Archive for May, 2010


We’re almost done with our school year schedule and ready to jump into our summer learning.  Is it wrong that I’m excited to leave behind Science and Math and History for a few months?

Probably my favorite activity to draw to a close is softball.  I can not tell you enough how glad I was to see the end of the commencement ceremony.  And the team party immediately following, was bliss.  I don’t know why I abhorred softball so much this year.  McKayla was really quite amazing.  This was her best season yet.  She played well more often than not.  Her butt saw very little time on the bench.  Her team even placed 2nd.  I don’t know, maybe it had something to do with 7:30pm games twice a week.  Maybe it had to do with wild toddlers.  Or maybe just the freezing cold wind that seemed to follow me wherever I went.  I’m just glad it’s over.

I’m also pretty excited to see the lower division of baseball end.  There’s something about non-competitive that equates itself to just a tad worthless in my mind.  I think if we’re not going to keep score, we don’t really need to play for 90 plus minutes.  An hour should suffice.

I am going to miss the fun of farm division though.  There definitely isn’t any balancing of baseball bats on your fingertips in the minor division.  Nor are there many kids that still lay down in the middle of the outfield because they’re just “tired of playing!”.

Tonight was our bridging over ceremony for cub scouts.  Michael crossed over from Tigers to Wolves. I was feeling a tad bit sad at the ceremony when Mike crossed the bridge and they took off his orange tiger hat and neckerchief and replaced it with the yellow one.

Because lately, time just seems to be speeding on by.   I am really missing the cuddly babies and sweet newborns.  I know how quickly they grow.  It seems like yesterday that Marshall was a small little Tiger Cub.  And seeing all those missing teeth and sweet dispositions makes me want to squash his little body and beg him to stop growing.

Then I reminded myself that I have two more boys waiting impatiently to be Tiger cubs.  I’ll save the waterworks for then.  For now, I’m going to concentrate on the freedom of the boys getting older.  For the first time, I won’t have to attend any meetings.  I can be the kind of parent that just drops their kid off.  I might even make them walk themselves to scouts. How amazing would that be!

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The Man

A few months ago we got our census packet like everyone else.  At the time I didn’t really have any problem filling out the whole dang thing.  Sure, I’ll fork over lots of information for you.  Who needs privacy anyway.

All of my conservative, Christian friends with lots of kids though seemed up in arms about this invasion of privacy.  Someone told us that legally we only needed to answer question 1 and tell them how many people lived in our house.

The more I thought about it, the more I agreed.  I filled out the census but only giving ages and sex for my kids.  I normally label myself Caucasian or other because I don’t really align myself by my heritage.  I figure we’re all American’s who cares about if I identify with my people or not. There isn’t ever a bubble for American though.

With all of the census hype the Mexican groups were out in full force trying to convince everyone to fill out the census.    I read an article how Mexicans are consistently under represented in the census because they worry about immigration.  It might not seem like a big deal,  but many families count on all of the services that are formed by population profiling.  So I bubbled in Latino for all of our races.   I threw my people 6 extra spots.

I sent away the form feeling rather rebellious.

Fast forward to last week.  I got a call from the US Census bureau telling me that I turned in an incomplete form.  The worker wanted to know if it would be a convenient time to finish filling out the form.  I told her no.  I argued quite awhile with her about my civil liberties and she should just back off of my kids private information.

For any of you that know me personally, I am the most unpolitical person that exists.  I hate confrontation.  I’m a rule follower.  This was terribly out of character for me.  Somewhere in this whole counting every person process, I decided that my kids names and birthdays were the hills I were going to die on.

I told her I’d research it and might call her back.

Dave researched it.  Turns out that you do have to give them every piece of private information.  There was some crap about not wanting to count people twice.  I guess my word isn’t good enough, The Man needs birthdays and middle initials to make sure we don’t overestimate. Plus for some reason they want to know if we own our home and what we do for a job.  I’m not sure how any of that is applicable.

They called again.  Dejectedly, I readied myself to hand over birthdays and names. Yep, I sold my kids out like a canary.  So much for privacy. Turns out that the phone interview is much longer than the paper form.

In exchange for some personal information I was entertained.

In order to be absolutely sure that we don’t over count she had to ask the same questions for each person.

She wanted to know if any of us spent any time in jail (including Jacob).  I wanted to tell her that yes, my three-year-old has spent time in the clink.  But they don’t have much of a sense of humor.

“Half way house?”  Well, actually my 10-year-old has a terrible meth problem.

“Did someone stay with us that doesn’t have a home to go to?”  Does my cat count? We adopted him this year.

“Where any of us staying at our vacation home?”  I just laughed.

and it went on and on.

But we’re all counted now, each one of us.

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For the record, I think that May, might actually kill me.

Dear Marshall,

I’m starting this letter out a little bit more graphic than is usually my style because at some point I think I may start calling you on it.  Instead of saying “because I said so!”  I’m going to start saying, “because I birthed you! All 9lbs and 60z of you! From my vagina! (how awkward would that be to a tween boy?)”

I remember everything about you being born.  I remember the terrible excruciating pain that I wasn’t sure would ever end.  I remember begging for a c-section.  I remember the terrible nurse who told me I was being too loud and scolded me for not taking the Lamaze  refresher class.  I also remember telling her she should learn how to breathe.  There were lots of explicit words in there for her.  There were lots of other unpleasant experiences that I won’t share with you.  (It really surprises me that I even decided to have another baby after you). And then after three excruciating hours,  you popped out.  Well, actually you were pulled out.   I think there may have actually been a little bit of a tug-of-war between the doctors and my cervix.   All 9lbs 6oz of you was yanked from my little tiny body.  I have no idea where I fit all of you at.

At the time though, I remember you being incredibly tiny.  The smallest baby ever.  The smallest, most perfect, child in the world.  I don’t think there was ever a more adorable baby to ever be born.  By far, you were more perfect than all of your siblings.

I remember the nurses all coming in to gawk at you.  “Wow!  We haven’t had a baby this big in a long time!” Every time I thought they must have been on crack.

You were born with Erbs Palsy.  Thank God my mom came to visit, because I think that my adoration for you may have caused me to ignore this one small defect.  Your right arm just hung limp at your side.  It just laid there like a wet noodle.  The nurses mentioned it, the pediatrician even called our house before your first doctor’s appointment.  The whole time, I thought that all of these people were completely crazy, maybe they mixed you up with some less than perfect baby.  Months of constant physical therapy gave you full range of motion back on your arm.

I remember my mom coming with me to your first doctor’s appointment and asking why you were so red.  It really bothered her.  She must have commented on it a thousand times.  I couldn’t for the life figure out what she was talking about because you were perfect.

We’d be out in public and we’d get comments like “Boy! He’s not a starving boy!” and I’d just take it as a compliment.  Thank you, I’m a super nurser.  Never once realizing that they were commenting on your roly poly cheeks and thunder thighs.  To me, you were the most wonderful perfect little boy.

You’ve always been absolutely perfect to me.   And at this point, I think it’s really only my opinion that matters.  Plus, I know you best.  I get the privilege to spend every day with you.    Even on the days when I want to string you up by your toes, I’m still glad to be able to be with you.

More than any of my children, you are most like me.  I can relate to you the best.   It isn’t so much that we share the same hobbies or talents.  By far you are more talented than I could have ever dreamed of.  You excel at every sport you try.  You are creative and artistic, despite what you think.   You love to dance and sing, I think sing, I’m not quite sure if  you’d classify it as sing, but you make lots of noise.  Acutely, I understand what you are feeling.  I understand your perfectionism.  I understand your fear of failure.  I understand how high your expectations are for others and how much you demand of yourself.   I understand how you don’t like any attention, even positive attention.

Maybe for all of these reasons It seems like I push you harder than any of your siblings.  I make you try new things.  I force you to talk to strangers.  I push you to go outside of your comfort zone.  I don’t do it to be mean.  I don’t do it for my own entertainment.  I want you to have a little glimpse of how amazing you are.

You are amazing.

You are a wonderful athlete, scout, student, kid, guitar player, video gamer, lawn mower, big brother, little brother, son, and the list just goes on and on.  I’m not sure if there are enough nouns to give you accolades for all of the ways that you bless us each day.

It amazes me that you are ten already.  I remember carrying you around in my sling until Mike was born.  I remember nursing you. I remember cuddling you and squishing your fat little legs.  I wonder where did all of those years go?  When did you go from that pudgy little baby into this big kid?  When did that happen?  When did you loose all those baby fat rolls?

May these ten years just be a small taste of the happiness that you will bring to our lives.  Happy Birthday!

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There are some days that I wonder if I’m invisible or have possibly gone mute.

I wonder if I talk at a level to be heard by humans.  Maybe I talk at a decibel that only cats can hear.  My cat seems perfectly capable coming when I call him.  I can’t tell you the number of times today alone, I asked a kid to do something and they walked on by seeming to not even hear me.  Finally I just started asking them “Can you hear me talking? Am I mumbling?” Blank stares ensued.  Maybe I’m speaking a foreign language?  Swahili?

I walk around and bump into things to make sure that I’m not a ghost and do actually still possess matter.  When we were out shopping and I used the public restroom the automatic toilet didn’t flush when I got up.  I couldn’t get the automatic water and soap to start.  No amount of hand waving could get it to work. I tried the next sink.  Nothing.  I thought maybe their magic technology was broken.  But then a three-year-olds little hands shoved themselves under the faucet the water poured forth.  I stuck my hands under the automatic paper towel dispenser.  Nothing.  Why the heck does everything have to be automated?  Where are the push handles and turn cranks?  How would we wash our hands in a power outage?

I look around and wonder what I did all day?  Maybe I never really tackled my long list of things to do.  I thought I washed dishes but the sink is full again.  Did I really pick up the house?  because I still see the same toys on the ground, the same blocks scattered all over the house.  I could have sworn I just weeded the garden yesterday but it’s full of weeds.  I thought I finished the laundry, but the hamper is full.

Just at the moment when it all seems a little fruitless and definitely less than worthwhile, a little someone crawls up into my lap.  He puts his little fingers up to my face and whispers into my ear.  “I have something special to tell you”

I’m listening

I love you

He jumps off of my lap and bounds away, never knowing how much I needed that.

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Hulk presents

I took the names of everyone who left a comment and wrote them on a piece of paper.  I intended to cut them out,  but then I couldn’t find the scissors.  I went to look for scissors but the closet where we keep those things looked as if a tornado blew threw.  I thought about cleaning it out but decided I really didn’t have it in me.  Instead I just tore the names apart.  And then I thought about putting the names in a hat but didn’t see one in the immediate vicinity.  I did see a rainfall measurer though.  And with a little help from the Hulk, a winner was chosen.

Congratulations Aliki!

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A few months ago I took all of the kids to the park.   As boys climbed high and jumped from heights that made me cringe, I chit chatted with the other moms.  Park days are less about the kids and more about socializing.  It’s like a double win, the kids get outside and hopefully burn off lots of their energy and I get the much-needed social interaction from the over 18 crowd.  I think the only thing that would make them better would be a nanny to watch the kids and maybe an alcoholic beverage to sip.

One of the moms pointed out Nathaniel at the very top of the play structure.  Hanging from a pole like a monkey.

I assured her I saw him.  She looked at me like I was a tad bit negligent letting my two-year-old precariously perch on the precipice of the equipment.  But she didn’t know Nathaniel.  He’s part monkey.  He’s the kid who scaled our stairs from the outside.  He’s the first to climb out of the crib.  He’s the one whose learned to scale my kitchen cabinets by only his toes. I had faith that he would be okay.  Plus it wasn’t really that high.  The worse that would happen would be a broken appendage.  And really, I know this will be the kid that will see lots of emergency room time.

As we chatted, I kept an eye on him.  I watched him scale the rock wall.  I watched him whiz down the slide.  I watched him attempt the rope ladder over and over until he got it.  Each time I felt the urge to go over and help.  I stopped myself.  I knew he would eventually get it.

As he was swinging from the top, channeling his inner monkey, His little fingers slipped.  I could see the fear in his eyes.  He quickly caught himself on the lower ledge.  His fingers clenched on the equipment.  He started to call out for help.  He was scared.  He was ready to panic.

I calmly walked over.  I told him to let go.  He looked at me like I was absolutely crazy.


“Really, let go.  You can do it.  I promise”

“Help me!”

“Just let go.  It’ll be okay”

“I can’t!”

“You can.  Let go.”  because he was only 4 or 5 inches off the ground at this point.

He let go.  And as quickly as it all started, it was over.  He bounded away to climb the rock wall and swing from the monkey bars.  I went back to my friends.

I wonder how often do I find myself in a situation just praying for God to help.  Hoping that super Jesus will fly in with his cape to fix it all with his side-kick Holy Spirit.  As I shut my eyes tight and pray for rescue, He’s right there telling me to let go, have a little faith.

This weekend, Dave and I embarked on a great adventure.  We’re shutting some doors and opening new ones.  It’s a little scary, never mind, it’s down right terrifying.  I pray that as we set forth, the not only will the falls be small but my faith will be large.

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As you pushed him high, he squealed for joy.

His little fingers wrapped tight around the chains.

Hair fluttering in the wind.

Stomach in knots as he reached the peak

and then

dropping as he plummeted back again.

The chains creaking and groaning from the twisting and turning.

Pushing the limits, testing the boundaries.

At just the moment when he came close to the pole,

you pushed him back up.

At just the moment when he was at the lowest,

when he felt like stopping,

you jumped in an pushed him back up.

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A great giveaway!!!

Last month I found a very cool learning website.  My boys both instantly became enamored.

Honestly,  they love all things that are video game.  We have a very strict video game rule at our house:  No video games Monday through Friday.  None.  Zip.  Zero.  Don’t even ask.  Otherwise my kids set their alarms to before the crack of dawn so that they can get up early and beat just one level, which of course turns into ten.  Then when I’m ready to start our day, they haven’t eaten or dressed or brushed their teeth or fed the dog or gone to the bathroom.  Instead of listening to the whining and fighting that results from too many video games and too little sleep, I simply stopped allowing them on days that I have things to do.

So for my poor video game deprived children the opportunity to play video games and call it learning is probably more amazing than the invention of the zipper.   For awhile I would reward them with some computer time and they could play on designated learning sites.  Turns out that lots of free learning sites aren’t actually full of educational games.  My kids are rather adept at searching out the games that are less about learning and more about killing vampires.  If it is an educational game they consistently pick something that’s too easy.   I honestly have lots of better things to do besides stand over them to make sure they are playing something that enhances their learning rather than a silly old game.

When I was introduced to Dreambox I instantly was intrigued.  DreamBox is a completely individualized learning experience built around the  NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) math learning Focal Points.  Each child has their own account that is password protected.  For some reason the boys LOVED that part.  They can choose all sorts of fun interactive games that are tailored just for them.   As the parent, I get emails about their progress and can log on and find out what they are mastering and what they might need help with. It was pretty accurate with what I had surmised their strengths were.

I really appreciated that it is a tailored learning game that is just for my kids.  I also appreciate the help with math skills.  It isnt’ a math program that will do a sufficient job teaching concepts, but it does a great job reinforcing concepts.  I noticed that the kids were faster at some of their addition facts.  The boys both loved it.  They begged to play.

I am happy to have the opportunity to give away a one month free subscription to try DreamBox Learning K-3 Math and it’s new 3rd grade curriculum. Ranging from Kindergarten to 3rd grade. Leave a comment telling me what educational sites you love, if you don’t have one tell me your kids favorite online game and if you’re lazy you can just tell me you love me.

The giveaway ends Friday, May 14 at 5pm.  Winners will be announced Monday 🙂

Happy Learning!

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Dear Jacob,

You were the unexpected blessing.  Your dad and I wanted a baby so very badly.  Less than a month after the honeymoon I was pregnant.  Very quickly after, I was incredibly sick.  I was sick all day and night long.  I couldn’t keep anything down.  I was miserable.  There are many things that even now, I’m not to fond of eating.  At six weeks pregnant I begged the doctor to see me.   I didn’t think I could last much longer throwing everything up.

And that visit changed our lives.  After peeing in a cup and a short talk with Gordy (our doctor) he shuffled us into an ultrasound room.  That small dark room was a little bit scary.  No one wants an ultrasound at 6 weeks, those are for the high risk moms.  They’re for detecting problems and finding out horrible news.

I laid on the table with your Dad holding my hand, praying that everything was okay.  As my uterus came into view on the screen, I saw you.  I saw you and your brother, clear as day.  Twins.  The scariest, most exciting, terrifying, wonderful word ever.

I went home and checked out every book from the library that had anything to do with multiples.   I read them cover to cover.  I terrified myself.  I mourned a little for my fantasies of the baby I thought I would have.  The single baby.   How would I carry two babies?  I wouldn’t be able to use my sling.  How would I love them?  How could I fulfill the needs of two little helpless infants at the same time?

Two was rather unexpected.  Two didn’t really fit into my plan.

My dear sweet happy baby, two is more wonderful than I could have ever imagined. Though two may not have been my plan, it was definitely God’s.  My life would be very empty without you.

From the moment that I first held you, you have always brought me joy.  You smiled so incredibly early.  You are a smiling prodigy.  You have the kind of smile that makes everyone smile around you.  You have a smile that shines through your eyes.  I love that you are quick to smile and quick to share your happiness with everyone around you.

You and Nathaniel are so different.  He is dark, you are light.  He has brown eyes, you have blue.  His hair grows so quickly, and yours so incredibly slow.

He is shy, you are outgoing.  Just today, you waved to everyone at the park, made quick friends and befriended a grandpa.  All the while Nathaniel was content to hold my hand.  Nate is quiet, you are a chatterbox.   You talked early, and haven’t really taken a breather since.  You love to hear yourself.  Even if you don’t have much to say, you’ll find something.  There is never a dull moment.  Now that you’ve learned to reason and have a glimpse of logic, we are constantly entertained by the things you deduce.  Like this morning when you told your sister it was your birthday.

McKayla:  How old are you?

You:  Five.

Mckayla:  No you’re not. You’re three.

You.  No, it’s my birthday.  I am five.  I get to choose!

I didn’t think today would be as hard for me as yesterday.  I thought that all of the melancholy of yesterday would pass as we celebrated your birthday today.  But it hasn’t.  Because as time seems to pass so unexpectedly and quickly as Nathaniel grows, it seems to charge right along for you.  Each day you are eager for new adventures and the possibility to do big things. You are always wanting to be a big kid.  You want to play baseball with the big kids.  You want to sleep with your big brothers.  You want to ride your scooter when they go outside.  You want to do school with them. You want to read.  You want to be five.

I am not ready for five.  Heck, I’m not even ready for three.  I wish that I would have treasured more the times when you were an infant and wanted to be held for what seemed like hours on end.  I know that soon all of the cuddling will turn to quick obligatory hugs between activities.  I know that soon, before I know it, you won’t be little, you’ll be big.

Each day you’re shedding parts of the baby you once were.  Little by little you are loosing a little bit of your baby fat.  Your cheeks aren’t quite so pudgy.  You’ve almost lost the dimple on your elbows.  You’ve practically potty trained yourself.  You know almost your whole alphabet and all the sounds.  You know all your colors and can count to 6.  You’re getting so big despite whatever I say.

The other day you told me “Every day, I’m getting bigger and soon I’ll be big enough”.  And I know this, so acutely, I know this.  That is the hardest part of loving you so very much.  Knowing that each day, you are getting bigger and that one day, you’ll be big enough.  Big enough for baseball.  Big enough for high school.  Big enough for college.  I know that one day, you will be grown and married. You will be happy and surrounded by lots of people who love you because you are so incredibly lovable.  One day, you’ll be big enough.  Though I look forward to all of the wonderful things that you will achieve, I’m a little sad to see each day go.

My dear sweet baby that is the most wonderful, unexpected blessing your Dad and I could have ever hoped for, Happy  Birthday!  May this year be filled with exciting adventures just for a three-year-old!



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Dear Nathaniel,

I know that being a twin has some drawbacks.

You’ll have to share your room, forever. You probably will never have your own room.  You’ll share with Jacob until college.  In college your share with a roommate.  Post college, you’ll get a roommate to help pay off all those student loans.  And then, you’ll get married and share with your wife.  I wonder what it’s like to never once sleep without the sound of your brother’s breathing.  From the moment of conception, he’s been there with you.

Being a twin also means that you have to share everything.  There is no mine, everything is ours.

Your life is a constant compromise.  It doesn’t matter that you want to watch Sesame Street if your brother wants to watch Caillou.  You have to find some common ground.

In all of these little ways in which being a twin probably sucks the most, I feel incredibly blessed to see little pieces of God shine forth from you.  I am continually amazed at how altruistic you both are.  When you were small babies and one of you would cry, the other would give up his own pacifier for his brother.  When the two of you fall asleep holding hands, I feel incredibly blessed to be witness to the bond that you both have.

So today, on the eve of your birthday, you get an early birthday letter because there are some things you shouldn’t have to share.  Being the first-born gives you some extra perks.  You are first by only one minute.  The most important minute of your life.  The minute that you will probably never let your brother forget.

It’s hard for me to comprehend that tomorrow you will be three.  When did that happen?  Where did all those days go?  How did we get from there to here?  How did it all pass by so quickly?  When did you lose all the fat around your knees?  Each day the dimples on your little fingers have disappeared every so slightly until one day, suddenly they were gone.  No longer do you have the pudgy little fingers of a toddler.  Now you have dexterous little fingers that can hold a crayon and are learning how to cut with scissors.

Somewhere along the way you’ve grown eyebrows and eyelashes.  The discombobulated movements of infancy matured into a clumsy toddler and have now grown into an able preschooler.  I am very sad to say goodbye to the little baby that you were.  I am excited to see you grow into the happy sweet boy that you are.  But I do morn the small one that you used to be.  I wish that I would have held you longer.  Memorized your sweet baby breath and small cooing sounds a little better.  More often than not, I see little glimpses of you as a big kid.  You’ll turn quickly and I’ll catch a quick look of you as a grown up.  It catches my breath and makes me feel like hyperventilating.  I cannot for the life of me fathom you as an adult. Because, you are my baby.  You may be a minute older, but you’ve always been the baby. Since infancy, everyone always pegs you for being the oldest.  It has always baffled me because to me you’ve always been the baby.  I’m guessing it’s your hair. But always, you are my baby.  You are the little one whose head fit in the palm of my hand.  You are the little one who took forever to grace us with a smile.  You are the baby.

When  you turned one, it was rather surprising.  It wasn’t like I didn’t know it was coming, it was more startling to realize that so suddenly you had turned one.  How did it all go by so fast?

Every year it seems like people congratulate us as parents.  “Wow!  You survived the first year!”  “Oh boy walking toddlers!”  “Congratulations for surviving the terrible twos!”  Honestly though, except for those first couple of weeks when sleep never seemed to last longer than 20 minutes at a time, having twins has been pretty darn easy.  I think because I’ve been blessed with two incredibly wonderful little boys. Boys that, for the most part, play well together.  Boys that enjoy each others company.  I’m documenting this now, because when you’re five and fight over video games and action figures, I can remember back when you would take turns with your favorite toys and were easily distracted.

You’ve also always been a little more reserved.   While Jacob jabbers you listen.  When he quickly makes friends you stand back and watch.   We constantly have to tell you to speak up, it seems that the more you talk the quieter you get.   Lately though, you’ve become rather animated.  I get to hear lots of elaborate stories, complete with hand motions and eyebrow gestures.  It’s rather comical.

You are content to play by yourself.  Far before your brother found his imagination, you had one.   You always have at least one  “guy” tucked in your pocket or hand or man purse.  Usually it’s 3 guys, 2 cars, a book, a dredle, a pair of dice, a dinosaur, 2 trains, and a baseball card.  OR some other random collection of stuff.   If there is a hat, you’re wearing it.  If you can find sunglasses, they’re on your face.  And the more pockets the better.  You’ve recently discovered overalls and it’s like you’ve found the best thing since sliced bread. 

Before any of your siblings, you’ve learned to have a genuine smile.  Heck, Marshall still has a cheesy photo smile.  You have the uncanny ability to be silent, completely silent.  I’m not saying that you are necessarily a quiet child.  I’m just saying that you are comfortable with silence.  You have the patience to hide and wait to be found.  You don’t even let us know that the game is began.  You simply hide, and wait for us to notice that you are missing.  I always wonder how long you’ve been silent behind the door waiting to be found.  I hope that it isn’t a test.

Tonight as I say goodbye to my toddler and welcome in my preschooler, I will whisper Happy Birthday into your ear, my sweet, sweet baby.  May this year be full of exciting adventures and wonderful milestones and great memories.

I love you,


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