Kris à Genève

A Canadian living in Switzerland

Juniper’s first birthday

with 2 comments

This year in Geneva, June 22nd fell on a Sunday. I appreciated the coincidence of day and date, as it was Juniper’s birthday, as well as being the 52nd week for her growth photo, which I shoot weekly on Sundays. The symmetry of the two rituals echoes the sense of alignment I feel after Juniper’s first year of life. Eileen, Juniper and I have endured a few blips of difficulty, but they smooth into long, parallel lines of joy, satisfaction and progress when I reflect on a year of watching Juniper thrive and delight.

To begin, here is a slideshow of one year of Juniper’s weekly Sunday growth photos, with her sitting in front of her blue cushion. In the majority of them, she is sitting on the couch in our living room. In the four exceptions, she is sitting in a deck chair at a house we rented in southern France in September 2013. The other two exceptions involve Mothers and Fathers Days, when Eileen and I intrude in the photos. I shot the last photo on Sunday, 22 June 2014 – Juniper’s first birthday.

When I rewatch the slideshow, I am struck at how the outcomes of this project diverged from my original intentions. Photographing Juniper in front of the blue cushion every week was meant to show her physical growth. But as soon as she began moving, the scale function of the cushion was mooted and the photos only give a vague illustration of her physical growth. Instead, the photos are more effective at showing the progression of Juniper’s expressiveness, awareness and motor control. I think the end result is far more vibrant and engaging than I had intended.

The night before Juniper’s birthday party, Eileen baked a blueberry cake, including a muffin-sized version for Juniper’s dessert. When Eileen approached with the cake and its single burning candle, Juniper burst into terrified tears at the flame! Once she recovered her composure, she gobbled the cake.

“Don’t you know that fire is dangerous for babies!?”

The flame is out, but the distress burns on

“Never mind, the cake is delicious.”

The following day, Eileen organised a birthday BBQ party in the Parc du Boulodrome, across the Arve River from our home. As much as for any other reason, I mention the location because of the word boulodrome. The park is attached to a covered complex with sandy pits inside for playing boules. Yes, boules, bocci, pétanque, whatever you call the game – I have only played it in backyards or campgrounds, with a beer in my hand – is played in a modern sporting complex called a boulodrome. Amazing and hilarious!

I digress – Eileen organised Juniper’s first birthday party at Parc du Boulodrome. We often pass the park on our walks with Juniper along the Arve River. The park has several BBQ pits, which are always busy on the weekend with music, smoke and the delicious odours of grilling meat. Judging by the music, the BBQ-ers are mostly Spanish speakers. On the day of Juniper’s party, Eileen’s parents and I showed up at 10h, two hours before our event, to claim a spot. But the best ones were already occupied by groups that looked as if they had been there for hours already! We carved out an area next to the communal BBQ pit, with a group of Bolivians as neighbours. Below are some photos from the party – happy birthday Juniper!

Setting up the party

Pre-party lunch with Grandpa Mike

Grandma Erlinda making faces at Juniper

Eileen with the birthday cake

Presents are confusing when you are one

Happy birthday Juni!

Among other topics, Juniper’s first birthday prompted Eileen and I to reflect on her development. As you might imagine, I have hundreds of photos that illustrate the progression, from minute one until one minute ago. But it is perhaps more considerate of my dear reader to limit myself here to a quick update.

From the beginning, Juniper has been an enthusiastic eater, enjoying variety and novelty in her diet. At the moment she insists on feeding herself, whether with finger foods or the spoon. She also has a new preference for whatever Mom and Papa are eating. Here is a close-up midway through a typical summer meal – it should serve as a warning not to wear your new D&G blazer to a meal with Juni.

Wear a poncho

Last summer Juniper was too young for us to introduce her to swimming. This summer, she has “swum” regularly in the paddling pools near our home, as well as in Lac Léman. Juniper loves the water, but “swimming” does not describe her attraction. In the water, she splits her time between: a) pointing and yelping with delight at the many children running and splashing around her and b) splashing maniacally, nearly drowning herself. Unless we physically remove her from the water, she will continue to splash without pause. Last week I had to drag her out of the pool after 20 minutes of splashing and cackling. Here she is, in a similar mood at Baby Plage on Lac Léman:

Crazy splasher

In the weeks since her birthday, Juniper’s sense of play has really progressed. Prior to her birthday, she enjoyed interactions with her parents and toys, but the dynamics were simpler and more direct: she observed, she discovered, she was entertained. Recently I have noticed her, off by herself, inventing trajectories and interactions for objects, giggling at the result. She has also begun trying to tempt Eileen and I into chasing her around the apartment and into her tent.

“It’s a bird… it’s a plane… no it’s a Birkenstock!”

Eileen and I predicted accurately that Juniper would never bother to crawl. She has always shown more interest in walking, although she still likes to use her parents’ fingers (and sore backs) to assist her. When she must displace herself by other means, she has grown quite fast and coordinated in a bizarre crab-drag technique, with one leg folded under her bum. Here is a still shot of Juniper racing towards Eileen using her crab-drag, right leg tucked and left leg out.

Juniper’s bizarre crab-drag technique

As a final illustration, here is a video of Juniper in her bedroom. It shows her imitating Eileen… sort of: Mom is putting the clothes away, dear. And then she decides to show off her standing abilities, looking proudly at Papa for validation. The video illustrates how Juniper’s desire to imitate her parents has changed: before it was words and expressions that she copied; now she wants to copy our activities in the house. As for freestanding, she attempts it once or twice per day.

As a birthday gift for Juniper, I wrote and read her a letter, which I will preserve until she is older. In the letter, one of my closing thoughts was a reflection on how my mother often repeated that she was glad that my brother and I were healthy.  It annoyed me sometimes, I wrote to Juniper, because it seemed to me at the time that I had more endearing qualities than good health, which seemed obvious and banal. Now that I am a parent, I realise the overwhelming importance of Juniper’s continued good health. My focus on her health is not necessarily fearful: she is robust and resilient. It is more that I am aware that a healthy mind and body are her vehicles for a long, happy and fulfilling life – my priority. One year into Juniper’s life, I love her charm, curiosity and ambition – but I am most grateful for her good health.


Written by Kris Terauds

July 23, 2014 at 20:16

2 Responses

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  1. I can’t believe she’s one already! Hopefully we’ll get to meet baby Juniper before she graduates from high school. Love the leggings, wish those had been around when Tate was a toddler. She turns 11 on the first day of August and it’s all about shopping for clothes with her friends. It goes by so fast! Have fun, Kris.


    Kim McGinty

    July 24, 2014 at 16:26

    • Thanks for the note Kim! You know better than I do how fast one’s child grows: Tate is 11 and Macon 13?! Wow indeed. You guys should plan a European vacation before your teenagers refuse to go anywhere with you…

      Kris Terauds

      August 4, 2014 at 09:25

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