The day I went into labor with Charles I remember thinking to myself, "This can't be, it's too early, and besides, Benedict's birthday is tomorrow, and I have a fun celebration planned." Providence would soon counter my personal plans and determined desire to stay home and ignore the labor pains. Charles was born March 23rd at 4:00 p.m. - a nearly perfect 10 years after the birth of our first son, Benedict, missing the perfect 10 by a mere 12 hours.
On his birthday, Benedict came to visit his new little brother in the hospital. Looking into his eyes, I promised Benedict that we would celebrate his birthday when we got home. He simply smiled and said, "Don't worry mama, I've got the best birthday present right here," and he reached out to hold Charles. (I love to celebrate our kids' birthdays - but how did I ever think that our little traditions and a great cake could ever be a sweeter gift than a precious little baby - even to a 10 year old??)
We don't know God's plan for our family size, but I have a feeling Charles will forever be known as the youngest brother. I like to call Benedict and Charles the "bookends" of our family, the first and last being born here in Garden City.
This is the final chapter of our dedication to Charles. We have had 10 years of joy in discovering all of the beauty and wonder in our oldest son, Benedict. We can't wait for you to get to know him too, Charles!
10 THINGS WE LOVE ABOUT BENEDICT...
1. You probably won't remember being held in Benedict's arms as an infant, but I have a feeling he'll be toting you around even when you're a toddler. I know this because he has a thing for hugging, holding and being close to others. It's like a 6th sense, he just knows when others need to be comforted and embraced.
I remember getting pictures taken this day. Henry was so fussy, but Benedict was determined to keep him calm. When you are fussy, he's the first one on the scene to assess your needs and report them to me.
He even checks in on me when I'm fussy....and the administration of a hug usually does the trick!
2. Since Benedict was first to enter the Lego world, he's the official expert in the family. I consider him to be the Husband Family Lego mechanic.
When battle ships and farm equipment need repair I run screaming. He's the one to call on, not me. I just thought you needed to know that, little one.
(Service with a smile!)
3. Last fall Benedict shot his first buck. Over the past year, he's taken up a true interest in hunting. A couple of days ago, I saw him with his bow and arrows staring with great concentration into our row of cedar trees. A few minutes later, he came in to proudly announce to me that he is hunting any rabbits that might eat my garden. (I snuck out the back door hoping to find the bunnies and convince them to move to a new location, because bunnies are way too cute to face an arrow point.) I know that you will probably be more interested in hunting with Ben than helping mommy shoo away the bunnies, but if you change your mind I promise not to tell!
4. As an aspiring hunter, Benedict naturally loves the outdoors and any activities that will afford him the opportunity to be outside.
I love this about him, because I never here him say that he is bored. Being in nature brings endless opportunities for the imaginative to have fun. Ben will have so many outdoor adventures to share with you!
5. Last summer we adopted a Golden Retriever, Stella, into our family. Benedict has set about to train her to sit, heel, fetch and catch snowflakes on her tongue...
6. Every one of your brothers embodies a variety of special talents. They also possess certain traits that cannot be traced back to a genetic code - they are simply unique to the individual. One particular trait of Benedict is he hums when he eats something he really likes. Sometimes it's just a soft, low hum. Other times is very distinct and unmistakable, especially if he's eating chocolate sheet cake, mashed potatoes or a cereal loaded with sugar. You are gonna love it!
7. There is a 10 year old pacing behind me right now with a glaring stare and an intimidating frown creased into his forehead. Benedict knows that I am going to write about how much we love his freckles. His father and I think they are adorable. Ben thinks they're annoying. We are hoping, Charles, that by the time you are 10, if there are any physical attributes you don't like about yourself, Benedict will encourage you to embrace them....just as we know he will his freckles.
8. I'm not sure what you're brothers and your father are going to do with themselves if you don't like sports of any kind, Charles. You have a wonderful line up of coaching experts, and Benedict is one of them. Basketball is his specialty.
The "hand in the cookie jar" is not just for the kitchen but for the court as well. I think a mom invented that phrase.
9. Five years ago we dove head first into homeschooling.
10. One cannot describe the joy that comes from seeing your child grow from year to year physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. How humbling it is to realize that while you have a huge role in forming and shaping your children, they are first and foremost the children of a loving Father. A Father who has a plan for their lives, who loves them more than we do, who has given them gifts and talents beyond our comprehension, beyond what we teach them, what we can hope for them.
It feels like yesterday when Benedict was born. I closed my eyes for a split second and now he is 10! The most beautiful gift we see in Benedict is his strength of will. This strength has come with time, discipline and struggle. Choosing the greater good in all situations is a challenge that never ends for any of us. To see our oldest son actively choosing to give instead of take, to listen instead of speak, to console rather than criticize, to try again rather than give up and to put others before himself is incredible.
Birthday celebration promised and delivered....
With a little help from the gang, I managed to keep my "we'll celebrate your birthday" promise.
The Lego Mechanic with his latest challenge.