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Today is your 6th birthday!!!! The past year has been so much fun, and you’ve grown up so much. You completed your first year of school (Kindergarten with Ms. Smith) and learned to read. You learned how to swim (including jumping off the diving board). You’ve continued to learn the piano and had some pretty awesome recitals.
You lost 2 teeth and started wearing glasses (took my breath away the day you lost a tooth and got your glasses, so grown up!)
You’ve gotten stronger, faster, and maybe a little bit kinder.
You try passionately to be a good kid.
We’ve given you quite a bit more responsibility this year. You’ve got chores that are your job, that we expect you to do. Things like helping with the dishes, cleaning the living room floor, and feeding the dog.
Overall, I would mark this as a year with lots of growth.
We talked yesterday to you about some of your summer chores – one of which includes a certain amount of reading. It was pretty clear to us that even though you’d “read” you hadn’t actually retained anything you read. That was a pretty common thing when we were growing up – especially me – so I told your Dad the way to fix it was to make you read out loud for your “required reading.” You got upset at us; you told us that you didn’t mean to get in trouble, that you were still learning how to be a good reader. We told you that it was OK, that we were learning how to be good parents, and sometimes we have to adjust the rules so we can all be better. It’s a small lesson, but hopefully one you will take to heart.
You learned a lot more about being a good friend from your time in school. I saw you talk through problems with your friends, challenge them, and lose with just a TINY bit more grace than you have in years past (you still hate it though).
You have a strong internal desire for others to follow the rules. Half the times you got in trouble in Kindergarten was because you were getting on to the other kids for not following the rules. You hated rug time because you had to sit criss-cross apple sauce, but you’d sit there patiently with a bubble in your mouth UNLESS you were telling the other kids (who weren’t listening) that they needed to sit down too!
In spite of your rigidness regarding rules, you were well liked and enjoyed by your classmates. You went home frequently lamenting that you were having problems and no one liked you, but over and over again we saw evidence that your classmates adored you.
And, true to family tradition, you were enjoyed by your teachers. They said they’re going to miss you SO MUCH.
You’re finally understanding what a “figure of speech” is. The past year your literal nature has led to lots of misunderstandings when your Dad and I say things like, “You took the words right out of my mouth!” But yesterday you used that line on Dad, to which he replied “that sounds painful” and you painstakingly advised him that you were just using a figure of speech and you weren’t REALLY taking words out of anyone’s mouth.
It was such a simple thing, but it made me really happy for you – it was a sign that your brain was growing up, right there before my eyes.
You’re slowly starting to see the world around us. You got kind of upset at us the other day because there was a homeless person panhandling and we didn’t give them any money. We told you we didn’t have any money on us at the time, to which you replied that we needed to have money on hand in case we saw someone who needed help. You asked about why they were homeless, and what it meant. You’re going to collect money for your birthday to give to homeless people, since you don’t really need presents.
Your silliness makes life more fun.
There were a few things this year that were very very awesome, where we got to make fun memories. We got to go visit Uncle Alan, Aunt Mandy and Cousin Ethan in Oklahoma. We had a blast!
It rained a bit, and we played video games for a bunch of it, but even for the short trip we had it was memorable.
Also, we went to the NASA space center in Houston.
You love space and rocket ships, so it was especially awesome. We didn’t have nearly enough time, honestly, but even the few hours we got was well worth the time. We’ll go back as soon as we can!
I love spending time in the kitchen with you. You’re quite a good helper! You can chop vegetables, help stir things as long as they’re not too hot, and most recently you’ve helped me measure and read directions. Cooking with you reminds me of all the happy memories I have of doing that with MY mom, so I’m glad you play along (even though some days you’re just as likely to prefer a few minutes of screen time).
You and Eli have become quite a pair. He drives you a little crazy, but you obviously love him and dote on him. You’ve started trying to teach him things, but you also often try to take advantage of him to get what you want. I can’t blame you, I’m sure I did the same thing with my little brother.
I see so much of myself and your Daddy in your personality. You’ve got my competitive streak and my desire to be a people pleaser. But, you’ve also got your Daddies logic and intellect. You have his intelligence, and right next to it, strong awareness of when you fail to meet your own expectations. We give you frequent reassurances that you’ll get there – you’ll figure it out, you’re still learning how to be a person – heck, sometimes your Daddy and I fail as people, and we’re much older! I just hope you learn to give yourself the same grace that Jesus gives us, the same grace we give you, because loving yourself? Man, kiddo, that’s tough some days.
I have a feeling this is something you’re going to need to hear frequently, so let me just say, for the record: You’re a great kid. You are loved. You are cherished. You got this.
If you ever doubt my love, you’ll have these letters to remind you. I love you Benjamin, and I’m always going to cheer for you, no matter what.
You’ve only been here for 4 and a half months, and I already can’t even remember what life was like without you here. You joined our family December 31st at 4:07pm. 8lbs, 15oz, 21.5 inches long. Right from the start you were so beautiful to me.
Your hair! I told your Dad about a week before you were born, “I know it’s silly, but I prayed to God that Eli would have brown hair.” When you came out your Daddy looked at me and said, “Look, Net, brown hair!” So if you hate it – totally my fault. You’re a perfect blend of us – everyone says you have your Daddy’s hair, but he and I know the truth – it may stick straight up in the air like Dad’s, but it’s my color. You’re a lovely combination of the two of us.
You scared us your first few hours in the world. You had the cord wrapped around your tiny neck twice and you could barely breathe. Once they got you breathing, they realized your blood sugar was dangerously low. There was lots of worrying those first 24 hours… but in the end you were a champ and powered through it.
I was so thankful when we finally got to take you home!
Those first days at home went by so fast. You were so quiet, so observant.
You ate every 15 minutes (it felt like) and your brother stayed close by your side.
Your hair!! That face!!
You’re a ferocious eater (seriously, the first few weeks when you would root you’d scrunch your face up like this and I would just die from cuteness)
I promise your brother wore things other than his Batman pajamas…
Your first Superbowl:
You smiled so early. I don’t have much evidence of it, sadly, because the smiles didn’t last long…but they were there.
(Sorry; you had baby acne like WHOA)
You took a trip to Tennessee at just a few weeks old; you were a champ; how did we get so lucky with you? But you were happy to be home (just like the rest of us) This was right after you traveled in a car for 12+ hours through rain and sleet and ice cramped up in your car seat:
Your pacifier was your friend for quite a while (still is!)
It’s been a few months now, and you’re already rolling around and laughing when we tickle you and I feel time slipping by so fast.
You never laugh as hard as you do when your brother is playing with you. You roll around and you’re not afraid to yell if the dog gets too close.
You bring me such joy. Very little bothers you.
I can’t wait to see you and Benjamin grow up together. He loves you so much – we have to remind him to let you go so you can breathe! “Six inches, son” is said a lot when he’s trying to hug/smother you.
I always felt like a mom with Benjamin; but now that you’re here I feel more complete.
(us on Mother’s day. You’re pretty amused at your brother’s temper tantrum…)
Everyone at church loves you – you’re so sweet and they all love your hair – you look like a little cockatiel.
You are PICKY. You don’t like certain blankets, you didn’t like footie pajamas (and you were born during one of the coldest winters ever!) and heaven forbid I hold you the wrong way when you’re trying to go to sleep.
You roll across the living room like it’s nothing. You’re really starting to enjoy the bouncer, and just like your older brother you’re a parrot hunter (obsessed with the hanging parrot on the bouncer). You’re observant and quiet for the most part, but you’re starting to learn to squeal to get attention, stay awake, or yell at the dog. You smile when I come home from work and I’ll never get tired of it. You’re an easy baby; you eat and go back to sleep at night and you love to bury your face in soft things (mom, pillows, stuffed animals, blankets, etc).
I can’t wait to get to know you more.
I’ve seen a few different parents do this and thought it would be fun for Benjamin. I did it at the end of a long day, so I’m not sure I picked the best time, but I still got some pretty cute answers.
1. What is your favorite color? “Orange”
2. What is your favorite toy? “Cars are my favorite toys”
3. What is your favorite fruit? “Cherries” (really Benjamin?) “Yes, Cherries!” (really: apples and grapes)
4. What is your favorite tv? “Wonder Girls!” (you mean Powerpuff girls?) “Yes, Wonder Girls!”
5. What is your favorite movie? “Just Wonder Girls” (he had just gotten done watching Powerpuff Girls for the first time – said it was his favorite even though I’m pretty sure Curious George should win)
6. What is your favorite thing to wear? “Underwear!”
7. What is your favorite animal? “Zebra and birds”
8. What is your favorite song? “I like songs”
9. What is your favorite book? “Oh the places you’ll go, and Wocket in my Pocket”
10. Who is your best friend? “Aedan and Kaylee”
11. What is your favorite snack? “Fruit”
12. What is your favorite drink? “Orange Juice”
13. What is your favorite breakfast? “Tuna salad”
14. What is your favorite lunch? “I don’t know”
15. What is your favorite dinner? “I don’t know”
16. What is your favorite game? “The balloon game”
17. What is your favorite thing to play outside? “Shark play”
18. What is your favorite Bible story? “God is my favorite story”
19. What do you sleep with at night? “Friendent!”
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? “I don’t know”
It was a pretty interesting time. I was a bit surprised by some of the answers – cherries, for instance… we hardly ever eat cherries. Breakfast was just the first food he thought of, because he’d refused to eat tuna salad for lunch. “Wonder Girls” is a mix of Powerpuff Girls and Word Girl (I think, totally guessing). And we obviously need to sing more songs with him. He doesn’t have to tell me though – his jam is “Moves like Jagger” by Maroon 5. Can’t wait to do this again next year!
Six days ago you turned three. My mind still can’t wrap around that entirely. Where did the last year go?!
Year two was definitely the year of the superhero. You have embraced a world where superheros exist and it is weaved into the fabric of your life.
You have learned so many things in this past year.
You have learned about cancer. You have learned about hospitals and beeping machines and how Nanny is sick and there’s nothing we can do to fix it but take her to the doctor and pray.
You have learned about death. Having to explain to you that Mimi (your Papa’s Mommy) had died was difficult for us. Making that decision on whether or not to take you to the viewing was a tough one to make. And now, just a few weeks later, you’re in the car traveling again to Senatobia for her husband’s funeral.
You have learned how to sing. It makes me so happy to hear you in the back seat of the car singing about how the Wonderpets are going to save the baby deer. “Wonderpets! Wonderpets! We’re on our way! To help the baby deer and save the day…” Even though I think that show is a bit obnoxious.
You’ve learned about counting. We’ve been teaching you about counting for ages, but you’ve finally learned how to *actually* count things. You can tell me how many fingers I’m holding up, and if I ask you to count how many of something there are (like, apples, or shoes on the floor) you can usually count each item and give me a relatively close number. Instead of just counting to 12 really fast, you’re taking the time to count now.
You’ve learned to say “I love you,” and “you’re pretty,” without prompting. Oh, my, how you melt my heart when you do.
You’re so young, and the world is still so full of magic. I hope we can keep that alive in you even in spite of tragedy, struggle and heartbreak.
You have a baby sibling on the way – you keep telling me you want two baby sisters. I keep telling you that you only get one, but I’m not sure you’re convinced. We had initially only planned on having you, and adopting another child, but the more we thought about it the more we thought you’d benefit from another sibling earlier in life. We’re still open to adoption or fostering, but we’ll see how this new baby fits into the family first. Girl or boy, I have high hopes that you will be a great older brother.
You have a lot of friends, you’re quite social. You call all small children “my kids!” If Aedan and Kaylee show up to play: “My kids are here!” If Dylan and Noah show up: “My kids!” When you leave church, “I had fun with my kids!”
For your third birthday I asked you what kind of party you wanted. You said, “I want a Batman party!” When I asked you a week later, “I *said* I wanted a Batman party!” So we had a batman party, and we invited Batman to come to the party. We spent WAY too much on a really good Batman costume rental, but considering the adults had as much fun as the kids did, I’m calling it a success. You were afraid of him at first, when he picked you up and tried to take you away from me you burst into tears and snuggled into my neck for safety. Once he introduced himself to you, though, you warmed up to him. It was amazing. He played with you and “your kids” in the backyard and through the house. I’ll probably never tell you that “Batman” was played by your Uncle Cory.
Oh, son. This was such a fun year. You’ve been a beast for quite a lot of it, I won’t lie. You’ve spent lots of time in the corner with your hands on the wall for various transgressions. But you’ve also spent a lot of time having FUN. Running, playing, swimming, jumping, and going on adventures. I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for us.
One of the joys of parenting is watching my son discover how he fits into the world.
I have, in my opinion, a highly articulate 2.5 year old. He speaks in full sentences most of the time, although his standard answer is very 2-year-old-esque: “Because I can” or “Because I can’t.” Occasionally we’re able to get better sentences out of him. He has two new things. One of them is to tell us about something he wants to do, or something he wants to happen, and then end it with, “That will be a good idea.” The other new thing is to “match” things.
For example: “I wanna go see Skye and Brian and Papa and Nanny and then play with my race cars and then pet Lucky and that will be a good idea!”
He was laying on his Nanny’s bed, watching Dumbo with her. I brought him Friend-Ent, his favorite stuffed animal, a very tired Dumbo that has been with him almost every night since his birth. He held up his stuffed animal to the TV screen. “Look Nanny, it matches!”
“I want chocolate milk. That will be a good idea, Mommy!” To really feel the genius of this one, you have to mispronounce chocolate – think “cschok-lit.” He pronounces other C-words correctly, but Cschok-lit? I’m not correcting that one until he graduates high school.
For Christmas, his cousins Teresa, James and Mandy gifted him 2 really awesome Dr. Seuss puzzles. When he unwrapped it he got very excited. We asked him what it was and he said, “It’s Dr. Whouss!” Hmm. That’s another thing I’m not correcting. He thinks Dr. Who and Dr. Seuss are the same, and who am I to argue?!
He’s already put both puzzles together and taken them apart multiple times. One of the puzzles is from his favorite book, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” The night he put it together for the first time we read that book at bedtime. He paused on the page that the puzzle is inspired by and said, “Look Mommy! It matches my puzzle! Let’s go put it together. That will be a good idea.”
Some days are crazy and insane. But some days end with him snuggled in my arms, and especially on days like those I find myself unable to articulate how lucky I am to be his Mommy.
These will only be funny to you if you are a Dr. Who fan who happens to watch Super Readers…. but I included links so you can get the gist of it.
From bathtime tonight, two brief glimpses at life with Benjamin:
Benjamin plays with a large camouflage bucket that will fit on his head. He puts the bucket on his head so that the main bucket is over his face.
“Mommy! I got a bucket on my head!”
“Benjamin! Can you say ‘are you my mummy?‘”
So Benjamin holds the bucket over his head, looks right at me, and says (with it echoing in the bucket), “Are you my mummy?”
Benjamin and I are playing Ducky Superheros with his three duckies. I realize he keeps spitting as he laughs.
“Benjamin! Stop spitting, that’s gross.”
“I can’t stop spitting.”
“You can’t stop spitting? Why not?”
Seriously. For anyone who doesn’t have a talkative toddler yet… hang in there. These days are amazing.
Two quick toddler quotes for you, although one is dialogue so you can get the context of the ridiculous.
“I can’t go potty, I’m crying!”
“Benjamin, what do you want for dinner? Do you want some chili?”
“Yeah! I want CHILI!”
“Ok buddy, I will make it in a few minutes.”
In the meantime, he proceeds to repeatedly ask for chili. I go to the kitchen and heat up the chili.
I set the hot bowl on the counter (out of his reach).
He reaches for the hot bowl, saying “Chili!”
“Benjamin, don’t touch that, it’s hot! Mommy is going to get you your own bowl.”
I get him his own bowl, dump half of the heated up chili in to it, and turn to him, bowl in hand.
“Benjamin, do you want cheese on your chili?”
He then proceeds to start crying. I was like, do whaaaa??
“Ok. Well, then here’s your chili buddy!”
He looks in the bowl.
“That’s not chili!!!”
I’m like, do whaaa?
“Yes, it is.”
“No, it’s not chili!!”
“Benjamin, yes, that is chili, just like we ate two days ago!”
“No, it’s not chili!” He is adamant.
“Well, then, son, what do you think it is? What is this?” I point to the chili.
“It’s Rock ‘n Roll!”
He never did admit that chili was chili, and he eventually had soup for dinner. Ahh, two year olds are awesome.
I liked the letter I wrote to you on your first birthday so much that I decided to do it every 6 months – especially while you’re in this crazy “changing dramatically every day” mode. And then I decided to write it after Christmas (instead of on December 15th, when you actually turned 18 months) so that I could talk about the holidays, and then I decided to wait until 2012, and then I decided that I was procrastinating and I just needed to sit down and do it. This is your Mommy, Benjamin: Procrastinator Extraordinaire!
Benjamin, I thought you were fun at 1, but I had NO idea how much fun you would be at 18 months. Seriously, kid, I realize now that this is what parents live for. This age right here. I might say that again in a few months or years, but your Daddy and I have enjoyed the heck out of you recently!
Your vocabulary has completely exploded and you communicate so much with us. Here are some words we hear a lot around the house:
Joots (Juice), Meel (Milk), Waber (Water), Mo’ (More), Uhh (used for both Up and Down, it really means “change of view, please”), Ludey (Lucky), Daw (Dog), Puh-ee (Puppy), Pope (Soap), Doir (Door), Ball, Truck, Car, Bike-el (Bicycle), Cake (I blame the holidays for this…), Cooey (Cookie. Totally my bad.), Chalk (Chocolate. Likes to use this to upgrade milk), Ap-pul (Apple), Nug-ee (Chicken nuggets), Thocks (Socks), Tooes (Shoes), Toes, Churt (Shirt), At (Hat), Pants, Top (Stop – usually used when Lucky is barking at the neighbors “top Ludey!”), Pool (as in Pool table), Blocks, Tye-er (Tiger), Hoar (Horse, with accompanying NEIGH noise), Cow (with accompanying MOO noise), Nuggle (Snuggle), and Boom (Fireworks).
There’s so many more. You can call everyone in the house by name and can usually tell the dog to stop doing what he’s doing. You demand food and drink on a fairly constant basis and ANY TIME you see an apple you become OBSESSED with it until you have it in your hands. It is ridiculous!
We have this awesome hat that is the face of a Tiger, and we have a house rule that anyone that puts the hat on has to pretend they are a tiger. It’s pretty adorable. You came up to me the other day holding the hat out to me, “Tye-er?” you asked, and of course I obliged. I put the hat on and instantly my face turned to a growl… I threw my hands in the air and growled “Tiger Mommy! Rawr!” and you squealed and ran away… I chased you around the house until I caught you and tickled you until you could barely breathe. Then I put the hat on you and said “Tiger Jams!” and you roared at me. I kind of melted a little bit.
For Christmas, we got you a basketball hoop and some books. You love the basketball but can’t really throw it in a particular direction just yet. You like “Mr. Brown can Moo, can you?” because Mommy makes lots of funny noises when she reads it.
I bought you a beautiful book about Noah’s Ark that has some sad stuff in it. Stuff like Noah shooing away some bugs (because he already had two) and elephants standing sadly outside of the ark as the rain fell and the water rose. It got bad reviews online, but I kind of like the idea of it telling the story honestly. Because there are things about my faith that are not easy, and I don’t want to pretend that they don’t exist. I don’t want to show you the world through rose colored glasses, I want to introduce it to you slowly, but honestly. I look forward to sharing the all the different aspects of my faith with you one day.
Anyways, your Nanny and Papa got you this awesome Power Wheels 4×4 ATV for Christmas. You can sit on it and steer and it has a button that when you press it, it goes Vroooom!
You, my dear son, staunchly refuse to press the button! You’re terrified of it! It is a source of frustration and amusement for us. You’ll climb a stepladder, dance on the couch, demand to stand on the pool table…but you won’t press GO on your power wheels. Crazy, crazy Jams.
I have this picture in my head of you I want to remember forever: You, wearing a diaper, right after bath. Hair standing straight up just like your daddy. Sitting all the way back in our pink rocking chair in your room. You’re holding a small child’s bible and a teddy bear in your lap and looking up at me expectantly. Your head is cocked to the side and you say, with question in your voice, “ree? ree?” Yes, Benjamin, of course we can read!
You dance ALL THE TIME. There is a 900% increase in dancing in the house since you turned one. If the music has a beat, you will be jammin to it… period. End of story. It is awesome to watch your dance moves change as you get older. You’ve recently added in arm movements and you really like to pump your fist in the air triumphantly while dancing. I love it. You get so happy when music comes on it’s hard not to get swept up into the mood.
I don’t want you to think it’s all roses and butterflies, but even when you’re upset about something you’re pretty adorable. If you don’t get your way (like, for instance, last night, when I wouldn’t let you drink my Airborne) you sort of collapse on to the floor and cry pathetically. You usually just sort of whimper for a few minutes, but last night you were angry so your wails were a little more pronounced. Right now we’re trying not to react so you don’t get worse, but sometimes it’s really hard not to giggle at you. Sorry, I know that’s not the politically appropriate answer, but what can I say? It’s hilarious when your little lip protrudes and quivers and you throw your head into your arms and collapse on the ground. I’ve started trying to teach you – “I know you’re upset, Benjamin, but you can’t hit the dog with a stick.” “Benjamin, even though you don’t want to go to bed you can’t hit Daddy in the face.” and so on, and so on. Does it help? I don’t know. Time will tell. Right now I’m practicing being patient.
I think one of my favorite things about you right now is how happy you make your Daddy. He absolutely loves playing with you. You guys wrestle (and I have to hold my tongue sometimes because I think he’s too rough, but I think that is a Mommy’s job, to worry…) and he throws you around and tickles you and you squeal so loud. You throw your head back and laugh at him sometimes and then he does the same thing and you guys are both so happy I just want to cry.
We went to Houston for New Years and everyone loved commenting on how well behaved you were. Even though you had to sit in the car for longer than you would have liked, you were a trooper. You absolutely loved the fireworks on New Years Eve – you stayed up till 11:30 and fell asleep in your Daddy’s arms outside listening to and watching the “boom.” The day before, my heart had broken just a tiny bit when we left you in the bedroom alone at Aunt Lynn’s and you woke up without us and started crying. Poor thing, you were so upset! Took us forever to calm you down. I think that is part of the reason why, when we got back from Houston yesterday, I took you to my bed to snuggle at bedtime. I had to be up early for work (4am, ugh!) and Daddy was going to put you to bed. That’s usually my job and I didn’t want to miss out on snuggle time, so you came to my room. I got all nice and comfy and tried to make you nice and comfy too… you immediately flailed around until your feet were in my face and your head was resting on my knee. But you were happy and I was too. Those few moments of peace are treasured and I want to remember them when you’re 16 and telling me how you know everything!
I heard that 18 month olds could be pains, but so far you’ve only done the expected amount of fussing and fighting. I’m sure more fighting and testing is on the way, but in the meantime I’m going to enjoy this sweet boy who squeals with joy whenever he sees me.