I cannot believe it, but I didn't take a single photo before, during, or even after Keats' first birthday party. I feel shame. Serious shame. I know my dad and sister were both snapping away, so hopefully one of these days I can share with you some of the photos they took. My camera was charged, memory card installed, at the ready on the windowsill but I was busy as a bee decorating, last-minute cleaning, last-minute shopping (next year I'm ignoring Birch and renting a helium tank), and making cupcakes. I tried to make these lovely rainbow cupcakes but I used natural dyes, and well, it didn't turn out so hot. Finished cupcakes looked completely normal and plain but they were delicious topped with some serious cream cheese frosting. Next year, I'm using real food coloring (once a year should be fine, it won't end the world). We served chopped strawberries, cucumber slices, fresh spring rolls handmade by Birch, a few different flavored waters, beer and wine. Thanks to Jody and Hugh for bringing some sparkling apple cider! It was delicious! Miriam prepared her mother's amazing mango salsa which was devoured in about three minutes flat. Yeah, it's really good!
The stress of the week prior yielded many lessons on prepping and organization. Oh, and budgeting:
- use our brand new mandolin to slice all fruit and vegetables the day of
- force Birch to only make food he can do the day before
- don't try to completely reorganize and clean your entire house the week before
- have a few (not one) tables/stations dedicated to food and drinks - one central location gets clogged and people don't eat or drink
- provide more shade if you're having a party outside
- have the party at two, not one (prime napping time)
- remember to pick up the one thing you really want to do (I completely forgot to pick up ladybugs to release at the end of the party, something I was really looking forward to, so sad.)
- games. Older kids require entertainment - sack toss would be ideal in our yard.
- set aside food for yourself!
- follow your gut and purchase/make thank you notes beforehand
The day turned out beautiful and sunny. Keats' party was a blast, in more ways than one. It went by fast and Birch and I were moving around practically the whole time. It was so fun to see so many of our friends and family, and even more fun to see them all react to Keats' awesomeness. Walking, talking, playing, eating like a champ. He's impressive! Thank you to all who helped entertain Keats throughout the party as it turned out that Birch and I were too busy fixing things in the kitchen (again, lesson learned).
So what is he doing now? It's been so long since an update, there will be a lot!
Honk, honk! (goose, his favorite)
Bark, bark! (dog)
Meow, meow! (cat)
Mmmm (vacuum, leaf blowers, cars)
Mm Mmmm (yummy!)
Bean and cheese burritos
Beans with sour cream
Once Keats has a full belly, he loves to go on small adventures. The duck pond and the Children's Zoo are two of his absolute favorites. They both have geese and ducks, so that is pretty much a win-win for him. "Honk! Honk! Honk!" All day long. We walk to the parks nearest us where we struggle with Keats to not eat the sand, it's yucky, and play the fun little piano and swing up high giggling like crazy while Olive digs herself a bed in the cool sand. Again, Keats, don't eat it!
Keats recognizes the things we offer to him, even when they are just mentioned and not shown. Birch experienced a tantrum when he said he was making Keats a burrito then just decided to make beans with sour cream. I intervened with a tortilla and Keats immediately calmed down (he was screaming and hitting the beans out of Birch's spoon). After that, Birch believed me that he had understood the original plan. He was impressed and is now careful to make sure that he has what he offered. (If you haven't noticed, Keats is almost exclusively crazy about food. In all other arenas he's completely mellow and chill, but when there's food, he is impatient and demanding. Remind you of anyone?)
He loves trucks, planes, puzzles, and fake food. Anything with wheels is squealed at then followed with a string of "Vroom! Vroom!" He races his various cars and trucks across the living room floor and when he's feeling extra fast, he goes to the two-by-two square of linoleum next to the front door to really make 'em go. With spring busting out the flowers, Keats has a new object of affection and just stares up in amazement at any flowering trees. Since he was born, Keats has always stared up at trees with a special interest seemingly reserved for only them, but now, with pinks and whites exploding in front of him, his fascination has reached a whole new level and even a plane flying overhead doesn't distract him.
Keats "helps" in the garden at home and at Birch's school. Mulch has become an issue in my life as Keats can't help but test each one's edibility. Nope, this one is yucky, too. He has learned how to pat, pat, pat Olive gently and in the right places (not the face and no grabbing of ears) but it's a struggle for him. Who can really blame him, though. Those ears are magnetic. Olive is learning (slowly) that she is allowed to get up and go somewhere Keats can't reach. Usually she just sits and takes his minor abuse staring up at me with pitiful longing. "Olive, just move!" is a frequent refrain in our house. Unfortunately, Keats seems to think the word "No" is hilarious so we use it sparingly, finding other ways (usually just as useless) to stop his bad behavior.
Speaking of which, when he is tired and ready for a nap or
bed, he can get violent. I mean, he's one, so it's not horrible, but
it's a little shocking. He grabs at your face and scratches you,
sometimes even biting you. It's rough stuff and we're working on
stopping it, mostly by pinpointing tired signs earlier. He's a bit of a
tired out of nowhere kind of guy but he's settling into a routine once
again which is nice. It's so much easier to realize what's going on when
there is some kind of rhythm to it. Based on his phase of exclusively biting me when he was hungry, I'm hoping this too will pass and seem like just a blip on the history of raising Keats. He's so pleasant practically all of the time, perhaps that's why it is so shocking when he busts out the claws.
He's taken to giving out hugs more liberally, but kisses have become
infrequent and pretty much only given when asked for. The hugs are
something special though. They come out of nowhere and are very gentle
and sweet. He flops his head on your shoulders and just rests for a
minute. Birch has teared up pretty much every time because he's an
Our Keats is absolutely a joy in our life. It is so fun and amazing to be his mother and watch him grow and learn new things. Though it feels crazy that a year has already gone by, it also feels like so much longer! Each day he develops new opinions, tastes, likes, and dislikes, and it is always an adventure to see what he loves out of life each day. Some days all he wants to do is make the wind chime ring out in the yard, others he just wants to sit and snuggle. Most days he is up for anything and just loves being a little boy with so many places and things to discover. We're so lucky to have both our families so close and able to have him get to know each one. Saying that, I feel a little ping of sadness as I think of my sister so far away in England, but we work hard to let Keats know that she is our family, too, by watching videos and looking at pictures of her and her dear family frolicking about North Yorkshire. It's so exciting to see our family growing and becoming more confident in who we are as a couple and as parents. We dearly love all those people we surround ourselves with and can't wait for more spring and summer parties filled with food and good conversation. Having close friends with babes has been such fun, too. Getting together and watching our young ones interact is always a hoot. I can't wait till they start talking to each other! The things that will come out of their mouths...
Happy birthday, young master Keats. We love you so very much and all that you have brought us in our life together. Keep being as wonderful as you already are and keep learning. We'll do our best to help.