Friday, March 11, 2016

Happy Birthday, Heidi

March 8 was closing in fast. I needed a gift for my dear friend, Heidi's birthday and I was running out of time. For at least a week, my mind raced round in circles, trying to come up with a worthy idea.

Fresh in my memory was her support of my Golden Birthday projects. If you look at the Instagram posts for my fourth-born's recent celebration, you'll note that Heidi promptly commented each one. Instead of words, she tapped in little red balloons - one for each year of my daughter's age in the accompanying photo - and she stuck with it through the whole twenty-four hour marathon. 

This is the kind of thing Heidi does.
That is the kind of person Heidi is. 

And cute.

Always cute. 

So, as I wracked my brain, trying to come up with a gift to suit such a friend, I wished that I could do a Golden-Birthday style celebration for her as well. But alas, I don't have access to a treasure trove of her photos, and that definitely creates some hurdles. 

In lieu of that option, a new idea hit me.

I could sneak into her house and lavishly decorate for her big day.

Yeah, I liked that idea a lot. But as I quickly sorted through the prerequisites of such a plan, I realized the enormity of such a scheme and gave myself a solid reality check. 

But as I eased myself back down to reality, a more practical notion popped into my noggin.

I would throw her a virtual celebration. 

Every hour on the hour, all birthday long, I would post for Heidi a photo of the party I would like to throw for her. After just an hour or two of puttering around Pinterest, I had gathered up a gold mine of picture-perfect scenes All that was left to do was to wait for the starting gun at midnight, and then I put my plan into action:

1|25  Sleek mylar letter balloons, monocromatic styling and a few pops of adorable bokeh. A perfect kickstart to the celebration, I posted this one at the beginning of Heidi's big day.

2|25  I think of Heidi as a highly sensory person, and this room full of brightly colored, larger-than-life swirly paper shapes - which I can just see spinning and twirling in the breeze when all those windows are opened - struck me as a place where she would very much like to be.

3|25  Strangely, the first thing I noticed about this photo is the white banner which almost disappears into the white wall. Love the texture and subtlety of that look, and I think Heidi would too. Three darling little blonde girls in party hats and pretty dresses add a whole 'nother layer of charm; the cuties on the left and right strike me as tiny versions of Heidi's two grown-up daughters. 

4|25  If I were throwing a real party for Heidi, I would have set up an area like this one, only the photo displays would have started out empty. Then, throughout the gala, I would have sent someone around with a camera to take instant photos, and then used the photos to fill in these frames over the course of the day. Instant decor. Instant souvenirs. 

5|25 Pom-poms, balloons, garlands, lacy tablecloth and frilly tutus. The textural story here sets my heart beating fast, and the dreamy colors remind me of Heidi's seaside-colored home.

6|25 Polka dots and balloon animals represent Heidi's carefree, child-like mindset and I love how this scene captures that feel with grown-up style 

7|25 Okay, watercolor garlands are one of my obsessions, so that part of the scene is on me. But Heidi has a longstanding tradition of celebrating her family's birthdays by peppering the walls of their home with tiny signs that show of the digits of the birthday person's new age. This big and bold 5 reminds me of that fabulous tradition. 

8|25  Years ago, my then-teenage third-born daughter went to a Mika concert. Afterwards, she told me that she had run into Heidi at the show; when the lights came up, my daughter had helped Heidi gather up handfuls of the confetti that had just showered down over the crowd as part of the closing song. That is such a fantastically Heidi thing to do, and I celebrate that memory every time I see airborne confetti. 

9|25  Garlands on garlands on garlands. As far as I'm concerned, you can never have too many garlands and I think Heidi shares that sentiment...

10|25  ...unless it's a party after dark. And then twinkle lights, votive candles, and a few giant pops of color are the ideal scene-stealers.

11|25  Heidi is not so much the type to normally go in for cutesy themed party decor or pastel pom-poms, but I think that if she was throwing a bash for a six-year-old cat fanatic, she might choose something just like this.

12|25  Back in the day, in a literature class that we taught together, Heidi and I read with our students a book called The Twenty-One Balloons. A fanciful story of travel, discovery, and imaginative inventions, we all enjoyed the experience of transporting ourselves to a magical land. These balloons took me right back to those adventuresome days.

13|25 This banner - look closely; you'll see the string connecting the letter - is just the kind of simple paper construction that both Heidi and I love to create. I hope she forgets all about this photo by her next birthday because seriously, I want to make this for her.

14|25  Or maybe I'll make this one. Or both. Heidi is the kind of person who wouldn't mind getting two birthday banners.

15|25 Every birthday banner - big or small, bright or bold, fancy or plain - is a good banner.

16|25. This display seems to be set up out-of-doors, on a porch or a deck, perhaps; definitely against an exterior wall. Upon seeing this for the first time, half of my brain scoffed at the absurdity of creating such a lavish lay-out in the soggy Pacific Northwest; the other part of me obsessed over how perfectly this arrangement would work on Heidi's front porch.

17|25  No question that Heidi loves tacos and the fine traditions of the American Southwest. But I chose this scene, with its horribly pun-ny sign, for her husband, Scott.

18|25  The simple strategy of using pale balloons taped to the wall to mimic a champagne toast strikes me as pure Heidi.

19|25  Another paper creation that is right up Heidi's alley; I'm pretty sure she owns a foamy headband that boasts a row of almost identical candles that is often used for birthday selfies. Also pretty sure I've seen her dog wearing it on her very own birthday.

20|25  Another husband-inspired idea. Hey Scott, I'm pretty sure a row of empty beer bottles along the deck railing, stuffed with twinkle lights, would earn you some major points with your wife. You're welcome.

21|25  I love the clean, simple lines of this cake on its sleek white pedestal, contrasted with the exuberance of infinite sprinkles. Pure Heidi.

22|25  Heidi and I are both winter babies, and I'm guessing that, like me, she often dreams of a birthday dinner celebrated outside on a warm summer evening. 

23|25  Heidi has taught me that sometimes, a smaller, simpler version of a classic extravagance is all the more tempting for its tininess. This precious cookie-cake strikes me as a perfect case in point. 

24|25  Simple joys, like sun-swept rooms and balloons within reach for the little ones, are the kind of things that Heidi loves best. 

25|25  One of my favorite things about Heidi is that she wastes little time on the vanities of life. Each passing year is not measured in wrinkles, troubles, or aches and pains. Instead, she views life as an endlessly interesting and mysterious journey, and that's just one more reason that I'm happy to be traveling alongside her. 

* * * * *

I loved celebrating my friend's birthday in this way and I thoroughly enjoyed running the race against time to get all my pictures posted. 

But for the ultimate cerebration-worthy photo, I pass the baton to Heidi's fourth-born who posted this sweet mother-daughter shot. 

True birthday joy cannot be measured in streamers, balloons, cakes, or even confetti. It's the people who make our lives worth living. and as Heidi crosses the finish line on another year, I wish her nothing but more love and togetherness in the year ahead. 


  1. What fun, my friend, to be celebrated so fully - the best 24 hour online birthday gift EVER!! Thank you for the perfect pictures and the wonderful words, but most of all, thank you for your friendship. It's the BEST GIFT OF ALL!! -h


Please comment...I'd love to hear from you!