a minnie mouse cake.
    I think the polaroids as a party favour are such a fun idea!

  3. A million congratulations. You have a long time before you become just a way station:).

  4. One year, what a milestone. Sounds like it was perfect and I love the decorations.

  5. sounds like a fun party! happy birthday to baby ssg and happy new year!

  6. What a gorgeous memorable party for baby SSG xx

  7. I love the pic of toddler SSG!

    And I love the tissue paper puff balls - super cute :)


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