Dear Little Man, I laid you in your crib tonight and then I picked you back up again because it was too wrenching to let you go.  To let you be a one year-old boy and not still a baby in my arms.

But I'm giving thanks for this last year of your life, a year so loaded with excitement, it's fair to say that your whole life has been the most challenging year of my own.

You came into the world under so much duress, your heart rate kept dropping, my body kept sweating, I just wasn't sure how you were going to reach us.

But then, there you were. Looking so much like your sister, and weighing 8 lbs. 1 oz -- exactly the same weight as she weighed -- that I thought, Oh. You're so going to be cool with us.

And you were.. When your Pampa visited, we began calling you Smooshie, because your permanent position seemed to be smooshed up on the chest of whomever was holding you.

You were so mild and delicious; you slept through the first three months of your life.

That was highly advantageous since the summer that you were born, your daddy got "a whopper of pneumonia" according to the ER doctor.  I struggled so much those weeks when your poor daddy was incapacitated, and your sister was so violent, and our family was so far away.  But I held on tightly to a hope that more peaceful, healthful days were ahead, and they did come.  With you, still asleep in my arms.

The summer was also hard because of all the blood I had lost in the emergency surgery when you were born.  Weeks passed and my body was reabsorbing the liter of blood that had pooled on my right side.  The pain was unspeakable, but one look into your deep brown eyes and I was reminded why we named you Tatum which means "joy bringer."

I am also glad for the loss of blood because it gave me a glimpse of the heart of our Savior, whose own blood was poured out to give us new life.  Oh Little Man, I am so far from being anyone's savior, but I want to know the love of Christ so I can better share it with you...

In the fall, your sister went back to school and you and I worked on some freelance deadlines and went to exercise class and sometimes we raked leaves with you strapped to my front and, really, there was nowhere that I went without you.  I wouldn't trade that time for all the money and creme eye shadow in the world.

In late fall, I had to go to Tennessee to impress some people and you stayed with your Nana Red.  It is because you and your sister were so well-behaved that I was able to keep my cool in front of the impressionable panel and scored a fancypants new job.

Your first winter was a long one that took no mercies upon us. We drove through the night to see your family in Michigan and Ohio.  You cried not a peep.  Similar to the flight we made to LA in February  to see your Uncle Joe and Auntie Shannon.  You never made a sound.

In the spring, I went back to work and you and your sister went to a nanny. You and she missed me.  A lot. You gave the nanny a hard time. Big time.

But then you both evolved to be my big, brave Baby Girl and Little Man, the children who didn't cry when I left them at the nanny.

Now those days are past, however, and here we are at the finish line to your first year.  We are moving house and you will have no memories of this place where you were born.

So here's to all the sweet memories we will make in our new home.  There you will grow up and gather collections of friends and lightning bugs, grass stains and lost baby teeth.

But you will always be my baby.  Even when you are not as sweet and chubby-legged as you were today.  Even when you are a hundred and one years-old.

I love you, Tatum, my joy bringer.

Love, Mama