My new Rebel xsi is here, and I love it, despite the fact that I am a COMPLETE ignoramus shooting in automatic mode.
It’s hard to go wrong with this subject, but I still have quite a bit of work to do if I want to explore the benefits of this camera. If only I could find the time to learn about what all those buttons mean and teach myself how to use some editing software…. Help!
Well, it’s taken me a full week to recover enough to write about Finn’s first birthday party. Although we tried to keep things simple, they somehow still managed to get complicated. Such is my world — always.
We originally decided to host a “Birthday Brunch Theatre” because we thought Finn would love a puppet show, and because a party at noon would work out best with his nap schedule. We tried to keep the guest list small so that he wouldn’t be overwhelmed, but even in inviting only family and a few friends with young kids, we were looking at over forty people. It took quite a while for us to make enough paper-bag-puppet invitations. Here are a few of them:
To prepare for the party, we bought about twenty puppets, Keith built an impressive stage out of PVC that can be dismantled and stored, and my multi-talented brother-in-law made us a spectacular red velvet curtain. It looked quite theatrical in our little place:
As our expectations rose, Keith started planning silly puppet skits with fun sound effects, and my sister and I made a festive banner the weekend before the party:
All seemed as if it was going smoothly. Since the event was taking place on Sunday at noon, and I was trying to avoid overwhelming myself, I ordered bagels and coffee from Einstein’s, asked my sister Ilianna to handle the cupcakes for guests, and planned to just make a few quiches as well as put out some scones, juice, and pitchers of mimosa. On the day before the party, as my mother-in-law happily played with Finn, I made five quiches and the birthday cake: a small carrot cake sweetened with maple syrup and agave nectar. It was quite tasty, I thought, but the kitchen was an unbelievable mess, and I was exhausted.
Then we realized that the air conditioning wasn’t working properly. It wasn’t BROKEN, but the air seemed, well, not as cool as it should have been. Was it just because I had been baking all day? We cranked it down overnight and got it as cold as we could prior to the party… but as people filed in, the house kept getting warmer and warmer, and as luck would have it, the temperature on this particular South Florida October day managed to get up to 93 degrees.
Nobody drank coffee. While chasing Finn all over the house, I forgot to replenish the juice. My guests were undoubtedly hot and thirsty.
Keith, my sister Sunshine, and my brother Alex practically melted behind the puppet stage… but they were still amazing. The show was wonderfully cute and funny, complete with a “Yellow Submarine” sing-a-long and my favorite, a skit about the chef that turns vegetarian after becoming friends with the animals he tries to cook:
We followed the puppet show with Finn’s moving first year video, and then presented Finn with his first cake. Although he tries to eat paper, stones, washcloths, and even his shoes on a daily basis, he refused to allow a bite of cake anywhere near his mouth. Someone snapped a few shots of him just staring at it and I didn’t realize until the end of the party that I had forgotten to put him in his special birthday hat.
In the end, though, despite the hat and the heat, my family made an amazing troupe of creative party planners, my guests were incredibly gracious, and my little man was the star of the show.
One year ago, you slept in my arms for the first time, uncharacteristically calm. You had been turning so many circles in the womb that the cord that bound us together had wrapped twice around your neck.
Once out, you rested. We stared. You were here — so soft and new — and we hardly knew what to do with you.
One year later, you’re still turning circles, moving, changing directions — only on your own two feet — and we’re running in circles around you, still not sure of what we’re doing.
You, on the other hand, are pretty sure of a great many things. You point them out to us with one insistent finger when you first see us every morning, and to everyone you can throughout the day. There’s the light in any room, the ceiling fan that goes round and round in a circle, the dragonfly print on the wall, the egrets and ibises along the lake, the airplanes that you spot even before I do, the moon changing shape in the sky, and, of course, the noisy rain stick that you’re scared of in the corner. Yesterday, however, after you yelled and pointed at it for some time, you walked up and touched it. How, at one year old, have you learned to confront your fears? You’re turning braver by the minute.
From one second to the next, you seem to master something new. Just in the past several weeks, you’ve begun to chase after ducks, kick a soccer ball with intent, stack blocks instead of just knock them down. You initiate games of peek-a-boo, demand a dancing partner when you hear your favorite songs, and pick out the books you prefer to savor. The pages of some of your favorites, like Goodnight Moon and Peek-a-Who, are marred with teeth-marks. You’re turning what’s around you into a world of your design, all full of slobber.
Lately, you’re making REAL food preferences clear, too: you love your bananas and veggie burgers, but after months of eager, indiscriminate eating of everything from avocado to zucchini, you’ve learned to exercise your power over mealtime by discreetly dropping finger f00ds onto the floor, or — in much less discreet fashion — spitting out what you’ve just eaten. At the same time, you want to put everything that ISN’T food into that bitey mouth of yours. On our evening walks, you try to taste leaves and stones. In the house, you sample mail, student essays, the ceiling fan remote control. You’re turning the world into your smorgasbord.
You’re also turning it into a marathon — of sorts. You may have slept through the night from months three to six, but you’ve woken up every night since except perhaps two — one of which was last Friday night: your actual birthday. You enjoyed your little gift to yourself and woke up calm and smiling and, after I opened the blinds, pointing at the tree outside your window from inside your crib. “Ahh!” you said, and the heart inside my slightly less tired body started turning somersaults.
You were in an unusually affectionate mood, giving your open-mouthed baby parrot kisses. I picked you up and we danced by that window in the sunlight, turning round and round in circles.