Tag Archives: birthday

The 3 Year Old

6003559370Every year on their birthdays, Glen and I write a Birthday Letter to each of our kids. What they were like that year. What strengths and talents we see in them. What words of wisdom we have for them.

Someday, they might even appreciate the gesture.

From Mom…

I write about you ALL the time! This past year you’ve hogged the ink in my journal and the word count on my blog. Sometimes I wonder if I’m overdoing it. If one day, you’ll look back and shake your head at all the gushing and worrying and over-analyzing. Will I embarrass you?

A decade from now, I can practically guarantee it. But right now, you don’t know the meaning of the word. That might be the best part of being 3. Especially a 3-year-old YOU!

You are wholeheartedly and unabashedly yourself. You have no use for limits at all…

Not social conventions.

Not medical diagnoses.

Not the laws of gravity.

Not fences or child-proof locks or boundaries.

And while this tendency can be both exhausting and terrifying for us, I hope you don’t lose it entirely.

You are my exuberant, half-wild, but entirely charming boy! This year we will try to keep our wits and keep you alive, without taming you completely. If you need to run, run toward us, not away. If you need to climb, chose somewhere safe. If you need adventure, take us with you.

You are a fearless explorer in perpetual motion! Right now your most common phrase is “I GO TOO!” as you race as fast as your little legs can go toward your next adventure. You were not made for sitting still. Or staying in bed, apparently, which has caused no end of late night power struggles and overtired shenanigans. I know it’s hard for you to downshift from your high speed lifestyle, but trust me, sleep is good.

You have one of the happiest natures I’ve ever seen! While your moments of frustration are impressively loud and passionate, once the tantrum has passed, that toothy grin comes back in full force. Happy is your default setting. And you’re always eager to share the sunshine. Our Child Development Worker coined the phrase “aggressively affectionate” to describe you. Not all your friends and cousins appreciate the full-body tackle-hug the way we do, so this year we’ll work on reading people’s cues and showing love in other ways. If all else fails, know that Mommy is ALWAYS up for one of your tight-squeezy-whole-body-melting-into-it-Hugs (ALWAYS… like, this offer will not expire during the teen years or adulthood or, you know, ever).

You are an adorable chatterbox! This goes against all the boy-girl stereotypes, which shouldn’t surprise me, since I know how you feel about staying in bounds. Without a doubt, you are the most talkative child we’ve ever had. This time last year, you only had a handful of words, which you rarely used, but you’ve blown us (and your speech therapist) away with your progress lately. They call it a developmental leap. I call it, Unleashing Your Inner Announcer. Wherever we go, whatever we do, your cute little voice gives an enthusiastic running commentary.

I’m not going to lie. You keep us hopping. I’ve reached heretofore unknown regions of exhaustion this past year. But chaos has never been so fun.

I love being your Mom!

Happy Birthday 3 year old!

From Dad…

Dear S,

When I wrote your birthday letter last year, I barely knew you. We were still just figuring out this whole daddy-son thing, and you had just had your entire world turned upside down. New home. New family. New food. New routines. Everything – new.

One year later, we’ve all come a long way. We’ve learned to anticipate at least some of your moves, and you’ve learned how to play us to get your way sometimes too.

If I could sum up the past year in one word, it would be RUNNING. You, running, always on the move, finding ways to escape just when we thought we had you locked down, creating danger where we thought we had ensured safety. Us, running, trying to keep up with you, attempting to even get one step,ahead… occasionally.

You’ve forced us to become more creative and resourceful. If we’re not trying every strategy under the sun to keep you in your bed at night, we’re divining inventive ways to make it impossible for you to climb the deck railing and fall into the backyard two stories below.

You’ve forced us into action. For a family that loved their peace, quiet and a good book, the addition of a hyper-energetic little dude who can’t sit still for a second was quite the adjustment. It’s been good for us.

Most of all, you’ve forced us to love. Not that we didn’t love before, and not that it was against our will. But you, my son, are undeniably lovable. Sometimes we get frustrated by your latest escapade, but then you flash us that ear-to-ear grin and instantly transform our righteous anger into laughter. It’s really not fair. But it’s probably going to get you out of all kinds of trouble over the years. Because who can resist?

So here’s to you. Happy Birthday 3-year-old! And just so you know, I’ve been working on the assumption that by the time you’re four, our life will be slightly less frantic. Do you think maybe we can make that happen… please?

Love,

Daddy

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Context is Everything

This year my husband bought me an exercise machine for my birthday.

I wonder if the Craigslist sellers thought he was an enormous douche. I probably would’ve. What kind of birthday present is that for your wife? What message does it send?

Likewise, when he bought me a steam mop for Christmas.

He didn’t buy them because I’m fat and the house is dirty (insert self-deprecating remark about how this is nevertheless true, which he will edit out while getting after me for writing something absurd).

This is why it is okay. Because he’s my biggest fan, whether I deserve it or not. Because he isn’t trying to change me or improve me. He’s only trying to make me happy – by giving me what I want.

Believe it or not, I wanted both the elliptical and mop very badly. I researched them. I talked about them. I fantasized about all the ways they would make my life better: once I had them, an immaculate house and instant skinniness would no doubt ensue. I wondered out loud when we might be able to afford them.

Context is everything.

At the right moment, with the right intentions, it is a win. Encouraging. And helpful. And thoughtful.

But it could so easily go wrong. Marriage is just as much about tact and and understanding and supportiveness as it is about honesty and pushing each other to be better.

The best part isn’t a kitchen floor you could eat off of (and the littles often do). Or the 268 calories I burned while watching YouTube the other day (ameliorating my Halloween candy angst for about 10 minutes). It’s the fact that, occasionally, he listens when I talk.

So here’s me, not necessarily WANTING to work out or do housework, but since I need to, I might as well do it in style!


Friday Favourites 36

Birthday celebrations continue. Several times a day B looks at me, as if it has just occurred to her, “Happy Bir-day Mummy! I luv YOU!”

It never gets old. Apparently, Glen doesn’t feel his McCain Deep ‘n Delicious chocolate cake quite made the grade, so rumor has it the girls will be making me a cake this weekend. I’m hoping to milk this thing right into December.

Quote

The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment.

~Doug Larson

Randomly Generated Compliments

Feeling down? Depressed? Wondering if anyone cares about all your hard work? emergencycompliment.com offers a steady supply of Emergency Compliments to be used at times of great insecurity.

It told me: “Rumor is Disney is basing its next cartoon on you.” and I clicked the I-still-feel-crappy button over and over again until I hit “Your blog is the best blog.”

Thanks. I DO feel better!

Video

I had Brene Brown’s Power of Vulnerability on my “To Watch Someday When I Have Time” list for over a month. Guess what? I never have time, but I finally watched it anyway.

It was BRILLIANT! Funny and inspiring, and I have found time to watch/listen to it 2 more times since.

I want to be this person. Someone who lives wholeheartedly. Someone who is “willing to let go of who I ‘should be’ in order to be who I am.” A person of Compassion, Courage and Connection. Someone who knows that what makes me vulnerable is what makes me beautiful.

I’m convinced that vulnerability is the first step to being WHO God meant me to be.

Blog

One of my favourite ways to avoid vulnerability is to explain it all away. I slap a clever title on it and make it into bullet points and post it on my blog. Idelette McVicker knocked me upside the head this week when I read She Rises While it is Yet Night.

“I can’t be in my story, if I am constantly trying to make sense of it first.” Ouch. Right.

This article and many like it are the reason I enjoy SheLoves Magazine. I’ve hardly scratched the surface, but there are brilliant writers here, all driven by the same engine: “Let us be women who Love.” They manage to pull it off without being sugary or churchy or insipid.

So here’s me, learning to be a woman who loves, who is vulnerable, who is content.. who is Disney cartoon material.


37 Reasons to Celebrate

Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to me!

I sound just like one of my kids (B still wishes herself a happy birthday months later). By my age, most women are less enamored with the birthday process than I. They ignore, complain, avoid or simply celebrate “29” year after year. I’ve never understood that.

I’m not gonna lie. I do feel older. And not in the gee-I’m-so mature-and-sophisticated-and-sure-of-myself way. In the I’ve-never-felt-so-tired-and-out-of-touch-and-wth-is-that-cracking-noise-my-knees-are-making way. It doesn’t help that when asked, my husband tells people we are “almost 40” and reminds me that “by his calculations, our lives are nearly half over.” Such a ball of sunshine, that man.

BUT, and this is a big but,

(if you just heard Sir-mix-a-lot singing in your head, that’s a sign you are getting old, too)

I wouldn’t trade it. Not for extra time or a younger body or even the ability to start over. Because it’s been a good life and it’s only getting better. God has blessed me with an embarrassment of riches.

He does it so I can spread it around, make the world better, but also, enjoy what I’ve been given.

So Happy Birthday to me!

At the beginnning of the year I chose One Word to represent this year: DREAM. And though I chafed at the cheesiness of the word itself and the project, it’s forced me to see how powerful they can be. I have so many great dreams. And even though I may not achieve every one (especially all my travel dreams), each one is a reason to celebrate and look forward. It’s not the years under my belt that matter, it’s the ones still to come.

37 DREAMS for the years to come:

  1. Catch a fish.
  2. Try scuba diving.
  3. Write a Novel.
  4. Watch the Hobbit and all 3 LOTR in one sitting.
  5. Tour Europe.
  6. Publish a book.
  7. Watch the Anne of Green Gables play in Prince Edward Island.
  8. Go hang gliding.
  9. Snorkle on the Great Barrier Reef.
  10. Get a blog post on “Freshly Pressed.”
  11. See Les Miserables.
  12. Go on an African Safari.
  13. Finish my Psychology degree.
  14. Spend a weekend in New York City.
  15. Kayak with the whales.
  16. Walk the Cinque Terre (Italy).
  17. Attend a blogging conference.
  18. Visit my sister in Boston.
  19. Speak to a large audience about something I’m passionate about.
  20. Road trip with each of my children (one-on-one).
  21. Learn to crochet.
  22. Celebrate our 20th anniversary in Mexico.
  23. Eat chocolate cake for breakfast
  24. Ride a gondola under the Bridge of Sighs (Venice).
  25. Spend a weekend by myself, in silence.
  26. Take a painting class.
  27. Make my own salsa.
  28. Take the boy to Disneyland.
  29. Tour Israel.
  30. Lead the cheering section each time one of my children graduates/gets married/performs/gives a speech/wins an award/cures cancer…
  31. Go to Comic-Con.
  32. Go on an overnight white water rafting/camping trip.
  33. Reach my ideal weight (and stay there).
  34. Get a PhD.
  35. Become a Grandma.
  36. Ride a motorcycle.
  37. Celebrate our 50th anniversary with all our family.

So here’s me, tooting my own horn. Kind of obnoxious, but it’s my party so I’ll write what I wanna.

What about you? What dreams are on your bucket list? As soon as I cross a few of these off, I’ll need to add some more…


8 Years Old

Total honesty… not the cupcakes I made for B’s Dr. Suess birthday, yet. These are the ones I’m planning to make. I’m sure they’ll look JUST like this. Really!
from goodlifeeats.com

One more birthday letter for the year…

First up, my favourite Guest Poster: the Dad.

Dear B,

As you’ve been telling me for weeks, you’re 8! Today it’s finally true! And, since you’ve been telling me “Happy Birthday Daddy!” several times a day for the past year, today I’m thrilled to be able to say, “Happy Birthday B!”

It’s been another year of adventure for us with you, as we wait with expectation for your next surprise that will have us laughing loud and long. Often it involves layer upon layer of dress-up clothes. Lately it’s involved you shouting, “Blow me down, guys!” and when we do, you teeter and squeal and eventually fall down backwards. Of course, once you got one laugh, we were destined to play this game about 800 times. That’s okay though; it’s still just as funny as the first time.

This was the year your world got rocked. After almost 8 years as the unchallenged ‘baby’ of the family, there’s suddenly a new baby on the block – one who’s not afraid to stake his claim to everyone and everything in our house!

There was no way to fully prepare you for what was coming when we decided to add S to our family. As much as we talked about him and explained that a new brother was coming to live with you, we couldn’t really help you understand what was about to go down.

We worried about how you were going to react to this new little person competing for our time and attention – not to mention your toys! And, truth be told, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. You gave us a good run for our money for a little while there, finding ways to get our focus back on you, for better or worse.

But through it all, I was amazed at how you loved S. If you were upset about all the changes, you didn’t take it out on him. You’re not known for your patience, but I think you’ve been extraordinarily patient as you and your brother have adjusted to each other. You’ve shared – often willingly – and you’ve been a wonderful, loving big sister.

You’ve also grown up in ways that I didn’t foresee. Maybe Mommy and I being busier than normal has caused you to try things for yourself instead of waiting for us to help. I’m not sure, but I know that you have seemed much older and more independent these past few months. You’re talking in much longer sentences – it’s wonderful to be able to have real conversations with you!

Amidst all the changes, I hope you know that some things haven’t changed. My love for you hasn’t changed. My promise to be here whenever you need me hasn’t changed. The fact that I am so proud of you hasn’t changed. And your ability to make me laugh harder than I’ve ever laughed before hasn’t changed either. Thank you for bringing so much joy into my life. Happy birthday!!!

Love from,

Your Daddy

~~~~~~~~

Today you are 8-years-old.

For most people, 8 is when the cute starts to wear off. Not you. You remain as cute and sweet a little girl as ever. Except when you are cute and ornery. Even then, we’ll keep you.

This has been a big year for you. A lot of change and a lot of growing up have made for a bumpy ride at times, but we’re getting used to the drama. Our life is never boring, and usually, we have you to thank for that.

You are a born comic. There is not much you won’t do for a laugh. You’ll yell “Blow me down, guys!” until we’ve stopped what we are doing to puff in your direction, at which point you flail your arms, make worried “aaah, aaah, aaah” noises before collapsing in a heap on the ground. Your gales of laughter afterwards are contagious. Each night before dinner you lead us in the song “Open/Shut them” (presumably to ensure that our hands are properly folded for prayer time), then thank God for the food and for the cats who are partying. You’ve decided that your horse at therapeutic riding is named “Toot”; which is the word for ‘fart’ in our house and consequently, super-funny (he’s actually named “Dot,” but you will not be convinced otherwise).

You’ve always had a lot to say. From the beginning you taught me that everybody has stories to tell, whether they can express it or not. But this is the year we’ve begun to understand so much more of your stories. It is such a gift to hear your thoughts and ideas and strange pretends. You love to jump on the trampoline, then when “BubbleMan” comes, we are all required to lay down. Okay, so I still don’t understand a lot of what goes on in your world.

You are a true believer. When you are pretending, you do it with your whole heart and assume that it is just as real to the rest of us. Whether you are barking as a dog and eating your snack off the floor, or wearing 6 fluffy skirts, a neck tie, large floppy hat and mismatched shoes all afternoon (the costume of choice for a discerning “pwetty pwin-cess” we’re told), or even answering to a nickname (sweetheart, honey, silly goose…) – you will very seriously demand my attention, throw your hands out and trill “It’s me! B!”

The biggest change this year has brought is your sudden acquisition of a baby brother. Since he is not actually a baby, but the ripe old age of 2, you have actually acquired a partner in crime. Most of the time he is your little shadow, dogging your every step, getting into your stuff, and trying to hug you with his entire body. You have been mostly patient, if not a bit alarmed by his desire to wrestle. He’s a pretty good sport too, because you’re sister-ing style is somewhat tyrannical.

We call you the “Dastardly Duo,” and you have brought mischief to an unheard of level in our home. Just last week I noticed the bathroom door was closed with both of you in it (never a good sign). Worried that you had once again blockaded yourselves in the room (took 1/2 an hour to extricate you last time), I rushed in. Just in time. To see the sink overflowing onto the ground while you happily splashed one another. As I bundled up the sopping towels, having turned my back for no more than 2 minutes, I heard a piercing shriek. You had both climbed into the tub, fully clothed and turned the cold shower on. I was just relieved that nothing found its way into the toilet that day.

I’ve probably written more in my blog about your funny little quirks and extreme stubbornness, ahem… determination, than just about any subject. It can be a challenge, but you are certainly worth every long day, tearful break and prolonged battle of the wills. Because at the end of the day, you are a kind, gentle, funny, strong person. And the world is a better place because you are in it. And I am a better person because you are my girl.

I love you!

Happy Birthday 8-year-old!

Mom


Age 12 and On the Threshold

Another beautiful birthday cake from Aunt Erin. Thanks!

12

We are teetering on the brink of Teenagehood. And it shows. Some days you could easily pass for 16. And others I find you still playing like a girl. There is something bittersweet about these threshold years.

It seems to be flying by. Even you have wondered at how quickly time passes this year. Trust me, it only gets worse the older you get.

I will miss the child you’ve been. Not my first-born, but my first-grown. My first panic about exactly the right baby food consistency and the proper potty training technique and how exactly to broach the subject of sex. My first vicarious thrill as you stuck your little toes in the ocean and met the “Real” Cinderella and fell in love with characters in a book.

Once again you are blazing a trail for your siblings. And strangely for us as well. We don’t always know what to do or say, if anything. And I’m pretty sure you’ll have a few things to discuss with your therapist someday. Whether it is because or in spite of us, you have become a lovely young woman. And we are so proud of you!

You are kind, thoughtful, easy-going, nurturing, gracious (with the glaring exception of your closest sister, hmmm…), intelligent, and talented. We hear all the time how mature and responsible you are. But the compliment that thrills me most, are the frequent ones about your gentle, loving spirit.

We see it everyday with your baby sister and your new brother. You are like a second mommy. And though we try to protect your own childhood, you (and your other sister) have eagerly jumped in to help out when we need it. You have been such a blessing to us this past year.

As you look forward this year and childhood fades behind you, I hope that you will use that analytical brain and extreme love of planning to prepare for life you want to lead. This is the time to make many important decisions which will carry your into adulthood. Who do you want to be? What will you devote yourself to? Where are your limits and boundaries? Who is your God?

We’ve made most these decisions for you as a child, but in the next decade we will slowly hand all the control over to you. It is not easy to step back, but we are not worried. We can already see glimpses of the woman God intended for you to be and we are thrilled with what we see.

The teens are an exciting, overwhelming time and there will be times when life and hormones and emotions may seem to overwhelm you. It’s easy to simply react. So many poor decisions are made impulsively, without the bigger picture in mind. Don’t let anyone or anything take your purpose from you.

Be calm and easygoing, but don’t be a doormat.

Be kind and thoughtful, but don’t be people pleaser.

Be nurturing and generous, but find a balance.

Be responsible and conscientious, but let other’s take the lead too.

Be creative and orderly, but get messy.

Be godly and devout, but open-hearted.

Be yourself, but try new things.

More and more our role is to be a consultant rather than a manager. We will always be here to listen and advise and pray and hope the best for you. You may outgrow stuffed animals and clothes bought in the children’s section and bedtime hugs and kisses (though you WILL continue to give them, for my sake if nothing else), but you will never outgrow your Mom.

I love you. I believe in you. And I am incredibly proud of you!

Happy 12th Birthday L!

Love Always,

Mom

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Happy 12th birthday, my almost-teenager!

It’s funny… as I sit down to write this letter, I realize that I’ve been thinking of you as older than you are. Truthfully, I have a hard time believing you still have another 365 days left of “childhood” before we officially enter a new era.

Today, you’re legally allowed to babysit for other families. You’ve been babysitting for us for a year already.

At the age when other dancers in your school graduate into the seniors’ class, you’ve been dancing with the seniors for two years already.

;

Though most parents would think of their 12-year-old as “one of the kids,” we think of you as a seriously contributing member of the family. Your return to school in a week and a half will not be a relief or a break for us; it will mean that our best helper is now away for most of the day, busy with school and dance and friends and youth group and everything else that fills this life that you’re building for yourself.

;

We’ve been spoiled by you this summer. Spoiled by your role as second mommy to The Littles, as you’ve selflessly cared for them and helped us manage the chaos of adding a toddler to the family. Spoiled by the joy it brings us to have someone else in the house that we can talk to at an almost grown-up level.

I hope you know that we appreciate all that you have given to this family this summer. I know there are times when we have been consumed by the chaos, and we have barked an order for you to “Watch The Boy!” as we have dashed off to care for someone that needs caring for, without a please or a thank you or an I love you. We’re big believers that, in a family, everyone is expected to chip in and do their share. But that doesn’t mean that we take it for granted that we do, or that we don’t notice and appreciate the sacrifices you have made.

Of all our kids, you are the one who was gung ho about adoption right from the start. You didn’t care what it might cost you personally; you knew there was room for one more in our family. You’ve backed that up since we brought S home, giving so much of your time and energy to be with him, and to help us wherever we need helping. I thank you, I appreciate you, and I love you. Again and again, I have told people that I have no idea how we would have survived the past three months without L and C. Your support has meant the world to us, and has given us a glimpse of the caring, generous young woman you are becoming. We couldn’t be more proud of you. Happy Birthday!

Love from,

Your Daddy


The Big One-O

To my zany, brilliant, girly, funny, non-conformist offspring:

These AMAZING hamburger cupcakes were courtesy of Aunt Erin… the birthday girl loved them!

Today is an important day. The big one-O. Now that you have that first decade under your belt, we can see more clearly the kind of human being you are becoming.That is not to say that any of this is written in stone. You can certainly change your path along the way. After all, you love to be unpredictable.

But I hope you don’t, because you are shaping up to be a pretty cool person. Possibly cooler than me… a fact you vehemently remind me of, quite often. If eye rolling were an Olympic sport, we’d be cashing endorsement cheques right now. Do me a favour and cut me some slack now and then. I bet when you are 36 you will look back and realize I wasn’t quite as lame as you thought. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s kind of fun to push your buttons. If you didn’t protest quite so loudly, I wouldn’t have to sing/dance/act like an idiot quite as enthusiastically. Embarrassing our kids, well, it’s sort of a family tradition. I have a feeling you will one day do it also. With gusto.

You are passionate. This will be both a blessing and a curse. I speak from experience. Passionate seems a lot like emotionally volatile sometimes. So watch the temper. It isn’t wrong to feel angry, but it can give birth to all sorts of wrong (and stupid) reactions. That’s been my experience all too often. Don’t be your own worst enemy. Take a breath. Use your head and not your heart before you speak. Passionate can be a lot of work. BUT, worth it, because: You love fiercely. You laugh with abandon. You take risks. Passionate is an important ingredient for greatness.

You are a leader. I remember when you were a toddler and you would boss your older sister around. I had to tell that almost 4-year-old not to let her baby sister bully her or push her around. You know your own mind and are not afraid to share it. I know it doesn’t always seem like this is something we appreciate. But we do. Strength of will is something to be admired, but used wisely. Pick your battles. If you are always contrary, then people (and by people, I mean your Dad and I) will stop listening to you. Save your strength for the issues that really matter. The best way to win, is to win people over. You have the wit and intelligence to do it.

You are unique. Yesterday at your birthday party, you played volleyball with a fish (whom you named Bob). You waded in a pool full of blue jello. You threw balloons full of milk at your dad. You had a whipped cream fight with your friends. Instead of a cake, you had hamburger cupcakes. Because you don’t want just a regular old birthday party. You love to be different. The world is more interesting when you are around. I think anyone else would be lost in the shuffle as the middle child in our family, especially with another special needs sibling in the mix. But it is impossible to overlook you. You were designed to stand out. With teenage-dom already breathing down our necks, you’ve begun to follow the fashions and trends of the friends around you. Which is fine. As long as you don’t lose that one-of-a-kind flare that is all you. Don’t be afraid to be silly. Or weird. Or different. You can totally pull it off.

You are loved. It seems like you and I go head to head more often than any one else in the family. Both of us are emotionally volatile passionate people. This year, I promise to try to be more patient and to listen better. I’d like it if you could do the same. Because, life is better when we’re friends.

But first and foremost, I’m your mom. So we won’t always be pals. And that’s okay. It might even be necessary. But no matter what happens, I want you to know that I am passionate about how much I love you. And how important you are to me. And what a gift you are to the world. I think you are an amazing person. I’m pretty sure you always know that I love you (on some level), but I think you should know that I like you a whole lot too. You are one of my favourite people in the world!

I’m not a perfect mom. And you aren’t a perfect kid. But I think we’re a perfect match. I’m so glad that God made you a part of my family. I can’t imagine my life without you.

Happy Birthday!

Love Always,

Mom

~~~~~~~~~~~

Happy 10th birthday, and welcome to the double digits!

What a year it has been for our family – a year of change, which is not your favourite thing.

For three years, we talked about adoption. We renovated our house to make room, and we dreamed about what kind of child would join our family.

All along the way, there was one girl in our family who wasn’t so sure that this was a great idea. She worried about what the changes would mean. Would the new kid fit in? Would she like him? Would he wreck her room and mess up her stuff? Would there be enough time/attention/money to go around? Weren’t we too busy already?

In case you haven’t already figured it out, that girl was you. And, truth be told, you had a much more realistic view of the situation than your big sister did. You knew that there were going to be major changes, and that it was going to take a lot of hard work, sacrifice and patience to bring a whole new person into the family. You were right.

I’ll admit, I was worried: what if C hates adoption? What if she resents him – or what if she resents us for making this decision?

But here’s the thing: I have never admired you more than I have in the past three months. As we’ve gone on this new adventure together, I have seen the wonderful, accepting, loving, giving young lady that you are becoming. It all started when you helped paint his room. From that moment on, C was on board the adoption train. I saw that you loved S the first day we met him, and that’s when I knew everything was going to be okay. The feeling was clearly mutual, as a few weeks later it was you who caused him to laugh harder and more hilariously than I’ve ever heard a child laugh.

Since then, you have patiently endured every change. You’ve given up things that you wanted to do, to play with him and keep him entertained – and you’ve done it without complaining. You’ve come back to him again and again after every time that he’s accidentally hurt you – and that’s happened a lot. Last night you spotted him on the couch looking at a book, and you said, “I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity,” and scooped him right up onto your lap for a cuddle.

I am so unbelievably proud of you. I tell everyone that I don’t know how we possibly could have survived the chaos of the past three months without C and L. You have been incredibly helpful, and surpassed all my expectations for how you would handle this. Thank you. I love you. And I will carry you to bed for as many years as you’ll let me.

Love from,

Your Daddy


Birthday Letters for The Boy

Birthday Cupcakes specially decorated by the Big Sisters

Once again our family tradition is going public. Each year both of us write a birthday letter to our children on their special day. The pitfalls of having two writers for parents…

One day we hope they will cherish the encouragement, advice and wacky memories we recount in these epistles. Or at the very least, their spouses/kids/biographers will appreciate the historical significance and goofy photos.

Today’s guest poster: Daddy!

Dear S,

Welcome to a new family tradition – the birthday letter! You’ll get one of these from both Mommy and I each year on your birthday, as we look back on the year you’ve just finished, look ahead to the year that’s just beginning, and celebrate the boy (and someday, man) that you are becoming.

It seems so strange to be writing a letter marking the end of your second year, when we haven’t even known each other for two months yet. But that’s okay – it only took me about two minutes to love you!

I thought I might never get the chance to write a letter to my son, since your big brothers never got to come home to be part of our family. After 12 years of being surrounded by girls, I wasn’t sure if I had any boy left in me! I feared I may have lost it under a pile of doll clothes, princess outfits and ballet slippers.

But it sure didn’t take you long to make me man up! You’re energetic and fearless in a way that the little girls never were. Before you even came home, we played our first hockey game together, and we haven’t stopped playing ever since. I can’t wait for the day when we can stretch out on the couch with some pizza and a couple of pops, game on the television, and tell the girls to pipe down so we can hear the play-by-play. Which reminds me, it’s about time I gave you your first Canucks sweater….

When we’re not playing hockey, we’re usually wrestling, as manly men like us are known to do. Sure, the girls used to wrestle me too, once upon a time, but not like this – with a fierce growl, and a look of destruction in your eye. This is new to me, and new to you too, since you’ve never had a daddy until now.

Maybe that’s why we hit it off so well, so fast. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when we met each other. Would you like me? Would I like you? Would you be afraid of me? Would you even look at me? Would you run from me? Would you annoy me? Would you spend all my money? (Well, yes, probably to that last one.)

After one ear-to-ear grin, I knew the answer. I had nothing to fear. Sure, it may take a while… or maybe not. As I put on my shoes to go home after that first meeting, you reached out and let me pick you up. I may never put you down… at least not for a while. Happy Birthday buddy! (Oh, and have I told you about our cake yet? It’s good.)

Love from,

Your Daddy

And now, a word from Mommy:

Dear S,

I can’t believe that it was only 2 months ago when I first laid eyes on you. You were so much smaller than I expected with big blue eyes and a shy grin that lit up the room. I loved you already. I would have even if you weren’t insanely cute, but it didn’t hurt. I had loved the idea of you for years. Before you were even born we were praying for you and imagining what you might be like. It was thrilling to finally meet you.

You did not have an easy start to life. You came into the world 3 months early. The file they gave us was 4 inches thick and by the time we read through it all, we realized that was only your medical records for the first month! It did not look good for you. But you were 3 lbs of fighter, possessing absolute determination. That hasn’t changed.

Your birth mom loved you and wanted you, but she wasn’t able to take care of you. When you were 2 months old your foster mom started visiting you in the hospital, after 2 more months she was finally able to bring you home with her. She is a very special lady: a nurse who takes care of babies with complex medical problems until they can go home with a forever family (birth or adoptive). You did not like to be touched or held at first, but she taught you how to be loved and to give love back. Soon you were a cuddly little charmer. That hasn’t changed either.

You have officially been part of our family for 1 month. Our lives have been turned upside down, but no one’s more than you. It hasn’t been an easy month, but it has been a very good one. Your Daddy and sisters have discovered that you are the best thing they never knew they always wanted. I wanted you all along, but even I am blown away by how important you are to us all. We are enjoying you so much. You are so much fun: so much mischief-making, full-tilt, maniacal laughing, enthusiastic fun. I’m so glad you are part of our family!

Today you are 2 years old!

Those 2 years have helped shape you into the amazing mini-person that you are now. The tough little trooper who overcomes the odds time and time again. The sweet, loving boy who sticks close to family and has bonded with us so quickly. The smiley monkey who keeps us laughing, and on our toes.
Even though it makes me sad that we have missed so much time with you, I wouldn’t change you for the world!

You have such a bright, happy future ahead of you and we will be there with you every step of the way. Always, always, always…

Happy Birthday!

Love Forever,

Mommy


Capital ‘P’

I remember the moment you were born. It was so quiet – not a cry, not a gurgle, nothing… Your Dad tells me that it was only about 30 seconds before you started crying, but I had already started freaking out, “Is she okay?! Is she okay?! What’s wrong?” That little squall was one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard.

When they held you up for me to see I couldn’t believe how adorable you were. I fell even more in love with you. You looked like a little baby burrito and you had the sweetest little face (still do).

We spent the next 4 weeks sitting on uncomfortable stools while peering into the baby aquarium (aka: incubator), then holding you gingerly so as not to jar all the tubes and needles, taking turns driving to the hospital in the middle of the night to try to get you to eat, and finally bringing you home where you belonged. That whole time, while I was scarfing down cafeteria food and covertly skimming through your file, I was researching. While I shadowed the nurses and learned about everything in the special care nursery, I was researching. While I was playing milk cow and preparing tube feedings – still researching.

We were given a stack of books, brochures and web page print outs like you wouldn’t believe. And to be honest, they were helpful. They prepared us for the leukemia scare, the tests and medical procedures, explaining Down Syndrome to your sisters and a thousand other things. But they were filled with frightening statistics and scary possibilities.

You were already so precious to us, and the thought of you facing all those difficulties broke my heart. I wish I had known then what wonderful things lay ahead. I wish they had told me that.

I wish they had told me that you would love with abandon. That one of our biggest problems would be trying to get you to stop kissing EVERYONE. That you would melt the stoniest heart with your huge grin. That we would make friends everywhere we went, because you’re so cute and charming!

I wish they had told me that you would make us laugh everyday with the crazy things you do. That you would pray every single night for God to bless your “chocolate face”. That you would perform beside the TV whenever we watch “So You Think You Can Dance” – ballet, the samba, hip hop… you name it. That you would end each dance, song and occasional mealtime prayer with “Ta Da!”

I wish that they could have told me, along with all those intimidating statistics that there was a 100% chance of fun. That despite all the headaches and heartaches along the way, you would fill our life with pride and laughter and joy. I think this song from MY childhood says it best:

You are a promise.

You are a possibility.

You are a promise, with a Capital ‘P’.

You are a great, big bundle of POTENTIALITY!

So here’s to B, my pride and joy! Happy 7th Birthday!


little Grown Up

Last year your new teacher asked us to describe you to her. Brevity is not a virtue of mine and there is nothing I like to talk about more than my kids, but I had mercy on her. I simply told her you are “the oldest child of two oldest children” – enough said.

Birth order theories are widely disputed in psychology circles. Research results are mixed and the theory is often thought to be inaccurate and misleading. But so is trying to explain an entire person with something as clumsy as words on a page.

Be that as it may, these words fit you to a tee: responsible, conscientious, organized, accurate, rule follower, nurturer, worrier, respectful… The teenage years are sneaking up on us, but I’m not worried about you, because you have such a good head on your shoulders (your dad however – he’s going to be a mess). You are already becoming an amazing young woman.

I hope that you will continue to tell me, in exhaustive detail, everything about your day (but not movies – because frankly I need the summary to take less time than the movie itself). For everything else I’ll take all the details, laid out in proper chronological order with glimpses of your quirky humour. Not only because I like to know about your life, but because your perspective is so kind and positive. You truly believe the best about people and find the good in them.

It warms my orderly little heart when you write your schedule on the white board in your room (even during the summer when the hours are filled with tasks like: wake up, go outside, read, play with Paige). You also have a habit of writing “notes to self” all over the place. If I can’t remember the date or what we have planned, you can outline it all for me.

You went to overnight summer camp for the first time this year. Although your dad was crying in his soup (literally), I was proud of you for being so independent, but I can’t believe how much we missed your help while you were gone. We try not to rely on you too much, but you’re just so dependable and helpful. I know whatever career or life you choose, you will make yourself indispensable to those around you.

Far too soon you will be grown and gone, but you’re still my little girl now, so here’s my “advice to an eleven year old”:

Get Messy – From one control freak to another, life is full of interruptions and changes in plans. It’s not fun for people like us, but sometimes the best stuff comes this way. Enjoy the moment you are in and let the future take care of itself. A schedule is ALWAYS a good idea, but only as a guideline not a strait jacket. With God’s help you can handle whatever life throws your way. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matt 6:34

Stand Up – It’s almost impossible to offend you, except for your sister who can do it by breathing in your general direction. Apart from C’s special gift, there is very little that ruffles your feathers. More than any of your qualities, I think this one will serve you well in life, since the most miserable people in the world are over-sensitive, victim types. Being that easy going you are able to maintain genuine friendships with kids who struggle to get along with everyone else. But there is a time to stand up for yourself. You deserve to be treated with respect and sometimes you need to demand it (in a gentle, respectful way I’m sure).

Speak Up – You are not shy in the traditional sense. You aren’t afraid to try new things, even when you don’t know many (or any) people. You are quiet and prefer to stay in the background, especially in a new situation. There is nothing wrong with quiet – I married quiet – and I could probably stand to embrace quiet a little more in my life. But I worry that people will miss out on knowing you, because you don’t speak up. Remember the Hoos Rules for social situations: smile, look them in the eye, speak loudly and make the first move. It’s like dance, the more you practice – the better and easier it gets.

So here’s to my oldest – I’m so proud of you!

Happy 11th Birthday L!


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