Speaking of which, Miss Maria's first birthday was incredibly hot and my poor family trekked down all the way from cool, pleasant Michigan for the big day. (My dad was telling me how he was tracking the temperature dropping as they drove north on the way home. It was ridiculously cooler up there!)
Hot temperatures (and having the water in our neighborhood turned off for five hours during the day!) aside, we spent a lovely birthday with them, celebrating the life (thus far) of our precious little girl.
We had plans to go to Mass the morning of the big day (it was the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne -the grandparents of Jesus - after all!!) but our plans were thwarted when we arrived at the church only to find that there was no Mass that day. Bummer.
So, we moved on to our next destination...a beautiful shrine, dedicated to Our Lady of Czestochowa, in the Missouri countryside. We hadn't visited in a few years, and my family had never been. It is absolutely lovely!
I love this next picture. Francesca and I (and Therese) are just looking at the camera and my parents are trying to get Maria to smile/look at the camera with minimal success. The dedication of grandparents is unparalleled, I tell you!
I had to include the following picture because I think my sister looks so pretty, a little bit like Princess Kate, in my humble opinion. ;-)
Next up on the agenda...a trip to a park where elk, deer, and buffalo roam free! We drove on through, with the air conditioner blasting in the car, because it was hot at this point.
Then, on to a kid-friendly lunch, complete with a french fry or two for the birthday girl!
After a short nap, there were presents aplenty to open! Whatever family wasn't there sent along presents, too. She wasn't spoiled in the least. ;-)
After some playing and devouring some delicious hamburgers and hot dogs - hot off the grill! - we headed out for ice cream.
The girls ate neatly, as always.
Then, we finished off the day with some birthday cake (only the girls still had room in their stomachs for cake at this point...the rest of us held off for a few hours!) and, of course, the birthday cake aftermath.
Don't you love how bewildered babies always look when you sing "Happy Birthday" to them?
A quick bath, and this birthday girl was off to bed!! My sweet little one-year old. :-)
I look back at the challenges of the hyperemesis gravidarum and those crazy post-partum kidney stones and a dose of PPD thrown in for good measure and I think...my goodness, are those the only things that I had to endure to give birth to this little one?! As hard as all that was, it seems like nothing, nothing compared to the joy and privilege of being her mother. I am so deeply in love with her that, if someone were to tell me, "Okay you have to go through all of this stuff, but...look, this is the baby that you're going to get if you do!" you can bet I would choose her. I can't say that I'd enjoy the work it'd take to get to the point of holding her in my arms, but oh...the joy she has brought me far outweighs any hardship. My Maria is such a gift. She has taught me so much, about letting go and not doing things perfectly...about just sitting and being present and sometimes just offering up whatever you're going through and letting that be enough. And she taught me all that with a smile on her face (most of the time!) and pigtails bouncing.
Sweet baby girl, I love you so, so much...and I always will.