Tags: thinking a bit deeply

be happy

EOOI

Pardon.

By which I mean, both, I haven't been here for over three years for which I do beg your pardon, and also, pardon me, what on this unprecedented new version of Earth does "EOOI" mean?

Allow me to explain only one of those things, starting... now.

Forget the hiatus; we're talking FOMO

We've heard of FOMO, surely? If you haven't, the irony of my implying that you've been missing out on it is, well... *chef's kiss*.

FOMO — the Fear Of Missing Out — is a familiar concept. A familiar place. As an enneagram 4, there's a kind of delicious melancholy inherent in the sense of otherness that comes with "missing out", you know?

FOMO is a focus on lack.

But if God is my Shepherd, and I shall not want/lack, then what place does FOMO have?

Two steps taken concurrently

I came across the concept of JOMO — the Joy Of Missing Out — long ago. I didn't really like it. Fine for other people, maybe. But for me? No thanks. I'd like to not miss out, not just miss out and be fine with it. Weirdos.

An Insta post with the following quote did a lot to shift my thinking:

"No FOMO
because wherever I am
and whatever I'm doing
is where it's at."


I mean, yep. Perfect! Right?

At the same time, I was starting a new year and looking for a new - or renewed, at least - sense of focus and direction. It was late December, then early January, and I was finding it uncharacteristically hard to pick a theme or a key scripture or any goals at all for the coming year.

That coming year was 2020.
So... yeah.

The one thing I did come to was a single word:

Equanimity.

Equanimity: calmness and composure in difficult times.
Equanimity: an even-minded state or tendency.
Equanimity: calm within the storm.

Nice, right?

I came to it as a suggested focus word for the year for type 4s. And hey, the shoe fat. Fitted. Foot. As an effusive 4 who takes every experience in deep, the idea of equanimity - outwardly and inwardly - sounded like a well-placed challenge, and I was up for it. I talked myself into some "healthy type 1" themes to feed into that aim for equanimmity - namely: Action, Structure, Commitment, and Resolve. I had a whole diagram to support my workings out. I was good to go.

And then, 2020 happened. The meandering journey to find focus and goals suddenly made sense. What goals could I possibly have set in January 2020 that would have still held any sense or relevance even three months later?! Certainly not Action, Structure, Commitment, or Resolve!

But 2020, as it turned out, was its own (unforeseen, unexpectedly effective) voyage towards equanimity. Lockdowns and online school and international madmen and mandatory face masks and border closures and zoom meetings and doomscrolling and three visits to a testing centre and everything being constantly cancelled and continual global tragedy, as it turns out, is a very effective petri dish for inner change.

Is there anyone it didn't change?

Hence the phrase, and its highly pronounceable acronym, that came to me today.


Forget FOMO and JOMO - 2021 is all about EOOI

It's a catchy little acronym, I know. It stands for

the Equanimity Of Opting In.


'Splain.

2020 slowed us down. The continual rushing, the glorification of busy, the culture of lifelong hustle - all that I was opposed to, but part of. It was the bathwater that 2020 threw out, along with the baby that was our illusion of control.

When I talk about "Opting In", I'm not talking about opting back into all of that. Ick.

This is what I'm talking about:

This morning I put my head-coldy six-year-old into the bath. He played for ages, content to lie back and listen to the water around his ears, chase the dried jasmine petals that came in the bath salts, and munch a damp muesli bar, at his leisure. Eventually he called me to say he was done. We took care of the washing part of the bath, then he pulled the plug.

I stood there, towel in hand, while he watched the water corkscrew loose petals down the drain.

I heard myself hurrying him up.

I was waiting. (I had nothing urgent to be doing.)
He'd get cold. (It's a thirty degree summer's day.)
He'd said he was finished. (But then something fun had started happening.)

The truth?
I was being impatient. Because I was bored. Because I was choosing to opt out, and it wasn't fun.

So I opted in.

We laughed at the petals spinning down the drain.
We gasped over the ones that got caught at the plughole, as if one of us wasn't fully aware that they were caught on the corpse of a daddy long legs I'd been hoping my little arachnophobe wouldn't notice had been trapped under the plug the whole time.
He did a slippy-feet dance, and even though it meant he stopped halfway through turning around to be wrapped in his towel, it was a really cool dance.

And it was really quite okay.

This was equanimity.

Waiting five extra minutes on a lazy Friday for a child's joyful bath to end isn't exactly the dictionary definition of "difficult times". But it served its purpose, which was to whisper (scream-whisper) into my ear, "Notice this. This matters."

The sentiment behind the "No FOMO" quote is right. Not because I'm so awesome that I turn where I am and what I'm doing into "where it's at" (I GUESS), but because where I am and what I'm doing is already awesome. It's just my job to notice it.

The concept of JOMO suggests that it's better to be not doing that to be doing. I'm wholeheartedly into the notion of finding joy in any situation, even if it's not the situation I was looking for. That's cool. But joy at not doing misses the mark.

So, I present EOOI. It's got the desire for involvement of FOMO, the joy and contentment of JOMO, and the... well, the equanimity of equanimity.

EOOI
because wherever I am
and whatever I'm doing
there's joy to be found.



Action, Structure, Commitment, Resolve?

Sure.

The Action is whatever I'm doing. Maybe it's watching my son poke a petal and not notice a spider. Maybe it's being on shift instead of hanging out with friends. Maybe it's eating the last cookie when the kids aren't looking. (After all, it's not always "difficult times".)

The Structure is this: Pause. Opt In. Find Joy. Repeat.

The Commitment is: that I'll use this new model to replace those earlier models, until something better comes along to take its place. That's all.

The Resolve is this: I will. Except for when I forget. But then I'll remember. And except for when I don't want to. But then I'll remember that I do. And so I will.


It's your dear old buddy, Poif Jr.
Pause.
Opt In.
Find Joy*.
Repeat.


*And don't mention the spider** in the plughole.


**And I do know that a daddy long legs is not technically a spider. Okay? Don't @ me. I have a type 5 husband and two sons in my household. I do be knowing.

be happy

A Love Letter

Love doesn't need to make sense.

I like hot weather. I always believed I needed to live by the beach to feel sane. Ballarat, my love, you're (literally) freezing and the nearest coast is an hour's drive away. You don't have good salt and pepper squid, or a shopping centre with an indoor playspace, or people I'm related to, or anything I grew up with or believed I wanted in a home for myself and my family of littles.

Nonetheless, I love you.

I'm not putting down roots here - but only because I'm not putting down roots anywhere on this earth. There's somewhere else for me. But for now, while the Lord sees fit to bless me with it, Ballarat is my beloved.

Is it the glorious green of a countryside bursting with life in spring? The magnificent autumn display of golden tree-lined leaf-paved streets? The crisp fresh air of a cold, foggy winter's morning?

Sure, I enjoy those things immensely. But I love this town because the Lord put it into my heart to do so. Because this is where He wants me, and his grace gives me everything I need.

There are towns by the beach that have a vibe that's much more Me. There are places closer to family, more convenient, maybe even more beautiful.

But this here is love. It's love, because God turns "despite the cold" into "because the cold is stunningly beautiful". It's love, because God turns "even though it's utterly landlocked" into "because it's completely surrounded by natural beauty".

God takes a nothing much, applies His love, and turns ashes into beauty. He loved me when I was nothing. He loves me still, and I'm still nothing much. His love - beyond and over and through all my flaws - is humbling and fills my heart with joy.

And love.



Cold brings snow, and snow is unspeakably beautiful. Weakness means I need Him, and leaning on God reminds me daily of His grace. Less of what's Me has taught me more of what's Him.

I'll set down roots, one day, when He decides it's time. Until then, His gifts are more than sufficient for me.

It doesn't have to make sense. It's love.
be happy

Going Bigger, Going Smaller

I'm a big-picture girl. I do understand the importance of details - and if I set my mind to it, I can do a half-decent job of dealing with them - but they're not what I'm about. Liam's good at details, so we're a good team. I'm the "What if...?" one; he's the "What about...?" one. Generally.

It's good to have both.

There are occasions where a big picture perspective is awesome. When you're parenting a child and they're being all strong-willed about something and you're trying to stand your ground, it's a huge help to zoom out - to pause, look at the big picture, and remember why you're doing what you're doing.


There are also occasions where a closer look is awesome. When you're in the middle of a busy day and the kids are dawdling and you're trying to get to the next item on your to-do list, it can be so important to zoom in - to pause, see your little ones enjoying themselves in that moment, and remember why you're doing what you're doing.



Zoom out. Zoom in.

We need both.

I'm well aware of the drawbacks to focusing too long on the big picture. It's so easy for the little day-to-day things to slip by unnoticed as we work towards The Greater Good, whatever that may be. Little jobs that need to be done, little troubles that need to be attended to, little victories that need to be celebrated. Little moments that need to be cherished. When the pressure of the big picture gets too much: Zoom in. How's your week looking? Zoom in. What's important today? Zoom in. What's happening, right at this moment? Find a focus that helps lift the weight of the bigger picture.



There are downsides to too much time spent in the minutae, too. We find our direction when we go bigger; focus in close for too long, and we find ourselves wandering aimlessly and wondering why we don't feel like we have a clue what we're doing. When the distractions of the little picture get too confusing: Zoom out. What's important today? Zoom out. How's your week looking? Zoom out. What are you working towards? Find a focus that helps you find your direction through the smaller picture.


Zoom in. Zoom out.

We need both.


Zoom out...

As adults, we need an awareness of the future. Our kids are PEOPLE who are going to be GROWNUPS. What's happening right now is so TEMPORARY.
It's good to spend time in the big picture sometimes. Step back, and feel a sense of What It's All About. It's encouraging. It's inspiring. And it gives us direction.


Zoom in...

Kids live in the moment. Two days away is AGES. What's happening right now is EVERYTHING.
It's good to join them there sometimes. Get closer, and feel connected to their Now. It's refreshing. It's fun. And it gives our direction meaning.


Feeling lost, or stuck, or frustrated, or confused? Go bigger. Go smaller.

Zoom in, zoom out.

What do we need?
That's right*.





*Both**.

**And a new word, because "both" doesn't look like a real word now I've used it so many times. Sorry about that.

be happy

Grace for Big Girls



SCHOOL!!!!!!

That's the hot topic in many households this week, I'm sure. Our Ellie starts school next Monday, and is SO VERY EXCITED. Her bag's packed, her uniform's ready, her snacks are even dispensed into ziplock bags in a special "Ellie's School Snacks - Do Not Eat THIS MEANS YOU OWEN" box in the pantry. She's been breaking in her shoes, practicing her writing, and squealing with excitement every time we drive past her school.

She's ready.


Looking at my little big girl, I'm amazed by how far we've come from those early days.

But with this new stage come new issues - one of which has been brought to my attention a couple of times lately, in conversations with other parents of five-year-old girls... and in daily life with one of my own.

It's this:

BIG GIRL ATTITUDE.

Good grief.

She certainly still means well, generally. She loves being helpful, loves feeling like she's done a job well, loves hearing she's making good choices. But.

That attitude!


I'm not going to tell you how to fix it - I think the answer to that might be "time", and no one wants to hear that. But I will let you in on three little things that have helped us...


1. Pocket Money.

Eep! Pocket money! As if all this talk of school wasn't enough to make me wonder if I'm old enough to start referring to myself as an "adult" (naaaaaahh), I also have a child who's old enough for POCKET MONEY!!! I understand everyone's different - some kids already have pocket money long before this age, while others still don't feel ready. And that's fine, of course.

We decided being old enough for school was a good indicator of being old enough for some other things. Ellie already has a handful of Ellie-specific chores (emptying the cutlery rack from the dishwasher, wiping down the sink after toothbrushing, setting the table for dinner, bringing her laundry hamper to the laundry on kid-clothes-washing days, etc), which she does pretty reliably and generally takes pride in - besides the occasional bit of interrupted game angst. So, next step: income.

Her first week's pocket money went on a Frozen purse (I matched her $2 for it), to keep future pocket monies. Next was a bell for her bike - we went to the shops, checked out prices, and she spent the next fortnight saving up enough for a $3 bell and $1 change. Such a proud moment. Now, she's saving up for "something good" - she hasn't decided what just yet. We're at $5 tomorrow.

This pocket money lark is all about teaching her responsibility, and that we value her contribution to the family. I'm not giving her money directly for doing a task - I'm not interested in bribing her to get work done - but in recognition of her new level of responsibility.


And it's interesting to see what an impact that awareness of Big Girl Responsibility is having on her Big Girl Attitude.


2. The List.

This one came about one morning when I was putting Theo into his highchair, and asked Ellie to fetch me a bib from his room. She was sitting watching cartoons (which I'd already told her it was time to finish watching); I was wrangling a writhing bag of snakes - I mean, eight-month-old - into a small, contoured seat. I figured she was the better candidate.


Did I get a bib, as requested? Oh, yep. Did I also get a bonus side-order of Big Girl Attitude?

WOAH, MAMA. Yes.

Apparently, I made her miss the end of Peg + Cat. (Actually, SHE made her miss the end of Peg + Cat, by standing in Theo's room shouting about what she was missing instead of GOING BACK AND WATCHING IT. But anyway.) And apparently, it wasn't just any old episode - it was THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ONE. There were tears. Arms were vehemently folded. Feet were stamped.

No way THAT'S okay. Theo had his breakfast, and then Ellie and I had a Talk. We talked about priorities. We talked about the importance of family vs. the importance of things on TV. We sat down in the office with a piece of paper, and brainstormed this list together:


And then we discussed what it meant, using examples:

"If you're playing a game, but I'm trying to explain something to you, which is more important?"

"If you're practicing your writing, but it's time to go to the meeting, what do you do?"

"If you're watching TV, but I need you to fetch something for Theo, WHICH IS MORE IMPORTANT?"

She was spot on every time, of course. We also talked about the fact that when you look after the things at the top of the list, they tend to help take care of the things lower on the list. Think about it. It's true.

She LOVES her List. Later, I heard her giving the same examples, pretty much word for word, as she explained it to Liam. And from then on, AND THIS IS THE BIGGIE, if I ask her to do something, or remind her about her attitude... SHE GOES AND CHECKS HER LIST. And she comes back with the right choice, every time. Based on a list of priorities we decided on TOGETHER.


She's such a stickler for rules, her annoyance at having to prioritise something else over what she's doing is far outweighed by her enjoyment of making what she knows is a good choice. And with family in #2, Owen gets victimised WAY less.

Everyone's a winner.


3. That Time I Feared A Pinterest Fail But It Turned Out Awesome.

There are various versions of this lesson floating around Pinterest, where someone hurts someone's feelings, and someone else gets a smooth sheet of paper, crumples it up, then smoothes it out and points out that it's never completely smooth again.

There's some kind of "saying sorry doesn't mean it's okay" lesson there, or something.

So, this morning Ellie did THAT THING again, where she goes against everything I tell her a squillion times a day, and moves Theo without an adult present.

In this case, she stood him at his activity table, and then left him to it.


He's not exactly a pro at standing just yet.

Inevitably, he fell. I was out hanging washing, heard him crying, and came running. Ellie admitted what had happened, sighed, threw a "Sorry, Theo" his way, and wandered off. Again.

Nope.

I sent her to her room - not for time out, but to wait for me. I told her I'd be there to talk to her when I'd sorted Theo out.

Hugged, comforted, and distracted with a small plastic frog, Theo sat in my lap while I talked to Ellie about why I ask her not to move him on her own, what could happen, what DID happen, etc, etc. Sighs, and the occasional bored "Yes, Mummy," were not quite the response I was looking for.

I sent her for a sheet of paper.

At this point, I should mention, I had NO IDEA what I was going to do. The crumpled-up-paper lesson from Pinterest was in the back of my mind, but in that moment I couldn't even remember clearly what that lesson WAS, let alone figure out how I was going to make it relevant to my five year old.

She returned with the paper, and I held it in front of her and talked about how we ask her not to move Theo without us. I talked about what happened this time, and as I spoke I scrunched the paper up into a tight little screwed-up ball right in front of her.

She couldn't look away.

Then, I talked about how she'd said sorry to Theo. I opened out the paper and laid it on the floor in front of us. She stared at it, and watched me smooth my hands over it as I talked about how saying sorry hadn't changed the fact that he'd been hurt.

Her hand slid out, and gently ran over the creased paper in an attempt to help me smooth it.

I reminded her that this was not the first time something like this had happened. I talked about how she might say sorry at the time, but if she goes away with no intention of changing and does it again later, the paper just remains crumpled.


At this stage, one bit of my Mummy-brain was ringing the "Don't pile on the guilt!!!" alarm. I was still very much winging it. And I was very aware that I did NOT want to be teaching her "If you make a mistake, there's nothing you can do to make it right."

Where was I going with this?

In the next moment, That Thing happened; the Thing that makes me glad I wing things, because it leaves me open to this kind of inspiration. These words were not mine...

"But do you know," I said, "what the Lord does with this piece of paper?"

Ellie shook her head. I picked up the crumpled piece of paper, and threw it over my shoulder. She watched it fall to the floor.

"He throws it away," I said. Ellie looked astonished. "And HE GIVES US A NEW ONE. A nice, fresh, smooth piece of paper, to start again, like it never happened. That's what happens when he forgives us."

Ellie stared.

"So," I said, "we might make mistakes and bad choices sometimes." I picked up the paper and crumpled it again. "And we always say sorry, not because we should, but because we really are sorry and really want the other person to feel better." I opened out the crumpled paper again.

"But the Lord knows when we REALLY MEAN IT. And if we REALLY MEAN IT - that we're sorry, that we want the other person to feel better, that we don't want to do that again..." The paper floated to the carpet of my daughter's bedroom. "He'll always, ALWAYS give us a fresh piece of paper.

"That's what it means to repent, Ellie. And that's how it feels to be forgiven."

She got it.


That piece of scrunched-up paper is stuck up on her wall, right next to her List of Priorities. I walked past her room earlier, and she was standing in there, looking at them and whispering to herself.

Good things, I hope.

There are no easy answers to the Big Girl Attitude thing. But Big Girl Responsibility, Big Girl Priorities, and a regular dose of Big Girl Talks do seem to help. The rest comes down to time, love, and oodles of patience.


I think maybe the Lord feels the same way about us.
be happy

8 Things I Know

1. Bonces Gotta Bonce.

So, you had a baby recently, eh? Yeah, good for you, Mummy. Whatevs. Now... TO THE PLAYGROUND!!!!!



She likes showing me what she already knows she can do. He likes mastering all there is to be mastered. They both like to swing.



And Theo? He sleeps while they wear themselves out.



(They're not really wearing themselves out. They've still got plenty more in the tank.)

This thing I know: Kids need to play, and run, and shout, and climb, and knock each other over on the swings. No matter how cold, no matter how weary Mama might be, no matter how many other things could be getting done... bonces who get to play are happy bonces. It's worth every frozen minute of playground loitering.


2. She's Growing Up.

Who is this leggy piece of work with the kinder friends and the mad reading skillz? Seriously, when did this happen? Suddenly I have this grown-up, cord-cutting, baby-loving, pregnancy-faking kid around the place...



She's got a whole new level of coping skills, and an eagerness for chores. With two little boys in the house, I'm very much aware of - and thankful for - her willingness to help, her ability to dress and (kind of) groom herself, and her awesome level of communication. She's fun, and interesting, and affectionate, and I LOVE HER.

And so does this guy, who gives her the BIGGEST smiles:



This thing I know: I am SO PROUD of who my girl is growing up to be.


3. Theo Is Cute.

Exhibit A:



Exhibit B:



He's laid-back, and cuddly, and starting to crank out those smiles. He loves to be held, he loves to be with us, and HE KNOWS HIS MAMA. (Who sometimes sneaks away to eat breakfast with two free hands.)



He was born in water, and he doesn't seem to have forgotten.



This thing I know: The hashtag is correct - this kid really is #theodoreable. I'm smitten.


4. He's a Darling.

My Owen is crazy and unpredictable and loves a good "shooter". (Note: ANYTHING can be made into a shooter. Pencil? Obviously. Duplo? Of course. Tissue box? No problem.) He takes things apart and wrestles his sister and crashes toy cars.



He's also so independent he insists on making his own Teddy Bread and choosing his own vitamin from a selection of three, and woe betide anyone who peels his banana for him...



But he's the SWEETEST BOY. Look!



Think he loves his brother? (Hint: he does.)



He can be talking all tough one moment, and the next he sees Theo and his voices switches up three octaves and he goes to mush and it's all, "Hel-lo Feo!" "Hel-lo, lit-tle guuuuuuuuuuuuuuyyy!"



I'm learning to work with his independence instead of trying to control it. I'm learning to appreciate his desire to do everything for himself. I'm learning to embrace his quirks and not get frustrated. I'm learning to let go of Teddy Bread ever looking this good again:



This strong-willed independent streak is fine. Better than fine. Because I know he's setting himself up to be such a confident, capable young man.

(Even if it does mean him taking apart the Lego house I made when I was a kid, in TEN SECONDS FLAT.)



And he's pretty lovely to hang out with.



This thing I know: My little big boy is one awesome dude.


5. We Made a Good Investment.

Baby Owen, who made us tired (and slightly deaf) and took up so very much of our time that poor Little Ellie only got whatever tired scraps were left... we were right about him. He was an AWESOME investment in Ellie's future. Because here they are, not even three years in, and BESTEST buddies.



I love these little packages of nonsense. I love the way they negotiate turn-taking. I love the way they chat when they think I'm not listening. I love the way she calls him "Owie" and watches out for him with her particular combination of care and bossiness. I love the drawn-out way he says her name - "Ahhhl-liee" - and how he loves to surprise her and willingly goes along with all her crazy make-believe games.



I love when they pose together. Because they're just SO CUTE.



I love when they snuggle up together for prayer at bedtime...



(... which was cuter before I turned the light on to take a picture and dazzled the eyeballs out of them both).

They're little mates, and they're there for each other, and I love it.



This thing I know: They are of so much value in each other's lives, those difficult early months were worth every moment.


6. We're Making Another Investment Right Now.

And knowing this, it's so much easier to say, "Sorry, Owen, I can't pick you up right now - I'm holding Theo," or "Sorry, Ellie, I'll do crafting with you later - I have to feed Theo." Because today, Theo is using up most of my time. But then we'll blink, and look again, and he'll be running around with them, playing "Queens and Baddies" and exponentially multiplying their fun.

They're already practicing.



And meanwhile, I'm pretty sure no grudges are being held.



This thing I know: Theo is slotting right into this family like the missing piece we never knew we were missing. We love him.


7. I Would Get Nothing Done Without The Hugabub.

Seriously.



I've never cuddled such a cuddly baby as our Theo. Tired, grouchy, overwhelmed? I pop him in the Hugabub, and within a MINUTE most times he's asleep. Or at least awake but quiet and content. It's lovely. The easiest and most practical bonding time ever. And it means my hands are free to cook dinner, play with the kids, write a blog post... and of course, HAVE ADVENTURES.



(Which have included Rebel Owen deciding, halfway home from the park, that he wasn't done. And MARCHING BACK THERE ALL BY HIMSELF.)


(Important note: It's pretty much impossible to actually give chase in this thing; the best you can hope for is a kind of long-distance follow.)

Looking back on our early weeks with Owen, I wish we'd had this thing back then. I wonder how much it would have eased that transition from one to two. It's lovely for Theo to be held close and feel calm and settled, even while his boncey big brother and sister are keeping me busy.

Also, who doesn't love a babywearing daddy? :) This guy is awesome. He's been sick for a couple of weeks, and suddenly this week I was even sicker and dude took care of EVERYTHING while I pretty much slept three days away.



This thing I know: Theo's starting to get the hang of napping in his bassinet, and that gives me all kinds of new freedom. But he's still new, and he wants to be close to us, and that's fine. In fact, better than fine - I love it. I'm going to miss this when he's bigger.


8. I love what I do.

As far as I'm concerned, motherhood is the best gig ever. I get asked about how I cope with the "hard work" of having three little ones. Strangers at the shops love to tell me I've "got my hands full".

And I have.

Full of blessing. Full of love. Full of fun. Full of joy. My kids don't just fill my time with tasks and my car with crumbs and my ears with songs from Frozen and my house with plastic nonsense which may or may not be turned into "shooters". They fill my whole heart. Pretty sure mamas actually grow a new, bigger heart, just to hold it all.

Sure, my days might look like they're full of child-care-related busyness, without much more than a stolen moment or two to myself. And that's mostly true. But that busyness isn't WORK. It isn't something I HAVE to do, to get to the two seconds of enjoyment. It's ALL good.

I'm not suggesting there's anything glamorous about washing out little undies, or breaking up fights, or collecting the detritus from a week's worth of snacks from under the car seats. And getting a solid night's sleep, or going to the toilet alone, or having a snack without the need for stealth? Sure, they all sound like lovely notions. But I LOVE WHAT I DO. I love doing the hundred little things they need me to do for them every day, because I LOVE THEM. And THEY NEED ME. That's the deal.

And it's a pretty sweet deal. I drop what I'm doing to intervene when they're fighting, and I get to see two little people learning about relationships and social skills and kindness and grace. I herd my little circus through the supermarket, and through all the "ComeonOwen don'ttouchthat waitforme slowdownplease keepupEllie putthatback youdon'thavetocountthemALL we'vegotenoughchocolate STOPTOUCHINGTHINGS" routine, I get to see my daughter practicing her newfound reading and numeracy skills, my son taking such puff-chested pride in being a good helper, my kids working together and encouraging each other and doing their best to be patient.

Like a family photo, from the outside this life might not always look all that glamourous or fun. Tired eyes, strained smiles, stressy babies, four-year-old attitude, two-year-old angst... great big looming red-eyed koalas...


(Liam: too tired for a photo. Ellie: too cool for a photo. Owen: shall not be made to stand where he does not wish to stand. NO. I GO STAND WITH MUMMY. GOOD BYE.)

But despite appearances, that (pictured) stopoff was nice. We stretched our legs. Theo was fine. Owen slipped his warm little hand into mine and we had a lovely little moment. Ellie practiced skipping and happily ticked off another spot on her roadtrip map. And Liam had a cup of coffee just up the road and felt much better.

Likewise, my moments might look chaotic. My kids might argue and interrupt and make a mess. You might not get as much of me as you once would have, because my time and attention have to spread a little further first.

But in the words of the Chilli Peppers, THIS LIFE I CHOOSE. It wasn't thrust upon me to add to all the work I already have to do. "Whoa, yikes, now I've got another one to deal with..." No. I love these kids. I love being their mum, with everything that entails. It's challenging. It's fulfilling. It's FUN.

I love what I do.

And at the end of the day, when they all fall asleep, then no matter how crazy it's been, no matter how busy, no matter how noisy and messy and exhausting...



... This thing I know: I am so blessed.
be happy

Pregnancy: the end is nigh

37 weeks today. Thirty. Seven. Weeks. How can that even be?!


(This isn't even me now - this is my most recent belly photo, at 35w2d. Next one will be on Instagram in two days...)

What is happening? I've been at this stage twice before - and both times, 36 weeks to 37 weeks took at least a fortnight, I'm sure...

Is it the possibility that this is the last time? Is it the fact there are no other preggos around this time to compare with? Is it the knowledge that this is exactly the least busy and crazy and exhausting things are going to be for a while? Probably.



Whatever it is, I'm happy. Happy to be this far along, happy to be meeting our newest little boncecake soon... but also happy for it to take as long as it takes.

Truly, I'm in no rush. Not nervous, not putting it off - just content. And I'm so thankful for that.



I've tried to write this post twice already, over the last week and a half. My computer switched itself off and lost the file. I've been busy (*cough*nesting*cough*). Owen used up our internet on YouTube videos of people reviewing Thomas the Tank Engine playsets and unwrapping plastic eggs with Lightning McQueens inside (I kid you not - Liam and I have never reached our internet limit... this kid...).


(I've put my ipad away, to cold-turkey him off this YouTube thing. So he uses my empty case and pretends to watch it.)

But here it is, at last. I've had to amend "almost thirty six weeks" to "thirty six weeks and four days" to "thirty seven weeks". Which has actually been pretty cool - what was true over a week ago is still true today. I'm still doing this pregnancy thing, and I'm still happy. Also, over the last couple of days things have changed a bit, so I've got something a bit different to write about compared to my original thoughts. So, here goes...


**Disclaimer: This is a very pregnancy-related post. I'm really writing it for the pregnant ladies out there - particularly the very pregnant. If you're interested, read on. But I have a pretty broad readership base, and I understand pregnancy-related musings aren't everyone's cup of tea. If you're not comfortable with reading about pregnancy-related details, or aren't interested in developing a different end-of-pregnancy mindset, that's cool. Instead, here's a wonky picture of a country sunset on the first weekend of burnoff season. (Pretty, right?) Go no further. You have been warned.**




:glances around furtively: Okay. I think we're good now.

So, having a baby. We all get that the end point of pregnancy is a baby coming out, yeah? Ellie's four, and she gets that. So I think we're okay to go on.

The bit before is commonly known as labour. I'm pretty sure we all know that. I'm pretty hopeful that we all know it doesn't (usually) look much like the TV version ("Oops, my waters have broken in the supermarket! Quick, let's run red lights all the way to hospital, where I'll shout angrily at my husband for ninety seconds and then give off-screen birth to a clean four-month-old baby...")

Still with me? Cool. Basic knowledge confirmed.

So, there's a bit before all that. Yep, some smarty-pantses are saying "That's called 'pregnancy', right?" And it totally is... but I'm here to talk about the overlapping bit - the bit that gets forgotten / sidelined / denied completely.

Prelabour. Prodromal labour ("prodrome" = "early symptom that might indicate the start of a disease before specific symptoms occur" -Wikipedia). My personal unfavourite: "false labour" (grrrrr!!).



There are Braxton Hicks contractions, right? And they're known as "practice" contractions for a reason - they're the uterus practicing this whole squeezing business. Nothing's dilating. It's definitely not a sign of anything exciting being imminent. (With Owen, I reckon I had them from around 26 weeks.)

But then, there are "prelabour" contractions. (That's where I'm at.)

It's a strange place to be, I gotta say. On the one hand, you know it means things are getting more serious, and baby's arrival is definitely closer. (Then again, a quick glance at the calendar could tell you the same thing...) But on the other hand, you also know you could have weeks of this to look forward to.

It's easy to jump into excited mode at this stage. "IT COULD HAPPEN TODAY!!! OR TOMORROW!!! I'D PROBABLY EVEN BE OKAY WITH IT BEING WEDNESDAY!!!!!"

But you know what that leads to? Thursday. Thursday, sitting on the couch, googling "prelabour symptoms" for the eighteenth time, angry at the world for this great injustice. "Stupid body, tricking me like this. Stinkin' lazy baby, still just relaxing in there. And all those people, asking if I'm still pregnant..."



Stressful. I know. With Ellie, I spent a very frustrating ten days going "THIS IS IT!!! Oh, wait... nope. Not it. Again." With Owen, I spent a very grumpy week playing computer mahjong and refusing to rejoin life until there wasn't a baby in my belly.

This time, things are different.

This time, from the moment I thought I might be pregnant, I committed myself to a mindful pregnancy - one in which I noticed what was going on through each stage, and appreciated each little(/big) thing for what it was.

And I did.


[Sorry... just got interrupted by my son needing me to tie a pair of knickers onto Lightning McQueen because "that's his tail". Also, they wanted a "tasting plate".]



Where was I? Ah, yes. Loving pregnancy.

So, 36 weeks and 4 days into this pregnancy thing (also known as last Friday), I was sitting in Funbugs play cafe, watching my kids (and a million others - gotta love rainy school holidays) throw brightly coloured plastic balls at each other's heads, and reflecting on how fine I was with however long this baby was going to need me to wait.

Like everything, it really all comes down to perspective.

Waiting = having time to celebrate the blessing that's about to come into our lives.
Discomfort = body adjusting to better nurture baby and prepare for his/her arrival.
Too tired to do anything = free time for reflecting and being thankful.
All those people asking if I'm still pregnant = so many people who care and are genuinely excited about my little one.

Right? Happy.



The next day, my husband got on a plane at 6am and flew to his sister's wedding, one thousand kilometres away. And that was the first day I started having non-Braxton Hicks-type contractions.

Nice one, body.

I definitely didn't panic. Not even close. I'm not being fooled again.

I may not have jumped into "IT'S LABOUR IT'S LABOUR IT'S LABOUR!!!" mode, but by last night it did make me take another look at how I'm approaching this. I love that I've made it to 37 weeks without a single moment of wishing it was over. And I don't want to lose that contentment now that things are starting to happen.

Okay, so I may have googled "prelabour symptoms" and checked myself off against it. But I then spent some time reminding myself that these things can take time - in fact, it's actually a good thing if they take time (more on that in a moment). I also did some hunting around and found some articles portraying 'prelabour' in a positive way - as opposed to the more popular "here are some annoying symptoms that aren't actually labour" way. (I thought this one was pretty good).

So, this is where I'm at now: I'm still waiting. I'm not waiting and carrying a baby and that's all, but I'm still waiting. Mild tightenings that briefly take my attention and then pass, mild backache that wraps around to a bit of a crampy sensation occasionally, a bit of nausea here and there, the sudden appeal of hibernation in my little nest... They're all fine. They're all progress.

And I guess that's what I'm getting to. I have a lot of quibbles* with the way the medical profession handles a normal, healthy pregnancy - which I won't get into here, except for this bit: the labelling thing, in this case specifically the labelling of "labour" and "not labour".

*("quibbles"? Did I make that up, or is that a thing?)

Every day, a lady (not the same lady every day... you know what I mean) has contractions, wonders what's going on, goes to hospital, and hears, "You're only 2cm. Not in labour. Go home." Or, "Yep, 4cm. You're in labour!" And fair enough, there's no need to be in hospital just then. But the idea that we have to define being in labour as a specific number is, I think, a large part of what makes this early stage so difficult for a woman. It feels like a mild introduction to labour. In terms of what your body's doing, it is a mild introduction to labour. But in official terms, you're "not in labour" until you're ~4cm dilated.

And that is suuuuuuper disheartening for an excited first- (or second- or third-) timer. That's when all the "Stupid body... Stinkin' lazy baby... All those people..." stuff kicks in, and suddenly being pregnant becomes still being pregnant and no longer such a blessing, and being near the end turns from exciting and wonderful to the hardest and most uncertain and most miserable time anyone has ever been through in the history of the world, ever.

Listen. I've decided I'm not having this nonsense. As far as I'm concerned, prelabour isn't not labour, like there are clear-cut stages and this is a separate one of them. Prelabour is the beginning of labour. It might take an hour (like it did for me with Owen), it might take ten days (like it did with Ellie), it might take five weeks (like I kinda hope it doesn't with this one but will be totally okay with if it does... I hope...), but however long it takes - and this is important - it's not nothing.



Your body is preparing. Not just practicing any more - preparing. Those mild contractions that got your attention and then tapered off to nothing? Let's not call that a "false alarm". Let's not get annoyed that it "went away". Instead, let's embrace it as part of the process. Every time it happens, you're a bit closer to being ready. Every time it happens, it's making your more intense phase of labour a bit easier. It's all progress. It's all your body working to bring your baby into the world. Working? Labouring. It might be relatively easy labour for now. It might be part-time work. But it's still counted. It's still something. It's definitely not nothing.

And that line of thinking makes it so much easier to embrace this; to appreciate it as a fascinating part of an amazing process. Yep, they're contractions. Don't necessarily jump up and down with excitement just yet - it doesn't tell you anything more than a "due date" does. But it's things happening - and that's good.

It's not just the physical stuff, either. The impulsive nesting behaviour? That hibernating urge I mentioned earlier? All part of it. A desire to withdraw from the world, an increasingly inward focus... it's okay. In fact, just like those early mild tightenings and crampy feelings and all the rest, these things are designed to be part of the process. When labour gets really intense, you're going to want to be withdrawn from the world, inward-focused, oblivious to distractions that would slow things down. You're not at that point yet, but you're on your way - and that's good, too.


(This is Ellie's version of 'alone time'. Owen did not appreciate her need for alone time. Owen got pushed over. Owen now understands Ellie's need for alone time.)



(This advice is for me as much as anyone else:)

Embrace it. You're in that bizarre limbo-world right now - not "just pregnant" any more, but not producing a baby in the next ten minutes, either. It can be a frustrating, disheartening, miserable place to be. Or, it can be another fascinating part of an amazing process. If it's motivating you to Get Things Done, go with that (just don't overdo it - you'll need that energy). If it's making you want to spend as much time as possible under a quilt with the curtains drawn, go for it (just don't leave your son to help himself to ALL OF THE BANANAS, like I unknowingly did while playing "birthday parties" with Ellie this morning).

Use it. Those contractions that are starting to get your attention are actually a fantastic opportunity. It's easy to go "Oh, no, not this again!" and tense up with anxiety and/or resentment. Reminding yourself that they're a legitimate part of the process, and something you can use, is so valuable. Use them to practice relaxation techniques, breathing, thinking nice birthy affirmations to yourself. Use the time you find yourself spending hidden away to think through your plans and hopes for birth, to connect with your little one, to take time to breathe and rest and be thankful.

Appreciate it. The Lord has designed a pretty fantastic process, here. This part isn't a mistake. This part is a gift. Give thanks. Ask for peace. Find strength in him. It'll feel like forever, and then it'll be over before you know it. And then the real fun begins. Practice leaning on him now, because you're really about to need it...


(Also, get some RRL tea down your chops. Love this stuff.)

You're on the verge of a whole new amazing process. It's a beautiful, life-changing, all-consuming journey. Breathe. Enjoy this pregnant pause.

be happy

Not Alone

This morning was a bit of a tough one.



But good.

Getting ready for kinder, everything was normal. Owen climbing through pillows on our freshly-made bed, and demanding to watch YouTube clips of people getting toys out of surprise eggs... Ellie busting in on me in the bathroom with bouffant hair and a miniature hairclip, and vaguing out somewhere between my instruction to put shoes on and the adjacent shoe rack... The usual.



Then as we were crossing the road to kinder, Ellie asked, "What if I miss you today?"

Random.

I told her she could tell herself, "Mummy's having a nice day, and I'm having a nice day, and I'll be able to tell her all about it when she picks me up."

And that seemed to be okay.



But then as we walked in, instead of a nice "Good morning" for Belinda at the door, Ellie marched to her locker with that face in chilly silence.

Belinda and I glanced at one another, eyebrows raised - eight weeks in, and Belinda knows Ellie well enough to know that that silence was something different.

Usually Ellie's one of those kids who's already put her fruit in the basket and is sitting on the mat before I've even made it to the signing-in line. This morning, she stayed with me. That is very, very, very not her.



I signed her in, drew my kids aside, set Owen down, and squatted at Ellie's level. She came straight to me, head down.

"What's up?" I asked.

"I want to go home with you," she muttered, still looking at her feet.

"Really? Why?" I asked, surprised.

And she looked up at me, and there were tears welling in her eyes - tears my brave girl was clearly trying so hard to hold in.

"What if I miss you?" she asked again, and crumpled into my arms with a little sob.

"Do you usually miss me?" I asked, as I held Ellie and Owen in a lovely-but-awkward squatting-pregnant-lady group-hug-type-thing.

She nodded. "Sometimes."

"Well, what do you usually do when you miss me?" I asked.

She thought for a moment.

And then Belinda came and invited Ellie to sit with her, and showed her how they'd changed around the Home Corner, and gently led her to the mat (where three other kids were crying and trying to climb into Julie's lap).

Julie said some nice, welcoming, reassuring things about all getting through the last day of term together. Belinda sat, and Ellie sat in her lap. I stood and gathered Owen... and paused.

See, I know how to fix her. I love this about my girl: when something's up, I can talk with her and we can discuss things and she's open to seeing a different perspective and being okay. She likes to learn about positivity and coping strategies - and I love to teach her.

But.

This time, I had to let it go. Belinda smiled at me over Ellie's curls and mouthed, "She'll be fine." And I had to go against that crazy-powerful Mama Instinct to fix everything for my daughter, to take a Teachable Moment and put a lesson into it - and instead, I had to take my son and walk away.

And I did.

In the car, I sat quietly for a few moments and breathed. I'm usually the one who's happy to kiss and run - and so is Ellie. We always have been. But today it was such a struggle to walk away from my girl. It was such a struggle to not offer to try one last thing, to talk with her for one more minute, to hang around and check she was okay, to go back and sneak a look... All the things I'd normally advise other parents not to do, suddenly seemed so incredibly tempting.

But I know those things are for me, not for her.

I know Ellie won't always have me with her when things are difficult. I know she needs to learn to find her own way, and to accept others' help. I know she needs the opportunity to feel the comfort of the Lord.

I know Julie and Belinda are smart, and experienced, and compassionate, and sensible, and more than capable of dealing with a little girl having a sensitive day.

I know my girl is strong, and resourceful, and will choose happiness whenever she can.



And - biggest and best of all - I know I haven't left her on her own. I haven't cut and run, and abandoned her to cope by herself in the big wide world.

I know who's with her.

Sitting there in the car, with Owen "shooting" people through his window behind me, I prayed. I prayed for my girl to feel better and be fine, and to learn through this. I prayed for Julie and Belinda to say and do the things that would help her. I prayed for peace.

And above all, I thanked the Lord.

I thanked him for my wonderful girl. I thanked him for the relationship I have with her. I thanked him for helping me to walk away today. And I thanked him most of all for the greatest blessing any parent can have - the knowledge that when we can't be there with our children, HE IS. Always.

There isn't much that's better than that.

Now it's almost time to go pick her up, and I'm excited. I've had a good day. Owen and I ran some errands, went op-shopping and found pirate things, had a nice long walk, and still made it to Maccas with five minutes to spare before they put the bacon away. Then we played with the trucks and diggers in Toyworld until lunchtime.



I've had a good day, and I'm trusting that my girl has too. I'm looking forward to seeing her face again, to squashing her in a big cuddle and telling her how proud I am of her.



And I'm so much looking forward to seeing how okay she is, how happy, how completely fine. I'm looking forward to rejoicing yet again at the Lord's capacity to always be there for each of us individually.

My girl has a personal relationship with my God - with her God. And I know that relationship will grow and develop and blossom as she gets older and reaches an age of greater understanding. But for now, it's enough just to know that when I can't be there with her... HE IS.



Amen.

be happy

Less Is More

#kinderdays = you're not gonna see much in the way of Ellie pics for today. So here's one from last week to tide you over:

#kinderdays = adventures with this little mate of mine:

Today we went for a drive out to one of my local happy places: Lake Learmonth. My boy had a stick and a toy digger, so it was his happy place too.

(And a "skate park".)

(And a playground.)

Getting out into somewhere quiet and still and not the shops is always a recipe for a good day and a refreshed perspective. Clear air, clear head. I spent the drive out reflecting on an article I read yesterday (this, if you're interested). She makes two interesting and (I reckon) very valid points:

1. In a self-centred world, having children seems like an inconvenience and a chore at best; the idea of "laying down your life for another" represents "everything our culture hates".

2. In truth, children are a gift; they are a blessing; they are a reward from God. And when we remember and appreciate this - "when we thank God for his blessings and we love, nurture, train and bond with our blessings - our lives are fuller."

Amen.


As the article acknowledges, in the midst of nappies and tantrums and sleepless nights it's easy to feel like it's all too much.

What a great reminder that at those points we can lean on the Lord and thank him for giving us SO much.

"He must increase, but I must decrease."
- John 3:30

Who are we, who say, "Less of me, Lord, and more of you," to shake our heads at those who "lose themselves" in the service of motherhood?

Rather, I want to rejoice in it - for in losing myself, I find Christ.

Something else that's got me onto this line of thought: the comments coming up recently in various pregnancy groups along the lines of, "I'm excited about having this baby, but I can't wait to get back my body / brain / personal space..."

To which I find myself going, "AaaaaaHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhhhh!!!!!"

Like things are going to go back to normal post-pregnancy! You're gorgeous!

Normal is over. Welcome to a whole new "normal".

A "normal" that changes as soon as you think you've got it figured out.

A "normal" in which you won't recognize yourself at all, at times.

A "normal" in which who you are is changing constantly, in accordance with the changing abilities and needs of your child.

(He's very pointedly hanging up on the birds with his snail-phone, because they're "being too loudy".)

"You see dis, guys?"

Let's face it, the body you have as a mother - regardless of how much or how little you work on it - is never going to be the body you had before. It might be as fit and healthy as ever. But it's changed, forever, in obvious and indefinable ways. You can despair, or you can love it and all it represents.

God gave you a body capable of the most amazing things. And look at what that blessing has given you.

The brain you have as a mother will be different, too. Your priorities will change, beyond anything you can imagine beforehand. Your focus will shift. You might forget to return calls, eat lunch, wash your hair, talk about anything other than your children... But you're an expert in the fields of your children's past, current, and possible future interests, needs, strengths, weaknesses, fears, triumphs, challenges, friendships, preferences, and, let's face it, bowel movements.

And making these things a priority - allowing them to take over from your awareness of current events, social trends, where you put your car keys - is service. Motherhood is service. Jesus washed his disciples' feet in a demonstration of service and humility. It didn't mean he was a pushover. It didn't mean he wasn't their leader. He taught them, he corrected them, he led them, he guided them... and he served them. No shame, no embarrassment, no holding back.

"And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me."
- Matthew 18:5

When we serve our children in humility and love... who do we serve?

That's right.

Oh, and the "personal space" thing? Forget it. You don't get it back just because you're not carrying a baby around inside your body any more.

I've mentioned my "pregnancy is practice for parenthood" theory plenty before, and this is all part of it. All those hands touching your belly - husband, children, friends, family, doctors, midwives, sonographers, physiotherapists, colleagues, acquaintances, random strangers... not to mention the pokes and prods and middle-of-the-night hiccup sessions coming at you from the inside - are NOTHING compared to what comes after.

Sit down, and there's a child on your lap; or at least a child's legs tangled across your legs. Go to the toilet, and there's someone with freezing hands touching your knees and gazing disconcertingly deeply into your eyes. Dress nicely, and sticky fingers will touch you. Put sleeping baby down, try to creep away, and sleeping baby will immediately become VERY AWAKE BABY WHO SIMPLY MUST BE HELD UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

It's no wonder we hide in the pantry to eat Nutella from a spoon, or sneak away during Ben and Holly to urinate in peace.

But it's okay. It's all part of letting go of self. It's all part of "Less of me..."

And as we decrease, we don't become less.

Because as we decrease, there is room for Him to increase.

I'm not saying I'm good at this. I'm not as mindful, or as graceful, about this as I wish I was. Certainly third time around I'm finding it clearer to see, and easier to remember; less of a struggle, and more of a thing of joy. But that's not to say I'm good at it.

But it's a timely reminder. The world might shake its head at motherhood's inherent loss of self. But I'm raising children who are gifts from God. I'm responsible for some of God's children. And if I can remember to embrace this as the blessing it is...

Less of me, and more of you.

Less inconvenience, and more blessing.

Less of "too much", and more of "SO much".

Less of a struggle, and more of a thing of joy.

be happy

Little Boy

May I remember,
  as you run wild,
And show me the madness
  bound up in a child,
That such times of chaos,
  roughness and noise
Will always be present
  in lives of small boys,
But when our God made you,
  he knew that the trick
Was to put in the heart
  of small boy wielding stick
A place of soft sweetness,
  of kindness and joy,
And this is the truth
at the heart of a boy.


(from Zoe Hurtado to her fantastic boy Owen)

be happy

Boyz 2 Men. But not the 90s pop group.


Hi. I'd like to talk to you about two men, with whom I fell in love... before they existed.

Huh?


Exhibit A

crazy kids

I met this guy when he was seventeen. Still in school. Still a kid. We became friends. And then we became a married couple with a mortgage and a third kid on the way.

Okay, so there was some other stuff in between those two points. But seriously, don't the years just fly?

Thing is, when Liam and I were a young, carefree boyfriend and girlfriend, we were pretty much still kids. But I didn't just fall in love with that fun, lovable youngster - I fell in love with the man he would someday be; the man I saw in him.

crazy kids 2

And now, nine years later - nearly seven years of marriage, three houses, and nearly three kids later - I'm married to that man.

He's still learning. He's still growing. So am I. So are we all. But that man I saw in my eighteen-year-old best friend... he's here.

teethtime

I see him in the daddy who loves my children so very much. I see him in the brother who encourages me - and others - from the scriptures. I see him in the man who goes out to work all day, and comes home ready to be present for his family. I see him in the husband who loves, honours, and cherishes his wife. And I see him in the dude who still jokes around like a teenager with his best friend - who just happens to be me.

Sweet deal.

sharkface

I'm not one to go on and on about the guy - his hair's big enough; let's not go giving him a head to match. But seriously, he's awesome. And this year, through all the challenges and the trials and the massive leaps of faith, he's been a rock. I never stop being impressed.

My kids sure have got it good. And I'm stoked, cos I know exactly how good it is to have an excellent dad.


Exhibit B

babyo

This guy, I met when he was about one second old. (Before that, I just knew him as the wriggly kid who kicked my ribs a lot.) He shouted his way into my life, and I had no idea what I was in for. See, I was pretty excellent at being Mummy to a little girl. But a little boy? What's that?

I had no idea about tractors or diggers or who Thomas the Tank Engine's friends were. I had no idea how little boys worked. Just... none.

tractorboy

I had no idea how cheekily and completely a little boy could steal a mama's heart.

skateboy

But maaaan, did I ever learn. I now know each of Thomas's friends by name and defining characteristic. I can sing you the song, if you like. I know not all big yellow things on a construction site are called "diggers".

I know this boy's got me.

smileboy

And when I look at this little marvel of boyishness, with his love of food and critters and being hilarious, I see more than a toddler with a ton of personality. I see the man in him.

doubledummies

This boy of mine is going to grow up. He's going to become a man, someday. And I'm already in love with the man my son will someday be. I believe in him.

I believe in the kind, affectionate daddy he could be. I believe in him as the faithful, encouraging brother who might comfort and strengthen his brethren. I believe in the good, honourable man he will become. I believe in the sweet, strong, loving husband that lies within him. And I believe in the boncecake who will always love a laugh with those blessed with his friendship.

I see that man - just as I saw a man within that other boy I mentioned.

myboys

And I love him already.

shoulders

That's all.