Like I mentioned before, the Hubbs and I took the Monkey’s entire birthday week off to celebrate and have some quality family time. It was the BEST IDEA I’ve ever had. That week was jam-packed with fun and memories.
Speaking of memories: On your child’s first birthday, it’s IMPOSSIBLE not to reminisce about where you were/what was going on the year before. So the day before his birthday, Hubbs and I would look at Sean and tell him things like: “It’s 1:30 p.m. At this time last year, we were at the hospital and being checked into a room.” When I put him to bed at 8 p.m. that night, I told him: “Momma still wasn’t even pushing you out yet. You were still in my tummy.”
When he woke up the next morning, at 7 a.m., we celebrated with pancakes, fresh fruit, and yogurt. And by 10:15 a.m. we were on the road for a short trip to S.F. and later to visit the Hubbs’ grandparents. At exactly 10:30 a.m., I looked at my son, happily sucking on a bottle as he watched the world go by outside his window. We were — literally — across the street from the hospital where he was born. My eyes met Hubbs’ in the review mirror.
“At this time last year, they were taking you away from me.” The tears were starting to well up as the memories hit me — as if it were happening all over again.
“Don’t.” Hubbs looked at me through the mirror. “Today’s a happy day, remember?”
He was right. I nodded, wiped my eyes, and took the Monkey’s offered hand in mine. But although we didn’t say anything about it for the rest of the day, the two of us were on edge. Because even though he’s healthy now, apparently a year isn’t long enough to ease the trauma of some memories.
What would a birthday week be without presents and cake, right?
Apparently THIS is the best part of opening presents: Not ripping through the carefully taped regular gift wrap. Oh no. The tissue paper is apparently the gold mine.
The Monkey had a ball just flinging it around him, completely ignoring his faboo presents, until I started putting it on his head like a hat. He turned it into a game — he’d rip the paper from his head and hand it to me to do all over again.
His biggest giggles came from me putting the tissue paper on my own head, and he’d stand up, reach up for the paper, tear it from my head, and hand it to me to begin the game anew.
And you thought birthdays were all about the presents. Nope: Cake.
During the course of two parties, THIS was the dirtiest he got with the cake. Which is rather good, if you ask me.
He tried the frosting. He tried the chocolate cake itself. But the gold mine was the strawberry creme filling wedged between the two layers of chocolate.
So after trying everything else, he would neatly dip one finger into that strawberry cream, then lick it off. He got about halfway through his slice when he threw up his hands in surrender.
What else did we do? We went to the zoo for the first time. This wasn’t a random outing. We have a jungle theme in the Monkey’s room, and EVERY DAY before we go to bed and as soon as he wakes up, he points to the various animals and says “dat.” So we name them: Tiger, elephant, monkey, giraffe, lion, frog, and bear. From this game, he’s learned to say bear — although it sounds like “buhr.”
So to the zoo we went. And despite bringing a stroller, the Monkey spent most of the time either in our arms or hanging on fences, trying to get closer to the animals.
At left, we’re at the giraffe enclosure. The kid spent 10 minutes carefully placing his little feet under the fence. Once that was accomplished, he couldn’t figure out how to get the rest of his body under the chain link, so he contented himself with watching the animals strip leaves from the branches with their tongues.
But the biggest hit were the flamingos: A huge flock of bright-pink, over sized, squawking birds.
The Monkey was enthralled. As the enclosure was opposite the main gate, we stopped several times to watch them squawk, preen, shimmy around, and do their thing.
Each time he’s point, “oooh”, at them, and say “dat!” We almost got him to say bird, but it came out more like “urd”. At the end of the day, we were all tired, but happy. The Monkey completely crashed at the end, but had a great time. We can’t wait to go again.
Finally, we had professional family portraits taken — something I’ve wanted to do from the second the Monkey started crawling.
Its so hard for us to capture his smiles and actions — more than half of our photos end up fuzzy or motion-blurred.
Its even harder to get all three of us in a picture and the Monkey looking toward the camera without someone dancing behind it.
We went to a park with our photographer and his very lovely wife (hi Christina!), who helped get the Monkey’s attention and looking toward the camera. And just in case you’re wondering: YES, the Monkey was flirting with her. There were some big-time eyelash bats thrown her way.
And the photos? They’re absolutely BEAUTIFUL.
He specializes in wedding photography, but if you’re interested in his work, go to: http://www.johnstubler.com.