Raleigh is ONE!

I've said before that it has been really hard for me to put into words how wonderful having Raleigh has been for this family. Specifically me. I keep trying to say what he means to me and never feel like I get quite there. As a writer I know that "there" feeling well and just keep falling short. But I would be remised if I didn't try today if I didn't attempt.

First and foremost Raleigh has the sweetest disposition and demeanor. Raleigh is happy and full of life and fun and loves to laugh and be near his loved ones. He is open to new people and new experiences and wants to be in on the action, but is sweet and calm. He doesn't demand he just enjoys. He is the antithesis of a squeaky wheel. He takes a lot of my time - feeding, changing, rocking, etc, but he never complains for my time. He's such a good baby. It makes me sad to see these phases coming and going because I know how much my kids dispositions change over the years and I just want my baby Raleigh always.

Raleigh came at a time in my life where I had made such huge strides personally. Come such a long way in loving myself, accepting myself, working through my weaknesses, truly trying to overcome the aspects that didn't serve me or others. The experience and comfort that comes with age. I've thought about age and experience, what comes first? Do you feel your age, or older than your age because of your experience, or is it simply time passing that provides you with experience? I admit I have been through a lot of experiences. I have seen and experienced a lot of pain and change and growth and dissolution in the last 10 years yet I feel a huge shift now at 30. I think its a mixture of the two.

Not even just personally, but Raleigh came at a time of change for us as a family. We were sort of stuck trying to decide what was next, making huge efforts toward that next step but not being able to make it happen. With Raleigh came opportunity and options and "YES!" when we kept getting "not yet"s. We sold our house, we found a lot, we broke ground. Raleigh brought possibilities and opportunity after years of hard work and stagnant frustrations. Our "someday" dreams started becoming realities.

Raleigh brought me a new life-changing practice of gratitude. Something I taught myself to do in a very real way since he was born. I spent the first few months of his life terrified that he would be taken away, how could I have this perfect baby, this amazing blessing, without there being a catch. Somehow believing that God's blessings for me were limited and could be used up. (Not true for me, not true for anyone else.) Switching my mindset to being grateful and feeling the abundance of blessings instead of fearful and finite has brought my life so much peach and happiness. It was the urgency I felt to enjoy Raleigh and feel such intense gratitude that finally made me break through.

In him lies the dichotomy of joy and heartache. Maybe why I can't formulate my thoughts because they are everywhere at once. And by voicing one it undermines another and can't they all just exist? That is what makes being human so complex, we are so many things and one of those things shouldn't undo another and yet sometimes it feels like it does. I ache because I know how fast time flies and that I will never have these moments back. So many wonderful little things:

How he watches me make every bottle and peeks his little eye around while he's on my hip to make eye contact or just watch my face. How he cocks his head to one side when he's being coy and flirty. How he gives smiles to anyone who comes near him. How he dances when any music comes on. How he waves bye bye, throws his hands up for "all done", rubs his one eye when he's tired. Even when he puts his hands through the sides of his hair while he eats which is the worst to clean. How he always has that perfect turn out, his big giant hands, his off the chart head, he is huge for being 1 but still looks like such a baby with his soft thin blond tuft of hair. His gap teeth, his crescent moon eyes when he smiles or laughs. How his nose crinkles in to perfect V shaped lines. How he smiles so big and looks up at me after every page of a book we read. He loves to roll the ball and play catch. Loves to ride his brothers scooters and actually does pretty good! How he tries to get his brother's attention usually by putting his drooly open mouth right on their forehead or hair. How they carry him around with such pride. Or hover over his every milestone, beaming. They are proud to be his brother and want everyone to know every last thing he does. Telling neighbors about details that probably only our immediate family would find interesting, yet they share it proudly with the world. Raleigh has unified them in a way that they didn't need to be unified before. They still fight, but they also rise up and band together over their baby brother. They cheer him together side by side. Their bond as Raleigh's brothers is so sweet to watch.

WORDS: ah-done, hi dad! (calls me dad sometimes too, hasn't said mom yet!), hat, mahoh (more), hess (hayes), Da (cal), boobs (seriously)

Crawls, scales the couch, rides a scooter, pulls himself up to stand at the crib or table, climb the stairs, no walking yet!

At the risk of undermining the scope of how I feel: You are so loved Raleigh Rex. You are so wanted and needed and cared for. You are cherished and more than enough and spark us all to reach for more good things. You are the bearer of change and excitement and opportunity and big dreaming and God is undeniably so good because he let us have you. Happiest birthday to our Electric Love. (The song I couldn't listen to without bawling my entire pregnancy because it summed up how I felt about this baby before we even met. He moved and wiggled so much he was my lightning in a bottle. "All I need is to be struck by your electric love. Feel your energy rushing through me Baby you're like lightning in a bottle, baby I won't let you go now that I got ya. All i need is to be struck by your electric love.")


Raleigh 10 months

So Raleigh was barely getting a tooth by month 9 and now at month 10 he has 6 cutting or cut. He is so uncomfortable but even still so happy and nice. We're hoping we'll get a break once these last couple find their way. He also got his first cold in tandem with it so that makes it extra sad. 10 healthy months is pretty dang good though!

Some things I jotted down about Raleigh this month that I love --

His front two teeth are huge and have a giant gap between them. HIPPO teeth! I live for them.

His head is off the charts percentile wise and it has made lots of his shirts take a hike. Unless there are snaps or buttons or a huge opening they will not make it over this noggin. I am learning to shop wisely to accommodate.

With teething he has no interest in his binky anymore. He actually throws it if you try and give him one. Like 6 in a row just chucked. He does this when he doesn't like food too.  I guess I'll just let him forget about them! Makes it super easy for us down the road I guess!

When I take his diaper off he immediately starts lightly scratching his belly. Its so cute, like exactly what an adult man would do after taking off his work pants or something.

No crawling but he walks along the couch and loves to stand! He uses his forehead for leverage when he does arm crawl around and it doesn't look comfortable. He says "hey" and waves and seems to be putting names to faces and knows who and where people are. I can see his jabbering starting to pick up and I love when they start this stage of talking!

He's freakishly strong and loves human connection. He wants eye contact at all times. Usually touches faces and foreheads and stares into your eyes. Will give lots of kisses if I am on my phone peeks around it with his little bird head cock. I have felt myself pulling away from interacting and mindlessness on my phone and that is largely due to the fact that he wants to connect and wants my attention and I would much rather watch him anyway! He doesn't demand anything he just is sweetly there and that makes him irresistible to us all!

I lost my phone in my laundry, literally its somewhere in this house but I can't find it. SO all my pics of Raleigh this month are tied up. But I will add once I find it. I WILL FIND IT.




Christmas Day Hayes and Cal woke up at 2:30 am. SERIOUSLY. And then like every 15-20 minutes after that for a couple hours. I could've killed them! So excited and so obnoxious. Russ said next year we aren't even telling them its Christmas Eve, they'll just wake up to presents and that will be that. Also we  paid $20 for this photo like chumps. But Raleigh's face made it worth it.

Here they are! Oh Deer PJs and tired eyes. We finally got up around 7 I think after they actually fell asleep for a few hours straight.

You can't tell but they're naked. Just naked gingerbread making.

Family White Elephant. Cal was not thrilled with his pink bear. Ha. // In all reality Cal had a rough Winter. The transition from youngest to middle was rough for him and we spent lots of time working on helping him out. He has aged me a extra 10 years this season probably. ITs not always easy and laughs, but we love him and I'd fight to the death to make sure he was happy and secure. He is his best self in warm climates so Winter is already tricky but now that things are warming up and he can be outside at the park and not cooped inside I already see a better Cal. 

 Although when he was cooped up he made this amazing play-doh installation. He said "Its a heart because I love you"

Hopefully Cal won't be mad in the future that I said this online, but we found a great family therapist for him and I to go together as we sorted through some things and it has been really good for both of us! One day we got to paint each other's faces. Cal painted me like his Nintendo DS (spot on). He continues to be obsessed with ice cream -- eating a shake with a blanket on because he was freezing.

With Raleigh sleeping through the night we were able to get lots of good date nights in! We came home from NYE with the buddies and two boys were up however.

We got some time in the snow!

And we took the boys skiing. It was laughable how much of a meltdown they had at first. Like Russ and I were just staring at each other in disbelief. Cal was mad because we weren't letting him go fast enough and he wanted to go down the main ski hill. Hayes was sad because he wasn't pro his first time and it was too hard. We sat them down with hot cocoa and I took turns with them going up the rope tow and back down. They finally relaxed and started to enjoy themselves. IT was such a victory in my book, they both left wanting to do it again. Parenting kicked our butts this Winter.

My 31st-- my friends spoiled me as usual.
Rashelle and I went to Hamilton Leithauser (from the Walkmen) he was super good live.

Then Nicole and Shelly took me skiing on my birthday and my friends met us up for lunch.

We can't forget how we sold our house this Winter. First we got a storage unit and emptied pretty much everything non essential. We lived like real minimalists for a couple months! We stayed a weekend at a hotel so we could have showings and it took a few weeks after that before we finally sold it.  It was so hard to get in the Christmas spirit with showings, and trying to keep the house clean. We are now in a brand new townhouse that is nicer than anything we've ever lived in so for all those reasons, I was super happy and didn't even really find myself sad about leaving the house. I am the least sentimental person you know and also live for change so it was all good things from my perspective!
We stayed in the Hampton inn in Lehi and went to Luminaria and swam in the pool and it was actually really fun! We'll definitely go back to Luminaria next year!

Getting all our toys into storage was so great. My boys were stacking tuna cans at one point happy as clams. I don't know if I'll ever get all that junk out of storage!

The townhouse is in a different school district and church stake but its still pretty close to where we lived. Its right in the center of the city so its convenient and easy to get anywhere and I love how close it is to the freeway. Running back to the house in between errands or to grab something i forgot (always) is no problem. // Museum trip

 More date nights, Brothers.

 Another Christmas tradition we started was going to the Utah Symphony's Christmas Concert for kids. I was so emotional it was so fun watching my boys enjoy the music and learning about the songs. Santa came and I was living for it all.

Can you see Hayes and Raleigh holding hands. I mean.

 Hayes' christmas sing along. I live for stuff like this. So cute.

Gigi Mas - Manti, Utah
Every Christmas we got to my mom's B&B The Yardley Inn for a couple days with cousins! So fun. Avery loves Raleigh so much. // Gigi giving gifts

 Nativity // Making Danish Pastry

Russ left the night before so I took my time heading home, these boys got spoiled with one on one time and then it started to blizzard. Sort of scary driving home! Luckily they slept most of the way.

Man oh man, between getting the house ready and keeping it that way to show and sell it. Issues with Cal and transitioning to a new baby, politics giving me hives on a daily basis. Winter was trying. So happy Spring is practically here now. So much exciting stuff on the horizon!!

Raleigh 6-9 months

How about a 4 month update, jiminy Christmas. I started this 6 monther but never published it- -

 6 MONTHS Rolling, sitting up, gnawing on anyone's face that will let him (teething?) getting feistier when you don't give him what he wants. He eats all kinds of solids, we do lots of table scraps and for having no teeth he's really good at mashing and moving those gums. He is still the sweetest ever, so happy, so full of love and smiles and joy. We are so lucky to have this baby, he has pulled me out of so many near-funks, you just can't be sad or ungrateful when he's gazing your way.

And now for today!

He's gotta be about 30 pounds by now. So solid. He loves to eat and his favorite foods are peanut butter toast, waffles with jam, salmon, graham crackers. Loves all kinds of berries, bananas, will eat any baby food too. Really anything. Drinks from a straw. Waves hello. He says in his little low voice super dead pan"Hey". Is super friendly but acts coy at first. Buries his face into me when he gets shy, cocks his head to the side like a bird when he's studying you. If my phone is ever out taking a pic of him he has to lean and cock his head around the phone to see my face. He is all about that eye contact!

He's sleeping about 12 hours through the night and takes three (sometimes 4) naps a day. He loves that sleep and dives into his bed if he's tired enough. Not crawling yet but gets up on all fours and does that wind up back and forth motion and dives face first. All my boys were 10 months before crawling so I am guessing we'll be about on track with Hayes and Cal. No complaints here, our new place has so many stairs its gonna be a nightmare trying keep him away from them! He loves the Wheels on the Bus and is such a nice boy. Even if he's starving or tired you can usually distract him and make him happy until you get home. I appreciate that so much.

I say it every month but he is just joy. That's all. So easy to love, so enjoyable, agreeable, fun, full of life and personality and loves his brothers. We live to make him smile and laugh and I can't believe he's 9 months. So bittersweet to watch him grow!

Bath time! He's obsessed with hats. Every time I wear one he loves it. BK got him this for christmas!

looking around my phone // eye contact always

Fell asleep in the swing. That has never happened to me as a mom, so cute. // Hayes always the best brother.

 In Vegas:

 First straw:

I love him so much!

We're going in reverse it looks like: So tinY!!