Saturday, January 23, 2016

Tea for TWO

Sometimes, when I'm fixing Mila's ponytail in front of a morning episode of Dora, securing her wispy flyaways with a petite purple flower barrette and attempting to decide where exactly her part is going to be this day, I let it sink in a little deeper that I have a daughter.  I had myself pretty convinced for a time that I would only have boys, and while I would have been perfectly content with that, this raising a girl thing has unlocked old doors of being a little girl again and getting to live those sweet little experiences again through Mila's eyes.  It's just starting to begin and when I catch glimpses of her sweet femininity beginning to bloom, I can feel my heart flutter, just like it used to do when I was little.  I saw it the morning of her birthday, when I picked out her little black flowered salsa dress and her eyes lit up as she wrapped her arms around the dress and squeezed it in the biggest hug.  I saw it later, when she strutted into daycare and showed the college girls her favorite dress.  They told her it looked like a good twirling dress, to which she immediately threw her arms up and twirled in a circle, giggling to herself as she watched her dress follow her own breeze.  I saw it in the look on her face when the sweet girl at Scheels helped her try on a new pair of tennis shoes, that soft little smile and pride in her step as she marched around the shoe department donning her new kicks.  And I saw it the day of her birthday party - the way she'd put her hands up to her face and laugh a nervous little giggle when we sang to her, or the way she'd climb up in her chair and put her hands in her lap, attempting to sit so proper in her pink tulle skirt and take her day in.  Watching her grow from a baby to this little girl is such a bittersweet thing for me, yet her birthday party Saturday was a glimpse into so many sweet moments that are in store.  And tea parties, you better believe it. 

As with most of my birthday parties, Mila's Tea for Two party has been in the works for weeks.  I told Beau the night before, as I was fluffing tissue paper poms and whisking fresh lemon curd, that if we had the winning 1.3 billion dollar power ball ticket, I would most definitely plan birthday parties for a living.  I love it all, the early brainstorming of themes and details to go with it, sorting through my accumulating collection of party straws and cups to reuse and recycle old favorites, the menu planning, the colors, the decorating, and yes, even the clean up.  And this particular party perhaps won the prize for my favorite yet because there was no shortage of sweet, feminine details to compliment my girl who loves to twirl.  

My mom and I laugh that I never had tea parties growing up, even though my mom vividly remembers sharing tea with her grandma every afternoon.  I love this old tradition of women gathering around tables with fancy china, sharing tea cakes and egg salad, while a bottomless kettle of hot tea simmers on the stove top.  And while I fear my friends may think I've lost it when I invite them over for high tea some afternoon, I can surely begin with my little girl who love to play and be fancy.  She received her first tea set for Christmas, and I envision many afternoons sipping pretend tea from those cups for years to come.

I had a blast putting this party together.  My goal was to incorporate a lot of what Mila already had - her tea set and growing collection of dolls, her patchwork quilt, and her vintage pink trunk I refurbished before she was born.  I used these things as the backdrop, then handmade a few projects I hope to eventually incorporate in her room.  I made a burlap and fabric banner, tissue paper pom poms, and a fabric garland I strung with white lights to add some pretty lighting.  My favorite part, though, was my quest to score so many sweet secondhand tea cups and saucers, as well as a three tiered stand and an entire 36-piece tea set we found for pennies.  I loved stopping by local consignment shops each week to see if there were any new treasures, and hearing lots of stories that accompanied each discovered one.  I ended up with quite the collection, and wrapped it all up Saturday night with every intention of using it again and again. 

We kept the afternoon simple and centered it around good food, family, and sweet Mila.  The cousins made good use of our unfinished space downstairs, Mila opened presents that included a ballerina dish set, a bunny apron, a new baby doll with a matching blanket, books, a tea party puzzle, a parakeet and a little mouse, and a new baby buggy that will hold several of Mila's most prized possessions.  We sang to Mila and watched her blow out two candles in the sweetest of ways, and sampled French macaroons, lemon curd tartlets, heart-shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chocolate covered berries, and a perfectly pink rosette cake.  And of course, we sipped tea like old ladies, feeling very refined and all.

I miss that baby born two years ago, but look ahead with delight at all that's in store for Mila girl.  A few more pictures, with more details to come. :)


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