My baby niece turned one yesterday.
She is one full year of joy, giggles and mayhem. When she (along with Mom & Dad, aka Rae & Mike) was here just two weeks ago, she was just starting to get the hang of walking, doing that whole Franken-baby thing where every step threatens to cause butt and floor to meet. But not anymore - do not get in this kid's way, because she will take you down.
And the giggle. The kid giggles like she's up to something, all the time. Clearly, she gets this from her father's side.
We had set aside this day to celebrate Kaylee's birthday and put up and decorate my Christmas tree. In the morning, we had cinammon rolls and coffee, and then I baked Kaylee's second 1st birthday cake. This one was red velvet with whipped cream frosting. And I sang to Kaylee. "One," from the musical A Chorus Line. She likes it when I sing to her. I think it's because she remembers my voice from in the womb. This precious bundle is a singular sensation.
The night before, Mike had been an angel and helped me go through my decorations and organize my storage unit. Now it was time to put up the tree. Would've been an easy task, if only I'd remembered where the stand was. Nowhere to be found. Thankfully, the friendly folks at Ace down the street had a replacement. Did you know they made replacement stands for artificial trees? I didn't. It made me happy.
Speaking of angels, I have one atop my tree. It was made by the Rice family while they were visiting with my CharlieDad and the brothers and sister. The wings were traced from Kaylee's hands, the design is Mike's inimitable artwork, and the painting was done by the whole crew. The paint itself belonged to my SueMom, Mike's mother and the woman who served as a surrogate mom to me through college and beyond. She's been gone now for several Christmases, but she's a big part of my tree. I have ornaments made by her that bring me a special joy, and now an angel, painted with her supplies. She looks perfect atop my tree. She represents the love of my extended family.
Cute Brian came over, and we celebrated the birthday. Kaylee celebrated by playing with her cake. She was very good at it, and seemed to especially enjoy the slippery feeling of whipped cream frosting beneath her feet. To say the least, a bath was taken and laundry was done. Red velevet cake stains.
Kaylee wound down and went to sleep, leaving four old friends to decorate the tree. As the ornaments were hung - no two rocking horses too close to each other, and please don't put the crystal snowflakes all together, either - I was a bit overcome by the love. There was so much of it! We talked about each of the ornaments - the one of cafe au lait and begneit from New Orleans, a memory of Spring Break 1997, Corky the Snowman, which Sue made from a champagne cork, the ceramic Snoopy I received the year Rae was born.
We made new memories. Oh, don't get me wrong - I cried. You bet your ass I cried. Here I was with the three people who knew me best in the days BC (Before Christopher,) and I was being reminded that who I am has always been a pretty amazing person. "You're the youngest of all of us," Mike said at one point during the night. Maybe not chronologically, but in some ways, I think he's right.
Amber, Liz, Kelly and the kids were going to come up, but by the time they were on their way, my energy level was on it's way out, so I hope they don't mind that I told them not to make the trek. As Mike said this morning, it gives us something to look forward to next time.
I miss them already. My home seems empty without them, but somehow my heart seems full.