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Dear Jared

(last year)

On your 29th birthday, you woke up before 6am because the 2 year old was crying.  You didn't grunt or make any noise that this annoyed you at all. You brought him to our bed, stuffed his little body in between ours and laid down for approximately 6 more minutes before you had to get up. During those 6 minutes, our son whisper-sang happy birthday to you and squirmed. A lot. You smiled. 

Soon after you got up, the baby started crying, so the toddler and I scurried off to get her while you showered. I brought the kids downstairs and nursed our daughter while our son ran around frantic trying to find "daddy birthday present". Apparently your birthday was news to him and he didn't want to show up empty handed. He quickly found a dime which to his very excited surprise had your face on it! (Roosevelt=Daddy) The luck! "It's DADDY! I find him! Daddy birthday present!" He paraded around the room, holding the dime in the air, pleased with himself (as always). He proudly showed the dime to me, then to his sister. Then he ran to the floor vent and unfortunately showed the birthday dime to it and in it dropped. Before his heart could break too much, I reminded him that he painted a couple of race car pictures the day before and he agreed. "Daddy present race car paint picture!" 

A moment later, you arrived at the steps greeted by a very excited birthday-loving toddler. His attention span rivals a gnat, so he'd already forgotten about the dime. and the race car paintings. He looked around and attempted to give you the the nearest thing, the iPad. I reminded him about the paintings and he happily ran off to present you with his gift. You gasped and told him they were beautiful. He beamed. 

As you put on your shoes, the toddler realized you were headed off to work and he did not approve. "Daddy birthday. Daddy stay. Daddy birthday!" I felt the same. So did you.

You kissed his messy blonde head and told him you'd be home real soon. Then kissed us girls, and grabbed your coffee & bagel and headed into work.

I dropped Gus off at preschool. On my way home, you sent a picture of the race car paintings hung at your desk. 

The baby and I made our way to your side of town to see about an early lunch. You were able to sneak away for an hour so I told you to meet us at the nearby Hallmark. As I was browsing, I caught myself glancing at the door waiting to see you walk in. I must have lifted my head and smiled awkwardly at three women before you slipped in. You kissed me and the baby and asked her if you could hold her. She let you.

As we were walking out of the store I showed you a little doll that the baby waved at and before I could finish my story, you picked it up and headed to the register. She was delighted.

You mentioned you weren't hungry just yet and suggested we go to another store to browse. As if on an agenda, you headed straight for the women's clothing and picked out a "caftan robe" for me. It was incredibly colorful and a bit fashion forward but you told me about how you read an article about how these were the newest summer trend making its way from the west coast. It was romantic. 

With a baby in one arm and my new caftan in the other you browsed the toy section. I made attempts to plead that it was your birthday and we want to shower YOU with gifts, not the other way around. But I know you better than that anyway. You picked out a Cars puzzle for our son. 

After we checked out, we headed to ChickFilA and asked me to order while you set up our table. You grabbed a highchair and got a placemat and played with the baby until I came back with food. You thanked me for knowing your order and before you took a bite, you pinched little pieces of bread off the top of your bun and put them in front of the baby. She was so pleased.

When we were all finished eating, we headed to the car and you put the baby in her carseat. You talked to her and placed her new doll in her little arms then walked around and got in the car. You kept glancing back at the baby and telling me exactly how she was holding her doll. You had a gleam in your eye.

I dropped you off at work and headed to pick up our toddler. On the way home, I got a text from you with a link to the article about how caftans are the newest look. Then you quickly texted and clarified that "it's a fun article, but your body is bikini ready already." Apparently the caftan is a very forgiving summer dress. 

You spent the early evening on the floor teaching the toddler how to work his new  puzzle and encouraging him to work harder and not to give up. Once the puzzle was complete, you cheered. It was genuine.

You are selfless and kind. Hardworking and romantic. Optimistic and encouraging. A true gentleman, a true family man, and a true friend. Happy Birthday, my Jared.