As our daughter Mihret's first birthday approached earlier this year, we struggled with how best to mark the occasion.
Should we buy Mihret a cupcake — our daughter's first taste of a sweet dessert? We realized this would be more pie-in-the-sky than practical when we considered Mihret's current food quirk, a refusal to eat breads.
Could we follow my mom's advice — invite one playmate per year of her age to a small party? No, clearly that wouldn't work, as we thought about our friends and their expanding families.
We weren't looking for a big bash with presents or party favors. Mainly, we wanted to surround Mihret with love and fun without overwhelming her.
The greatest idea of all came from my husband Josh's extended family, who invited Mihret to share her great-grandma's 90th birthday party. The two have back-to-back birthdays at January's end.
At the Sunday buffet that's a favorite for the elder birthday girl, Mihret downed spoonfuls of sweet potatoes with melted marshmallows and apple crumble from the dessert section.
She tugged to her heart's content on a balloon a great-aunt had brought, and squirmed in the arms of older cousins who carried her through the party room.
After the meal, Mihret, Josh and I gave Great-Grandma a present — a framed, four-generations photograph from Christmas of her, Josh's mom, me, and Mihret, in footy pajamas and flashing a newly toothy grin.
Josh's dad photographed that moment and others at the restaurant, including the adults' silly grins over Mihret's funny mugging for the camera.
When she's older, Mihret won't remember her first birthday, at least not on her own. But we'll put the pictures in her photo album, and I hope someday she'll ask us, "Tell me again ..."
Kara Patterson: Post-Crescent staff writer