The year has not flown by, exactly. Parts have stretched out like bubble gum or silly putty. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, we’re onto the next thing. I think that’s what people mean when they say kids grow up so fast. The transition moments–crawling, standing, babbling– happen quickly. But for me, the build up to those transitions has been deliberate and repetitive and, at times, slow.

I am used to moving at a faster pace. I work in a newsroom, after all, where we count by seconds and frames, not by minutes and hours. The first year of fatherhood has slowed me down a bit (in a good way). It has solidified my sense of what is important, and reminded me of the need to prioritize the important things and let go of the rest instead of trying to cram it into small 15 and 30 minute windows of unused space.

Being a dad has surprised me. It has touched me. It has challenged me. What more can a person ask?

Among other things, the past year has given me an appreciation for what I once viewed as my mom’s overzealous use of a camera. Sorry, Mom. Now I understand the appeal of trying to capture moments in time. Because you never know if the boy in front of you will make that face again, or–if he does– will stand still long enough for you to hit the button that takes the picture.

Photographs are also great at documenting change. You compare one image to another and your brain is suddenly overcome at how wrong you are to think that life moves too slowly. Pictures are, perhaps, the best way to bring that home, and to go back in time, just for a second. So here are 12 of them (and one to grow on…) from a year I wouldn’t trade for the world.

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The morning after. Not much sleep, but plenty of adrenaline.

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All hands on “Deck.” The family meets Declan and falls in love.

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Escape artist. One of many sleep aids we would try over the first several months. Getting him to sleep was one of the hardest parts of the first year.

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Buddies, leaning on one another (not necessarily on purpose). From left to right: Will, Jude, Charlie, and Declan.

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Quiet moments with the best Mama ever.

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Real boys wear pink. Smiling in his hand-me-down “juicy jammies.”

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Watson may have started acting out in other ways (ahem…begging, stealing things off the counter, barking at non-existent threats), but he’s never been anything but sweet and gentle with Declan.

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Is there something in my teeth?

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Toes up. The only way to relax. Just like Mama.

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He was determined to conquer solid food. And he did. This is one area where (so far) we’ve had it easy.

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A common sight these days. Pointing at something he recognizes and either naming it or going “Ooooo!”

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Mischievous grin.

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His first visit to Boulder. And the last time we’ve been able to keep those sunglasses on him for more than five seconds.

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