to sullivan on his 8th birthday

oh my little valentine,

Today you are 8 years old. What a sweet little mystery you are to me. You are usually very quiet and engaged in something you love (drawing intricate dragons, finding bugs or fish or reading usually). We’ve had your hearing tested several times because you simply do not hear anyone when you are engrossed like that.

This summer Daddy and I took you on a special solo trip to visit Aunt Jaja and Uncle Daniel in Colorado. You came out of your shell so much and talked almost completely non stop. We went to the most amazing zoo where you had your fill of animals but your favorite part of the trip was their hot tub. Every night you would jump in by yourself and just chill.

Sullivan, this past year has been SO HARD. Barclay has needed almost all of my attention and you my precious one, have gotten the scraps of me. You never complain but I see you sinking deeper into yourself, retreating from all the hurt and I just want to dive in and save you. I only have so much though. I am praying and dedicating this year to learning more about you and pouring myself into loving you. I want to draw you out and let you grow.

Because you don’t get all of me during our chaotic days, you slip into my bed in the wee morning hours and curl your body around mine. We go in and out of trying to get you to stay in your bed but deep down I know you’re just quietly filling your love bucket in the ways you can.

Your gentleness is one of my favorite parts of you, Sullivan. I love when we get a break from Barclay and it’s just you and Lucy. You talk a sing song baby talk to her and are always protecting her and teaching her.

You still love animals and exploring. When we went to the PNW you were always wet , head down in a tide pool. You can find the tiniest creature out of what looks like nothingness.

You have my mental energy…you frequently “just cannot do things” (hills being one of the things we “cannot” do), you don’t like mornings and you barely can talk when you haven’t had food recently.

You are so kind at school and have lots of friends. You wanted to get this special award at school and you worked hard and got it. You came alive with recognition even though I just assumed that it wouldn’t mean much. That’s what I’m talking about. I need to know you more deeply. I want to know you more deeply.

Sullivan, thanks for binding up wounds, whispering your love to me when I can’t lift my head and making me laugh. You are complete love in human form and I am always, always, always in awe that you are mine.


to barclay on his tenth birthday

oh my boy.

A decade has gone by since they placed your squirmy red body and your misshapen head onto my chest and into my long expectant arms. You must know. You MUST know how I love you. Ours is a special love, an untouchable love. I will say it again and again, I have never wanted anything more than I wanted you.

This was a year of triumph for you. I’ve watched you struggle since day two of your life. Piece by piece we have fit together many things that make you feel yuck (allergies, special needs…) but this year we found a wonderful psychiatrist who worked with us and a wonderful new therapist to decided to medicate you for ADHD.

I feel like I fought my whole life to avoid this diagnosis. I tried ev.ery.thing. else one could think of (herbs, cbd, OT, kinesiology, acupuncture, chiro, massage, diets, cleanses, etc etc etc) . Much to my surprise and delight, you IMMEDIATELY reacted well to it. I’ll never forget it was a Saturday morning and I gave you your first pill and for the rest of the morning you played with your siblings without lashing out or yelling once. It was our first relaxing Saturday at home since you were born.

You went from a terrible student (although everyone knew you were brilliant), no friends, parents at their wits end of how to help you…to who I’ve always known was under all the discomfort. A freaking amazing kid.

Today you have friends and can keep them. You have 3 best friends at school-a club of the cutest little imaginations there are.. You are soaring in your school work and you have confidence. You feel good about yourself. I start pouring tears every time I think of it.

I remember holding a 2 year old in my arms as his eyes traveled back and forth at lightening speed, trying to hold his body so that he would not explode from energy. I remember the baby who cried every waking hour. Such a long journey in so many ways but you finally, FINALLY feel good in your body and your mind.

We did have quite the setback in December where we were reminded how bad things used to be. A quick med adjustment helped calm you right down and we are back to a good place. Why do I fight them so much? Drugs are amazing! Lifesaving! You and I talk a lot about our special brains and the medicines we have to take to feel better. We aren’t alone.

Barclay, you are on the cusp of something. Boyhood maybe? I watch breathlessly as you run around in your tattered moccasins and your old coon skin cap. Will today be the last day that you are so unbridled and so imaginative? Your imagination is brilliant and everyone loves to be around you because you bring such a magical life to those around you. You haven’t quite figured out it isn’t “cool” to be a fox at school or that most people don’t spend their days creating worlds and storylines. I love that about you and I hope we have years more of it.

On your class trip to Cherokee this year you wore your moccasins so proudly. I got to chaperone and watch you and it was just plain sweet. I was giddy the whole day.

Daddy and I took you to your first concert, Mandolin Orange. You loved it and then you fell asleep in my arms at the end. I looked up to the starry sky and I felt such sorrow and such joy. That’s it. Sorrow and joy. That’s what it is to raise a boy of almost 10.

Because you feel good in your body for the first time in your life, you are able to be kind to your siblings for the most part. Gentleness and protectiveness with Lucy (see suitcase picture) and inclusiveness and camaraderie with your brother.

You were able to go to 2 weeks of Camp Rockmont this summer and you THRIVED. You didn’t write me one single letter. When I picked you up you buried your head in my neck and whispered, “I might have been just a little bit homesick.”

You took mandolin lessons the first of the year. We are hoping to start back up soon. One time in our neighborhood there was a band playing for fourth of July and you went and got your instrument and joined in.

You are the most incredible little human. You have no fear and you talk to adults like you are one of them. You are so personable and engaging. All adults adore you. You like to dress up fancy, in a jacket and tie. I love that you don’t even notice you are the only one.

This year I have screamed things to you I regret with my whole being. We have fought like we were enemies. It is so very hard to be your mother at times-especially when I feel so out of control in keeping you safe or others safe (this is when you haven’t been properly medicated). Sometimes I feel sorry for myself because it’s so hard. But Barclay, you are worth it. You are worth every pain and I believe you will grow up to be the most incredible man. I know these hard times will shape you to be compassionate. I know your intensity will go to wonderful things.

And your freckles…oh your freckles….

I pray you know my love just a little bit more this year and mostly that you know the unending, unchanging love of your savior.

It’s finally your birthday!


to lucy miller on her 5th birthday

My girl,

What a mighty little thing you are. Maybe it’s because I just wrote a book, but I’m finding that there are no words to describe you, or maybe they got used up. Everyone knows there’s something extra magical about you. People see it in you as you pass by them in the store; people see it when you’re coloring quietly alone. You exude a cloud of pure, feel good wonderfulness everywhere you go.

I love the way you dress. You have, as expected, shirked some of my more vintage, bluish dresses this year in favor of sparkles and cheap tulle. I mostly let you, begging and bribing for you to wear my dresses for special occasion. Nevertheless, you slay me when you come down the stairs ready to go, no matter what you wear.

You aren’t super “normal smart”, meaning you don’t quite know your abc’s and get mixed up on numbers. BUT you are really brilliant. You are ambidextrous and easily draw the same picture with both hands at the same time (see picture below). You also write your name upside down and backwards in the quirkiest way.

You go to preschool every day and you LOVE it. You have the sweetest teachers who adore you. I considered having you go only 3 days a week since you start Kindergarten this Summer and I will miss you, but you love it too much. You march to school every day like it’s a party. Every day we arrive you make me hide in the corner or you hide and we make up silly stories for the teachers. One day, matter of factly, you said, “My pawents are dead and I live in the fowest.” Ha!

I’m not one bit worried about you going to Kindergarten. That’s so nice.

Lucy, this sounds so weird but I rarely am sad about you growing up. You are like the most incredible blooming flower that gets more beautiful and more amazing as time goes on. I can almost see you as a grown woman in my head and she is just a masterpiece. I just feel like I’m breathlessly watching you every new day and so I don’t feel sad about what is left behind. Besides, I squeeze you and kiss your squishy cheeks a hundred times day. We lay in bed and watch movies before the boys get home. You really got into makeup this year and would do mine fabulously every day for a while there. We have such special times just us girls.

You are almost always one of the only girls in a group of boys and you don’t even blink. You love dirt and lizards and jumping and climbing and you do it all in a dress. This summer you started jumping off the diving board in the deep end. You just went for it!

Your strong personality has gotten quite strong the past six months and honestly I’ve tried to let many things slide (thanks for holding me to it Barclay). Honestly when you do something wrong or say something mean but look at me in the eyes…I barely can find words. We are working on it. I want you to be a strong woman and I don’t want to tame you, but I also want you to have friends and be a good human to be around.

You love Jesus and insist on praying painfully slowly before every meal. Your sweet little voice makes it such a delight, even if we are all hungry.

You love your daddy and insist on helping him loop his belt in the mornings. He reads to you every night and you both have memorized Go Dog Go.

You and I got to take two special solo trips to visit my sisters this past year (and one next week to see your new cousin in New Hampshire!). Traveling and flying with you is just pure fun. I love watching you interact with everyone around.

This summer we went to a wedding and you found yourself in the middle of the dance floor all night. That’s you my girl.

I love you, I love you, I love you!

I CAN believe you’re five today because I feel like we’ve been together all of our lives.