This week I'm trying to stay focused on planning Carter's party. It's going to be a generally low-key affair, and it's not even at my house, but it's a party nonetheless and it takes some organizing. Winter birthdays are just different. I have plenty of memories of my own birthday parties, outside in the late summer weather, and these days I'm used to Jacob's birthday parties--outside by the pool in the early days of summer. Winter parties are a little more subdued--food, drinks, cake, presents...done. It's less of an event and more a get-together. It's fine, mind you, just different.
I remember having an inner conflict when Jacob's first birthday came up. On one hand he's a baby and doesn't care about any of it. On the other hand, your baby only turns one once and looking back you don't want it to look like you didn't care either. For Jacob's party I think I got a mylar banner and some balloons, along with a special bib and cake plate. Lori bought him a special outfit (which he could barely wear comfortably because it was freezing and rainy on June 20th), and I made his cake at home because we had some family allergy issues to manage at the time. The cake was pretty much a disaster because the humidity wreaked havoc on the frosting and my inexperience was pretty problematic, but we survived. Jacob got cranky during presents and wanted nothing to do with the cake, at least not until his nap was over and the happy baby returned in time to eat all of my cake.
It was pretty low-key, and looking back on it (and seeing some other people's well-planned parties in the years since), I feel like maybe I should have made more of an effort. But here we are again and things are looking pretty minimalist. I'd say about 95% of my effort is going toward the cake. As usual. I figure if I don't have the patience, time, or desire to spend money on anything else, at least I can try to make an awesome cake. It's turned out well for Jacob's last two birthdays (his second birthday wasn't bad but the third was a disaster), so fingers crossed it goes well for Carter's first. Still, I did go out to the party store to browse first birthday items, and I left empty-handed aside from a great deal I got on plates and napkins. They didn't have any cake plates like they had last time, the banners were a bit blah, and everything was overpriced. I was so tempted to get a really cute birthday hat, but I know it would stay on for two seconds and be thrown on the floor, so I held off. Maybe I'll grab a special balloon or something, but aside from a craft project I pondered and have pushed aside, the decor and theming are going to be pretty non-existent.
We're having it at my parents' for a lot of reasons. I was hesitant when they originally offered, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Craig is in Toronto for work on Saturday, so I'd be stuck trying to do party planning alone with two kids. It's also a shorter trip back for him after the game. Most of the people attending the party live in Buffalo, so in the event of crappy weather, it was convenient to be closer. Jacob doesn't have lacrosse this weekend, and we haven't had a lot of chances to go to Buffalo since he started playing in November, so I had originally thought the upcoming long weekend would be a good option for going...until I remembered that it was Carter's birthday weekend. But, having the party there solved that issue, as well!
As I said earlier, I know that Carter's a baby and he doesn't really care what we do. It's just a party, and it's just our normal, laid-back family, so there's no need to go over-the-top crazy. But at the same time, I do want it to be special. I feel like I've seen way too much in the past year to take any birthday for granted. I have two friends who currently question if their children will actually see their next birthday. For one the answer is probably yes (though how many birthdays he may see is still a major worry), and for the other it is a total unknown. If nothing else, watching both of their cancer journeys has been a reminder of how important it is to celebrate the little things in the everyday, and to celebrate even more when we have an extra good reason. Just because my child isn't sick doesn't mean that we shouldn't do what we can (within reason) to make his day extra special, even if he can't quite appreciate it yet. If anything we have more to celebrate, right? I don't want to take it easy simply because he'll have more birthdays that he will care about more. There are just no guarantees, and my friends' kids are living proof of that. I pray that both my kids live long, full lives, and while it shouldn't take a birthday to give them the best life possible, that shouldn't mean that we can't embrace it when the opportunity arises.
I'm excited and nervous that his birthday is almost here, but mostly I'm just in disbelief. How can my baby already be on the verge of ONE? It doesn't seem possible. More on that in the days to come...