...seems infinitely older than six, doesn't it? For some reason, the fact that my first-born is SEVEN is hitting me hard! Time is simply disappearing too quickly. He's going to be moving out to go to college before I know it (sniff). My baby boy. Seven. Impossible.

We had a wonderful weekend of celebrating. My folks were so sweet to fly out for the weekend just to be here for Ben's birthday. With it being so close to Christmas, it's really difficult to drop everything and come here for a little guy's party. But oh, it meant the world to him! He's been praying for their safe travel for weeks, and he told us today that "Grandma and Grandpa being here" was the best of all his presents. So sweet.

And they had some competition too, I'll tell ya! We have some incredibly generous friends and family.'s gonna be hard for even Santa to compete this year!

We had fun getting Ben a really cool big guy bike with handle brakes, shifting gears, and even shocks. It's reactions like this that I live for:

I got one of those big hugs too - totally made my day. I could tell that we'd done well with his gift when we went from being "Mom & Dad" to "Mommy & Daddy" for the day. He really felt loved and spoiled.

Birthday parties around here are a pretty big deal. The kids dream and plan for months in advance about what "kind" of party they want. This year, Ben wanted a Ben10 party. I love doing special cakes. Sometimes it's a pony, sometimes a monkey, sometimes a skeletor/tinkerbell...this time it was a Ben10 watch. It was quite the fiasco to make it (hint: spray on frosting coloring stuff does NOT work, and the night before the party is a bad time to try it out for the first time).

For those of you cake folks out there, here's how I made it:
1. Use two boxes of cake mix
2. (2) 9" rounds, and (1) 9x13
3. Leave the rounds as they are, place them in the center of a tray with buttercream frosting between layers. Cover with buttercream frosting on the outside too.
4. Cut the 9x13 into 4 squares. I ended up throwing some cake away to make the proportions right. Stack in two layers on either side of the rounds (again, frosting between layers and on the outside).
5. Using a photo from the web of a Ben10 watch as a guide, place black licorice strips to outline the green/black areas. Use green sprinkles (or color white sugar with green food coloring) to fill in the green middle section.
6. I made a mistake with the whole spray-on color thing, and by the time I was able to put a plan together to fix it, the frosting had crusted over. I used a dark chocolate frosting from the store over the buttercream where I wanted black. Then I used crushed Oreo crumbs (bought pre-made pie crust and crushed them) to cover the brown frosting. Came out an excellent black! Line the edges with black licorice.

It turned out well:

I took the girls to the dollar store so that they could choose a special gift from them to their big brother. I was so touched when Clara wanted to buy him two things - it didn't matter to her that it would cost her an extra dollar - she wanted that special gift for him. She has such a sweet and generous heart. They were so excited to give Ben his surprises:

Awww....nothing makes this Mama's heart happier than seeing my babies loving and supporting each other. They're really good to one another.

Ben had a great time opening all his incredible presents (ah-hem...I impose a $10 limit on gifts so that we have Christmas money for the end of the year...clearly this group of friends had no such crazy generous!).

This was the first "BOY party" (mostly) that Ben ever had. I had to practically wring his arm to get him to allow his girl family members at the party! It was loud and rambunctious and crazy...and all wonderful boy.

It was just a great weekend all around, full of love and life and little kid energy. It doesn't get sweeter than this life of mine, you know. We are so blessed.

My Dear Sweet Benjamin,

Yes, I called you Benjamin. I know you prefer "Ben", but I still like the way "Benjamin" rolls out of my tongue. Your name reminds me of you as a babe in my arms. I guess that's probably why you like "Ben" better.

You have grown into quite the young man, my boy! Daddy and I lie in bed and night and talk about you kids...what your struggles are, what your joys are, what your strengths are, and what we need to help you with a bit more. I want you to know that when we speak of you it's always about how deep-down good you kind, and brave, and smart you are. We are so proud of you.

This year has been a big year of growth for you. You spend more time away from us and your home than I ever thought I could stand. You're in school all day, and you love to go play with your friends after school. But you're also quite the home-body. You love to just play quietly by yourself and have "down time" with a video game or your favorite cartoon.

You are so analytical and such a planner, I hardly know how to answer your questions sometimes! You think so deeply about God and life and where you fit into the picture, that it makes my brain ask questions that I didn't contemplate until I was literally 30 years old! I'm looking forward to seeing what God does with that kind heart and fiercely intelligent brain of yours :)

You love to build and create. You tell us that when you grow up you want to be a builder like Daddy, a police officer, a daddy, and an inventor. You have big plans :) I have no doubt at all that you'll be excellent at whichever path you take.

And do you want to know something? I care deeply about you and your happiness...but I truly don't care what you choose to do. You are not defined by what you do. You are defined by your faith in our incredible God and by that deep and loving heart of yours. Whether you choose to be an astronaut, a school teacher, or a...I don't know...short-order cook...I will love you with all my heart and be passionately proud of you until my last dying breath.

I love you with all my heart. I love you in ways I never thought possible. I didn't even know that love and devotion like this existed until I felt you move in my tummy for the first time. And when I held you in my arms for the first time...oh, I thought I would burst from the love and joy that was born in my heart in that moment.

Well, my sweet, I could go on and on. But now that I'm crying my eyes out over my love for you (not to mention the fact that you're growing up so dang fast), I'd better stop. I'm glad you had a wonderful birthday this weekend, you deserve it.

You are amazing and wonderful.



nomore  – (12/16/2008 07:27:00 AM)  

very sweet! about made me cry! my little boy (well BIG boy) will be 14 in Jan!! big sniff, sniff ;o)

I love how you love your kiddos.
God bless

ps-I invite you to read my post dated on Dec 11th. a poem about 'mommas'- you might need a tissue though ((smiles))

Anonymous –   – (12/16/2008 07:30:00 AM)  

Happy birthday Ben!!

My oldest is going to turn 9 on Valentines Day.

Wow, nine. Oh, my....

Thanks for sharing the party!

Liz  – (12/16/2008 08:36:00 PM)  

I've got ya all beat - my firstborn turns 21 on Tuesday. wow! I can still remember when they laid him on my stomach when he was about 30 seconds old. (my baby is 8, so I still get the cuddly little boy fix!). I get all choked up on their birthdays too. Sheesh. I have a little mom calendar and there is a page that says "being a mom is to forever have your heart walking around outside your body". Sums it up, huh?

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