Monday was Juniper's first birthday. One. She is One. It seems like a magical age. From here the birthdays will pile up, onward, onward. But One. It's the beginning, more so than that First Day (Zero?), when she was quiet and still, eyes closed, only potential, a stranger to the world. One is like taking that first step into life, eyes open, arms out, full of intent and determination, not looking back. Well, she always looks back to see if I'm there. I'll always be there.
Juniper absolutely adored the birthday gift extravaganza that ensued. Toys! Books! PAPER! She gently opened each gift (tear it! tear it!) and then spent a few minutes playing with it before moving on to the next one. It was complete enjoyment, for her and for us.
Despite not having a party (due to not having any friends here in our new town, aren't you sad for us?), I spent weeks devising The Cake. I have never decorated a cake with anything other than a pour of chocolate ganache or a sprinkling of coconut or a pile of berries. But for kids, people go all out. And that bandwagon has my name written all over it. So I got over my fear of yellow #5, bought a pack of gel paste food coloring, and spent all day Sunday making entirely too much cake for a single Birthday Girl. So here he is. The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
It's one of Juni's favorite books, because she can stick her little fingers in the holes that the Caterpillar leaves behind as he eats his way through all things delicious (a cupcake AND a chocolate cake? salami AND sausage? He is my hero). She was sufficiently delighted, even though I kept saying,"don't touch! don't touch!," (real fun, Mama). But I did make the large round cake just for her (a two layer 9" cake!). I even resisted using sugar-free frosting and threw the real stuff on there with the butter and the cream cheese and all that sugar. I sat her down on the floor of the sunroom and plunked the cake in front of her. I had visions of her tearing into the thing with both hands, greedily smashing cake and frosting into her mouth. Because, what kid doesn't love cake, right? Well, not quite. She began by meticulously deconstructing the berry and orange design I made on top (check out that pincher grasp!).
Then she got tired of that game and decided she would rather play with her toys. I tore off a bit of cake and poked it into her mouth... Ah, I see. It is food. To be eaten. I figured once she realized its edible deliciousness, the cake mayhem would ensue. Not quite. Instead of digging into the thing, she stuck her finger in the little hole left by the candle and pulled out small bits of cake at a time. After a few minutes, she was all, "I couldn't possibly eat any more." And that was that. At all other moments, this kid is a crawling, grabbing, squealing ball of entropy, but invite her to make a mess and she will daintily decline. Also, she prefers sour things to sweet things (are we even related?). Perhaps I should have made her a lemon cake. Or just given her some sour pineapple to suck on. She would have loved it. Crazy kid. So now I have a large cake that is in near perfect condition, except for a hole and some misplaced berries. In fact, the cake looks exactly as if the Hungry Caterpillar ate his way through it.
Happy Birthday, Baby Girl! Thank you for making this past year relaxed and fun and full of smiles and laughs and snuggles and new discoveries every day.