Danny and I took a walk down memory lane putting together this video of Cadence’s first year of life. We’ve learned a lot as new parents, and yet we know we’ve barely scratched the surface.
We really experienced such heartfelt love and support from our family and friends this year, from welcoming Cadence in her first days of life to all the gifts we’ve received. But most of all, it was always so sweet to see how hard everyone would try to make her laugh and give her love.
Cadence is walking now, but her favorite thing to do is still bouncing — in her crib, on people’s laps, by herself. She is so energetic and can’t sit still.
You may lose your mind as new parents, but boy do you gain your soul.
When my daughter was born, we wanted her to have a ‘spirit animal,’ for two reasons: (1) we wanted to choose an animal that had traits we thought would represent our baby and (2) so that if friends/family wanted to get her any gifts, it would be easy for them to find things that were her animal. We chose the penguin for their loyalty stick with family and for their overall awkwardness. Our baby’s first year of life, we have received many penguin related gifts and clothes. So what better way to celebrate her first birthday than with a penguin theme? Here’s some ideas and what I did to decorate (found most of these ideas on Pinterest).
Penguin Dessert Table: I wanted to keep a baby blue and white look for a winter wonderland feel with the addition of penguins. I used two white drapes and the light blue sheet is actually just a bed sheet. We hung everything with thumbtacks. For the baby’s name “Cadence,” we used a wood cutout we already had and spray painted it the baby blue color. The balloon arch was done by blowing up the balloons, then connecting them by using a needle and thread. After hanging them arch on the wall, I took extra balloons and taped them to cover up any holes.
I had white frames (from work) to display the baby’s 12 month photos. My husband drew and cut penguin faces, wings and feet for the two jars holding Hershey’s kisses. To add more penguin fun, we used print outs and our baby’s penguin stuffed animals. The desserts were white Krispy Kreme donuts, chocolate cupcakes, fruit, Flipz (white chocolate pretzels), and popcorn (more like a snack).
Penguin Cupcakes: These were so fun to make! I didn’t have time to bake the cupcakes myself so I ordered from Vons (we are in San Diego) after doing research on which grocer made the best cupcakes. These are chocolate cupcakes with white butter cream frosting (delicious!). For a dozen, it only cost $9.99 so it was a great deal! I purchased Oreo cookies, black round sprinkles (for the eyes) and orange sprinkles (for the beak). After separating the Oreo in half, add the sprinkles to the side with the filling. To the Oreo cookie only side, break in half (or thirds) to use as the penguin wings.
Penguin Balloons: I found this exact balloon template on Hostess with the Mostess. They were perfect! All you have to do is print, cut and tape onto black balloons. We already had strung lights in our home so we tied the balloons from the lights (instead of using helium and having them go the other direction). Our guests loved the balloons and all the kids wanted to take them home!
Penguin Smashcake: Well, the smash cake wasn’t a penguin theme (raspberry mousse cake from Whole Foods), but we continued the theme by dressing up baby in a penguin costume (which she wore for Halloween). Here’s a photo when she was less messy and the cake was still standing. The “One” banner was lent by a friend (and purchased on Etsy).
Penguin Wall: Our backyard has a white wall that we’ve previously decorated for our wedding and gender reveal. For the first birthday party, our friend painted and spray painted the “Happy Oneversary” wall to add to the overall penguin theme. He used a projector (at night) so he could trace over the lettering with spray paint. He’s super talented — and I would never be able to do this!
Hope you find some of these ideas helpful for your birthday party festivities! Our baby had a great time, especially eating her cake! Up until a month before her first birthday, I was advocating not throwing her a party at all. It just seemed so silly! But as her birthday drew near and we had family flying in to town to celebrate, we decided to host a party afterall. It ended up being really fun and I’m so glad we did it!
I recently celebrated my first birthday as a mom. And I have to admit, I wasn’t gushing with warm feelings of motherhood and turning another year older. In fact, I cried! Tears of exhaustion and self-pity. Not the happy tears of enjoying sweet birthday bliss with my husband and new baby. Was that not a perk that came with being a new mom? Hah!
Leading up: My mother-in-law had gone on a 10-day cruise, so I had been home with Cadence for 5 days straight… alone. And by Friday, when my husband suggested going to a nice restaurant to celebrate the big 3-3, my mind must have been mush. For in that moment, it seemed like a good idea.
With the 9-month-old in tow, we set off for a romantic dinner at a fancy schmancy restaurant along La Jolla Cove. Our first mistake was to go here at night, since it was too dark to enjoy the views (you are paying for). Secondly, we could not find a babysitter, so we brought the only baby in the entire restaurant. You know it’s not baby friendly when there are no changing stations in the restrooms. And lastly, we were about to spend over $100 on a meal that we could hardly enjoy.
Now to Baby Cadence’s credit, she actually did pretty well. She sat curiously on her booster chair and ate her Puffs cereal awaiting the restaurant food. We ordered two beers (it was a special occasion), then perused the menu for food items appropriate for a baby.
For appetizers, we started with pita/hummus and bruschetta. Unfortunately, they were so flavorful, she spit out the food immediately.
For the main course, we ordered a salmon dish and beef steak. Again, the flavors were so strong. The salmon dish was garnished with many ‘toppings’ (including pomegranates – what?!) leaving only a small sliver of fish which I mostly fed to the baby. We boxed up the steak largely due to the guilt that it cost $35. (My husband did microwave it and eat it the next day though and said it tasted better oddly enough.)
By the end of the meal, Cadence was getting antsy to leave. So we chugged our beers and asked for the check. In record time, we had arrived at the restaurant and left in less than 40 minutes. This was less time than it had taken me to curl my hair for the birthday dinner. We took a quick photo and rushed to the car. Aw yes, of course later, I would see I was wearing the diaper bag in the photo. #momlife
As we drove home, I sat in the back seat with baby girl. I could feel the tears coming. Is this what it’s like to have birthdays now? Rushed and hectic and guilt ridden. Always thinking about the baby, feeding the baby, entertaining the baby. Hurrying out of restaurants with no time for birthday dessert.
Suddenly from the driver seat, I hear ‘are you crying?’
‘No…’ as I tried to hide the sniffles. My husband Danny continued to inquire, ‘why are you crying?’
I felt so embarrassed because I couldn’t quite put into words what I was feeling. Because I know I am lucky. I am lucky to have this super caring husband and this sweet baby girl. And while I have such beauty in my life, I can’t help but feel I’ve lost a part of me too. So yes, birthdays won’t be like they once were. And romantic dinners aren’t a thing if the baby is joining. And all of that is ok. I am slowly learning I need to change my expectations and adapt to the new me. Still trying to figure out who that is.
Turned 33 this year and my life is pretty damn good. But next year, I’m thinking we just go to Red Robin for the free birthday burger and kid friendly ambiance.
Two years ago, we packed up our cars in Denver to set off into the San Diego sun. Friends joined us for the 3-day drive, as we hit the obligatory Instagram spots–Antelope Canyon, Moab and Las Vegas–before arriving at our new home. Well, new-old home. New for me. Old for my husband. We moved into the house where Danny spent his high school, college and ‘don’t know where my life is going’ years before optometry school. Although Danny had not lived in San Diego for the past seven years, this was where he called home.
Here, we live with Danny’s mom, brother, his girlfriend and two other roommates. While seven adults living together is certainly a ‘full house,’ it isn’t uncommon for Californians, where the housing market is brutal. Rent and mortgages eat into monthly incomes and families struggle to save.
Our first year in San Diego was whimsical. We were riding the engagement wave and planning the wedding of a lifetime. We were busy spray painting centerpieces and practicing our first dance.
Shortly after our wedding, we found out we were pregnant, which started the next chapter of San Diego life. No more wine and sushi for me. And as an act of camaraderie (and his disinterest in raw fish), none for Danny either. We continued plugging along with our jobs but decided it was best to wait on buying a home in America’s Finest City with baby on the way. We were optimistic, happy and in love.
Winter is coming and Cadence received her two-part flu shot from Kaiser. Luckily Danny can take her because I hate seeing her getting poked!
Here she is holding her own bottle now like a pro! She’s drinking about 6oz per feed (every 3-4 hours). She is so stinkin’ cute! But still wakes up once or twice a night for a bottle. We can’t seem to ween her off it.
We were contacted on Instagram by a teething toy company to have Cadence do a photoshoot for the product. Of course after 100 photos and 30 minutes, zero smiles. I don’t know what it is about having a camera in her face that immediately makes her stoic. She just stares. Luckily, her face is cute. Haha! This is an awesome silicone teether that babies can get fruit and veggies from called Moss & Fawn.
After the photo shoot, we stopped by the San Diego Public Library and visited the children’s section. Danny and I have been seriously talking about writing a children’s book. We are thinking a book for Asian American kids. Been doing some research and I’ve found quite a few already! Going to order them for Cadence! Also love the books highlighting girls in a positive light!
Falling behind in posting but during Cadence’s 6 month mark, she spent 10 days in Denver. She is starting to crawl now, specifically if you put a cell phone, laptop or her penguin stuffed animal in front of her. She’ll army crawl for it!
Teething has been rough. We got her an amber necklace but not sure if it’s working. In Denver, she stopped eating for a few days and also got a cold. She was refusing milk and food, unless it was cold. So we had to make sure milk and food went in the fridge first. She cried a lot at night — to the point where I had to drive her around one night at 2am so she wouldn’t wake up the whole house. Poor babe. Definitely not feeling well on this trip.
Flying back to San Diego with her was quite an adventure. Our 8 p.m. flight was delayed 30 minutes, just long enough for her to become overtired and cranky. Shortly after takeoff, Cadence had a blowout diaper with poo all over her back. Following, she threw up all her milk on me… Twice. We basically landed in San Diego with Cadence wearing a hoodie and diapers. No other clothes were spared in her vomit attack. Luckily, I sat by a mom, Debra, who helped me out the entire flight. Forever grateful.
Cadence continues to bounce a lot in her bouncer. Her legs are very strong now and she cracks up every time she is in it. Ba Noi helps take care of her twice a week and she gets lots of giggles from Cadence. Halfway to 1 year and we are loving her determined and social personality.