I’m thankful for . . . Part 4

So, I bet you thought I had forgotten about the little “mini-series” I started back around Thanksgiving. The one I was calling “I’m thankful for . . .”?? It’s likely after all this time that YOU forgot about it! I didn’t forget, really. It’s just that life kind of tripped me up and distracted me. It has a habit of wrapping me up in it, life does, and I have a hard time stepping back to take a moment to write down the things bouncing around in my head. Oh, but there are so many things to write.

Anyhoo, back to the subject matter of this post. Marissa Lynn, the 4th child in our line up of offspring. Our “Rissa-Roo”. Or “Riss”. Often just “Roo”. Short little names for such a big heart in a little package. Marissa is complicated. Oh my, is she ever difficult to sum up. But I’m going to do my best, and tell you 5 things I love best about her. Well, they may not be what I love *best*. Because tomorrow I’ll likely think of things I may love more and it’s kind of hard to narrow it down to just 5, but these came to mind the quickest and so they’re what’s going down.

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#1 — Her water runs deep. You know, due to her speech delays at an early age, people would often make the mistake of thinking she couldn’t understand what THEY were saying just because she couldn’t SAY what she was thinking. But she was taking it all in. And still does. She’s computing and paying attention and analyzing. She’s thinking quickly and converses with people. I mean, answers questions and then asks some back. A genuine conversation, with such a little person. It’s beautiful. I’m often so amazed at what comes out of her mouth after such times. “I feel sad that . . . “ and “When [so and so] said [such and such], I thought in my head ‘That’s not appropriate’.”   I just love her depth.

marissa with aunt ruth, grandot's party

#2 — She is feisty. Whew, is she ever! You do not want to get on her bad side. We’ve chuckled (and imitated) a recent phrase of hers, “You’re makin’ me mad!” Complete with hand motions and a face showing implosion is near! Don’t be alarmed. We’re working on self-control. ‘Cause self-control is a good thing to learn sooner than later. But I love what a fire-cracker, spitfire she is. It has served her well, and we have oft seen why God made her that way. She’s fought through early-childhood seizures, belly-aches, and tests and therapies and misunderstanding of her. She’s got spunk and attitude and we pray for wisdom to guide it. But we love that God put it there in her. She’s a ball of fun and wit.

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#3 — She’s thoughtful. I cannot get over how others-oriented she is; she has been from a very early age. About 4 years ago she took it upon herself to offer a glass of water to every visitor we ever had to our home. I remember the first time she did it. An older neighbor and I were standing in the driveway chatting about this and that, and she came out with a tall glass of water. We both looked down at her as she shoved it up towards him and smiled. You could have pushed him over with a feather! He was as surprised as I was. She said, “Some water for you.” It may have been warm water. It often was in those early days – she hadn’t yet mastered the faucet. But she learned to use cold water and add ice and *ask* if our guest(s) would like the water. And she serves just plain water in the most beautiful way.

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#4 — She loves Jesus. Pure and uncomplicated. It was long ago when I heard her crying in her bed late one night. When I asked her why, she told me it was because Jesus died on the cross and she was so sad that he had to do that. After a discussion, and prayer together, we made a little trip downstairs to tell daddy that she’d accepted Jesus into her heart. And man, has she been growing since. I wouldn’t call her a natural rule-follower, but she is sincere in her desire to do the right thing before the Lord. She is black and white about what her little heart knows about God’s word. And she’s not afraid to stand up for right. (See #2. I suggest you do as she says. You don’t want to make her mad.)

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#5 — She works hard. Many things don’t come naturally to her. She has to work hard at life and learning. Lately, she’s said things like, “I can’t run as fast as the others.” And “I’m not good at reading.” Yep, both true. And when she was telling me about the neighborhood kickball game? “I was the last one to be picked . . .” My heart almost broke for her. Almost. But you know what I learned in that sweet, fleeting moment? She’s the strong one. Not me. My never-been-picked-last self doesn’t know what it’s like to push past that. So what’s a mom to say in moments when one’s adorable little heart walking around outside my body is saying things like that? I agree and say, “You don’t have to be the fastest. Or picked first. Or good at reading. You just have to do YOUR best. Because God made you just right exactly the way you are. And He loves you. And so do we!” And she seems good with that. So she keeps doing what she’s done since she was a tough little 6 pounder: fighting hard. Putting in effort. Day after day, whatever is before her. Giving HER best, even when it’s not THE best. And I just love that about her.

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Marissa

–Beth 🙂

P.S. If you missed the first 3 posts of this series, you can find them here, here, and here. Hint: they’re about our 3 older kids.

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Catching up.

Well, hello there! It’s been awhile. 🙂

Christmas and New Year’s was quiet around here, and it was beautiful. Our little family of 7 enjoyed some time off work and school and enjoyed the mild weather over our first winter in Florida. The weather has been just wonderful! Most days are mild and sunny, and the evenings cool enough so that it feels cozy and warm to slip on a hoodie sweatshirt. It’s just perfect for us. Although it’s a tad cooler now, this picture was taken 2 days before Christmas:

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We’ve enjoyed some visitors over the last couple months. My brother, Tim, and his wife and boys were here in December. We had a wonderful, low-key visit with them . . . soaking up some sun and catching up on each other’s lives. We sat on the beach and visited Ron Jon Surf Shop. We ate well, laughed a lot, and loved our time together.

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(Trevor and Cole)                                 (Timmy and Jake)

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In January, we had my sister-in-law, Tracy, and her girls visit. It was a busy and fun-filled time, complete with a visit to SeaWorld and a drive out to the beautiful west coast. We all missed the one person we wished could also be here making memories with us. Steve is so greatly missed and thought of often. Kenny helped Jordan with the art of riding a bike while they were here. When he came inside with tears in his eyes, missing Steve, Tracy and I just about lost it. While Tracy and I drove with 6 kids out to Punta Gorda (beautiful, by the way!), we may or may not have cranked the music and danced and sang shamelessly to Shake if Off . . . and even the youngest in the suburban belted it out!

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seaworld with tracy 3 seaworld with tracy

 

About a week after they left, our dear friends from Maryland, the Rutley family, flew in to visit. With their 4 boys joining forces with our 5 kids, we parents were significantly outnumbered! But true to form, all the kids were respectful and kind and played together as great as they always have. We, again, hit up SeaWorld and had a blast. The highlight for most of us was our visit to Wekiva Springs and the Wekiwa River. (I’ll write more on that place in another post – it was awesome!) It’s so wonderful to experience how God knits hearts in such a way that even when miles separate us from dear friends, we pick right back up where we left off and enjoy such sweet fellowship.

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We’ve spent February catching up on some school and tasks around the house. Jake and Cole have been participating in a leadership class at River Run Church. They’re reading this book:

do hard things

 

They meet weekly and have homework to complete at home. They’ve taken a spiritual gift test and that’s been neat for them to see what their God-given strengths are. Cole said to me last week, “Mom, I really like this class!” So sweet. They both diligently get their work down, most of the time without any reminding.

We’ve passed around a short-lived but nasty stomach bug. Ugh. Never a good time. In fact, it’s Dean’s turn now as I sit and type this. Poor guy! We’re hanging out on the couch together while the others are out and about. But I love how I can open the front door in the morning and leave it that way all day, with a gentle breeze and sunshine coming through the screen door. This was my view a couple afternoons ago:

 

view from my screen door jan2015

 

Which reminds me, I joined Instagram recently. I posted that picture. Feel free to find me and follow me. It’s been fun! It allows me to post quick snippets of our lives, and share with a sweet community of friends and family, new and old.

That photo also reminds me: we’re making some changes to the front yard! I can’t wait to show you. We’ve had dirt brought in and the over-growth (palmettos everywhere!) cleared out. We’ll be planting some grass and waiting patiently for it to fill in nicely so we can romp around in our “new” front lawn! I’ll do my best keep you posted on the project. (No promises though; you know my track record!)

I think that’s enough information and pictures for one post! I hope this day finds you enjoying life and loving God.

–Beth 🙂

Operation Christmas Child

Now that Thanksgiving is passed, I consider it officially the Christmas season!

Over these last few months, our family has had the wonderful privilege of participating in a project hosted by Samaritan’s Purse, called Operation Christmas Child. Each year, organizations and individuals have the chance to collect items to pack into a shoe box. The idea is to fill it with toiletries, toys, and trinkets for kids of different age ranges. These boxes will have the gospel message of God’s love enclosed, and then go out to kids around the world who would otherwise never receive a Christmas gift. Take a look at this official promo video from Samaritan’s Purse to see the amazing smiles of the youngsters who receive a box. It brings tears to my eyes! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6VQLYfPDbE

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Can I tell you? It was such a joyful project to join in on! River Run Christian Church did a super job of encouraging a collection of items to pack into the shoe boxes since July — flip flops, toothpaste and brushes, pencils and markers, notebooks, toys and more. The older kids had contests each week with their small groups over who could bring in the most items. One night the 3 of them took in 42 washcloths and 65 bars of soap! The younger 2 got to bring home an empty box and choose all the items that went into it themselves. We had a family night out at the store choosing items to go into these boxes. What a special time it was to put care and thought into what a five year old boy or a 3 year old girl in a third world country would be receiving as their (probably only) Christmas gift.

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To top it all off, we joined numerous others on a Sunday afternoon and took over the gym at River Run for a “box-packing” party. Over 800 boxes were packed up that day! Each box was carefully chosen and prayed over and stacked up to be shipped out later that week. Our kids loved it. Ken and I loved it. We were blessed by the time. And I pray it will have a profound affect on our kiddos for a lifetime.

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Merry Christmas! Let the countdown begin! 😉

–Beth

I’m thankful for . . . Part 3

**I’m going to take a little time to write a “featurette” about each of the kids this Thanksgiving season. Because, well – I’m thankful for them! And I love ‘em. How unique they are! We are blessed by them being a part of our family and we enjoy watching each unfold into the person God has created him or her to be, and we are grateful.** If you missed the first part about Jake, you can read it here; for part 2 (about Cole), click here.

I realize that this is going out to the public on Thanksgiving Day, so before I go forward — Happy Thanksgiving! We miss so many of you, our dear family and friends. We pray today is a blessed one.

Moving right along, in no particular order, I’m sharing today about one of our sweet daughters, Halia. She was born into our family as the 3rd child. Before she was born, we were sure she was going to be a boy. Most Maucks had been boys — for generations! We were so wildly excited to welcome a daughter and sister into our little brood. And 11.4 years later, she’s still a joy (most of the time!) 🙂

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Lately, these days, recently, she’s been very crafty. But then, that’s not just recent. She’s always been crafty. This week she was rather secretive about something including Mod-Podge and tin cans. I can’t wait to see what she’s come up with! (I hear Christmas is right around the corner, and have a hunch I may find out then what she’s made!) I just love ModPodge. So does she. And she uses it better than I do.

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Speaking of using things, Halia is a sort-of “techie”. I actually ask her questions about how to use technology around the house. She navigates the smart TV and gets Pandora running on it, no problem. She created a couple collages online at PicMonkey (have you heard of it? It’s pretty cool!) She set contact photos for most of you on my phone. 🙂 She just picks that stuff up so easily. If she doesn’t know what to do, she clicks around and figures it out. She’s sharp.

Speaking of sharp, Halia is a natural learner. She moves through her school assignments with ease. She absorbs information throughout the day. She’s good with numbers. She’s good with words. She’s got a terrific memory, and quickly masters her weekly Bible verse from youth group. She’ll remember what artist sings which song, or what someone was wearing at a particular function.

halia with little one

Speaking of clothes, Halia is showing a wonderful ability to put together an outfit. We’re enjoying shopping together even more than we have in the past and she’s a great help at choosing clothing. I’ve begun to let her choose many of Marissa’s outfits out as well, because I just love what she combines. So much so, I check with her after I’ve put something on. She can assess quickly how it looks.

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Speaking of quick, Halia is not. I mean to say, her brain is quick, but her body isn’t. She likes to take her time. Getting out the door, cleaning up her room, sweeping the porch, washing the dishes. She is laid back and relaxed–which I love about her–so she brings that approach to most of what she does. It’s a good balance for me. She’s creative, people. She needs time for those juices to flow!

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Speaking of creative, Halia loves to make things. Her project over the last month was making a section of the barn into a play house for her and Marissa. And then they surprised Dean by creating one for him right next door to them. 🙂 She is artistic and loves to draw. She’s pretty amazing with a pen. Or marker. Could be pencil. She has even done Sharpie pictures, with big, bold lines that turn into beautiful coloring pages for Marissa. Marissa has a collection of them that she loves.

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Speaking of collection, Halia is getting into photography as of late, and is racking up a nice collection of lovely flower photos. We think she’s got a good eye for it. She’s now convinced she wants to be a photographer someday. Along with some graphic design. And some singing/song-writing (she also has started writing songs and has sweetly decorated a notebook to house what she pens). 🙂

flower collage

Speaking of sweet, she’s become quite a baker. Of cupcakes from scratch! Oh my, they’re delicious! My hips are not thrilled. Great baking combined with artistic ability, and she’s a force to be reckoned with! She has blessed neighbors with them. She’s blessed her dad’s colleagues. She’s blessed her small group. She’s blessed a group dinner at church. Generally, anyone who has tasted one has been blessed.

PicMonkey Collage

tray of cupcakes

Speaking of blessed, we are — by Halia being a part of our family. Not because she can bake yummy quiche for dinner. Or because each day she wakes with a smile. Or shares her hugs freely. Or writes sweet notes of encouragement. Or plays great games with her younger brother. Or gives her younger sister a helping hand so very often. We just plain love her for the beautiful young lady she was created by God to be on the outside, and the beauty she’s choosing in her heart as she seeks to honor God with her life. She’s growing up fast and we know she’ll be spreading her wings someday. But for right now, this moment, she’s just a precious 11. And we’re grateful.

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–Beth

I’m thankful for . . . Part 1

**I’m going to take a little time to write a “featurette” about each of the kids this Thanksgiving season. Because, well – I’m thankful for them! And I love ‘em. How unique they are! We are blessed by them being a part of our family and we enjoy watching each unfold into the person God has created him or her to be, and we are grateful.**

First in the line-up is Jake. Simply because he was born into our family first. Jake prefers to be called Jake now. So we call him Jake. Sometimes “Jacob slips out”. He doesn’t mind. ‘Cause he’s like that. He is very forgiving and understanding. Some of his greatest qualities are his consideration and thoughtfulness of others.

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What’s he been up to lately? School. He’s facing 9th grade head on and is doing great! We knew this year would challenge him like no other has, since we enrolled him in Circle Christian School. It’s sweet, because of this year he says, “It’s hard, but I know it’s good for me. And I’m learning a lot, so it’s good!” That’s my boy, turning difficulties into learning opportunities and making something positive of it. 🙂

Now, I have to brag about him for just a moment: he’s getting superb grades. Like, “straight A’s” superb. And we’re not talking simple subject matters. He’s read books such as The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne), America’s Last Best Hope (William Bennett) and Know What You Believe (Paul Little). He’s writing essays and giving presentations (including one on the Great Awakening in full costume– wig and all! I promised I wouldn’t include a photo of that. You know, he *is* 15 and all.) He’s had biology quizzes and passages to memorize and hours of algebra.

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Jake is smart but I want to say, because I’m just so proud of him, school truly doesn’t come very easy to him. So I admire how hard he works to reach such high achievements in all his honors’ classes. And the only reason I mention that is because I believe it displays part of his character. Not to say that coming by something easily isn’t wonderful, but when one truly has to work hard to obtain what one earns, it’s exceptional – it shows commitment and determination. I see that in him.

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Besides school, he’s enjoying the youth group at River Run Christian Church. I can’t say enough good things about them! He’s meeting friends (some he calls “buddies” because he doesn’t think they’ve become close enough yet to reach “friend” status – this guy gets it! Facebook doesn’t have anything on him!) He’s volunteering with Sunday School classes on Sunday mornings. He’s getting the hang of texting and loves to try keeping in touch with friends and family far away.

jake's fish

He loves to fish, has started running, and has a new pull up bar scored at a yard sale that now hangs from a door way in the house and is put to use several times a day. He’s begun collecting quotes and has a penchant for sharing them at appropriate moments, which of course, I think is fabulous. I do love some good quotes myself! He writes down his favorite songs and enjoys music, as the whole household does.

Being Jake, he has a knack for stirring up trouble with siblings and getting them riled. But one would be rather boring if one didn’t have a sense of mischief now and then, don’t you think?? 🙂 And I have to remind him regularly that he was once 7 (like his little brother), and just as much a rascal!

birthday boys

I just love this kid, no longer a kid. Recently, in line at a local store, a mom was chasing down her active toddler, looking weary and tired. She made a comment about “kids!!” I turned and looked at the “kid” next to me – now taller than me, with broadening shoulders and masculine features . . . amazingly, looking like his father and mother, all in one person. And I smiled at him. My “kid” is almost grown up. And I love him more than I did the day I gave birth to him. My heart aches knowing I’ll send him off on his own — too soon! But it also soars, knowing this young man loves my Jesus – HIS Jesus. So I trust him to the One that created him and is allowing us to “borrow” him for a little while. My, how fast it goes! Yep, I’m thankful for Jake.

jake and adele

P.S. Because just one cute young man holding a cute baby photo is not enough . . .

jake and adelle

Creative boy.

It starts like this: just a conversation over lunch. Of all things silly, simple, and innocent. Quite childish, but in a wonderful, refreshing way. Just 5 kids chatting about the life they lead — free of stress, financial responsibility, or relationship challenges.

Then the wheels start rolling in a boy’s head. A boy who knows no limits. A boy with a sharp mind and lots of creative genes coursing through his body. A boy who loves to build with his hands and wants a boat really bad.

And this is how it ends:

coles boat 1

coles boat 2

coles boat 4

coles boat 3

Oh, when all the fun was had, they had to clean the old fence panel particles out of the pool. 🙂

–Beth

New set of wheels.

Down here in the land of the tropics, where all things in nature grow quickly and in plenty, a good mower is a must! In our effort to be as transportable as possible, we decided to find a mower in Florida, rather than haul one down all the way from Maryland. Ken’s brother has been loaning his to us weekly since our arrival. He would graciously continue to do so, but this good deal popped up for sale right in our own neighborhood:

new mower

 

We drove by it for over a week before stopping. Ken kept thinking that it wasn’t a large enough mower deck. However, the urge to pull over took over and we stopped in a few days ago. Turns out, it’s everything Ken had been looking for (except an over-50-inch-cutting-deck). We reasoned that since the operators of said machine will for the most part be under 5 feet tall, it was quite a suitable size.

new mower colenew mower halia

 

new mower dean

 

new mower riss

 

So we’re the new proud owners of a mower. Don’t worry, only those trusted and shown approved will be cutting the grass. Maybe 1 or 2 of those pictured above. 🙂

–Beth

 

First day of school.

What a day of mixed emotions! Jake started high school today! Actually, he pretty much started last week. But today was his official first day with Circle Christian School, a private home school academy where he’ll be taking classes twice a week. His classes are: Humanities (which includes Language Arts and American History, presented through a biblical worldview), a 3 hr. class; Biology, a 1.5 hr. class; and Algebra 1, a 1.5 hour class. Of course, his day will include a lunch break and a couple 10 min. breaks. It’s going to be a challenging year for him, based on what we see the in class overviews. I’m sure he’s up for the challenge! I really look forward to learning alongside him. He’ll have a few other subjects at home as well, altogether earning 7.5 credits for 9th grade.

Anyway, back to the mixed emotions part. It’s a complicated thing to be so proud and excited and sad at the same time. It seemed not too long ago that I was taking pictures of his first day of Kindergarten. Really, he’s the same sweet, sensitive and funny and thoughtful boy he was at 5. Just in a bigger package. We checked his height this morning; he’s grown over 1.5 inches just since April!

We’re so thankful for this young man in our family and are grateful for what the Lord is doing in his life. We look forward to seeing what special things lie in store for him in the future! We will miss him while he’s away 2 days per week, but feel much peace about where he is studying and what he is learning it makes it worth it.

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First day of 2nd grade (Jake on the left, Cole on the right); First day of 9th grade. Super cute either way! 🙂

Keeping me on my toes still at home are 4 other “Maucklets” who look to me as their primary instructor – yikes! Although there is a desk in each of the rooms upstairs (girls’ and boys’), they all decided to work near each other at the new table in the dining/school room. I am loving the way the room is coming together and it’s so pleasant to be in that I happily agreed. (More on the room in another post). Marissa called out to everyone to give her a hand moving all the chairs from the kitchen table to the dining room table (since I don’t have the chairs refinished yet). It was sweet to observe them excitedly preparing the place they were going to be working.

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We all fit around it with room to spread books out a bit. And, it doubles as a cafeteria at lunch time:

first day school 2014

Dean initially said while sitting at the table early in the day, “I’m so excited to be starting school again!” I think the enthusiasm wore off by the end school time. The kids overall were eager learners. We got a visit from a wild visitor — a gopher turtle crossing the front yard — so we took a break to observe it closer.

gopher turtle

That led me to make studying gopher tortoises with Dean and Marissa our science for the day. After all, we do live in Florida now and should be familiar with the natural habitat. Here’s what they each dictated to me for the science journals:

“The gopher tortoise grows to 10-16 inches. They are a wild species. Do not touch them. They are endangered. The females have a flat bottom shell, and the males have a bump on theirs.” (Marissa)

“A gopher tortoise has strong legs for digging tunnels and holes. It can live as long as 100 years. Other animals find safety in the holes. When the eggs are in cooler temperatures, it hatches a male. If the temperature is warmer, it hatches a female.” (Dean)

Now you know a little bit about gopher turtles, too! Just what you’ve been dying to know, huh??!!

gopher turtle first day school

(That’s one of our kitty cats right next to the tortoise)

I wouldn’t say we accomplished a whole day’s worth of school, by any means. But we enjoyed our time and put up a good effort! So that’s good enough for a first day for me.

–Beth

P.S. Jake came home saying his day was OK — not bad and not great. First days can be like that. The setting was pretty overwhelming and he only knew (more like, recognized) one other person. And it was a girl. So it’s not like they hit it off. 🙂 But he has a positive attitude about it all and I appreciate that. He’ll know plenty of other kids in no time!

Dean.

This guy just turned 7.

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Yikes! I can’t believe my baby is that old! And it’s been never a dull moment since he came into the world. He’s keeping us smiling (the things that come out of his mouth!), dancing (he likes to come up with “new moves”), laughing (the expressions he can make!) and sleeping well at night, in order to re-coup and keep up with him the next day.

He had a mishap around the pool last weekend so we got ourleselves an introduction to the local children’s hospital near to our new home. He ended up with 7 stitches but received so much attention from the family I don’t think he minded the whole ordeal! When I mentioned putting a healing oil onto his wound to help reduce scarring, he told me, “No, I want a scar. Scars make you look tough.” Since that fateful night of stitches–with siblings and parents, an aunt, an uncle and cousins fawning all over him about it–he’s run into opportunity for a few other more minor injuries as well. If I didn’t know how much it is annoying him due to the hindrance of swimming time, I would think he was purposeful about it!

I tucked him into bed last night, his foot wrapped with medical tape, a Band-aid on his thumb and a rather large scar on his left shin, fresh-free of stitches. I thought to myself, “Man, he looks tough!” 😉

–Beth

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