A birthday gift like none other!!...Alert!...Graphic birthing photos!


There I am with my namesake, Miss Jessica, when she's only a week old.
For those on the other side of the International Dateline its currently February 19th.  For us here in the South Pacific its February 20th, the date of my actual birthday.  As a result, we're celebrating today.

We didn't have to physically assist in the birth, although we were prepared to do so just in case.  Another pregnant mom observed the miracle of life. 
Oh, gee, what's to celebrate about turning another page on the old age calendar other than one simple fact...it one more blessed day of life, the greatest gift of all.  For this I'm eternally grateful whether its my birthday or not.

Mom, while in labor, moved about the paddock for the perfect birthing spot.
In our old lives we had certain expectations on our birthdays. A bit of fanfare was definitely in order when both Tom and I, family, friends and co-workers made every effort to make us feel loved and acknowledged on our birthdays. 

Now, my fourth birthday since leaving the US, its an entirely different scenario; no printed birthday cards, no balloons, no banners, no gifts, no cake (which I can't eat anyway) and no "surprise" party (or any party for that matter).  (Although my new girlfriends in South Africa went over the top to make it special in 2014).

The exact moment when the cria gently hit the ground.  The dark spot on mom's side is dirt, not a permanent mark on her coat.  These alpacas are sheared once a year.  With enough rain, she'll clean off soon.  Alpacas love to roll around in the dirt.
Now, a phone call on Skype, an acknowledgement in Facebook or an email makes my heart sing with appreciation as if unwrapping the finest of gifts.  Who needs gifts when everyday is a gift of life?

Within 25 minutes after birth, Miss Jessica struggled to stand.
This morning immediately upon awakening Tom wished me "happy birthday" with a kiss and that's all I need or want.  Throughout the day, I have no doubt he'll continue to make me feel special.  Then again, each day with Tom makes me feel special.

Almost standing.
Tonight we're heading out to dinner at another well-reviewed restaurant in New Plymouth, leaving early to meander about the town on late Saturday afternoon if its not raining.  But, even this is unnecessary.  A fine dinner at home and a good movie is a great way to spend an evening, any evening, including my birthday. 

Her collar is pink partly not visible due to the dense coat.
I guess my age as of today is also not a big deal.  I have no qualms about sharing the news that its my 68th year of life as of today.  For this, I'm less frustrated and more grateful.  I never expected to spend these later years of life, living this glorious life in good health with my wonderful husband, lover, friend and travel mate. 

Miss Jessica hovers close to mom and aunties except when playing with the other youngsters.  She's already playfully running through the paddock with the others, especially in the late afternoon, typical for cria.
Although, I must admit, I did receive a special birthday week gift, one I never expected and couldn't appreciate and enjoy more...Trish and Neil,  the thoughtful owners of our house here in the Taranaki countryside, named the baby alpaca after me, "Miss Jessica" after we'd overseen her birth while they were away.

I couldn't have been more flattered and appreciative.  For me, this simple act of kindness meant the world. On the first sunny day after the good news this week, we dashed over to the side paddock to take photos of "Miss Jessica."

Their adorable pink lips and noses turn dark as they mature.
The 35 or so alpacas we've been observing and interacting with were moved from the paddock nearest the house to allow the grass to generate.  We've missed their close proximity but surely they'll return to this area someday soon.  For now, we need only walk down the driveway to see them.

Trish was outside when we arrived to take the photos, busy setting out the few dozen colorful bowls filled with nutritional pellets used to keep the alpacas healthy in addition to their constant grazing.  She helped us with Miss Jessica so we could take these photos.  Also, included today are a few new photos of her birth a week ago that we hadn't posted previously.

Alpacas have long eyelashes as shown here on Miss Jessica. 
We hope you enjoy these photos of this special gift as much as we enjoy sharing them with all of our readers, which...having you beside us as we continue on our journey is truly a gift we both treasure each and every day!
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Photo from one year ago today, February 20, 2015:
The Queen's Bath from the last point until descending into the water. With the number of fatalities occurring as a result of  swimming in this area, we opted to stay on the land.  The hike was treacherous enough for us.  For more details, please click here.

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