Xandie models her dress-up outfit in front of a map of the Alps before her birthday party. Xandie and her friends play in front of the palace while waiting for birthday-party attendees to arrive.  L to R: Laura, Isobel, Xandie, Vivian, Kathy, Katherine, Fleur. Xandie tries signaling with a fan during her birthday party at the Schlo▀.  L to R: Kathy, Xandie, Vivian, Fleur (obscured), Katherine. Geoff (aka Captain No-Beard) tries on a wig and old clothes during Xandie's birthday party. Xandie and Valerie show off their dress-up outfits at Xandie's birthday party. Catherine shows off her dress-up outfit at Xandie's birthday party. Xandie and her friends learn a polonaise at Xandie's birthday party. L to R: Valerie, Xandie, Sonakshi, Kathy, Vivian, Katherine, AimeÚ, Fleur, Isla, Laura, Pat. Xandie and her friends dance a polonaise at Xandie's birthday party. Clockwise from L: Kathy, AimeÚ, Isobel, Fleur, Pat, Vivian, Valerie, Xandie, guide, Laura, three-year-old who wanted to join in, Katherine. Xandie gets ready to blow out candles at her birthday party. Clockwise from lower left: Laura, AimeÚ, Pat, Xandie, Isobel.
x-2005-bday.jpg Attendees at Xandie's birthday party listen to their tour guide. L to R: Guide, Valerie, AimeÚ, Kathy, Katherine, Sonakshi. Xandie tries on some old-fashioned clothes during her birthday party while her friends watch. Pat (aka not-so-old Mother Hubbard) tries on old clothes during Xandie's birthday party. Xandie and her friends sit for "tea" in their dress-up outfits at Xandie's birthday party.  L to R, front row: Laura, Vivian, Fleur, Isobel, Kathy, Xandie.  Back row: Isla, Katherine, Sonakshi, Valerie, AimeÚ. Kathy and Xandie sit for "tea" in their dress-up outfits at Xandie's birthday party. Xandie and her friends curtsy to each other while dancing a polonaise at Xandie's birthday party.  L to R: Katherine, Vivian, Pat, Laura, Isobel, Sonakshi, Fleur, AimeÚ, Valerie, Kathy, Xandie. Xandie and her friends pose in their dress-up outfits during Xandie's birthday party.  Front row, L to R: Isobel, AimeÚ, Isla, Xandie, Laura, Katherine.  Back row: Valerie, Sonakshi, Kathy, Fleur, Vivian. Xandie blows out candles at her birthday party.  From left: Laura, AimeÚ, Pat, Xandie, Isobel.

Xandie's Birthday 2005

April has come and gone, and what a fairytale princess birthday Xandie had this year! (No Disney doings this time.) It all began with the typical What would you like to do for your birthday? question. In Germany there is a longstanding tradition of inviting ALL your friends to the party and providing an event, lunch, and home-made cake. (I do remember reading in a guide book about keeping your birthday quiet unless you were ready to take the entire office out for lunch. There is more than some truth in this friendly little tip.)

Since we had been on the receiving end of a couple of children's parties by this time, we did have a clue about what to expect and what is expected. I looked into a few indoor possibilities (April is always a tricky time weather-wise) and when we found that the palace across the street hosted birthday parties, Xandie decided that would be perfect! For a reasonable fee, which goes to museum foundation, they will arrange a docent (an English speaker was available, thank goodness), a tour, period costumes, and an activity for the little princesses. Theirs was to learn a courtly dance, the polonaise.

So, on the drizzly Saturday morning after Xandie's birthday, 10 little bouncing beauties assembled in front of the palace. They were presently met by a lovely lady who explained the rules of conduct for the museum. Geoff, the Court Photographer, and I, the Queen Mum, were allowed to tag along. The docent, who was wonderful with the children, began with a quick tour of the tower room apartments and a history of the way ladies used their fans to communicate in the royal court. It was quite fascinating: even Geoff and I learned a few new tricks in fan etiquette. It was then time for the tower run...straight up three stories of winding staircases to the top for a 360 degree view of Karlsruhe and back down again. Having burned off a little surplus energy, we paraded to the royal apartments.

First our docent explained a little about life in the palace: the costumes and wigs of the time, interesting bits about not bathing, the use of powder and perfume, plagues and diseases, and the lack of plumbing and toilet facilities. Shortly thereafter, 10 little girls were dressed in period clothes, which transformed them into miniature countesses and princesses before they toured the royal apartments in proper style. At about the halfway point, our docent got out her CD player and showed them steps to a simple dance. After a quick run-through, the music began and they danced their way around the rooms of the palace. It must have been great for the other museum-goers too, since I noticed a lot of smiles as they encountered our group. There was even a 3-year-old who went into tears because she wanted to dance with the princesses. Of course we invited her to join us!

At this stage we were all near the saturation point (it was a 2½ hour tour) and the girls were transformed back into 21st-century kids. After saying our goodbyes and thank-yous to the docent, with a few curtsies thrown in, down we went into the dungeon for cake, juice, goody bags, and presents. (Well, I called it the dungeon; it was really just the cloak room in the basement.)

This was a very special birthday to remember and great fun was had by all. Hard to believe we now have a seven-year-old princess on our hands!