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An Art Party: 8 Years Old

I wish I could gather up all the things of Eight Years Old and store them in a bottle on my kitchen shelf, wedged between the other bottles and vials of things that keep me healthy and make me happy–the vitamins; the thieves oil; the jar of shells and pebbles from West Twin Lake, Summer of 2012; the delicious honey candle jar with just enough wax saved in the bottom for one more burn. I’d get a good bottle for these 8-year-old things, the best I could find–blue glass maybe or amber–and I’d add a pretty label–silver, with sparkles. The Magic of Eight-Year-Old Things, it would say.

In the bottle, I’d pour in the excitement of turning another year older, uncensored by the need to play it down. I’d tuck in the thrill of getting to school early just to make sure you hear your birthday announcement on the school’s morning news–because it’s quite nice to be celebrated for being born–and the next day announcement that there’s only 364 days left until the big Nine. There’d be tiny toys in there–trinkets that fit in your pocket, like Shopkins and puzzle erasers and bright-colored charms for chain bracelets. There’d be smiles in the bottle–all kinds of them from thin shy ones to wide grins full of spaces from missing teeth. I’d slip in notes and stapled books I find around the house–like “The Book of Girls” with page after page of drawings of girls in peace sign shirts and heart skirts that sit above long stick-thin legs, and labeled names like Alis and Menica and Emmee and Kira. I’d keep the misspellings–as many of them as I could find because they’re lovely and a very special part of 8-Year-Old Things. And sometimes 36-Year-Old Things.

I’d carefully add the innocence–in fact, I’d use a dropper to squeeze it in drop by drop so that none of it is wasted–the good intentions, the benefit of the doubt, the beautiful open space present before the knowledge of pain and suffering and evil in the world leaves shadows that cannot be erased. There’d be twirly skirts and Taylor Swift songs, hand claps and jump ropes, sidewalk chalk and pink pleather wallets stuffed with hotel key cards and a few loose dollars and a handful of change–we’re talking a lot of money. The pennies would be saved for fountain wishes, naturally. The bottle would preserve the love of Lunchables, Chuck E. Cheese, chapstick in flavors like Dr. Pepper and Junior Mints, gumballs in your ice cream, dropping quarters into bubble gum machines, princesses, shoes with heels that click, a sneaky swipe of Mom’s lipstick before school, worn off remnants of temporary tattoos. I’d add friend dates and still call them play dates. I’d drop in Good Luck Charlie but smile when I poured in Curious George right after.

A generous amount of feeling pretty would float in the bottle and mean nothing more than a cute headband or some sparkles on your shirt–not weight or face lines or thigh gaps. And there’d be love–infinite love–solidified not in answers to existential questions or attention from crushes but in dinner on the table and back rubs before bed and parents waving from the crowd at the second grade musical.

And I’d save the best for last. Right before I corked the bottle, I’d put the magic in, the stuff that makes the bottle glow–imagination without limits and shimmery drops of belief–in Santa and fairies and mermaids, love and opportunity and equality, and good stories with good endings.

I’d open the bottle every day, swirl the contents, take deep breaths in and never forget the importance of Eight-Year-Old Things for every year after.

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Eight years ago tonight, I held a little girl for the first time and could barely say the word daughter without my heart flipping. For all the grade school What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? questions I had always filled in with the same answer, knowing my aspirations were just as dreamy as my classmates’ answers of rock star and actor and astronaut, I did it. I became the dream…a mother.

This weekend we celebrated those 8-Year-Old Things with an art party at our local pottery studio, Earth & Fire, and a dozen sweet artists.

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We put the “art” in party.

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Cupcakes from the Hello, Cupcake book, one of my favorite creative baking inspirations. Lainey will randomly go through it, pick something out and say “Let’s make this one.”

Some peeks and pics from our day:

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Clear paint cans from Michaels or you can buy online here

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Lainey and I made the party hats by adding cut card stock paint palettes to Spritz hats from Target (10-pack)

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She’s looked at this book and all the messages her friends wrote so many times this weekend.

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Before the pizza came, the kids had fun decorating their own picture frame placemats and adding their art to pages from this awesome book.

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Eight seems a good age to let the girls do their own fun thing at a party without moms hovering with the next game. We walked down to the dock for ice cream after we ate, and the girls had silly fun making up their own games, talking and taking pictures. Watching them was another experience–how in the world did we get here?

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The world is your paper, little artist. Make your mark.

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Feeling ever so grateful tonight for another year, and for The Magic of Eight-Year-Old Things. Our world is better because of them.

Happy birthday, Lainey Love.

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Leave a Comment
  1. LOVE this whole birthday but especially Lainey’s outfit. Where did you get that yellow jumper style skirt?

  2. pAM ALLAN says:

    Love this! I can’t believe she is 8! Happy Birthday Lainey xx

  3. Beth thurston says:

    This is the cutest party idea!!! I love your creativity!!

  4. Heather Henricks says:

    “We put the ‘art’ in ‘party”- I SWOON!!!! Another home-run party, Kelle!!! Eight is GREAT!!! Enjoy it ALL!!! xoxoxo Heather

  5. Monique says:

    One of your best ever posts Kelle!! I LOVE celebrating the little people in my life that made me what I always dreamed to be…a Mom!! What an incredible keepsake for both you and Lainey!! My favourite thing you added to your bottle was “imagination without limits and shimmery drops of belief”!!! So frick’n AWESOME Mama!! Happy Birth Day to You!!

  6. I absolutely love your parties!

  7. Aww happy birthday sweet girl! You are growing into such a beautify little lady. I love watching my littles grow even though it stings my heart that they are one year closer to leaving the nest. It feels like yesterday i became a mama and then, poof, next year she’s a teenager! Gah! Hope your day was special Lainey Love!!

  8. Beautifully written. ” the bottle” brought tears…so sweet.

  9. Jennifer says:

    I love what you put in your eight year old bottle. My daughter is just finishing up her eighth year. I wish I could stop time, just for a moment. Eight really is a wonderful year. Enjoy!

  10. Melissa says:

    I love that Lainey is 2 months older than my Avery because you are able to put in to words what I am feeling. Such a sweet age. Still innocent and tender with a little independence and spice thrown in. :) happy birthday Lainey!

  11. Cute idea Picasso!

  12. I’m yet to have children of my own, but know that when I do I will look back on these online pages for inspiration and to draw happiness and strength from. Your family are wonderful, and I love how creative you are with your children.

  13. Stephanie says:

    This is my absolute favorite “Kelle Posts” of all of my favorite “Kelle Posts!” Maybe it’s because I want to bottle up some of the very same things for my almost seven-year-old too! The magical descriptions of your eight-year-old things bottle are some of the most beautiful words you’ve ever written. Such a treasure!

  14. Kelle, this is a gorgeous and imaginative party! I especially love the party favors, words to hang onto. There must truly be something about the age of eight, and holding onto those shimmers of magic. I wrote this on the topic on my youngest son’s eighth birthday a couple of months ago: http://www.onthisnewmorning.com/2015/03/holding-onto-magic.html?m=1

  15. I love your writing. It made me cry. My daughter is turning eight in a matter of weeks and it’s this perfect meeting point between little girl and young woman. Well written, Kelle, as always…

    • It really is the perfect meeting point, isn’t it? Hanging on to all the little girl-ness that’s in that bottle!

  16. Where are the gold frames (toward the end) from?

    • Hi Clem,
      Those are from Amazon. There’s a link under that picture that takes you right to them (click on picture frame placemats)

  17. Love the ideas, the colors…thanks for sharing!

  18. Hello, I love your crochet, it is beauty, I love this colors, I follow your blog, I have a blog about crochet with free patterns and free crochet diagrams, visit me , hugs from Brazil.
    Visite meu blog – Tita Carré – Crochet

  19. Natasha hennessey says:

    Oh my! I’ve been reading for so many years… I’ve never missed a post and that one was my favourite! Last week we ushered in our big 8 year old girl too and this is just perfect! I’m going to read this post to her… I know she will just love it! As always, thank you for sharing!!

  20. jennifer says:

    Did I see Tish and Amma at the party?? Love that the brave little ones are growing up together,

  21. the way you write…

  22. I have an eight year old Lainey too. You summed her up to a T in this post. My little artist would have loved this party idea, and I will be coming back to it to suggest for her ninth.

    Enjoy eight. I’m four months in and it’s an amazing age – little girl innocence (and spelling mistakes) but with a surprising splash of maturity. Mascots are clearly people in a costume but the tooth fairy and Santa are so real. Delight in your Lainey as I am delighting in mine.

    Oh, and I call mine “Lainey Love” too. :)

  23. Jeanette says:

    Happy birthday to Lainey from Norway :)

  24. molly Weber says:

    Aww, this is so sweet! I remember being eight and I just loved that whole year! Happy Birthday to Lainey! Love to all of you! xo :) Molly

  25. I adore seeing every birthday party on your blog! I have so much appreciation for the fact that you make each child feel so celebrated, so special. At 24, I’m a not-yet-mother, but you should know for a fact that each of these inspires me for future motherhood :)

  26. Maryann says:

    Beautiful party! And beautiful family. Quick question, where did you get the birthday book for her friends to draw in or leave a message? Such a cute idea for any party!

  27. Everything that you would add to your eight year old bottle is fantastic. and sums up what a little girl should be doing at that age. It brought me back to my childhood. It also had me thinking about my own little and the magic of children. Thank you. Happy Birthday Lainey

  28. Your words are just beautiful! Last year I also went to an art studio for my daughter’s 8th birthday…but I just showed up with pizza, a bag of chips and a bowl LOL. Maybe I’ll send my daughter to you this year. You really need to start a party planning bizz!

  29. Your words truly touched me today Kelle. I have a daughter who turns 10 soon and a daughter that turns 9 right after. Every age is pretty magical, but 8 is such a game changer. A mix of little girl/grown up girl. You captured this so perfectly.

  30. your mama heart speaks right to mine, Kelle. This is was so lovely to read, as are all of your birthday posts.

  31. I am seriously so teary eyed reading this post!! How did she get so big!? I have been reading since she was your little “cubby” :) Thank you for sharing your life with “us”!

  32. christine says:

    this is one of my absolute favorite posts ever! you nailed it..its the very essence of little girls..this tugged at my heartstrings! I love love love the party theme..funny, fun and colorful! what a blast!

  33. Lauren Williams says:

    As the mother of a newly turned 8-year old, this post is perfection! I am so printing this out and saving it for myself to remember my daughter just exactly the way you described age 8’s. Thank you for capturing it so perfectly!

  34. Happy birthday, Lainey! What a great party you had. Love your shoes.

  35. this was beautiful. I cried through the whole thing…for missing my 8 year old self, for the fact that it changes, for having all boys, for the way you see and create things, for all of it. Loved this. Thank you

  36. Michelle says:

    Her artist outfit is adorable – magazine worthy photos! I like that your parties are so detailed without being over-the-top. Your joy in planning and executing shines through. We too are in the sweet spot of childhood – I am furiously scribbling the details in my memory. Thanks for sharing.

  37. Oh how I adore the 8-year old bottle description, so sentimental and beautiful.
    The party is just stunning, what a brilliant idea! All the little touches are just perfect.
    Happy birthday, beautiful Lainey!

  38. Ryan Elizabeth says:

    What a beautiful love letter to your Lainey Love. Geesh, you brought tears to my eyes once again. What a great celebration for your girl.

  39. I love all of your bday parties!! This one is really cute. I love Lainey’s outfit…. all the photos… but the last one ~ oh my….. absolutely adorable.


  40. Oh my stars – when did this sweet little girl grow up to be eight!!!!!??? She’s just beautiful Kelle.

  41. You come up with the best party ideas. I love the art theme.

  42. This is so cute! I flipping love the art palette cupcakes, how adorable. I used to work at a paint your own pottery place and it was always such a blast. It’s a great place for a birthday party!

  43. Love this post! I have 3 kiddos, all a few months younger than yours (and girl, girl, boy too!)…. this post spoke to me! Totally agree with the entire first part…bottling up all those magic moments. I thought that so many times this past Christmas…the unwavering belief in Santa, the innocence, the collections of random things (I remember treasuring all those silly things like the rainbow erasers, charms, stickers, etc.), and the huge swells of love when she comes over for a kiss and a “Love you Momma”….I wish I could capture these minutes because they will pass by so quickly.

  44. What a colorful and fun party ! Happy birthday to Lainey!

  45. You are such an awesome MOm and an inspiration to us all.

  46. Happy Birthday Lainey, from a mother of an eight year old boy from Berkeley, CA!

  47. Ada’s 6th birthday is coming up and we are having her party at a local kids art studio. Your post has me all inspired to go with the whole art theme but she has her heart set on Frozen (do you hear my eyes rolling? How are we not done with this yet?). Any ideas on how to combine the two are wholeheartedly welcomed!
    Happy Birthday to Lainey and happy birth day to you :)

    • “How are we not done yet?” God! So true. How about art theme but turn the air conditioner down really low so that they’re all freezing. VOILA! Done.

  48. Lisa Goddard says:

    Hi Kelle

    I love this party!! So fun. Just wondering where Lainey’s shoes are from, my 10 year old would love them. I just read through the comments and don’t think anyone else has asked. Thanks!! Lisa

  49. This is just too freaking amazing! I have a 7-year old who would absolutely LOVE this theme! So many wonderful design details. Kudos for this!

  50. I absolutely love what you did for your daughter’s 8th birthday! My daughter is turning 5 this May and she absolutely loves art. I might just whip up something similar!

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