Dear Denver,

Happy five years big guy! I can’t event believe I’m writing these words. What a delight it is to celebrate you on your big birthday this year! The last five years have been nothing less than wonderful, and I thank God for you each day.

Denver, you are an incredible a gift to our family. You have an exuberant personality, infectious laugh, and incredible talent for encouraging others. You bring such happiness wherever you go, and it’s a joy to share our days together. You love playing soccer and baseball and superheroes together, and you have also become more independent lately, enjoying drawing, reading, and crafts. I think you take after your dad with your art skills! You love to make lists, write notes, and draw comic books. We are saving so much of your art that I feel like we need an entire closet in the house to devote to it!

Big guy, you are so stinking smart. You say words like “dodecahedron,” recite story books that you’ve only heard once or twice, and have a bit of a photographic memory. You can look at something and remember the detail specifically and recreate it on your own. You are able to think through things that were once complicated, and you are especially good at fending for yourself. For instance, Dad and I put a chain on a door that we wanted you to stay out of. The joke is on us, because you grabbed a hockey stick and used it to nudge the chain off in order to get into the door all by yourself. What a smartie and a bit of a sass, if I’m being honest.

You still love all things sports, and this year you played on your first league sports team. Denver, you are quite the soccer player. You averaged two goals a game, were terrific at playing offensively, and even chose your team name: the Red Hot Superstars! Along with soccer, you also learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. Dad wasn’t sure if you were ready, but Aunt Los was certain. We took the training wheels off, and it took about three attempts, and you were on your way! You’ve only had one major fall, but it was a doozy, over the handlebars and onto your head. I am so grateful that you were wearing a helmet!

This summer we spent a lot of time at the pool, and you took swimming lessons. No joke, it took one 30 minute lesson, and you were swimming on your own. I am so proud of how brave you were and how hard you worked in your swim lessons. It was especially fun to watch you dive off of Great Grammie’s pool and swim to the side, completely unassisted. I can’t believe how independent you are becoming!

You have always been a terrific big brother to Everett, and this year we added a baby sister to the crew! Denver, you adore Savannah, and you have a really soft and tender side with her! You love to tell her how sweet and cute she is, you love to pick her up and carry her around the house, and you spent her first three months snuggling her close on the boppy. You are a terrific helper and like being a good role model. What a joy it is to watch your heart grow as you love on your siblings, and I am so happy to watch your relationships grow with Everett and Savannah each year.

Coronavirus was still in full swing this year, and that meant that we spent a lot of time at home. I pulled you out of preschool and taught you myself. I’m amazed at how quickly and willingly you learn new things, and I enjoyed having you close for an extra year. Once springtime hit, Covid calmed a bit, and we were able to travel! We took a fun trip to a cabin in Georgia and spent time with Pappy, Hannah, Paul and Los, listening to cicadas, swimming in the river, eating smores, and playing arcade games. We also took a trip to Virginia Beach! You loved swimming in the ocean with Carmen, visiting the Virginia Aquarium, Zoo, and staying at Aunt Hannah and Uncle Paul’s house. Uncle Paul got you hooked on Mario Cart, and you’ve decided that this will be the theme for your fifth birthday party.

We got all of our travel in right before your birthday because school is starting for you! That’s right, it’s time for kindergarten. Dad took you to pick out school supplies, you chose a really cool Mario Cart bookbag, and I’ve met with your teacher and school nurse to discuss your nut allergies. I am feeling all the feelings.

Denver, you were a baby, snuggled in my arms, crying as I bounced you around the house, giggling as we knocked over blocks, and asking me read the same books over and over again, all not that long ago. I can still hear you saying your first words, see you taking your first steps, and feel your little hand in mine. I miss those days so very much. You, my love, were my first little love, and I am so thrilled to watch you grow. I am also shocked at how much you’ve grown in the last five years. What a gift from God, and oh how time is so fleeting.

Happiest of birthday to you, my sweet Denver Josiah. Dad and I love you infinity.