Last weekend we celebrated our Roua baby’s 1st birthday! It was a beautiful day, joyous and heartwarming. All our friends were content and happy, as were we and Roua seemed to be as well. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon, perfect summer weather for a garden sourdough pizza party!
I ended up making 8 pizzas, just as I had planned! Go Penny! I had fed Penny a few days before, mixed the dough and then just started cranking out pizzas on the morning of Roua’s bday. It worked out really well with the timing, and with a few friends coming later, I was able to take a break and enjoy the party, making the last two pizzas in the evening.
I had made a few chanterelle pizzas with creme fraiche and chives from the garden. The chanterelles we had harvested a few autumns ago in the mountains across from our house. I had rehydrated them and they were just as delicious. The other pizzas varied, margarita with just tomato sauce and basil from my potted basil, then a veggie pizza with summer veggies of courgette (zucchini), aubergine (eggplant), onions and garlic, always garlic, can’t forget the garlic! They were topped with parmesan cheese and mozzarella and emmentel cheeses. One pizza had just onions and garlic and parmesan, and it was delicious too. Overall, I received good compliments about the pizzas, mostly at how tasty the dough was. Thank you Penny! Roua thoroughly enjoyed her slices of pizzas too!
Celebrating Roua brought friends from near and far. Our neighbors down by the bridge who also have a little baby were not able to join since they had another party to attend, but Dorian made an appearance and gifted Roua a drawing he had made of her the other day when she was over playing at their house. It was a beautiful piece of art and on the back, Lolita had written the sweetest messsage for Roua. Jorris' and my heart melted. Dorian stayed for a drink and then had to run, but his presence and their present for Roua was so touching.
From far our friends from Digne came. Lise, Roua’s American bestie and her mama, Hilary, my American bestie and Papa Franck came. Lise had also just turned 1 two days before Roua! We were in the same birth preparation class with the same midwife. It’s been so wonderful and healing to have an American bestie like Hilary to write to and talk with, sharing in the experiences of Motherhood together. I am so grateful the Universe brought us together.
After a delicious lunch including various salads from our guests, it was time for cake. I had made strawberry cake with lemon curd and vanilla buttercream frosting. Although we had a good strawberry harvest this year, more on that later, there wasn’t enough for the cake. But I had happened to see Lolita the day before explaining my predicament casually, thinking I would just stick with lemon curd, and she offered her garden strawberries which are an incredibly fragrant and sweet variety, mara de bois, the essence of strawberry-ness. I am so grateful for the community we live in.
Of course, it was just like me to have never made a layered cake before and just make 2.5 on the first try. I stayed up until 2 am the night before the party and quite frankly was running on adrenaline at some point, but I pulled through and am so proud of my cakes! I really wanted to make Roua her own smash cake for her birthday and that goal just stuck with me, so I had to do it, or at least try. I am so happy with how it turned out and it tasted pretty good too. I did every step from scratch. The only thing I did “ahead of time” and only a day before, was make the buttercream. But now I know that you can make all these little steps a few days, sometimes even weeks before if you freeze them! I will take this into consideration the next birthday!
We sang happy birthday, both in French and English. During the serenade, Roua had her serious face on, the one with the wrinkle between her eyebrows. She got that from her papa. It was so funny. I had made a candle from our beeswax. The wind blew it out. Philippe had sweetly tucked the wick between the rock and sign down at the bridge for me the day before on his way to work. See? Amazing community we live in, right?
At first, Roua was more interested in eating the candle then the cake and it took her some time to warm up, and help to break into, but eventually, she tasted her cake and I think rather enjoyed it. It was so satisfying for me to witness. What was more satisfying was how our friends enjoyed it too. I managed to save a few pieces for those friends who couldn’t make it. And had a sliver with some coffee for myself the next morning.
Roua opened some sweet presents, played in the kiddie pool with the other kiddos and fell asleep wrapped in a towel in Sylvaine’s arms. Party well done. Then, a sprinkle of rain came, so we went inside and friends began to leave. Dan and Sylvaine stayed for tea and coffee and we got to catch up on each other’s lives, how our trip to the US had been in May, my brother’s wedding, their home improvement projects and summer plans. It was nice just to sit with them. After they went home, we had a few hours just to relax and then the last guests showed up, Philippe and Celine. I fired up the oven again and made the last 2 pizzas. We ended up having a candle-it dinner in the garden. Roua was in bed.
And Philippe, always with thoughtful poetic gifts, gifted Roua a frame of honey from one of his hives from Roua! This is where Roua is named after actually, this natural place in the mountains where the dirt is red and where back in the day when we had first met, Jorris and I were just two wwoofers helping out Philippe with this hives there. Roua tasted her gift the next day and I’d say she appreciated every drop of the golden liquid on her little fingers.
Reality turned out better than my visions for her birthday. Just seeing and feeling all the love Roua has all around her from all these truly genuine and caring people made me feel so happy, that she is so loved. And, actually, this was her 3rd party! She actually had 2 while we were in CA and also showered with love from all her cousins and Great Aunties and Uncles. I suppose as a parent, knowing your child is cared for and loved by more than just you is an assuring and easeful feeling.
It was just what we needed as a family and couple. The bee season has been quite intense this year, honey flow is excellent but that means so much work and only us, so balancing family life with work life has been challenging for Jorris. As for me, watching over Roua most of the time has been challenging too. But the good energy we got from the party set us up into a better place, rekindling our spirits, reminding us of why we chose this life to begin with. Seeing friends and getting together to celebrate our daughter was just what we needed to reset perspective on our life here, to step back from the everyday chaos and just admire for a second the beauty of it all. When I take a moment to step back from the chaos of daily life and routine, and look at Roua, it’s such magic that she exists, that she moves with her own life force, that she smiles and talks and laughs and climbs and has even taken her first few steps. In just one year this sweet little baby I birthed is evolving everyday into her own little person, little but with big personality.