Two years ago when I turned 25 32, Autumn and Joanna brought me to Bar Harbor for the weekend. It was amazing and I loved every second. Autumn turned 30 last year and Joanna last month, and I really wanted to give them a similar experience. Sadly, no one was doing big travels last year and this year it just didn’t work out to go on a trip. I was determined to do something for them while I was in Massachusetts so I enlisted Elizabeth to help me. She scouted the town and settled on the gazebo in her friend’s garden. I was hesitant to ask a family I didn’t know if I could use their yard for a party. Elizabeth insisted it would be fine. They’re friendly! They like visitors! They homeschool (interesting but irrelevent)! She would do the asking! They’re from church! As the Bible says, “If thou hast a beautiful garden to share with someone thou dost not know, thou shalt share it anyway. For in so doing thou shalt receive fewer mosquitos for thee and thy household.” It’s a very obscure verse. Don’t bother looking it up.

It was rainy and gloomy the day of the party but we had no backup plan so we crossed our fingers and said our prayers that it wouldn’t be raining at 3 o’clock. We packed Elizabeth’s car with Christmas lights, tea candles, snacks, and all manor of table decor and headed over to the garden. The road was close but otherwise the gazebo was in a very secluded part of the property so I didn’t feel quite as much like we were sitting in their backyard. Although when we showed up, the owner of the home did led us to the patio in their backyard and said, “Make yourselves at home. We’ll close all the blinds so you don’t have to worry about anyone spying on you.” I absolutely assume one or more of the friendly, homeschooled, church-going children would have spied on us regardless of the blinds status. I know I would if three strange ladies were picnicking on my patio.

It’s amazing what a few string of lights, a box of tea candles and some zebra plates can do for a space.

In all the hullabaloo of trying to plan a rainy day location, I forgot to bring a dessert. I forgot the birthday dessert at the party to celebrate not one, but two birthday girls! It was a huge oversight. I had put 7 pieces of sea salt covered caramel chocolates on the charcuterie board so we weren’t devoid of sweets, but I’m still kicking myself about it.

I bought an elephant shaped watering can to use as a water pitcher and this was the girls reaction when they saw it. Both of them, but especially Autumn, have never once not had an appropriate or even better than appropriate positive reaction to something fun. I wish I had videoed Autumn opening the Lisa Frank/Morphe eyeshadow pallet. She literally hugged it to her chest before it was fully out of the gift bag. Then she opened it and read off the name of every single color to us as she recounted memories of each and every Lisa Frank character she loved as a child. 

There’s a picture from back in the day of me with a huge smile on my face holding a sobbing baby Joanna. Beyond that I didn’t pay too much attention to them for years. I saw them several times a month, but at 16 and 26 months younger than me, they were basically babies compared to my mature self. It wouldn’t have been good for my image to been seen with people so young. I’m glad I came to my senses and will keep them around for the next fifty or so years. I like being associated with them now.