We made it.  We've reached the place that we so badly wanted to be.  A whole year has passed since A&R were born.  I remember thinking how far away this day was, back when we were fighting yet another NICU battle.  Yet here we are, as if we were here all along.  We are so, so lucky and extremely grateful that we can sit here today and celebrate the year that has passed.

My sweet, sweet boys.  You graced this earth over three months early.  You weren't supposed to come until January.  But things happened.  Things that were beyond our control.  And there you were.  So small and fragile, but with so much life in you.  Had you been born when you were supposed to, we would've cried a million less tears, and prayed a thousand less prayers.  But you wouldn't be youAnd we wouldn't be who we are today.  While I wish I could take all your struggles and wash them away, I am so proud of where you came from and I wouldn't change a thing about you.  A year ago today, you were given a 50% chance.  Yet here you are.  Growing, learning and fighting on.  I've said it before, but you are truly my heroes.  You have filled my life with the most special love there can be.  And I am forever changed. 

Aiden, my firecracker.  You have a plan.  I can tell by looking into your eyes.  You are so energetic and full of life.  Constantly on the go, looking for something to do.  You rarely sit still for a minute.  But when you do, it is apparent that you are learning and absorbing everything around you.  And one day, just like magic, you show us exactly what you've learned.  Those inquisitive looks you give us.  Those moments when we look at you and think, "Wow, he gets it".  Those are the moments that truly make me proud.  You have such an intelligent look about you.  You are destined to do great things.  And to get in trouble.  After all, you are your father's son.  I kid, I kid.  Maybe.

Ryan, oh Ryan.  You are my cuddle bear.  You're so laid back and happy.  Most things make you smile and everything makes you laugh.  You're social and you love to talk, and your voice brings me joy each and every day.  How I wish I knew what you were saying.  I walk into your room every morning, looking forward to seeing you greet me with a smile.  Everyone should take a lesson from you and smile more.  The world would be a much better place.  You love music and you enjoy being startled.  But only if mommy or daddy are the ones startling you.  Not a vaccum cleaner or a dog barking.  And definitely not while you are sleeping.  I'm so excited to watch you grow.  You will do great things.

At one year we have four teeth, two for each boy.  We've endured months of painful teething and I hope the next few are a bit easier on all of us, though it's doubtful.  At one year we have one sitter, soon-to-be crawler.  Aiden, you so desperately want to go, go, go.  Any day now I'm going to turn around and you'll be following me.  I can feel it.  At one year we have a blabber mouth, almost-sitter.  Ryan, you never shut up and that's ok.  It reminds me of how badly we wanted to hear you cry those first few days of life.  You aren't quite sitting on your own yet, but you're getting stronger each day and with some more practice and patience, I'm sure you'll be there in no time.  Keep on keepin' on, little dude.  At one year you love your daddy's guitar, your doggie Penny, bananas, applesauce, chewing on anything and everything, and most of all you love each other.  You sleep through the night and take two naps a day.  You have a favorite show called Mr. Tiger's Neighborhood.  You're learning new things everyday and amazing us with how far you've come in a short year.  We are so proud. 

My dearest Aiden & Ryan, one day you'll be old enough to read this.  And to read everything else I've written here.  You may stumble upon some things that upset you, but you will also read about strength, hope and courage.  The first months of your lives were a great struggle.  For us yes, but especially for you.  You weren't given the same clean canvas that most people get.  No.  Your lives began in chaos, fear and uncertainty.  Though scary, everything you went through made you who you are.  And we wouldn't change a thing about you.  We love you more than our words can express.  And we have been given the very important job of ensuring that you succeed and are happy in life.  We might need to work a little harder in order to get you there.  But a little work never hurt anyone.  Thank you for fighting.  You've made us the happiest parents on Earth.

Happy birthday, little ones! 


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