On New Year's Eve, I found myself going through pictures from 2018, reliving moments and wistfully wondering where all the time had gone. I felt a pang in my heart looking back at how little Annie used to be and how much she's grown, but it was as if each memory was sweeter because she was part of it.
It has reminded me of how our life before Annie was measured with simple milestones, one following another with very little to tell one year from the next. Vacations, graduations, moves, new jobs--none of it has marked the passage of time or defined our lives like she has. And our life has certainly becomes much fuller as a result.
Throughout the year, I added notes and pictures to her little baby book, like the one my mother kept for me, but it wasn't until the new year that I was hit by the realization that we get to do it all over again with her in 2019. Easter and Christmas, summer and fall, she'll always be part of our story, a story that will continue to change as she does. So naturally I can't help but wonder what it will be like to look back a year from now, and I'm feeling joyful about the days and months ahead.
One of the the moments I've found myself thinking back on was Annie's first birthday. It came and went without much ceremony, but I couldn't let it pass by without some little celebration. I hung balloons and pictures over the dining table, just like my mom always did for us on our birthdays growing up, and I made a simple box yellow cake with chocolate frosting for the traditional first birthday cake. Even though I love to bake, I am glad I kept things so simple--it helped me to feel like I didn't miss a moment.
Annie and I wore paper crowns and strings of pearls all day and watched Disney Princess movies together. Matt was on-call for her actual birthday, so we waited to celebrate until we could all be together. The three of us sang happy birthday, blew out the single candle, and opened presents.
It's funny how the memory means even more to me now than it did in the moment. It was surreal then, to be doing what my mom had done for me, to be taking pictures that we would look back on for years to come. So when I think of what's coming next--holidays and vacations and all of the little day-to-day moments in between--I hope I will continue to slow down, to stop and take pictures, and to enjoy our sweet little girl and the life we waited and prayed for.