Taking Care of the Valuable Things

The other day I was on the phone with mom crying. Fun fact: I hate crying. It leaves me feeling vulnerable and frustrated, which is ironic because those are two feelings that often lead me to cry. Unfortunately for me, I am a crier and you’d think after 39 years I’d be used to it. I’m not. I cry when I’m happy, sad, frustrated, angry, worried, stressed, tired, caring for people, praying for people, reading, watching movies, laughing at myself, etc. I cry. A lot. Especially when I drop heavy objects on my toes. Just sayin’. Sometimes I think my feelings are directly connected to my tear ducts. When things get a little emotionally full, it comes out my eyes and leaks its way down my face.

So yes, I was crying on the phone to my mom the other day. She’s tough and can handle my tears. I was frustrated that I looked around my house and had so much to do but absolutely zero energy to do it. I’m too stubborn to ask for help. (And I’m honest enough to admit I’d probably be really short and snappy with anyone who ventured in.) I know this is just a short-term thing until my body is back on track and I’m trying to be patient and graceful. (I am neither patient nor graceful.) But I hate not having strength in myself to do it all. (None of us do.) I fall prey to the trap of comparison. (It’s a joy suck.) I feel all these negative things – yes, a bit of self-pity and woe – and I cried.

Yesterday, I went to work. I puttered a bit when I came home in the afternoon. I sat down to finish writing a review and while pondering my words, I fell asleep. Kevin worked a bit later than usual. It was dark when he got home. (It’s dark very early now but it’s nice to wake up to sunlight.) We had a time-sensitive errand to run. Dinner hadn’t been made. I looked at him in the car shortly before 7 and said “I’m done.” I was frustrated. We bought takeout for dinner and I left the dishes until this morning. I felt guilty and then realised how stupid it was to feel guilty. I didn’t cry though. Maybe I did. I was in such a fog that I honestly don’t remember. The family was cared for in a different way and did what needed to be done even if it was a shortcut. Everyone went to bed with full bellies. No one was hurt by the dishes in the sink.

Today I slept in. It was lovely. I embraced the day with a to do list. I sat down at 1:30 p.m. to write this because… guess what? I am done. Not done my to do list. Just done. My list has fallen to the wayside. (Technically it’s on my phone still waiting for me to check items off.) I started to feel frustrated at all that remains to be done. I was falling into the trap of comparison and self-pity again. But I stopped. Grabbed a cold Diet Pepsi out of the fridge. Sat down and realized what’s left on the to-do list doesn’t matter right now – the to-do list will never end. Ever. What does matter is finding pride in what I have accomplished even if that doesn’t look like what you accomplished or what she-who-shall-not-be-named-but-makes-me-look-like-a-slacker accomplished. Because we’re not the same person. We’re not in the same place.

Today I am satisfied with what I’ve already done before I ran out of steam (remember, my tank is pretty small right now – it doesn’t take a lot to hit empty.) This morning I cleaned two bathrooms, emptied and loaded the dishwasher, washed a overflowing sink full of things that aren’t dishwasher friendly by hand, I’ve washed, dried, and folded three loads of laundry, I started a new devotional, I wrote a note to a friend, I fed and watered the pets, I changed our bedsheets, I cleaned the washer and dryer (why do we have so much dusty lint?) and I have two pots of soup on the go. Soup one is a creamy tomato and white bean. (In case you think I’ve got it all together – you know, judging by my masterful command of life and emotions – I may have, most definitely, burnt the beans as I write this – we’ll hope it adds a depth of smoky flavour to the soup – my kitchen no longer smells delicious.) Soup two is a roasted butternut with maple and bacon marmalade. I’ll keep some for dinner, some for the freezer, some for a friend. And I’m done. Not fully done. I’ll still putter. But I’m going to sit down, find a snack, and realize that sitting, thinking, recharging, resting – they’re important too.

My point in all this? Don’t lose heart. Don’t get angry when you look at the unconquerable to-do list. Take stock of what you have accomplished even if it takes some reframing. Didn’t get to the laundry, but raked the leaves with your youngest? You spent time with the kids and got fresh air and exercise. Dishes are clean but your bed didn’t get made? You spent time in the kitchen. Stayed in bed with nothing more than a book? You took a day for yourself. Stripped all the wallpaper in your ugly bathroom but forgot to make dinner? Order a pizza and take a hot shower. Kept the kids alive but your hair and/or teeth haven’t been brushed? You. Kept. Kids. Alive. (Major accomplishment, right there, for some kids.)

Don’t judge your accomplishments OR YOUR WORTH by what you see on social media, your friends, your family, or how you think people are judging you. My morning? Super productive actually but if I look at what I have left to do, it’s but a tiny piece of the puzzle. My afternoon? Also productive – I’ll be taking care of some really valuable things (i.e. myself alongside my physical and mental health.) For you, those valuable things may be your health, your kids, your loved one. While I sit and pause I might just find the energy to take a shower and change out of these pajamas. There’s nothing wrong with being productive, just remember that there’s nothing wrong with ignoring the to-do list once in awhile either. You matter beyond any checkmark.

Our Hectic Mundane… and A Book Recommendation

It’s a quiet Friday morning in September – it was 3 degrees (Celsius) when I woke up and I can feel in my frozen toes that winter is coming.The boys have headed back to school, but like most people around here, that has meant nothing in terms of routine. As of today, we are officially on our specific schedules which still seems to involve a lot of juggling with varied timetables even though we opted (optimistically) for in person learning. My contract was reestablished and I headed back into the office on a scaled-back schedule.

While I have a few hours to myself (the oldest is only out of the house for 3 hours, every other day) on this dedicated “day off”, I sat down with a Tetley gingerbread tea latte (featuring a combo almond/coconut milk and oat milk froth because I’m eliminating reducing dairy) and realized I have a to-do list, yes, but nowhere and nothing that NEED to be done. If I want to sit in my pajamas all day and read, well, I could do that – guilt-free. (I won’t though, because I don’t think that’s what my body needs today. Yesterday, yes – I worked, I napped, I ate (ugh) cup-o-soup for dinner instead of the veggie stir fry I prepared because I wasn’t feeling up to anything. Not all days are a success on this journey.)

I have been scaling back on my NetGalley reads – the to-be read list is still ridiculously long, but so is my pile of books I’ve actually invested in. I most recently picked up The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri from the fabulous Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge. (It’s one of my favourite independent bookstores – probably my favourite locally!) I’ve been tip-toeing my way through this title because I’m feeling book burnout. It’s an unfortunate state of being. So instead of reading what I “need” to – as I felt I was sometimes missing the pleasure of the read and therefore, perhaps unconsciously skewing my reviews – I opted to read something that grabbed me in the moment.

The Wikipedia summary of this title blandly states: The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a 2019 novel by Christy Lefteri. It deals with the flight of refugees from Aleppo in Syria to Europe during the Syrian Civil War. While a work of fiction, it is based on the author’s experience over two summers volunteering in Athens at a refugee center.

What Wikipedia fails to mention is the passion, heartache, and beauty that has gone into this work. I don’t have a full review for you – I’m only half-way through, but I would, based on reading to date, recommend this title to anyone and everyone. It’s captivating and moving and almost too much for me to read in a binge session. It’s heavy-weighted and I need air in between passages at times, but it’s beautiful. Perhaps my view is a little slanted because as I read, I can’t help but relate the carefully crafted words to the experiences those of my own limited acquaintance have encountered as they lived the plight of the refugee.

So today, I leave you with that recommendation and quick glimpse into our current life. Myself? Well while the dishwasher runs, my toes warm under a blanket on the couch, and the kittens (yes, we adopted two kittens this summer) run amok through the house, I will take a few breaths, enjoy my few hours of freedom, find joy in the sunshine, and peace in our special hectic mundane (which may or may not involve unclogging a shower drain – oh the glamour!)

A Pondering Insomniac…

I have been struggling with insomnia the last week or so… ridiculously struggling considering a few weeks ago I was in bed by 10 p.m. most nights and sleeping a solid 8-10 hours. I close my eyes and will myself to sleep, eventually drifting off only to jolt awake with my heart racing and absolute alertness a short half hour later. Then I toss and turn for hours, while Kevin snores beside me and I want to silence those snores with his pillow (pure jealousy) or invest in some really good earplugs. I give up on sleeping and start to read until blessedly, I nod off mid-chapter – bringing me some sweet relief until morning comes when I fight the lingering headache that remains of my troubled eve.

Tonight, I haven’t even attempted to close my eyes, though I have been clenching my teeth. My mind is racing, pondering life and all its dichotomies, thoughts zinging and pinging, bouncing around like the ball in a pinball machine. I know sleep is a phantom I have no hope of catching until my mind quiets itself. I hope putting pen to paper, so to speak, will help do the trick.

Tonight, I learned we lost another uncle – another loved one. There’s yet another hole in our family tapestry, another individual who will be absent at family picnics. I honestly want to stomp my feet, throw a fit, and say, “No more!” I am heartbroken for my aunt who has lost her partner, lover, friend; for my cousins who won’t feel his arms around them in hello or his whiskers on their cheeks as he gives a farewell kiss; for my mom, the baby of the family who lost her older brother and holds just memories of moments together, but didn’t get a chance to actually say goodbye.

I feel angry because those who loved him will not be able to comfort one another in person or gather to celebrate his life. I’m upset that what will already be a difficult time of adjustment will be complicated by the restraints of this current climate. I know we can share words of compassion and sympathy, but who will be there to hold the Kleenex or a hand when reality hits hard?

I feel guilty, because while I know Uncle Joe will be missed, while his family mourns tonight, I tend to my family as though life continues just the same. Because life does continue and I have a “baby” who is turning thirteen in two short days who wants his mama to make his day extra special because he can’t celebrate as planned. I feel guilty because we’re embracing life with excitement and I feel like we *should* be subdued. I feel like it’s not fair to be celebrating while another family mourns.

However, as much as “babies” want special surprises on their birthdays, Mama’s tend to want to make things extra special when things don’t go as planned. So my mind is filled with thoughts about life, and love, and loss, and I have teary eyed moments interspersed with to-do lists and visions of chocolate layer cakes “with a surprise” and DIY birthday escape room puzzles because as of this afternoon I heard, “So if I can’t go to an escape room for my birthday, can you surprise me with things I have to solve to find my present?”

As I sit here wide-eyed and restless, I’ll use this moment of insomnia to continue to ponder, to think, to plan. I’ll remember that life is a balance and it’s the little things you celebrate and the special but ordinary moments you look back on when all is said and done. If 40 years from now we find snapshots of a 13th birthday under quarantine and my then 53 year old can smile at the memories he made with his mother and know he was loved beyond measure, then I’ll know that we successfully drove home the life lesson that our best laid plans don’t matter… but love and people do. ♥️

The Dream of Silence

This morning as the alarm went off, I had visions of a leisurely day ahead. I pictured myself resting in some comfy clothes, book in hand, between loads of laundry, cups of tea, and dishes. The dog would snuggle up to me, I’d turn the ringer off on my phone, I’d bask in the silence.

Then real life set in and my dreams were but a puff of smoke. One child yelling about how much he dislikes school and telling me I’m not his mother (a familiar 7 a.m. refrain.) The other boy slept in a little and woke up grumpy. The buses were late because of the cold and my hard won silence was more of a mad, rapid descent into pandemonium.

J. made it onto the bus, albeit late, bundled up head to toe. Once he made it out the door, I though we were in the clear. Kaleb made it out as well, without any posted delays. I erroneously prepared to indulge in my comforter again a short time before meeting the day.

But the text messages started. “Mom, the bus isn’t here. It’s cold. Is there a delay?” This followed by him coming into the house asking the same questions. While I try to track the bus, I hear it from the recesses of my bedroom, driving past my driveway – child still in the house. No big deal. Just a little hiccup. I will drive him in. He’ll still be on time and no, child, you’re not missing school. It’s an organized study day before your exams.

Except, I forgot to plug in my car last night and it wouldn’t start. Now what? We plug it in for a short time and I get him to school just minutes after the bell rings. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough. I’ve taken care of the immediate fires, but I’m frazzled and the bliss of silence needs to be fought for again. It’s fine – a great excuse for a chai latte and a muffin… and now that I’m out, I might as well do something with my day. Shopping, anyone?

My No-Resolution Resolution

We have been flung full-force into real life once again. I made no resolutions this year because I’m pretty darned perfect! (I kid, people. I kid.) I made no resolutions this year because I’m honest enough with myself to know that unless they involve books, I’m probably not going to keep them, and in all honestly, my bad book habits probably aren’t going to change either. (I’m talking about my piles of unread books from years ago, but can’t walk past a bookstore or book table habit.)

We started the new year sunkissed and refreshed. I had a few very brief day-dreamy moments where I considered the possibility that maybe life would slow down a little in 2020. (Hard no.) And yet, I’m already yearning for a slightly slower pace of life. I contemplate the far off reality of retirement with eager anticipation, but I’m in no rush to get there – just rushing in general.

Today on Facebook I read this beautiful post by The Life on Purpose Movement. It struck a chord. Then I commented “Goals.” right below it, and didn’t see the dichotomy of the image and my statement until later this afternoon to much amusement. Maybe it resonated so deeply because it’s such a deep seated need in so many of our lives.

This week we jumped back into life full swing. We’ve dealt with miscommunication, misspending, and mistakes. We’ve prepared to do lists, we’ve ticked off items, we’ve created (and veered from) meal plans. We’ve tried to balance family time, chauffeuring, volunteer commitments, friendships, household routine, and when we’re tired and frazzled and empty, our relationship and our alone time.

We’re no different than anyone else, but this frenetic, constant pace of life has left me empty. Not a soul-deep, heart shattering emptiness – but after giving (and biting my tongue and just listening) and living, even though our tanks started out so full, I’m running on fumes and it’s literally been a week. I need a moment to feel, to breathe, to find my feet again.

So, no, I haven’t made resolutions on a calendar – no weight goals, no lists, no accomplishments. Instead, I resolve to continue to strive to find a healthy balance. I continue to try to see more than a list of things to be done. I will continue to prioritize faith, family, and friendships. I will learn to speak up for myself (oh the value of “no” and “no, thank you!”) I will keep my ears open to listen to others and practice the pause before responding. (I’m sorry if I fail on this one and you get the sharp edge of my temper or my tongue.)

I will find grace to forgive myself in my mistakes. I will humbly apologize when I’ve messed up. I will grow. I will change. No doubt, I will generally stay the same, but hopefully improve each day by small interactions, little blessings, and finding quiet peace in cherished quiet moments.

So what’s my view for 2020? Here’s to a happier, healthier, still-the-same-at-heart me.

With Heavy Heart…

My grandfather passed away unexpectedly and peacefully this morning at the age of 86. A mason by trade, yesterday he was still laying blocks with the assistance of a grandson. To say that none of us saw this coming would be an incredible understatement. When my mom called with the news, I responded with “No.” Short, simple. No. He cannot be gone. It was inconceivable.

My family gathered at my grandparents’ home to mourn, to laugh, to honour a man of great morals and faith, to support my grandmother, and find solace in each others’ company.

I’m not a hugger. I have a huge personal bubble. When you get the family together, boundaries seem to disappear. I believe there are 80 of us once all the great-grandchildren are counted. I’m the oldest grandchild. The first grandaughter. I have first cousins younger than my children. Hugs were important today. Tears mattered, too.

It’s not been an easy summer for our family. There’s been loss and bad news and now another loss. There’s also been hope and growth and new additions. Life is like that. There’s good. There’s bad. Through it all you stand. Sometimes you crawl. Sometimes you come to a complete stop and can do nothing but kneel. Often you’re carried by the support of others who care.

We sang a hymn in church on Sunday. It made me think of Pake (grandfather.) I was going to send him a message on Facebook to let him know. He used to digitally “stalk” the family at large and knew everything going on in each of our lives through what we shared. I wish I had sent that message. I wish I had told him that the thought of him made me smile in the middle of a church service.

Instead, I think our last interaction involved him calling me trouble and charging Kevin to make sure I stayed out of it. It was all said in humour and love. He was cheeky and sarcastic and loud and stubborn and wonderful. He had a twinkle in his eye and a smirk that makes me think that if I’m trouble, I came by it honestly. His smile could light up a room.

Once when I was a teenager, I did groceries with my mom. We bumped into Pake shopping in his klompen. His booming voice could be heard across the store. Imagine my dismay as he took me by the arm to the back of the store where he introduced me to a store clerk that he knew and said I didn’t have a boyfriend. There is a mountain of memories of his larger-than-life antics.

I wish I could feel his hands on my upper arms, squeezing as we say our goodbyes, as he has one last word of “wisdom” to share before we drive home. I wish my boys could sit with him having a gentle conversation about life. I wish I had more conversations about his life in Friesland. I wish.

Time has run out and wishes are useless. I mentioned as we drove home that every part of me feels heavy – my eyes, my head, my body, my heart. So while it may be cliche, make the phone call, send the message, ask the questions. Cherish the small things – one day they’ll be the warm memories that fill your heart.

Pake, you will absolutely be missed. Squeezing into the basement for family gatherings will not be the same. You’ve made an incredible impact on many lives. I’ll always think of you when we sing “How Great Thou Art.” Your voice will echo in my head as I hear you bellowing with a sweet and confident devotion, Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee, how great Thou art, how great Thou art…”

Meal Plan Monday

I haven’t posted a meal plan in awhile… mostly because I haven’t meal planned in awhile. The summer tends to be more low key. I’m still not feeling as well as I’d like and some days I sleep through meal prep time a d we tend to grab food at one of our favourite local haunts. We’ve had a loss on the family, a new baby arrived, a very special birthday (mine!) and life has just been hard.

With back to school on the horizon and the need to budget (because no meal plan = more money spent on good), I decided to whip up a plan this week. Some days are busier than others – I’m attending a First Aid course tomorrow and Wednesday… and we still have some back to school errands to run, anniversary party for my in-laws and maybe we’ll squeeze in that last summer beach trip. Hopefully this plan will help with taming some of the chaos.

Tonight, we’re using up some new potatoes and the discounted ground pork I found at the grocery store this afternoon to enjoy some loaded tex-mex wedges. I managed to add tomatoes and spinach to the meat so we’ll be getting our fair share of colour, plus we’re topping with red pepper and green onion. I also have a million cucumbers in the fridge so I’ll probably slice one to eat on the side.

Here’s our menu at a glance:

  • Loaded wedges
  • French dip sandwiches
  • Breakfast for dinner (probably omelettes)
  • Enchiladas
  • Chicken Alfredo
  • Hamburger casserole (like Hamburger Helper but a little bit healthier)

Lots of comfort food and a few that I can use the Crock-Pot for. I think we’ll be well fed this week.

Just Wondering… Why Me?

Heads up that I’ll be whining here a bit. I’m feeling a little sorry for myself. A lot frustrated. Even more angry.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I haven’t been feeling well, I’ve been exhausted, etc… I didn’t go deep into detail because I didn’t really know what was going on and brushed off many symptoms as related to known issues.

Last weekend while people were enjoying a beautiful Saturday, I was lying in emerge. Fun times. I was seriously scared I was having a heart attack and once triaged, was put into a room immediately. When it comes to emergency medicine, I’m pretty sure you want to be the patient asked to sit in the waiting room because it’s not serious.

A number of tests were ordered including ECGs, blood panels, etc. The attending E.R. doctor came in eventually and said, “The good news is your heart is fine. The bad news is your thyroid isn’t working properly.” She then called in an internist who gave me a very (brief) overview and a prescription for beta blockers that stopped the heart palpitations (yes!), but didn’t address the thyroid issues.

This week I’ve been a mess. The “not feeling well” has gone beyond not feeling well… and I still didn’t know what was going on. I booked an appointment with my endocrinologist that oversees the Type 1 treatment. She’s thorough and autoimmune disorders are her specialty. Unfortunately they couldn’t see me until today.

Yesterday I crashed my GPs office in tears. When I say I was a mess, I mean that he concurred. Emotional, pained, exhausted, worried, hot, nauseous, stubborn high blood sugar, head aches, etc. He provided a calm listening ear, reassured me that I’ve done nothing wrong, and offered encouragement saying that things will get better.

At my endo appointment, she discussed things further. Ordered additional tests to confirm or determine the cause (suspected Graves disease.) Sent me for more bloodwork and prescribed additional meds. Pretty much told me I’m unfortunately vulnerable to the very thing that’s supposed to keep me healthy.

So I’m mad. Why has MY immune system gone rogue? Why do I have to deal with not one, but two, serious autoimmune disorders? Why do they have to complicate each other? Why can’t I just make it through a week without needing naps and Tylenol and gravol and multiple medications? I’m trying to stay positive… but honestly, I’m also heart sore at the moment.

Anyone have tips for better living and eating to protect your thyroid? Please forgive my complaints – I know that there are others dealing with far worse complaints… But honestly, at the moment, I just want to feel like me again – happy, productive me. I’m indulging a little bit of wondering… why me???

Rambling on a Busy Week

I haven’t read as much as I’d have liked to this week. It’s been crazy busy – so busy I may have forgotten an important appointment, whoops! I’ve had some turnover in our office that has required some flexibility, we volunteered our time for a massive fundraising yard sale, and of course, we celebrated one special kid’s birthday. All important things on top of the normal things and by the time I’ve managed to sit down or crawl into bed, my body has been saying “Close your eyes, woman!”

I allowed the birthday boy (because he’s the birthday boy all week) skip school today. Last night, he was working alongside adults and pulling his weight (and more than) helping to move boxes and furniture for the yard sale, in the damp, in the dark, no complaining. Today, they moved everything again (out into the field) so he asked if he could help hands-on so I made the call that community service was an important learning opportunity for him as well. I’m remarkably proud of his generous and kind heart.

When we got home this afternoon, a little chilly and damp, he turned on the Food Network while I puttered around tidying the house (before my BRAND NEW WASHING MACHINE is delivered tomorrow! Pinnacle of adulthood!) He left it on when he moved to his room and I’ve been sucked into the web of Carnival Food, Firemasters, and Chopped. In all reality, I should really be vacumming the couch, but I just don’t want to move. Honestly, I could take a nap. The dog is cozy looking on his bed, snoring out loud, and I’m a little jealous.

I know this is all a ramble and I really don’t have a point… but sometimes I just need to spew in a sort of decompression. We have a busy weekend ahead – Mother’s Day lunch with my in-laws, Sunday School prep (I keep forgetting that I’m the teacher this week!), church (and Sunday school), and dinner with Kevin’s in-laws (aka my family.)

So here are my final thoughts… how do you decompress or carve out a time to recharge when you’ve had a busy, productive week and know that the weekend isn’t going to be any better? And how will you be honouring Mom this weekend? I always jokingly comment that we’re so busy celebrating all the other moms that this mom doesn’t get any time for herself. Any others mamas feel that way? Mothers Day weekend is as hectic as Christmas.

Chubby Cheeks & Endless Love

By all outward appearances, today was the same as any other day. My boys bickered over breakfast. I had to remind them to feed the dog three times. I’m pretty sure they both forgot to put deodorant on this morning and I’m not entirely sure they brushed their teeth. Some punches were thrown in the backseat of the car. We tripped over things lying around in the house. There are dishes in the sink.

But today was a special day as well. Our youngest is twelve years old. For those who are familiar with our J, he is one of a kind special. He’s quite adept at pushing buttons and to be honest, he can be a little bit annoying. He’s also remarkably curious. He’s creative. His imagination will keep him entertained for hours. He loves to talk (he gets that from his dad, of course.) He struggles with school at times (but I think it’s boredom and how easily he’s distracted) but he gets pretty good grades. He doesn’t have many close friends, but he’s friendly with everyone. He doesn’t walk – anywhere – he dances, he skips, he wiggles. He can be impulsive, he can be mischievous, he can be sweet as sugar. He’s a cuddler and a thinker and just a wee bit weird.

As he ages, I want him to be all of those things. I want him to have a plan for life, but be comfortable marching to the beat of his own drum. I want him to be respectful of others, but never compromise who he is at heart. I want him to indulge his curiosity and share his learning with absolutely everyone and everyone. Taking inspiration from the words of Thor’s mom in the latest Avenger’s movie, “Everyone fails at who they’re supposed to be… a measure of a person, of a hero, is how well they succeed at being who they are.” – along these lines, I want him to have the confidence to be the very best version of himself without ever bearing the weight of other’s expectations. I pray he is successful and follows his path and that he remains true to himself and God’s plan along the way.

2007 | Cuddles in the NICU

I look back over the last 12 years and remember the chubby cheeked babe who spent a week in the NICU. I remember the baby in the backyard who couldn’t stand the grass. The toddler who loved the mud and always had a grin on his face. The toothless wonder cheeky in school pictures. The young student who got in trouble for having a collection of erasers in his desk – and using them to enact battles during class time. The boy who loves art shows and takes so. much. time. selecting. art. cards for his room. The one who participates in craft shows and volunteers to set up our church kids’ camp every summer. The boy who wanted to buy a book about birds and spent hours lying on the trampoline bird watching. The one who gets emotional in books but claims to hate reading. I miss the chubby cheeks and endless rolls – the innocence of the whys and hows of the toddler years – but I also love and cherish every moment that is shaping his future as a man. I hope he nevers forgets how amazing we think he is and that in another twelve years he can look back on his time in our home and know that he is loved beyond measure.