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Dear Eli,
Today you are ONE! 365 days around the sun, 365 days of smiles and laughter!

This morning we woke up and spent some time snuggling. It’s really the only time you snuggle, so I do it every chance I get. After that, we had a dance party in the kitchen while I made you flapjacks and cinnamon rice. Your brother joined us, and we danced and bounced and banged pots and pans to “Let it Go,” “Moves Like Jagger,” “Thinking Out Loud,” and “Shake it Off” among others.

You’re probably the happiest person I know.  You’ve smiled every day since you were born. They say babies don’t smile, at least not in those first few weeks, but you did. And you still do. Every day with you is filled with smiles and laughter and pulling random things out of your mouth. And keeping you away from electrical outlets and plugs and wires. Seriously – your love of scraping things off the floor and into your mouth is only rivaled by your love of trying to electrocute yourself.

You’re really good at independent play. You wander around the house and I’ll stop hearing you…when I go investigate you’re undoubtedly in the playroom with some random toy. Unless someone is in the kitchen cooking, then you want to be where the action is.

You’re not walking yet, but you are crawling and climbing everywhere. Yesterday I caught you on the bottom rung of the ladder for the bunk beds with a huge grin on your face.

I read to you every night. Your favorite is “Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?” And I’m more than happy to pass on the love for Dr. Seuss!

You love your Noni more than anyone else.

You probably love eating more than you love Noni. I’m not sure if your love of food is quantifiable, actually. It’s really quite impressive how much you eat. We haven’t found anything you don’t like, although squash doesn’t like you. Rocks, too, you even like rocks. To eat.

You love animals and music and rough housing with Daddy. You love getting tossed in the air, and you like to play with Little People by putting them in your mouth.

You are adorable and beast like. If you get frustrated or angry or over tired you throw a fit and scunch up your face and raise your lip all Elvis-like and it’s pretty incredible.

If you had a spirit animal, it would be a tasmanian devil.

Your nicknames are “Bouk’m” and “Bouk-a-dactyl”. Bouk was the noise Daddy would make when he bonked your nose, and it was the first time you smiled at him.

You are loud. I’m sure it’s so you can be heard in the chaos that is our home, sometimes I am in the kitchen and you just start screaming and yelling like you’re saying hello.

You have such strong emotions. I know I have mentioned how happy you are, but also how angry and upset you can be. You feel everything so strongly, even at this early age. I hope we are equipped to help you wade through such passion as you age.

Even at your angriest, even at your saddest, even every day, you bring us such joy. We are blessed to know you, son, and I can’t wait to watch you over the next year.

Love,
Mama

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Last week was not a good week for working on my balance.  However, it was an amazing week for working on my work-related development!  I was able to take an instructor course that helped me learn how to create lesson plans, match a power point to said lesson plan (which I pretty much knew, but the review was beneficial) and teach within a certain amount of time.

Those of you who know me will not be surprised to hear the hardest part for me was keeping it within a certain amount of time 😉

Usually training is not very energy-consuming, but this class took up all of my time/energy/brain power to pass.  It was very informative and definitely worth the effort, but I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with the family.  I’m really looking forward to next week, which will be much less stressful and unbalanced.

It’s interesting how much more mindful I am of the “balance” of my life now that I’ve listed that as my word to focus on this year.  I always had issues with resolutions, and this is much less of a resolution and much more of a constant reminder – it seems to be working so much better.

I have grown to love bath time with Benjamin when he’s not being a complete and utter pain.  He eagerly wants to help us wash him, as long as it’s not behind his ears.  And I know I posted this on facebook, but it bears repeating:

Justin and I tend to give Benjamin baths together.  It is one of the few, precious moments where we can be together and enjoy each other’s company without someone running away (ahemBenjamincough).  One of our favorite things to do with Benjamin is teach him words.  Words, my friend, are power.  Words help people communicate and ask for their way!

So we teach him words, especially animals because that is the age he’s at right now.  And he loves it.  He loves horses, dogs, frogs, fish, turtles, sheep, pigs, cows, bunnies, dogs, bears, monsters, and did I mention dogs?  So we’re in bath, and Benjamin has this mat from Target (which I love because of the Octopus, which is sadly not pictured).  We ask him, where’s the shark? He points to the shark.  Good job, Benjamin! Where’s the fish? He points to the fish.  He also identified the octopus and the yellow fish (hey, it’s never too early for colors!)…the yellow fish thing might have just been a good guess, though, because he couldn’t find the green fish (or red fish, blue fish, haha, just kidding Dr. Seuss).

Then Justin asks him to find the frog.  He starts looking.  I get a bit confused – I’m looking at this very clear underwater sea diagram and thinking “oh no, am I losing it? I don’t know where the frog is!”

But then I spot a frog, beautiful and tiny and green, on the washrag floating in the water by Benjamin’s left foot.  I look at Justin. He grins.  “Snnneeeaaakky!” I tell him with a smile.  He shrugs, “I know. I want to see if he’ll find it.”

Benjamin, meanwhile, is staring furiously at the bath mat looking for the frog.  He finally expands his search, his eyes travelling around the length and width of the bathtub.  His eyes dart back and forth, his tiny perfect hands still with dirt under their nails searching the air and water for the frog.  He is still at this age where he searches with all of his being.

Finally… he finds it! He points to it triumphantly and says “FROG!”

My heart swells.  Such joy from such a tiny creature, such love in these tiny moments.  When this stuff happens, when my heart grows to bursting and my tears want to fall at the beauty of everything… it is in these brief moments that I feel the most balanced.

p.s. If you have a child (particularly a son) I highly recommend reading this.