When we finally set the date some weeks ago, I initially felt terrible about having waited so long to get it done (we Catholics tend to baptize early), but it all worked out beautifully in the end. Not only were we able to combine the celebrations of his baptism and birthday this way, we ended up getting Michael baptized on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, a very special day to be baptized, indeed.
Bonus: despite the fact that Michael is much older than his father was when baptized, Tom's little christening outfit still fit, so we were able to begin a wonderful tradition for both of our children (Abby was baptized in my christening gown).
It occurred to me just days before the party that if we were going to be celebrating Michael's birthday, we needed a birthday cake for him. We'd already arranged for a baptism cake, which we planned to serve to the guests. However, I wanted something that Michael could put his hands into that wouldn't send him into a sugar craze. Though I am not totally anti-sugar, I've done my best to carefully monitor how much the kids get while they're still so young, and I didn't want Michael getting a tummy-ache (or worse) from ingesting more sugar at once than he's had in his whole life thus far. For Abby, I made a cake based on a recipe from What to Expect the First Year, which was essentially a carrot cake. It was pretty good, but because it had very little sugar, it didn't have the typical richness that a cake should have. This was all fine for Abby, who didn't know what cake was supposed to taste like, but she only had a few bites of it, and I had to figure out what to do with the rest. Tom and I had a few slices each over the course of a couple of days, but then ended up throwing the rest out. And because Abby never even smashed it, it seemed like kind of a waste to me.
I wanted to try something different, and smaller, for Michael, and in the course of our combined brainstorming, Tom suggested a custard. His first attempts, which contained no sugar, came out a little too firm, so he tweaked his recipe a bit, adding just a bit of sugar and extra cream. We topped off the custard with a few banana slices (I put some on Abby's cake way back when, and they turned out to be her favorite part), threw some candles in, and voila!
A smash custard.
We brought it out a couple of hours into the festivities, once Michael had been awake for awhile, and our guests had had their fill of Tom's delicious ham and roast beef (expertly sliced by our good friend Rich), and Nana's pate and chick pea spreads, as well as some tossed and chicken salads.
Everyone gathered around to see how the guest of honor would react.
Unlike his sister, who appeared to be a bit afraid of her very first cake, Michael broke into a bit of a smile as his was brought out.
Though, it was perhaps his adoring fans who really gave him reason to grin. Rarely have I heard such a well-sung rendition of Happy Birthday, anywhere.
I did the honor of blowing out the candles, embarrassing myself in the process. (It took me two attempts.) To be fair, however, I can hardly sit up straight now, let alone take in a deep breath. Raspberry seems to be taking after Abby with this new found preference for hanging out in my ribcage. Only this time, instead of having tiny feet up in in there, I have a bony little head.
I was sure that Michael would dig right into his cake, even though Abby herself had been quite timid. Abby never went further than pulling off a slice or two of banana, and even when given her own slice to eat, took her time about doing so.
Initially, however, Michael seemed to take heavily after his sister.
Speaking of his sister, it didn't take her long to head on over and investigate. She poked her fingers into the custard a bit, but let him do his thing.
Finally, he helped himself to a banana slice.
And then another...
At this point, Tom and I decided to reward our guests with their own slices of cake, so we brought out the Big One.
This was our one big splurge. We bought it from the same little shop that made our wedding cake, a place called Cake Dreams in Rockville, MD. We did the same for Abby's baptism, electing to get the same Vanilla, Chocolate, and Caramel flavor as we had in our wedding. This time, we decided to try something new: a Lemon with Lemon Custard and Raspberry Jam number. It was quite yummy.
As we all began to dig into our own slices, Michael finally got into a groove. Unfortunately, the camera flash got turned off during the taking of cake pictures, and was not turned back on for these, so they're a bit out of focus. But you'll get the idea.
Soon after this, the custard had to be cleared away, for fear that it would end up on the walls, floor, and guests. But I was so happy to see Michael get good and covered with it, first. Not so much that he needed an outfit change, though, which was all kinds of awesome.
Especially when this was his outfit.
Sadly, that was one of the only pictures that I got of it, since I was too busy trying to catch up with everyone to really pick up the camera.
I didn't really get any of Abby's beautiful dress, though you can see the top of it here.
She did amazingly, by the way, despite getting no nap at all (not even a short doze in the car) and eating a little more cake than I was comfortable with seeing her ingest. I could tell, as the evening wore down, how very tired she was, but she remained cheerful and sweet until bedtime. (I'm sure it helped that Nana brought with her a fabulous new book/toy, pictured above.)
I still have no plans to cut that nap out anytime soon, however. We're sticking with it until she ceases to play along.
As for Michael, he had a special surprise for us at the end of the night, when most of the guests had gone. He reached his arms out to Mima, and took his very first steps (about 3 or 4). Then, over the course of the next twenty minutes, he did it twice more.
Just three more days left until you officially turn One, Buddy. I can't wait to see what you have in store for us then...