SINCE Fiona and Sara’s birthday are almost exactly a month apart, and since Sara, Samuele and Dani are the closest family to us now, I thought it would be perfect to celebrate Fiona and Sara’s birthday together.
We drove to Italy , which took practically all of Thursday, where we arrived in the beautiful city of Grosseto actually before Sara got home, as she works late almost every night. We waited in the car close to their apartment, and I got more and more excited to see her and for her to see Fiona. Finally I saw her walking fast down the cobblestone street towards us, and of course as soon as she saw me, we both started running towards each other! Seeing Sara after usually a couple years of no Sara is always memorable.
I remember exactly what she looked like (very fashionable and Italian- crazy long earrings, pointy shoes) the first time I saw her after she moved to Italy, and we had just gotten off the train. And then at the sister’s reunion in Palm Desert, where I got to meet my first great-nephew, Sara had stuck some black paper in her teeth as a joke to freak us all out when she smiled. Seeing Sara after a long time is like being reunited with the best parts of my childhood. And I think it may be the same for her, which may be a good or a bad thing for those who are around us at least for the first 48 hours. And then some.
But I digress. After linking arms with me and walking back to the car, Sara peeked in and saw Fiona for the first time. She was the last one of my immediate family who hadn’t seen Fiona yet, so I was so happy everything worked out. Plus, they are cousins!
The next day, Sara luckily only had to work a few hours later in the afternoon, so we got to sleep in and lounge around in the morning. Then we went to the local cafe to get some coffee/hot chocolate and delicious Italian pastries, after which she took us on a little tour of the town. It is a beautiful little city, surrounded by the still-standing medieval walls. Sara lives right in the middle of the city, and during the day cars are restricted from the most part from driving around on the streets. Pictured below is our walk back to Sara’s apartment. Sam is amazing on that scooter by the way, and I am not sure what is going on with Fiona’s hat.
After our walk, Sara had to go to work, so Sami and I spent some time making a Happy Birthday banner for our party. When Sara got back, we had lunch and then we went out to get some other decorations and supplies for the party. Dani was arriving from Naples later that evening, so we wanted to get everything ready by the time he got there.
The video at the end of this post pretty much captures the main part of our celebration, however I’ll still put in some of my favorite pictures here as well.
Sara picked up a whole bunch of balloons at the local party store. She is a very accomplished translator herself, so naturally she was a bit distressed when she saw what was written on the balloon package. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a funnier mistranslation in person, so we had to document it. So just let Sara know if you want her to pick up some more Italian “swollen balls” for your next birthday party.
After the decorating was done and Dani had arrived, we decided to open presents first- because we weren’t sure how messy “cake-eating” might get.
Fiona had already gotten some presents from family, however I saved a few things for her to unwrap in Italy. She also got a very cute tutu and a book from Sara and family. Sam also got to open his surprise (binoculars) and I had picked out several essential American grocery goods for Sara.
Finally it was time for the cake. This was a surprise for us, as Sara had picked it out and somehow brought it home while riding her bike after work that day. I loved how pretty it was and that Fiona was getting a very European type cake for her first birthday- it was also very delicious as well with flaky layers with some sort of cream in between!
If you watch the video, you will see this, but Fiona didn’t really do the typical really messy one-year-old cake thing. She was extremely tentative, poking at it with first one finger and then the other. Since I am writing this almost a month after the fact, I’ve noticed that that is how she approaches most things she sees for the first time. After Rijen helped her with her first bite, she then picked up a piece and daintily nibbled on it. Rijen’s favorite part was her shiny tummy.
Notes on the video:
– The song I put on this was the actual one we were dancing to at the time- but when I played it back you couldn’t hear it very well, so I just decided to get it and lay it over the clip in addition to it being on in the background.
-My favorite quotes:
Rijen: She knows this is recording, right?
Me: Of course she does!
Sara: Dani never gets to see the real me…. “LET IT OUT!”
-I love Fiona’s face when she opens her first present AND her smiling when we sing Happy Birthday to her
On that note as well, I feel like such a self-centered mom, in that moment I totally forgot we were celebrating Sara’s birthday as well, and didn’t think to sing to Sara too! I feel really bad now- we should have sung Happy Birthday to you too Sa!
Once you get to the cake eating, it might get a little long since Fiona doesn’t do anything too exciting with it. I wanted to leave most of it on there for posterity though, so sorry if it is a bit boring.