One month and one day ago, our Mila turned 1 (I'll spare you my cliché "oh my, how time flies" saga).
We opted for a fun family day on her actual birthday with just the four of us. Lots of party guests happened to be out of town on that day, so having her birthday party a week later made more sense. Plus, we'd have family visiting all the way from Russia – another incentive to have the party a week later.
Oh yes, you read that right; I did say "the four of us."
I debated for a long time whether announcing my pregnancy on the day of Mila's birthday party was a good idea. Was I inconsiderate to take attention away from the birthday girl on such a special day? Or was I overanalyzing, as usual?
Having her party a week after her actual birthday was a great solution, though. She already had an entire day with all attention devoted to her. Plus, the pregnancy announcement wasn't until the end of the party, during the opening of the gifts. What's more, the announcement very much involved Mila, so I felt more at ease about our decision.
I tell you, that mom guilt is never-ending – am I right, or am I right?
I'll share more on the pregnancy at a later time, because today's post is all about our Mila girl – and her balloon-filled first birthday party.
I considered inviting only family or possibly including all of her sweet baby friends. But because immediate family is still, like, 40 people in a typical Slavic family, we opted to keep it as "simple" as possible with just our nearest and dearest.
I started decorating an entire week in advance, which is why "simple" is in quotation marks, ha!
Party Food + Desserts
As for the food, well, in a typical Slavic family it's not a party unless there's a Thanksgiving-level feast. Thankfully, my mom was kind to help with the food preparations, so we had lots of favorite, traditional Russian dishes, as well as more universal options. Of course, I didn't get a photo of either, but that seems to be the nature of family gatherings – at least in our case.
For dessert, we served panna cotta, crepes with strawberry glaze, dulce de leche waffle cake, and an 8-layer honey cake called "Medovik."
The birthday girl got a personal smash cake. I wasn't a fan of giving her lots of processed sugar, so I baked a "healthy" banana bread-like alternative with applesauce, cream cheese, bananas... I combined several recipes I found on Pinterest and used raspberries and blackberries to add a bit of color to the icing. Surprisingly, it was oh-so-soft and delicious. But girlfriend was only interested in the icing, and when I broke off a piece of the cake to feed to her, she burst into tears. So, a note to my future self: personal smash cakes are not worth the hassle.
The Birthday Girl's Special Party Dress
Mila's beautiful birthday dress was a generous gift from Minel Baby. When Sare, the owner, heard that we were planning a birthday party, she reached out to me via Instagram, wanting to send Mila a special dress for her special occasion – and special it was! The dress is completely custom and made entirely by hand, with immaculate attention to detail. The design features sequins and feathers and tulle and flowers and a low-cut back – if that isn't the epitome of a party dress, I don't know what is!
Granted, it lasted all of 20 minutes; sequined fabric isn't, exactly, the most kid-friendly. But I figure the first birthday is as good of a time as any for Mila to start learning that beauty is pain. (Totally kidding...but also sort of not?)
Lots of you on Instagram asked about the balloon arch I created as part of the decor. I'll write up a separate post with all the party decor details, as well as a DIY tutorial for the balloon arch.
I'm sure you've seen these tutorials floating around Pinterest, but what's different about mine is that, besides the balloons, I only bought one additional item! It really is that easy, although a bit time-consuming.
But just look at the photos! Besides, that arch continues to provide lots of entertainment for Mila and any friends that stop by, as it's still very much alive an entire month later!
Choosing a gift for such a young child is always tricky – at least I've always thought so. Do you cater to the child and buy something they'd enjoy? Or do you cater to the parents and buy something the child needs, since they won't actually remember the day anyway?
The most popular choice is, of course, to buy toys. But like many parents, we prefer not to add to her already-massive collection. So instead, I put together a list of alternative suggestions on Amazon for any inquiring guests – but only if they asked!
I'm working on a post of girls' birthday gift ideas that aren't toys, so if that's something you're interested in then stayed tuned.
Of course, some guests still brought toys (as to be expected), and we are very grateful for that, too (especially Mila, ha!).
A couple other gifts she received are a convertible carseat (poor girl has long-outgrown her Cybex baby carrier), a 3-D moon lamp, books, and a macrame swing from mom and dad.
Of course, the highlight of the gift opening (for the adults, anyway) was the last gift: a onesie from mom and dad with the inscription "BIG SISTER IN TRAINING."
Needless to say, everyone was very surprised. Mila, however, couldn't care less (as is to be expected) and immediately reached for her new doll (which is why, again, it's always a good idea to gift some toys).
I cannot wait until she's a little bit older, and I can show her the video of her reaction – or lack thereof!
A Few Highlights
Besides the pregnancy announcement, another highlight of the event was Mila's personal birthday cake.
I didn't think to teach Mila to blow out her candle beforehand and figured we'd just go with the flow. Well, imagine the surprise when I show her how to blow it out – AND END UP BLOWING IT OUT MYSELF! Talk about a fail! Of course, Mila wasn't phased. Seconds later, her little fingers were all over that icing without a care for anything else.
Unsurprisingly to me, I didn't get a single family photo that day. These events are always a bit more chaotic than one anticipates. But I did get lots of photos of the decor beforehand, as well as the birthday girl.
Thank you so very much to everyone who took the time to send the sweetest messages for Mila's special day, as well as our announcement. We are so grateful for this encouraging community!