Phoebe's first birthday

Phoebe Kraemer enjoying a piece of cake on her first birthday.

As of just a few days ago, our youngest daughter, Phoebe, is officially a 1-year-old. The past year has been incredibly fun, incredibly exhausting, a little messier and generally wonderful, but not very...novel. By the time the third child is born, there aren’t a lot of parenting firsts left to conquer.

It’s been nearly six years since we navigated the first sleepless nights, the first rocky weeks of breastfeeding and pumping, the first time we had to wince through vaccinations and panic through coughs and fevers. Having these parenting milestones under our belts doesn’t mean Phoebe’s first year was all smooth sailing, but it was definitely more predictable.

That being said, the past 12 months came with a few parenting firsts of their own. They’re less monumental, but still worth noting. I’ve jotted them down for posterity, and also for the authorities, should I be detained under suspicion of mediocre parenting.

First time letting a baby watch “Platoon.” To be fair, Matt and I waited until Phoebe was 11 months old before we sat down one night and ended up watching Oliver Stone’s Vietnam War drama with her sitting between us. She seemed more interested in her bottle than the fate of Charlie Sheen’s character, but to each their own.

First time buying those grayish meat stick things. I’m pretty relaxed when it comes to the food my kids consume. Sometimes they eat organic, and sometimes they eat candy off the floor. And while our children have collectively tried almost every variety of baby food and baby snack available, I had always kept my distance from those little jars of Vienna sausages floating in oily ooze and marketed to babies. But one day, my curiosity won out over my fear, and I bought them. Phoebe loves them, too. Go figure.

First time falling asleep in my car in the Target parking lot/first time stopping at CVS four times in one day. These are self-explanatory and mostly Phoebe’s fault, so I’ll include them.

First time feeling life move at warp speed. Never has a year felt so fast and so fleeting as Phoebe’s first. It’s not that I don’t remember it. Each moment is vivid and animated in my memory, as if it happened yesterday and not last September or last October. I’ve mentioned this to people, and apparently the years only move more quickly from here. Oh boy.

Last but not least, this past year marks the first time we discovered the joy Phoebe could add to our family. We were happy, but now we are so much happier.

Here’s to many more years of love, laughter and questionably appropriate war movies. You bring your bottle and your heart-melting grin, Phoebe. I’ll bring the meat sticks.


Catherine Kraemer writes twice a month for She and her husband, Matt, are the parents of three young girls – Emilia, 5, Grace, 3 and Phoebe, 1. Originally from St. Louis, Catherine lives in Omaha and works at a local advertising agency.

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