Lemons and Basil

Brighton’s First Birthday – A Woodland ONE-derland

I can still hardly believe we have a one year old. In so many ways, it seems like he was only born yesterday, and yet in others, it feels as if he’s been here so much longer.Becoming parents, being solely responsible for this precious little life, has been the most rewarding and gratifying experiences of our lives. The world somehow seems new and adventurous as we view it through his eyes. So many things to learn and experience for the first time. Such joy over each small, yet immensely significant milestone. The year hasn’t been perfect, there have been some sleepless nights and tough days, but the hard or difficult things are so easily outweighed by the unending smiles and joy he brings us each and every day. We continuously marvel at our love for him.

Never in my life would I have imagined that I would lose my mom and birth my son in the same year. It’s an odd thing to experience immense sorrow among immense joy. But it is possible. And I believe with my whole heart that the Lord gave us Brighton to begin the healing process in our hearts. And to help me better understand the depth of love my mom felt for my sister and me. Through Brighton, He has reminded us that life continues even amidst grief and mourning.

Not a day goes by that I don’t miss my Mama, her smile, her laugh, and her exuberance for life. So often I think of her and wish she were still here, alive and healthy. So many things I wish I could share with her, but above all, I wish I could share Brighton with her. There is not a doubt in my mind that she would love him so much, just as she deeply loved her other two grandchildren, my niece and nephew. My mom saw the best in all of us, so quick to express such pride in her kids and grandkids. And I know, she was be so proud and so in love with our little boy, who has lived up to his name. Brighton, the bright-one.

Brighton’s birthday party was full of laughter and fun, as he was surrounded by so many loved ones. My only disappointment in the day was failing to get more family photos. We had such fun taking pictures of the kids in the animal masks, then Brighton eating his cupcake, that the day came and went so fast. And through the bustle, I completely forgot to get pictures of Brighton with his Grandpa {my dad} and Great-Ma {my grandma}, Granddaddy and Gigi {Josh’s Parents} and his aunt, uncle and cousins {my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew}. I have kicked myself so many times for failing to get those pictures, but their presence is ingrained in our memories and hearts.

We went with a woodland animal theme for his first birthday. I spent the last month or so working here and there to create the little decorations and felt animal masks, knowing that I wanted to keep things simple, but still hoping it would come together in the end. Being that the party was at 2pm, we went with snacks rather than a full meal, including nuts and berries, acorns {Hershey kisses}, a hedgehog cheese ball, twigs {pretzel sticks}, forest of trees {broccoli salad}, and bear poop {peanut butter balls} – you know, the typical things found in the forest.

As for his cake, I had seen pictures on Pinterest of various stump cakes and moss cupcakes, both looked like things I might be able to replicate myself without needing to have too much skill in the way of cake decorating. The chocolate stump cake was my main focus, I wanted to make a cake that was rich and dense, almost brownie-like. I made two recipes in advance {much to my neighbors delight…at least I hope!} and the second one was by far the winner. The cake was three layers {all chocolate}, with a chocolate ganache and chocolate buttercream between each layer, then frosted in the chocolate buttercream. It was rich, to put it mildly, but exactly what I was hoping for! I made the little mushrooms using gum paste, then finished off the decorations with powdered sugar and crushed pistachios.

In an effort to scale back on the chocolate for Brighton, as well as have another option for the kids, the cupcakes were a vanilla bean with a chocolate buttercream frosting. I made the “moss” using crushed graham crackers and food coloring, and the little trees were made using Hershey’s chocolate kisses and a Christmas tree mold that use to be my moms.

We’ve got a little video of Brighton demolishing his cupcake, he tore through it in record time, shoving fistfuls into his mouth just as fast as he could. I’d love to say that he likes eating healthy produce, followed by a little something sweet, just like his Mama – but the truth is, he just loves food. Period. An in many ways, I guess that’s much like his Mama, too.

In the end, the day was so sweet, and one we’ll never forget, as we celebrated the year behind us and so many more to come. Our hearts are full.

My grandma, Brighton’s Great-Ma, who is 91 and absolutely incredible, made these little peanut butter balls for the “bear poop”, they were a huge hit! Thank you, Grandma!

Can’t say he was loving the fox mask, but at least he left it on!

Like the cat with the mouse’s tail hanging out of his mouth – “who me? No, I didn’t eat the cake…”