Jude (my 4-year-old) woke up twice last night, crying pitifully about a headache. After the second time, I pulled him into our bed, wrapped my arms around him, and kissed his head until he fell back asleep. As I lay there with his little arms clinging to me, I thought about how fast he's going to grow up. I thought about how awesome he is right now, and how I'm probably going to forget it all in the coming years, since I've sucked at blogging lately. Excuse the cell phone photography. The best camera is the one you have with you.

Jude... He's almost 5 now. He is athletic - tall and lanky, and busy busy busy. He loves to run, jump, somersault, and flip. He was running in a slalom pattern today, side to side while moving forward. It was pretty amazing, coordination-wise. When he does fall down, he's quick to jump up and say "I'm ok!" If he's ever not ok, kisses (especially from mom) are still the perfect remedy.

He's pretty much the sweetest person I've ever known. And probably Quentin was sweet when he was this age, too, and I've forgotten it because he's almost 8 now. But I can go back and read about it in my blog. Jude tells me at least a half-dozen unprompted times every day that he loves me. Often, he'll holler it across the house out of the blue. "I love you, Mom!" - and the way he speaks is slightly accented, as though he were from a different part of the country. His Os are very round and true, rather than pretend a's, like most midwesterners.

Sometimes I tell him that he makes my heart happy. Lately, he's taken to asking me if whatever he has said or done made my heart smile. "Always," I reply, "you always make my heart smile."

He gives me leaves that are shaped like hearts. He holds my hand. He always wants to give hugs and kisses, to me, to his dad, to his big brother. His skin is so baby-soft. His eyes are the clearest, most innocent blue. Right now, his hair is long and shaggy, and his bangs are pink because "I want my hair to be like yours, Mommy!" I ask him if he's a momma's boy, and he says, "Yep, I'm your boy!"

Jude can't wait for Kindergarten. He's so sad not to be going this year (and I am too, I think he'd be a perfect fit with the other K'ers). We walk his brother to and from school every day, and every day, he asks me if he's going to Kindergarten yet. He thinks that he gets to go as soon as he turns 5, and I'm thinking it's going to be a really sad day when he figures out that that's not how it works.

Ok this one wasn't taken with a cell phone. And it ROCKS, right? :) 

Jude loves to do whatever his big brother does. He's been asking to do worksheets lately, since his brother brings them home from school. He enjoys video games (Minecraft, Portal, Garry's Mod, Angry Birds, Plants vs Zombies). He can read. He's starting to get better at playing by himself, and sometimes he'll build elaborate scenarios with cars and trains and blocks.

He's a little feisty, still. Adventurous, too! He ate a cinnamon worm thing at the Xtreme bugs exhibit at the zoo. He's not always great at keeping his emotions in check (he's 4!), and sometimes  he'll throw things, hit, scratch, or bite - especially his brother. But he's so quick with a hug and an apology. He's definitely hard to stay angry at, hard to resist.

I'm pretty sure we'd have a dog already if we were allowed them here, because Jude LOVES dogs (puppies!) and when you pair that with his charming, irresistible demeanor, well, it's a dangerous combination.

I wish I could hold on to these moments forever. I wish I could actually preserve the feeling of his sweet, soft, and delicate hand in mine, his gentle little lips kissing my face, his thin yet strong for his age arms encircling my neck. Oh gosh, is he ever an excellent hugger!

Sometimes I wish my baby could stay 4.5 forever. I know he'll grow up and be an amazing person, but there is just nothing quite like this little momma's boy, who loves me infinitely and unconditionally, and shows me in all of his ways, every day.

But since I can't keep him this way forever, I'll take lots of pictures, and write this blog post, and come back and cry when he's a teenager. <3