It felt like yesterday that I was photographing David’s big brother for his first birthday. Time flies, and now little David is one. He is positively the most handsome one-year-old model. Yup, my BFF makes the most beautiful babies.
For Savanna’s birthday, Cliff made her French toast with whipped cream and blackberries for breakfast. Then we went out for pho for lunch. For dinner, I made her favorite food: osso buco. We ended the evening with a cake smash that wasn’t as messy as I was hoping for.
I spent the entire past year in complete contradiction: wishing she would grow faster and bigger so we can do more things together, and dreading how fast she was growing out of her infant stage and out of my arms. For me, today was a day I slowed down and savoured this contradiction. I guess this is parenthood. This is the way things will always be for as long as I am her mother. I will always feel that she’s growing too slow and too fast all at the same time.
My dearest Savanna,
Exactly a year ago today, Daddy and I drove to the hospital in the morning for the scheduled c-section. It was a grey, cloudy day. Other commuters on the road were all going about their own business like usual. Don’t they get it? It was the big day! It was the day I get to meet my girl! I felt like the world should pause because you were about to arrive.
When you finally came out, the doctor lifted you over the blue curtain so I could see your face. Your eyes were puffy and closed, and you started to cry. My life was changed forever in that moment. Once they placed you in my trembling arms, tears rolled down my cheeks when I laid my eyes on you. My little girl, you were finally here. I felt like I’ve waited so long to meet you and to hold you. The 9 months of pregnancy and crazy work hours were behind us, and we were finally going to spend the next year together as a family.
You are so precious to me, because I begged God for you. He must have heard my prayers and answered with a “yes”. Since they day I found out I was pregnant with you, I thanked Him everyday for you.
I remember many hours of nursing you at night, sitting in semi darkness, and staring at your beautiful face. I couldn’t believe how fortunate I was to have you in my arms. Daddy and I turned the den into your nursery, and I loved having you near. I loved hearing you breathe and stir in your sleep. Every little sound you made reminded me how precious life is.
You spent a lot of your early days in the Ergo carrier with me. Because even though you were too young to play, your brother needed to get out of the house everyday and spend time at the park. All winter, we went out every morning and every afternoon–you in the Ergo strapped to my chest and mostly asleep, your brother bouncing all over the place on his own, and Sam on leash trailing behind us. While your brother dug in the sandpit and got dirty, I got to stare at your sleeping face. I loved having your head rest so snuggly on me. I was always tempted to munch on your cheeks.
You traveled like a pro. We spent a week in Whistler, a week in LA, and three weeks in Asia, all before you were 7 months old. Somehow everything with you seems easy. You slept well, you ate well, you didn’t fuss on the flights. You just fit right in everywhere we went.
When you were 3 months old, you decided to quit drinking formula and bottles. When we started giving you solid food, you decided that fruits are your all-time favorite. You love bananas and grapes. You are not a big meat eater. Although, when I made osso buco for Daddy’s birthday, you chowed down on that like there is no tomorrow. I made you cupcakes for your birthday party, and you plunked your face right into the white chocolate icing.
You took your first step 5 days ago. I think in a matter for weeks, you’ll start walking. Your first word was “dada”. Then it was “up”. Then it was “down”. Then it was “da” for dance. I’d really like you to say “mama” soon.
I love it when I pick you up from your crib in the morning, you kick your little legs with happiness. Before I put you down at night, you always put your head on my shoulder and grip my shirt, as if to say “Don’t put me down!” I love it when I say “kiss mommy”, you lean in close with your mouth wide open and slobber all over my face. I love it that you tilt your head back and invite me to tickle your neck. I love your giggles. I love that you swing side to side when I say “dance”.
Your brother calls you “mei-mei”. Daddy and I call you “little girl”. Sometimes I call you “Vanna”.
You have given me a chance to re-evaluate my life, and spend time on what I think matter the most. You have inspired me to be better, to be kind, and to be true to myself.
Daddy and I came up with your name back in 2009. We were in Tanzania on a safari. One day, while standing on top of a hill and looking down at the savanna below us, my heart was filled with emotion. The Serengeti was just so full of life, so wild and so unpretentious. I turned around and said to Daddy, if we ever have a girl one day, let’s name her Savanna. He said ok. That’s how we named you. Savanna without the h.
Thank you for picking me to be your mommy. I am the luckiest woman in the world. I look forward to being amazed by you even more. I wish you all the adventures and discoveries and happiness in the world.
My sweet pea,
Happy 1st birthday!
Even though we had a big party to celebrate last weekend, your birthday is actually this weekend. I really do work hard to confuse you.
When I look at your today, I sometimes forget the little baby placed on my chest a year ago when I was waking up from the anesthesia. I was so groggy and bleary eyed, and your daddy put you in my arms. All I saw was a full head of black hair, and a layer of soft, fine hair covering your back and arms. The first words out of my mouth was “monkey hair”. That’s what I call the hair on your daddy’s back.
You were the most beautiful creature I’ve ever laid my eyes on. Your hair was crusty with blood and mucus, your nose was covered in white dots, you had no control over your hands and feet, and often you could only manage to open one eye.
You were perfect.
I instantly fell in love with you. Laying in the hospital bed, I did not care about the soreness from the incision, or all the tubes and needles in me, or the lack of sleep from caring for you. I smiled when I heard you cry because you were so full of life. I wanted to hold you in my arms all day and all night. I wanted you to open your eyes so I could tell you that I love you. I kissed you a million times and it didn’t feel like it was enough to express my love for you. In the middle of the night, I would hold you in my arms and cry tears of joy when I looked at your face.
We had some rough patches in the first couple of months, didn’t we. I didn’t produce enough milk, so your weight dropped too much. We started to supplement with formula, and your weight rocketed. You slept little. In the bassinet next to our bed, you grunted, cooed, made all sorts of noises, and woke often. You developed very severe baby acne, eczema, and your scalp was covered with cradle cap. But through all those times, I often reminded myself that it’s only going to be such a short time in your life that you need me to figure things out for you. Soon enough you are going to be all grown up and won’t need mommy anymore. I am so grateful for all the special time we spent together when you wouldn’t sleep. I would hold you in my arms and stare at your beautiful face, and just let myself be amazed by you.
We went snowshoeing, swimming, took music classes, went for long walks, had play dates, and took thousands of photos. When you were about 5 months old, we went to Maui and Taiwan for vacation. You sat up on your own for the first time in Maui. On the bed of the rental condo, you were only wearing a diaper, you sat and smiled and looked so proud of yourself. You met your grandpa for the first time when we went to Taiwan. He met us at the airport. You smiled so sweetly at him and captured his heart. Your great grandpa, great grandma, great aunt, great uncle were all so enamored with you.
When you were almost 6 months old, you were waking up 5 or 6 times a night. Daddy and I never figured out if you were hungry or just wanted to be held. But at this point, I hit a wall with the lack of sleep, and finally decided that some sleep training may be in order. It only took you two nights to start sleeping through the night. I was so proud of how quickly you figured out a new sleep pattern on your own. Even through teething, you sleep through the night. Thank you, baby. You know how much I love my sleep.
You hated solid food for the first 3 or 4 months. Well, you did love bananas, but nothing else. You screamed at every meal, and often spit out whatever I fed you. I was so stressed out that you wouldn’t eat. Then at about 10 months, one day all of a sudden you just started eating. Ever since then, you eat like a champion. You were probably teaching me that it had to be your timing. As your mama, it’s my job to give you the time you need, and protect you from everyone else’s expectations or demands. This is hard to do because I’m a control freak, but I am willing to change for you. I want you to know that you can always count on me to be there for you and be patient.
Before you came, I spent the majority of my time on building a career. Maybe because that’s all I knew how to do. Your daddy and I have done some cool things in our lives. We traveled to many places, climbed a big mountain, and rode motorcycles. We had a lot of fun. But everything pales in comparison of having you.
You rock my world.
You love to laugh, giggle, climb on things, clap your hands, listen to music, crinkle paper, stick your index finger in holes, pet and hug Sam, bite my chin, pick daddy’s belly button, put your hand in Sam’s water bowl, and rub your face on my face. You are full of energy and life.
Your daddy calls you Joshie-poo or monkey. I like to call you sweet pea or baby.
You love eating gold fish crackers. You love fruits. You love homogenous milk. You love drinking from cups. You love to eat fish and tofu. You always want to check out what’s on my plate or in my mug.
You are no longer the little peanut in my arms. Your personality is beginning to develop, and I am so amazed by you. I love getting to know you and trying to figure out what is going on in your head.
Thank you for being my baby. You have softened me and humbled me. You grew my ability to love beyond my imagination.
Happy 1st birthday, sweat pea. I look forward to being amazed by you even more. I wish you all the happiness in the world.
After all the planning and sweating over the little details, Joshua’s 1st birthday party was a success. Even though I totally forgot to get table clothes so everyone ate on bare conference room tables, I think our friends enjoyed themselves and most people liked the photo idea.
Months ago, I contemplated hard whether we should give out goodie bags at Joshua’s party. To make nice goodie bags, the cost will be quite substantial. So I decided against it. I did want people to have something nice to take away and remember the occasion by, but not feel like it’s junk or a burden. Then I had the idea that I’ll take nice pictures of everyone at the party, so they will have some good quality photos of themselves. I bought a muslin white backdrop to use as background, and the rest was history. After I e-mailed everyone their photos, I received some very positive feedback on them. I think the idea was a good one!
I baked some coconut vanilla cupcakes, and Karen helped me ice them with a white chocolate icing. I think I ate about 6 of these cupcakes that day. They were delicious. Lunch was just the standard fare of Chinese food from Connie’s Cookhouse. We put out our Keurig machine with a selection of k-cups, some juice and pop, some snacks, some applesauce cups, and that completes the food part of the party.
I don’t think Joshua really knew what was going on. He had a good nap in the morning before Cliff brought him to the party, so he was in a very good mood. He did enjoy the Chinese food and seeing everyone.
I am probably the only person feeling sentimental about the party. It signifies that my baby is a whole year old, a little bigger, a little grown up, and a little less dependent on mommy. I am so proud of him, so in love with him, and so excited about his future.
Joshua is going to be 10 months old pretty soon. I’ve already started to plan his 1st birthday party. It continues to amaze me how fast time flies!
I’ve booked the birthday package at the Creekside Community Centre. The package comes with use of the multipurpose room, and the gym set up as a play gym. Guido and Cindy hosted Kyle’s first birthday party there, and I thought it was just a brilliant set-up. The location is convenient and beautiful, and the facility is nice and new. We’ll be able to fit all of our friends in better than hosting the party at our little condo.
We are thinking of going with food from Thai’s restaurant, Bob Likes Thai Food. I’m going to set up a photo area and take pictures of all the guests. Then the next big debate is whether we should give out goodie bags. The last few parties we went to, we received goodie bags from all except one. Honestly, the cheap plastic toys and made-in-China crap are quite annoying. The party at which we received no goodie bag, I didn’t feel like we missed anything. But to put together a really cool goodie bag is going to be quite expensive with the number of kids we have attending. On top of the facility rental and food, I think we’ll be spending a good $400-500 already. So I think it’s all or nothing. Either do a very cool bag, or no bag at all. I’m leaning towards the no bag side. I’ll have the next two months to figure that one out. I’m hoping that getting some really cool pictures of the guests and printing them for everyone will be a nice enough “goodie”.
It’s a very bittersweet time for me. Joshua is growing up so fast, and I have to go back to work soon. I constantly wish time would stop so I can slowly savor every moment I have with him.