Last Friday, though I am still not sure exactly how we got here so quickly, my daughter turned eight.
When did eight years go by? When did she become old enough to reference books she's read as a party theme? And say things like, "It's common knowledge..." (Actually, I take that last one back. She's been audaciously verbal since she was two.)
This weekend, our family's lives were filled with all things Laurelei, from her birthday party, to the arrival of her Great-Grandma Jarmin, to her baptism--one of the most important events in the life of a child of our faith. It was a memory-making weekend for this Mamma...and it started with a coconut cream cake.
Just a cake. We had decided this year the baptism would be the big deal, and as far as birthday celebrations go, a coconut cream cake (like the one Sunny Baudelaire makes for her sister Violet's birthday in A Series of Unfortunate Events--books Laurelei happens to love) with family would do nicely. But then I happened to think about The Beatrice Letters... and how the letters in The Beatrice Letters (letters of the alphabet rather than the correspondence variety) would make an intriguing banner to hang above a table where a coconut cream birthday cake was being served.... This led, of course to a harmless googling of "ideas for Lemony Snicket birthday party" and the deal was sealed. Not that I found many ideas; but my own just kept popping into my head and I couldn't help relaying them to Laurelei, who added her own, and soon, even though at this point the birthday was only a week away, the party hostess gene in each of us took control, and we knew we had an irresistible theme.
I drew up this invitation, based on the "Dear Reader" letters that appear on the back of each volume of the books, snagging artwork from the jacket flap and end pages (sorry Mr. Helquist! Seriously, big fan = me) and we rushed to get them out to a few friends and the family members we already knew would be there.
Decorations came via the aforementioned Beatrice Letters (poster and letter cut-outs) and, as per Laurelei's request, paper cut-outs of VFD crows, and big bowls of peppermint candies.
The original plan was to hold the party outside in, as the invitation says, a "Caligari Carnival" tent, despite the forecast rain, but when the day came and the temperature outside dropped to only 45 degrees, we knew we couldn't do something so villainous to our guests ;-). Indoors, in our little living space, the influx of guests/hostages raised the warmth of the room enough that the words literally began melting off the cake. When your party theme is A Series of Unfortunate Events, however, any little thing that goes wrong like that can simply be counted as part of the plan. Games included Laugh, Count Olaf, and a somewhat disorganized, circular shouting-out of words that begin with V, F, or D. And even though Laurelei, Riley and I (and Brian to a certain extent) were the only ones who really understood all the references to the books, I would call the whole shindig a success. The birthday girl was happy, and that's what counts.
The next day, the most important part of the weekend arrived. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we believe that eight years old is the age of accountability--the age when a child begins to be able to have a clear sense of right and wrong, and be responsible for the choices they make. Consequently, eight years old is the age when children of our faith are baptized, by immersion, in the same way Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist in the river Jordan, so many years ago, as an example to us all.
Saturday morning, our Laurelei made the choice (yep, we gave her the choice) to follow His example.
The baptismal covenant is one of promises to live her life as an example of Christ's love and kindness and service to all...and in turn to have the Holy Ghost to be with her always. Brian and I taught her the importance of this promise, that it was not to be taken lightly, and I can truly say that I feel Laurelei's understanding of her own eternal connection to our Heavenly Father and purpose in this mortal life is deeper than even my own. I believe she did not make these promises lightly. And we are so proud of her. We could not be more grateful to be her parents or love her more.
I made--or, rather, altered--her baptismal whites using a bit of the same fabric that I used to make her baby blessing gown. Her after-baptism dress I made using some of Brian's old white dress shirts, which is especially symbolic as LDS priesthood holders, like Brian, wear white shirts to signify their reverence and respect for the power they hold, that their families share, and it is by this priesthood authority that ordinances like baptisms are performed.
To add to the beauty of the day, we were able to share the baptismal ceremony with two of Laurelei's closest friends who also turned eight this month. I cannot begin to describe the spirit of power and purity that absolutely radiated from these three faithful young girls as they stood together, just after being baptized, each individually, and sang "We'll Bring the World His Truth." I am not being quaint or sentimental when I say it was the power of angels.
(CTR stands for Choose The Right)
The day was, like our little girl, bright and beautiful and full of love. We were surrounded by friends and family and the Spirit of the Lord and it was a day full of moments I hope to never forget. Moments I hope Laurelei will never forget. I'm glad I could share them with you.
p.s. I almost forgot another blessing of the weekend! Just in time to wear to his sister's baptism, Riley's missing Easter bow tie appeared! So I can finally share a photo of the whole ensemble...bow tie tutorial by A Lemon Squeezy Home and Out-On-The-Town jacket pattern from Sewing for Boys. Handsome and sweet. That's my boy.