We had 19 adults and 10 infants over here this afternoon, and it was surprisingly fun.
I love my friends. Everywhere I turned at Sophie’s first birthday party, there was Maia taking out the garbage (because it was full), and Darby screwing the parts on the inchworm that 2-year-old Kevin really wanted to ride, and Jane arriving with astoundingly beautiful ladybug cupcakes (with licorice antennas!), and Clark or Maurice waiting to give me a hug & tell me what a good time they were having, and Dan calmly noticing when Sophie managed to get a water-bottle-cap in her mouth, and almost everyone seeming to find interesting things to talk about, while the older babies stormed around enjoying Sophie’s toys.
I know many of my parenting friends separately. Sophie’s party included Lisa & Kevin whom I met on my morning walk, Tori & Mila whom Ben met on the beach, Kelly & Chloe whom I met on my afternoon walk, Jane & Gracie who I know from playgroup — and none of these parent-child pairs knew each other before today’s party. Ben & I didn’t even know all our separate parenting friends. It was wonderful to have them all together.
Miss Manners says that a birthday party should only include as many guests as a child’s age. I can see the appeal of having only one guest for a first birthday. But still, I wanted to celebrate Sophie’s first year. She learned so much this year. I learned so much. She survived the riskiest year of life, and she has helped me make most of these wonderful friends.
At one point during the party I think Sophie was actually passing out her toys. Babies this age are not supposed to be able to socialize, but I swear that Sophie does. She passes around toys (only sometimes grabbing them back), she plays with different-age children differently, and she grows quiet & concerned when anyone else cries. At her party, she not only socialized beautifully, she also accepted that sometimes I would walk away from her to help another parent find a towel or bjorn or diaper or water. Her only melt-down was when I tried to remove her from the party-action to change her diaper. I had to carry her half-clothed back to the crowd, because that’s where she wanted to be. When everyone sang happy birthday to her, I think she understood that they really were singing to her, and, after an initial flicker of shyness, she just beamed.
The older kids made themselves right at home with Sophie’s slide and water-table and xylophone, and it’s good to know that these toys will still be fun for Sophie when she’s 2 years old. The younger kids are developing more & more, so that Gracie could actually pass toys back to Sophie & Landon. The plain whipped cream that I used as cake frosting was a huge hit with almost all the babies: they love milk-fat, they loved the texture, and it’s actually not bad for them.
We made far too much food, but it was good food for both babies & adults. There was a bowl of strawberries that worked especially well for all ages. I made an Asian Cabbage Salad from simply recipes, and a nice Beet Feta Salad that was very popular, and the Picksburg Pasta Salad that used to be one of my favorites at New Haven Critical Mass parties. Sarah made stuffed shells & Jane made the aformentioned cupcakes and we got too much pizza, too. The ginger-pumpkin cake for babies was incredibly popular, not too sweet, wonderfully cinnamony. In the future, I think I’m going to make lots more cakes topped with plain whipped cream.
Here’s what I learned: it’s good to have extra pillows around for the littlest babies who aren’t quite sitting stably yet, and for the parents who need to sit next to their babies. It’s good to have extra waterbottles for all the nursing moms who won’t be drinking much beer, and also good to have lots of beer on hand for all the non-parent friends who are amazing enough to come to a one-year-old’s birthday party. It’s also good to make Picksburg Pasta Salad. So here’s the recipe.
PICKSBURG PASTA SALAD
Naldo Picasso first gave me this recipe; he said certain Pittsburghians pronounce their city name “Picksburg,” and they taught him how to make this for New Haven’s “Food Not Bombs” food give-aways. I have added the vegetables, and played around with quantity, but it’s still an easy thing to make for a crowd – even a crowd that thinks it doesn’t like tofu. And, I now know, it’s also good baby-toddler food too.
1 package bowtie pasta
1 package frozen peas
1 package frozen artichoke hearts
1 red onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1/2 of a small hot green pepper, diced
3/4 cup veganaise mayonnaise (really, veganaise tastes better than regular mayonnaise)
3 T celery seed
1 T sage
2 T wheatgerm
plenty of black pepper
2 packages of tofu, drained well & cubed
Boil some water to make the pasta.
Take the tofu out of its packages to drain.
Chop the onion, celery & green pepper. Put it in a large bowl. Add the veganaise & spices to this bowl & stir it well.
Drop the pasta in the boiling water, and, when the pasta is 1 minute from being done, add in the frozen peas & artichoke hearts too, to unfreeze them. Drain it all and add it to your salad bowl.
Add the chopped tofu last, so the tofu doesn’t crumble too much. Toss.
You can eat it now or you can refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve.