Dear Sullivan,

A few weeks ago, I found the perfect t-shirt for you, bright red and emblazoned with a huge exclamation point.  I brought it home, and every time I put it on you, it brings a smile to my face.

You are, simply put, the exclamation point in our little family.

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Today you turn two years old, which feels impossible.  You are closer to sleeping in a big boy bed and potty training than you are to the days of nursing and sleeping swaddled tightly like a little burrito.  You still sleep with those soft swaddling blankets, and if I have my way, you will still snuggle into those for years to come.  I’m just not quite ready for you to grow up yet.

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Sullivan, you are so full of joy.  Everywhere we go, people stop to talk to you and fawn over you.  You soak up all that attention, thrive on it.  Everyone is your best friend.  You are quick to give high fives, knucks, hugs, and kisses.  You are, by far, our most outgoing little one.  Years ago, before I had kids, I thought a lot about being a mother.  I kept a notebook with a running list of names I loved.  I created character-children in my imagination.  I wondered if they would have daddy’s blue eyes or my brown eyes, and I imagined what their personalities would be like.  Would they be more serious and stoic like daddy?  Would they be introverted or extroverted?  Would they have a flair for drama?  Would they be leaders or followers, athletic or smart, or all of the above?  Over the past 12 years of parenting, I’ve learned that people can’t possibly fit in a little box of categories I established in my mind long before God ever made me a mother.  You, your brothers, and your sister are so much more complicated than that.  You are all so special, and so very different.  It amazes me that four kids could come from the same two parents but be so different.  But at the same time, it doesn’t surprise me at all because the God that spoke you into being is creative.  You are all unique, just like the sunset He paints each night in the sky.

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I see now that I painted a very narrow-minded picture of my future children.  But I also realized recently that you embody so many of the things I imagined.  I imagined a little one so full of life that people couldn’t help but smile every time he was around.  I pictured someone who was affectionate and sweet, but equally as spunky and feisty.  I pictured a child who would dance with abandon, no matter the place or the audience.  I could almost see his blue eyes (just like daddy) and his blonde hair (just like mine…well, how mine used to be at least.)

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Sully, I couldn’t possibly put into words how special you are, or how much we all love you.  You have five of the biggest fans a person could ever have.  You are so lucky.

And we are even luckier to be yours.  I thank God daily that He saw our family and knew we needed an exclamation point at the end.

I love you,

Mama

It’s a blogging tradition that I just can’t let go.  I might be 4 weeks late this time, but I’ve got to get these first day of school pictures posted!

Logan, 4th grade.  Decided to fix his hair up in a big mohawk, which I’ve never seen him do before (and he hasn’t done since.)  He loves minecraft, and has fallen in love with soccer.  He’s funny, and most definitely not a morning person.

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The best way to get Logan out of bed in the morning involves two critical steps: a few snuggles from mama and then allowing him to get Sullivan out of bed.  Sullivan loves Logan.  He loves all his siblings, but these two have a particularly special bond.

(I have no idea why Sully latched on to a toothbrush this morning.  It is what it is.)first-day-2014-2-web

Camryn, 1st grade.  She’s got two very wiggly top teeth, so this will for sure be the last first day of school picture with two baby teeth in the front.  She loves playing with her babies, especially her American Girl dolls.  She’s fallen in love with dance, and is giving soccer a try.  So far, so good on the soccer field!

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I couldn’t stand by and let her only first day picture be her forced smile.  This little giggly picture is much more like her.  She’s sweet and sensitive, this one.  She’s helpful and thoughtful and bright, too.  She needs lots and lots of sleep, which always makes the transition of starting school a tough one.  first-day-2014-4-web

Oh, Sullivan.  Everyone is just so crazy about him.  He refused to sit up on the step with the kids, and honestly, this is a much better representation of the kids than if he had cooperated and sat nicely on the step.

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The three school age kids.  As you can tell, they are thrilled.  And probably sweating and wishing this whole picture taking part would end soon.  first-day-2014-6-web

Connor, 6th grade.  First day of junior high.  His school starts an hour after the little ones, so we get a little extra time together in the morning.  He loves that.  He’s a morning person, but he likes to move slowly and take his time, so a later start is perfect for him.  He loves soccer, loves swimming, and loves to read and play games on his kindle.  He’s an all-around great kid.  It’s still hard for me to believe that I have a kid in junior high.  I remember starting junior high so vividly!  He was a little nervous about it, but handled it great.  He’s funny with his nerves.  It manifests itself in an inability to sit still.  He flips and flops and fidgets.  That lasted the first week or so, but now it’s smooth junior high sailing.

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First day bus pictures.  Always a gem.  No first day bus pictures for Connor this year.  He’s all grown up (and it is so hot and I really don’t need to walk down to the bus stop for him anymore.) first-day-2014-9-web

Much to Logan’s delight, I’ve still got one more year with him. first-day-2014-10-blog

A week after the big kids started, Sullivan got his chance to start. Please just focus on cute Sully and not my shiny gold door.  After refusing to sit on the steps with the big kids, he insisted when he was on his own.  Sully loves school.  In fact, there are times that we start to walk out of his school and he turns around and high tails it back to class!  He loves getting to play and be just like the big kids.  He is so, so sad every time we have to drop the big kids off anywhere.  It’s not unusual for him to cry all the way home from dropping Connor at school.  But dropping him at his own school?  Not a tear.  Easiest drop off ever.

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As for me?  I am loving my 8 hours of kid-freedom a week.  I have made a huge list of house projects and things I want to get done.  I’ve grocery shopped in utter peace.  I’ve made two trips to goodwill, meal planned actual dinners, and organized my desk.

All in all, it’s been a great transition for us.  After a long, tenuous August, we all welcomed the change the school year brings.

Now if only the fall weather would follow suit. 🙂

Now that school has started, I’m feeling so productive with my work!  Three cheers for productivity!  I have exactly 14 minutes until I need to walk down and pick up Logan and Camryn from the bus stop, so this is definitely the final crunch.

I met with this family several weeks ago, and honestly, until yesterday I hadn’t really even looked at their photos.  The last 3 weeks of summer put me into full on survival mode.  Our days were crammed full of fun (or fighting–usually both), and by the time I got everyone tucked in at night, I found myself completely spent and unwinding with episodes of Gilmore Girls.  Work 100% went on the backburner, and thankfully, I have the most understanding clients in the world!

So once I looked at their photos, and tried my hardest to narrow them down, I quickly became borderline obsessed with them.  They are so full of fun and personality!

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martin-13-blogAll three kids are just beautiful.  Or handsome.  You know what I mean.

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martin-17-blog  martin-21-blogOne of the main reasons this family scheduled a session in the blazing heat of August is because their oldest is headed off to college.  She’ll be about 9 hours away, which I’m sure is going to be a huge adjustment for all of them!  Her brother and sister wouldn’t admit it, but I’m sure they are going to miss her like crazy.

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And luckily, their mom and dad will have this sweet photo to remind them of the years they had all together at home.  martin-25-blog