It's been seven years, Brandon, since you entered our world in about as dramatic of fashion as possible. An unplanned and fast C-section only about two hours after we arrived at the hospital, a little baby that we hadn't even officially picked out a name for until we saw your perfectly round little face, painful back labor for Mommy and an epidural that had to be started twice while on the operating table. You made your presence known dramatically, but you also were such an easy little newborn after our very interesting start. You slept a lot even at night, giving us three-four hours in between feedings (a drastic improvement over your brother's newborn sleep and heating habits), took to nursing without any problems at all, and showed no signs of colic in your early months, also a stark difference from your brother. Maternity leave with you was a dream, and I treasured every single moment of it. And as you grew, so did your personality! Eager to roll around and crawl much sooner than you were physically able to do so, you liked to be held and walked around all the time, not quite as content to lay on the floor and stare at your surroundings - always wanting to be on the move. You started teething VERY early, adored your big brother and any attention he would give you (I love watching old videos of you two interacting), were most content in your baby swing or in our arms... and always calmed down when I sang Jesus Loves Me.
And now today you are the little boy with a larger than life personality. Too smart for your own good sometimes, incredibly stubborn and opinionated, super goofy and witty... and cute and sweet as can be. Mommy is still your favorite person, you still love to swing, you still seek your brother's approval while also pushing every single button he has, and you definitely march to your own drum and make no apologies for it.
This picture makes me laugh every time I look at it. Messy hair, dirt-smudged cheeks, ritz crackers, no shirt and your little basketball greeted me as I pulled into the driveway one summer afternoon.
Who you are now is so much of who you were then. You love Lego's and building, drawing and creating, using your imagination and being outside. You love having light saber fights in the basement with Jaden, riding your bike when the weather allows, visiting every park in town, and in the past year you have developed a fierce interest in all things Star Wars and video gaming on the PS4. You read well above grade level, are "brilliant" in math - according to Ms. Kimpston, and continue to be a very picky eater, unless the menu includes hamburgers, mac and cheese (with chicken), ice cream or chocolate milk.
You are so curious about the world around you, ask a thousand questions a day - sometimes asking the same question in different ways - I think to test us and make sure our answers are consistent. ;) You notice details - especially in nature - and it warms my heart to see how much joy you find in the little things.
Not nearly as into sports as Jaden, you have found your place with baseball and teeter back and forth with football. You have the capabilities in almost everything you've tried, but your desire to compete is not that strong. You're a free spirit, and you cannot be talked into anything you are unsure of.
You still love blowing bubbles and making art out of sidewalk chalk.
You seek out adventure and love trying new experiences. You went tubing for the first time on the lake last summer, braved some extreme roller coasters at Disney World, and you cannot wait to finally be tall enough to travel those water slides at the Falls.
Owen and Sailor continue to be your closest friends at school, and Kyla B continues to be your best girlfriend. Watching the two of you together is something else - you absolutely bring out the goofiness in one another, (sometimes too much so), and it's going to be interesting having you both travel along with us to all the Outlaw tournaments in the coming years.
You love PJ Masks and Blaze on TV, and I do think you've watched every episode of Angry Birds on Netflix at least a dozen times. You school me regularly at Star Wars Risk, still love taking bubble baths, and still love being read to every night before we tuck you in. You ask for Bible stories regularly, and I am always amazed at what you are already able to understand and comprehend about our great God.
Always "small" for your age, you are growing, and I wouldn't be surprised if one of these years, you just shoot right up. Whereas we used to be able to get two full years use out of clothes before you'd grow out of them, that is happening less and less. Your body is lengthening, but your cheeks are still squishy warm like a babies in the morning when you first wake up. And no one rocks bed head like you. It's amazing.
You love the holidays like your mama and enjoy any chance there is to celebrate something out of the ordinary. You can be incredibly social, or seek time for yourself - also much like your mama - and you have a pretty strong fear of the dark. You sleep with a Star Wars night light on in your room and your newborn baby blue blankie pressed under your cheek as you fall asleep.
You challenge us, stretch us, grow us and make us laugh all the time. You can be so very difficult sometimes, but you also are the first in our family to sense when Mommy might need a hug - even when I think I'm hiding it. You are strong willed and full of love and joy. You skip from here to there when you're in a good mood, love showing people how fast you can run, and aren't afraid of hugging and kissing your brother when you two have been playing nicely together. It takes you a long time to recover from a meltdown, and it's darn near impossible to be upset with you for too long. I absolutely love how God made you - unique and special and someone that is going to challenge and push the people around you to be a better version of themselves.
You'll move all the mountains, I don't doubt it.
Love you so much little monkey. Happy birthday.