Greetings to all! This past Friday, November 7th, was Cate’s first birthday. It is hard to believe that our precious Cate was born a year ago. It feels like ten to be honest after the road that we have been down over the past year, but especially the past four and half month. As her birthday began approaching Ali and I started talking about what we wanted to do to celebrate her birthday. How could we honor Cate as a family, what could be do to commemorate her birthday without her physically being here? How would we do this with Ella and Dude without throwing more confusion into their little brains with all that they have had to process over the past four and a half months?
Be a family, celebrate the life of our family is what we decided is what Cate would want for us. It just so happened that Sesame Street Live was going to be in town the weekend of Cate’s birthday. Ella and Dude live for Sesame Street Live, they have been able to go the past two years that it has come to town and ask when can they go back for the next 364 days it feels like. Every time we past the Cajundome, where Sesame Street performs, they tell us, “Look, look, that’s where Sesame Street lives!!!” So, Ali though that going to Sesame Street Live as a family would be a fun celebration for our family and so one night after we put the kids to bed we were both in the kitchen and she was on the computer booking the tickets for the Friday evening show. I suggested instead of the Friday evening that we go the Saturday morning that way the kids would not be tired and cranky, even though it was actually the day after Cate’s birthday. She agreed and proceeded to buy the tickets, when all of a sudden I heard her say, “OH NO!” I asked what was wrong, she said I accidently booked them for the Friday morning performance and once you book them there is no switching it. I said well, let’s not worry about it, we will take the day off and just spend it as a family.
The next day I was thinking about Cate’s birthday and the show and thought, you know what, let’s get out of town for the weekend. A few couples in our home town had gotten together and given us some money for a getaway weekend with the family as well as some passes to a zoo. I talked to Ali and she loved the idea. The bed and breakfast that one of the couple had originally suggested was booked for the weekend, but they recommended another place, so I called and they were open. Plans done!
Ali’s family called early last week and offered to have the kids sleep over at their house on the Thursday night before Cate’s birthday so we could have a couple ours to ourselves on Friday morning before Sesame Street. It was really nice, Ali and I woke up, kind of let the moment, the day, the “missing” sink in and then left to pick up the kids. Ali had bought really nice seats to the performance so the kids screamed, ate cotton candy, and got to high five all of their favorite Sesame Street characters. It was awesome to see the pure joy and excitement in their little eyes. Ali and I throughout the performance found ourselves just looking at each other smiling at the fact that our children were having such a wonderful time. After the show we bought each of them a ridiculously overpriced nicnac as well as a cd of the WHOLE show we had just watched. Looks like we will have all new songs drilled into our heads over the next year, but hey at least it is a change and that’s good I guess.
We then loaded up the van and headed off to the cabin, or as the kids call it “our camp” for the weekend. By the time we arrived it was dark, so we were unable to see the grounds, but when we walked in our cabin we were all blown away at how beautiful it was. It was big and spacious with two bedrooms, floor to ceiling windows overlooking the river, and a huge deck with chairs and a barbeque pit. The kids ran around exploring, claiming and decorating their bedroom, and then they hopped in the Jacuzzi tub for a nice warm bath with, as they called it HUGE BUBBLES. I went outside and fired up the pit for some good ole hot dogs. We put the kids to bed and Ali went and took a VERY long bath in the huge Jacuzzi tub and while she was bathing I fired up the wood burning stove so the living room would be nice and toasty for her when she got out. Once she was good and pruned she got out and curled up on one the beds that was right next to the fireplace to read her Tim Gunns, “Guide to Style” till she was fast asleep.
The next morning we woke up and headed off to Global Wildlife Center, which is like a zoo without cages, don’t worry, not carnivores, just herbivores. We loaded up on the covered wagons and road around the 900 acres feeding the giraffes, long horns, deer, camels, and all the other animals that stuck their head in our wagon. The kids had a blast, I looked over at one point and Dude was literally face to face with a giraffe that was eating out of his cup. The night before I had talked to dad on the phone and he told me that Global Wildlife was having one of its annual parties for its members and if we wanted to join he would go in halves with us, so before we left we join the Global family so we could go to the bonfire that night. After feeding all the animals we left to go feed our two little animals at a local pizza joint for lunch and then went back to the cabin for naps.
When the kids woke up we went exploring the grounds of the bed and breakfast, which were absolutely gorgeous. We did some fishing, played croquet and horse shoes, the weather was beautiful and we were just enjoying being all together. Once it started getting dark we headed back to Global Wildlife for the bonfire. What an awesome night! They had a HUGE bonfire, hot chocolate, marshmallow roasting, a live band, and SANTA was even there. The kids ran and played till they were totally exhausted. We woke up yesterday morning enjoyed the grounds some more and then headed home. It was truly a spectacular weekend.
It is hard to believe that our Cate would be a year old. Ali and I truly feel like we celebrated her birthday in a fashion that was honoring to her. She loved her family, she LOVED her brother and sister so I know to see them enjoy life, each other, and our family is what she would have wanted for her birthday celebration. We want to thank everyone who prayed for us this weekend, your prayers are appreciated and were strongly felt. Ali and I both shed tears of longing over the weekend, we miss that little girl, we wish everyday that she were still here, but the mark that she left on our family remains strong and makes us a stronger family. We have now officially had our first “anniversary” to get through, one behind us, a few more to go, but we are united as a family and we will continue to walk this path that has been set in front of us with hope. If you would like to see pictures of the weekend I uploaded them to our flickr account you can check them out at www.flickr.com/photos/cantrellkids