celeste turns two!


We want to begin this post by saying a big THANK YOU to all of the wonderful friends and family who helped to make Celeste’s Fall Fest so special. Our fabulous guests brought a variety of food, drinks, and gifts- without which we would have never been able to feed and host that many people! Thank you to everyone who chipped in- we are so proud of the community that Celeste belongs to!

Celeste was actually born on October 20th, but we chose to celebrate a day early this year and let Sunday be a day to rest and recover from the festivities. Having been very inspired by the simple yet magical Waldorf birthday traditions, we decided to begin our celebratory day by having a quiet morning at home. Tim and I awoke early to make cinnamon pumpkin pancakes and pomegranate tea, as per Celeste’s request!


Tim tried his hand at some pancake art and was able to make both a heart and a butterfly-shaped pancake, which I personally think means that he has passed the ultimate papa bear test. We foolishly forgot to buy a cupcake to put her two birthday candles in, so we made do with a sturdy green apple! It ended up looking more like some sort of alien creature than a birthday treat, but it did the trick.

When we heard Celeste start to stir in her bedroom at around 7:30 in the morning, we lit the candles and sang happy birthday to her in bed. All of the candles in our house were lit and two birthday books were set out for us to read.

She made it most of the way through the second book before she noticed the crown that I made for her to wear on her special day. After delighting in her own reflection for a little while, Celeste took a seat in her wooden rocker to open a few small gifts.

A package had arrived earlier that week from my sister Alexis (“Auntie A”) and it had been well-hid until Celeste’s special day. Celeste was so focused on opening the first gift that it took quite some time before she was ready to move onto the next one. There were only a few gifts. We took our time and let her do her own thing, which was lovely!

After Auntie’s A’s gifts, we gave her our present: a beautiful handcrafted Waldorf doll named Opal. I had worked all week to knit a simple purple dress for Opal out of a New Zealand possum/merino/alpaca blend yarn- the dress ended up being a bit to large, but thankfully I was able to shrink it down in the wash! The doll and the dress have a magical, earthy smell. Celeste spent the rest of the morning talking to her doll and caring for her.

Tim and I slowly ate our pancakes and starfruit, sipped our tea and talked a bit about Celeste’s birth. Celeste barely touched her food, in spite of the fact that there was ample butter and maple syrup on the table!

This was to be a “Yes Day” for Celeste: I was determined to say yes even more than usual. She did a lot of dilly-dallying,  gave herself several tattoos, chose a pink dress to wear when she was ready, and eventually we headed to the downtown farmers market for some salad greens. This intimate celebration would have been enough all on its own, but we still had the Celestival to look forward to later that afternoon!

mama helping little C “wear” her doll on her back

The menu at Celeste’s 2nd Annual Fall Fest included beef brisket, grilled chicken, pasta salad, green bean casserole, several fresh salads, a variety of dips and salsas,  and of course, bacon-wrapped jalapeño peppers stuffed with cream cheese.

There were several fruit-infused waters, a cooler of fall beers and some sweet tea! Everything an autumn party in South Florida should have. My sister Chelsea sent a beautiful cake for Celeste and Celeste’s Auntie Melissa made spicy, sweet cupcakes!


Gluten-free ginger snaps, strawberries, and brownies baked by Celeste’s great-grandmother completed the dessert table. There was wand-making, a game of football, and a naked chicken chase led by my two-year-old nephew Daylon James van der Mije. (Incidentally, Daylon was the only participant in the naked chicken chase, but we hope to see more participation in 2014.)

a diapered Daylon offers his cousin Celeste a drink

At some point during the party, one of the older children asked me when we were going to sing “Happy Birthday” to Celeste. I explained that we weren’t going to in the simplest way that I could. This is the first year that Celeste has a handle on language and I had given her the option earlier in the day: when asked if she would like everyone to sing to her at her party, she calmly declined and that was that. Tim and I sang to her throughout the morning and I noticed that many of our guests sang to her one-on-one at her party, or pulled her aside to whisper happy birthday in her ear!

I like to conceive of Celeste’s birthday party as a fall festival in which Celeste is surely the guest of honor, but not necessarily the center of attention. Children of this age, and especially children with a high emotional I.Q. like Celeste, become easily overwhelmed by too much attention. This is doubly true when the guest list exceeds 40 adults and children! Several of my favorite schools of thought suggest that the amount of guests at a child’s birthday should be equivalent to the age she is turning that year. In other words, two small friends would be appropriate to invite to a two-year-old’s birthday party. Now, Tim and I place a lot of value on the fall season (the season of all of our birth!) and on having a good time. Which is why we hope that the Celestival will always be a large and uproarious event! However, it will always be an event in which Celeste can choose the amount of attention she receives. If at age three or four she decides she would like everyone present to sing happy birthday whilst doing a choreographed dance in front of a skilled mariachi band, that is what she shall have! We also like to open her gifts privately, so that she has enough time to explore each toy on her own time and also out of respect for the other little people in attendance at her party. (Hopefully, these choices will mean that we get to skip out on the all too familiar cliché of the birthday child having an epic meltdown while other children mope about not receiving gifts of their own!)

It was a wonderful day, complete with family, friends, and food. Celeste isn’t really sure why everyone eventually went home: she asked us multiple times today where all of her friends went, as if she wanted the backyard jubilee to last forever!
For me, this weekend has been a time to pause and think of Celeste’s birth two whole years ago. She certainly made me work to meet her and is still giving me a run for my money!
I won’t deny it: in the quiet of my own heart I gave myself a “Cheers!” for being brave enough to do it all again come late January. I am thankful that this time I will have my dear friend Celeste to help me welcome the new baby into our big, beautiful family.
Celeste Marie October 20th, 2011


October 19th, 2013


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