Daughter?s first year has gone by fast

If you?re walking by the Just house Thursday evening, you might catch the strains of the ever-popular song ?Happy Birthday? being addressed to my daughter. My baby girl is turning 1.

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It?s hard to believe 365 days have passed since Brad and I made the pre-dawn trek to Newton Medical Center to begin my daughter?s birth day. She?s been a precious joy in our lives ever since.

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I?m counting on my daughter to provide all the entertainment for her party. Family members never tire of asking her, ?What does a kitty say?? Her response is a high-pitched ?eeeowww? every time. She also knows what a fish ?says,? and can imitate a puppy.

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Family members also enjoy watching my daughter dance. She bounces and twists to the beat in a somewhat stilted fashion, but her attempts always bring on the applause.

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Both the Just and Olson families are musically inclined, so perhaps the exuberant exhibition of ?Happy Birthday to You? will be highlighted by some toddler dance moves.

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If you happen to hear our family?s rendition of ?Happy Birthday,? try not to join in. Copyrighted in 1935 by the Chicago-based Clayton F. Summy Company, the song is not set to enter public domain until at least 2030. ?Happy Birthday? is currently owned by the AOL Time Warner conglomerate and nets $2 million each year.

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While having family members sing the lyrics at birthday parties does not infringe on copyright laws, royalties are due for commercial use of the song. This includes movies, TV shows and public performances?either in a place open to the public, or an event where a large number of guests are not in the normal circle of family and friends.

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AOL Time Warner charges up to $10,000 for each commercial use of ?Happy Birthday.?

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I?m planning to bake and decorate my daughter?s birthday cake Wednesday. That gives me a margin for error. If, for some reason?e.g. the cake falling into itself?I am unsatisfied with the final product, I have Thursday morning to implement Plan B.

And yes, I do have a Plan B.

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My favorite birthday tradition growing up was getting a candlelit piece of toast or a pancake for breakfast. My mom would gather my siblings at the table?my dad was normally at work already?and they would chant a morning, I?m-tired-and-don?t-want-to-sing ?Happy Birthday,? then I would blow out the candle.

My goal is not to deprive my daughter of the embarrassment that comes from the inevitable bed-head photo opportunities.

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While searching for cake inspiration online, I came across the idea of a ?smash cake.? I?m going to make a tiered cake for the 20-plus guests at the party, but the birthday girl will get her very own cake to mutilate as she wishes.

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My daughter still hasn?t figured out that children generally try to set a world speed record for gift opening. So, if Easter was any indication, her pile of gifts will remain long past her bedtime.

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In addition to family members, our guest list also includes two German students who are staying with my parents. This is only appropriate, as the Germans are credited with holding the first children?s birthday party, or kinderfeste.

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German and English are two of at least 18 languages that use the base lyrics from ?Happy Birthday.?

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My daughter?s official birthday begins at 5:05 p.m. But if you decide to wish her a happy birthday, sing the tune in your head?you can serenade her simultan?- eously when she turns 22.