Today was the big day!! Your First Birthday. I don't know about you, but this was the fastest year of MY life. It seems like last month - or last week - or even last night - that we laid eyes on your beautiful (and I mean beautiful) face for the first time.
And I'll never forget how Brian reacted when he met you! He was in love from your first moment together. It only got better when you came home from the hospital!
This year has been quite a roller coaster for me. One day you will read this and understand why. Finding out you existed just as we said goodbye to your brother felt like a free fall - exhilarating and terrifying and frantically grasping for a parachute - all of it. From the second we knew you were coming, you were loved. From the second we knew, you were cherished. You grew and grew under my broken heart and somehow along the way...your love mended it. I will never be able to fully describe how much your smile has healed our family this year. How your snuggles in the dark of night have been like a balm to my soul. How watching you bond with Brian has brought us so much comfort.
I'm not sure I really knew how much I wanted a daughter until you were here! It is so much fun to watch you "mother" your babies... to put you in dresses and headbands... and to plan a "Princess Birthday Party!" I've loved every minute of it.
For your birthday, I even tried something new. I took you and Brian to a portrait studio for the first time ever! We went to the Target Portrait Studio in Plymouth Meeting (where I grew up!) and had a wonderful experience. (Thank you to our lovely photographer, Danielle - you were great!)
I also wanted to get some photos of you with your brothers. Gavin was represented, of course, in our usual subtle way. This time it was by the "Super G" pin on Brian's sweater!
There is so much love between you and your brother. I hope that never stops.
I do know that Brian is your protector - and I'm sure that will never change!
This morning we couldn't wait for you to wake up!! Like a true Princess, you slept in a little late. As soon as we heard a little peep we all went rushing up to greet you with Happy Birthday!
Finally the time came for the party!! I decided I needed to use my "It's A Girl!" mailbox cover for the occasion. Ha!
You wore your beautiful princess dress and hat (during the first half of the party only because obviously you had two outfits. Ha!) and your brother (and all the boys) had a crown!
All of your special birthday party guests were given a tiara, a feather clip or a crown for their hair. Oh, and fancy beads, too! Granny and Aunt Bean looked simply royal!
Daddy set up the camera so we could get a group shot of everyone at the party!
The big news of the party was that you started walking!!! You took a few steps last night, but today something really clicked. You walked more than you ever have - and so confidently! I was so happy that this moment was shared with family and friends. And it was such a trip to see you standing to greet your friend, Myron!! You look like such a big girl!
After everyone arrived, I changed you into your birthday shirt for the cake and presents portion of the shin-dig! But before we lit the candles, you had another trick up your little sleeve! We've been trying to get you to do "Sooo Big!" forEVER! Aunt Bean was the one to pull it out of you - and you did it for the rest of the night... over and over!
You really weren't sure what to do with this little cake that was ALL for you. You've never had anything remotely close to that on your tray! This was truly your first taste of sweets. You started off very dainty and ladylike with just a tiny finger poke...
...and then you got a little more daring.
And then you just WENT for it!!
Here was the big Princess cake for everyone to share!
Brian helped you open all of your presents and, boy - everyone was so thoughtful and generous!
You were having so much fun with your friends and your cousins - it was so sweet to watch you hold your own with everyone.
Your friends, AJ and Sarah, gave you a bear that plays "peek a boo" with a blanket. It's the cutest thing we've ever seen!! You are already in love with this little guy!
Brian picked out a toy cell phone that lets him record personal messages for you.
"You know - in case Hope misses me when I'm at school she can hear my voice!" he told me.
He recorded this as his first message:
"Hi Hopi. I love you. You are special! I can't believe that you are one. I love you!"
He really couldn't WAIT to give it to you, Hope!
Aunt Bean gave you a talking and singing tea set!
It really was a great party.
After the party, I attempted to get your 12 month photos in your chair. I'll let the pictures tell that story!
"Mom, I'm a walker now. Why would you expect me to sit??"
"And I'm asleep..."
Today was the perfect celebration of a wonderful, bittersweet, peace-filled and joyous year with you. I can't wait to see what you have in store for us every day. You really are our dream come true, Hope Leong.
Happy First Birthday!!