We wrapped up 2015 with Van’s first birthday. It coincides with the end of the calendar year, so that week lent itself to a lot of reflection and ALL the feelings. Mostly I felt accomplished, proud, exhausted…and a bunch of other things I can’t quite name that were expressed in a sea of tears and long embrace with my husband.
The exponential growth that happens in baby’s first year is un-be-lievable! In just one (I won’t say “short” because we had some veeery looong nights…days…weeks) year, he’s gone from a little mush ball to a full-on little boy with opinions, ideas, and a sense of humor. We grew more connected and more in love each day this past year. I still look at him every day and say, “I can’t believe he’s my son…like forever!” He’s even more amazing than I imagined he’d be. I’m only a year in, and already mothering is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s also most definitely the best.
Pre-baby, my husband and I used to say things like:
“One-year-old birthday party? Those are so dumb!”
“The kid doesn’t want a party. They won’t even remember it. It’s so for the parents.”
“Ugh, and their poor friends…no one actually wants to go to a one-year-old’s birthday party!”
And then something peculiar happened. Some time around September or October we started casually mentioning our baby boy’s impending milestone.
“So…his first birthday’s kinda coming up…”
“Yeah, it’s sort of a big deal.”
“We should probably do something, right? I mean, do you think we should do something?”
“Maybe just like a little get together because, ya know, our moms will want to be there.”
And just like that we started planning his first birthday party. Within a week I had decided upon an underwater theme, and we were discussing whether to cake or not to cake. For the record, though, we didn’t ask our friends to attend, show up with an obligatory gift, and pretend that our kid’s smash cake mangling was adorable. (Okay, maybe three friends…but they’re like family.) 😁
My son didn’t eat any added sugar or salt in his first year, so I was thinking I would stay that course and forego a cake. Plus, a smash cake? Really?! Are we those people. The answer is yes. Yes, we are. I’m tellin’ ya, parenthood changes you. Plus, my husband felt pretty strongly that our son not be denied a cake on his birthday. Our compromise was that I would bake the cake and could make it “healthy.” I scoured the internet for weeks before settling on this Banana Muffin recipe from cookingwithruthie.com. I chose it for its real food ingredients, nutritional benefits, delicious taste, and the fact that it was primarily fruit-sweetened. I substituted coconut oil for olive oil and used agave nectar instead of honey. I halved the recipe to fill three small cake tins. They rose to resemble muffins (go figure) when they were baked. I cut the tops off (which little dude and I ate for breakfast with almond butter the following mornings…yum!) and was left with three flat cake layers. I stacked and frosted them with frosting I had made for our guests’ cupcakes.
For said cupcakes, I dug up this Vegan Spice Cake recipe from cookiemadness.net that I had printed out (this was pre-Pinterest) and baked for the first time years ago. These cupcakes are super delicious and a total crowd pleaser! In fact, some of our guests had two or three of them.
We also made fishy fruit skewers…
…bell pepper octopus hummus…
…and sand dollar cookies. I used my own recipe but got the idea for the sand dollar cookies from the blog whatscookinglove.com. I don’t know where the octopus hummus originated, but there are pictures of it plastered all over Pinterest.
We had the rest of the food catered because 1. this was my first shot at the baby birthday thing 2. it took place two days after Christmas and at that point the only kitchen commitments I was willing to make are what you see here, and 3. my son still doesn’t sleep for sh*t, and after a year I’m running on fumes.
He had no interest in eating his cake and was totally content playing with the frosting until his friend (who celebrated his first birthday four months earlier and knew what was up) helped him out and showed him how it was done! 😂
The party was a success, and Van had a really good day! I’m pretty sure the highlight for him was driving grandpa’s 1932 roadster.
I owe a huge thank you to my mom and husband who helped decorate and prep everything for the party without muttering a word about how totally ridiculous it all was.
High-five to my husband! High-five to my son! We made it, guys! First year down as a family of three, and a lifetime ahead of us… Go Team!