Back in my junior college days I took a basic course in sociology one year in which the only thing I really remember is the age old "Nature vs. Nurture" debate discussed over the course of one long semester. Back then I wasn't sure exactly what I believed, in regards to which proved more prominent in the overall evolution of one's character and core being. But now so many years later and a mother to four, I can say that my faith in nature has knocked everything else off the table. Proving far more defining than I could have ever possibly imagined in the nine years I've been a mother. Like I mentioned a hundred times before, the mystery of how four boys born of the same blood raised under the same roof could be so impossibly different, with the foundation of the their character so extreme from one another, from the very start never ceases to behoove me. Sometimes in the center of the storm of our house brews on the daily, the fact of it really hits me. Seeing just how the major dynamics of this home power on full of so many shakes and shifts with each contributing member tilting it from varying angles at any given minute. The relationships that vary and exist separate from sibling to sibling, the bonds that are build, and the personality peaks and hallows they each bring to the mix. It's been quite a wild thing to witness. And with each passing year, I find myself only more and more enthralled with the fact of it. How the basic rules of nature seem to cancel out just about everything else and that really, despite of our unwavering hand and guidance, each of my boys is who they have always been from the first day I held them in my arms. In other words, Rex now, is no different than Rex at 8 months.

Yesterday he turned five. With not the slightest promise of slowing (or calming) down. Still by far, my most reckless and rambunctious son. A boy we find ourselves in tears of frustration over regularly, armed with a fierce sense of autonomy and old school grit, unapologetic in his toughness and downright fearless above the rest. But also someone I've come to admire most in my life. Knowing full and well those same traits that tear me up at times as his mother, will also be the ones that will serve him best down life as a man. Creative and funny, the life of the party, confident beyond his years. He is a handful and at times a bully, but intensely loyal and the absolute sweetest thing his baby bother has known so far in his short life. He is and always will be a force to be reckoned with. With a face you can't help but fall in love with. And now just like that, he's five.

Happiest birthday, Rex Michael Kraus.

Photos taken on a summer day at my mom's house by Ashley last year.