This post is very overdue and with good reasons this time, I promise! Firstly, we were waiting for our photos to come from our Paris photographer because my amateur photos wouldn’t have sufficed 🙂 And secondly because I have recently been confined to being at home for health reasons and feeling very depressed emotionally / exhausted physically.
Today marks my first day back at work from a doctor-imposed hiatus (was working from home, resting in between) and also, the photos are here!
Before I start, I would like to say HI to the lovely Papa and Mama who came over to say hi yesterday at Different Tastes in Frankel! I was completely dressed down and super sloppy and didn’t know how to react! I’m sorry I didn’t ask for your name – was very stunned. But I was looking at your adorable little bub earlier! If you see this, HI !!!!
Back to Sophie-doll’s Paris Birthday post 🙂
The weather was quite bitterly cold on the morning of her actual birthday so we were very worried our photoshoot would be a disaster! But God always finds a way – and despite the cold, there was sunshine, everyone was in a wonderful mood, including the Star herself and that is more than I can ask for 🙂
We did a simple vow renewal ceremony in the Jardin des Tuileries where K and I have many happy memories – its opposite Angelina’s along the Rue De Rivoli and we would take nice long walks around the area, down to the Louvre – it is a lovely district and so pretty in the summer when little children play in the gardens and sail their little boats in the ponds 🙂
It was a little too cold for play, but the gardens were still beautiful anyway!
I guess some people might wonder why we were renewing our vows after just three years of marriage?
I’m going to be brutally honest – marriage is not easy. Or rather, I can only speak for us and say, OUR marriage has never been easy.
We are eldest children used to “knowing better” and having our way, we are both stubborn as bulls, opinionated and outspoken – and this, while no doubt keeping the passion alive for most of the 8 years we have been together, has also been the cause of misunderstandings both big and small, tension, friction and big fights. Our marriage as it is today is the work of two extremely proud people finally, painfully putting aside our personal peeves and annoyances, meeting in between and painstakingly finding the best way to communicate and discovering how the other person wants to be loved.
It does sound so terribly unromantic, but there it is! So why stay together if we are so different and fight so much? I think the simple answer is that no matter how terrible the fight, or how awful the words exchanged, one thing has stayed the same throughout the years – the both of us cannot imagine being with anyone else – yes – we have never considered growing old with anyone but each other.
Even during times I have been close to packing my suitcase and just walking out, and those dark unhappy days when we struggled with conceiving, I have always known that there is no one else. And now, more than ever, there is Sophie-doll holding us together, binding us fast.
It is so easy for me to put aside my pride and back down these days the minute I feel it may not be in her interest. It really is truly humbling what motherhood can do!
So we decided that her birthday would be a wonderful opportunity for us to renew this commitment to keep fighting for our love, and to keep fighting for our baby. (Also, K lost his wedding ring, don’t ask.)
I bought a simple plain off shoulder cream bardot dress, K pulled his suit out of storage and we unwrapped the beautiful toile birthday dress we bought for Sophie-doll way before she was born, somehow knowing it would fit perfectly on her first birthday – and it did.
We dedicated this song at our vow renewal – and the lyrics bring tears to my eyes every time I read them again, because they so succintly and perfectly sum up the way we feel about each other.
In the years hereafter / Let us discover
How many forevers we have together / For Love is the steady trickle of a stream that never stops flowing
Standing there, in the cold, shivering, was surreal for me. That moment meant more to me than our actual wedding day, because it was to know that after these 3 difficult years, we were making the conscious choice to stick together, to fight together despite knowing how tough it will be for the both of us. To look at the future without our rose-tinted glasses, knowing that we would want to face it with no other – that was life changing for me, and I think for him too.
I don’t do blubbery weeping messes, but my tears kept flowing and I think, the word for it, was that I felt at the same time, stripped bare, vulnerable and yet incandescently happy. There have only been a few times I have felt this way in my life – as a small child, on the day I gave birth to Sophie Rose, and the way we decided to marry each other – again.
After the very emotional ceremony, we walked around a little in the Tuileries, just taking some candid / casual shots by Brian and horsing around with Sophie-doll before it got too cold and we had to escape for her birthday brunch 🙂
Here are some of my favourites of the morning ceremony:
I can’t believe Sophie was accommodating enough to allow us to put on her little golden wings. And because this is my blog and I can gush as much as I want to (you have been warned) I thought that in that moment, looking at her in that dress and those wings, she looked exactly like the angel I pictured her to be all those months when I was pregnant and waiting and dreaming for the day that I would meet my baby daughter.
At One, Sophie is pure impishness.
When she smiles, oh when she smiles, her whole face lights up and my world seems to light up too! Although she doesn’t take very kindly to being smothered with hugs and love by her very besotted Mama, sometimes she will give me a few pats on the back or stroke my hair when I am behaving in an extra emotional manner.
Ranunculus may just be my new favourite flowers! Pale pink, baby pink, and peach pink with a hint of green for this spring bouquet I picked the night before from a little florist near Le Bon Marche in Rive Gauche – there is another epic story about how my bouquet nearly didn’t happen but that’s for our remembering only 🙂
And here are some of just the two of us:
These poses which used to come as second nature for me got K and I so embarrassed and self conscious in the beginning but we eventually warmed up and that made for these really candid snaps which I love so much!
It really is so easy to forget the Us before Sophie Rose. Unless I really stop to think, I can barely remember what life was like before I was a mother. I mean, I can definitely remember having a lot more freedom – but I also remember us having to continually find ways to pass the time. Now, every day is crazy, every day is exhausting, but every day is also immensely fulfilling. I wish I could travel more, I wish I had more hair (post natal hair loss is no joke) and I wish I had more time to put on make up, dress up and look pretty but those are things I think I can live without a bit. It does feel liberating to know that I don’t actually care that much about these things anymore.
Of course, one thing I miss very much is having alone time to just talk and spend time with K (even if its TV dinner and the latest episode of Grimm) and this is something we’re working on changing. Not having our parents in Singapore makes date nights difficult – I feel so bad handing Sophie over to Yati when she is already taking care of her for most of the weekdays.
That is not to say that once in a while, I do like to feel like I could be a bit beautiful again 🙂
Thank you, Deborah and Theo, for helping us out with Sophie so much during her birthday so that K and I could scrub up nice and get a few good post-baby couple shots 🙂
Carousels – they are kind of our “thing” 🙂
For a moment there, I felt like I was a Princess 🙂
To think these shots nearly didn’t happen – the carousel wasn’t open and the man was gruffly saying that we weren’t allowed on when our photographer asked. But all it took was one little plea from me and he saw we were doing a couples shoot and that grouchy face became a happy beam and he waved us on at no charge at all 🙂 Faith in humanity restored!
And the seasons they go ’round and ’round And the painted ponies go up and down We’re captive on the carousel of time We can’t return we can only look behind From where we came And go round and round and round In the circle game.
Right after we were done a light drizzle started and so we headed to the Champs Elysees for Sophie’s Birthday Brunch at Laduree!
We had wanted to hold it at the smaller and more intimate Laduree at Madeleine but we figured with a relatively large party plus a baby Champs Elysees was more likely to have a room which could accomodate us better 🙂 Reservations were made two months ahead and reconfirmed the day before!
Back here again!
Aren’t these little cake toppers just so pretty! Thank you Mama Joanne and Baby Sophie so much for them – they made lovely additions to the birthday ‘cake’ and also as props for Mama and Papa – they are going into her scrapbook as a keepsake!
We were all settled in by the lovely waiters into a private little dining alcove on the upper floor – the light streamed in through the louvred windows, everyone was so relaxed it felt like we were having brunch at home – in short, the perfect morning!
Brunch, brunch, brunch!
Oh look at that golden hollandaise cloaking our perfect Eggs Benedict! #eggporn
And everyone fussed over the birthday girl, the waiters, some patrons and of course, my Sister, her Ee Ee ( her only aunt on my side of the family, uncles, meh, so many haha.)
These two, they bonded so fast and so close during our trip – and every time my sister is back. It fills me with so much gratitude that they bring happiness to each other like this – and it is a bliss and happiness that keeps refilling itself. Its hard to be away from my closest sibling most of the year – I can only take heart in the fact that every time we all meet again it is like we never left to different countries!
Mmm – Sophie’s favourite buttery sugar brioche, with french butter in between made for such a sinful snack. Only on your birthday, darling girl !
Our private little party, with the most gorgeous morning light just illuminating everything. You know how there are just some amazing days when everything falls perfectly into place? That day was one such day 🙂
Then – cake cutting!
After gazing adoringly at the handsome French waiter who served her her Rose St Honore Framboise pastry, complete with candle and toppers and also a serenade of “Joyeux Anniversaire, petit chou” from three different Messrs –
Qu’ils mangent de la brioche !
Let Them Eat Cake!
Of course, little Monster promptly smeared her nose with the rosewater cream, but exclaimed her approval with a loud “YUM” and proceeded to extricate a pink choux puff from the delicate little cake, thus destroying its aesthetic appeal ( if not its taste)
MORE YOGURT, MAMAN!
Her curiosity knows no bounds – but she is cautious enough to feel, taste and smell everything before trying to eat it. Her favourite foods are brioche, birchermuesli with vanilla yogurt, those little round milk biscuits and pumpkin cheese fritters! As I write this entry, she is already 13 months old and has made so many more milestones since these photos were taken and so I’m trying very hard to remember her at one year old.
My favourite 1-year-old moments are watching her pretend to read her book to me, bossing me around as she babbles and points at pictures and looks at me expectantly, or when she stands at her little kitchenette and pretends to cook for me, humming tunelessly under her breath before excitedly offering me a mouthful of her “dish”
It tickles K and I that every time we serve her breakfast, she offers us a bite first – first Papa, then Mama, then Benjy and finally she gets a taste (of course, if its truly delicious she will pull it away before we can actually take a big bite) but Sophie, I hope you will always stay generous the way you are and put others first 🙂
In terms of physical milestones, besides crawling like Speedy, at 12 months she was standing with very little support (now she can walk!) and loved to dance, shaking her little tush around and bobbing her head up and down to the tune. She very shamelessly enjoys attention from strangers and will play with anyone who has a sincere smile and, most probably, a snack. During our time in Europe we cut many queues, received a lot of special treatment and even enjoyed free babysitting services from enthralled servers thanks to this little social butterfly.
Of course, there are the tantrums – the shrieking and back arching – but we have informed her very firmly – very firmly indeed with a nice FIRM little smack on her paws – that we will not tolerate her bad behavior in public.
Sophie reacts to the smackings by avoiding eye contact with the smacker in question – and looking at the other parent for some sympathy. Sympathy is not given – she will glare at the unsympathetic offending parent balefully, then wail and look around piteously for help from another quarter.
Unluckily for me, there is often some soft hearted stranger who will coo and soothe and comfort her – but I’m glad she knows we aren’t taking any sass from her, no we aren’t, missy.
Of course, she knows that we love her truly, madly and deeply – sassy or demure, monster or angel, grumpy or grouchy, unconditionally.
May you never walk alone, my sweet. And Happy Birthday, oh Happy Birthday to you.
All our Love,
Mama and Papa