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Lawn Mower Train Rides & Caterpillar Tickles

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As I write this, we’re headed home from your grandma and grandpa’s house. It’s spring break, and we came down for a day and a half to visit. It’s nice being close enough that we can drop in for a day or so without driving all day. I like that we can spend some time in the country, letting you explore and have fun roaming the property freely. It’s the little things in life that remind me what matters.

Y’all just eat up the attention and find excitement in such “mundane” and “normal” experiences…things we adults take for granted…like it’s the greatest thing you’ve ever done. Watching as your grandpa pulls you around the yard in your wagons, hooked behind his riding mower like a little train, is like watching a momma duck and her little ducklings waddling behind, trying to keep up. He’s going so slow, even I can run faster…and we’ve already discussed how slow I run. Yet, the wonder in your eyes and the excited laugh that escapes your lips as you roll past…waving at me like you’re leaving on a 3 month cross-country trek…reminds me that this is the good stuff.

Watching your amazement and awe at seeing a real live caterpillar for the first time. The initial timidness and anxiety you have about the mere thought of letting it touch you slowly morphs into little giggles of excitement as I show you how it tickles to let him crawl on your hand. Then, watching as you so boldly carry him around, proudly displaying your new find, reminds me that this is the good stuff.

I love you all SO stinking much! Yep…lawn mower train rides and caterpillar tickles…this is the good stuff.

Love,

Dad

Are You Awake?

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It really is the little things in life that bring me so much joy.  Simple things like this:

Shortly after lunch today, I walked into the living room to sit down.  SD, you were lying motionless on the floor in a ball, presumably asleep.  So I asked, “are you awake?”  Imagine my surprise when you replied, “No.”  Ha!  You do this a lot, and I love it.

You’re awesome like that girl.  This reminds me of playing hide-n-seek when you were younger…sometimes with me, other times with your friends or other family members.  When I or someone else was was “it”, you would hide, usually under a blanket, or behind the couch, or in the pantry.  I would call out “SD, where are you?”  You would giggle and say “over here” each and every time.  Hehe.  Priceless.

I sat down to write those memories out, and as I’m writing this, another memory is coming to mind.  When you were still a baby, even before the surgery to repair your heart, we danced.  Late at night when your mom had gone to bed, I would hold you tight and play one song over and over as we danced.  I don’t know if your momma even knows this.  I still remember the sound of your breath on my shoulder, the feel of your head resting above my heart, how your hair tickled my face.  SD, you are amazing in so many ways, and I love you for who you are.  As you grow up and become a young woman with dreams of your own, I’m proud to be your daddy.  I’m proud of you for who you are, not what you do or how you do it.  You stole my heart a long time ago.  Wherever you go, whatever you do, always remember that I Do Love You.  If you ever doubt it, play this song to help you remember.

But I Do Love You

Dad

A Weekend to Remember

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There is nothing that brings me more joy than spending time with you, my kids.  This past weekend, we held our annual Family Life Celebration weekend, our 5th year doing it.  It’s a way for your mother and I to celebrate each of you and your lives, how you’ve impacted our family so much…a way for us to celebrate the births and adoptions of each of you and rejoice in who you are and to just love on you for the whole weekend.  What a great weekend this year!

I truly enjoyed spending Friday floating on the river with you.  This was the 4th year we’ve done the float, and it was by far the best.  SD, I love the excitement you bring to everything we do, and floating on the river is no exception.  The way you embrace life with such passion and energy is refreshing and inspiring to me.  Watching your excitement as you have so much fun really makes it fun.  NE, you’re getting more and more brave, taking more chances this year than last.  Watching you grow and become more confident in who you are and what you want is really cool.  You’re swimming out farther on your own than ever before, and really coming into your own.  Throwing rocks into the water from the edge is a lot of fun.  I really am enjoying this stage in your life.  SI, this was your first float with us, and you really had a good time.  I had an even better time.   Having you cling to me as we float in the water keeps me young.  You are all energy all the time, and I love it.

The picnic on Saturday was a blast…hot and humid, but a great day.  I really love that we’re blessed enough to be able to do this for you every year, and I am already looking forward to next year.  Spending time with the three of you rejuvenates my soul.  Having a weekend where family and friends can come together to spend time with you and love on you is a true blessing, and I look forward to continuing this tradition for as long as we’re able.  Next  year, I’m thinking we need to incorporate a camping trip somehow.  Either way, the weekend is all about you.

Love,

Dad

My Quiver is Full

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I’m sitting here in a flood of emotion today, and it occurs to me that I think I was wrong in what started this passion for writing to you all.  When I started this blog in February 2011, I credited this post for the inspiration behind it all.  This morning, I just finished this note to SD, and as I sit here reflecting on the years gone by, I’m reminded of a little “song” I put together several years ago.  It’s been so long since I’ve seen it, it took me awhile to find it.  I call it a song loosely, because I have no musical talent…I couldn’t put together the musical composition needed to actually create a full-fledged song if I had to.  But, this is the song of my heart.  When I wrote it, I had a desire to really tell you…to show you through words and music how I feel about each of you.  I actually first wrote it shortly after NE was born, in August of 2007, and I went back after SI was born to add a section for you, adding your section in the summer of 2010, shortly after your first birthday.

It’s a dream of mine to be able to sing this to you one day…to have a song we could call our own.  Maybe a musically gifted person will read this one day and help us out with that.  🙂  For now, I’ll have to settle for sharing it here in letter form…if it never goes further than this, I’m good with that so long as you know it was written in love and lots of tears for each of you.  You each mean so much to me that words could never accurately display.  Without further delay, here is the inspiration that started it all:

Psalm 127:3-5
Sons are a heritage from the Lord,
children a reward from Him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one's youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their
enemies in the gate.

This song is inspired by each of my 4 “arrows

My Quiver Is Full

SD
When we took you in, my walk was weak.
Trapped in my sin, of God I didn’t speak.
Doctors said your heart was broke; needed repair.
To my knees I fell, in desperate prayer.
God’s plans are bigger than our own.
And now I know, it was my heart He needed to sew.
 
DW
Through no fault of your own,
Strangers came in; took you from your home.
I can’t grasp the pain you’ve seen, the hurt you’ve known.
God’s plans are bigger than our own.
It was I who needed healing, more love in my life;
He blessed ME when He brought you to our home.
 
Chorus:
As arrows for the warrior, our children are born
I’m the soldier He chose to reward.
My quiver has more than I ever dreamed
He’s given me more than I’ll ever need.
You’re the arrows of my quiver
Straight, strong, and true.
My arrow, my child from God
My reward from Him is you.
 
NE
Doctors said we’d never conceive.
In the world’s eyes, you were never s’posed to be.
The day you were born, to my knees I fell; cried like never before,
In awe of how perfect you were.
God’s plans are bigger than our own.
God’s gift to me…to bless me despite my sin.
 
SI
With news of you on the way, I laughed aloud; a sign from above
I needed more joy; more room still, for love.
Your laugh, your smile, you light up the room
God’s plans are bigger than our own.
In rhythm now, our lives in harmony
In you, God completed our family.
 
Chorus:
As arrows for the warrior, our children are born
I’m the soldier He chose to reward.
My quiver has more than I ever dreamed
He’s given me more than I’ll ever need.
You’re the arrows of my quiver
Straight, strong, and true.
My arrow, my child from God
My reward from Him is you.
 
My quiver overflows with my reward.
My child, you’re wonderful; beautiful.
Created in His image; phenomenal.
My quiver is full.  My quiver is full.




Love, Dad

A Hole in the Heart

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My dearest SD,

As I finish writing this, it’s your last week of elementary school. You’re 11 years old and moving into 6th grade next year…middle school. Eleven years old. That seems like such a huge number when I say it or write it in relation to you. Eleven years is the blink of an eye in God’s time. In light of eternity, eleven years is but a speck of dust floating in the air. And yet here we are eleven years later. I still vividly remember the day we first met you. We had been foster parents for several months when we received that phone call. The lady on the other end of the phone said there was a three month old baby girl in the hospital who needed a temporary home. Would we be able to come pick her up? We immediately knew our answer was yes, but of course the normal questions needed to be asked…more to prepare us for what we would find when we got there. “Why is she in the hospital?” “What happened in her family at the young, tender age of three months to bring her to the hospital?” I honestly don’t remember what the answer were, or what the lady on the phone told us about the circumstances…all I really remember after that was the voice in my own head telling me, “cool, a baby!”

As we walked into the hospital and onto the floor, the face of the nurses lit up when we asked for directions to your room. They all knew you and would beam with a huge smile at just the mere mention of your name. People still do today, by the way. At the IEP meeting we had last week with your teachers to prepare for the transition to middle school, it was all I could do to keep from breaking down in tears as each of your teachers beamed with joy in sharing memories of you over your six years there. They’re gonna miss you there…I think more than they miss most kids that come through their doors.

As we walked into your hospital room in the spring of 2000 and saw you laying on the bed, the look on your face was pure exhaustion. You were tired. The next hour or so was a blur of medical jargon that would take me weeks to fully understand. VSD with CHF, medicines, precautions, signs and symptoms to be on the watch for, feeding routines, etc. By the time we left the hospital, I was tired for you. VSD. I knew what CHF is. Congestive Heart Failure. It’s what old people get when their hearts are old and worn out. It’s not something a three month old gets. But what was this VSD they’re talking about? The nurses explained it the best they could. Ventricular Septal Defect. Defect. Such a mean word for such a beautiful, young baby girl. It seems that Ventricular Septal Defect is basically a hole in the heart. More specifically, it’s a hole in the lining of the heart between the two ventricles. A hole where there is not supposed to be one by design. Yours was the size of a dime. With a hole in the heart right where yours was, blood was leaking from one part of your heart into another part of the heart…without traveling through the lungs where it’s supposed to pick up the oxygen it takes to the rest of the body. In the simplest of terms, your heart was broken.

In the next eight months, I truly enjoyed getting to know you. You brought true peace, laughter and joy into our home for the first time in a long time. By the fall of 2000, I knew I would not ever be able to let you go. I knew in my heart that although there was a chance you could be taken from us and returned to your biological mother, I could never let that happen. I think secretly in my head I started planning our escape. The plan was simple. We would take as much cash as we could scrape up (so they couldn’t track us with the credit card), pack up the car and drive until we ran out of gas, change our names and start a new life. I could not imagine not being your “forever daddy.” In November of 2000, you were 11 months old. Eleven months. Just shy of one year old, you now call that “zero”, but that’s for another story. If eleven years is but a “speck of dust floating in the air” or the “blink of God’s eye”, what is eleven months? Such a young fragile age to undergo such a big operation. Open heart surgery.

All the doctors explained that it was a routine procedure. Routine. Really? Breaking the rib cage of a baby to operate on the heart while it continues to beat is routine? Okay, sure. Whatever. The hours while you were away from us in the operating room passed so slowly. When I reflect back on when I renewed my faith in and commitment to Christ, it was in those hours. Hours and hours of helplessness, with our only hope resting on strangers…great doctors and nurses, but strangers nonetheless. I didn’t like that…there had to be something more upon which I could rest my hope. It was then I became reacquainted with Jesus Christ. He and I had been close many years ago…long before my college years when I lost Him. Mind you, He never lost me. He was right beside me through those hard, trying years in college and young married life, watching over me. It was I who lost Him. Lest I digress…

I still very clearly remember walking into the ICU room after the surgery. The entire floor smelled of hospital…blood, disinfectant, bed linens…that “hospital” smell. Pungent. It was both loud and quiet at the same time as we walked that hallway. Quiet, in that all you could hear were the beeps, blips, and dings of medical equipment sounding all around us. Loud in that all those beeps, blips and dings were annoyingly loud…everywhere we turned it was all we could hear, with the exception of the whispering voices of nurses as they walked past. It was dark too. The lights in the hall were dimmed, and the only light coming from each room came from the screens of medical equipment stacked wall-to-wall. As we walked past a half dozen rooms of that ICU, stealing glances of rooms with children connected to all sorts of medical equipment, one would think those images would prepare us for what we were about to see in your room. You would think. Nope. Not so much.

The bed was huge. A normal-sized hospital bed, sure…but when you put a baby in it, it becomes huge. You were sprawled out on your back with your arms and legs spread out, almost at 45* angles. Picture how you would look when you lay down in the snow to make a snow angel. That was you in that big bed…without the fast-paced moving back and forth of your arms and legs. You were still “sleeping.” Unconscious is what doctors and nurses call it. We’ll leave it at sleeping. The only “clothes” you had on was a diaper. IV coming out of two arms. Leads for the heart monitor taped to your chest and both arms and legs. Breathing tube coming out of your nose, taped to your cheek to hold it in place. Tube coming out of your chest, hooked to a container on the side of the bed with blood coming out of it. Bandages taped across the middle of your chest, what doctors call the sternum. That was where they broke your ribs to reach into your chest to find your heart. Weird how they had to break your ribs to fix your heart, isn’t it? The tube coming out of your chest was draining the blood from inside your body from the cuts they made to get to your heart. Imagine when you cut your finger how much blood you get? Well, when doctors cut into your chest, it bled too, so they had to use that tube to get all the blood out that was “leaking.” You were breathing slowly, with a steady rhythm. It was somewhat peaceful to watch you breathing. I don’t know why, but it was. In all of that environment…all of what I was experiencing…all of the emotion of hours without knowing, waiting helplessly in the waiting room…in all of my exhaustion, I lost it.

I know I cried in the waiting room, but that was the “I have to trust someone else to help her now” cry…the “she better come out of this okay” cry. Now that I could see you survived the operation, it was time for the “my baby’s hurting” cry…the “she looks so helpless and lifeless” cry…the “now what?” cry. I don’t remember at what point you finally opened your eyes, but my oh my did you open those eyes!! And I cried again. I cried again because I knew in that instant you were going to be just fine. I cried the “thank you Lord!” cry. I knew in the instant I looked into those big blue eyes, I was looking into your soul for the first time. You see, in the first eight months you were in our home, the life in your eyes was never really there. It was all your little body could do to survive. Your heart had to work so hard just to keep blood flowing through the vital organs of your body, that there wasn’t much left for the rest of it. All that blood had to stay in the heart, lungs, brain, stomach, and other organs needed to keep you alive. It’s so hard to describe that look your eyes had in your first eleven months of life. It was dull…lifeless…blank…void…hurting…searching…tired…without hope…without life. It may seem mean to say those things, but that’s what it was. Through no fault of your own, though. Your body was working so hard just to stay alive that it didn’t have much left to give.

On a side note here…I wrote this several weeks back, and I’m just now getting back to editing it before publishing it to the site. It’s your next to last day of 5th grade. You just came in from school and handed me your backpack and artwork from the week. In it, there’s a collage of pictures that your mother apparently sent in to help you complete the project. I just saw the picture of your momma holding you…with me by your side at Granny and Papa’s house…your first visit there…you were 4 months old. Instantly, I’m right back in that moment 11 years ago looking at that baby girl with no life in her eyes. I can’t go on with editing the rest of this right now, because I can’t see through my tears. I need a minute. This just ain’t right.

Okay…12 hours later, it’s your last day of 5th grade. You just left for school, and your mom and I just finished writing “Thank You” cards for your teachers. We’re getting ready to head up to school to deliver the plants you’re giving each of them. It’s been an emotional couple of days up in here, but I’m gonna push through this and try to finish editing now, because I’m going to be a basket case after this last day with you and your teachers…

In your first eleven months of life, you pretty much laid in one place all the time. We had to wake you up every three hours to feed you. You slept all the time. You were never awake for more than an hour or so. You never cried when you were hungry. It’s like your body knew it didn’t have enough energy to cry. It’s hard to say it like this, but in those first eleven months, you were just here. And yet, I don’t think you were here. As I reflect back on that time…and in who you are today…I truly believe you were with God that entire time. Eleven extra months with our Maker. Whether here or there, I don’t know. Only God knows how you made it through that, but I believe you were crawling with Jesus in those months. It certainly puts into perspective who you are today, 11 years later. You’re more like Jesus – in how you love people – than anyone I know. You don’t judge others or expect anything in return for your love and friendship. You treat everyone equally regardless of who they are or what they’ve done to hurt you in the past. You can walk up to a complete stranger and within minutes, they’re your best friend. Even if you don’t see them for another 3 months, you’ll pick up with them right where you left off…like it was just yesterday. ?Relationships are everything to you. Yeah, I’m sure that you learned that from Jesus himself in those 11 months.

Lying in the ICU in November 2000, you finally opened your eyes. My goodness, how the life was in those eyes! For the first time, I saw the sparkle of life…the twinkle of youth…the look of excitement and life. You looked up at your mother and me with those big blue eyes, and it’s as if you were trying to tell us something with your eyes. You couldn’t talk yet, so you were trying to use your eyes to tell us something. We “heard” you right away. You were saying to us, “I’m here! I’m ready! Let’s go!” And go you did! You were in the ICU for several days of recovery time, but the moment we brought you home, life was never the same. You’ve been going ever since…almost nonstop! And I love it! Wouldn’t have it any other way.

I took the time to share that story with you to tell you this:

SD, you are a one-of-a-kind. You were created by God for a purpose. You went through more in your first year of life than most people go through in their entire lifetime. The battles you’ve faced would cause some to give up hope and quit. You survived, though! You didn’t quit! You fought the good fight for eleven months, and you’re here! You’ve made the most out of life and everything you’ve done ever since. You’re different. You’re not like “normal” kids. You face difficulty and hardship in doing what are routine activities for others. You have a hard time fitting in and communicating. You struggle to learn things that others learn more quickly. You’re different. You’re perfect.

God created you before the heavens and earth were formed. You are who you are because God is still God, and God is still good. He has a plan for your life. I believe with all that I am and all that I have that a part of His plan for you was to change me. I’ve always known you are an angel sent to earth from God to be my daughter…to change me. You have taught me what joy is…how to find happiness…how to have patience…how to love…how to forgive…how to listen…how to be a better man…a better husband…a better daddy. You have softened my heart. I didn’t cry much before God blessed me with you. I cry all the time now, because you have softened my heart to be more Jesus’. I believe with all that I am that He used the hole in your heart to fix the hole in mine.

And yet God still has a plan and purpose for your life. He chose our home for you. He chose this place in time for you. He chose you to fulfill a job for Him. You have been hand-picked by the Creator of the universe to do something for Him. I know how much you love to help. You’re a helper. You’re always asking mom and me if you can help with something. All the time looking for ways to help us somehow. Well, you’re here to help God my baby girl!

And yet, you may never really know what it is He wants you to do. You may never actually read this letter or be able to understand what it means. You may never know what job God wants you to do. But you will do it…because that’s who you are. You put smiles on the faces of the people you meet. It always amazes me how we can walk into a store, an office, a crowded building, a park…it doesn’t matter where we go…you can make friends with anyone. Your willingness to just walk up to complete strangers and strike up a conversation catches people off guard. In this crazy world, they’re not used to it. It surprises them. Some are annoyed by it, sure. But some enjoy it…whether they share that with us or not, they do. They smile when you leave them and say to themselves, “what a cute girl.” It leaves them wondering for themselves if they could ever just walk up to a stranger and say “Hi. What’s you name? Do you have a dog? He’s a boy? He’s at home?” And once you have their attention, you introduce your family and continue getting to know them by asking questions. Your questions. The knowledge that you retain in some of the simplest questions is amazing. And it’s your willingness to invest time in getting to know people…to develop relationships that God will use for His plan and His glory.

Yes mam! God has a plan for your life. Keep your head held high, my princess. You are a one-of-a-kind. You were hand-picked by the Creator of the universe to be right here right now. Don’t EVER change who you are! EVER! You are perfect in every way! You are beautiful and worthy of love! When you feel lonely because others make fun of you, seek Jesus. When you’re hurting because you’re friends don’t invite you to play with them, Jesus is there waiting for you to play with. When you’re scared, pray for God to come down and calm you. When you question why you’re here, ask God to reveal it to you. Even if He doesn’t, be happy in knowing that God is still God, and God is still good!

SD, I love you more than I could ever say in a letter. I hope and pray that in my life and through my actions and words, I show you a love worthy of God’s admiration. I pray that the love I show you sets the bar high for what to expect from every other man that comes into your life. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Daddy

Through the Eyes of Jesus

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SD,

You inspire your mom and me in more ways than you know.  I remember thinking when He brought you to us all those years ago that He was giving us an guardian angel in you.  An angel to soften our hearts and turn us back toward Him…to teach us how to love God and love people.  You’ve done that in so many ways over the years.

Most days, I think it’s harder on us to watch how others treat you than it is for you.  As parents, it’s our instinct to want to shelter you from hurt and pain…to protect you from harm…to seclude you from those who mock and make fun of you…the ones who just don’t get you.  There are days I think that keeping you in a plastic bubble would be best.  Then there are the days I know that God has a plan for you, and that you are who you are for a reason.  I believe with all my heart that God will use (is using) you to change the world.  The plans He has in store for you are bigger than you or I can see.

It’s your innocence that makes you special.  Your soft heart…your caring for others…your passion for relationships…your attention to detail.  All these things are gifts from God.  You have a way about you that I envy…how you can walk up to a stranger and strike up a conversation, and within minutes know more about that person than most.  Within minutes, someone you’ve just met has become a friend to you…someone you will remember long afterward, regardless of whether or not you’ll ever see them again.  It’s this innocence and willingness to invest time in people that strengthens your relationships…it’s what will draw people to you.  Combined with your beautiful smile and genuine compassion for others’ feelings, it’s a magnetic pull that draws people toward you.

It also pushes people away.  It’s not you that pushes them away.  It’s their own unwillingness to accept someone so different from themselves that hardens their heart toward your innocence.  They see someone different from them, and it scares them…so they use mean, ugly words…they exclude you…they shun you out and push you away. Your mom and I see the pain and hurt it causes you, and it hurts us too.  Sometimes you don’t see it…more often you do.  Sometimes we don’t see it.  Often, we do.  Tonight, we did…and I think what hurts your mom and me most is that it comes from within our church family as much as from the outside world…sometimes more.  Pastor Ralph would remind me that the church is full of people who sin…which is exactly why we’re there – to help keep us from sinning.  And I agree with that…it’s just that we’d hoped by now to have fostered a stronger attitude of acceptance within the sanctity and safety of the church walls.  Mean words always hurt more when they come from those we love.

I wish I could carry you through life on my shoulders, riding piggy-back as you love to do…taking the brunt of each blow for you.  Unfortunately, that’s just not possible.  What I can do is offer you some words of encouragement.  God has a plan for you, my child.  He is creating a work in you that will surpass all we can understand.  What most people don’t get about you is that you’re more like Christ than any of us.  Your mom said it best tonight when she penned these words:

“Little do they know, she is the true example of who we each should be.  A friend that does not judge others by any criteria, she’s friends with all.  A friend who will sit by and talk to anyone with no expectation of what she will get out of it.  A friend who loves others and not because they look like her, dress in the finest clothes, have lots of money, know people in powerful places, or are in the popular crowd.  That is who my baby girl is and I hope she never loses that.  SD, I pledge to do my best to protect who you are and how you see the world.  I love my girl!”

Your love for other people and willingness to invest time in getting to know them is exactly what Jesus was talking about when He answered the Pharisees’ question: “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All he Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37-40

Loving God and loving people.  It’s the foundation of all that we should do.  You’re closer to achieving those two commandments in all that you do and all that you are than I am in half of who I am.  Keep your head up and don’t change who you are because others use mean, ugly and hateful words toward you.  Continue to embrace all the people you encounter daily with the love of Christ that has been given to you through Him.  You will draw people toward you…and in the process bring them closer to Jesus.  And those who turn from you and mock you also turn their back on Christ.

Like your mom, I also pledge to do my best to protect who you are and how you see the world.  It’s my prayer that you always see the world as you see it now…through the eyes of Jesus.

Love,

Daddy

What’s in a Word?

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What’s in a word? Thats a good question. Through the toddler years, as each of you has learned to talk, the mispronunciations of different words along the way has brought your mom and me much joy. As I write this, NE recently turned four, and I find myself reflecting back on these first four years. You each have your own style when it comes to learning to talk, and different words have caused you each your own set of difficulty. I wish we had done a better job of remembering SD’s first words, but we do have a few. What follows are the words we’ve found the most joy in through the years, in no particular order.

“Extodian” = custodian (NE) “I made a new friend today.” “What’s his name?” “I don’t know. He’s the extodian.”

“Flushy” = slushy (NE)

“Underrupded” = interrupted (NE) “You underrupded me”

“Misk it” = mix it (SI)

“Banilla” = vanilla (SI)

“Wad” = odd (SI) “I’m evens. You’re wads.”

“SupercalafragaLIPSTICexpealedoscious. (NE)
“bix-it” = biscuit. (SI)
“Hoxtabull” = hospital. (SI)

“My eye spells” = My eye spies (NE)

“Flick Flocks” = flip flops Started with NE and has been passed down to SI and up to SD and the rest of us. 🙂

“Poxable” = Popsicle (SI)

“opee meal” = oatmeal (SI)

“Gay el” = girl (SI)

“Para pepper” = paramedic (SI)

“Spink-a-wing” = sprinkling (SI)

“Horsey Kisses” = Hershey kisses (SI)

“Unappropriate” = inappropriate (SI)

“Hoxtable” = hospital (SI)

“Flick Flocks” = Flip Flops

“Long Cut” = Opposite of Short Cut
Self explanatory, huh? SD, you first said this to me about a month ago as we were walking across the church parking lot. We were running behind for the boys’ MDO Spring Fling, and I started out across the lot in a hurry to get inside. I was darting between cars and looked back to make sure you were keeping up. When I didn’t see you and called your name out, you hollered from about 6 cars away that you were taking the long cut. Touché. You got me there. Yes you are. 🙂

“He’s Zero.” = SD introducing her younger brothers before their first birthday
Okay, so this is more than just a word, it’s an expression. I just couldn’t leave it out though. SD, when each of the boys were born, you doted on them like any proud big sister would. You always introduced them by saying, “This is NE. He’s zero.” Who am I to correct that? Especially when you’re actually right. Zero does come before one. You rock girl!

“M’s” = M&M’s
This one is SD’s. You really love your M’s. It’s a vise you come by honestly. They’re my weakness too. As you learned what this little chocolate treasure was, you discovered your love for chocolate, and it was so cute hearing “M’s” come from your mouth that we kept this one. They will forever be M’s in our home.

“Walkie Talker” = Walkie/Talkie
I’ll admit…this is a silly word anyway. Back in the day when it was first invented, I’m sure it was awesome to be able to walk away from the big stationary radio and use a portable radio for the first time. Still…walkie talkie? That’s the best they could come up with? Nowadays, we call them handheld radios, or simply handhelds…in the fire service anyway. And right now, NE, you are fascinated with all things fire service. You all three enjoy sitting in the utility trucks at the fire station when you come to visit me at work. Why you enjoy “driving” the utility trucks more than the ladder truck I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the size of the big truck that intimidates you a little. Anyway, we’ve had some good times you “driving” me to fires, and we can’t just go to a fire without reporting in, can we? Good thing we have a Walkie Talker. Even better that you know how to use it.

“Whose” = Horse
SD goes horseback riding once a week, and SI, you are awed by the horse. You get as excited as she does when you see them. As I right this, we’re watching an episode of Sesame Street, and it’s all about horses. You’re awesome. Your eyes get real big, your mouth opens wide, and you gasp as if surprised, as you cover your mouth with both hands. Then you point at the screen and say “whose!” Love it!

“Nuggle” = Snuggle
SD, you’ll know that we still use this today, because it’s definitely a keeper. It’s always melted my heart when you crawl or walk up to me and ask softly “daddy? You nuggle me?” What dad could ever say no to some quality nuggle time with his beautiful baby girl?

“Snuggers” = Snuggle
NE, hearing you ask “you snuggers me?” as we tuck you into bed each night is priceless. Who could resist that? We do love our snuggers time! Yes, this one is a keeper too!

“Buggle Gum” = Bubble Gum
Confusing the “b” with the “g” is understandable…and cute. 🙂

“Mallemows”‘= Marshmallows
I’m laughing as I write this because I’m typing it out on my cell phone, and the auto-spell correct option on my phone recognizes the word and auto-completes the word for me after typing only “mallem”. Now that’s awesome! Who knows…by the time you’re in high school, it might be in the dictionary. Yes, it’s definitely a keeper. Quite honestly, if you asked for a marshmallow in our home, I don’t think we’d know what you’re talking about. Gotta love a hot chocolate with mallemows. SD, back in the day, you would eat through a bag like it was the last thing you’d ever get to eat. When we have them in the house, they don’t last long because when you wake up hungry in the middle of the night, they end up in bed with you.

“Crash” = Equivalent of a toast with our cups
SD, I don’t know what it is about crashing our drink cups together at every meal that has become a necessity for you, and I don’t remember how it started, but it’s cool. Some days, it’s just once…other days, it’s over and over in one meal. Either way, it’s become our thing, eh? A meal in our home is just not the same without it.

“Noggin!” = A Forehead Crash
I’m not sure how this one started either…no telling around here. I do know it can be painful, though. When I hear “noggin!” yelled out, I instinctively wince now. I’m not sure my head can take it if we keep doing this much longer.

“Snipe” = Snap
NE, you’re so cute. Mostly when you’re not even trying to be. You like to hide stuff in your hands behind your back. In your 2’s and 3’s, mama would ask you what you’re hiding, and you’d just look at her with a disheveled, sneaky grin…so she’d jokingly call you a little snipe. Around the same time, you were learning to get dressed on your own, encountering snaps and buttons along the way. Somewhere in there, snap and snipe blended and a snap became a snipe. Good stuff.

“But” = Button
Which brings us to but…while learning about buttons and snaps, button got shortened. Cute…till you would point out to various people in public with big buttons on their attire that they had a big but. Okay, so it was cute then too. 🙂

“Bak-a-baw” = Basketball
Actually, it’s everything ball. If it’s a ball, it’s a bak-a-baw. Baseball…soccer ball…football…tennis ball…doesn’t matter. And SI, you do love throwing a bak-a-baw. You can even take a rolled up dirty sock and make it a pretty good bak-a-baw. Tonight at the grocery store, you treid to use a cantelope as a bak-a-baw. You throw a mean bak-a-baw too. At just 22 months, your form when shooting hoops is spot on, and your fastball is painful at short range…painful because the accuracy isn’t quite there yet…you’re still a wild man with a bak-a-baw. We’re still in the early stages of this word, so it’s hard to predict if it’ll be a keeper or not…but it’s looking favorable.

“Hooker” = Trailer Ball
This one started as I was hauling the trailer for the Upward season in early ’11. NE, you’re fascinated with the trailer and my truck. Trying to explain that a towing ball is not like a basketball is hard. “It hooks the trailer up” is about all I could say to help it make sense for you. Man, I’ll tell you one thing, though…I wish I could have been there the day you saw Miss Rhonda from the church office in the parking lot and made sure she knew that she had a hooker. Ha!

“Lub” = Love
SD, I lub you too. I lub each of you more than I could ever say. I lub you so much I would die for you if it came to it. Only one man could ever lub you more than daddy, and He already did die for you. His name is Jesus Christ.

So, what’s in a word? I’ll tell what…some good laughs…some awkward moments…some pain…some new traditions…some love…and lots of great memories.

Lub,

Dad

P.S. – Words added below have come along since the original writing of this note and are noted with the date I added them to the list:

“Tamperine” = Trampoline – June 1, 2011
We had a trampoline for several years…until the weight from you and 6 of your neighborhood friends all jumping at the same time ripped the fabric around the springs, so we had to remove it from active duty. After about 2 years without one, I thought it’d be cool to replace it. So far, so good on that decision…because you all enjoyed breaking it in this afternoon. NE, to hear you call it a tamperine does my soul good. It’s hard to tell if the “p” is actually a “p” or a “b”, because every now and then I think you’re saying “tamberine”. Either way, it’s awesome! Thanks for the help putting it together, by the way…I couldn’t have done it without my awesome helper handing me springs!

“Which hand the penny?” = Just a guessing game – June 1, 2011
SD, just yesterday I remembered this game you used to play growing up. You started when you were in about the 2nd grade, and it’s been awhile since you’ve done it…I vaguely remember you playing it a month or so ago. When you get in my truck, you take a penny out of the cup holder, hide it in one hand behind your back and ask, “which hand the penny?” For the first year, you’d always have it in the same hand…still not sure how I kept guessing the wrong hand all the time…

“Wa Yay” = Water (or anything to drink) – July 21, 2011
SI, watching you learn new words is really fun for me. You already bring so much fun and energy to the family, and as you learn to communicate, it’s even more fun. You’ve been saying this word for a month or so now, and it applies to anything you want to drink…water, milk, juice, coffee…any liquid. Yes, even coffee. I started NE out on this about the time he was your age, and I’m paying for it still. It’s really a sippie cup with mostly milk and a splash of coffee, but you both like doing things I do, and drinking my coffee is no different. Hearing you ask for your “Wa yay” is awesome.

“Aww Tay” = “Oh Tay” (from the movie The Little Rascals”) – July 21, 2011
The Little Rascals movie is a regular in our van. You guys love it. We’ve watched it so many times, I have the words memorized, which is okay by me…it’s an awesome movie. SI, just yesterday in the van on the way to church, when the movie came on, you said “Aww Tay”, and it was AWESOME. Hilarious stuff! They say it in the opening scene, and you just kept repeating it. Your mom and I kept saying it too, just to get you to keep repeating it, it was that funny. Good stuff.

“Abble” = Apple (or anything to eat) – July 21, 2011
SI, when you first learned what an apple was and started calling it an abble, it was awesome by itself. Now, just about everyting you want to eat is either an abble or a cookie…regardless of what it is. Could be cereal, a sandwich, a hot dog, yogurt…doesn’t matter. It’s all either an abble or a cookie. 🙂

“Ploon” = Balloon – July 21, 2011
If I could find a way to spell how this actually sounds, I would. To simply read “ploon” doesn’t do it justice. Try to imagine the sound your lips make when you have them closed and blow air through them…kinda like when you give someone a raspberry on their belly. Until this morning, I thought it was just with the word balloon, but as I was writing this, you were playing a game on my phone and saw a picture of an airplane. When you saw it, you made the same sound when saying “plane”. When you combine your “p” and “l” into the “pl” sound, that’s what is sounds like…then just add the rest of the word afterward, and that’s what we got. Wicked cool.

“Coose coose” = Blues Clues – February 2012
SI, you’re enjoying watching this cartoon, and I’m enjoying listening to you say it.

“Gooby Doo” = Scooby Doo – February 2012
SI, you love your Scooby Doo. I enjoy how much you and your brother enjoy it, because it takes me back to my youth, when I watched Scooby Doo after school every day. You have some new rain boots with Gooby Doo on them, and you show them proudly, proclaiming these are “my Gooby Doo’s’. Ruh Roh Raggy!

“I DOO Myself!!” = Exactly what it says – February 2012
It’s always a bittersweet moment in the life of a daddy when his child starts doing things for himself. It’s a time when you’re learning independence, one baby step at a time. With that comes that “daddy proud” moment when I know you’re maturing and growing. Yet it also comes with the acceptance that the closer you come to being independent, the closer comes the time when you’ll not want my help. It does do me proud to watch you gain your independence and start doing more for yourself.

“I Funk!” = Hahaha…this one is hilarious to me – February 2012
Bubba, you crack me up dude! Your mom and I started this one, but you just have your way of making it yours. When it was time for you and NE to jump in the bath, your mom started saying, “Time for a bath. You smell funky!” I followed suit, and shortly thereafter you picked it up and ran with it. “I Funk!!” is what you proudly proclaim when you want a bath. Not many people would proudly proclaim they smell funky! You’re all boy, son…my boy!!

“Butt-Cheye!” = Butterfly – February 2012
SI, tonight you and I were reading a book together. It was a picture book, and you were asking “what’s this?” with all the pictures. When we got to the butterfly, this is how you pronounced it, and it cracked me up dude. Just had to add it because you make me smile, in more ways than you’ll ever know.

“Ahhff” = All – February 2012
Another SI-ism, this is one I love and will remember always. As in, “I drink my milk. I drink ’em ahhff.”

“Cockadoo!” = Rooster – February 2012
Another SI-ism, this one came out at lunch after church today. As part of the restaurant decorations, two parrots were hanging above the table beside us. You pointed and said “one. two cockadoos”. It took a while to convince you they we’re parrots, not cockadoos.

It’s More Than Tax Day

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Nine years. Really? It doesn’t seem right to say it’s been almost a decade…yet it has been. For the rest of the country, April 15 is a day of dread…tax day…the deadline to file our state and federal taxes. For our family, it’s so much more. Looking back on this day nine years ago, I remember being scared and filled with anxiety. Nervous because we were taking the final step to becoming parents. Nervous that the judge would look at us and say, “you’re crazy to think you can be good parents”. Nervous that he would not finalize what in our hearts had been made final long before…what in God’s eyes had been made final before the dawn of time.

I remember being filled with worry…worry about how good a dad I would be. I wasn’t walking with the Lord then, so my worry seemed justified. Now, as my trust in our Father grows, my worry diminishes daily. While I still dwell on the things of this life…how to protect you…how to nurture your spirit…how to provide for you…how to be a good daddy, my trust is in the Lord, so I rely upon Him to worry about the things I cannot control. Truth be told, though, there’s still a part of me that knows I’m crazy to think I’ll ever be a good daddy.

What a happy day that was. You were so beautiful in your white dress…blonde hair and big blue eyes looking up at me with your amazing smile. Your smile still melts my heart. What a ride it’s been. As I look back on the nine years since we finalized your adoption, I look forward to many many more years with you by our side.

Happy Adoption Day!

Love,

Dad

Where’s My Baby Girl?

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I was sitting in the dentist’s office today with SD waiting for our appointments. As we were waiting, I was preoccupied with my phone (I know…nothing new, right?) when I was caught completely off guard. I looked over in time to see something I rarely see…you.

You see, to me you’re still my baby girl. It’s as though you’ve been frozen in time (in my head anyway) at an age so much younger than you are now. When I think of you, I picture an infant still learning to roll over…to crawl…to pull yourself up to a standing position…to walk…to run. When someone mentions your name, I picture you climbing the stairs one at a time on all fours. I vividly remember walking down the hall of the courthouse hand-in-hand with you as we finalized your adoption. You were truly beautiful in that white dress…those beautiful blue eyes staring up at me…filled with awe and wonder. What a happy day that was.

Today, though, as we sat together in that waiting room, I was scared. Scared because I was sitting next to a beautiful young lady. A young lady on the verge of becoming a woman. Sitting there flipping through a magazine, looking all grown up, I see that you’re not a baby girl anymore. And truth be told, that scares me.

You see, it creates an awareness in me that proves my time with you is limited, and I begin to question the quantity and the quality of the time we’ve spent together so far. I begin to question how many opportunities I’ve missed. Yet I know that dwelling on missed opportunities will only cause me to miss more. Very soon now, you’re going to be entering into a stage in your life that I’m not prepared for. I don’t believe any dad ever is really. I’m not ready for you to fight back against your mom and me with all your teenage strength, and I’m certainly not ready to go from being the smartest person on earth who knows how to make everything all better to an idiot who doesn’t know squat. I’m not ready for that. I regularly pray that one of two things occur: 1. Because of how truly special you are, this stage of life passes you by with minimal impact; or 2. God would fill my cup to overflowing, so that I can withstand it. Either way, I trust in His will and will find joy and contentment in our lives.

Truth be told, you’ll always be my baby girl. When you’re 33, you’ll still be my baby.

Love,

Dad

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