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.")

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