Today has been somewhat bittersweet! It was my last Saturday "photo shoot" with Hope. Her 52nd week with us - it all just flew by. I was very excited about this particular photo, though. Hope had been gifted this gorgeous Hartstrings dress from our dear friends, the Wongs, and to me it just screamed Gavin because of the blue and the timelessness. It also begged me to attach one of our "Super G" pins to the middle of the bow.
I wanted the last photo... on the eve of her first birthday... to really honor Gavin. In many ways, I feel she was dropped straight from Heaven. From Gavin's arms to ours. This photo needed, for me, to be about both of them - Gavin and Hope.
The little monkey you see is very, very special. It was Gavin's and he slept with it in his bed every night. It was actually next to him every night in the hospital leading up to his death as well. Hope became attached to it immediately and it has been with her in her crib. She can press the monkey's belly to hear lullabies - and each time we hear the music come over the baby monitor, we smile.
Tomorrow is Hope's first birthday party! It's just a small gathering of family and friends. We're having a Princess theme because, well, I love any excuse to wear a tiara. There will be tiaras and fancy beads and feathers and crowns for everyone to wear!
Remember my playground fundraising event? One of the auction items was from a little company in California called "Little Jubilee." When I saw the auction item - a free party in a box - I knew that I had to bid on it. Hope was only five months old, but when I went on the Little Jubilee website I knew I had to have the Princess Jubilee set! I bid and bid until I was the winner so I could use the set for her first birthday party!! Hope was very intrigued when the box arrived.
I am not a Pinterest Mom (or person in general!) so to me this was like opening a box FROM Pinterest and just setting it all up - easy-peasy!
I set everything up (it made it so easy having these fun things to make it a little more special!) ahead of time so today I could spend the whole day with Brian!
It may be Hope's first birthday - but to me a first birthday is really about the people who "survive" the first year. The winner of this year is Brian. He has been a remarkable big brother from the very beginning. I told him I wanted to take him out on a "Love Bomb" date and he was so excited!! A "Love Bomb" day in our house is a day that is totally about one child and one parent. Brian gets to pick where we go... what we do... what he eats... all of it. It's a day when the answer is YES (within reason) and the rules are broken (hello, dessert before dinner!) and the focus is on him. Brian chose to go to Arnold's Family Fun Center - a place that he (and Gavin) loves to go. Before we left, he drew me a picture and wanted to take a picture of us.
"You look pretty, Mommy." he told me.
"Do you think I look handsome for our date?"
We had so much fun playing video games... skee ball...
and bouncing in the bounce house.
There was an unfortunate incident when we were attacked by a killer shark, but Brian was able to fight him off after he took my picture. (His idea to pose!)
When it was lunch time, I asked him if he wanted to go out anywhere - maybe get pizza or cheese burgers. Nope! He wanted to go home to eat lunch, collect his sister and visit Santa Claus!! So we dressed the two of them in their Christmas outfits and off we went!
We have had a great relationship with the Santa at our local mall over the last several years. Last year, in particular, was incredible. (You can read about that magical experience HERE) I was, admittedly, disappointed when we showed up to find a new company and a new Santa today. I was so looking forward to seeing our "friend!" But this Santa (and the whole experience, actually) was lovely!
You could feel Brian's excitement while he waited...
...and Hope was completely intrigued with all the decorations and lights.
Brian told Santa that he had been a good boy and a good brother (all true). He asked for Lego Star Wars sets, race cars, a trampoline and a bounce house! (I was surprised to hear him ask for a bounce house out of the blue. True story - I bought one on a crazy sale last week!!)
He was also sure to ask Santa to bring his little sister some dolls. He never forgets her!
What a difference a year makes...
After our visit with Santa, Brian wanted to head to the fountain in the center of the mall. It was always a favorite spot of Gavin's and it's become a tradition for us to visit that fountain any time we're in the mall.
Gavin will always be a part of everything we do.
We ended Brian's love bomb day with a backwards dinner (dessert first!) and reading a "Magic Treehouse" book before bed.
Life will sure be different when we wake up in the morning! Hope will be a big one year old. But, she will also be a WALKER!!!!!!!!!!! Look what she started this morning!
Wondering what's in her mouth? Why, it's a probably dirty paint brush that she took from the art table. I pictured an idyllic first steps moment - you know, when she takes her first steps into my outstretched arms and falls into me giggling and a tear falls down my cheek because I'm oh, so happy? But what really happened is I saw her in slow motion put the paint brush (dry) in her mouth and she was so distracted that she started to walk without realizing what she was doing. The paintbrush still hanging from her mouth. So...in a move sure to win me "mother of the year" - I chose to grab my phone to videotape the walking and decided that I was exposing her to culture by letting her ingest art. (Sounds good, right?)
And this, my friends, is how you parent when you're 44. I definitely don't sweat the small stuff anymore.