Hills we die on

We spend time in our family talking about the hills we’re dying on. When one child decides she doesn’t want to wear her uniform, and wigs out that she’s not going to school, I ask if that’s the hill she’s dying on. She has to go to school (we don’t home school), so it’s the law. You can’t go out in public naked, so you have to get dressed, and sadly for you, the rules of the school say uniform. But, hey, if you want to fight this, let’s do it. You’re going to lose, but, by all means, you can choose to die on this hill.

I also, in my job, ask that question a lot. Is the software working exactly that way, and is that the hill we’re dying on? I ask that in my personal life, too. But, I’m getting really sick and tired of seeing the hills some of us so-called Christians are dying on.

How about rather than dying on a hill about a red cup, we die on the hill fighting for churches to open their doors to the homeless, instead of locking them and spraying water on those seeking sanctuary. How about we go buy a few gallons of hot coffee and take them to the cold, homeless under bridges? You know – worry about OUR reflection of the season we celebrate?

How about instead of dying on a hill worrying about families with two moms or dads, we worry about families broken apart as they flee Syria? We find ways to get the families back together in a safe place that allows them to practice their faith, live their lives, and take care of their kids together as a family.

How about instead of dying on a hill because a company is open or not on a holiday or not, we worry about the people working there? You know – the ones who don’t get paid enough to making a living wage to really engage in all that life has to offer. The ones working 2-3 jobs to put food on the table. How about we look at the problems these men and women are facing and find real ways to help them? Or, we can throw a fit because a company is open and embrace a company that’s not (and hey, maybe won’t be paying their people for their ‘forced holiday’).

How about instead of dying on the hill of repealing Affordable Health Care and defunding Planned Parenthood, we figure out why so many of our people are choosing to buy food or medication, because they can’t have both? How about we figure out what to do with families that are kicked out of their houses because medical bills have become staggering? How about we make sure that physicals are open to everyone, not just those that work at a job in a corporation?

Instead of dying on a hill that #alllivesmatter, let’s remember that there’s a bunch of evidence to the contrary. That #blacklivesmatters is important because, right now, they don’t. Let’s die on the hill of getting all of our people equal access to health care, real education (and not some crappy school that’s barely able to turn out a kid who can read and do math at 18). Let’s die on the hill of making sure that schools are safe; when a girl goes to school, no officer is going to throw her on the ground; no one is going to open fire…

The Good Lord died on the hill at Cavalry for me (and you too, but you may or may not believe and I’m generally okay with that). His battles were taking care of the poor, the ill, the left-out, the down-trodden. Maybe, just maybe we should be a reflection of his soul. Maybe those should be the hills we die on, too.

Sit down

A little while ago, my family was out for supper at a place we frequent. It’s a family friendly location close to home so my kids are welcomed there. We obviously choose family friendly locations because we bring 8, almost-5 and 3 year olds with us. While we have high expectations on behavior, we also don’t push beyond the limits where they can succeed. (I’m not going to bring them where they need to wait an hour and whisper, and have foods they won’t eat).

The girls are expected to order for themselves, sit down, look at the server when speaking/being spoken to, keep to an orderly voice (no shouting/screaming/yelling), use please/thank you, etc. Should they need to use the restroom, they are required to walk, watch out for people carrying food/drinks, etc. We feel like this is part and parcel of being a good person.

We were at this particular location a few weeks ago and the dreaded “travel” team was there. If you’ve ever been in a restaurant where a kids’ sports team comes in and wants to all sit together, and is entitled to do whatever, you know what I’m taking about.

There were kids at this table of 18 that were running through the restaurant, shouting, roughhousing, etc. Their parents were paying no attention to those kids (ages between 8-12, I’d guess and about 8 of them give/take). There were a few times where the servers nearly dropped plates of food or 32 oz beers because these kids were darting without watching right into their paths.

All of a sudden one mom yells at the kids who are no where near a chair to stop. All the restaurant turns and looks thinking “finally, these kids will sit”. Oh, no, wait. They just want the kids to pay attention so they can take a group selfie.

Bits was sitting in her chair watching these kids with astonishment. At one point, one kid nearly hit Bits. My girl’s hair literally moved from the wind of the kid’s arms through the air, it was that close.

That was my last straw. I finally turned and said “You need to pay attention. You touch my daughter, and we’re going to have a real problem”. The girl looked at me and walked away. I could see her conferring with her mother, but as I was glaring, I’m pretty sure the mom decided silence was probably best.

I was talking with the owner later and found out one of the moms complained because her kid didn’t order a meal. He was flitting around, and not sitting during ordering so he didn’t order food. And, all the parents obviously wanted the bill split but didn’t like that their kids had to know a number to get food. If you switch up the parents and put the kids on the other end of the table not near a parent/sibling, exactly how would you like a server to keep those bills straight?

I really wish parents who wanted to do large group things with their kids would just do it in their house and order takeout. Although based on the amount of crap that was at risk, and the mess was made, I’m sure no parent wanted these kids in their place. Or – pay attention and make sure the kids are sitting down, not bothering other patrons with stupid roughhousing and shouting. But then how could you talk to your cronies without interruption?

We might be at this particular establishment a lot (see where I was speaking with owner later ~ we were just shooting the breeze, I hadn’t called her over to complain). Most of the servers who know my family and know my girls stopped by to say thanks. Thanks for teaching our girls behaviors appropriate to eating out, thanks for teaching my kids to look them in the eye and treat them with respect. Thanks for not running throughout as though they were in an indoor playground.

This is probably the one time that I judge parents. If your kid acts out, and you deal with it, I don’t judge that. I have no idea if your kid is autistic or had a bad day or what. So nope, not judging how your kid acted out if you are attempting to deal. In fact, I might shoot a compassionate glance over to say “I get it. You keep doing your best, You’re awesome”. But you let your kids run rampant, I am not giving compassion, I’m shooting daggers. And God help you if my child is hit because your child didn’t couldn’t sit down.

Lacking community

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the “community”.

Growing up, we belonged to the Catholic Church, after we moved into town when I was 4. The Church was a prominent fixture in my life. I went to church weekly. I played soccer and basketball for the Church in the CYO. I referred my first games there. I went to CCD for what felt like decades on Sundays. I made friends there. My parents coached, my brother was an alter server (I grew up before girls could be alter servers). My mom served on committees, my dad was a Eucharistic Minister. We were really involved, and we made friends through our activities. I was friends with the priests (even wrote them in college for a bit, and yes, they were absolutely on the up and up good men!)

We had other communities, too. I knew all the families on my street, and they knew me. We played together, their parents knew my parents, and everyone looked out for one another. My parents knew my classmates and their parents over the years, too. There were small and large niches for us to belong to, and we did, but as a family, the one I remember is the Church.

We belong to the Church here. My girls go to the school because of the education. But here’s the thing, I don’t feel like I’m involved or in a community here. We’re finally (2 years after moving into the house we’re in now, but 9+ years in our town) making friends with the neighbors, and they are delightful people. But – as a family, probably the closest thing to community is my husband’s gym. The girls are known there and participate, and so does he. (I can’t make it work, and right now, I’d rather run).

Here’s why I’ve been thinking about this:

A woman I knew from years ago is in the fight of her life. I promise you, that’s not hyperbole. I played soccer and basketball with her sisters. My brother was her year, and they knew each other. My dad coached most if not all the older kids at some point, I think. We had (have) family friends in common. Over the years, we’d lost contact with them, but would get updates here and there.

And then a few years ago, it came to light of her struggle. And true to form, the community that “was” 20 years ago, rallied to her cause. During the last two years’ runs, my mom and dad have caught up with all kinds of families. Of course, it was a no-brainer that these families all came to her aid as we could. They walked the walk, ran the run. Caught up, prayed for her.

And – I think (selfishly), in 20 years, what community would I have built for my girls? If something goes drastically wrong, what old community will be there? Their school? Maybe. The church, unlikely (although I think Father Erik is doing what he can) unless major changes are made. The neighborhood? Maybe, the two-three families that we talk to?

I think back to the Church and the community that was there. My mom and her committees, my dad and his activities… Good people, that we’d see at Church and make sure we left them their pew as we could. I can’t imagine how my parents had the time and energy to invest in that community. I get home from work, and I’m with my kids so they see their mom before they go to bed. I try to pay attention to my husband after that (or chores, or whatever).  Where did they find time for committees, coaching, and so forth? How did we fit so effortlessly into those communities? How did those communities get built and stay strong for so long?

Is it because we had a community to walk into? The Church accepted us after our move and welcomed what we had to give. It also had niches for young families. I have no idea if our Church has that niche. I’ve seen no evidence, and have no idea how. I can’t figure out how to build the neighborhood community. I’m open to the work of building or participating, but honestly I don’t know how. I don’t know what’s there to help grow. And I don’t know how to ask these question and who to ask…

This blog post sort of took on a winding quality I’m not sure I like, but I’m being a bit vulnerable too. If you’ve constructive ideas, I’m open. They needn’t be church based, I’m just using that example.  How do we go about building the communities that give our children a sense of community? What does it take?

Enough Is Enough

I think we need more people to come out and say “Enough is Enough”. So I’m going to add my words to the gun control argument.

An 8 year old was shot over puppies by an 11 year old. Because you know who should have unrestricted gun access? An 11 year old.  The 6 year old playing in her front yard shot by who knows… The guy shot outside a professional football game egged on by crowds and alcohol. Here’s the thing, I could continue to find more and more and more links of shootings. There are too many.

Here’s the Preamble of the Constitution

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The second amendment give you the right to a gun. If you extrapolate from that, you have the right to a gun so that justice is established and not vigilante justice, we can take care of our nation. You have a right to a gun so that we are guaranteeing to all general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our prosperity.

Well, I’d say the sheer volume of guns in this country is actively preventing Justice, general welfare, and it sure as hell isn’t securing the blessings of liberty for myself or my kids.

My kids have lock down drills once a month so that if a bad guy with a gun comes into their school they know what to do. Sure doesn’t sound like the Blessings of Liberty for my posterity. My kids should not have to go into lock down so you can have a gun. My kids’ lives should NEVER depend on their collective ability to be quiet so the gunman doesn’t come into their room. I should NEVER have to hear a police office say the school had to cut shrubbery a bit more so that the window was better accessible should they need to gain quiet entrance to the building to stop an intruder. This, this, is what our world has come to.

When 3 different colleges had shooters in one day, I said a prayer that the outburst wouldn’t appear on my daughter’s campus. Really? What part of that is securing the blessings of liberty for my progeny?

With all the guns in this nation, you know how often single shooters or mass shooters are stopped by a civilian with a gun? Me neither, but I’m pretty sure it’s not often. I assume that if were, the NRA would be citing those numbers left and right to make sure that we understood how “good” guns were. If more guns were the answer, we’d be the safest nation in the country, but alas, we prove over and over and over again we aren’t.

You know why I’m talking about guns and not cars (they kill people, too right?) Cars have a purpose unrelated to killing something. They get people places. They take us to work, they take us to soccer practice, or orchestra events. They don’t leave the our garages for the sole purpose of killing. Guns? They have 1 purpose. To kill. While you could argue that killing a deer provides food, and it does, it still achieved its sole purpose. It killed. Tell me that guns don’t kill people, people kill people? That’s absurd. People with guns kill. Sometimes in a moment of anger or a moment of curiosity, but the presence of that gun gave that person the best opportunity of taking a life. A gun is immediate, it’s impersonal, it’s easy to keep your distance. A knife, my fists, I have to be up in your grill to do any damage. A gun, I have the luxury of distance.

You want to talk about mental illness being the problem? Explain to me how little kids have a mental illness when they shoot. Explain to me how all preteens have a mental illness when they shoot. Explain to me how people who are drinking or in a fight or pissed off have a mental illness when they shoot.

Maybe bullying is the problem. Nope, not always. Maybe it’s a lack of two parents involved with their kids? Hrm – but wait, the dad was at home with the kids when one shot the other in a moment of curiosity.

I think we need to be triage mode. We have people dying daily because of guns. Daily. We have thousands of people in hospitals recovering from bullet wounds. Daily. We have kids scared to walk down the street to go to school. Here’s what’s obvious to me. If we can’t fix the underlying problems ‘right now’ like treating mental illness, like preventing bullying, like preventing kids from getting mad, then we need to stop the outlet. And that’s access to guns.

Your way isn’t working. Unfettered access to guns isn’t working. Arming everyone isn’t working.

Your right to a gun SHOULD NOT, CAN NOT, WILL NOT supersede my kids’ right to life. The one guaranteed to them by the same Constitution you use to keep your guns.

Bits is 3

As unfathomable as this is, our Caboose turns 3 today. Her joining our family led to lots of changes in our way of life, but its been good. (Pictures at bottom courtesy of digitalbean photography)

Bitsaloo – Watching you grow this year has been incredible. Somewhere along the line you crossed over from baby to toddler and straight into wannabe pre-schooler. I know it frustrates you not to get to school as your sisters did this year, but you’ve been soaking up the Daddy time. You might not be in some formal school, but you’re learning a lot and getting your numbers and letters down. Your quest to be “big” will drive you for a while to learn more and more. Don’t lose that quest.

Your zest for life will continue to bring joy into your dad’s and my life. You live out loud, and everything you do is all in. Whether it be throwing a temper, playing puzzles with Grandma, or playing outside, your enthusiasm is fun to watch. Your heart and soul are full and big, and they make our hearts fuller, too.

I’ve loved watching you cheer your sisters on during their adventures. When your big sister came home from Germany, you didn’t move off her lap or out of her arms for 20 minutes. Your genuine joy at hanging with your sisters is real and I love getting to see it. I look forward to seeing what this next year brings.

Bitsaloo

Bitsaloo

The littles

The littles

I love books

I love books

Today is Kiddok’s birthday

Kiddok is 19 today, and Facebook made sure to remind me. (As if I ever hear the date 9/24, and don’t immediately think of her…) And before I left the house this morning, I got to see a video of her opening her presents. Kiddok was thoughtful enough to video her opening the box and seemed genuinely excited about most of it.

Kiddok – Last year’s post was about you commencing your senior year and figuring out what you wanted next for college. And now, off to college you are. Figuring out classes and clubs and a whole new social experience. I so very much hope that it’s starting to get a bit easier and a bit less scary. I hope that you are having fun along the way of learning more; whether it’s learning in the classroom or learning from new folks and ideas.

You continue to be the kind of person who is trying to think about more than just herself, and more than just in your space. You care about the marginalized and the weak and you will take on the strong as needed. You have a strong sense of who you are and who you want to be.

I am looking forward to hanging with you when we get to see you again. Until then, your sisters, Dad, dogs and I miss you. I know you get silly videos and random texts from and about your sisters. Most of the time they will do something and then say “take a video and send it to Autumn?” I can’t say no. I know they miss you as we do and this is their way of staying in touch. We appreciate so much when you get back to us. They love the glimpses back in to your life, too!

The Beast Hands up

There but for the Grace of God

With lots of things going on in this world and in the US, I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating the phrase “there but for the Grace of God”. I don’t mean to presume that God loves me more than he loves someone else, by any means, as I often joke that there’s a gold-plated chair in hell for me.

My circumstances are pretty awesome. I happen to have been born into a white middle-class family who valued education where abuse wasn’t in our vocabulary. I’m healthy (well, nothing a little less laziness, and a little more attention to what I eat can’t fix). I don’t have issues learning in a traditional format or working in a traditional format so I fit into the “traditional” mold. My parents could afford to help me get a great education. My life, and that of my kids is pretty sweet.

But, then, you hear about these moms who have buried their sons and daughters for things as heinous as not using a blinker… I think of the moms who are sending their kids across the border to try and get a better life because it’s better to be without the mom in a foreign country than stay home. I think of the parents who are trying to get to another country on a raft I wouldn’t let my kids use in a swimming pool. I think of parents who are working 3 jobs so they can afford to feed their kid(s) and never see them.

You can bet your sweet bippy that if my choice was to stay in a war-torn country where the odds are 50/50 my children and I can die, or take some crazy chances to get out, I’d be looking to get out. Legally or not. If the law isn’t going to keep my kids and I safe, I’m not going to give two figs about the law. I can’t imagine living in this country where my skin color would put me at risk for walking down the street.

I understand the men and women who are protesting in inconvenient locations (freeways, malls) because they are sick and tired of worrying about their kids every time they walk out the door solely because their color makes them a target. Protesting on the freeway and inconveniencing some people for a night when I’m at risk every day, yah, I can get why they are doing that. There but for the Grace of God, these are not scenarios I face day in and day out.

Right behind “there but for the Grace of God” is “where much is given, much is expected.” Sometimes when I watch the rhetoric (and no, I didn’t watch the Republican debate), I think we’ve lost our way as that “city on the hill”. We’ve been given (or we took) a country with some phenomenal natural resources. We have had some leaders drive us through some dire times. We have the geographic distance from so much of the rest of the world, that we’ve been privileged to avoid so much of the world’s problems.

We have forgotten that we have a responsibility to everyone on this earth to do our best to make this a better place to live. We have forgotten that we have founded this nation on the words of “Give me your tired, your poor. your huddled masses yearning to breathe free… I lift my lamp besides the golden door” (Emma Lazarus). We have forgotten that “All men [and women] are created equal.”

We have forgotten the parable of the Good Samaritan. We are blithely walking by the men and women in this world who have been beaten and robbed, whether of their goods or their human dignity. We seem to have taken a philosophy that since my life is hard, I don’t have any sympathy left for someone else. Not only do I not have any sympathy, I also no longer have any energy to care about anyone who is different than me. Oh sure, if a natural disaster hits, we’ll give some nominal money to assuage our consciousness. But we’re not giving our comfort, real money, real effort.

I am far from innocent in this. I’m definitely guilty of paying attention to that which is close to home. And not worrying about my neighbor unless something brings their pain to my attention. We need to do better about remembering our neighbors are across this world as well as in our back pocket. Our neighbors are people trying to save their lives and the lives of their family whether they are in a war-torn nation or a poverty stricken part of Detroit. Our neighbors are those fighting for the Republican nomination (even though I personally can’t stand what comes out of many of their mouths). Our neighbors are those who are  trying to go to school, go to work, raise a family, not raise a family. Our neighbors are those humans who are inhabiting our earth with us.

Not ready for fall!

I’m truly sad that summer is coming to an end, and I’m very grateful that Labor Day was late this year so we had a bit more. Keeping in mind, of course, I’m not a full-time hands-on parent, Mike is. So – if you ask him, he might be begging for school to start.

I don’t want school to start yet because we’ve not even started finding a routine at bedtime for the kids. The last month of this summer, Peanut has been out and about with the next door neighbors after 2 months of being alone, that we’ve not had the heart to call her in for bed early enough. After dinner, we go outside, and if the girls next door are home, Peanut is begging us to play with them. They are biking and riding scooters, and using the trampoline, and catching softballs, and running and playing and getting fresh air and movement. She’s gaining confidence in her ability to be a friend (after a stupid incident at the end of school left her drained of that). So, I think this has been good for her.

I’ve even been less of a helicopter mom. I’m not outside with her, monitoring her. She’s with them. I’m trusting in their ability to work through all the decisions that go into getting along. You know, like our moms did. But because of the incident at the beginning of the year, we’ve been reluctant to stifle her time with these new friends until their mom calls them in. It’s not because we’re lazy about routines and bed time and so on. It’s because we weighed the good and bad of staying up later and decided to go with it. She’s playing. She’s getting exposed to big kids, instead of her two baby sisters (who she offered up for adoption last weekend.)

I remember having to be in earlier than all my friends and hated it. I hated that routine was more important even in the middle of summer. My world is still very routined (if I’m home and not in bed by 10pm, my body starts to move into the fetal position and rock). I don’t want that for my kiddos. Yes, routines are important, but I think having friends is just as important. So – for this month, for this year we’ve gone nearly routine-less. And while I’m worried about the first week of school with limited time to adjust to good routines, I’m choosing to actively ignore that worry and just wing it.

A family change has come

And so begins another chapter in the Raw household. The oldest and her mom have started driving to Washington to move her to college. Kiddok starts orientation at the end of the week and freshman year is upon us. It was a tough start to the morning. The girls all had to say good-bye, and the realization that it will be 4 months before we see her again in the flesh has hit some of us quite hard.

And while we’re all a little teary-eyed, we all know it will be okay. Nerves are in play for most of us. (Her sisters aren’t nervous, but I’m guessing all 3 parents and Kiddok are all a bit nervous). I have lots of advice, and didn’t want to make you sit through it… (and see eyes roll in the back of your head from boredom).
I know that you will be okay one way or the other. Things will work as planned, or not, but they will work. And, while heartache and joy are very much a part of your future, I wish you more joy than heartache.
1. Be nervous. Do it anyway. When you made the call to go out west, it was your heart and head combined. Just because now we’re all a little weepy, it doesn’t make the original choice a bad one.
2. Once you get there, jump in with both feet. Doesn’t mean you have to rush a sorority or anything that’s not you, but don’t sit holed up in your room hoping someone will ask you to do something. Go, do, ask, put yourself out there. It can be hard (incredibly so if you are introverted), but everyone is trying to figure it out, so put yourself out there.
3. Remember we’re all proud of you. Even when we tell you we miss you, it’s not a guilt trip. We can simultaneously miss you and want you to be happy where you are.
4. Remember we still love you, and would like to hear from you. Be thankful for technology. You can Skype your sisters, dogs, and cat. You can text (in all kinds of forms) your parents (even the third one). If you can’t Skype, sometimes, just send a text that says “can’t talk now, on the way to class, but love you.” Man you’d be a heroine then. Having said that, don’t spend all your time talking to us. Spend more of it with your peers.
5. Do something you’ve never done and is outside your comfort zone. You may find you hated it, you may find you loved it. You never know. Take a class or two for fun. You might as well. It will help keep things interesting in the havoc of finding, and closing in on your major. Find a new club, sport, group, activity. Join the ones that are more familiar, too, but branch out a bit. If friends offer to teach you something new, go and do. Whether it’s learning a card game or a crazy sport or finding a place to hear beatnik poetry, just go and do. (Sensing a theme, here yet?)
6. Get your stuff done. Figure out how to get your studying, papers, work/study, classes, etc done, and done right. That really is a big chunk of why you are out there. So, you know, succeed at that. But don’t forget to play.
7. If you go to a party, cover your glass and keep your hand on it at all times. I wish I didn’t have to say that, and it’s not fair that I do, but, I’d rather you were a bit hyper-vigilant, and never went through some of the heartache that waaaayyy to many freshman do, than pretend the risk isn’t there.
8. Speak up in class. You are meant to be heard. But you know what, listen, too. Your professors are there to help in guidance, your classmates are there finding their way, too. So, remember, it’s a give and take. Have fun, argue, but leave any bad feelings out of it. Argue with enough respect that you could have lunch afterwards with the antagonist.
9. If you go out with friends, never ever leave one behind.
10. If you drink, remember that it’s really easy to set a limit when you are sober, and much harder to keep to that limit once you are no longer sober. (I’m not advocating you drink. Really, I’m not.)
11. Find a place to study. Whether its your room, the library, the cafe (on or off campus), a study lounge, whatever… Figure out your right study habits and do it.
12. Make friends with people who counter your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t only make friends with people just like you, no one grows that way. But finding people who stretch you will only make you stronger later.
13. I know you will roll your eyes. But please – find some physical activity you like to do. Between sitting in class, sitting to study, sitting with friends, etc, you will sit so very much… I don’t care if it’s trying Irish dance, walking in the woods (be safe), swimming, intramural sports… Please find something to do here. It will help your studying. Really.
14. Grow and learn. Do and try. Be smart, be silly. Listen to and with your heart. Be proud and humble. Be willing to teach and willing to learn. Ask for help. Figure it out yourself. Do crazy stuff, but well, not so crazy you’ll flat out regret it. Venture off the path once in a while. Have fun. Learn something.
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Peanut is 8 today!!!

My Peanut is 8 today!!! In my ongoing effort to document their years and give them somewhere to go to see how much I love them, we’re going to talk about her.

This year, Peanut, you gained so much. Your sparkling personality, sense of humor, color is just coming to the front more and more. Your quick wit has left your dad and I in stitches more than once. One time comes to mind when you found a million dollar house on the shore, and finding out we couldn’t afford it, you told me “You need to work harder”. We still chuckle and use that quote.

When I was telling you a joke I asked you “what’s bright and colorful” and you immediately said “me”. You are right – you are bright and colorful.  I look forward to more and more one-liners, as well as you continuing to grow and gain in your confidence.

All things bright and beautiful!

All things bright and beautiful!

It’s so nice to know that your confidence is showing off outside this house as well. When your teacher sent home an email regarding you this year, she called you spunky and responsible. Man, your dad and I were so proud of that. It hints at your quick wit and ability to enjoy life, as well as your ability to understand right/wrong, and the kind of internal moral compass you’ve been growing, including your ability to work hard.
Framed!

Framed!

You’ve been showing us more and more of your responsibility, too. You came to us and asked us to help get you get more ready for 3rd grade math. You asked us to help you get to travel softball this fall. You’ve been trying new things like Crossfit for Kids, lacrosse, and dance team. You found some you liked more than others, but gave your all at those activities. You don’t have to like everything you try – but giving your all during the commitment is what we ask and what you deliver.
Spunk!

Spunk!

Your relationships with your sisters and parents and grandparents have been growing as well. Grandpa. specifically, called out that he really enjoyed you hanging out with him when he’s been out this year. You really showed him how well you listened to him and how much you valued your relationship. Grandma has so much fun taking you to do Grandma days because of the obvious enjoyment you get just being in her company.

You had an awesome year last year and we look forward to another awesome year with you. Please keep setting your own goals and working towards them – Mommy and Daddy will help you. Please keep living life out loud. I pray that you continue to find happiness and love and fun along with working hard. You are striking a great balance and I pray you continue to! I love you my Peanut. (Some pictures courtesy of Megan Stans of Digitialbean photography)