I'm Gonna' Be How Old?

Dear Angelene,

You're gonna' be one year old, that's how old! And your grandparents risked life and limb to get your backyard ready for the birthday party next week. Grandma J had a hard time with the heat at the nursery when we picked out flowers for the flower boxes (105 degrees heat index today in Chicago). And Grandpa Dave and Grandma Esa got battered when the brand new party tent they put up decided to fall over.

But we soldiered on, got all the flowers planted (Grandma Esa and your mom began planting, and then your dad took charge and finished). Your mom swam with you in your little pool, and she washed more fish-themed dinnerware than she probably wants to see in a lifetime (Grandma J found a good sale). And we decided on final tasks for the week: cake, balloons, flowers, party favors, last-minute items, and, of course, live goldfish to give to all your friends. Grandma Esa is exhausted (she worked on your birthday party since 7:30 this morning), Grandma J almost had heat stroke, and Grandpa Dave hauled, drove, assembled, and gardened -- all for Angelene's birthday. Whew! We're almost ready for your big day!

I have no wise message to slip into this letter, no family memory to tell you about (other than the one we made today). I just want to let you know how much you are loved, how everyone is making this birthday special for a special little girl, and to post this wonderful picture of you!

All my love, Grandma J

Princess and the Pea

Dear Angelene,

When you read the story of the Princess and the Pea, you'll know why I got you this fish rug to sit on at your birthday party. You hate sitting on the grass because it prickles, and you might have to sit on grass because your party will be a fish-themed swimming party in your backyard. The rug will be our secret. Not everyone may understand the importance of your having a fish rug. But Grandma J does.

In the Princes and the Pea, a bedraggled girl shows up at the Prince's palace during a storm. The girl says she's a princess, and the Prince believes her. Plus, he thinks she's sort of cute. So he invites her to stay at the palace that night until the storm ends.

The Prince's mom doesn't think this girl is a princess, but mom needs proof she's right. She's afraid her son might fall in love with a non-princess. So mom puts a pea under a stack of mattresses. Mom knows the girl won't feel the pea if she's used to sleeping on straw. And if she sleeps on straw, then she's not a princess. But the girl feels the pea! She's a real princess!

Angelene, you're a real princess, too. That's why Grandma J wants you to have a soft rug to sit on at your birthday party.

A word of warning about this whole princess thing, though. You notice how the princess showed up at the palace bedraggled because she was out in the storm? Well, Grandma J knows she was out in the storm helping people who wouldn't be able to crash at a palace at the end of the night. Princesses are kind, gracious, and hard-working. Like your mom, Grandma Esa, and Grandma J.

When my son first introduced me to your mom -- she and your dad must have been on three or four dates by then -- I knew immediately your mom was a real princess. No Princess and the Pea test for her. Grandma J knew right away she was the real deal.

My dearest granddaughter, if you ever find this fish rug in an attic or old box some day when you're grown, please remember that it represents how much your Grandma J loves you. She didn't want the grass to prickle you at your first birthday party.

Love, Your Grandma J
P.S. Angie: Here's the picture that sent me to Target to get your fish rug. You were NOT happy sitting on the grass this day!