Dear James and Owen,
Your first birthday was most perfect.
Sophie helped us wrap your presents.
We had make-your-own-tacos for dinner, along with corn salsa. You loved the avocado, beans, corn and cheese, among other things (and I was worried you’d still be eating baby food on your first birthday!).
So many people who love you filled our house—Grandma, Paw Paw, Nini, Pop Pop, Aunt Katy, Colleen, Uncle Kyle, and, of course Daddy, Sophie and me.
The first present you opened was a brand-new Radio Flyer wagon, from Nini and Pop Pop.
You loved sitting in it. We’ve already taken both of you, along with Sophie, in a ride in it. (Your mother was a bit of a jerky driver, though, and my sudden stops and starts caused you, James, to fall numerous times—I’m sorry about that).
a fantastic gift from Aunt Katy, Uncle Tom and baby Colleen
Sophie spent a long time during one of your naps wrapping her present to you.
a new toy from Grandma and Paw Paw
Colorful, wonderful chaos—you received so many nice things, from so many people, including a Zoo pass, new toys, new clothes, a tambourine and drum, Cincinnati Reds onesies and growth charts.
We had birthday hats made for you (as we did Sophie) and while cute, you both preferred we use them as table decoration rather than party headwear.
Daddy, with Sophie’s help, made you each a cake. Owen, you had a spice cake with homemade vanilla icing. And James, you had a chocolate cake with homemade chocolate icing. (You both ate chocolate, though, and you both loved it.)
We, of course, sang “Happy Birthday.” (I wanted to sing it twice. Daddy thought once, with both of your names, was enough. :))
Two days later we had a party, at my parents’ house. I put out pictures of both of you from the NICU, as well as your teeny tiny preemie clothes, diapers and hospital wrist bands—how far you both have come!
We made six dozen cupcakes.
For family events and occasions, Aunt Katy (who has a most wonderful collection and knowledge of quotes) always picks a perfect one for the chalkboard, otherwise used for grocery reminders. I loved the one she chose for your special day.
Party favors and activities included bubbles, pinwheels and balls.
Grandma, Paw Paw and their grandchildren
Nini, Pop Pop and their grandchildren
After pictures, you were ready to party!
All the kids (including you!) had fun playing in the yard.
After lunch, everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to you (again) and you had cupcakes! You liked them.
family and friends
We received so many books for the library in Belize (thank you, everyone).
James and Daddy
Owen and Daddy
Happy, happy birthdays, my loves. I think back to when I held both of you, for the first time, and remember how terrified I was of breaking you—you were both so small. But you did not break. You grew and you grew and you grew and after weeks, months, of no sleep and hazy memories and lots of milk and love, you smiled. And rolled. And crawled. And now you climb (everywhere, up the stairs when no one is looking, up Tucker to get on the couch, up us to pull our hair, up Sophie, as if asking her to play) and laugh and wave and clap.
Your personalities, different from the beginning, continue to change and grow. James, you are so mild mannered. You will sit on a lap, on the floor, in your highchair, content and quiet, yet always so observant. You have the strangest melt-your-heart-laugh and you still have this amazing, open-mouth grinned that makes me smile every time I see it. You are small, yes, but you eat and eat and eat, often, more than Owen. You are beautiful.
Owen, you are so strong, always on the move and you always know exactly what you want. You are so eager to explore this world and so crushed when not allowed to do it. Your laugh is a hearty giggle and when Sophie gets you going it would be rare to find someone who wouldn’t laugh with you. You have made such strides in your therapy. You, too, are beautiful.
I can’t wait to spend this next year with both of you, teaching you, watching you, learning from you. I can’t believe it’s been a year already.
You are my sunshines, always.
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” —Dr. Seuss