Happy 1st Birthday, my baby!

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They say that when it comes to children, the days are long, but the years are short. Oh, how “they” hit the nail on the head. I really cannot believe I’m already sitting here writing this first birthday letter to you, my sweet baby girl. It seems like both yesterday and an eternity ago that I was holding you on my chest and you grabbed onto my finger just seconds after being born. It’s almost like you were saying, “I’m so excited to finally meet you, too!” From that life-changing moment, you have become my best little friend, my favorite little person to do both nothing and everything with, and the absolute love of mine and your daddy’s lives.

The past year has flown by at the speed of light, but we’ve managed to pack in so many exciting, fun things together as a family. And with the big moments come all of the small, everyday, in-between moments. Many of those are the priceless memories that I’ll cherish forever. There are far too many to name them all, but these were some of my favorite memories from the past year…

Watching you learn every new trick and hit every new milestone – holding your head up so big and proud at just 6 weeks old (!!), smiling and laughing, rolling over, finding your feet, sitting up on your own, army crawling at 6 months and then full-on crawling at 8.5 months, pulling up in your crib and then walking along it and anything else you could find, and walking on your own at just 10 months old! Hearing your first words were the sweetest sounds and still make us laugh at your adorable pronunciations of duck (dut), dog (dod), and bird (dird). You said dada first (yay for daddy!) and seem to have no plans for saying mama anytime soon.

Introducing you to both of my grandmothers and your daddy’s grandparents (who all live out of state) before you were a month old, which is a pretty impressive feat. It was so neat to see each of them holding you for the first time.

Taking you to my mom’s family’s beloved beach house in St. Augustine, FL. It’s where I grew up going to the beach, where your daddy and I got married, and it’s one of my most favorite places in the whole world. It was so fun to show you the sand and dip your toes in the ocean for the very first time. I hope we get to take you there many, many more times over the coming years.

Nursing you in the middle of the night, when it was dark and quiet (except for that sound machine), because it was a little ritual for just the two of us. (Although I am very happy to be sleeping through the night now!)

Seeing you and Coco become best buddies. She is so incredibly patient and gentle with you, and your face lights up every time she enters the room.

Hearing the endless funny sounds you make, which never cease to make your daddy, Grandma, and me laugh on a daily basis. If only I could bottle up those sounds to replay forever and ever… but I guess videos on our phones will do.

Feeling your tight grip on my finger and seeing your chubby little hand grasp my shirt while I am feeding or rocking you. Your touch is the sweetest and the softest.

Celebrating each of your first holidays over the past year as if they were the first ones for your daddy and me, too. I know these will only get more fun as you grow older, but it was pretty special getting to pick out your first Christmas stocking, fill your first Easter basket with goodies, be spoiled on my first Mother’s Day, and spoil your daddy on his first Father’s Day. You make every holiday infinitely more special and fun.

When we’re out in public with you, people often comment on your big, beautiful eyes (“Oh my, look at those  blue eyes!”), your red hair (“Where did that come from?!”), your chunky thighs (“I just want to squeeze them!”), and your sweet smile and wave/high five combo (“What a happy baby!”). You’re always a conversation starter with strangers, and you’re such a friendly little  babe!

You are into everything, so curious and aware of what is going on around you. You’re pretty fearless and independent, except when you want your mama. Then it’s game over, and you must be in my arms immediately! (I don’t mind, because I know that it won’t always be that way.)

The first year of your life has gone by entirely too quickly, and I’m thankful for each and every one of those days that we’ve shared together. We were able to make it possible for me to work from home so I could be the one to care for you, and it’s certainly not lost on me that this is an enormous privilege. Getting to spend every day with you has been a dream come true for me, thanks to your hard-working daddy and tons of help from your grandparents in Marietta. In fact, my parents moved away from their home in FL (where they’d lived for almost 30 years) to be close to you, little girl! They could not have been more excited to be a big part of your life, and I’m forever grateful for their help. Your Grandma is your #1 babysitter and definitely one of your very favorite people.

You are the twinkle in your daddy’s eye, and I have no doubt you’ll be thick as thieves as you get older. And while he probably wouldn’t take to the Internet to write a long-winded letter about how much he loves you (that’s totally my thing), I know that he has loved you deeply since before you were born. It was obvious in the delivery room when he was pushing so hard alongside me that the nurse had to tell him to stop before he hurt himself. 😉 He spent countless late-night hours swaddling and rocking and singing to you as a newborn (he swore that country music was your favorite). He comes into your room almost every morning before work to sit with us for a few minutes while I feed you, he begs you for your slobbery kisses, and he hugs you so tight that sometimes I think you might pop! You are so very, very fortunate to have him for your daddy.

You are happy and healthy. You are growing, learning, and thriving. You are hilarious, sassy, and so darn cute. You are my best little friend. God truly outdid himself when He gave you to us!

Ladybug, you are my favorite way to wake up, and before I go to sleep every night, I scroll through our photos from the day because I already kinda miss your sweet face. I love you more than words could ever express, more than all the stars in the sky, and more than all the kisses I could ever give you (and that’s a lot). Thank you for giving me the best year of my life so far.  I look forward to what each new day brings in the coming year as you move into toddlerhood. I know we’re in for a good ride with you, little firecracker!

Happy 1st birthday, my baby.

— brand new —
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— 1 month —
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— 2 months —
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— 3 months —
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— 4 months —
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— 5 months —
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— 6 months —
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— 7 months —
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— 8 months —
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— 9 months —
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— 10 months —
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— 11 months —
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— 1 year —unnamed

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