Earlier this year Cal received a school assignment to make a timeline of his life, so I came to this blog to search for photos. I couldn't remember the last time I had been on, and found myself getting caught up in this forgotten timeline of my own. It made me miss the tiny versions of my four growing children, and the time I used to spend writing and reflecting on the passing years.
I know that blogging has gone the way of Instagram - I myself have made the switch - and that writing this is like shouting into an empty cave to hear my own voice echo back. But after twelve years of parenting I've become quite accustomed to shouting and empty echos, so here is a little catch up post.
Jolie turns twelve this week and just completed her last year of elementary school, but that's irrelevant because I will never let her leave the nest. She is a joy - kind, obedient and helpful. She organizes, babysits, buckles seat belts, and sets a peaceful tone in the home.
Still, she's turning into a teenager before our eyes, consuming all the pop music, hip hop dance, Justice clothes and YouTube videos she can get her hands on. Jolie has a talent for home design and is always decorating and redecorating, arranging and rearranging. She is a list maker like her mother but takes the most pride in being compared to her dad.
Achievements this year included joining the 6th grade chorus, filming a promo for her favorite show, Studio C, and submitting the winning design of the school yearbook cover contest.
Wait, did I say I've missed blogging, or bragging?
Leah, Leah, Leah.
Leah is nine and just completed third grade. She both challenges and melts us in ways we never thought possible. I mention only to her credit that most things in life have been an uphill climb for Leah - neurodevelopment, vision, coordination, academics, socialization. I don't know if I could get through a single day having to hurdle obstacles the way Leah does, but she's as tough a fighter as they come, and has been blessed with a compensating abundance of beauty, joy, kindness and determination. We are eternally grateful she is ours.
Leah enjoys watching Full House, stuffing her purse, and entertaining younger children. She loves chewing gum, helping in the kitchen, dance parties, photography, and second helpings of dessert. She's a discerning shopper and has a talent for finding anything that is lost. At school Leah is a sweet, hard worker, who has stolen the hearts of every teacher, doctor and therapist with whom she has come in contact.
You can't spend five minutes around Leah without falling in love.
Cal is seven and just completed first grade. He has inherited his mother's anxiety ("Dear Heavenly Father, please bless that scary things won't happen to us today"), and his father's math mind. On shopping trips he can calculate percentage discounts in his head, and once beat Jolie in an algebra challenge, though I can't elaborate because it's a sore subject around here.
We're grateful for the way Cal keeps us safe. He has a knack for risk assessment, advises Jack against doing his own electrical work, and is disapproving of family photos taken on railroad tracks.
He also keeps us on budget. When Cal's teacher asked what he wants to be when he grows up he said, "Someone who makes money," and is well on his way. He complains loudly in stores about things that are overpriced, and when his siblings spend their allowance at Dollar Tree says, "Wow! Look how much you wasted."
Cal loves sports, Legos, and the claw machine at Walmart. He is an incredibly likable, popular kid who, after just two months at his new school, was selected as the 'First Grade Leader of the Year.' He is affectionate, clever, confident, and fills our home with laughter.
Eddie Jack is four, our only brown-eyed child, and the last one left at home on school days. He gets what he wants, when he wants it, and as much of it as he wants, and I make no apologies for it.
He and I have a daily ritual - every morning after we've dropped off the others I say, "Eddie, do you want to go home and have a boyhood!?" At first this confused him, and he turned down every activity I offered in favor of the ever-elusive "boyhood," but now he gets it. Yesterday, boyhood meant setting up a battle between dinosaurs and Hot Wheels. Before it commenced I heard him warn, "Guys, this is gonna hurt."
He loves playing catch in the yard with Dad, watching NFL games, and is eerily adept at navigating electronic devices. He also enjoys Duplos, honey on toast, and trying to gauge the number of stairs he can descend at once without getting hurt. Last week while running errands, Pearl Jam's "Can't Find a Better Man" came on in the car, and he declared it his favorite song.
Whether or not Eddie is our last baby, he completes our family in the best possible way.