We celebrated our baby girl's first birthday ON her actual birthday, Thursday night, June 21st. You know me, and you know I LOVE birthdays! I was so excited to plan my first GIRL birthday party. Of course, when I started looking for inspiration for her party (like around when she was born, ha!), I was not finding anything I liked. And who are we kidding, the majority of my parties are not original ideas, but somewhat copying someone else's originality. I am thankful for creative people in this world.
I finally decided, I would just go with something pretty, dainty and pink. And then I read one of my favorite party planning blogs and saw this GORGEOUS "cute as a button" party. It had a theme without really having a theme.. so it was right up my alley!
I first contacted my cousin, Laura, to start designing the invitations. She is seriously the best, and I knew she would not disappoint. And she didnt. She is so good at listening to the overall look of what I want and then actually designing it. She is good!
We had decided that instead of presents for McKinley, we wanted to give back to OU Childrens Hospital's NICU, because they played such an important role in our daughter's life. One thing I knew that they needed were cute/pretty blankets. We brought some of McKinley's own blankets up to the hospital, but as you know, many of the babies at Childrens dont have parents who are super active. And then there are some that just dont have the resources to have many "extras". Anyway, the nurses mentioned to us, how they almost fight over the good blankets, so that they can make the beds look nice for the babies. As a mom, I can tell you... even though that sounds trivial.. seeing your baby in a bed that is pretty is more comforting than stark hospital white. I knew we wanted to donate some nice blankets. Every baby deserves a nice bed. I also contacted someone at the hospital, who mentioned they needed sleep sacks/swaddle blankets and crib soothers. We attached a card asking our guests to consider donating instead of getting McKinley a gift. Of course, everyone was over generous and the NICU was gracious for the generosity.
Because we had the party in the evening, we had dinner for everyone. Luckily, Oklahoma hadnt reached the triple digits that we had so early in the summer last year.. but it was still definitely hot. I went with 3 different sandwiches and 3 salads for dinner. It was perfect for a summer night.
The kids had a great time playing outside on the swingset and the bounce house.
And McKinley LOVED her cake. We were not really surprised, considering I sometimes doubt that she even tastes what she is putting in her mouth. She loves EVERYTHING as long as its food and she is feeding herself. We learned our lesson from Jackson's first birthday, and went with white cake and she started out naked. :)
When McKinley was born, Craig was super thoughtful. He had a GORGEOUS flower arrangement of pink roses sent to my room, 2 smaller arrangements for the grandmas and then he had a single rose for the many friends who came to support us. His thought was that our friends and family could take home that single pink rose and every time they would look at it, it would be a reminder to pray for our baby girl. I cant tell you how many times, one of my thoughtful friends would send me a picture of their rose during our stay in the hospital and remind me that they were praying for our baby girl. (Have I mentioned that our family has a pretty AMAZING support network!)
So when I was thinking about party favors for the party, I knew that I needed to incorporate the pink rose. Instead of the rose representing prayer for our baby girl, I wanted it to serve as a thank you, not just for coming to the party, but for loving, praying and supporting our family during the past year. I wanted our friends and family to be able to look at that rose and see the way that their prayers had been ANSWERED.
Also, when I think about my daughter, I think about new life. I think about miracles. And I think about growth. I wanted to give the kids that came to the party something to symbolize that (understanding that they would TOTALLY not get the meaning.. ha!) I found a company on Etsy that puts wild flower seeds into paper and cuts the paper into the shape of buttons. You plant the whole "button" and wild flowers should grow. Again, just another way to continue to celebrate God's goodness and healing in McKinley's life.
It was a VERY special day. We had Esther come and help capture the special moments and of course, she did beyond amazing. We are so thankful for her and her willingness to come and spend these birthdays with our family! She does pretty incredible work.
I know I have been pretty sentimental the past month or so (really the whole past year). But this whole experience with McKinley has changed me in so many ways. This was a REALLY big deal in the life of our family. It is such a humbling experience to have been reached out to, loved on and prayed for like we were in the past year. It is amazing to me to see the relationships that God put in my life YEARS ago.. and how He chose to use those relationships in the past year. I have friends that know just what to say and when to say it. And I never in a million years thought that I would need the medical advice from some of my closest friends. I was proud of them for being so smart and so medical minded. I knew that they held a special place in their patients hearts. I never in a million years thought I would need them and their advice regarding MY DAUGHTER. But I did. At the beginning, they were careful with their words when talking with me about what our future could/would look like. And at the end of our journey they stepped in when some pretty rough things were happening (the day of her surgery), and then ultimately getting McKinley to the place where she was ready to go home.
Our family helped us out ALL the time. Helping with Jackson, helping us get the room ready, helping us clean.. really anything we needed.. someone was there to help us. They never asked questions, they just stepped in and helped. They listened and listened and listened. And prayed and prayed and prayed.
This party was about more than just celebrating a first birthday. It was about more than McKinley smashing into a cake. It was about celebrating the journey that God brought us through the past year, recognizing the grace that he extended to our family, celebrating the life of our daughter and celebrating the people that helped us get through it.
Our family will forever be grateful for the love of our family and friends!
Happy 1st Birthday McKinley Beth! WE LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!