One-year-olds are the best, man. Give me one-year-olds forever.
I can put him on the floor and he will play with his toys for 30 or 40 minutes. I can put him in a high chair at a restaurant and he'll happily snack on finger food while I eat in peace. He sleeps for nice long stretches at night. He does sign language to tell me when he wants to "nurse" and when he wants "more" food. Most of all, he has so much personality! He tells jokes, plays games, waves enthusiastically at strangers, and loves to make new friends.
If you had told me a year ago how much easier parenting would get, I never would have believed you.
Our boy lucked out this year with THREE birthday parties. I know. Who even am I? What happened to minimalism?!
First we celebrated with an "open house" party at our apartment on Saturday afternoon. We invited all of Frankie's little baby friends (I think 9 babies ended up coming) and of course their parents. Frank made BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, Italian sausage, black beans and rice, and his Grandma's famous macaroni salad (which is completely addictive).
I made teddy bear cupcakes because our (very informal) theme was "Little Bear."
Thank you, Pinterest.
My dear friend Giedre took these beautiful pictures of his party for us. My heart completely melted when I saw the collage she made of photos from the past year. Has it really been a year? The longest and the shortest, the best and the hardest year of my life.
For a long time, I could not understand why parents made such a big deal out of first birthdays. In fact, I joked that I was going to send out invitations that said, "Come celebrate Frank and Tess surviving their first year as parents!!" But then a few weeks before his birthday I realized this: parenting may be hard, but when you celebrate your child's birthday, you choose to forget all of the hard things you may have gone through and simply be grateful for the gift of their life. Our boy is the light of our lives. I will never stop being grateful that I get to be his mother. His first birthday was a chance for us to celebrate that.
Frankie loves LOVES when people sing "Happy birthday" to him, so we must have sang it at least 20 times over the course of the weekend. I don't want to forget his face when we dimmed the lights and lit the candle on his cupcake. Everyone in the room looked at him and started singing, and his little face just lit up. You could see that he was thinking, "All of these people are singing to me??" Even now, thinking about it makes me start to tear up. He was so happy.
Then we blew out the candle (I tried to teach him how to do it in advance, but he just laughed and tried to grab the candle) and I put the cupcake on his tray. He looked at it for a moment, then picked it right up and bit in! It was like he knew exactly how to eat a cupcake. That brought down the house. He spent the next 20 minutes happily eating all the frosting, and then crumbling the cake part into tiny crumbs which he generously scattered all over his high chair and the floor. He had such a good time.
Later on, Frank let him eat a chocolate-covered pretzel, and he was SO HAPPY and covered in chocolate and slightly wired from all that sugar. Not to mention what a great time he had crawling around the floor with all his little baby friends. This boy is so friendly and energetic—I wonder where he gets that from? ;) When I put him to bed that night, he lay on his back, closed his eyes, and softly whispered, "Wow. Wow." He had a great day.
The next day, Sunday, was his actual birthday. After church in the morning, we went over to my parents' house for Party #2 (my parents were out of town on Saturday which is why we opted to have a friend party and a family party). We did the cupcake-candle-singing again, and he was just as excited the second time around. My little sister took this video:
Then Monday morning, I got up at 3:50 am to catch a flight to Philly to spend the week with my in-laws and my twin sister. So Frankie got to have Party #3 at my in-laws' house on Monday. I have a bunch of pictures from the trip that I'll be sharing soon! You can see a few of them over on Instagram (which is my favorite social medium these days—I'm kind of addicted).
There are so many things I love about my boy at this age. His soft blonde curls that give him crazy bedhead. His ability to really focus and concentrate when he's introduced to something new. His impressive powers of imitation as he mimics my sounds and actions. His energy. His enthusiasm. His undeniable extroversion. He is just our darling boy, and we love him to pieces.
Happy birthday, little bear. Being your mother is such a privilege.