Sunday, February 21, 2010

Congratulations, Hayley!

You made it through your first year. We couldn't be more proud of you!

This past year, I attempted to take at least one picture of my daughter every single day. We ended up with over 4,000 shots in total. The ironic thing is that we don't actually have a picture of her from each day. There are 5 or 6 missing days; about 20 are missing from the 'daily portait' style that you see in the video above. Still, we have almost 9GB worth of Hayley pictures and we're not stopping there. I won't be doing any more of the dailies, but that doesn't mean we won't try to digitally capture our daughter as much as possible (which is probably more than necessary, but I don't care).

Here's to another amazing year!

Happy 1st Birthday, Love

Dear Hayley,

Today is your first birthday. Today we're going to celebrate our first year as a family. The first year I've had the honor and privilege of calling you my daughter. We're going to celebrate the joy you've added to all our lives, the hard work it has taken to get us here and most of all we're going to celebrate the wonder of you.

A year and a few days ago I went to the hospital knowing I'd soon meet my daughter. I was terrified and excited, but mostly terrified. I wanted so badly to hold you in my arms but I was unsure I'd be the kind of mom I desperately wanted you to have. I wasn't sure I either knew or had what it takes to raise a healthy and happy child. What if my "motherly instincts" never kicked in?

Then they placed you in my arms and I knew. I knew you were my daughter, my heart, my love. I knew that you were the daughter I was meant to have- the daughter of my dreams- and that I'd be the mother you needed to thrive. I looked at you and felt such relief that we found each other.

Hayley, this year has been difficult- some days more than others. Daddy and I haven't always known what to do and sometimes we've disagreed. Sleep deprivation took its toll during those first few months and my worry about your safety has also kept me up more nights than I can count. But everything daddy and I do is out of our love for you and the family you gave us. The road can be rocky at times, but we're in this together.

Over the past year you've been the most special baby I've ever known- and not just because you are mine (though I'm sure that helps). You were pretty much always a good eater and an excellent sleeper. You didn't cry unless you needed something. You smiled early and often. You found everything fascinating and wore a curious expression most of the time. As you got older, mobile and more independent your curiosity grew but we were happy to learn that you're also a good listener. Your laughter is contagious and we come down with a case of the giggles all too often around here. You have an excellent sense of humor and showed us your first joke when you were just a few months old and purposefully pretended to sneeze (a joke you still do and find just as hilarious). You've been gracious and patient with your daddy and me as we've sometimes fumbled as new parents often do. You've become a loving little person and anyone can tell, just by looking at you, that you are a genuinely happy child who is very, very loved.

Over the last few months as I've planned your birthday party (yes, it's been a few months in the making) I've had quite a few people tell me to relax- you're not going to remember it anyway so why make it a big deal? Each time I heard this I took great offense- for you, for me and for everyone that wanted to gather and celebrate the beginning of your life. If this first year of Hayley Olivia, my first year as mommy, our first year as a family isn't cause for celebration then I sure as hell don't know what is.

Happy 1st birthday, cupcake. I love you to the stars and back.


There's a whole world out there. I can't wait for it to meet you.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

First birthday eve

Tomorrow, our daughter turns one. The reality of this has slowly become apparent as we've prepared for her birthday party, but I'm not sure when it's really going to sink in. Honestly, we're still getting over the fact that we got our Hayley at all. So it is with heavy emotion that I write this post (and tomorrow's, which will include a very special video).

It's hard to imagine a time without Hayley, yet I can remember her birth like it was yesterday. This past year has been the most amazing, scary, fulfilling, tiring, joyous year of our lives. So much happened but it's gone by so much faster than we were expecting. We watched our beautiful baby progress from little more than a tube into a (dare I say) toddler! We experienced all of those big and small moments as new parents that you hear about, and now we have the wonderful little family we always wanted.

One of the things we keep in mind as we develop our family is the idea of tradition. This not only means maintaining the most important traditions that each of us grew up with; we also want to start new ones for our new family. For Hayley's birthday weekend we started two new traditions.

You may recall that Miranda and I ate at the Cheesecake Factory (one of our favorite restaurants) for our final meal before heading to the hospital to induce labor. If not, feel free to refresh your memory here. That was two days before Hayley was born, so we thought it would be fun to have a meal there exactly a year later:

Sorry for the background noise, the place was packed as usual.

Today, we started something that we hope to continue throughout the years for each of Hayley's birthdays. This is probably a tradition you've heard of; you might even have done this yourself as a kid. We took Hayley to Toys"R"Us so she could pick out a toy for herself. These days, when you bring your kid to Toys"R"Us on their birthday, they get a balloon and a crown; one of the employees also announces over the store intercom that it's their birthday.

Since Hayley is still a little too young to really get what was going on, we picked out some toys for her, then let her decide among them. Of course, with this being her first birthday and her being the cutest child ever, Hayley got to take home two toys:

Not surprisingly, she liked the toy cellphone and the toy laptop more than anything. Someday, she'll graduate to the real versions of those things, but for now I'm glad she plays with baby toys. I'm not ready for my girl to grow up.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

And I Love Her

This is the first Valentine's Day I've spent with my Hayley and I have a feeling this is going to be one of our favorite holidays in the years to come. Hayley is turning into such a sweet and caring little girl that this annual outpouring of love really seems to suit her budding personality. These last few days she's taken to carrying her first doll, Olivia, around with her and routinely stopping whatever she's doing to hug and kiss her. It's such a pure and simple gesture; it melts our hearts each and every time. This morning when Geoff gave her a valentine she gave it the same little seal of approval.

We had a low key day that included visits by family and friends- which is exactly how the holiday should be spent. We all sported our Valentine's best but somehow Hayley's cuteness stole the show. Again.

When we went out to lunch Hayley took Olivia along and held her close the whole ride. She looked out the window as the world went by, all the while holding her precious doll tight and showering her with kisses. When I looked to the back seat to see the little love of my life so peaceful and content, I couldn't help but think that this had to be the sweetest Valentine's yet.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Recent videos

Lately it seems like we never get the video camera out in time for the good stuff, but here's a few clips from the past couple weeks.

Hayley gets more and more vocal everyday; she says basic words all the time (she's a big fan of 'look!' and 'yeah'). Now and then she just makes noise for its own sake. Sometimes very loudly:

Starting out with 'ah' sounds, she eventually moved on to 'bah'. We're not sure exactly what she was trying to tell us (and why she sounded so urgent), but it was clearly of great importance. I guess we'll never know.

Later that evening Hayley showed us precisely when something amusing becomes annoying:

Luckily, being her parents, we're able to detect and react to that precise moment very quickly, thus averting a possible meltdown.

Here we have a quick example of how technologically attuned kids are these days:

Miranda uses her iPhone quite a bit, so naturally Hayley has taken a liking to it. Being the most adorable child ever, mommy has a hard time saying no when Hayley wants to play with it, so she also spends a fair amount of time with the phone. As a result, Hayley can now unlock it and even use a few apps (sort of). I'm not sure whether that's an indication of her intelligence or the user-friendliness of the iPhone. Maybe both.