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Yesterday you turned the big 3-0. Thirty. Take a deep breath. That’s right. You are officially out of your 20’s.
Your 20’s were good to you. They brought you your husband. Your kids. Your career. Your passion.
But they were rough, too. The loss of your brother, your parents. Chronic sinus problems. Back trouble. Bad feet.
You’ve had some good times – times you’ve laughed until you’ve cried, times you’ve cried until you laughed. Sometimes those events were the same day! There’s been lots of lessons learned. Lots of friends made, and more than a few you’ve lost touch with over the years. You’ve learned relationships are tough. Sometimes really tough. Tough just to keep going – tough to put the extra work in to keep the flame alive. But oh, so very, very worth it.
I guess I wanted to write you this to give you some advice. Advice you probably won’t listen to, but you’ll nod and smile and say you’ll listen, and I wanted to write it out here so there were witnesses, so to speak. So here it is. The big advice for you going into your 30s: Do hard stuff.
Life is hard. Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. Friendships are hard. Work is hard. Faith is hard. Cleaning is hard. Downtime is hard.
Cooking is hard to find time for in light of all that other stuff.
Be kind to yourself – but also, be good at doing hard stuff, because at the end of the day that’s really what life is about. Dig in to the moment, be present and real with people. Acknowledge that you’re doing something hard, and then do it. Give yourself a break when you fail, because you’re going to. Just be ready for it. Every day you’re going to wake up with 57 things to do and you are going to fail to do most of them.
Try to do them anyways. Don’t half-ass it, either, because who wants half-ass attention? No one. So do one thing really good. And then do another, and another, and another. You may end up with 14 good things by the end of the day. Awesome. You did good. You failed at 43 things, but they don’t matter because you rocked at 14 things.
When you turn 30 (if you’re me) you start to think about your legacy. At the end of my life I want to be known as someone who was real. Someone who had to dig her way through life with broken nails and tear stains and dirty tennis shoes who was a real person to the people she interacted with. I don’t want people to think I’m something I’m not. I’m a mess – just like every other human being on this messy broken earth.
By the grace of God I’d like to fight against that brokenness – the brokenness that destroyed my parents, the brokenness that threatens to take others every day… I’d like to BE KIND and DO HARD STUFF because it helps fix some of that brokenness. And if on any given day I can only do 14 good things, or even just 1 good thing, it means the world is that many more things better than it was yesterday.
You’ve only been here for 4 and a half months, and I already can’t even remember what life was like without you here. You joined our family December 31st at 4:07pm. 8lbs, 15oz, 21.5 inches long. Right from the start you were so beautiful to me.
Your hair! I told your Dad about a week before you were born, “I know it’s silly, but I prayed to God that Eli would have brown hair.” When you came out your Daddy looked at me and said, “Look, Net, brown hair!” So if you hate it – totally my fault. You’re a perfect blend of us – everyone says you have your Daddy’s hair, but he and I know the truth – it may stick straight up in the air like Dad’s, but it’s my color. You’re a lovely combination of the two of us.
You scared us your first few hours in the world. You had the cord wrapped around your tiny neck twice and you could barely breathe. Once they got you breathing, they realized your blood sugar was dangerously low. There was lots of worrying those first 24 hours… but in the end you were a champ and powered through it.
I was so thankful when we finally got to take you home!
Those first days at home went by so fast. You were so quiet, so observant.
You ate every 15 minutes (it felt like) and your brother stayed close by your side.
Your hair!! That face!!
You’re a ferocious eater (seriously, the first few weeks when you would root you’d scrunch your face up like this and I would just die from cuteness)
I promise your brother wore things other than his Batman pajamas…
Your first Superbowl:
You smiled so early. I don’t have much evidence of it, sadly, because the smiles didn’t last long…but they were there.
(Sorry; you had baby acne like WHOA)
You took a trip to Tennessee at just a few weeks old; you were a champ; how did we get so lucky with you? But you were happy to be home (just like the rest of us) This was right after you traveled in a car for 12+ hours through rain and sleet and ice cramped up in your car seat:
Your pacifier was your friend for quite a while (still is!)
It’s been a few months now, and you’re already rolling around and laughing when we tickle you and I feel time slipping by so fast.
You never laugh as hard as you do when your brother is playing with you. You roll around and you’re not afraid to yell if the dog gets too close.
You bring me such joy. Very little bothers you.
I can’t wait to see you and Benjamin grow up together. He loves you so much – we have to remind him to let you go so you can breathe! “Six inches, son” is said a lot when he’s trying to hug/smother you.
I always felt like a mom with Benjamin; but now that you’re here I feel more complete.
(us on Mother’s day. You’re pretty amused at your brother’s temper tantrum…)
Everyone at church loves you – you’re so sweet and they all love your hair – you look like a little cockatiel.
You are PICKY. You don’t like certain blankets, you didn’t like footie pajamas (and you were born during one of the coldest winters ever!) and heaven forbid I hold you the wrong way when you’re trying to go to sleep.
You roll across the living room like it’s nothing. You’re really starting to enjoy the bouncer, and just like your older brother you’re a parrot hunter (obsessed with the hanging parrot on the bouncer). You’re observant and quiet for the most part, but you’re starting to learn to squeal to get attention, stay awake, or yell at the dog. You smile when I come home from work and I’ll never get tired of it. You’re an easy baby; you eat and go back to sleep at night and you love to bury your face in soft things (mom, pillows, stuffed animals, blankets, etc).
I can’t wait to get to know you more.
I’ve seen a few different parents do this and thought it would be fun for Benjamin. I did it at the end of a long day, so I’m not sure I picked the best time, but I still got some pretty cute answers.
1. What is your favorite color? “Orange”
2. What is your favorite toy? “Cars are my favorite toys”
3. What is your favorite fruit? “Cherries” (really Benjamin?) “Yes, Cherries!” (really: apples and grapes)
4. What is your favorite tv? “Wonder Girls!” (you mean Powerpuff girls?) “Yes, Wonder Girls!”
5. What is your favorite movie? “Just Wonder Girls” (he had just gotten done watching Powerpuff Girls for the first time – said it was his favorite even though I’m pretty sure Curious George should win)
6. What is your favorite thing to wear? “Underwear!”
7. What is your favorite animal? “Zebra and birds”
8. What is your favorite song? “I like songs”
9. What is your favorite book? “Oh the places you’ll go, and Wocket in my Pocket”
10. Who is your best friend? “Aedan and Kaylee”
11. What is your favorite snack? “Fruit”
12. What is your favorite drink? “Orange Juice”
13. What is your favorite breakfast? “Tuna salad”
14. What is your favorite lunch? “I don’t know”
15. What is your favorite dinner? “I don’t know”
16. What is your favorite game? “The balloon game”
17. What is your favorite thing to play outside? “Shark play”
18. What is your favorite Bible story? “God is my favorite story”
19. What do you sleep with at night? “Friendent!”
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? “I don’t know”
It was a pretty interesting time. I was a bit surprised by some of the answers – cherries, for instance… we hardly ever eat cherries. Breakfast was just the first food he thought of, because he’d refused to eat tuna salad for lunch. “Wonder Girls” is a mix of Powerpuff Girls and Word Girl (I think, totally guessing). And we obviously need to sing more songs with him. He doesn’t have to tell me though – his jam is “Moves like Jagger” by Maroon 5. Can’t wait to do this again next year!
Six days ago you turned three. My mind still can’t wrap around that entirely. Where did the last year go?!
Year two was definitely the year of the superhero. You have embraced a world where superheros exist and it is weaved into the fabric of your life.
You have learned so many things in this past year.
You have learned about cancer. You have learned about hospitals and beeping machines and how Nanny is sick and there’s nothing we can do to fix it but take her to the doctor and pray.
You have learned about death. Having to explain to you that Mimi (your Papa’s Mommy) had died was difficult for us. Making that decision on whether or not to take you to the viewing was a tough one to make. And now, just a few weeks later, you’re in the car traveling again to Senatobia for her husband’s funeral.
You have learned how to sing. It makes me so happy to hear you in the back seat of the car singing about how the Wonderpets are going to save the baby deer. “Wonderpets! Wonderpets! We’re on our way! To help the baby deer and save the day…” Even though I think that show is a bit obnoxious.
You’ve learned about counting. We’ve been teaching you about counting for ages, but you’ve finally learned how to *actually* count things. You can tell me how many fingers I’m holding up, and if I ask you to count how many of something there are (like, apples, or shoes on the floor) you can usually count each item and give me a relatively close number. Instead of just counting to 12 really fast, you’re taking the time to count now.
You’ve learned to say “I love you,” and “you’re pretty,” without prompting. Oh, my, how you melt my heart when you do.
You’re so young, and the world is still so full of magic. I hope we can keep that alive in you even in spite of tragedy, struggle and heartbreak.
You have a baby sibling on the way – you keep telling me you want two baby sisters. I keep telling you that you only get one, but I’m not sure you’re convinced. We had initially only planned on having you, and adopting another child, but the more we thought about it the more we thought you’d benefit from another sibling earlier in life. We’re still open to adoption or fostering, but we’ll see how this new baby fits into the family first. Girl or boy, I have high hopes that you will be a great older brother.
You have a lot of friends, you’re quite social. You call all small children “my kids!” If Aedan and Kaylee show up to play: “My kids are here!” If Dylan and Noah show up: “My kids!” When you leave church, “I had fun with my kids!”
For your third birthday I asked you what kind of party you wanted. You said, “I want a Batman party!” When I asked you a week later, “I *said* I wanted a Batman party!” So we had a batman party, and we invited Batman to come to the party. We spent WAY too much on a really good Batman costume rental, but considering the adults had as much fun as the kids did, I’m calling it a success. You were afraid of him at first, when he picked you up and tried to take you away from me you burst into tears and snuggled into my neck for safety. Once he introduced himself to you, though, you warmed up to him. It was amazing. He played with you and “your kids” in the backyard and through the house. I’ll probably never tell you that “Batman” was played by your Uncle Cory.
Oh, son. This was such a fun year. You’ve been a beast for quite a lot of it, I won’t lie. You’ve spent lots of time in the corner with your hands on the wall for various transgressions. But you’ve also spent a lot of time having FUN. Running, playing, swimming, jumping, and going on adventures. I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for us.
One of my friends posted about this poem on facebook, and I thought it was worth posting here. Happy Father’s Day to my amazing husband who is one of the best Father’s I’ve ever known!!
A careful man I ought to be,
A little fellow follows me.
I do not dare to go astray,
For fear he’ll go the self-same way.
I cannot once escape his eyes,
Whatever he see me do, he tries.
Like me, he says, he’s going to be,
The little chap who follows me.
He thinks that I am good and fine,
Believes in every word of mine.
The base in me he must not see,
That little fellow who follows me.
I must remember as I go,
Thru summers’ sun and winters’ snow.
I am building for the years to be,
In the little chap who follows me.
by Rev. Claude Wisdom White, Sr
On February 5, 1988, I was 3 1/2 years old. We had been going through the process of moving to a new house. I don’t remember much about that time period; just glimpses and flashes of memories – an empty house at 2655 Sierra Street, a mattress on the floor, a stuffed animal held tight at night.
On that night, 25 years ago, I went to the hospital with my Dad. Honestly, it might have been the day after, but for purposes of this blog we’re going to pretend it was the 5th, OK?
I was so excited! I was wearing a purple shirt. I walked into the hospital room, and saw my mom. In her arms she was holding my brand new baby brother. I walked into the corner, by the couch, and stood there until she beckoned me closer. I peeked over the edge of the bed, nervous, but excited. I saw, for the first time ever, my youngest brother.
I didn’t know then how much joy he would bring me. I didn’t know the love I would feel teaching him something new – the first thing I ever taught him was how to spell “Banana.”
I didn’t know how much I would tease him, how much he would tease me.
I didn’t know he would have the power to break my heart and yet make me feel more loved than any of my other siblings during a lot of my younger years.
I didn’t know he would love me so much, hold my pinky so fiercely, turn to me in times of need as much as he did. I didn’t know what it was to truly love another person because of who they were before he came around.
I didn’t know how he would drive my mom crazy with his mohawk, I didn’t know how he would live so close and yet so far away and drive me crazy.
I didn’t know he would be my adventure-buddy, my friend without judgement.
All I knew was that this little bundle of joy was my brother; his soft cries made me so proud.
In fact, he made me so happy that I didn’t want to leave the side of his bed, so happy in fact, that I peed in my pants, making my dad take me back home in wet britches.
HAPPY 25th BIRTHDAY JAKE!
I have a sourdough starter in my refrigerator. It’s been there for months. When I first made the starter, I had grand visions of delicious sourdough bread. However, life happens and before too long it was placed into the back of the fridge on the shelf of forgottenness. Back when I started the starter (heh!) I named it Goob, after the adorable character from Disney‘s “Meet the Robinson’s.” If you’ve seen the movie, the rest of this post will make sense to you. If you (by random chance) haven’t seen it, drop everything and go watch it. Seriously. It’s amazing.
So at any rate: Goob was good to me, and then I abandoned him, and now he stinks.
I opened the fridge today to put away some pizza, and there sat Goob. My failure out front, in the open, for all to see. I turned to my husband and sighed.
“I’ve got to take care of poor Goob. I’ll try to look it up tomorrow and see if there’s anything I can do to save him.”
My husband immediately pops up with: “Go back in time, don’t neglect him so much.”
I love my husband.
Benjamin – on a natural christmas high from getting presents and being surrounded by family and love all day long.
Various friends and family – scattered throughout the house.
Papa and Nanny bought Benjamin a fake black and decker tool set for Christmas so Benjamin could “help” Papa work on stuff. He had cycled through all of his toys at least twice already that day.
Christmas night, 9pm, at home. Benjamin is playing in his playroom, there’s several people in the kitchen baking cookies and Benjamin’s parents and Aunt Charla are in the living room standing around talking about the days events. The weather outside is, appropriately, frightful. Low 30’s with a severe wind chill.
Dim lights. Three adults speaking to each other in murmured conversation as they hear loud footsteps. All heads turn to see the two year old running towards them, still in Christmas best, wild sugar-fuled eyes, small pupils, a large smile, and his left arm raised into a 90 degree angle with his hand holding a small plastic hammer. The child runs through the kitchen, deftly dodging the cookie-bakers, straight at the small group of adults. At the last minute he swerves to the right, still at full speed, towards the closed back door. Without a word he flings the door open with his empty right hand and starts to push against the cold breeze. The adults watch as the cold temperature registers in his brain and he steps back, slamming the door, and turns to look at the small group of adults who up until this point have been silently watching.
JUSTIN: Benjamin, what in the world are you doing?!
The child looks at his father with the wild, excited eyes of a two year old on Christmas night.
BENJAMIN: I WANT TO BANG THINGS!
JUSTIN: Son, that feeling will never go away.
The child, unaware of why his comments are funny, turns from the adults and starts to hammer away on the closed door. The outside chill, for now, forgotten.
Last years, if you’re so inclined.
Where were you when 2012 began?
At Uncle Scott and Aunt Tina’s house. Benjamin stayed up almost to midnight and LOVED the fireworks. He kept calling them BOOM.
Who were you with?
Justin, Benjamin, Tina, Scott, Serena, Logan and Mandy. We had a LOT of fun!
Was 2012 a good year for you?
Mostly. It was a pretty insane year – LOTS of changes – LOTS of projects – LOTS of weddings – Did I mention lots of changes? Yeah. BUSY.
What countries/states did you visit?
California to see my sisters and best friend get married, and Mississippi to visit some of Justin’s family.
Did you keep your new years’ resolutions?
YES! I am SMOKE FREE! Yee-haw!!! But, I’m not really sure I did very well with living a life of balance. This year was really, really crazy.
Did anyone close to you give birth?
Jake and Reba had their baby Feb 14th, 2012! No one else super close to me, but there’s some friends I have made at church with young ones, but the babies were born before I met the parents, so I’m not counting those.
Did anyone close to you die?
For the first time in a long time, no deaths of anyone close to me.
What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Hm, Teresa and James got married March 3rd, and Amy and Keith got married May 5th, so I think those days will be remembered fondly each year.
What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
Matron of honor (x2!), flew with a 2 year old, become an instructor, taught an 8 hour class, served as a vice-chair on a committee, attended my first “gala”, received my first real promotion, became a supervisor, ran a food truck at a charity event, stood by my husband while he quit a job he had grown to be dissatisfied with, and most recently I sat on the couch while someone I love very, very dearly told me they had been diagnosed with cancer.
Did you have fun in 2012?
Yes. Definitely. I also spent most of it exceptionally tired.
What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I had trusted God more with my money. I’ve stressed out unnecessarily. No, things aren’t perfect, but they’re not terrible either.
What do you wish you’d done less of?
Eating unnecessarily! :)
What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 28, and I worked, and my birthday this year sucked pretty royally. My coworker was irritated at me, which made me irritated at her. The only upside was that my husband bought me a really awesome old desk.
What did you want and get?
To find Cherry Lake!!!
What did you want and not get?
To put some work into my savings account. Life happens though.
Whose behavior merited celebration?
Two people come to mind. My husband, for being my rock, my motivator, and my calm in the storm. My husband, also, for having the strength to quit his job and step out in faith to be the best stay-at-home-dad that Benjamin could have.
This year I’d like to add my mother-in-law, who is an incredibly strong woman who is dealing with a cancer diagnosis with grace and trust in God.
Whose behavior made you appalled, depressed, or sad?
I’m usually very non-specific here. However, I’ve witnessed so many people recently be so ugly and judgmental in a negative way. I’m still not getting specific, on purpose. Can we just agree to love and respect each other despite our differences? Respect means the most when it’s towards someone you disagree with. Anyone can love someone who agrees with you. It takes real strength to love – truly love – someone who vehemently disagrees with you.
Did somebody treat you badly in 2012?
Who were some new people you met?
New coworkers, new church people.
What was your favorite month of 2012?
May. My trip to California took up half of that month and it was pure awesomeness.
What was your favorite moment of the year?
Again, as usual, several:
Toasting James and Teresa at their wedding. I cried, but only a little.
Toasting Amy and Keith at their wedding. I cried, again.
Finding Cherry Lake with my sister Jean. That priceless moment when she screamed out the window of her car in excitement.
Finishing up my first SAFVIC for TCPs class. It was pretty amazing.
The look of relief on my husband’s face when we finally decided it was time for him to quit his job.
Getting the phone call with my promotion job offer.
Any of the number of times my son squeezed me and told me he loved me soooo much!
What was your least favorite moment of the year?
Listening to one of my officers call for assistance. It was a recording, and I already knew the outcome when I heard it (that they were all OK), but listening to it gave me goosebumps and shook me to my boots. I love these guys, especially the ones in that recording, and hearing it made me realize how close I came to losing one of them.
What was your favorite TV program?
I worked my way through Monk this year, and I have to say, it was awesome. I totally loved it! Very well acted and scripted. Got a little boring at parts, but not too bad overall. I tried working through the Mentalist next, and while it’s good it wasn’t able to hold my attention in the long run. Now I’m happily watching Dr. Who reruns, when I get the chance.
What was the best book you read?
I reread the Hobbit and that was pretty awesome. I read several training books at work and enjoyed those, but other than work related stuff and blogs I haven’t really had a chance to read anything.
What were your favorite films of this year?
The Avengers and The Hobbit, and yes, I know how nerdy I am.
What was your favorite video game you played this year?
Borderlands 2. I really like Tiny Farm too (I play it on my phone) but Borderlands 2 is the game I play with my hubby, so it wins.
What was your favorite new technology/application?
No clue. I’m getting too old/busy/bored to keep up with it…
What was your greatest musical discovery?
KRISPY KREME! Just kidding. Epic Rap Battles of History! I show everyone when they come visit at my house. It’s becoming a tradition.
What was the best thing you bought?
My desk, and my hubby bought it, not me. I love it!
What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Promotion at work!!! I have worked very, very, very hard for this position and I’m VERY proud of myself.
What was your biggest failure?
Gaining back all the weight I lost last year. Fail.
Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yeah. I messed my leg up at the end of the year, and allergies continue to be the bane of my existence certain times of the year.
Where did most of your money go?
What kept you sane?
What political issue stirred you the most?
Who did you miss?
My sisters and Amy. Leaving them in California is very difficult each year I get to visit.
What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Compared to this time last year, are you:
I. happier or sadder? I don’t know, but I never know. This has been a pretty stressful year, and my mother-in-law is facing lots of health issues. I’m about the same, I suppose.
ii. thinner or fatter? Fatter. Ugh. So mad at myself.
iii. richer or poorer? Definitely poorer. But, we’re a 1 income family and still surviving. It’s worth the trade-off.
Did you fall in love in 2012?
Every year I say “over and over and over again” but every year it’s true. I love my husband so much, he’s my best friend. I am incredibly blessed.
Did you lose anything important this year?
Immediate family being cancer free, I suppose.
What was your proudest moment of 2012?
My husband deciding to quit his job. It took a lot. I’m very proud of him.
What was your most embarrassing moment of 2012?
Having to admit that the reason for my ankle injury is because I made a stupid, stupid decision to run in the dark in the grass.
(On a scale of: Very Good, Good, Fairly Good, Fairly Bad, Bad, Very Bad)
• Relational Health – Very Good
• Emotional Health – Fairly Good (less good than last year. Too many little things stressing me)
• Physical Health – Fairly bad (Ankle. Nose. Headaches. Need to visit a chiropractor. Weight gain. Lack of exercise most of November/December due to ankle injury.)
• Social Health – Good (I’ve hung out at least a few times a month with at least 1 friend, and participated in several church functions.)
• Spiritual Health – Fairly Good (I’m still a lame slacker, but I’m learning to trust God more.)
• Intellectual Health – Good (Teaching and attending training FTW)
• Financial Health – Fairly Bad (I’ll just say, sometimes there’s not a lot you can do to help this one – maybe next year!)
In the future:
How will you be spending Christmas?
At least part of it at the hospital with my mother-in-law. We’ll bring the presents to her! The rest of it with my brother and his wife and my niece.
How will you be spending New Years?
Working the day before and the day of… so… sleeping!
What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Haha, a second kid, maybe?
What are your plans for 2013?
Get back on track with my health.
Will you make any new years resolutions for 2013?
Last year I resolved to stop smoking, and I did. This year, I haven’t decided yet. I think I’ll resolve not to buy any candy at the store. Or something like that. Something else challenging and health related. Maybe do 20 push ups a day? Hmmm. We’ll see.
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:
The world is broken. Evil exists in this world. There is not really a whole lot we can do on a legislative level to stop evil. We can’t increase laws and get evil people to stop being evil – sorry, but we just can’t. It won’t work. On an individual level, I think we all need to do our very best at trying to saturate the world around us with as much love and goodness as is possible. You can turn something like the Newtown tragedy into a sound bite for a law you want to pass, but I don’t think that’s the best we can do. I think we can do better. I am choosing instead not to debate gun control (or even mental health, in spite of how much as I am passionate about it) and choosing instead to try to increase my output of good into my community. We can debate gun control and mental health another day; I think an appropriate response to this type of evil is not legislation, but love.
Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
These will only be funny to you if you are a Dr. Who fan who happens to watch Super Readers…. but I included links so you can get the gist of it.
From bathtime tonight, two brief glimpses at life with Benjamin:
Benjamin plays with a large camouflage bucket that will fit on his head. He puts the bucket on his head so that the main bucket is over his face.
“Mommy! I got a bucket on my head!”
“Benjamin! Can you say ‘are you my mummy?‘”
So Benjamin holds the bucket over his head, looks right at me, and says (with it echoing in the bucket), “Are you my mummy?”
Benjamin and I are playing Ducky Superheros with his three duckies. I realize he keeps spitting as he laughs.
“Benjamin! Stop spitting, that’s gross.”
“I can’t stop spitting.”
“You can’t stop spitting? Why not?”
Seriously. For anyone who doesn’t have a talkative toddler yet… hang in there. These days are amazing.