A Party of Firsts

This past weekend, we celebrated Madelyn’s first birthday with a party. It wasn’t just any party. It was a luau!

The idea came about when we were in Hawaii earlier this year. We love indulging in Hawaiian BBQ pork sandwiches and shave ice. We love the music of the islands. We love the beauty of the water, trees, and flowers. We love the Hawaiian culture of family — ohana. So we decided to pay tribute to Madelyn’s first big vacation and recreate Hawaii as best we could… under a picnic gazebo in the middle of a park… in Simi Valley.

Okay, so that’s what you get for not having any boarding passes and a real plane to take us all to Hawaii, but when you’re stuck on the mainland, you make do! We tried to forget that it was the hottest day of the year and sweated our way through celebrating Madelyn, the one-year-old, with a little aloha spirit!

I have been planning this party since our Hawaii trip in April so, ya know, far too long for any first birthday party! At first it was just going to be Hawaiian food and some palm tree decor but then I went hog wild and short of pitting an actual hog underground like the authentic Hawaiians do, I managed to find myself paying for a Hawaiian food truck and a shave ice hut, creating tropical fruit skewers, and hanging decorations all over the place. I had a pretty clear vision and Bryan, Aunties Lisa and Alison, and Uncles Kevin and Michael did a great job helping make it all come together early in the morning before the party started.

Meanwhile, back at home, Madelyn took her morning nap, so after we were finished setting up the park, I scurried home to beautify, and the guest of honor woke up just in time! I got her dressed and ready and rolled her into her party as her friends and family started to arrive.

Madelyn warms up to the party with milk and Mimi.

Arriving at 9:30 a.m. with coffees in hand, Auntie Lisa and Uncle Kevin are expert party planner associates!

My parents leid each other. Sorry, is that awkward?

The shave ice hut was a hit! Since it was hotter than the lava from Kilauea Volcano, people fled to the icy, sugary oasis for relief. Best idea ever and the shave ice was almost as good and authentic as it is in Hawaii. I will seriously hire Hui Hui Shave Ice for every party I ever have in the future. Ever.

Gay pride at the shave ice hut!

Looks like strawberry or, you know, COLD SUGAR.

Hui Hui Shave Ice did a great set-up with a personalized surfboard menu! So cool!

The food truck, Kings Corner, served up teriyaki chicken sandwiches, Hawaiian BBQ pork sandwiches, sticky rice, and potato mac salad — all of our favorite food from the islands!

It was fun to socialize with so many important people who’ve known us since before we were parents and even new friends we’ve met since we’ve become parents!

Aunt Alison and Uncle Michael are preparing to pose for all the photos they’ll be taking at their wedding in two months! Even their eyebrows were made for each other.

Love my right hand gal, Lisa!

Madelyn and I with Auntie Phis Erin and Alison with soon-to-be Phi-in-law Jordan!

Madelyn gets love from the Trabold Sisters: Grandma Ellen and Great Aunt Wendy

Cat and Matt with their cute cabana boys enjoyed their afternoon at the luau!

Bryan and I always have fun with Brian and David!

Becky and I were pregnant together and now Baby Dia and Madelyn are going to be starring in shows together!

My best friend Stefanie and I used to celebrate our own birthdays together as kids — and now we celebrate our kids’ birthdays as adults! Holy full circle.

People joked with me that I was doing way too much for a one-year-old who would never even remember this party. And, well, that’s true, but the party was also for Bryan and me to celebrate one hard-but-amazing year as parents! Still, I made sure to have some fun for the kids.

When I think about Hawaii, I think about swimming and relaxing, but I didn’t want to worry about babies in a baby pool, so I threw together a ball pit in the baby pool and the kiddos seemed to enjoy it!!

Madelyn and Cousin Ocean play together in the ball pit! Ocean turns 1 in September and it’s so fun watching them grow up together.


Even Princeton wanted in on the fun.

And outside the ball pit, there was more fun to be had, like poking each others’ flowery dresses and headbands.

Brielle has her own kind of fun with the rainbow fruit skewers!

There was a cupcake fiasco at the beginning of the party because the hot Hawaiian Simi Valley sun was melting the pretty frosting! So we had to make a game time decision to schlep them back home 30 seconds away to keep them cool in the fridge. Can we please give some bonus points to a stressed out birthday mama for staying sane and not having a melt down over this… melt down?? Please and thank you.

Uncle Michael chauffeured them back in time to sing “Happy Birthday” and watch Madelyn’s big cake smash. And big it was! She went to town on the cake and ended up naked and wet when it was over. That’s the sign of a good party. Never too early to prepare for college nights out, I guess.

This beautiful cake is about to get very ugly.

Last family photo without frosting in our nooks and crannies.

Madelyn listens to the chorus of “Happy Birthday” that accompanies her cake.

Teaching Madelyn that yes, she does want what’s in front of her and to eat it Moroccan style.

Houston, we have contact.

Frosting on the face makes any baby 10x cuter.

Methinks she likes cake!

The sign of a good meal.

Madelyn wrapped up her party on a sugar high and lots of cuddles with her grandparents and Aunt Alison, her twin friends Evan and Lauren, and her great grandparents. Of course, a wardrobe change was necessary after her cake smash, so she got to don her backup dress, one of the many I bought “just in case” during the weeks leading up to the party.

Golly gee, Madelyn’s family sure does like her!

All 3 almost had the same birthday, but the twins came early and Madelyn came late!

Madelyn with her Bubbie and Gigi whose glasses she enjoys ripping off their faces. I need to teach Madelyn that elder abuse is wrong.

We survived the heat and packed up to head home. Even after three hours of partying in high temperatures, Madelyn hung out and opened presents like a true belle of the ball. She has so many new toys and treasures to enjoy as she heads into her second year. Now that Madelyn has all these new fancy presents, her parents need a new fancy house for which to store all this loot! Kids’ birthday parties should come with real estate agents for parents.

Madelyn is in a party-and-presents coma. What a lucky little girl!

Madelyn got a bath to de-frosting-ize her entire body and after a few sips of her bottle as I rocked her in the chair, she pushed away her milk and reached for her crib and was in dreamland in a matter of minutes. I hope she had the sweetest dreams of a happy day full of love and aloha.