Monday, October 20, 2014

Back at our happy place

disneyland sleeping beauty castle
serene's first disneyland trip
serene's first disneyland trip
serene's first disneyland trip
disneyland small world
serene's first disneyland trip
serene's first disneyland trip
disneyland main street halloweentime
We took Serene to her first Disneyland adventure three weeks ago as a little family celebration for her birthday. We weren't sure how we'd fare at a theme park all day with a one-year-old, but we survived - maybe even thrived a tad! Our little love had a jolly grand time. She was fascinated by the ambience enough to hardly nap a wink throughout the day. We went on a few rides, and she loved "It's a Small World" most. We found her enjoyment so endearing we ended up trekking over to the park the next couple of weeks. We used to have annual passes, but didn't renew when we got pregnant. Ever since Serene has been born, Alex has been dreaming and saving up for passes again so that we can gallivant to Disneyland for family days this year. Though we are huge fans of the happiest place on earth, we love it even more when we discovered how baby-friendly the park is. Disneyland's and DCA's baby centers are so incredibly legit: grandiose, luxurious facilities to supply all of baby's and parents' needs. So thankful for kid-friendly amenities, which we couldn't fathom pre-parenthood.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Among the wildflowers

family pictures 2014
family pictures 2014
family pictures 2014
family pictures 2014
family pictures 2014
family pictures 2014
family pictures 2014
We took family pictures last Thursday, a week after Serene turned one and a day after I turned twenty-seven. Our ever talented friend, Ruby, captured these amazing shots, and I am so thankful we finally have some legit, frame-worthy family pictures. The last time we took some, Serene was about two months old. I was telling Ruby I'd love to take the photos in a wildflower field, which are hard to come by in October in Southern California. She happened to pass by a random spot brimming with wild flora off the side of the road one day, and family pictures among the wildflowers came into fruition. That's a hefty dosage of God's grace. Serene was in a jolly mood at the time, which was another serving of God's grace, even though she was adamant about prying her shoes off during the shoot. As I peruse through these pictures though, I see so much of God's kindness to our little family. So thankful for the gift of a new year of life to know and serve Him more. I was thoroughly spoiled last week on my birthday with encouraging birthday greetings, a Disneyland adventure, and an all-you-can-eat sushi feast with so many loved ones, which were blatant reminders of the sweet blessings God generously, undeservedly bestows upon me in Christ.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Serene's woodsy one-derland

serene's woodsy onederland
serene's woodsy onederland
serene's woodsy onederland
serene's woodsy onederland
serene's woodsy onederland
serene's woodsy onederland
serene's woodsy onederland
serene's woodsy onederland
serene's woodsy onederland
serene's woodsy onederland
serene's woodsy onederland
serene's woodsy onederland
serene's woodsy onederland
serene's woodsy onederland
serene's woodsy onederland
serene's woodsy onederland
serene's woodsy onederland
serene's woodsy onederland
serene's woodsy onederland
We threw a party to celebrate our sweet Serene Joy's first birthday two weekends ago. She loves trees and the grassy outdoors (and I  confess to thinking she looks like a pixie sometimes), so we created a woodsy one-derland in honor of her first year of life. I spent Serene's naptimes and bedtimes in the weeks leading up to the party feverishly making decor: sewing giant toadstool dollhouse pillows, felt circle garlands, floral photobooth vines, tree stump cake stands, mossy terrariums, yarn billy balls and dandelion arrangements, a floral headband, and giant crepe paper flowers (with which I actually forgot to embellish the grass the day of).

We catered deli sandwiches like forest club on honey whole wheat from here and varieties of gourmet pizza like woodland mushroom from here. We also served chipmunk chips (kettle-cooked potato chips with sea salt and black pepper), and I made a huge batch of toadstoolini (my favorite pasta). The array of sweet treats included strawberry shortcakes and salted caramel babycakes from here, cinnamon stump rolls, choco pinecones, fairy berries (Serene's favorite treat), and French macarons, most of which we bought from here. We got her strawberry chiffon cake from here, and I made a felt rose cake topper, painted a wooden toadstool, and purchased a dear fawn figurine to adorn it.

We had a woodland mask makin' station for the kiddos, and they received fairy bubble favors, since Serene loves bubbles. I bought packs of bubbles from the dollar store and painted wooden toadstools to glue on top, tied each one with twine, and glued a label on each one to adhere to the theme. I found funky woodland hats on clearance here for guests to don against the floral vine backdrop hanging from one of the tree's branches for the picture takin' station. Another tree portrayed photos of Serene throughout her first year of life.

I was anxious about the weather that day since we were expecting a scorching triple digit afternoon. Thankfully, we hosted the party at a local park under a grove of towering trees, which we encircled with a festive felt circle garland. We laid out a bunch of patterned blankets under the trees' shade, picnic-style, which made the heat more than bearable. Serene had a bona fide blast being surrounded by so many who lavished their attention on her. She ate handfuls of strawberries, among other treats, and wore them on her vintage pinafore too. She was a giggly, silly bunch of sweetness that day. She is such a special little lady - a most precious gift from our Lord - and we are so grateful to our dear community who spent time celebrating her life with us!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Serene's birthday cake smash

serene's birthday cake smash
serene's birthday cake smash
serene's birthday cake smash
serene's birthday cake smash
serene's birthday cake smash
serene's birthday cake smash
serene's birthday cake smash
serene's birthday cake smash
serene's birthday cake smash
serene's birthday cake smash
serene's birthday cake smash
We had a sweet and simple cake smash for Serene at home the afternoon of her actual birthday last Friday. I strung up the felt circle garland I made for her birthday party taking place the following day, and had grand plans to make her a mini cake, but ran out of time. We ended up getting a tasty strawberry chiffon slice from here for her very first taste of cake. She went for the strawberry first since she is a big fan of berries, but once she got her hands on the cake, she loved it! Alex and I loved laughing at her as she devoured the sugary sweetness. I can't believe we have a one-year-old now - a silly, smiley, sweet toddler!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Letters to Serene: 12 months

serene joy at 12 months
My dear Serene Joy,

Happiest of first birthdays, my sweet little love! Today marks one whole year of your life. What a momentous, life-changing year it has been. Ever since you entered the world at 2:43am on October 3rd, 2013, your daddy's and my lives were forever changed in the best way possible. We have seen you grow in boundless ways from a helpless, precious newborn weighing 6 lbs 9 oz at 19 inches long into a 18 lb, 28 1/2 inch long babbling, smiley one-year-old personality who manages to get into everything. From Day 1, you have never ceased to make us smile, to make us anxious (about your well-being), and to make our hearts ache from our deep love for you. You have shown us so much depth and breadth of God's character and kindness through your life.

This past month, you've evolved more so into a little girl who's unabashed about her inclinations. You express your affection in diverse ways now. You lean in to give us kisses on the lips. You hug us tightly when we hold you as if to convince us never to let you go, which works most of the time. You lean your head on my shoulder and wrap your arms around mine while crooning "mama" with contentment. You squeal with delight, babble, and giggle all the time. You grin at every passerby in utmost winsomeness. You are a pro at charming everyone's socks off. If you're crawling on the floor, you reach up to lean your head on our legs and squeeze them tight. It is the cutest!!!

Speaking of crawling, it remains your most trustworthy mode of transportation, although you're now adept at cruising and climbing everything as if they're jungle gyms. When we hold your hands up to walk, you bend your legs into sitting position right away so that your feet won't be caught touching the floor. You whine like you do whenever you feel anxious. You are resolute in refusing to walk independently for now. Your daddy and I love that you pitter patter around the house. Crawling just gets you places more speedily, especially when you play chase with your daddy. You shriek with elation whenever he chases you around the house.

Until you get distracted by a newfound object. One of your favorite activities is taking objects out of containers and putting them back in. You're fond of banging objects together so that they make as much noise as possible. You're really into displaying affection for your dolls and stuffies - you hug them with all your might and snuggle your face into them. You enjoy warbling into sand buckets and other open containers. You are a silly bundle of sweetness.

You're also an eating monster. You love to eat, and you eat as much (sometimes, more) as your daddy or I do. I don't remember all the new foods you tried this month, but they include black beans, quinoa, Thai noodle dishes, bibimbap, congee, and cod. Your perfected pincer grasp helps you to scarf your food down so quickly that if people are around you, they comment on how they enjoy watching you eat. Your daddy affectionately declares that you eat like him. Of all the foods you love, you have whole wheat toast, eggs, spinach, and fruit every day. They are your tried-and-true staples. You can also drink from a straw, even if you'd rather bite and play with it most of the time. You also finally sprouted your first teeth this past month: the two on the bottom. We think it is darling to see two little white nubs decorating your bottom gums.

Your sleep schedule has been consistent for the past few months and like last month, you nurse 3-4 times a day, for about 10 minutes per session. We cuddle and stare at each other in contentment during those times. Oftentimes, you'll grin mid-nurse, which makes me laugh. We have a special bond, my little love. That's why your daddy and I think you murmur "mama" all day, every day. You will always be my baby, no matter how quickly you grow up. You're the one who made me a mama. You're the one who revealed the inexpressible, heart-wrenching love for a child. You're the one who taught me the staggering responsibility of stewarding a child's life. You're the one who elicited out of me so much heart-shattering joy and love. You're the one who convinced me motherhood is the best calling in the world. You are a most precious gift. I cannot wait to, Lord willing, live more years with you, my baby baby. To celebrate all the moments, big and small, because our gracious God orchestrates them for our good in Christ and his glory. To share with you the kindness of God in Jesus Christ, which surpasses anything this world has to offer. I am forever blessed to be your mama.


Love you so,
Mommy

P.S. Serene Joy at 012345678910, and 11 months.
P.P.S. Serene Joy's birth story