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BIG

Doctors speculated she was a result of undiagnosed gestational diabetes. I called her Buddha Baby. Her dad called her “The Rock.” However you want to say it, our girl was substantial.

Both her sisters were rather scrawny babies, so I look back fondly on all those baby rolls. There’s something about a chubby baby – you just want to squish them (but in a good way). While my back and arms may have protested, we thoroughly enjoyed our large bundle of joy.

I can’t believe it’s been 9 years since we first saw that enormous head (it’s called back labour – so yes, I have every right to complain). A lot has changed: I now have to beg, borrow and steal hugs from her, she’s more likely to try and pick ME up than consent to be carried around, AND she is now on the small end of the growth chart (3rd percentile I believe).

Although she is by far the shortest kid in class, but she’s still BIG in all the best ways. She has a BIG personality, a BIG laugh, and a BIG imagination. Sometimes it seems like our house can barely contain all the drama and emotion (cough – diva – cough), much less such a petite body.

Last month, she found a thick pair of “nerd glasses” and Professor Oogen Shmoogen was born. We were to refer to her as that at all times. When asked, she informed me that her full name was “Oogen Shmoogen the Unknown”, Professor of Awesomeness. I’m a little sad that the professor has faded away, but I know that with this girl, there is always something crazy and hilarious just around the corner.

When C’s name comes up in conversation with other adults (teachers, coaches, friends parents, et cetera…) the reaction is almost universal. A shake of the head, a chuckle and a comment like “what a character” or “she’s so funny”. At her soccer awards ceremony her coach said it well, “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.”

My daughter’s larger than life temperament can be hardship – both to her and to those around her. It can be overwhelming, dealing with all that emotion and determination. But most of the time, she uses her powers for good. And all the time, the world is a better place because she is in it.

So here’s my “advice to a nine year old”:

Be brave – I know you feel shy when you are in a new place or a new situation, but you are a leader and you can choose to act like one. If you focus on how other people are feeling,you will know what to do. Act friendly and confident and before you know it, you’ll feel that way too.

Be generous – You are a collector extraordinaire (read: pack rat), a shopper and a money magnet. Your stuff matters to you, and that is what makes it such a gift that you are able to share with others. You have a great capacity for kindness. Never forget that people are always more important than stuff, always.

Be kind – You have no idea how much power you have to do good. It takes a BIG heart to treat others the way you want to be treated (Luke 6:31). I know you have it in you.

So here’s to my BIG 9 year old – Happy Birthday C!

Every year we write a birthday letter to each of our kids – both memories of the past year, things we appreciate most about them and encouragement to become their best selves. This year C gave me permission to post it on my blog.

In case you are wondering, I don’t use names or recent photos of my kids for privacy reasons. We are trying to adopt from the foster care system, so confidentiality is an issue.


the CAKE

Every year, since time began, the women in my husband’s family have prepared a 4 layer, boiled icing, chocolate drizzled, MADE FROM SCRATCH German Chocolate Cake in celebration of each person’s birth. It is tradition.

In my family of origin that means something we sometimes do, if we feel like it. In in-law”ese” it means, a task or experience which is absolutely required and essential. If you don’t do it, you are out of the family. Or will wish you could be.

Shortly before I was married my Mom-in-law sat me down to have “the talk”. No, not sex; I wish it were that simple. This was about the legendary family cake and my new responsibilities as both a wife and, someday, mother.

You have to understand. I am not what you would call “kitchen friendly.” I think it’s a complex recipe if it calls for a can of soup AND shredded cheese. As for baking – someone like me is why God created Duncan Hines cake mixes (or why God created Duncan Hines in order that some day he would create cake mixes). Why, oh why, couldn’t the family tradition be DQ ice cream cake?

I can regale you with tales over the years of my many struggles with “the cake.” There have been tears, muttered profanity, botched attempts hastily thrown in the garbage, desperate calls to my mother (what does “fold in” mean?) and some years it just hasn’t worked out. But I keep trying. I even sift the flour for pete’s sake.

This year was no exception. A clue as to how it went… here is my husband’s facebook post:

The more my wife curses the cake she’s making for me, the more I appreciate her for making it. She’s very appreciated at this moment…

The cake layers were uneven and gaped. So I put a lot of icing on. The icing didn’t work quite right – perhaps cooled too long (since last year it wasn’t not long enough). It was super sticky, so I piled extra on. It slid down the cake, pooled on the edge of the plate and onto the counter. So, I put more on.

Every year without fail, this project causes me stress and frustration. So I’ve been asking myself – why do I do it?

Because, he makes me laugh…every day, at least once, but usually more.

Because, when we argue he talks in outline format (A…, point 1, 2…) and it’s strangely endearing.

Because, he is crazy about his girls and enjoys being their dad so much he wants another daughter.

Because, he is brilliant (don’t tell him I said this – but he’s way smarter than me).

Because, he is sexy and makes me feel that way too.

Because, he is the first person I want to tell when something good happens.

Because, his is the hug I need when things go bad.

Because, he really, really, really likes the cake.

Marriage is about loving that other person in the way they actually need and want – not the way that is convenient or makes sense to me. Now, I may still moan about this cake with my sister-in-law and I doubt it’ll ever be my favourite thing to do. In 364 days I will re-read this post and hopefully I will have a better attitude for that cake, because he really is worth it.

So here’s to Glen – a better man than I deserve. Happy Birthday G!


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