Your Second Birthdays

Dear Owen and James,

On your birthday you woke up to find …

a new train table from Mommy and Daddy in our living room (it’s now in your bedroom). You both love it but Owen, you, especially do. (James, you’re more into taking the track apart right now.)

Nini, Pop Pop, Grandma and Paw Paw were all at our house to celebrate with you. Daddy made his homemade spaghetti sauce, salad and garlic bread. I made you, James, a vanilla cake and you, Owen, a chocolate cake (Sophie helped decorate them).

There was a lot of crying after dinner, so we put off blowing out the candles on your cake and went straight to presents.

You received so many wonderful presents, including …

a beautiful Goodnight Moon quilt, handmade for you, Owen, by Nini (you sleep with it every night) and

a car-themed play mat, handmade for you, James, by Nini, too.

Owen, you loved the fire and construction trucks Grandma and Paw Paw gave you, and James, you loved the Thomas the Train toy Sophie picked out for both of you.

Nini and Pop Pop also gave you a wonderful set of wooden building blocks, which you’ve now begun using to build (wobbly) towers with daily.

After presents we took turns throwing you up in the air to catch the balloons taped to the ceiling (because this is the type of thing you love when you are 2).

James, you kept climbing up the kitchen island, eyeballing the cake. So, we decided it was time for cake.

We sang “Happy Birthday” to each of you, and helped you blow out your candles.

Owen, you didn’t even wait for a bib—or a fork.

James, you were much more civilized.

You both are my two handsome little men, even when covered with cake.


Your language has exploded. After an intense interest in the foam ABC letters we’d put in your bath, and the colors on your placemat, you now know all your letters, most of your colors (purple is your favorite) and you can count to 12. You talk. And talk and talk and talk. Your favorite word? “Why.” “Why? Why? Why?” Although my tone may hint at frustration at times, I love your curiosity. While recently quite independent, you still love to be carried. But when you ask, you mix up your pronouns and say, “I take? I take?” You’re obsessed with trains and trucks. Every day you play with your train table. Every day you take all your cars and push them down the sloping arm of our wooden Mission chair, where they then fall off, dinging the French door and hardwood floor. You’re fickle about baths. You love “Thomas the Train.” You’re loving, so loving. You show legitimate concern for James when he cries. You make sure he gets whatever you get. You love to ask Sophie if she’s OK. If you don’t see someone, and you think about that someone, you always ask where they are—even if you haven’t seen them for several weeks. You’re still in therapy for torticollis, but you’ve improved, even though Mommy and Daddy aren’t so great about making you wear your TOT collar as much as we should. You handle your collar, and exercises, about as well as I would expect for a 2 year old. But you’ve been a real trooper, these past 2 years, going to therapy almost every week. I’m proud of you. I’m proud of everything you do. And I love the way you say the word “beautiful.”


You are our gymnast. Our climber. You love to explore, disconnect, take apart, fit into everything. You have yet to meet an outlet cover you can’t pry off. You have yet to meet a piece of furniture you haven’t tried to climb. You fall, a lot, but you’re so brave about it. You hold your head, with a perplexed look, and when I say, “Are you OK?” you give me the biggest grin and say, “OK, Mama, I OK.” You have curly hair and I absolutely love it. We all love it and the longer it gets, the curlier it gets so we’re just letting you grow it out, which is fine with you, I’m sure, because you don’t like having your hair cut. You don’t like to be left alone. You often have to check in with someone—you run, sit on their lap for just a moment, and then jump off, back to what you were doing. It’s almost as if you’re telling yourself, They’re still here, I can still feel them, they still love me. (We always love you, James.) When you’re excited about something, anything, you scream, oh you scream! and you say “Mommy! Daddy! Look! LOOK! LOOOOKKKK!!!” Never lose that enthusiasm. You love books. You find one and ask me to read to you every day. I love that. You’re still working on your language skills, but every day I feel like you learn a new word. Some we’ve had to figure out. But some are so cute (a boat, for example, is a boot when you say it). At Owen’s last therapy session, we were in the waiting room and you heard Owen cry, behind a closed door. You stopped. Listened. Went to the door with the most concerned little-boy look on your face, pointed and said “Owen.” You, too, are so loving.

You both are very much brothers. Yes, you take toys from each other, sippy cups from each other, food from each other. You grab each other’s shirts while you’re running, push each other out of the way on the stairs (which scares me to no end) and even (already) wrestle. But you also constantly ask about each other. I don’t think we could get you to sleep without the other one even if we tried … you each scream if you’re in your crib and your brother is not. You love to give each other hugs. And kisses. And when I split a banana in half and ask one of you to take one and give the other half to your brother, you always, always do. I love that. Thank you for that.

I can’t wait for what’s to come.

Happy, happy birthday, my loves.

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.” —Anais Nin