Samantha's First Birthday

[2020 note: I wasn't thinking about cultural appropriation when we celebrated Samantha's birthday or took these pictures or posted this page. I have very conflicted feelings about it now, and I wouldn't celebrate in the same way if we could do it all over again.]

Samantha can walk now, across the room if she wants, though if given the choice she'll still prefer to hold onto furniture or your finger, and she's talking more and more. "Down!" she says, when a ball goes down a slot in a little toy she has, or "Again!" when Robert plays a silly game with her. "Uh-oh!" she says, when she drops a toy on the floor (usually deliberately). She's 29.5" tall and weighs 19.36lbs. Though Robert doesn't believe this, she's signed "more," "bird," and "Daddy" to me in context. She's smart, strong, smiley, and independent, and we're thrilled to celebrate her first birthday.

On Saturday she turned one, and we baked her birthday cake and cookies, and then we visited with Grandma, Poppop, and Aunt Mary. On Sunday we had her party, at Yasu in Brookline in their private room. On Monday she started daycare, where she'll go three days a week when I go back to work in January. On Tuesday she had her twelve-month well visit and shots. All in all, big days, birthday girl! Pictures follow.


First on Saturday I made a white butter cake w/sprinkles in the batter, trying to emulate a "Funfetti" cake, and with pink swirls through the batter, and I assembled three layers with pink buttercream in the middle and white on top, which I then sprayed gold. Then I put a thin layer of pink buttercream on the sides and started putting silver, gold, and pink metallic Sixlets candies around the outside of the cake.

At a certain point I had a bit of trouble, but I persevered. I also wrapped up frosted and decorated cut-out number "1" cookies as party favors.

Samantha of course slept through 99% of the preparations, though when I finally got around to making the homemade mochi stuffed with peanut butter and chocolate chips, and rolled them up, she was awake and interested in her birthday dduk.

On the morning of her birthday day, she was all snuggles and smiles with big brother, when helping to assemble a toy from Grandma Judy, and with Aunt Mary (the night before at their hotel).

On Sunday, we had her party at Yasu in Brookline at 12:30. Before most people got there, Marcus playfully tried out the baby high chairs, Samantha took a couple steps around the room, Aunt Mary helped amuse Marcus, and Sarah and Sean helped me set things up.

Dol towers and birthday banner on the wall:

Other side of the dol towers, with the picture book from Marcus's dol, just for fun, and the cookie favors:

The cake, about 90% structurally intact on this side and 40% on the other side (not pictured).

Activity packs (crayons, coloring book, book to read, and small toy animal) for the child guests, and soft knitted rattles for the babies.

Buckets for people's raffle tickets--when everyone came in they were given raffle tickets with "What will Samantha choose?" written on them, and the list of the items she would have to choose from. Each ticket had a number on there--you could rip off the top number and drop it in the bucket for the item you were betting on.

Meanwhile, Great-Grandma Helena, sitting next to Basil and with Aunt Mary next to him, got to visit with Sam as people were arriving.

We had two long tables of about 14 each, including babies, plus smaller tables on the ends that we used for cake and decorations and for stashing coats and bags.

Samantha chose Paul to be her eating partner for the meal. She sat on his lap for the longest time, and then crawled into the empty chair next to him and ate like a big person there for most of the rest of the meal. Funny face eating pictures required, of course.

I got to sit with the big kids--Marcus, Alex, and Amalia ate and played and chatted happily, though they were strangely camera-shy for most of the day.

We ate dumplings, seafood pajun, jap chae noodles, then grill-at-your-table bulgoki, spicy pork, and mixed seafood. When the cooking and eating slowed down, we brought Samantha over to an open area at the back of the room to choose the item that would "determine" her future. From the choices of computer mouse (engineer, scientist), Presidential seal (first woman President), Faulkner novel (writer, professor), stethoscope (doctor, caregiver), hammer (craftswoman, architect), harmonica (musician, creator), and string (long-lived), she toyed with the stethoscope first, considered the book, and then triumphantly grabbed the hammer, making her choice clear. Davis won the raffle and got two fancy bars of chocolate.

After she chose the items, Samantha got dressed in her traditional hanbok outfit, passed down from Marcus. Jin Yoon lent an expert hand with the dressing up. Sam tried not to let go of her prize hammer the entire time, and, also like her brother, she made her feelings known about the hat that was supposed to go with the outfit.

Hatless, she smiled for the traditional picture behind the dol towers.

Some patient preschoolers waited for cake, so I obliged. Marcus, Alex, and Amalia oohed and ahhed over the pink swirls inside it, and the chocolate-filled "beads" on the outside, so despite my decoration woes, I'm calling the cake a success anyway.

At the end of the party, we posed for pictures with friends and sorted out the leftovers and extra cake and cookies to go home with us.

Finally we let Samantha snuggle down in the sling for a little post-party nap.

The day after her party she started daycare in the toddler room a few blocks from Marcus's school--Robert brings her over and I pick her up. She took to daycare like a pro, and, though this picture doesn't show it, got a reputation as the smiliest baby around.

It was a great weekend for us, and we were thrilled to celebrate with family and friends. Happy birthday, little one, and many more!


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Created: 12/23/12. Last Modified: 12/23/12.