Ida is now officially one year old.
Andy said to me as I was preparing for the party, “Does it seem ironic that we have this big party and she doesn’t even remember?”
We decided that a first birthday is just as much a celebration for the parents and the family as it is for the little one to enjoy.
The truth is, the first year is a lot of hard work, a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of change.
And a lot of big fat baby smiles, dimples, and rolls.
And so it was wonderful to take a day and celebrate God’s goodness to us. For me, it was as much a party of praise to Him as it was in honor of Ida.
It was also a chance for the whole family to get together and just purely enjoy Ida.
I’ll share a little bit more of the party later :)
I will say this: Ida did amazing. Even though she was sweaty and sticky and a little overwhelmed (and very frustrated that she’d get a new toy and then it would be taken away while yet another box would be shoved into her arms) she was cheery and happy and all around delightful. Even if she did not want to be held at all!
High points of this past week were not one but TWO baby showers, both given by family. The first was given by Andy’s family, with a few old friends from Philadelphia rounding it out and making it extra-fun.
The second shower was given by my Mom’s extended family – aunts, uncles, cousins, grandma, family, and all! All the far flung relatives were in town for the fourth of July, and it really was an awesome time for the whole family to just enjoy one another’s company, goof off, and laugh.
I am overwhelmed by love and generosity and the beautiful welcome our families are giving to our new baby. This baby is already surrounded by love. My cousins and siblings and aunts couldn’t resist patting and rubbing my belly as they walked by; my lanky cousin Stephen couldn’t help but feel it and exclaim how awesome the whole thing was, even though the baby refused to kick for him. This baby is being brought into a world full of love and open arms.
While at home this past week, I spent three days helping with the homeschooling of my two youngest siblings, so that my Mom could have extra time for some projects. B and J are in the same grade, bright, extremely smart, and lively.
To give Mom free reign of the house, we packed backpacks, snacks, blankets, and other fun stuff and headed out to do school work in the park. Between every subject, they ran races, had snacks, and posed for goofy pictures. I figured with these incentives, they’d polish off their schoolwork easily and reasonably happily.
Writing had one of them staring me blankly in the face and declaring that he couldn’t imagine an event that had ever happened to him that was interesting enough to write a short memoir about even if he had to do it to save his life, and could I please quit bugging him about it.
Grammar had the other one ducking her head to hide the misty eyes every time I had her redo a missed question. As the lesson dragged on, the misty eyes got wetter and wetter and the pencil dug harder and harder into the page. I may have even witnessed a few book slammings.
I wasn’t exactly greeted with peppiness when I said we were walking home, either. Despite the fall leaves, the climbing, the picture posing, the goofiness, I got an “are we almost there?” every block.
That evening, as they related their day to our Mom, as they begged me to take them out again, as they insisted that it was the most fun school day ever, I stared at them and wondered where they were all day. Did they remember the squirting tears? The whining? Doodling the words “I am bored” all over their papers? Shooting daggers at me when they thought I wasn’t looking???
I guess that’s being a kid. Selectively positive memory. They’ll remember (as I realize that I do) the field trips, historical dress up days, baking days, sewing days, piano lessons, outdoor painting trips, and sitting in the woods writing poetry. They won’t remember hours at the kitchen table, poring over math. They’ll remember running out the back door (like I do) being free for the endless rest of the day.
I wish that only the good stuff would stick with me.
Have you ever been to the wedding of someone you love dearly, and cried just because you’ve never, ever, ever, ever seen two people more unashamed, uninhibited in their love for each other?
Yeah. I have.
Her eyes never left his. Her shoulders and neck couldn’t help but curve toward him. Her fingers kept moving, holding his tighter and tighter.
And his eyes locked with hers in solemn disbelief that a creature so vibrantly, intensely beautiful – inside and out – was standing in front of him. In a white dress. Promising to be his forever.
I cried. My Mom cried. And during the post-ceremony slideshow, when a picture popped up on the screen of me and Stephanie as little five and six year olds, I cried some more.
Because what can be more joyful than sitting next to the love of your life, watching someone you love so dearly, someone you’ve known since infancy, someone who has been a constant, if distant, presence in your life, be united to the love of their life?
Unless it’s watching your mother burst into tears as your friend hugs her and whispers to her, “I love you so much, my second mom.” And knowing that someone with that intense power of love and care that you just saw in front of the altar has a little bit of that love for you and for your family.
God blesses us abundantly.
Last Sunday I was rifling through the prints in Ikea, looking for something for our bedroom. Andy turned down everything I showed him, finally saying “But Leah, I hate mass-produced art!”
Mass-produced art? Isn’t that what everyone has hanging in their homes? What else are you supposed to hang on the walls? Real Van Goghs? Real Picassos? What did we have already hanging on the walls, for pete’s sake?
I looked at Andy, and I realized. We don’t have mass produced art on our walls. We have art given to us from all of the people who love us so much. Things that mean something. Things with a history, and a past.
Let me show you a few of the things that decorate the walls of our home, that fill it with a memory and a purpose.
This is my favorite. I keep this drawing next to my desk, at eye level where I can look at it every day. It’s a pencil drawing that my brother drew for me when he was 8, of our family’s house at Christmas time. The entire drawing does not show in the frame because I have to cut the matting to fit, but every detail is perfect – down to the grill of the car in the driveway and the bricks on the porch. Christmas is our very favorite time together, too. This drawing, for me, will always represent Home.
This shelf is full of all the special things I’ve collected over the years. The green box was given to me by my best friend, and it holds hand written letters and cards from special people and special times in my life. Only the most meaningful things go into that box. I even have a letter that my sister wrote to me when she was 8 or 9 in there (she’s 21 now), and a post-it note that my Dad left in my room one day at least 10 years ago. The shelf also holds an egg my Dad brought to me from Poland; a piece of traditional Korean wedding art that our Korean friends gave to me; trinkets from mine and my sister’s trips to Korea; and more.
But what is the most special is the shelf itself. My Mom and I hand painted this shelf together when I was very young. I know that the style is outmoded and the paint is distressing; but I will never repaint it. It reminds me of her.
Here are a few more treasures. The dried floral artwork was done by my Mom, with a verse below that declares “Yes, the Lord will give what is good” which always encourages me! The frame next to it is destined to hold the poem that my Dad wrote for me on my last birthday, hand written out by him.
The apartment is filled with more. There is a pencil still life of daisies that one of my best friends drew for me; multiple beautiful framed photos that my talented sister took; candid wedding photos taken by friends, not the pro photographer; another pencil drawing by another dear friend; and inside my front door is one of my favorite: a frame filled with a bright construction-paper-and-magic-marker drawing that my baby sister drew for me a couple of years ago which states “Jesus has a staff that protecks me; Jesus has a love that never ends.”
Mass produced art? I ended up wheedling my way into a couple of prints that were just too happy and bright to pass up. There isn’t anything wrong with it. But as I look around my apartment, I’m so thankful for the things that make it real, that make it personal, that make it ours.
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