Monday, June 2, 2014

Elsa is ONE!

We survived.

That is the most profound thing I can say after reflecting upon Elsa's first birthday. Everything else seems trite. "The year has flown by (except when it hasn't)." "She is growing up so fast." "Our lives are now (more) complete."

It makes sense that my feelings about parenthood are cliché. Nothing we are thinking or experiencing is new...yet it seems like we are the first people in the world to go through it. Parenting is a universal experience, but also a very unique one.

I suppose it is fitting that I start off Elsa's birthday post by talking about me. First of all, Elsa doesn't have a clue what birthdays are yet and secondly, her birthday is a special day in my life, too. I'm only halfway joking when I say we survived. We literally have kept another human being alive for an entire year, no small feat. On a more figurative level, we have survived a sometimes bumpy year of getting acquainted with the newest member of our family. Thank goodness Elsa is new at this too because we still don't have a clue what we are doing.

One thing I am sure of, however, is that birthdays are important and are meant to be celebrated. I've been told that my family makes a big deal out of birthdays. So be it, I say. It's not so much the presents--although to be fair, I'm sure at some point in my life, it was the presents--but rather feeling special on a day devoted especially to the glorious occasion of one's birth.

I know Elsa was too little to understand, but I still wanted to make her feel special. Jon was going to be out of town on "the best day of the year" (May 10th) so we scheduled her birthday party for later in the month, but I didn't want us to be sitting at home twiddling our thumbs. Instead, we packed our bags--and the giant sheep--and headed for the Midwest. 

On May 10th, Elsa woke up in her special birthday jammies at my grandma's house. We sang "Happy Birthday" to her at least 20 times: when she had a breakfast of Grandma's rolls; when she opened the requisite birthday socks; when the clock read 8:46am, the exact time she was born. After a birthday bath, we had a photo shoot with the infamous sheep and then later in the day, we took some very special four-generation pictures with my grandma, my mom, Elsa, and me. My great-aunt and -uncle came to visit, allowing Elsa to show off her new walking skills, and in the evening after church, a few of my cousins were there to sing "Happy Birthday" one more time so Elsa could blow out the candle (I helped) on the cookie cake my mom made.
Happy (belated) Birthday, Elsa!
Characteristic of our little family, we naturally had more than one celebration. Each time we saw another family member in Kansas City, we celebrated, and then when we returned to Memphis, there were gifts waiting from Washington family. The culmination of all this celebrating occurred over Memorial Day weekend at the official birthday party.

I've been around long enough to know that first birthday parties are really for the adults, so we planned accordingly (honestly, I feel bad for the few kids that were there because it was probably pretty boring). It was a low-key affair at our house, with cupcakes, fruit, and ice cream sandwiches. Oh, and beer. Like I said, for the adults. It was fun to socialize with family (so thankful for my mom and brother who made the trip), friends, and neighbors, but the highlight of the party was the cake.

We fully expected Elsa to dive in and devour her cake. She really seemed more unsure than anything else. In retrospect, it was probably a bit disconcerting to have a bunch of giant people staring and singing at you after they put this sticky, colorful thing in front of you and then set it on fire. I'm not really sure if she actually ate any of the cake, but she did manage to get frosting all over the place, so we got the pictures we were hoping for. It's probably good that she preferred the blueberries we gave her to eat instead.

What is this stuff?
It was important to be able to commemorate such a momentous year. I hope Elsa felt special, and I hope she likes birthdays, because May 10th is going to be a big deal for our family every year.


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