Caleb's 2nd birthday

Happy birthday, Caleb Baby. Daddy (Ken Toey) and I haven't even read through these messages and pictures yet but wow, do you see how much you are loved, Baby Boy?

Daddy and I stuck to ourselves and hid away from the world. It is really hard to be around people on days like today, a day when our hearts are missing someone as much as we miss you. We hope you got our messages and the Cars balloons, or noticed the flicker in the candle that we lit just for you. We hope you light up the faces when the kids your size find the vroom vrooms we left for them, too.

We still wish we were lighting birthday candles and buying you vroom vrooms. That is a reality that makes Mommy and Daddy very sad. However, many people far beyond our house and community are getting to know you because of the kind of little boy you keep showing the world that you will always be. (I DID buy you two new domains and am going to make it a goal to be switched over to those sites and officially up as a non-profit organization by Easter.)

The Caleb Effect army of yours was out in full force so please show up in your unique way and tell them THANK YOU!!!!!

Baby Bear, you've added over 200 friends in one week! Who can say they have ever made that many friends so fast? We will probably never fully realize all the ripples of kindness you have thrown into this big pond we call life, but I hope you are getting to see every last way people are going to "be nice" because of you.

I ate veggie straws, "cah-doe," (avocado), turkey, and mango but I probably didn't eat the same quantity that you devoured when you were here. Mommy also drew the line at frozen peas. Tell Papa Roy, he is going to have to pick up the slack in that department.

I want you to know that your love transcends everything. Every political party, race, lifestyle, age, gender, religion, loneliness, wealth, hurts, and everything in-between. Today, your love was celebrated and people were united because of you. It will not stop there. Your love will be spread over and over not just on special days like today, but for many lifetimes still to come.

I started writing a list of some of the things I love about you and there ended up being 64 before I could squeak this under the wire and still make it to be posted on your special day. Coincidence? I think not. So, Caleb Baby, here are some of the literally millions of things I love about you and always will:

-That life was an adventure no matter how ordinary. I never could've known how much fun just riding in the car with you could be.

-Your sandy hair that was starting to thicken but that was still interlaced with the finest baby strands.

-Putting your cheeks with the perfect layer of "baby blubber" against mine. I could kiss you over and over for hours. Sometimes I was told that I held you too much, but I didn't care. I knew even then that there was nothing else I would rather be doing.

-Your beautiful blue eyes, so full of curiosity, inquisitive deliberations, wonder, determination, independence, your own way of doing things, joy, pure love, inclusive welcome, empathy, and a plan all your own.

-The way you would dance. Whether it was during the Greek Festival, at home listening to P!nk, pretending to be on Ellen, or just dancing to the music that was ingrained in our souls. I loved to watch you bob from one foot to the other as you threw in random "headbangs."

-Your slightly petite frame (shoulders, little feet ((although when you were a baby, they were too wide to find sandals)). You were never going to be a linebacker and being a touch small meant you already got to enjoy "hand-me-downs (or "hand-me-ups" as was the case for some of the things you wore from your slightly younger friends).

-The way you would run to me when it was time to pick you up from "1s" (you didn't do it as often when you went to "2s." You preferred to show me something or have me chase you (which also turned into chasing your friends and then getting jealous “my mommy”).

-Watching you eat. Stopping mid-bite to tell me something or point out whatever captured your attention.

-Your friendly and social nature, with the highest emotional intelligence of anyone I've ever met.

-The way you put both arms around my neck and squeezed me as tight as you could. I miss holding you and being so close.

-How your laughter was a full-body experience, contagious in every magical way.

-I love the way you love me.

-How you loved to stack things. You would get so mad when you would stack your vroom vrooms and the top car would fall down. Why did you insist on doing this? One day I will get to ask you this in person.

-When you ate so much your belly would stick out. Every now and then you would even misjudge how much clearance you had after a big meal. I had never seen a child eat so much in my life and I was slightly concerned for what our grocery bill would've become during your teenage years.

-The way you tried to take your own temperature when you were sick.

-The way you pronounced "Superman." It was something like "soup-uh-man," with a slight pause after the first syllable.

-Your high fives. "Aww wiiiiiiiiight."

-That no one could steal your joy. Your blaze of happiness engulfed everyone in your path and there was nothing they could do to stop you.

-The way you hooked your arm around mine when I carried you.

-Your love of the water. You put your face straight into the water even before you could walk. The next year, you jumped off the ledge after watching one of the big kids, and refused to wear your floaties from that point on. I would give anything to take you "wimming" just one more time. I hope you are teaching surfing lessons and playing with Nemo. Save a spot in your class for Mommy.

-The best laugh I've ever heard. A delightful sound that made us all double over like you and smile through squinted eyes. Oh how you must be keeping so many people entertained right now. I'm jealous of the angels and all your newest friends.

-How you really did smile with your whole face and love unconditionally with your whole heart.

-Your love of sirens and all emergency vehicles.

-The wonder in your eyes whenever you got to climb into all those vehicles at "touch-a-truck." I don't know who had more fun, you or Mommy.

-The way you loved your vroom vrooms and anything that moved. Your book "things that go" was pretty appropriate for you. You were just like that. Always on the go. Constantly in motion.

-Hearing you say "I love you!" I'm thankful I have a video of you shouting this to me. I love you, too, Baby Boy. I always will.

-Your smell. When you were brand new to this world it really was true. Your head still smelled of heaven. I would sit with the crown of your head right under mine and go back and forth, kissing your head.

-The way you always pointed out Jesus on the wall at school even though we had never been to church together.

-Your soft, porcelain skin. They say boys aren't supposed to be pretty, but you were.

-Fixing your hair. I loved spiking your hair with your gel or just smoothing it straight upwards and every which way in the bath (oh how you loved bath time).

-The way you walked around pinching your cheeks or belly for some reason. You were cute no matter what you were doing.

-Your sweet voice. The sweetest I've ever heard. A tiny, excited voice, said with a slight high-pitch and lips pressed together trying to contain the incoming smile.

-Your perfect little eyelashes. They were darker than the hair on your head, but not overly dramatic. They were barely long enough to start a small curl upward, as if a light rake was flipped upside-down, and just waiting to capture new friends and draw everyone closer.

-The way you raised your eyebrows JUST. LIKE. DADDY.

-Your stubbornness (I don't know where you got that…).

-The way you read to yourself. There is a picture of you sitting in your cubby by yourself (where most kids had to go for their "me time" to calm down) but you didn’t mind doing your own thing.

-Your baby lips that loved to give kisses. You had even had your first kiss, already. (I don't think Abigail's mommy was as entertained as I was, but I had already prepared myself to let you spread your love to whoever captured your affections).

-Your "boy ears" that were masculine and slightly floppy, and also very selectively tuned-in to whatever you were determined to be focused on on your own terms. I especially loved seeing your little ears as various hats rested on them. You were really starting to look more like a toddler and not a baby anymore when you wore them.

-How you just knew what people needed and how you acted immediately upon those needs. Daddy and I have told dozens of people about the lady on the airplane. (The one who you reached out to and went to sit with because somehow you knew she was sad because she just left her own grandkids).

-The way you loved "The Letter Show" AKA Wheel of Fortune.

-Watching you play with your toys. There was not a vroom vroom, boat, airplane, dump truck, or plastic singing recycling truck you didn’t love.

-Coming to "find" you when you didn't think I knew where you went to hide.

-How peculiar it was that you didn't mind hiding from Mommy in the pitch dark inside the laundry room. (I've wondered now if the reason you were okay with this was because you always had enough light within yourself to never be scared or fully in the dark).

-Your excitement and enthusiasm for each new day.

-How you never seemed to be afraid of anything (annoyed and not big enough to get away, but never terrified). One such time was trying to get away from YaYa and PaPa's dog. You were truly fearless, Little Boy.

-How you never let strep, random daycare illnesses, or asthma stop you from doing everything that you loved.

-The way you put your hands on my face (I didn't notice that until Ellis' mommy, Mira pointed it out).

-How you loved to cuddle, just like Mommy.

-How incredibly smart you were. You could count to 20, knew your colors and letters, and could nearly spell your name (I will never forget the look on Heather’s face when you started spelling your name on your 2nd birthday or when Sarah Toy told me that you knew more than some of the kids in her kindergarten class).

-You had my nose and I loved when you rested it on mine. We made each other laugh because our faces were so close and distorted. I miss being silly with you, Baby.

-I loved your impression of a fish. Opening and closing your mouth really quickly like you were gobbling the water.

-Your little chin that hadn't quite lost ALL your extra baby cheeks, and stuck out (especially when you made your eyes wide as you did when you were extra passionate about something).

-I love the way we both loved to give each other kisses and how Daddy had to intervene when our affections were delaying your bedtime.

-How you love me despite all my shortcomings. I wish I could take some things back or make other moments more grand, but I'm grateful that I truly never have to worry if you knew you were loved in this life and will always be loved by us for the rest of eternity. I just can't wait to love you for eternity, in-person.

-I loved how you clapped for yourself. We should all have Caleb-sized self-esteem.

-The way you ran and looked back at the same time. One such time resulted in a crash with the corner in the hallway, and a goose egg with a perfect line straight down the middle. You were not happy with the ice I put on it to get the swelling to go down so we didn't leave it on for near as long as I would've preferred. I felt so bad because I was the one chasing you.

-How we could make each other laugh without ever saying a word. Pictures and videos are still so hard, Baby Boy, but I will forever cherish the video of us laughing together on the couch. Neither of us says one word and Daddy even cut the video off before we were finished with our own made up game, but we said plenty and had the best time “chatting.”

-How you would blindly plop straight into my lap when you wanted me to read you a story.

-How you greeted Mr. Jeff and Nemo every time you came to school. I loved how Mr. Jeff would wait for us to get there and give him "fives" before going about his day as well.

-Your "hurricane hair" with a perfect swirl on the crown of your head.

-The sympathy pains you had for Grandma Faye after she hurt her knee. You rolled up your pant leg and told me how much it "hewwwt," and more than a week later, you were crawling on the floor and had convinced your teachers enough to call me. I was about to come pick you up when Mandi somehow figured out that you were okay and the doctors could hold off on their x-ray.

-Horse playing. I loved nothing more than being in the floor pretending with you and making you laugh. I usually get in trouble for "winding the kids up" but there was no one I loved to be animated and playful with as I did with you.

-How happy you made me.

-How you understood me perfectly and I completely understood you, too.

-Listening to you sing. I imagine that when I get to heaven and finally get to hold you, I will fall asleep to the sound of you singing to Mommy. Then, I will relax and truly rest. I think this is what people mean when they say "rest in peace." I will be so beyond ready for this day when it finally comes to greet me.

Happy birthday, Baby Boy.

I love you, Caleb Lennon. I always will.

One day.

Love, Mommy