Ode to My Fresh 10-Year-Old

Happy birthday my Caleb! The only thing crazier than my eldest turning 10 today, is the fact this also means we’ve been doing this parenting thing now for a whole decade.

I had to take months of behind-the-wheel before they gave me my license. I had to sit through four years of classes and exams (on top of the thirteen I already had under my belt) before I could get my degree and diploma to prove it. I had to interview with like six different people, intern, and hand over countless references before my first company hired me. I had to go through almost a year of forms and questionnaires and more interviews about all areas of my personal life before someone in the government decided I was responsible and trustworthy enough to handle sensitive documents and info for my job. Eight weeks of waiting for a passport. A month or so of applications and interviews before adopting our first dog. And then…

…I waddled into Fairfax hospital at the age of 23, and Kevin and I walked out shortly after with ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. To keep. I’m not sure they even asked us any questions to really make sure we knew what to do with the needy 7-pounder that was now ours. Mercy. …And guess what? WE HAVE KEPT THAT CUTE LITTLE GUY ALIVE FOR TEN WHOLE YEARS.
And not to say it hasn’t been a bumpy road, or that parenting isn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but there is no question this freshly turned 10-year-old has changed my life.

Oh Caleb. He’s 10 going on 75. He’s an old soul who knows what he wants. Sometimes I feel like I’m raising a mix of Ron Swanson and Steve Jobs. He prefers classic literature and 50-year-old chapter books. He watches documentaries, cooking shows, and “This Old House.” He loves real estate. He has a notebook titled, “My Business Ideas,” and can turn a $2 investment into $54 in an afternoon or two out in the neighborhood. He’s the kind of kid who enjoys putting money into his savings account (yet he’s surpringly generous when he is confronted with a person in need). He loves sports. Playing, watching, discussing. The day we let him join our Fantasy League is a day our lives were forever changed 😉 He prefers homeschooling so he can get his work done, cut out the fluff, and get outside. He really likes being around people, but isn’t particularly sentimental. He reads history textbooks for fun as he goes to sleep. He knows a trillion more facts than me, and doesn’t let me forget it (and frequently questions whether or not I even went to school). He likes coffee, and games, and likes to cook. He’s incredibly useful and capable and smart and independent. He says whatever immediately pops in his mind. He doesn’t really care what people think. He is not a follower.

He is going to do big things, and my prayer is that he will do those big things for the glory of God. I love watching this kid grow, and growing along with him!

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My June in December

Happy birthday June bug. I’ve been keeping you alive, and growing you, and getting to know you for a whole YEAR.

You have so many fans. Loud and dirty ones, but lots of fun. And they may fight like crazy with each other, but they are convinced that YOU are the most adorable tiny thing to ever grace this earth and everything you do is either amazing or hilARious. There are benefits to being the youngest.

I’m sorry you’ll never know what peace, and quiet, and personal space are. I’m sorry we didn’t do anything for your birthday, because we knew you’d have no idea. I’m sorry you were born smack in the middle of the craziness that’s Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m sorry I named you June when you were born in December.

It’s just that June is my favorite. It’s that exciting time when you feel like you’ve been doing hard things for way too long and you’re so ready for the next season. After all that cold, and school, and rain, and dreariness, it’s that indescribable feeling you get as you walk out into your first day of summer break and you have the entire summer in front of you. I’m still like a crazy, hyperactive little kid on this day. And you’re a tiny bit sad because you know you’ll miss some things and nothing will be quite the same again. It’s not that you hated the winter, it’s just that summer, or more the anticipation of summer, is just so GLORIOUS.

And that is you. Our last little babe. The one God surprised us with because he knew I wasn’t quite ready to graduate yet. Apparently, I still had more to learn. And it was kinda like being in summer school there for a bit, but now you’re ONE and we’re both pumped to move on to the bigger and different things ahead of us. And I’m a tiny bit sad, but a whole lot excited and so very thankful for my sweet little June and the gift you are in the middle of this crazy season…

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Four and Fierce

Happy Birthday my Nora!

You are FOUR. Live it up, kid, because four is my very favorite of all of ’em.

You’re big, but not too big. Everything you say is still funny, and yet you’re old enough to empty the dishwasher. Out of diapers, but you don’t have to go to school. So independent, but you still rock a nap. I can snuggle you on the couch and then send you to go play outside. I think you’re going to be so good at four.

You were our very first baby woman. And I said this all last year, and I’ll say it again… You came into our lives, and we’ll never be the same. As soon as we found out you were a girl, we thought we finally pulled off making a quiet, docile one. We were stupid. But I guess God knew after years of living with my three boys, I wouldn’t have a clue what to do with one of those. You’re going to do big things kid. It doesn’t seem like you’ve figured out how to do anything else.

And as terrifying as that is in such a tiny little package who seems to think she’s 13, PRAISE THE LORD he gave you two big brothers and a strong and capable Daddy, because I’m not entirely confident I’d be able to keep you alive (or those around you alive) by myself. Love you, Bean.

Luke 1:45 “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord had said to her will be accomplished.” And it will. Not because you will accomplish it yourself, my sweet thing, but because HE will. And I pray that He will be the source and the object of that strength in your life.
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What Not to Do When You Forget Your Child’s Birthday…

Oh mercy. It’s official. I think I’ve just experienced my two lowest parenting moments yet (which is saying a lot). TWO. In the span of less than thirty minutes.
And I’m actually going to publicize what I have just done.

Abridged transcript of this fateful morning:

It all began like most of our days begin, with two-year-old Nora displaying her intense will and sassiness in all its glory. By wanting things that do not exist and not wanting things that can never be changed. I think this one had something to do with the uppermost top of her oatmeal not hitting that imaginary “acceptability line” within her bowl, while Jack’s (whose had already been eaten) did happen to be at the proper level.

Fast forward lots of words and emotions and toddler curses to the “timeout” step.

Me: “Nora, don’t move for TWO MINUTES! Lucky for you, you don’t turn three until Friday, though I’m tempted to make you sit for three minutes anyways!”

Jack: “It IS Friday! Nora’s three TODAY right, Mommy?? Are we surprising her!?”

Me: [silence]

Jack: “Nora! I’ll sing Happy Birthday to you while you’re in timeout, okay?”

So Jack starts grandly serenading Nora in her birthday timeout (which she is thoroughly enjoying), while I run to the basement and grab the “Happy Birthday” banner and sign, throwing it up in the kitchen like a crazy person. In utter shock that this was happening AND that I had brilliantly decided to set a timer for the FIRST time ever, which meant I only had 1 minute and about 45 seconds left to whip up a birthday before the stupid alarm went off.

[Nora running into the kitchen excitedly at the sound of that dastardly timer going off, seeing my “clearly” planned/well-thought out decorations] “YAY, IT’S MY BIRFDAY, IT’S MY BIRFDAY!!”

Me: “Yes!! And I’m so excited! Let me get a birthday hug and kiss! Here’s your…birthday oatmeal. And your…BIRTHDAY banana.” (which apparently makes all the difference, because she happily woofs it down now with no mention of the grossly unfair “oatmeal line”).

Then we sing “Happy Birthday” again because I’m not totally sure what else to do, followed by some practice saying her new super-exciting age a bunch of times.

And while Jack is giving her the low-down on all the fun birthday things they’ll be doing today, I race to my computer (whispering some choice toddler curses under my breath) to check the tracking on her birthday present I ordered, that I could have sworn was supposed to be here the day before her birthday. And I notice the date…

Me: “WHAT??!!! HER BIRTHDAY IS TOMORROW NOT TODAY!! PRAISE THE LAAAAAAAAWD.”

I should not have said this.

Jack: “Whoooooa! It is NOT your birthday today Nora! We need to take down your sign and your birthday decorations!”

You should NOT say such things to a two-ish-three year old.
I’m not totally clear how, but in the seven minutes she was fake-three, she seemed to have learned all sorts of new THREE-year-old toddler curses and coping mechanisms. Is it just me, or do three-year-olds not handle disappointment particularly well?

So Jack is running through the house singing, “Happy NOT Birthday” (I’m being totally serious), and Nora is following behind trying to attack him with the strength of a thousand angry 2.9 year-olds, as she screams “IT IS MY BIRFDAY! I WANT MY BIRFDAY NOW!! I am NOT TWO. SING HAPPY BIRFDAAAAAAAY TO ME, JACK!” While I frantically try to call husband and ask him for advice on what one would normally do when you find oneself in a situation such as this…

Well. It’s looking like our sweet lil’ thing is gonna be getting TWO birthdays this year. OH MY WORD, I have to do this all over again tomorrow…

Happy Friday everyone!!!

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