B’s birthday party

I sat down today to start writing about our summer vacation, and in doing so, mentioned Benjamin’s birthday party (the one with his friends).  And then I realized I hadn’t yet written about THAT … and since that came before the vacation, that’s what I’m going to write about today.  (And yes, we do a lot for birthdays around here.  If you’re counting, B had one birthday party at school, one here with his friends in June — the one I’m about to write about, one day of illness hindered festivity on his actual birthday and one day at the pool with the family, which was supposed to happen ON his birthday but couldn’t due to the aforementioned illnesses.  That’s 4.  My plan is to start the vacation stories tomorrow.  We’ll see if that actually happens.)

214Last year, B really wanted to have a birthday party with his friends — his first.  He wanted to invite his whole class (20 kids) plus some other friends, which was very sweet but also very impractical.  This year, having a better sense of how birthday parties work here, I gave him license to invite 6 kids (one for each year of his age — stole that idea from a friend) … but he didn’t want to.  He decided that he only wanted to invite his best friend and his best friend’s little brother (conveniently, also Liam’s best buddy from school).  So, that’s what we did.

That changed the feeling of it from a party to more of a playdate with fun decorations and cake, which was actually great because it made the whole thing pretty laid back.  The kids played.  We parents talked.  I encouraged the boys to play a few games we had set up, but mostly they played together really well on their own. The cake turned out pretty well (it was my first time attempting to serve a fondant cake to anyone outside of the family, so I was a little nervous).  Good times were had.

259My favorite part of the day was during the water balloon game I had invented — which was basically just an excuse to get the boys out onto the terrace and playing in some water on a hot day.  There weren’t any rules, just some chalk drawings of pigs (it was an Angry Bird party) as targets for the boys’ water balloons.  The idea was to toss the balloons, splash each other and generally to be silly.  But it didn’t work that way.  As it turns out, I don’t really have any idea how to properly fill water balloons.  My first few attempts resulted in a soaked bathroom floor, so I took a conservative approach and didn’t fill them to capacity.  Turns out, though, that underfilled water balloons are nearly impossible to break.  So, the kids spent about half an hour attempting to break the same balloons over and over again.  Every so often they’d manage to get one, but generally, it took 6 or 7 tries per balloon.  I was worried they’d tear through them and be finished in 5 minutes, but that wasn’t a problem.  It was generally hilarious.  Luckily, they enjoyed the process (and the results) enough to not particularly mind.  They remained both determined and entertained throughout, everyone got sufficiently soaked, and a good time was had by all.


Pool party

065We finally managed to string enough healthy days together to go to the wave pool to celebrate B’s birthday — 16 days after the big day.  When you just turned 6, and you have to wait for 16 whole days to celebrate your birthday while your brother, dad and mom are getting better but you’re feeling fine, it’s pretty tough to be patient and reasonable about it, I think.  But B did great.  He did get frustrated and cry and say a few angry things to me the third time we had to reschedule, but I completely understand (and I’m honestly glad to see he’s not TOO grown for that up yet).

This past Saturday, though, we were all well, and we had all been well for about 5 days, so we finally went.  We finally got to splash and play in the pool.  We finally got to go down the water slides.  We finally got to float on the inner tube “river”.  We finally got to have lunch and ice cream at the pool.  We finally got to spend the day celebrating the way the birthday boy wanted to.


We had a wonderful time.  We celebrated with our big 6 year old guy.  We spent the whole day, all together.  I spent some time playing with Liam while Dan played with B, I spent some time playing with B while Dan played with Liam, and we spent some time all playing together.  It was a great day.  My big kid is 6, we finally got to celebrate, and I could not be happier about it.


Benjamin’s birthday

Our first day back to “normal” after vacation was exhausting.  I really was totally beat by the end of the day — I’d forgotten how much it took out of me to spend the whole day with the kids while simultaneously trying to get some laundry done, unpack from our trip and get everyone fed.  Climbing into bed that night was so satisfying.  I was so ready for a good night’s sleep.

Alas, it was not to be.  B woke up, sick, after an hour.  We spent the next few hours bathing B, doing laundry and mopping floors.  There’s nothing quite like unscheduled, middle of the night housework!  After a rough night all around, we spent the next few days taking care of a sick B and wondering when the illness would strike next.

2380Benjamin’s birthday was that Friday, July 18.  By Thursday night, he was feeling pretty well, so we were hopeful that he would be able to fully enjoy his birthday.  I (optimistically) baked a cake, Dan took the day off of work, and we stayed up late wrapping gifts and decorating a bit.  We went to bed with our fingers crossed, excited for B’s big day.

But again, it was not to be.  Liam woke us up an hour after we’d gone to bed, having his turn at the stomach illness.  Again, we were up in the middle of the night, bathing Liam (5 baths in one night!), mopping the floor and laundering tons of bedding.  In his case, the illness stretched out until morning, so instead of B waking us up excited and a little too early on his birthday (as is customary), Dan and I were just shuffling back to bed, well after the sun had come up, with our excited newly 6 year old put back to bed, just so we could rest for 1 hour.

Though my enthusiasm for B’s birthday was not diminished in the least, I struggled to have it shine through the haze of exhaustion that hung over later me that morning.  My memory of him opening his presents is slightly befuddled by the fact that I hadn’t yet had coffee, but I remember how excited he was.  I remember how well he took it when we explained that our celebratory plans for the day (a trip to the wave pool) would have to be rescheduled.  He took it so well.  He had actually already come to that conclusion on his own.  There were no tears, no sad face.  Just a quiet, unemotional, matter of fact, “I understand” that was more heartbreaking for how grown up it was.

And the rough start to the day didn’t end there.  We bought the wrong squirt gun.  It was the gift he had most been looking forward to, and though we got him a nice one, it was not the one he wanted.  I got the wrong video game — it wouldn’t play on our console.  (I feel like such a “MOM” … I didn’t know “Wii U” was a thing.)  And through all of it, he was ok.  A bit disappointed, but surprisingly ok.

From there, though, the day got better.  He & Dan took a trip to the toy store to exchange the squirt gun (they were out of the one he really wanted, but at least he got to choose the replacement).  We got to Skype with some of our family and got a surprise video message from others.  He got messages and texts from (literally) around the world.  Everyone got a long nap, Liam got three more baths, and B got to pick the movie for movie night.  And, shockingly, everyone was well enough for a little bit of cake after dinner.


At the end of the night, Liam, who had not yet given B a gift (Mommy dropped the ball on that one because B had been sick all week), insisted on choosing a gift for B out of the things we already had in the house — which turned out to be one of the biggest hits of the day.

At the end of it all, B said, “I think this turned out to be a pretty good birthday after all.”  I think that a higher compliment could not have been given.

Unfortunately, we went on to take turns being quite ill over the next week or so — it’s about 10 days after B’s birthday now, and we haven’t been well enough yet to take that trip to the wave pool, but we will soon.  Regardless of how it was spent, B’s birthday was as important and as special as ever to me.  It was not at all the day we had planned, but, on balance, it was a good day.  I hope he felt celebrated.  I feel astonished at his maturity and understanding.  He is just so grown up.

For B, as he turns 6

2550First of all, how can you be 6?!?  I feel like it was just yesterday, or maybe last week, that you were 4, and I’m certain it was no more than a few months ago that you were just 2 or 3.  Time flies, as a mommy, and it’s astonishing to watch the speed with which you grow and become more and more a part of the world.

But it is WONDERFUL that you are 6!  I love you, turning 6, with my whole heart.  You are such an amazing little fellow.  Shockingly smart, startlingly observant, with a silly sense of humor and a quiet, kind, and sensitive heart.  As you grow, you become increasingly brave, and your energetic enthusiasm and intensely competitive spirit often leave me cringing in the face of whatever new challenge you’ve decided to attack and conquer, but also thrilled to see your spirit encourage you to take on new challenges.  You are an amazing brother to Liam, and seeing you enjoy each other’s company and seek each other out as playmates have been some of my favorite moments as a parent so far.  You feel things very deeply, my sweet boy, and though I see the difficulty of that at times, I also know how strongly you experience all of the good things that happen in your life, as well.

This has been a big year!  You finished your kindergarten year, and have now left preschool behind you.  A place that you were reluctant to enter 3 years ago has become a comfortable haven for you, and I am sad to say goodbye to it and to your teachers.  You learned a lot there — your German is excellent, and you’ve learned to write all of the letters!  You lost your first tooth this year, too, just recently, and you’re working on a second one.  You don’t even realize it yet, but you’ve started being able to read a little, which is fun to see, and you absolutely blow us away with your memory, your sense for space and numbers, your creativity, your compassion, and your ability to make connections between ideas.  You are a phenomenal boy, and you constantly amaze me.  You tell great stories, and you remember EVERYTHING.

And you are getting so tall, so big and strong.  You can wash your hands without a step-stool and so often your feet hang over the edge of your bed when you are sleeping.  You can run and jump and climb and ski and sled and swim.  You are an amazing guy.

I love you so much.  You’re growing up and getting bigger, but you will always be my little guy.  I love being with you, watching you try new things, listening to the stories that you tell, or just chatting about whatever is on your mind.  You are a great kid and a really cool person.  I am so glad to know you and incredibly grateful to be your mom.  I love you, my wonderful boy.  Happy birthday!

Benjamin’s 5th birthday

To my sweet 5 year old boy —
Benjamin!  You are 5!  Happy birthday, wonderful, darling child of mine.  What an amazing guy you are, and I am so excited to be celebrating your 5th birthday.  Every single day, I enjoy being with you.  You are a great kid, and I love you so very much.

20130718-181008.jpgIt is so wonderful to watch you learn and grow.  I swear that you get taller every day — I feel like every time I look at you, you can reach new things.  You are so fast, too!  And you are developing amazing skills — even at 5, there are quite a few things you can do better than I can.  You learn new things all the time.  You’ve always been eloquent and precise in your speech, but this year, your sentences have become longer, more detailed and increasingly polite (very impressive!).  You’ve always been a pleasure to talk to, but, amazingly, I find that I enjoy our conversations more and more.  You say amazing things — you notice so much of the world around you, you take in so much information, and then you ask the BEST questions about what you see.  You are so thoughtful and insightful, and you are so genuinely interested in learning more and solving the puzzles in your mind.  (Although I am surprised by how often — VERY often — you ask questions that I can’t answer simply.)  And you are so brave!  As you grow up more and more, I see your enthusiasm and willingness to try new things, and to persevere at old things that pose a challenge.

And as you learn new stuff and conquer new challenges, you are still, without question, the wonderful YOU that you have always been.  You are, as always, such a kind and sweet kid.  I see this most in the amazing love you have for Liam.  You a fantastic big brother.  And while you guys may not always get along perfectly, you are always thinking of him, concerned for him, and (usually) happy to share with him.  You guys are great friends, and you take really good care of him.  It is my most favorite thing as a parent to see the love and fondness the two of you have for each other.  And it’s not just with Liam that I see your kindness.  There are so many ways that I get to see your awareness of others.  You care about the younger kids in your class at school, you always look out for Bailey, and you always think about everyone in your family and everyone around you.  You love to be in touch with your friends and family, you think about how actions or events might affect people or creatures in the world, you empathize with the characters in books and movies.  You are a truly sweet kid.

This year has been a great one.  We’ve travelled a lot, seen many new things and met lots of new people.  I love to hear about your favorite places in the world to visit, and your favorite memories of each destination.  You’ve also had a wonderful year at school, making great friends and learning so much.  And this coming year, you are so excited to be one of the Vorschule Kinder!  How grown up!  I am so excited for you.  You are starting to be able to recognize words and “read” just a little, and you’ve been working on your writing, too.  Your drawings have become really neat this year — I love to see the detail and thought in the pictures you make.  It is just fantastic to see what you’ve accomplished this year.

I am so grateful that I get to be your mommy.  I really feel like I have the best luck of any parent in the world to get to have you in my life.  I’m also glad that although you’re getting bigger, stronger, faster and smarter all the time, you’re still not too big to snuggle with.  I love to give you hugs, to hold you in my lap, and to cuddle with you.  No matter how grown up you get, you will always be my baby, and I will love you forever and ever and for always, no matter what.  You are a truly lovely person, and a wonderful kid.  You are so big and strong and smart and kind and brave and loving — wow, that’s a lot of great things!

Benjamin, I love you so much.  Thanks for being my guy.  Happy birthday, sweet boy.

B at school

Since Jo will fly back to the States this weekend, and tomorrow is a holiday here, today was my last chance to pick B up from school, just me.  Starting next week, I’ll have Liam with me again every time I drop B off or pick him up.  And although that’s fun in a different way, I was excited to get to enjoy some one-on-one time with B today.

We’re still getting used to the schedule of varying school and work holidays here in Austria — the holidays at the IAEA don’t correspond to the local days off very well.  Consequently, B was at school this week, even though about half of his class was off for “Easter holidays”.  It’s one of those things where if I’d known it was routine and customary for kids to be home this week, we would have kept him home and done our own “spring break”, but since we didn’t figure it out until about halfway through the week, he went to school.  On the plus side, he got to spend a quiet week at school playing lots of games and getting lots of attention, and he seemed to really enjoy it.

So, with only about half his class in attendance, when I went to pick him up today, instead of being greeted by the chaos that is 20 preschoolers at lunch time, I was able to watch B do his thing.  And it was great.  All of the kids were focusing intently on varying activities, alone or in pairs — playing games, coloring, doing crafts.  B was playing quietly, by himself, stringing rubber bands on a peg board.  When he saw me in the doorway (on busier days, my arrival is enthusiastically announced by the other children, usually before I even get to see him in his natural state) he told me, “Mommy, I’m busy.  I’m just going to finish up.”

And so he did.  He finished his projects, brought them to show me (he made a “police sign” and a “no police sign”).  Then he collected everything up, put it away neatly, went back, and pushed in his chair.  On his way to the door, he stopped to ask his teachers to thank the Easter Bunny for the basket each child received last week and to wish them a happy Easter (all in German).

008I was so impressed with the whole scene, I couldn’t help giggling a little.  He’s so grown up, so responsible and polite.  The last bit, with thanking the Easter Bunny and wishing his teachers a good weekend, even impressed his teachers (although they seemed to completely expect the cleaning up and pushing in of the chair, which is wonderfully fantastic to me).  I couldn’t help but grin and give him an extra big hug on our way out.

He’s an awesome little guy.  I just think he’s one of the coolest people I know.  (I also feel like we’ve really found him a great school.)  It was great to get to witness those few moments at the end of his day.  He’s a great kid, and I love him so very much.

Benjamin and the planets

I try not to brag excessively about my kids.  Of course I think they’re beautiful, brilliant, sweet, loving, strong, fast, kind and generally amazing and wonderful — I’m their mom, I can’t help it.  But I do try to keep most of it to myself, because otherwise it would be all I would talk or write about, because they’re my most favorite people in the whole world.

But every so often they do or say something so cute that I just can’t keep it to myself.  At only 3 years old, Benjamin knows all of the planets.  I don’t know if that’s typical, but it’s pretty impressive to me.  He can recite the names of all 9 of them (including Pluto — I grew up in a world where Pluto was a planet) in order, and tell you a little bit about all of them.  He tells me that Jupiter is made of gas (which he says is funny), that Mars has lots of dust and that Neptune is very cold.  Earth is his favorite, but he might like to try to live on Jupiter.  He asks really good questions, like “Whats’ the difference between a planet and a moon?” and “What do the planets have inside of them?” and “Is the Earth spinning very, very fast?”

I can take almost no credit for this.  Like many other things he’s learned in his 3 years, this came almost entirely from tv (in this case, I think we have Olivia and Bubble Guppies to thank) with some supplemental material from books.  It’s so cute to hear him, and so impressive to see how his mind works.  He told us, the other evening, that he wants to be an astronomer when he grows up — he has previously alsoexpressed a wish to be a fire fighter and a chef.  I love watching him grow and learn and be excited about things.  Being a mom is the best thing ever.

A free cookie

Yesterday evening, I took Benjamin out for some “B & Mommy” time.  I usually go out, twice a week, on my own, for an hour, to get a cup of coffee.  Lately, when I go, he’s been asking to go with me.  I’ve been planning to do more things, just he & I — now that he’s in school, it’s rare for us to spend some time together when I’m not also wrestling Liam.  So, yesterday, we went together.

We went to my usual Starbucks for “coffee” (I told him he could either have hot chocolate or warm milk).  I walked, he rode his bike.  He was so excited to go out in the dark on his bike, and to go with me to get coffee.  We had a really nice trip over, and when we were in line, and B was debating his options, he caught sight of the cookies in the case.  He decided that rather than warm milk or hot chocolate, he’d really rather have a cookie.  When it was our turn to order, I asked for his cookie, and the manager, who was standing beside us, leaned over the counter and whispered something to our order taker.  Then he turned to us, “I think, since yesterday was Halloween, we’re going to give you that cookie for free.”  Benjamin was pretty excited (even though he has no real financial stake in his cookie supply).  I thanked the manager, and so did Benjamin.  He replied, “No problem.  Besides, you’re in here almost every day.”

In my defence, I’m really not in there every day.  I go in twice a week, that’s it.  (I swear.)  But, to a Starbucks crew in the center of the tourist section of Vienna, I imagine that an English speaker (trying to be a German speaker) who comes in regularly over the course of six months is pretty memorable.  (Everyone there already knows my orders — extra impressive because I don’t get the same thing all the time, but they know the choices I select from.)

My first thought was, “Wow, in Vienna, of all places, I’m a regular at Starbucks.  Yikes.”  It’s a little predictable, and a lot American.  But, in thinking about it, I’ve decided I don’t mind.  I like my Starbucks.  It’s isn’t about the coffee — I don’t require my normal American drinks or anything (the things that I get I could get anywhere in Vienna, anyway).  I do love the location — it is the only place at Michaelerplatz where you can sit outside, drink a coffee, and watch Vienna.  But even more, the people there are really great.  They’re friendly, they’re helpful, they let me practice my German on them, and they’re never impatient or irritable when I resort to English.  They’re good at what they do, too — tour buses literally unload in front of the shop, and I’ve been impressed, on several occasions, with the skill and ease with which they deal with the orders (and the myriad languages they’re faced with).

So, I’m ok with being a predictable American who’s a regular at Starbucks in Vienna.  I like it there.


Big brother Benjamin

A year ago tomorrow, Liam joined our family.  That was the day that Benjamin became a big brother.  It is so much a part of who he is, I can’t believe he’s only been a brother for a year.

We celebrated Liam’s birthday today (well, part of the celebration — the rest comes on Friday) and Benjamin helped with nearly every part.  He helped me choose the gifts that we ordered a week ago.  He helped me choose the gifts we purchased yesterday — he even helped me carry those around the store, and then carry them home.  This morning, he helped me bake and decorate Liam’s cake.  (He also helped blow out the candles.)  He helped me wrap the gifts, decorate the cards and set the gifts out for Liam to open.  (Then, of course, he helped Liam to open and play with his toys.)  For days, he’s been asking every few hours:  “Is it Liam’s birthday yet?  Is Liam 1 yet?”  I thought he was focused on the cake and the presents — be he kept asking, even after the celebration was done.


This only describes a little of how wonderful Benjamin is to Liam.  He loves him so much.  He looks out for him — he retrieves pacifiers and toys for him, he worries when he’s upset, he consoles him when he cries.  He wants to be around Liam — he wants to play with him, go out together, cuddle together.  He kisses him, hugs him, helps him, looks for him, smiles at him.  They are wonderfully sweet together.

There are, naturally, times where I think Benjamin would like it if we could put Liam away for a little while.  Liam likes all the same things Benjamin does (of course) and often “messes up” whatever Benjamin is playing with or the way he is playing.  Benjamin’s frustration doesn’t last for long though, and it doesn’t affect the way he really feels about his brother.  They are best friends.

119Benjamin, you amaze me.  You are capable of many things not expected of someone your age.  Before Liam arrived in our lives, I actually used to worry about whether you two would get along — whether you would be happy having a little brother.  My worries were needless.  Since the moment you met him, you have loved your brother.  You are kind, loving, caring, generous, sweet — you are all of those things even more towards Liam.  Being a big brother came as naturally to you as did everything else that makes you who you are:  being thoughtful, learning quickly, being fast and strong and agile.  He wants so much to be like you.  Thank you, my sweet baby, for welcoming little Liam into our lives.  Thank you for being your wonderful self.

Happy third birthday, Benjamin!

My wonderful, sweet little boy.  I am so happy to see you turn three years old.  I’m sure I will say this every year, but I can’t believe that so much time has passed since the magical day that you came in to this world and I became a mommy.  I remember every moment of that day as though it happened yesterday — it was the most important day I’d ever had.  I am simply overjoyed to have you in my life, and to watch you grow and flourish and become even more fantastic all the time.  I love you so very much.

021We’ve had a big year!  We’ve moved far away from our family and friends, and you became a big brother.  You have made these transitions gracefully and enthusiastically.  You have taken the move so well.  Once, in the beginning of our stay here, when things were very hard and frustrating, I said I wanted to go home, and you burst into tears and said you didn’t want to go home.  You tell me all the time that you love it here and that you love Austria.  I’m so glad that you do!  It’s been wonderful to see you learn and explore and make this place your home.

031And what an amazing brother you are.  The very first thing you said upon us bringing Liam home from the hospital was, “So cute!” and you’ve gotten even better since then.  Watching you look out for Liam, care for him, think of him, share with him, I am amazed and impressed and inspired.  You are the sweetest, kindest, most loving human being I have ever met.  Ever.  You are constantly looking for Liam, watching him, making sure he’s happy, asking about it if he isn’t, sharing with him, helping him, talking to him and considering him.  When he or I drop things that we need, you will stop what you’re doing to help, whether we’re in the house or out and about in the city, even if you’re busy with something else.

047And your kindness doesn’t stop with your brother.  You are always concerned when you see anyone who isn’t happy.  Just today, we were at the park, and a little girl was crying.  You pointed her out to us and asked, “Why is that girl sad?”  You notice how other people are feeling and you want to help them.  You never want anyone to be sad, angry or upset in any way.

071And you are so brilliant.  We’ve known for a while that you have an exceptional mind and heart, but you constantly surprise us with how extraordinary you are.  Speaking to you is like conversing with an adult, except that you often ask more insightful questions.  You speak in complete, correct sentences, your vocabulary is phenomenal, you are creative and thoughtful.  Today, we were walking down the street, and you looked and some carriage horses that were trotting along and exclaimed, “Mommy, those horses are rocking out!”  It is wonderful to watch you learn, and to watch you apply the things you learn.  You’re learning to count and speak a little in German, Spanish and even Chinese and when you start school in the fall, I imagine you’ll quickly surpass everyone else in the family in terms of understanding and speaking German.  You learn songs from me or from tv, and you remember them.  Just today, you started singing, “The wheels on the bike go round and round, all through the town” (even though you’ve only ever heard it as, “The wheels on the bus”).  You can read numbers and most of the letters, and you’re starting to be able to write letters, too.  People comment all the time to us about what a good talker you are and how much you understand.  Even people who are used to dealing with children aren’t used to someone like you.  You have such a wonderful spirit, too:  whatever the weather, you’ll tell me what a beautiful day it is.  (When it is raining, you tell me you love the rain — that isn’t something you can teach someone.)  We talk about the favorite part of our day, and I’m always thrilled to hear what you’ll choose.

154You also have an astounding memory.  Anytime we go somewhere we’ve been before, you’ll remember it.  You’ll say, “This is where we were yesterday” (everything before today tends to be “yesterday”) and you remember where you are in space (you’ll know when a road ahead of us, or off to the side, goes to some other place we like to go, even if we haven’t been that way in a long time).  I think you take after me, a little, in this kind of awareness of yourself in time and space (it will serve you well).  You remember the things we tell you, the things we teach you and the boundaries we set (although sometimes you pretend to have forgotten, if it’s something you don’t like — like only one more story before bed or only 5 more minutes in the park).

You love to play with all of us, and you’re very particular about the way your games are played.  We play basketball, soccer, baseball, race cars, puzzles, drawing (you like drawing outside with chalk in particular), choo choo trains, “Old McDonald” and tent (which I think is your favorite).  You like to yell “Boo!” to scare people, and you will often start to bark (“Woof WOOF!”) very loudly if you’re excited, or just to get attention.  You take an entourage of stuffed animal friends with you wherever you can — they all have names, and you care about each of them.  If one falls off the couch, or out of your bed, you won’t rest until it’s back where it should be.  (I think, right now, Jingle is your favorite, but I’m not sure, and I don’t want to ask, because I’m not sure it really has occurred to you to even have a favorite.)  You are strong and fast and you love to run, jump, ride your tricycle and play at the park.  “I want to run!” and “I want to play!” are two of your most common sentiments.  You have boundless energy that amazes me.  You have great balance, and you pick up physical skills really quickly.  You got your first bike yesterday (for your birthday —  but you found it a day early) and you were already riding it pretty skillfully this evening.  You love to dance and spin, by yourself or with your dad.

You love your family — not just me, your dad and Liam (although you love us all very, very much), but also Bailey, Grandma, Topes, Grandpa, Sam, Margie, Mina, Nick, Peter, Adam, Jo and Gordie.  You ask about everyone all the time, and you get so excited when you get to talk to them or to see them on the computer.  You love them and you tell me that you “miss everyone from home”.  You ask all the time about your friends from home, too — Jordan and his family, Joshua, baby Ellie and their family.  You make friends quickly, and you remember names very well, so you’re already asking about Krishana, Niklas, Sean and Ian all the time, too.  In the fall, you’ll start to attend kindergarten, which I anticipate with very mixed emotions:  it will be so hard for me to give up so many hours with you every day, but I know it will help you to be even more at home here, and I know you’re ready to be around kids your own age every day.  You’ll love it!  (I will miss you.)

I hope I’m doing a good job as your mom.  There is so much I want to teach you and show you and share with you.  It’s a big job, and I don’t do a great job every day (but I do my best every day).  I’m sorry for the times when I mess up and don’t do it right.  Most days are great days, and most moments are wonderful — I’m working on the others.

My baby, I love you so much.  My time with you is filled with joy, love and awe.  I am so glad I get to be with you all the time.  You are one of my most favorite people in the whole universe (your brother is the other) and I can’t believe how fortunate I am to have you in my life.  Thank you for being so very wonderful.  I love you absolutely and completely.  I’ve said this to you before:  you don’t have to do anything in particular or be anything in particular for me to love you.  I love you, exactly as you are.  I love you, and you are an amazing person (it’s not that I love you because you are an amazing person).  You are my wonderful, perfect, darling Benjamin.  I am so grateful to have you in my life.  I am the luckiest mommy that there has ever been.  Thank you for being my child.