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Piece Of My Heart.

Oh, where to begin.

Sometimes the world will break your heart. You couldn’t possibly exist if you didn’t learn how to shut it off, at least a little. Plane crashes in favorite places. Grandmothers who love to read slowly losing their eyesight and hearing. Grandmothers who love to read reading their books extra fast because they don’t know if they’ll see tomorrow, and they need to know how the story goes.

Not that we ever know how the story goes.

I’ve been so distracted in things – big and little – that I failed to notice until now that my little girl is turning four. Every birthday has that achy push/pull, the gains/losses, the hello/goodbye from one year to another. I’ve had Desmond’s first birthday and many losses to process and mourn. I’ve had celebrations. I’ve had summer heat and writing and broken air conditioners and empty gas tanks and empty wallets. Full days and full humidity daze. So many details. Together they make up the bigger pictures of our large lives.

Sometimes the world will put the pieces of your heart together again.

Scarlet is not four yet – not until Tuesday, but she has had her fourth birthday party. To me this unlocks a very special level. It is something I didn’t even know how much I was seeking. My own fourth birthday party was at McDonald’s. My mom, a health nut/art teacher had to throw something together. It was only three weeks after my father had died. Life had to go on for me, as normally as possible. There was nothing normal about McDonald’s and a non-homemade cake and grief everywhere, but what a gift she gave me.

The details started coming together, as they often beautifully do, only six days before Scarlet’s party this year.

Cassidy and I are two creative and ambitious people when all forces are in check. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

That’s not the story of today.

On July 4th, two days before Scarlet’s party, we still had a ton to do. We hadn’t planned the menu, or finished the decorations or shopped for major items. And yet Cassidy decided it was the perfect day to turn our previously ugly toolshed into a Tardis.

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In sweltering mosquito-laced humidity, the vision slowly turned to reality.

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After then and only then, would you believe, we finished the party prep in 36 hours. The short story of the cardboard cut-outs is that Cassidy got a lot of cardboard and a projector from work. He Googled certain images and traced them onto the cardboard. With the eventual help from my mom, we all painted them. Then Cassidy cut them out and attached them to stakes. It came together!

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We even did it while projecting a live Phish show onto our garage door. Who does that?! Cassidy does.

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Now I don’t do much in this world in way of cooking/crafting, etc. but I made these cupcakes myself from scratch. The leaning cupcake tower was very structurally sound, as far as we could tell, and was made by an engineer friend.

My mom, and Han Solo in Carbonite, thought very highly of my cupcakes:

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The stage was set, and the characters were in place..

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We hid the decorations from Scarlet until Cassidy had placed them beautifully all along the lawn and driveway:

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We have a fork in the driveway. Right is our neighbor’s house. Left is our house..

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This white rabbit was next to the mailbox so that people knew they were at the right place:

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People like this? In the right place.

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My mom and I always talk about that one moment at your wedding or your party or your children’s party in which you are fully present and you look all around you. You are not helping with cake. You are not holding any children. You are not dancing or eating or taking photos. You are just watching. It’s a moment in which everyone is having fun in their grooves. There are people you love talking with other people you love. They have just met. Kids are laughing, grownups are eating or drinking. There may be swinging.

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And of course – the finale, but not the conclusion.

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Ah, my heart:

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She wanted everyone to hear her wish. We were so sure it would be to have a real cat named Dinah. Nope. It was to have a pony she didn’t already have. Not a real pony, mind you. A My Little Pony. Whew. Wish granted.

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And then the closing ceremony, in which your house empties but your heart remains so full.

At night, after the sugar shock had worn off, she asked for presents. As a kid I would just get such a squishy feeling opening each gift and feeling a bit unworthy at all of the generosity and love. And now as a mom, I no longer feel unworthy (well, maybe a bit) at the love of my friends and my child’s friends. She’s nearly four – it’s not uncommon for kids her age to plow through gifts – not stopping to examine each one with a choked up feeling in their throats. And yet, she did stop with each one to open it and play with it. Each one.

Oh, family and friends of mine. Past, present and future. Do you even know…? I hope you do.

Thank you for piecing together my broken hearts, and I hope I do the same. Thank you for loving this gigantic piece of my heart:

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82 Comments

  1. I'm speechless. And this big party, the big day, the big props, the big wishes, and the big hearts. So many friends, so many conversations so much living in one weekend. We never know how the story will go, but sometimes the surprises are what makes it great. I love this post. Thank you for sharing this piece of your heart with us. xo

  2. Oh my goodness. I am completely speechless. I am in awe of you and Cassidy. This has to be the most amazing birthday party I have ever seen! She will remember this day forever!!

  3. Okay! I would have absolutely come to this party, even if I had to camp in my van. I just made Luis look at this whole thing and he said "Oh my gosh! These are the best parents ever!"Luis does not say things like this lightly. I just want to scoop up your little family and everyone who loves them and give them a great big squishy hug.

  4. oh my Tamara – this is beyond amazing, from your words to the memories to the look on Scarlett's face to the decorations (the decorations!! holy moly!! and the leaning tower of cards!). That moment during a party that you describe? When you look around and take it all in truly is amazing. Happy (early) Birthday to your girl.

    1. That moment is the best! People kept telling me before my wedding to take that moment and I think I took 100 of them. This one was all about balancing being present, with being the hostess/mom, with being the photographer. So much! So much good.

    1. Just wait until Des is old enough to have parties like this. We'll be planning two a summer! In all honesty, my mom did amazing parties for five of us. I learned a lot.

  5. Oh. My. Gosh. I want you to come do that birthday party. For me. What an incredible gift! In the picture where Scarlet is standing outside by the table and all of the "people" are around her she really looks like Alice standing there. So cute!

  6. This is amazing!!!!! What a fantastic design you had!!! It was so utterly beautiful ๐Ÿ™‚ You're pictures really capture the day – loved loved the theme. You guys are so great ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Oh my word!!! Ya'll went ALL out! The cupcake holder – AMAZING! I'm truly stunned! Pin this immediately. You will become a pinterest star. Many will attempt to replicate this. Sweet!

    1. I felt like we were so rag-tag and that it wasn't at all Pinterest-worthy, but maybe it is! A party design idea for people who throw it together six days before the event!

  8. Not sure if my comment was erased…I basically gave you & your engineer friend a round of applause for the cupcake stand a la playing cards. Amazing! You'll become a Pinterest star after this one! This is a real partay!

  9. What a fantastic birthday party! I love all the pictures {as usual!}Happy birthday to your beautiful Scarlet.Reagan will be three in September and we are doing Sofia the First :)¤´¨) ¸.•*´ (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxoRaising-Reagan.com

  10. So lovely, Tamara. Your words and photographs describe the day so that I feel as if I were a guest. The decorations were awesome – you and Cassidy are so creative! Also, once you paint the shed like a TARDIS, is it bigger on the inside? We could really use some more space in ours. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. This is a birthday party Scarlet will never forget. Unbelievable, Tamara! It's so wonderful to have happy occasions where all your family and friends are together, and your photos captured that joy. Happy almost birthday Scarlet!

  12. Oh my gosh, you two are so amazingly creative! What wonderful memories you created. Sounds like an absolutely perfect party. We have our soon to be 8 year old's party coming up. He just wants to be by the water, so we're having it at the local pond. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Is this for real???? Seriously.Unbelievable. This is a dream for a little girl – who will grow up with the most incredible memory of her 4th birthday – and know what amazing parents she has!! WOW.

  14. This was amazing Tamara. Everything looks fabulous. So many details and awesome that it's logged here for her to see in the future. I can just imagine that happy moment you spoke of…I could feel the energy while reading this. So glad it turned out good.

  15. Oh my goodness, that is an AMAZING party!! Blown away by the decorations…seriously, seriously, impressed! Y'all could start a business! Well done! And happy birthday to your sweet girl! :)-The Dose Girls

  16. I love the shed! I wish I had a shed just so that I could paint it like the Tardis! What a beautiful party for Scarlet! You've inspired me to start planning my daughter's birthday party. She will be 6 at the end of July, and I need to get started!

  17. Oh my gosh I seriously have the biggest grin right now!! Scarlet looks so HAPPY! Those cutouts are GENIUS and I totally wish I could have gone. The details, right down to the cupcake was perfect. Congrats to you mommy for making this day so special for Scarlet.

  18. OH. MY. GOSHHHHHHHHHHHH! You guys go totally out for parties-I love it!! Can I borrow your hubby for my kid's next birthday? Very talented mom and dad for this lucky little girl! : )

  19. I LOVE, love the props and way to go to you all for getting those things done in the last minute! They definitely added character to the party! I also love the police house shed your hubby did! Super cute! Happy Birthday Scarlet!

  20. I have to tell you.. sometimes I get so distracted by your awesome pictures that I FORGET to read!! Then I have to go back to see what I missed! Love the Tardis shed and those cutouts? My 45th is in December, so that should give you plenty of time to design them ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Oh we'll be ready! Never too early to discuss themes, right? And that's funny about missing the writing. Oh the dangers of doing photography and writing at once.

  21. You know, we have thought of that. We'd be those people doing every party at the last minute, though. I can just see it. Just like our wedding! Thank you so much.

  22. How beautiful. Your babies are going to look back at their childhood and I am certain they will use the word "magic" in their description. I don't think it is coincidence that your daughter likes you to dress as a fantastical character. She knows what's up. ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. What a spectacular party, love the decorations and that cupcake tower is awesome! Time flies by so quickly with little ones, what wonderful memories you've made!

  24. I am so late to this but happy birthday to Scarlett! I am so in love with this post! I actually own my own overhead projector and a passion of mine is wall murals using it! I never thought to do something like this and now I am so going to! Her party is like something out of a magazine. You guys did a fabulous job! I love that last line so much. They are pieces of our hearts, aren't they?

    1. No, you're not late! I'm so glad you got to see it, though. Her actual birthday was yesterday so you're right on time. That's awesome that you use projectors for art too. It can do so much!

  25. How do you do it? How are you so awesome, every single day? That has to be the best party decorations I've ever seen. And the cupcake display! To.die.for. Again, I finish one of your posts feeling so happy and calm and peaceful. Thank you!

  26. Oh, you! I'm on vacation right now and catching up on comments. This is making me smile so much. Thank you. I rarely feel awesome but that was a spectacular day.

  27. Tamara, that party looked completely magical. I've always loved Alice in Wonderland. I am in awe that you projected, drew, and painted the characters. I've seen that done and loved the idea. I've never seen it take shape like this…into a wonderland for adult and child alike. Thank you for sharing such a special day.!

  28. I LOVE the characters you guys made!!!! Would you considers selling them??? I'm looking for something exactly like those for my daughters 1st birthday in "One"derland!!! My email is j.luna414@gmail.com

  29. What an amazing and gorgeous birthday! So much love, so much fun and you've got the best of both worlds: Dr Who and Alice in Wonderland! Frabjous joy! Cal1oo Callay!

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