My sweet November Sue is one year old. I still cry when I think about this. My last baby is finished with the first year of her life. It was a beautiful, amazing year, and I am an incredibly lucky mama to watch this little person grow. And I know that there are so many good things yet to come as we watch her learn to walk and run and talk and discover even more of the world. But I’m having a really, really hard time closing this first chapter in her life and this childbearing chapter in my own life. So partly as a way to cope and partly to pay homage to this life transition and partly to express the joy that this baby has given us, we threw a party.
This party had to be special. Something fitting for a November Sue. I can’t remember when the idea for this party first occurred to me, but it may have been before she was born. It may have come to me when I was forty weeks pregnant and taking pictures of Abby and Wally at the tree farm where we were getting our Christmas tree. The vision was clear. And I’m happy to say I think we pulled it off. Every hour spent planning, shopping, and creating for this party was therapeutic. It was a task with a dual purpose, and now that it’s over and I’m looking at the photos, I feel satisfied that we closed this year out RIGHT.
The original plan was to have a table in the middle of the trees at the tree farm under the sky. The weather had other ideas so we ended up renting a canopy to protect the food and decor. It was good that we did, because the rain came down. I hung Novie’s monthly photos from birth through eleven months on a ribbon from one side of the canopy to the other. Trevor strung the One Year Of November Sue banners between two trees as a backdrop. We made the November Sue banner before she was born. We also had a similar one with our chosen boy name that never got used. The November Sue banner was hanging above our bed from when Novie was 20 minutes old until the night before her party. Now I look at our room and it looks empty. I might have to put it back.
We decorated the trees with battery powered lights and little red birds. We’ve called Novie “Little Bird” for most of her life now. She listens to Elizabeth Mitchell’s “Little Bird” every night as she’s going to sleep, and if she’s ever cranky, she calms down when she hears that song. So the birds felt right.
I knew I didn’t want traditional birthday cake for Novie, so I chose to have mini pumpkin pies, instead. My friend Sarah made the mini pies with delicious pecan strudel topping. There weren’t ANY left to take home.
Opening presents was another first for Novie. Luckily, she had lots of help from the other kids. I was sitting on the blanket with her and just aimed my camera up from my lap to get a blurry shot of the wall of interested kiddos. I had forgotten how much kids like to watch (and help) with the present-opening. Novie was really interested in the boxes.
After all the party festivities ended and guests went home, we packed up and then set off to find our Christmas tree. I love taking yearly photos of the kids peeking through the branches. They are some of my favorite shots of the year. And in the last picture you can see the tree we ended up with. Abby was pouting because she didn’t like the tree we chose. If we had known that beforehand, we would have kept looking, but in all the craziness, her opinion got overlooked. I still love the picture, though.
It was a beautiful day to celebrate Novie Sue. And I felt celebrated, too. (Did you know Novie was born on my birthday?) People sometimes ask me if I feel like my birthday is eclipsed by Novie’s. Not at all. Novie was the best gift I could have asked for, and it is an honor to get to share the day with her. This birthday felt so much more special for ME than others. And you moms out there will get that. We celebrate the person who was born on their birthday, sure, but for mamas, we are also celebrating that BIRTH day. Reliving it. Feeling that joy of holding a little baby for the very first time. What could be better?