We had the BEST time celebrating Ella Jane’s first birthday on August 11th! We decided to give our little family gathering a beatrix potter/peter rabbit theme, and it turned out just perfectly. Throughout her first year, bunnies have seemed to become a theme for Ella Jane…they’re some of her favorite stuffed animals, and lots of people gifted her bunny items as baby gifts. Some of the most special included a big pottery barn rocking bunny (like a rocking horse but it’s a bunny - and ADORABLE), and a sweet onesie with a bunny and a butterfly, symbolizing Ella Jane and her big brother Jacob who watches over her.
Speaking of Ella Jane’s big brother, I can’t talk honestly about celebrating her birthday without mentioning the grief I experienced leading up to it. Almost 25 months into this grief journey after losing Jacob, I have settled into my new normal and though I am always aware of who’s missing and how painful it is that he’s not here, I spend significantly less time in my grief, and the bigger waves often take me by surprise. The day before Ella Jane's birthday was one of those surprise moments of intense grief. I was sort of putting off preparing for her party, and it hit me that my procrastination was because I felt sad we had not gotten to celebrate with Jacob the same way. We did have a family gathering to honor him a couple days before his first birthday, and it was very lovely, but needless to say, celebrating a first birthday without the birthday boy is just not the same. I’m so thankful that I was able to recognize, honor, and process my grief the day before Ella Jane’s birthday so that on her special day I felt overwhelming joy in celebrating our amazing girl!
I think it’s safe to say Ella Jane had a lot of joy, too! Both my family and Erik’s love to throw a party, so through our team effort we had some way-too-fancy-for-a 1-year-old food in much larger quantities than really necessary :). But it sure made for a beautiful table! Also, I am not ashamed to say that the fact that I have a whole layer of cake and 2 dozen cupcakes in my freezer makes me really excited for the days I crave something sweet (health coaches have sweet tooths, too ya know ;)).
Our decor was almost entirely made up of beatrix potter items from my childhood and Erik’s. An adorable “Erik Loves Peter Rabbit Bib” handmade for him by my MIL definitely took the cake…literally and figuratively :). Erik, his sister, my brother and I had quite the combined collection of figurines and books, which made decorating very easy and fun! I did get a little crafty with a garland I ordered from amazon…thank goodness for the step-by-step assembly instructions to guide this very UN-artistic mama! My mom and grandmothers’ main form of artistry is in flower arranging, and their talents did NOT go to waste. If there were a competition for world’s prettiest first birthday party flowers, I’m pretty sure we would have won!
Ella Jane LOVED the balloons, her stuffed bunny cake topper, and the cake itself once she figured out what to do with it (she was much more reserved in our attempted cake smash than I thought she would be, hah!). She was a bit overwhelmed during the happy birthday song, but loved having so much of her family in one room and all eyes on her. She definitely loves wrapping paper and took an active role in unwrapping gifts. She is already in full discovery mode with her new toys.
Happy birthday to our sweet pea! You’ve brought us SO much joy this year, and we can’t wait to see what your second year holds. We constantly wish time would slow down, but yet relish in each new discovery you make. We take comfort in the amazing guardian angel watching over you. What we missed with him makes us appreciate every moment with you even more deeply, and we just adore the incredibly happy, sweet, loving girl you are!