August 12, 2021

Twenty-One Years


Here we are, 21 years later.  We looked pretty good on the day Auntie and JW got married, so I’m using that picture.

At least, we looked good until we melted in the extreme heat, but we don’t have to remember that part.

Happy anniversary, Webmaster – maybe someday we’ll be able to take that trip we keep talking about!


Sixteen Years Old


Dear Tad,

Today you are sixteen years old.  SIXTEEN.  I am not prepared for this.

And yet, you are taller than I am, you are shaving (though you don’t have a lot to shave and often miss spots), and your voice continues to crack and get deeper.  Oh, and I am flinging deoderant and acne patches at you.  You are definitely physically sixteen years old.

Emotionally, though… we are hitting that strange stage between childhood and adulthood, and you have precisely zero interest in being an adult.  This is a strange situation to be in, because your sister was passing her driving test just before her 16th birthday.  You drove a go-kart a couple weekends ago.  You enjoyed it, but it in no way motivated you to consider that you might be missing anything.

And you know what?  That’s okay.

You have spent the last three weeks at teen day camp, which your therapist, Queen Bling H herself, designed specifically because she knew that you needed something to do this summer.  You have been happier about camp than I have seen you in a long, long time.  You were beyond excited to be given the special gift of three extra days at camp (mostly because you missed it so much), and you got to have the “BEST DAY EVER” at the Funko Pop HQ store.

I wonder why it was the best day ever.

This year has been an epic struggle for you in so many ways, and yet you have come out of this online school year with the healthiest social life of all of us.  Between youth group, social group, bowling group, Young Life, and now camp, you have friends that you hang out with, go to parties with, and just have fun with.

And so, today you are sixteen years old.  We’re still not back to normal, and now you know it and are not happy about it.  I have no idea what this school year will look like, except to say that at least you will be in the building on the first day. (Fingers crossed and prayers up.)

In some ways, you are very sixteen.  You want to argue about rules and requirements.  You want to be allowed to do what YOU want to do.  You are deeply annoyed by your little brothers and pick fights with your sister.  And then you turn around and remind me, quite profoundly, that you have no intention of ever leaving home, because why would you ever want to do that, when you are happiest here?

So I will let you be happy here.  I love you so much, Tad.

Happy 16th birthday!


March 21, 2021

Thumper Turns Eight


My darling Thumper,

You are not so little anymore.  You are EIGHT YEARS OLD.  I keep writing it out in all caps because I can hardly make myself believe it.  How can you be EIGHT???

When you were born, we knew that you would be our last baby (barring something wild and miraculous happening).  So it is hard to think of you as a second grader, a big kid, and an EIGHT YEAR OLD.  You are a cuddler and a snuggler, and you don’t want to be a big kid.  You want hugs and kisses, tickles and backrubs.  You sneak into our room every morning, and before you try and steal an iPad (or this morning, your brand new Super Mario Game & Watch handheld game) you climb into bed next to me for a morning snuggle.

I’m not quite ready for you to grow out of that, so please don’t.

This year has been a messy and difficult one.  Your last birthday was in lockdown, but you didn’t care – except that you were missing people.  Very, very, very slowly, those people have started to come back into your life.  Your therapists all came back over the summer, and very soon, you will see your teachers in person instead of over Zoom.  The adjustment back might be difficult – I still am shaking my head over your hesitancy in getting out of the car at school for pictures – but I know that you will be able to do it.  You might not believe in social distancing at all, but the hugs are returning, and you are happy.

However, you are now a full-fledged screen addict (even worse than before) and when Flash stopped working on your old Chromebook (Ane’s old one that she used for school until she needed to upgrade), you became a skilled sneak and your brothers now complain that you have opened up new tabs on their Chromebooks where you can play games.  (Here’s hoping that new birthday present curbs that impulse a smidge.)  Your ninja skills are still unparalleled in this house.  Your ability to play “Name That Tune” when it comes to movie soundtracks is second to none among your siblings.  We can slowly tell that you are gaining more speech, and – amazingly – you have begun to script!  Hearing the sound of your voice, even when using someone else’s words, is a fantastic experience for us.  We know that you are progressing rapidly in ABA – five sessions a week will do that, especially with a dedicated and competent behavior tech – and even though we have yet to conquer the overnight potty training mountain or the scream that can shatter glass, we know you are gaining skills.

And you are still beyond cute and still have not really grown into your eyelashes.  I don’t think you ever will.  But you will always be my sweet baby Boo, even though you are EIGHT YEARS OLD now.

You are so loved, and we know that you know that, because you love us so hard back.  Happy 8th birthday, you stubborn little tickle ninja cookie monster.


March 8, 2021

Exuberant Eleven


Dear Rerun,

I can hardly believe it, but you are eleven years old today.  Since the school shutdown began last year just before your birthday, this entire last year has been consumed by what you weren’t able to do.  It’s been a tough year for all of us, but especially you.

First of all, we owe your beloved Ms. B so very much.  Without her, I honestly don’t know how this last year would have gone.  She has been a consistent adult presence in your life, and the couple of times that we have been able to see her in person has meant so much to you.  She’s helped keep me sane as well, because I know that there is no way I could have kept up with your homework on top of what your brothers were doing.

Second, I worry about what a year at home has done to your personality.  I really felt that we had a breakthrough moment right after summer camp last year, when you were so sad about it coming to an end.  It was if we were right on the verge of making a social leap forward… and then school stayed remote, and you have had no chance to make any friends through a Zoom grid.  It was a lost opportunity, and now you are saying things like “I never want to go back to school.”  Not negotiable, son.  You need to work on getting along with your peers.  I’ll give you a pass on getting along with your siblings, but you really do need to gain back the social skills you have lost.

Third, you are on YouTube way too much – yet another side effect of online school.  Fortunately, your interests are rather harmless and annoying, but you’ve become as bad as your brother when you’re trying to play games instead of paying attention.  Good thing Ms. B can turn tabs off remotely on you.

Finally, my sweet big boy, I really wish this last year could have been different for you.  I read last year’s letter and we just had no idea what was coming our way.  You have been a real trooper in this past year – plus you learned some important skills, like how to ride your bike.  In this coming year, I want you to learn skills like making and keeping friends.  I am hoping to find a way to make that happen, and soon.

I love you dearly, Rerun.  You are too smart for your own good, too sassy to escape punishment at the hands of your older siblings, too bossy with Thumper, too clever to make me believe that you’re too stupid to learn, and you love very hard.  You never do anything by halves, kid.  Everything is black and white to you, and this year has been tough because of your perceptions.  But we love you oh, so very much.

Happy 11th birthday to my own personal “evil genius” who still likes a good cup of tea and a funny dog video.

Please keep giving me hugs every night.  I love you more than you can understand.