Hi bud! A quick note about why your 12-month letter is being published 2 weeks after you turned one... yes, it's the tardiest I've been on one of these but here's the thing - actually here are the few things that are contributing to the tardiness: you had four (!!!) birthday parties, you decided to stop sleeping through the night for quite a few days, we took over 2000 pictures in a little over a week and we visited with lots of family and friends so cut me a little slack, okay? Oh and by the way, I'll write a different post detailing the birthday celebrations, just like I'll write a different post detailing your birth story. I'll get to it. Promise. Now without further ado...
We're here. We. Are. Here. You made it and Mommy and Daddy did it. We actually did it.
Happy 1st Birthday, Harrison!
A friend of mine said that she thinks a baby's first birthday is equally a celebration for the parents - for us! A testament that we made it through one of the hardest parts and came out stronger. Your first year. Phew.
Boy, are we celebrating. Daddy and I are sharing a vintage bottle of champagne purchased on our honeymoon and we're looking at pictures of that fateful day that changed our lives forever, for the better. Yep, as we look at some of the tens of thousands (!!!) of pictures, we're toasting to you. Many cheers to our sweet, smart, happy, excitable, funny, adventurous and inquisitive one-year old.
I know most of those adjectives could describe any one-year old but each one describes you in such a unique and perfect way.
You are beyond sweet.
You always offer Mommy and Daddy everything that's on your plate and you're showing signs that you'll be an excellent sharer. Hopefully that will continue as you get older. From day one, you've exhibited a pleasant, gentle demeanor that can't be taught. Daddy's easy silence is one of the biggest reasons I fell in love with him and I'd be thrilled if you carried some of that with you.
You scare us sometimes with how smart you are. You seem to understand everything we say to you. Even a simple, "What is Griffin doing up in your room?" from across the house will prompt you to crawl over to the stairs and gaze up to search for your puppy. You continue to press buttons on the remote and point it at the TV, waiting for something to show up. You're proficient in FaceTime and Photo Booth.
When you and I are taking pictures using Photo Booth, some of your silliness comes out. The two other guaranteed silliness extractors are living room dance parties to Top 40 radio and anything close to bath time. Daddy caught you here in the middle of one of your token shrieks of joy. You look a bit like you've just scored a World Cup goal. Your intensity is unrivaled.
You transition to a state of euphoria so easily and that is definitely something you got from yours truly.
You make me and Daddy laugh multiple times a day and your happiness is infectious.
We never thought adventure was your thing but we're changing our tune. You loved your first time in a pool and didn't even mind the less-than cozy water temperature.
During a snow day last month, you and I became a bit stir crazy and I decided it was a good idea to take you out in the sled for a few laps around the house. The snow came up and over my knee high boots as soon as we got out there but I kept on. I was watching my steps to make sure I didn't fall in the three-foot snow and when I looked back to check in on you, the top half of your body had fallen over and I was gently dragging you along the fresh snow. My first reaction was to cry. There I was, trying to take you on a fun outdoor adventure that had clearly failed. I ran over to you and profusely apologized over and over. I immediately scooped you up and snuggled you fiercely. You pulled away from me and looked to the sky. You laughed out loud, put your mittened hands palms up and started shaking them upward, as if to tell me that you wanted to do that again. Instead, I brought you in the house to clean you up and take a post-sledding mug.
You were seriously more concerned by the camera I shoved in your face than the snow covering the entire left side of your body.
You continue to be as inquisitive as ever.
There's a look you get when you see or hear something that piques your interest. You stop whatever it is you're doing and the distraction becomes your main focus. It fascinates me and Daddy and we consider it a sign of your intelligence. It's as if nothing "gets by you."
You aren't walking yet but you're so sturdy and balanced. We know you can do it if you try, but when you're ready, we'll be ready. In the meantime, we'll continue to capture your ferocious crawling skills.
Changing your diaper has become an Olympic event in this house. Sometimes, it takes me and Daddy to tackle you down so that we can do what we need to do. In the one second it takes to grab a wipe, you're flipped over on all fours, ready to wrestle. I prefer to wrestle you with the diaper on.
The baby gates have been up for a while, but that doesn't stop you from shaking them like a caged tiger every time you pull up on them.
Daddy continues to get up with you most mornings. You play and chat in your room for about an hour while I get a little more sleep. Sometimes, I turn on the monitor just to hear you guys interact while I doze in and out. Once 7 o'clock rolls around, you guys come back into bed with me and we play and wrestle and talk and have tickle contests. Sometimes you get ten minutes of Baby Einstein. I then get up to make breakfast and check back in with you after and most mornings, I see this.
It cracks me up how you crawl all over Daddy with no care as to what body part you squish.
These letters I have written to you are ultimately for you, but in a way, they're for me and Daddy, too. We love to revisit what you were like at any given moment in your first year and with the pictures we've taken to supplement the words, we can remember some parts that would otherwise be clouded and fuzzy thanks to the early sleep deprivation.
Harr Bear, you should know that no one in this world loves you more than me and Daddy. No one. It's an impossible feat. There are moments in time that we wish we could freeze. Over the last month, I've been trying to write down all the moments during which I wish that time would just stop. I don't have all of them, of course, but here are a few that I do have. By revisiting these, I'm able to remember what the last month was like as we rolled up to the fateful day that turned you from baby to toddler. Oh, and just to be clear, you'll always be our baby. Even when you have babies of your own.
If I could freeze time, I'd freeze the sun shining on your dewy skin after a bath, perfectly illuminating each of the tiny, delicate blonde hairs on your arms and legs.
If I could freeze time, I'd freeze myself at the kitchen sink (you'll never hear me say THAT again!). When I'm standing there, you always come to find me. While I wash the dishes, I savor feeling your tiny hands working their way up my legs from ankle to calf until you have a hold of my pants and murmur "Mama," looking up at me with your big, brown, doe eyes.
I'd definitely freeze your outstretched arm, offering me the newest toy you've snagged from the toy bin, as if you're asking me to be your play partner. My love, I'll be your partner for life.
You're due for a haircut and that's coming very quickly but in case your curls don't come back, I'd like to freeze the way they bounce up near the nape of your neck after they're freshly shampooed.
I'd try to bottle the fervor with which you scrape and climb your way up anything and everything to get to a standing position and freeze the face you make when you get there. #triumphant
When we come into the house after being out and about, I'd freeze you in my arms after I shut the door behind us. Your whole body propels forward so as to peek into the office, to catch a glimpse of Griffin on his chair. Once I let you look around the corner, you spot him and wriggle towards him, so you can greet him properly and give him a snuggle. I love that you love him and I can't wait to watch the fun the two of you will have this summer.
I'd also like to freeze the moment your mouth touches mine when I ask you for a kiss. "Can Mama have a kiss?" prompts you to either bow your head so I can then kiss your soft forehead or invites you to cover my lips with your mouth. Either way, it's perfect.
If I could open the door to your room first thing in the morning or after a nap and freeze the face you give me upon entering, I would. Your smile touches your eyes and you clap and laugh as your happiness touches your soul and you bounce up and down, itching to have my arms around you.
If I could freeze time, I'd freeze a typical bedtime reading session. Daddy or Mommy takes you into the rocker and we read one, two or six books... until you're satisfied. You become completely engrossed in the story, pictures and pages that I know reading will be a lifelong passion for you. Lately, you're loving lift-the-flap books but enjoy anything tactile as well.
After books, I take you and rock you and sing to you as we turn off the lights and snuggle with your head firmly planted on my shoulder and of course, this is the moment I'd like to freeze most of all. I'm instantly transported to the moments of quiet togetherness a year ago. You smelled differently and felt differently but my love for you is still as eternal. You're still the sweet Harrison boy that we brought home from the hospital.
Sometimes, I tear up remembering all we've been through and sometimes I tear up because in that moment, I'm so overcome with gratitude for the good fortune in our lives. The tears will roll down my cheeks and into your hair. I brush the wetness back away from your face and you briefly gaze up at me in the faint light and smile before sighing deeply and snuggling in once more. I tell you I love you in my choked up voice and lay you down for sweet dreams. I walk downstairs, kiss Daddy and tell him that we're beyond blessed. He agrees and we get ready for another day.
The nights keep coming and the sun keeps rising. Thank God for that. There's no stopping it but with each night and following day, know that you're our world.
Harrison Mark, we hope the rest of your life is characterized by as much love and happiness as you've had in your first year.
If we have anything to say about it, you'll have it all and more.
Our hearts are swollen with love for you,
Mommy and Daddy