Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Happy Birthday, Angela!

Motherhood is an amazing thing. There is the "child who made me a mama" feeling that is so powerful. But then there's being the mother of the child who shows you all of the extremes. The ups and downs. The depths of inadequacy and the heights of pride. That's the joy of being Angela's mother - a joy I've known, as of today, for fifteen years.

Over the past year, the transformation from middle schooler to high schooler has been made complete. It's amazing and beautiful to watch the growth that occurs mentally, spiritually, and emotionally from thirteen to fifteen. 

The fun girl is still there. The cows. The dolls. The frills. I think that will always be a part of Angela's personality, even as the reflection of that side of her changes and matures. And she definitely has matured.

Although at least one cow still accompanies her most places, it's very different from the once-upon-a-childhood love of carrying a stuffed animal around. Instead, it's a way for her to express the fun side of herself. As an introvert, Angela has learned that certain things help break the ice when interacting socially. Certain things like cows and fun hats and knitting and crocheting.

Angela's social presence is one of the things I've loved watching over the past year. Although she will always prefer being away from any sort of crowd (and her definition of a crowd chooses a much, much smaller number than most other people - even other introverts - would use to define the word!), she is learning just how she best engages.

Although she's never been a "look at me" kind of girl, the stage is actually where she's most comfortable. Music and drama allow Angela to express herself, even to the point of helping her learn how to more easily engage in face-to-face conversations.

Angela's singing voice has matured greatly over the past year as she's helped lead worship for the youth on Wednesday nights and participated in special music on Sundays. At PraiseWorks this summer, she auditioned for the morning student-led praise team for the experience. She was actually thankful she didn't make it, though, because that allowed her to participate in a drama track. But, she'll try again, without a doubt!

Meanwhile, participating in the evening worship choir remained her absolute favorite part of PraiseWorks. And, it only took one rehearsal with Arkansas Youth Chorale to know she was hooked on that as well. Her new choir friends welcomed her enthusiastically and with open arms, and she is so excited to be a part this year.

Sewing, knitting, and crocheting are still a daily part of Angela's life. Her current delight is doll clothes and stuffed animals, and she is constantly making one or the other. 

Meanwhile, she also loves to cook. Even as I type, she's in the kitchen making her own traditional birthday quiche, a recipe she's requested annually for the past twelve birthdays! She thoroughly enjoys baking, too, following in the footsteps of her dear friend Sarah.

Her other birthday activity was to head to the library in honor of her all-time favorite activity: reading. It is quite typical to find her sitting cross-legged somewhere with a book between her toes, knitting or crocheting in her hands, and a cat in her lap. I definitely can't forget the cat. If she'd been able to take her cat Rose with her to the Old Mill for pictures, I'm sure she would have! Angela would happily have a dozen cats if we'd let her!

Yes, being Angela's mother has truly been an adventure. Sometimes overflowing with joy and other times more on the challenging side. But I wouldn't trade a moment of it. 

I love you and am so proud of you, my precious middle child! Happy birthday, Angela! 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Happy Birthday, Steven!

And just like that, my baby is twelve!

I always say that every stage is fun, and I mean it. It still boggles the mind that my baby, my little boy, could be so very big (yes, almost as tall as his mama, which delights him to no end). But, I'm enjoying it. There are days when I wish this mama's boy was still small enough to hold in my lap for some good, long snuggles. But, I'm in awe of how much fun it is to watch him - all of my kids - grow up.

I honestly didn't expect to see so much change in Steven over the past year. He's not one to embrace change readily, but it seems to have embraced him!

Many things have stayed the same. He still loves Legos and airplanes and animals. The way he loves those things has matured, but he still finds great joy in them. I especially like watching him with the animals - not just his dog Cookie, the family cat Smokey, and Angie's cat Rose, but also with other animals. The day we were taking his birthday pictures, the turtles were out in force. He went to get a closer look, and one swam right up to him (probably looking for a handout!). Steven enjoyed a nice little chat with the turtle before it swam away.

He still loves to get up early. In fact, one of his birthday requests was to be able to sleep in (until about 6:15), but still be the only one up for at least thirty minutes. Despite being a clone of his father, he does take after his mama in that way, enjoying the peacefulness of time to himself first thing in the morning. 

Steven also remains my most tenderhearted child. He empathizes so beautifully, and although he never likes to draw attention to himself, he is also not ashamed of the fact that he feels deeply.

One thing that has surprised me has been Steven's budding social interaction. This child who, once upon a time, would not even look at people outside him immediate family now strikes up conversations with complete strangers. He has loved building a relationship with the postal, UPS, and FedEx delivery folks who come to our house. If he knows a UPS package is scheduled to arrive, he plans his day around getting to run out and say hi to and check on his favorite delivery guy. Occasionally he even comes back in with prayer requests to share. 

The sweet, tenderhearted nature does not mean, though, that he's above teasing and giving people a hard time - especially his sisters! Steven will gladly join his father in a bout of "grab the cow" or "steal the hat" to tease his sisters. He adores them both, but he also loves fulfilling his role as little brother, which has to involve giving them a hard time now and then!

In the past few months, Steven has also blossomed in his interests. I anticipate that someday he'll go into a field such as mechanical engineering or computer programming that helps him learn how to build the machines or technology that he loves. 

But, no matter what he does vocationally, ministry will be a part of it. He can't help it. It's an innate part of who he is, and he's fully aware of that reality. Whether he ends up in full-time ministry, part-time ministry, or just ministering in whatever secular career he pursues, ministry is in his future as much as it is in his present.

But, so is drama. This summer, the dramatic side of Steven has exploded! He's always been a little goofy, but suddenly he is completely unashamed to be wide open.

The hesitancy he's exhibited in the past to perform in any way is fading fast. Even this past spring, he was unsure about the opportunities ahead of him for being involved in choir or drama. Now he can't wait! He's very excited about the prospect of joining Angela in helping organize drama presentations at church and encouraging others to be comfortable in expressing themselves.

And he can't wait to join Arkansas Youth Chorale in a few weeks. 

So many changes. So much growing up. So much fun. It's been a great year, and I'm excited to see what the next year holds. 

I'm proud of you, son! I love you immensely, and I'm so thankful that you're still not ashamed to let me know you love me back. 

May you have a very, very happy 12th birthday!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

For My Hubby on Father's Day

I love a lot of things about being married to this amazing man. I always knew he'd be a great dad, but watching him in action with our three precious children never ceases to amaze me.

I love the way he plays with them. We all play more and better because of Doug.

I love the way he makes them laugh. In so many ways. And creatively with each child.

And I love the way he teaches them, keeps their love of learning sparked, and makes them think. 

His son wants to be just like him. His daughters think he's the most wonderful man on the planet. I tend to agree with them!

Happy Father's Day, my love!