Sunshine Girl

Mabel’s first birthday began as they often do, with a minor head injury. Truly, I think most of my kids have some sort of facial trauma occur right around the first birthday, one of the hazards of early walking. Larkspur was an exception to the rule because as I recall, she waited to walk until she was fifteen months old. Also in keeping with her one year old status, Mabel rejected her birthday crown. It’s okay, I expected this. She’ll love it at two, or at least by age three. I made it with wool felt that I dyed with avocado stones, and embroidered it by roughly following a pattern from this lovely book. The trim at the bottom is some I removed from a vintage collar I’ve had stashed away for years. The website with the pattern I followed is unavailable right not, but here’s a great tutorial, if you need one!

Looking through my photos from the day, there weren’t many smiles! It’s not that Mabel was unhappy (well, she was when she banged her head), she was just so focused, taking everything in. We did the usual things: ate cake with whipped cream and opened gifts. Mabel’s first gift was a simple wooden spoon, which she was quite pleased with. Jonny’s mom, “Mimi,” was visiting with a friend, so there were extra gifts (engraved ones, too!) and even pin the tail on the donkey for the other kids. I worked hard to stay in the moment and not think unhelpful thoughts such as, “She’s not a baby anymore!” (Yes, she is.) After cake, I dressed Mabel in her birthday dress (pattern here, fabric here) and a pair of new shoes I ordered for her (handmade in Virginia!) because she doesn’t have any that fit. They’re very cute, and she was excited to wear them, holding up each little foot so that I could put them on. Sadly, they are a little too big and don’t stay on very well. Of course, it would have been worse if they were too small! We spent some time sitting on the floor playing with wrapping tissue and gifts. At one, the packaging is always just as fun as the gifts themselves! Then we took her outside to play with her “big” gift, a wooden lawnmower toy, because it was moving way too fast for her on the hardwood floors. She’s not quite steady enough for it yet, but she gave it her best try, complete with her tongue sticking out in concentration. She’ll be ready for it soon! We all know how quickly little ones grow up.

Happy first birthday, Mabel! She really is our sweet little sunshine girl.

Here’s the recipe for her healthy-ish birthday cake, copied and pasted straight out of an email from my friend, Jaime.

Paleo Lazy Daisy Cake:

preheat oven to 350
prepare 9×9 pan (i greased with coconut oil.) mix 4 eggs with 1t vanilla until they thicken (not stiff). add 1C honey. mix until smooth. in another bowl, mix 1/2C coconut flour, 1t baking soda 1/4t (sea)salt. add liquid to flour and mix well. (it will seem really thin but as the coconut flour absorbs the liquid it will thicken.) in a pot heat 1C canned coconut milk; when warm enough that the cream melts, add to rest of batter. it is really important to mix it, pour it into the pan, and get it into the oven promptly. it gets its texture from the hot milk reacting with the baking soda while it’s cooking so you don’t want to leave it sitting out at all.
i baked it for 20 minutes, then covered it with foil and baked it for another 20.

Almost One

Small Things-1383

A year ago today, I had my pre-op appointment in preparation for Mabel’s birth the following day. I also needed to make a big grocery run, wanting to be sure my family had everything they needed while I was in the hospital. It being my first hospital birth in almost sixteen years, my younger children were a little concerned over the fact that I would be leaving for this baby’s birth. I was too, as Mabel’s birth would be my first major surgery. While I ran my errands, Jonny drove to the train station with all the kids to pick up his sister, Rachel, who came to help out that first week.

Squeezed into the day, I also had plans to meet with a stranger, a young woman named Molly who had messaged me only days before. She was a friend of Sarah’s who moved away a couple years before she died, hadn’t been able to attend her funeral, and just wanted to connect with another of Sarah’s friends. She needed to hear all that happened, to talk through it, and maybe find some closure. I came close to telling her that I couldn’t meet her at all because the one day she had free happened to be that busy Sunday before Mabel’s birth. Between the timing and my introverted nature, it seemed like a little too much to ask of myself. But something nudged me to meet her. We met at my church, where she was attending while in town. Almost immediately, I felt completely comfortable with her and during the hour we had, we talked and cried together. Before I left, she asked if she could pray over me, as in lay hands on me and pray. She asked, “Would that make you uncomfortable?” And I said, “Yes, but do it anyway.” She covered me in the most beautiful heartfelt prayers naming my specific fears about the surgery and asking for peace. I completely surrendered myself to the moment, and to her prayers. Then it was time for us to part ways. I walked outside and to my car, feeling warm and happy. I had that strange sort of floating sensation that you feel sometimes after something special happens. Sarah felt so close while I was talking with Molly, and even later as I was filling my cart. I thought that of all the weekends that Molly might have needed to visit my town, it was a little crazy that it happened to be the one before my c-section. It hit me that it felt like Sarah was praying for me with her friend. I think she was. There was nothing coincidental about that hour spent crying and hugging a stranger. I pushed my cart through Costco, tears streaming down my smiling face.

Here I sit, one year later, crying fresh tears over what happened the day before Mabel was born. I hope not to cry tomorrow! But when you’re quite near turning forty and your baby is turning one, it’s hard not to. Everything feels so fragile and fleeting and beautiful. I’ve been quite busy getting things together for this first birthday. Mabel has a few special bought gifts, and some handmades too. I sewed her a dress and a crown, and plan to make her a simple quilt too. The last three babies received quilts on their first birthdays (If I’m remembering right) but hers will be a bit late. I did sew her a last minute little felt doll and pouch necklace. And then I gave it to her early, because why wait? She’s pleased with it. 🙂

Despite all the thought I have put into Mabel’s birthday, it will be a simple celebration. Jonny’s mother is visiting with a friend, and they will be with us, so that’s special. We’ll have fruit and whipped cream and a honey cake for lunch (I’ll share the recipe soon. It’s from a friend of mine.) Then there will be gifts after which she’ll likely have a nap. By the time she wakes up it will be time to get dinner made and start thinking about afternoon sports. Time to get Keats and Gabe to baseball, and Seth and the girls to golf. Mabel doesn’t have any favorite foods yet that we can tell, so I’m not sure what we’ll actually have for dinner. I guess I better come up with a plan.

Almost one…Hasn’t the year flown?