Earl

On Friday morning my sweet brother-in-law Dustin’s father passed on from this world. In recent days this was expected, but nothing can really prepare us for the solemn finality of such a tremendous loss.

I am reminded of a story I once read awhile back. In my own words, it goes something like this ~

The Parable of the Twins

Once there were twin babies. Since their conception they had always gotten along, coexisting with one another within the cozy parameters of their mother’s womb. As they grew bigger and started running out of space, sometimes they would argue with one another.

“Don’t worry,” said one baby to his twin, “Someday we will be out of here and we can run free and do things we never imagined!”

“What are you talking about,” the other twin scoffed,”This is it! This is all there is! There’s nothing outside of here!”

“I don’t want to shove it down your throat or anything, but I, personally, am really looking forward to seeing Mother face to face. I know she exists, whether you think so or not. I believe she takes care of us and nurtures us through these cords. It’s sometimes hard for me to imagine and comprehend, but honestly? I think we live in her!”

The other twin laughed and laughed, “Do you hear yourself?? You just made that all up to make yourself feel better. That’s utterly ridiculous. If there is a ‘Mother’ then why can’t we see her? There is evidence of others in this world before us and none of them have ever come back to tell us. After life in here there is nothing. We can’t live without these cords!”

“Someday you’ll see for yourself, I guess,” the baby sighed, “Sometimes when I’m really still and quiet I can hear her voice. I can hear her singing over us. Every once in awhile I can see radiant light shining through our sky. It must be really bright out there!”

“I never see any radiant light,” the other twin taunted with his eyes tightly squinted shut, “If there is life out there and it is so great and bright and with a loving Mother as you claim, then WHAT are we doing in here???”

His brother smiled and explained, “It’s not like this is some cruel holding cell we’re trapped in or something. We are really very comfortable here if you think about it. But we need to be in here to grow and develop. We’re not yet prepared for the new world that awaits us.”

The other twin shook his head and went on believing otherwise.

As the life in their mother’s womb drew to an end, both babies were of course a little apprehensive, one more so than the other.

“What’s it going to be like to actually see my Mother face to face, to be held in her arms?” one twin wondered in anxious anticipation.

The other was fearful, “What if my brother is right? Will the Mother be mad at me that I didn’t believe in her?”

And so they transitioned from this world into the next. It was more brighter and more beautiful than anything they had ever experienced. The air that filled their lungs was frightening at first, but also exhilarating. They flailed their arms and legs in an attempt to make sense of the seemingly endless space and light before them. Then came the most magical moment. Suddenly they felt safe and warm again. A beautiful smiling face looked back at them with sparking tears in her eyes.

“Here you are at last!!!” she cried in excitement, radiating endless love.

๐Ÿ”น๐Ÿ”ท๐Ÿ”น

And so it was with Earl as he passaged into the next world. He was met by the loving, warm embrace of our Heavenly Father, unhindered any longer by the restrictions of his cancer. He has begun a new life! In those still, quiet moments evidence of the magnificence that awaits us ALL boldly shines forth if we take the time to notice it. When it is our time to be born into this next world, we too will get to experience it in all of its fullness and glory.
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Earl Hubbs
Entered Eternal Peace August 30, 2013

โ€œWhat no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceivedโ€ โ€” the things God has prepared for those who love him.
(1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV)

Please pray for Earl’s family as they endure this saddest of times.

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A recap of the past few days with Nora ~

Wednesday

“And here we have Nora Rose wearing a piece from the Hiphelper’s fall collection…”
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These are actually some therapeutic little shorts that help improve rotational movement in children with low muscle tone. Nora’s legs naturally fall to the sides, especially when she’s in her sleepy time chair. The Hiphelper shorts keep her legs positioned forward while she’s asleep or resting… or pulling the oxygen tubes out of her nose, as the case may be.
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But not in the baffs!!
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“๐ŸŽถWho’s in the kitchen with Norrrra…๐ŸŽถ”

“Oh, dats my Dyad.”
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Look at those pretty little naked cheeks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Aahhh, to have a cordless baby!!!!
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Thursday

“G’Morning!!”
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“Me n’ Mommy? We got plans!”
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Nora and I went on a walk and an excursion to explore new territory. There was rumor of a shortcut to Gavin & Greta’s school, so we had to check it out for ourselves. There was a field with a neatly mowed path through tall grass, then a pathway that leads through some woods. We got to the end of the pathway and lo and behold! There was the school at the bottom of the hill! We just might be able to walk to school one of these mornings if all of the planets are properly aligned!

All of the bumpy terrain must have bounced Nora to sleep, I thought to myself. Turns out she was just pretending to sleep for the camera!
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When we got back home I was blessed with some time to paint. I set up a table and chair in the shade of the back deck, filled up the nearby bird feeder, put on some Pandora and went to work. I had collected several bird rocks from down at the creek just the day before.

While I was painting I had a little friendly spider visit me. You can see him here on the end of one of the brushes to the right of the red paint bottle.
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When he first scurried across my table, I expected that he was just passing through and would go on about his spider business. Not so! This tiny little spider was incredibly curious about me and what I was doing!

Here he is on the “paint pallet” waving his front little legs (arms?) at me?
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Then he went to check things out from the top of the yellow paint.
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When I first poked my fingertip near him he would jump away. After about the 5th or 6th time he climbed up onto my finger and walked around on my arm for a bit. He even spent some time at the very top of my paintbrush AS I was painting. Sooo cute!! Yes, I’m weird. I know.

Finished nests ~
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“If anyone needs help cookin dinner, I can help!”
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“You got an apron I can put on or something?”
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Friday

Nora’s sweetness was so appreciated this day.
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I went down to William’s office with the intent of cleaning, but ended up doing landscaping and pulling parking lot weeds instead. What better way to enjoy 90ยฐ heat? ๐Ÿ˜

“Stalker photo” from William’s phone that he emailed to me! LOL
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Later in the evening my Mom & Dad came over for a visit. We had a delicious dinner of marinated pork on the grill. I was rather proud of myself!

Norns was showing off her awesome neck muscles to her Nana while Papa looked back at old pictures from when Nora was tiny.

“You can set yer beer down on my table if you want, Nana!”
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Saturday

This morning was the long anticipated return of Our Kelly from her visit down to Florida! We were all so so happy and excited to see her!
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Beautiful Baffing Beauty
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Kelly brought some wicked storm clouds back from Florida with her!!!
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We were waiting for Elvira Gulch to come pedaling past the window!
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This baby don’t care ’bout no storms!
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You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.
(Isaiah 25:4 NIV)

Winks

Monday

Today’s Special was a dollop of hand-smeared whip cream served chilled over blue desk of baby.
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“Eenen I had dat stuff all over my face, on my ears, in my hair… I had to schedule a baff!”
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“Whip creams are kinda neat, but I like my milks!”
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“Have I showed you my lippy?”
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We’re back down to 1.5 meager mL of coconut oil and will verrry slowly try to advance! In hearing from others, this seems to be the best approach for keeping Angry Belly Baby at bay.

Tuesday

Someone sweet got carried out to the car half asleep, all warm and cuddly, a condition known in our family as “schnoogy”. {I love that my phone recognizes this term and appropriately autocorrects ๐Ÿ˜„}
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Nora had an 8:45 pulmonary appointment to discuss the results of her sleep study that was done awhile back and just a general checkup that all is as it should be!
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She’s such a good, good girl in the car now!!!
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“Elanora Yusko?”

“Ohh! Over here!! Dats meee!!!”
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Dr. C is among Nora’s excellent team of doctors. We hadn’t seen her in quite awhile which, as much as we like and appreciate her, is a good thing! There is nothing urgent or pressing as it pertains to Nora’s lungs. The sleep study showed that Nora definitely needs to be on oxygen through the night, but during the day we’ve been given the green light to start experimenting with lesser and eventually no oxygen throughout the day, as long as that’s okay with cardiology. We also discussed long term solutions to optimize her airflow in regard to tonsils and adenoids. They will take a closer look at those while she is sedated for her ear tubes. Nora hinted that she didn’t appreciate the tongue depressor by promptly puking all over Dr. C and the examination table, “You wanna try dat again??”๐Ÿ˜

We left the hospital with joyful and thankful hearts!

I am still in absolute awe over the incredible, amazing reassuring God wink that I got on our way to the hospital that rendered me SPEECHLESS. I have tears in my eyes and goosebumps as I type this because it was so bold and so obvious. We were passing University Hospital which brought my Uncle Bill to mind. It’s so hard to believe he’s gone, I thought to myself. As a wave of sadness washed over me I received the inaudible nudge, “Look for the white PT Cruiser,” which was the car I knew Bill to be in when he wasn’t on his motorcycle. I looked away from University Hospital not at all expecting to see a white PT Cruiser and dismissed the thought as my own silly imagination. But no. There it was. A white PT Cruiser. Not a blue one, not a black one, not an orange one, but a white PT Cruiser. EXACTLY what I was told to look for! I didn’t even have to look around for it. It was heading directly toward us in the opposite direction; not another car in front of it or behind it. I stared at it, turning around to watch it pass, completely dumbfounded. The wave of sadness ebbed back out to sea. I was left with the profound reassurance that not only was Bill enjoying the luxuries of Eternity, but that such a huge and mighty God cares about “little insignificant me” on such a very grand and personal level.
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Please keep my brother-in-law Dustin and his family in your prayers. His Dad is in the last days of his life after a cruel battle with liver cancer. This is a terribly difficult time for all of them.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39)

Ears or Belly?

Thursday

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Nornor has been chewing on her hands like crazy as usual, and still no teeth! She’s gotten into the habit of pulling down on her lower lippy with her index finger and went and scratched the inside of her little mouth! We had to put socks on her hands! She’s going to have to stop that or she’s going to end up with a lampshade collar around her neck! ๐Ÿ˜‰

“๐ŸŽถI’m gonna knock you out…๐ŸŽถ Mama said knock you out…”
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“G’nite, brudder n sister! I love you!”
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“Eenen I go n get in da baff!”
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Friday

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Norns politely slept in while I packed lunches, made breakfast and saw the big kids off to the bus stop.
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Nora had a morning appointment with ENT. It was just a follow-up from a previous appointment, but I was glad that William had the opportunity to meet the wonderful Dr. E. who will be doing Nora’s ear tube surgery. Based on Nora’s happy demeanor and the fact that she wasn’t exhibiting any outward symptoms, we didn’t feel that it was necessary to subject her to the “tortures” of the microscope, especially since tubes are on order relatively soon (September 20th).

The rest of the afternoon was uneventfully relaxing. I enjoyed a long overdue, therapeutic lunch with a dear friend and then cuddle-loves with someone sweet and little in the evening ~
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I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.
(1 Timothy 1:12)

Saturday

As the day progressed, Nora grew more and more uncomfortable. We have a hard time differentiating gas pains from ear pains. She is adept in conveying when something is bothering her, but she never comes right out and says what it is. She likes to keep us guessing. Nine times out of ten, it is just gas pains. The discomfort associated with her belly troubles is usually short-lived. Today there were only short intervals of smiles.
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Her moans and groans, mucus in the back of her throat, and gagginess all pointed at an ear infection as the day drew to an end. She did enjoy her bedtime baff ~
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OF COURSE we had just been to the ENT the day before, and OF COURSE it was now the weekend. We treated her with acetaminophen and kept a close eye on her through the night.

Sunday

Nora had a restless night, still not comfortable and she may or may not have had a low grade fever. It’s one of those thermometers (a temporal) that I don’t entirely trust. It will give 3 different readings in the same minute. Her heart rate was a little high, but that would be expected no matter what the source of her troubles. As soon as the sun was at a reasonable point in the sky we put a call in to the on-call pediatrician. We were hoping to get an antibiotic called in, but the doctor felt better about seeing Nora first just to make sure there wasn’t anything else going on. We would continue to treat her with acetaminophen until Monday.
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As the day progressed Nora seemed no worse off. I’d been to church by myself in the late morning. When I returned, she was really pretty happy! I was relieved that the pain medicine was working! Or perhaps Daddy really cheered her out of a funk!
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With Nora’s pains under control, I decided to take the big kids out for awhile. Nana & Papa had invited us to go swimming now that “summer” had finally arrived just in time to be almost over. We had canceled because of Nora’s ears, but decided to surprise them with a texted picture of our car on the ferry, obviously en route!

Professional rock thrower returning back to the car from a trip down to the river while we waited:
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Treachery lurks beneath the waters ~
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My smile grew bigger and bigger with each photo that William texted.
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“She’s being as sweet as I can ever remember,” her Daddy reported.

Nora was as happy as ever and was really going to town showing off her new rolling skills!!
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So much so – that she ended up all tired. She fell asleep right there in the middle of the floor!
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Oddly enough, it appeared as if though Happy Baby were back!! She didn’t need anymore pain medicines throughout the day either! Perhaps it wasn’t her ears after all!?

The only thing we can think is that her belly was really disagreeing with the coconut oil supplements. We’ve started off slowly making it up to only two 2 mL doses — 4 mL for the day. We’d hoped to increase to a total of about 15 mL per day (equivalent of a tbsp.) but I’m not sure her little body can handle all that – even broken up throughout the day. ๐Ÿ˜•

Just glad she’s feeling better and that we avoided an unnecessary antibiotic!

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It’s been brought to my attention by a few of my readers who subscribe by email that you aren’t getting your updates by email. I’m still looking into the matter, but for now I’m guessing they don’t come through when I backdate a post with the purpose of keeping them neat and orderly. Whatever the case may be I will do what I can to remedy! So sorry!

Strangely Silent

Wednesday

The morning is extraordinarily quiet. Even the sun is away. The hum of the oxygen concentrator and washing machine occupy the background with sound waves of Steven Curtis Chapman laced throughout. Nora got kisses from Daddy as he said goodbye before leaving for work early this morning. Shortly after we saw the big kids off on the school bus it was time to take Our Kelly to the airport. She’s going to be away for a week visiting her Mom in Florida. Now here we are — just Nora and I and it’s kinda lonely! It’s been a little bit of an adjustment not having the big kids here throughout the days. Even if Kelly is downstairs doing her own thing, just knowing she’s there is so comforting to me! Yes, it’s nice to have the extra set of hands to help out when needed, but beyond that I really truly enjoy her company! I marvel at what an answer to prayer she has been for us, and I hope she feels the same! She blends right in with all the silliness around here and is awesomely efficient when she’s on kid duty! We all love her!!! And now miss her!!! ๐Ÿ˜” The kids and I are going to have to make one of those construction paper chain link things to count down the days until her return! Heh heh!

“Mmmehhhh!!!”
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Morning baffs set the tone for a nice, relaxing long afternoon nap!
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While Norns was asleep I went to the pantry and then the refrigerator to look for something to snack on. I wished we had some fresh fruit in the house beside the 2 blackened bananas. Seriously and quite literally not 5 – 10 minutes later there was a mysterious knock at the front door. I was nervous about answering it lest I ended up swindled into buying magazines and encyclopedias. My curiosity got the best of me and I opened the door. It was a delivery for ME from Edible Arrangements! A bouquet of fresh fruit!!! From my hubzbind!!!
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Um… wow!!! That was really easy and awesome!! I should’ve taken a picture of the whole thing, but I immediately opened it and munched it up. It was really quite pretty, and sweet and thoughtful and intuitive of my dear sweet hubzbind! Now I kinda wish I would’ve wished for everything else on my grocery list to suddenly show up at the front door too!

Before too long, this girl woke up from her little nappies!
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We attempted to go swimming up the street at Kittykins’ house (the swimming cat!), but again Nora was vehemently opposed to the idea.

“What da heckza matter wit deez peoples???? Datz not baff waters!!!”
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I spent the remainder of the evening with my big guy at drum lessons and then out to dinner afterward. It’s nice to spend one on one time with each of the kids. Gavin and I had a nice conversation about things and then marveled at the beautiful cloud formations conspiring with the setting sun.
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While we were away William texted us the picture below of Nora. He said she’d been disgruntled and fussing until she got a glimpse of Greta’s doll sitting in her Bumbo.

“Excuse me… Um… Scyooz me………… I think you’re in my seat, girl.”
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That doll got the stare down for like 5 minutes straight!!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23)

Happy Birthday, Greta!

Tuesday

It was a beautiful day in the front yard (check out the 3 crosses!) ~
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~ and a beautiful day in the backyard (3 birds!)
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What made the day even more beautiful is that it is the day that an amazing little girl named Greta was born! Eight years ago today we welcomed a precious baby girl “burrito” into our family! The first thing I noticed about her were her chunky little cheekies! In those first few moments of totally taking another healthy infant completely for granted, I tried to imagine life here on out with this new little life. Who will she be? What will she look like as she grows up?
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My imaginings came no where close to this astounding little girl that Greta has grown up into. The extraordinary intuition and empathy packed into this little girl’s heart cannot be contained. She is absolutely overflowing with love and compassion for not just people, but also animals and even insects! She recently captured a leaf bug with an injured wing so he could rehab safely without getting eaten or further injured.
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This is a little girl who instead of getting hurt and bent out of shape about someone being mean to her, is able to look past that. “Maybe (who ever) is having a really bad day, or maybe someone is always mean to them too and they don’t know any different. That makes me sad for them,” she’s been known to say. At which point I have to pull out her birth certificate (with tears in my eyes) to double check that she isn’t actually OLDER than me, because clearly she’s WISER than me in that regard!!! Lesson from Greta: Don’t take everything so personally!

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
(Leviticus 19:18)

What a PERFECT big sister for a baby with special needs. Someone who will guard her and protect her with a vengeance throughout their sweet lives. The radiant love that Nora and Greta have for each other is such a magnificent thing to witness. Such pure love can hardly be put into words except to say that it is God given.

We love because he first loved us.
(John 4:19)

So sheik!
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Nora had a visit from her physical therapist and her nutritionist today. I was a little disheartened to learn that Nora has decreased her weight a little bit. In July she was 18 lbs. 1 oz. At the beginning of August she weighed in at 17 lbs. 13 oz. which was only a few ounces lost. She’d had 2 ear infections, antibiotics and lots of pukies. Today she weighed in at 17 lbs. 5 oz. My heart sank at the sight of the scale’s reading. But like the dietician explained, it’s not unexplained weight loss. She’s had the ear infections, then a cold, and she’s also shown a decrease in volume probably because she wasn’t feeling her greatest. (We keep a very detailed record of her feedings) Nora’s physical therapist also assured me that Nora is of course metabolizing more now too. She’s a little more active than she used to be. She’s not content to just lean up against us or the back of her Tumbleform chair. She likes to hold her head up on her own! She’s rolling around and reaching and kicking at things! Since her body is in need of more calories we’ve decided to supplement her with coconut oil and then olive oil. We are gradually working toward a tablespoon per day of coconut oil right now. That will contribute 117 more calories a day in addition to all of the other great attributes it has (regularity, brain boosting, immunity).

As William also pointed out, and the nutritionist verified – our other kids could have undergone a weight loss at some point in their lives too. A year between doctor visits would not have shown anything. Because we are watching Nora under a figurative microscope we are going to see and notice every single little discrepancy.

I made the decision to extinguish the cluster of fear that was smoldering in my gut and enjoy the rest of my day.

Happy birthday to the birthday girl!
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Hmmmm… What to wish for…
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And the day ended just as beautifully as it began.
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And the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: โ€œYou are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.โ€ (Luke 3:22 NIV)

Do you see it?
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Party

Sunday

Weekends at Mom & Dad’s swim club have become a pretty regular and wonderful thing. However this weekend there was a little extra something to it. Gavin’s birthday was Saturday and then Greta’s birthday is Tuesday! We chose this day to have their party. In the past I’d spent many years seeking out unique, gender-neutral party themes, cakes, and ideas for each of their parties. (before the days of Pinterest too, I might add!!!) I went absolutely overboard with party invitations, decorations, cakes, etc.

The old way:
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The new way:
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Fortunately I no longer feel compelled to run myself ragged with any of that anymore, honestly because I do not have the energy, and also because the kids, as it turns out, don’t really care about any of that. They’re just happy to have cake and presents! Throw in a pool and you’ve got a couple of really happy kids. All the party hysteria was fun while it lasted. I think? Life is too short to be made so complicated – here, anyway.
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Here are Gavin and Greta with cousin Gracie, Oma and their gender neutral Sponge Bob cake from Kroger!
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“Is it time to eat cake yet?”
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Nornor got to try some icing! Yay! No gagging!
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Nora is wearing the dress that Greta wore to her first birthday party ~
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Time warp back to 2006 – Gavin was sooooooo sweet with his little sister!
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I started to reprimand him when he walked up to Greta’s high chair and stuck his finger in the icing of her cake. Instead of sticking his finger in his own mouth like I probably would have done when I was 3 years old, he ever so gently put his chubby little icing finger up to Greta’s lips so she could taste it. She was a little nervous about digging into the cake and needed some help from her experienced big brother! He knows about these things! (Where in the world has time gone??)

Nornor didn’t particularly care for swimming at all this week. She was much happier with a warm baff when we got home.

“Listen, I’m gonna hafta call you back. I tink it’s baff time!”
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While waiting for the bath to fill up, Norns worked on her rolling skills.
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“Dis is how I roll, y’all!”
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Monday

Nora is happy that her boogies are almost gone!
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It’s so sweet to have this baby at the dinner table with us!
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Had to share this because it’s hilarious ~
I was going through the bins of the 18 months clothes to pick out what Nora could use. Pictured below are two like-sized onesies.:
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I did a double-take at the one on the left, wondering why it is so WIDE! I went to double check the sizing and my question was promptly answered.
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Super-sized onesie?

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:19)

Happy Birthday, Gavin!

Saturday, the 17th

Ten years ago today we met a brand new baby boy whom we had already named Gavin. I vividly remember his crying little face when the doctor plopped him up on my chest. I wondered, “WHO is this little guy?? WHO is he going to be?” He looked back at me maybe wondering the same thing. I was instantly in LOVE with this precious bald-headed little boy.
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The early years weren’t always easy, but they were most certainly worth it. There is so so much to love about this boy, especially his sense of humor. He genuinely likes to make people laugh. William and I are still trying to figure out how that came to be! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Gavin, you are loved, you are treasured, and oh so appreciated! The world is a better place with you in it! Thank you for the presence that you add to our family as a dear son and an awesome big brother, especially to your baby sister. You can just tell that Nora thinks you are REALLY cool – because you are. Happy birthday, buddy!!!!

The girls stayed home last night ~
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~ while the boys ventured off to the Bengal’s pregame! WHODEY! (or something)
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“Happy birthday, brudder! Here’s to you!!” *clink*
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For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my motherโ€™s womb. (Psalm 139:13 NIV)