Friday, May 17, 2013

4 years old.

Dear Carinna,

Today you are 4 years old!

This year hasn't been as exciting, in the world of accomplishments, as other years have been. You have already passed the walking, talking, learning to be sassy milestones. You haven't yet reached the reading and writing milestones. But, we did find out that you will need glasses! Sorry, you got that from me.

You have started to really ride your bike. That has been exciting! You used to only pedal half-heartedly while whining and complaining that it was all too hard! I guess when you finally realized that this just meant you got left behind you decided to make an effort to do it right. Now you're speed racer, zooming up and down the streets in our neighborhood. The only problem now is that you spend more time watching your legs pedal the bike and not enough time watching the road. This has resulted in several run-ins with the curb. It's not pretty.

This year has been just as drama-filled as the past three years were! You have a stubborn streak a mile wide and dad and I try our best to work through it, but I have to admit... it's challenging. There have been moments that dad and I have looked at each other knowing that if someone could bottle up the feelings of frustration, helplessness, exhaustion and weariness that we feel during some of your would be THE most effective form of birth control in the universe. You are challenging. Your Grandma and aunts just can't believe that you have this side of you (although I think they really can!). Much of the time you are sweet and cuddly and eager to please. It's really kind of amazing how you can switch from acting one way to being the complete opposite in minutes. You can really be challenging. But we love you just the way you are. I hope that some day in the future this stubbornness will serve you well.

You have the best laugh I have ever heard. It's not your "being silly" laugh or your "goofy 4 year old" laugh. It's the laugh that comes out when you've been taken by complete surprise. It starts in your tiny belly and shoots out of your mouth with such force that you throw your head back and close your eyes. It's infectious. No body can resist laughing with you. It's a wonderful sound.

You are a lover. That sounds kind of strange, but it really sums you up. You are compassionate and caring about those around you. You are sweet to Maggie and talk to her in a voice so high pitched it's almost difficult to understand. You mother your brothers to the point that you make them mad! You have the need to be the nurturer and lover of all living (and many non-living) things in our home. Often times we find that if we can just love you through a stubborn moment or a melt-down, you will recover much faster. Sometimes it is difficult to figure out how that should look, but we're working on it!

Later this year you will begin pre-K at Providence, like your brother did last year. You are really excited about "going to Caden's school!" We are excited too, but finding uniforms to fit your little frame is a tad difficult! I think it will be good for you! You seem to think it makes you so big to be attending there!

You are still tiny. You remain in the 10th percentile for your height and weight, weighing in at 30 lbs (less than your two year old brother). At your 4 year check-up they pricked your finger for an anemia test. Girl, you would have thought they cut your finger off with all the crying and screaming that followed. I mean, seriously. Seriously. But the nurse did say you are a bleeder! You filled up two vials in seconds and the flow was so fast that my hands looked like a crime scene from trying to help the nurse staunch the flow of blood. That may have had a little to do with how freaked out you were! Other than your amazingly frustrating eczema, you checked out happy and healthy...or at least healthy... finger prick.

The world is your musical. You break out in song about most everything you do. Usually during rest time, while you're in your room, you will start singing so loudly that I have to ask you to keep it down. One of these days you will wake up Cooper and I will not be very happy about it! But you will probably just turn it into a song and carry on as though nothing happened. I suppose the world would be a better place if we could all dance around singing about brushing our teeth or cleaning our rooms. Cheesy, but better.

You are a dancing fool. Your current favorite activity is dancing like a ballerina. You spin and leap and close your eyes while making everyone within viewing distance watch and cheer. Over the summer you will be taking a ballet and tumble class. I think you will love it!

You think you're a princess. Or at least that you will be when you grow up. Current career goal: princess. I have struggled with whether or not you should be so into princesses. But I have decided that, for now, you view princesses as the epitome of all things girly and that's ok with me. You aren't hung up on beauty or wealth or the power of princesses. You love the flowing dresses and the jewelry they wear. You have asked several times when you will go to princess school, which is based on the fact that you take classes for anything you want to be/ do. You want to swim...go to swim lessons. You want to dance...take dance lessons. You want to be a princess...go to princess school. It makes me laugh every time. The first time you asked me I was pretty sure my heart would burst because it was the cutest thing ever... and you were dead serious.

You are all girl. You see no point in wearing shorts or pants. What's the point of wearing something that doesn't have the ability to twirl out when you spin around? And the twirlier the better! Dresses and skirts dominate your wardrobe. They make you feel beautiful. I love it! Plus, it's fun to have someone in this house who recognizes when I wear new shoes or a new dress. Someone who loves all my jewelry and always wants to borrow it...especially my wedding ring. I'm thankful to have a girl!

I'm looking forward to all the things you will learn in the next year! As always, I have so many hopes and dreams for your future.

This year, my wish for you is this:
~May you always have a stubborn streak that allows you to stand up for what is right and fight against injustice.
~May you always have a little sass and add a little dramatic flair to your world!
~May you always find so much joy in life that you feel the need to dance and sing every single day!
~May you always show compassion and love to those around you.
~May you always be as girly as you want to be.
~May you always love to twirl.
~May you always know that you are beautiful because God created you to be just the way you are... and He makes all things beautiful.
~May you always know that you are deeply and fiercely loved.

Happiest of birthdays, sweet Carinna Grace!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dear Cooper,

Today you are two years old. Two seems so old, but you are very much still the baby of the family. By this age, both Caden and Carinna were big siblings and that may be why you still seem much younger than two.

So many things have happened and changed for you this year. You started attending Mother's Day Out at the same school your siblings have attended. I was so worried that you would be that kid. You know, the one that cries the whole time their parents are away. But you adjusted really well and are in L.O.V.E. with Mrs. Connie, your teacher.

You love to look at books. It's really something that all of you kids have enjoyed and I can't tell you how happy that makes me! I find you in your rocking chair surrounded by books very often. You call it "rocka book."
You love hair. Still. We assume it is because you have none. Still. You rub your sticky little hands in our hair every chance you get! Any time my head is within your reach you rub your little fingers over and over it. If it's pulled up you pull it down so that you can play with it. Hopefully your future wife and daughters will love to have their hair played with! Maybe we'll start praying for that now!

You are crazy about monster trucks! I don't know when it happened, but one day you started carrying around two monster trucks that belonged to Caden and you have been hooked since. I don't know what kind of redneck mess we have started, but this should be interesting. Every time we are in the car you beg to see monster trucks. Now, I don't know if you have noticed...but we don't pass a lot of monster trucks on the roads in this town. It can be a little frustrating for both of us! But you also love buses and helicopters, too! Those I can usually find while driving around town!

A few months ago you started talking and you haven't stopped. It was like someone flipped a switch and all your words suddenly came pouring out! It was crazy, but fun! We have the best time engaging you in conversation!

You love to sing. During most diaper changes we sing the lovely "I See Your Hiney" song. I am embarrassed to even say that out loud. It is your most favorite, followed by "The Itsy Bitsy Spider". I love to hear you off in another room singing at the top of your lungs. It always makes me smile.

You love to snuggle. Every morning you climb into my lap with your breakfast and hang out there until your breakfast (and mine) are gone. (Then I go make myself my real breakfast and hide in the kitchen to eat it.) Every evening you climb all over dad and eat your bedtime snack with him while watching some tv. If you can be touching someone, whether they want it or not, then you are happy! You often want to be held and almost always lay your head on our shoulders. We love it!

You are a chunk. Still. It will all melt away some day soon, but I love nothing more than to watch your fat little legs run around all day. I also like to squeeze them!

You are incredibly funny. I mean, really. Sometimes I have to get on to you then quickly turn away because I know I'm going to start laughing. You sometimes use your charms for evil and try to manipulate the situation! Your timing is always right on and you make us crack up all the time. Your faces are the funniest thing. We never know what face you will make! Your brother thinks you are hilarious, too. One of my favorite things is to watch you crack him up! And vice versa.

You are BUSY! I mean...whoa. You are constantly in things, on things, under things, destroying things, climbing things, breaking things and knocking down things. And when you are not doing that then you are coloring on things (like walls, tables, the front door). None of the other kids ever realized the joy in coloring on walls and furniture. I thought I made it past the need for Magic Erasers...until you.

 First plane trip.

You are tough! I guess you have to be since you fall about 50 times a day! (See previous paragraph)

You love to eat...and drink. Any time I go into the kitchen to start a meal you immediately run to your chair and sit down and begin demanding to be fed right.then. You tell me how hungry you are about every 5 seconds until I bring you food. Often times I have to turn to Goldfish to pacify you for another five minutes.

Goldfish. What would we do without Goldfish?
 And suckers.
 Riding on Dad's shoulders at Silo Christmas Tree Farm.
 Not loving the hayride.

You hide when you've done something naughty. If I see you hiding behind the curtains I know that there is a path of destruction awaiting discovery. It usually involves markers, but may also include stealing my phone, hitting a sibling, pulling all the books off the shelf or stealing a toy. It's still hard to get mad when I see your little face peaking around the curtain, though!

You and Carinna are the same height and you outweigh her by a few pounds. We stopped calling you the little brother a while ago. I feel confident that from now on we will have to be sure to refer to you as the "younger" brother and not the "little" brother!

You are a copy cat. I suppose this is expected since you are the baby and want to be doing everything that everyone else is doing. We laugh about it most of the time. But there are times when it doesn't make us laugh at when you want to jump from somewhere high because you saw Caden do it. Or the time I caught you precariously perched and hanging above the the stairs to the bunk beds. Those are the times I scream and run to you like a maniac.

We love you so much! You are a joy to our family in so many ways! I think you will always be the jokester; the one cracking jokes and lightening the mood. And you hold the very important role of the baby of our family. You will forever be protected by your big brother and bossed around by your big sister. Best of luck with that!

There are so many things I look forward to as we watch you grow into the man you will become, but this year my wish for you is this:
~May you always be rough and tumble but not afraid to show your compassionate and loving side.
~May you always make those around you smile and laugh.
~May you always have the ability to break the tension and ease moods.
~May you always love to read and learn and grow.
~May you always be busy and channel that into being a productive member of this family and of society.
~May you do what you love, follow your heart and fight for what is right in a world that is so very wrong.
~May you love God with all of your heart and grow in Him daily.

I love you so much...more than you could ever know! Happiest of birthdays my sweet baby boy!


Monday, February 11, 2013


Dear Caden,

Today was a big day in our house! During our school time you sounded out and read...all on your own...the words bat, dog and log!

I was shocked! I had no idea we were quite to the point of you sounding out words.

I was also proud beyond belief! You are so smart and such a good learner! Way to go!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Dear Caden,

This year you have started "real" school. We decided to go a different route with educating you kids and so we have sent you to a blended model school. So far, so good! We have been told that the academic rigor for this school is very high. Throughout the course of your education there will be much expected of you...but so far you LOVE it!

When we got your first lesson plan I discovered that you would be expected to do a lot of memorization. I was a little worried about that since you can't seem to remember- in the time it takes you to walk from one room to the next- what you went to the next room for. But, you are amazing me with your capacity to memorize! So far you have learned the Lord's prayer and the first 22 books of the Old Testament. I mean...come on...Deuteronomy, Ecclesiastes... these are not the easiest words for a 5 year old to remember! But you've got it!

The other day we were doing a math assessment at home. I was to lay out 8 linking cubes (unlinked) and ask you to "do what I did." You set them out exactly as I had. Then I asked you "what makes these (the two rows of blocks) the same?" You sighed deeply. You leaned forward, put your chin in your hand. And said "Well...they're both horizontal."

Horizontal was not the word I was expecting.  To say the least! I'm not even sure where you learned that word...or it's meaning...but you were correct!

None of your answers to that question were "typical." Never once did you say they were all linking cubes, they were both evenly spaced, they were all right-side up. Nope. Those "simple" answers never occurred to you.

I think that sums you up so well. You're a deep thinker. An analyzer (Lord help us)! The obvious things don't interest you, you want to know dig deeper.

Answering all your questions isn't always easy and sometimes we lose our patience...but I hope you never lose your curiosity. I hope you always dig deeper.

Today we had a parent/ teacher conference with Mrs. Stovall. She said that you are doing very well. You seem to be learning and transitioning just as you should be.

Dad asked Mrs. Stovall how you were interacting with the other kids (he was afraid that since you're the oldest you might be too bossy). She said that you are a leader among your peers. We are glad to hear that. We hope you set a good example!

You're a smart kid and you impress us every single day! Keep up the good work!


Friday, September 21, 2012


Dear 33rd Year of My Life,

Today is the last day we shall be together. Tomorrow your term will come to an end and you will be replaced by 34.

It's been and interesting year with you, 33. Many wonderful and happy things have come during your term...but I will forever remember you for some of the most difficult and trying times of my life, thus far. Now, I know that it isn't really your fault, 33. These things came to pass in their own time...they just happen to fall under your term of office. They have nothing to do with you in particular. I don't dislike you for these things, and I guess that because of them you will become seemingly infamous to me. I can see myself years in the future saying "Well, when I was 33..." followed by the telling of one riveting story or another.

During your time in my life I watched my baby get his first teeth, grow leaps and bounds, take his first step and celebrate his first birthday. I watched my girl turn three, learn how to use the potty, grow long locks of strawberry blond hair, become a ballerina...and a self-proclaimed princess. I watched my big boy turn five, head off to "real" school, develop an amazing artistic side and wow me with his capacity to learn. I celebrated 11 years of marriage to my favorite guy and best friend...the man who stands beside me in good and bad and usually spoils me rotten...and have watched him continue to be the best father I could ever imagine to our kids. I have celebrated huge triumphs and small victories, experienced unbelievable joy, laughed more than I can say and performed more happy dances than I care to admit (just ask Randy, he has video proof :) ).

But, 33, you've had a dark side as well.

While you were around I watched my mother become a breast cancer survivor. I watched my father-in-law undergo triple bypass heart surgery. I have seen friends come and go. I watched family members suffer pain and sorrow. I discovered unfavorable things about my own sick troubled heart (which, by the way thank you for making that the grand finale to our time together). You, dearest 33, will more than likely be remembered for these things. I isn't fair, I'm sorry it has to be this way...but I think overall it may just be for the better.

You see, 33, despite this darkness...or should I say because of these dark times you have been a most astounding year. You, 33, have made me a grown up. Granted, the new heart and kidney medications, numerous visits to urology and nephrology and sitting around in the cardiac waiting room (in which I am the youngest patient by a good twenty years) have certainly helped make me feel much older! But...that isn't what I mean.

I have been forced to look far beyond myself. I have watched the power of prayer accomplish things that only God could do for me and for my loved ones. I have witnessed His mercy, love and protection in ways that many people may never see. I have watched as tough times have brought so many people closer together, taught us to love deeper and to take less for granted. I have come to realize that I still have much to accomplish during my time here on earth, and it should be spent a bit more purposefully.

I have been on the precipice of this break through for a while. I think that this heart episode is what pushed me over the edge. You see, despite what was going on with my heart...and the vast unknown of what that day held for me...I wasn't afraid. I know you think I'm lying...but I'm totally not. And even in those few minutes before they put me to sleep and shocked my heart back to normal...I was not afraid. And, by the way, I chalk that up to the army of people out there praying for me and the peace that God gave me...not my own bravado. But I realized that there just isn't much to fear.

What I don't want to ever experience again is sitting in a hospital room all alone wondering what the last thing I said to each of my kids was. Would they remember all the times I yelled at them about the messes they made or the times we snuggled together to read or watch The Lorax for the 40th time? Would they remember the lack of patience I had with their slowness or the praises I gave them for their successes? And overall, how much have they experienced more of? The good in me or the bad? And not just them, but the other people in my Randy. Is there one single thing that I have accomplished in this life of mine that has made the slightest difference to anyone? Have I done enough? Have I done anything? What would God say if we were standing face to face? That, 33, was a tough pill to swallow.

So...I think my motto for 34 will be "WHY NOT?" Why? Well, because I am choosing not to dwell in the land of pity or sorrow and I certainly don't want to fear a future full of "what ifs!" I have a lot of work to do, no time for regrets. I have no idea what this future will look like, but I'll find out soon enough.

So, why not?

No more worrying that it will be too hard or too frightening. No more fearing what others may think. No more stress about appearances. I want to celebrate life! Whoa, that was cheesy. But really, I want to have a meaningful life that pleases God. And while there are certainly things in this life that will (and do) break my heart and things that will (and do) bring me to my knees...I know that there is a greater purpose beyond anything I can comprehend...and it is good. Trust. Faith. That's all I have... and all I need.

I have complete faith in the plans God has for me...whatever they may be. And, while I certainly am not perfect in any way, I will be working hard on this. Hopefully I will succeed more than I fail.

Let's just do it...why not? What's the worst that can happen?

I think it will be fun.

So, 33, I think this is goodbye. Thanks for everything, I wish you all the best. I wish our time together could be longer but I think we have gleaned from each other all that we needed.

Oh, but 33...if you have any inclination to do so...I wouldn't mind if you'd put a good word in for me with 34. While I look forward to all the future has in store, I wouldn't mind if 34 was a bit more...shall we say, boring! Farewell 33! I will remember you fondly.

All my best,