Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Gabriel's 1st Birthday Celebration(s)


Last week I wrote about Gabriel's 1st year, but I had neither the time nor the mental energy to re-cap all the exciting things of note that were happening in our neck of the woods. Now that all of our out-of-state visitors are safely back in their homes and I had a day to play catch up on the laundry and general organization of our daily lives, I am finally up for the challenge. Let's get to it!

My mother-in-law was able to spend two full days visiting, which I mentioned was a very rare treat considering how demanding the restaurant business can be on your time. We wanted to make the most of her brief stay, so after she arrived and Gabriel awoke from a morning nap on Monday we began our quest for all things Korean food-related. Michael's mom had made it clear that she wanted to come and cook us lots of food while she was here, so Monday's main event would include swinging by the closest "Koreatown" near us in the suburbs.

First, we took her to a Korean BBQ restaurant for lunch. Afterwards, we introduced her to H-Mart and spent some time picking out all the items we would need to make bibimbap, beef bulgogi, and whatever else we felt we should stock up on.

After returning home with all our delicious goods we decided to take my mother-in-law to the largest mall on the East Coast. We wiled away the afternoon as we moseyed around the mall and window-shopped, taking our sweet time. My mother-in-law is used to being busy busy busy, so she seemed to enjoy the change of pace quite a bit.

That night, she cooked us enough bibimbap to last us a few meals after she would take her leave on Wednesday morning and it was so incredibly good. 

Pre-mixing (the key to the most flavorful bibimbap is in the mixing).

Tuesday (August 5th) was Gabriel's actual birthday, so that morning we took him to a portrait place at the local mall (check out some of the photos here). Next we headed into Philadelphia so we could show Michael's mom our local Chinatown and eat some delicious Taiwanese food. The rest of the day was spent at home as I baked a birthday cake followed by all of us eating bulgogi for dinner, singing Happy Birthday to Gabriel, watching our baby take his first bite of cake, and opening some of Gabriel's birthday gifts. 

Being the birthday boy is tiring when you're 1!

Those couple of days with my mother-in-law were jam-packed and such a whirlwind, but the celebrations didn't stop there! Thankfully we had over a day and a half to rest and get organized (baby boy took a 4 hour nap on Wednesday) before welcoming our next visitors - my older sister, brother-in-law, and nieces!

Gabriel with his cousins and Godparents

We spent Friday relaxing, taking the kids to the pool, and preparing for Gabriel's birthday party the next day. Friday also happened to be my sister and brother-in-law's 5th wedding anniversary (hooray! Congratulations, sis!), so we babysat the girls while they enjoyed a date night. Babysitting my nieces was basically the easiest thing in the world and they had so much fun helping me bake the first batch of cupcakes for the party.

Red velvet with cream cheese frosting

Then, Saturday was Gabriel's birthday party! We hosted a cook-out at a nearby park and enjoyed the beautiful weather with almost 30 of our friends and family members. My mom, grandmother, and younger sister came from Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, some of my cousins and their families came from the northeastern suburbs of Philly, and one of my aunts and uncles came from New Jersey - all to celebrate Gabriel's big day with us. What a blessing! Michael and I kept marveling at how many family members made such an effort to travel for the celebration - because initially we anticipated that zero family could make it and we'd have a party only with local friends. However, when all was said and done I think we ended up having more family members than friends in attendance!

Tasting his birthday cupcake

All of my immediate family headed back Monday, which meant we spent Sunday soaking up as much family time as possible by going to Mass, getting brunch, and enjoying a relaxing day that included playing Mario Kart (watching my sister & brother-in-law teach my 4 year old niece was so much fun!), taking the little ones to a nearby playground, and getting frozen custard after dinner.

Many thanks to all of you that visited, celebrated with us, and/or sent your regards, birthday well-wishes, or gifts to our baby boy. We (along with Gabriel!) had such a great time and are so grateful to have each and every one of you in our lives. Here's to celebrating many more birthdays with our little man!

"Live long and prosper."
-Mr. Spock (Star Trek)

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