Sunday, November 20, 2016

Light...with heart.

“I hate this stupid church.”

With this pronouncement, my two year old beam of sunshine cast his board book onto the stone floor and proceeded to kick the back of the pew in front of us with all his might.

Meanwhile, the bishop was sealing the door of mercy a few hundred yards away.

All I could think was that I needed to walk through that door a few hundred more times before he closed it up.

*  *  *  *  *  *  * 

After the solemn Mass at the Basilica, my family drove back through Washington, D.C. on our way home. As we passed the Capitol, I noticed that the scaffolding had been removed since I had last seen it. I had two thoughts about this: 1) maybe the prayers I hurled at the building as we drove past will be able to penetrate more deeply into the walls than before, and 2) maybe the whole thing will just crumble and fall down now.

*  *  *  *  *  *  * 

As we enter this week of liturgical no-man’s land between the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe, which ends the Church year, and the beginning of Advent next Sunday, I feel a little lost. There is no playlist or devotional guide or special set of prayers for this week, for the in-between, for the days in which we must wait to begin our official season of waiting for the birth of Christ.

There’s Thanksgiving, of course, and there are things to do to be ready for Advent, too. Normally, this trips me up- I have to hurry up and get ready! so much to do ahead of time to prepare so that I can prepare properly!- but this year, I'm not anxious about preparation. There are a thousand more important things to be anxious about than whether I can find the wreath form I usually use for our Advent candles and whether anyone will give me any magnolia leaves for decorating.

The fact is, I can’t wait to start lighting those candles. I don’t care if they are just sitting on a paper plate on the kitchen table this year. I am just so done with sitting around in the dark and twiddling my thumbs. I am done with reading the news and feeling my pulse quicken and my blood pressure go up. I am done with scrolling through Twitter and Facebook, clicking hearts over here and a sad face over there and an occasional angry face on a story about a billboard in Mississippi.

I am so done with all this useless activity that passes for doing something.

Being informed is good. It’s good to know what’s going on. It might even be good to know how other people feel about it. What’s not good is feeling compelled to read four stories about the same issue to be sure I’m getting all the perspectives, then cross-checking those perspectives with the ones I follow on Twitter (which are different from the ones I follow on Facebook, so I have to check those, too). What’s not good is feeling so emotionally affected by the news stories I’m reading that I can’t muster the energy to actually get up and do anything about it.

The time for scrolling passively, if there ever was such a time, has passed. What’s needed now is prayerful contemplation of the depth of the darkness in which we find ourselves. What’s needed now is careful conversation, talking and listening with open minds and hearts in a genuine exchange of thoughts and perspectives. What’s needed now is to ask God, “What are you requiring of me?”

Things I am pretty sure God is not requiring of me:
  • a perfectly cleaned and decorated house
  • more time spent on my phone finding out what other people think about the issues of the day
  • more time reacting to those other people’s thoughts by clicking on emoticons
  • more time reading about the negative impacts the incoming administration might have on the country
  • more time reading rebuttals of those articles about the potential negative impacts
  • more time hitting “refresh” to see if there are any articles I haven’t read yet

Things I wonder if God is requiring of me:
  • deliberate steps taken to remind us that we committed to keep Jesus at the center of our family life
  • more attention to the places He is already present, casting light, restoring brokenness, making things new
  • more careful words that promote a climate of kindness in our home (instead of snappish words that spread around the anxiety I have been feeling)
  • more time spent in actual conversations with people whose perspectives and life experiences are different than mine, even if I have to go to some trouble to find those folks

I think what I’ve been lacking lately is focus.

With that in mind, I’m going to take a break from all the scrolling during Advent. I’m going to stop reading so many news stories and start looking for God in the little things that are actually in front of me in real life again. I’m going to try to find concrete ways to be Christ to my brothers and sisters, whether they live in my house, on my street or on the other side of the globe. I’m going to light candles with all my heart…because I think candles lit with heart are a good first step in battling darkness.

Candles (regardless of the amount of heart with which they are lit) do not fix problems, especially overwhelming, centuries-old injustices with complicated history and huge emotional entanglements- but they do keep us from sinking into the darkness of despair. Candles lit with heart are a rallying cry. Pick yourself up. The darkness doesn’t win unless you let it. Go out with your light and do something to make the darkness less dark.

Meanwhile, the Light of the World is still coming. All the darkness in the universe can’t stop Him. Take heart. And in the meantime, do your part to make things a little brighter.

If you’re looking for a way to focus and make things a bit brighter, come join us on Instagram for #HolyLens. Daily photo prompts based on the scripture readings for the day will start next Sunday, November 27. Take a photo as a way to find the holy in the middle of the ordinary, and share it with our community as a way to push back the darkness a little bit.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Pneumonia Silence (and a super-fast Mass Box Giveaway for Advent)

* Update: The giveaway is now closed! The winner has been notified. Thanks for entering. If you didn't win but still really want to get a Mass Box, you can use the affiliate discount code ABBEY10 to save 10% on your subscription. *

This post is about pneumonia and why I am subscribing to The Mass Box. You can enter to win a Mass Box at the end of the post or get a discount on ordering one. If you would rather not read about pneumonia or The Mass Box, I will see you again soon with a post about something else, okay? No hard feelings.)

What happens when you're a mama and all your kids get sick?

You slow down a bit, cancel what you had planned, and tend to them until they are better.

What happens if you get sick, too, and fall into what feels like a bottomless pit of coughing and exhaustion?

You quit everything that isn't essential and tell yourself you will deal with it later.

I've been thinking that if someone could create a business with a pool of Substitute Moms, she could make a lot of money. I really, really needed a sub several times in the last few weeks...someone to do a little light cleaning, put dinner in the oven and read to the kids in the afternoon for a bit so I could take a nap. 

We've been in survival mode for what feels like forever (though it's really only been a few weeks). In the middle of that, I somehow managed to pack for and pull off a family trip to Niagara Falls for George to run the marathon. When we got home, I crashed harder than ever. In my very best Scarlett O'Hara manner, I put off anything I could deal with later and crawled around the house in my comfy pants with a mug of tea in my hand. 

Later has finally come for me. I am crawling out of the hole of pneumonia (apparently something not reserved exclusively for the elderly and chronically ill, who knew?) and trying to pick up the pieces. My calendar tells me that we're on week 5 of our second six-week term of school. I think we are really only on week 2.

I have a lot of catching up to do on the laundry, my fridge should have been cleaned out week before last, my kids have been watching too much Disney Junior, and we've been eating way too much frozen pizza...but we're alive.

The thing that startled me most upon emerging from the pneumonia pit is that Advent is only days away. Not even two weeks separate us from the season of preparation for the birth of Jesus, which always throws me into a liturgically inappropriate tizzy. I have to get all the things ready right now so that I can have time to get ready! It catches me off-guard every year, but this year, I think it's worse than usual.

I know I'm behind in writing and that I owe you an update on the birthday party from last month and the big road trip we just took (which was epic). I promise to get to those things.

One thing I've been planning to share with you (that has suddenly become time sensitive in the middle of the pneumonia) is that The Mass Box is going to be launching for Advent.

Our family loved using the box during Lent, when we read the Sunday readings together from the Magnifikid magazine (included with the subscription) and then did the craft together. I was surprised to find that it is more than just a craft subscription box- it's a way to get your entire family engaged with the Sunday readings each week. In addition to the Magnifikid, the box includes supplies and instructions for a craft or activity for every Sunday and any other holy days in the month, plus coloring pages for each week. The team recommends the box for ages 3-7, but we were easily able to expand things to pull in our oldest son (who is now 8) and our littlest boy (who is now 2) because we did the activities together as a family.

I'm really excited about the Advent box for two reasons. First, it includes making beeswax Advent candles as the first craft, which is something I have always wanted to do with my kids. Second, having this box show up on my porch means I will not need to find activities for my kids to do with the Gospel readings during Advent (something I really try to do during this season). The Mass Box people have it all planned out, with a craft activity and all the needed materials prepared for every week. There's even an online video each week of Clare and her dad working on the craft together while they talk about the readings.

Even when I don't have pneumonia, I always want to do more than I am actually able to do. I have good intentions, and if I had the time and energy to carry them out consistently, I could probably come up with great crafts to do for each week of Advent all by myself. To be honest, though, I would probably not manage to make it happen every week. The likelihood of being able to actually do it increases exponentially for me because of The Mass Box. Their team has put together a solid product that saves a lot of work for families who want to engage with the readings together but find themselves short of time to plan it all out.

Having The Mass Box delivered to me with all the materials included during Lent actually helped us to spend more time reflecting and talking together on the weekends about the Sunday readings. It made a difference in how my children listened and paid attention at church, because they were familiar with the stories ahead of time. To me, that's worth the $20 cost, especially in a liturgical season like Advent where I really want to be sure this engagement is happening. (Side note: if you don't already get Magnifikid, it's a wonderful resource for kids to use both inside and outside of Mass. My oldest son has been using it for years to follow along with the Mass, and he even does the extra prayers and activities on his own most weeks. I'm not an affiliate for Magnifikid, but I love the magazine and think the included subscription to Magnifikid is a great benefit to receiving The Mass Box.)

If you're interested in subscribing to The Mass Box, you can use my affiliate code ABBEY10 to save 10% on your subscription. The code is good through December 31, but you'll want to order soon so your first box can arrive by the first week of Advent and you can be ready to jump right in. I have already subscribed for my family and am excited to get started. Knowing that at least this part of our Advent plan is covered helps me feel like I can breathe more deeply...even with pneumonia.

I have one Mass Box for Advent to give away to a lucky reader! If you want to win, leave me a comment below and tell me what you're most excited about or most stressed about with Advent right around the corner. Be sure to include your e-mail address so I can reach you if you win. This one has a quick turnaround- I need to choose the winner on Monday so you can order your box on Tuesday!- so the giveaway closes at midnight on Monday, November 14.

This concludes my brief but sincere plug for The Mass Box. I only ever write about products that I love using, and this one definitely falls in that category. I was not compensated for this review. If you purchase a Mass Box subscription using my affiliate code, I will receive a small thanks to any of you who do that!

Giveaway fine print: You must be 18 to enter the giveaway. You don't have to be Catholic. Winner will be chosen at random and will receive a code to order one free Mass Box through the Mass box site. The giveaway code expires 11/15/16 and must be used by then. Entries without an e-mail address will be considered be sure to leave your e-mail address. Thanks, and good luck!

Friday, October 28, 2016

7 Very Quick Takes: The I'm-Still-Alive Edition

I am still alive!

Since last Sunday night, I've been dragging myself from my couch to my bed and back again (depending on other adult availability for supervision of my children). My kids have watched more television than they had seen up to this point in their lives. We are all here, though, and we're still able to take our big roadtrip, so that's something.

I have a small mountain of laundry to deal with before I can pack for the bitter climate of the Northland (just kidding, I know it isn't that cold yet, Canada) of course, I am taking a moment to blog. Priorities.

1. Disney Junior is not the best thing in the world. I'm pretty much convinced after a week of watching princesses, tiny cartoon scuba animal marine biologists, and conflict-ridden lion sibling relationships that it might be contributing to the demise of our society through an unrealistic standard of beauty and a ridiculous emphasis on individualism.

That said, it isn't the worst thing, either. I respect Doc McStuffins' dispassionate but empathetic approach toward her patients, and it's difficult to dislike Mickey Mouse under any circumstances. He's such a nice guy.

I am a little concerned that my girls have apparently fallen in love with some toy called "Adoptimals" that they saw repeatedly advertised this week and now want for Christmas.

2. In case I was worried about the effects of Disney on female identity in my house, my girls pretended last night during their bath that they were a twin swimming duo breaking the world record. When they touched the end of the tub, Lucy sat up and said, "Do you see where the other people are? Waaaaaay back there. They haven't even started." Then she granted me an interview, in which she confessed that she had been a bit nervous, but the world record race was really just like all her practice races. "I just did my best, not just today, but over the course of my life, and I wasn't intimidated," she said.

I was impressed.

"And my sister here tried really hard and got the silver," she said, gesturing at Nora.
Nora shrieked and splashed her in the face.
"I...GOT...GOLD...TOO...justbecauseyouwerebornfirst you poopy top!" she yelled.

Apparently lions are not the only ones with difficult sibling relationships.

3. Felix has started his superhero phase claimed his true identity as a superhero.

"Who are you?"
"What are you gonna do?"
"I gonna fly!"

And he did. Unfortunately, his flight was cut short just after this by his brother, who crashed into him in the middle of a sword battle with a ninja princess who was defending her planet.

We obviously just need wider hallways.

4. I am tired of eating frozen waffles. Last night we had Chinese takeout for dinner, and it was the first real food I've eaten all week, and it was heavenly. Not quite as good as the turkey sandwich the hospital gives you after you have a baby, but almost.

5. I got some great ideas from readers and friends for things to do in the car that don't involve screens. We've had so much screen time this week that I really want to take a break from them for a bit. I'll let you know which ones work after we get back from our trip. In the meantime, feel free to follow along on Instagram (#dupuysgonorth) for occasional updates. Sam plans on featuring his Playmobil guy's travel adventures with the hashtag #

6. My friend is taking my big kids to the playground this morning so I can finish packing. THIS IS SUCH A GIFT. If you ever find yourself in the position to offer this kind of love to a stressed out parent, you will earn a place in the friend hall of fame. Seriously. It seems like a little thing, maybe, but it is going to make such a difference!

7. Believe it or not, it's almost time to start thinking about there anything you'd like me to be sure to talk about? That's a question, not really a quick take, but I'd love to be helpful to you if I can as I start thinking about preparing for this season of um, preparation.

Now, to do something about all that laundry. (I am probably not going to do anything about the french fries under the backseat. Just being honest.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The occasional knitting post {yarn along}

It's not that often that my reading and my knitting end up being color coordinated.

The book is All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It's our Well-Read Mom pick for this month, and I've just started it. (Goodreads tells me I am 6% done, so I can't really have an opinion yet- but I think I'm really going to like it.)

I've just finished the cowl I was working on before. (It still needs blocking- it's curling up a lot on the bottom edge- will blocking fix that?)

This week, I cast on and started knitting a hat for Sam, which he desperately needs.

This is the last hat I made for him (and a pair of matching mittens).

It was 2011. He's overdue.

The new hat pattern is Luuk by Annis Jones on Ravelry. I'm using a wool yarn from Knit Picks that I haven't tried before. I was afraid Sam would say it was scratchy, since it's wool, but he says he thinks it is going to be okay. The color is "sea monster," which he loves. He's calling it his Leviathan Hat.

So far, it's working up pretty quickly. After the counting involved with the eyelet, it's kind of nice to be back to just straight rows of knitting and purling. As often as I'm interrupted, the chances of my losing count on a complicated pattern are pretty high these days.

I'm linking up with Ginny's Yarn Along again- head over there to see what other people are making and reading...and tell me- are you reading or making anything you really like this week? I'm always looking for more books for my list and more projects for my endless Ravelry queue. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

7QT: The Sabbath Rest Week edition

After having completed our first six weeks of the school year, we are on break this week.

This is the first year we have adopted this schedule for homeschooling. I got the idea from Mystie Winckler over at Simply Convivial, who uses it successfully as a way to prevent burnout. With the knowledge that there’s a break coming, it’s easier to keep on keeping on when things feel tough. So far, for us, this seems to be true.

So, what happens during a break week? We’re not having any written work, but a lot of other things look similar. There was a giant medieval feast/birthday party for the Playmobil king this morning in which all the children were involved. When the girls got tired of Sam’s constant telling them what their characters had to do and say, they started building block castles for their blankies and dolls. Felix asked for books to be read to him and played for a while with scoops and funnels in a box of rice. We had a snack. They went outside. We had lunch, and now they’re resting.

Actually, it doesn’t look that different than normal.

I do feel different, though- as if I had more mental space to think about other things. I’ve half-written several blog posts in my mind this morning. Yesterday, knowing I had this week free from school, I found the energy to bake two different kinds of bread and make soup. I feel less pressure to keep the kids on task and more freedom to let them be loud and live in their pajamas.

I’m not sure what to expect from the rest of this week, but I’ll be sure to let you know how it went. In the meantime, here’s the short list of things I’m hoping to accomplish with all my extra time and mental space this week:

1. Replace the assortment of random stuff in our book basket with our fall books.
I’m a big fan of the seasonally-rotating book basket. When the books come out of storage, they feel like old friends. Especially in the fall, cuddling up to read those familiar stories (and a few new ones I’ve added) makes me feel like the season has definitely changed. Despite my commitment to the practice, I just haven’t been able to make it happen yet - it is on my list for this week.


2. Clean the windows.
Yeah, it’s kind of futile- they’ll be covered in nose prints and finger prints in just a day or two…but for a few sparkling October minutes, I’ll be able to see that bright blue sky streak-free.

I guess I could just go outside.

3. Tackle the mountain of recyclables.
September is our birthday season, with three kids’ birthdays falling in the second half of the month. That combined with the start of our school year made for a lot of Amazon shipments. We also had a Costco trip in there for the medieval feast birthday party (still planning to blog about that sometime), so there are a lot of boxes. There are also a lot of beer bottles and wine bottles. Some of those are from the party, some are from dinner parties, and there was a Presidential debate, and some are just…well, I don’t know. There are a lot. I need to take them to the recycling center this week because they’re obviously getting too comfortable in the laundry room and are multiplying, and I can't get in there to do the laundry, and people are running out of underwear.

4. Deal with the ordeal that is the seasonal clothing change.
The laundry room is also the temporary home to a bunch of those wonderful/awful giant grey Rubbermaid storage bins that hold all of the off-season clothes in the next size up for my children. Obviously, they’re in the way, and this is the week I have to tackle this chore.

I have a love-hate relationship with hand-me-downs. I’m extremely grateful for the clothes, but the process of sorting and trying on and laundering and separating and putting away seems to take a week (at least) every season. This is the time of year when I start looking at coats and boots and hats and jeans and sweaters in all sizes and wondering if we might be able to just move to southern California. What must it be like to only need one and a half seasons in your wardrobe?

5. Prep for the next big road trip. 

We are taking a trip soon to Niagara Falls for George to run the marathon there. As I’m preparing for a long car ride with my kiddos, I’ve started a Pinterest board to save ideas for games and strategies to make it all easier on everyone.  I’d love your ideas- what’s your best car trip tip for little people? Favorite travel games? Things you’ve tried that were a total failure (or just weren’t worth the effort)? Let me know. I’ll do a roundup post on what worked and what didn’t when we get back…just in time for your holiday travel planning needs. Let’s help each other out!

6. Quality time with the Rug Doctor.

I will also be spending some time this week cleaning the carpet in the girls’ room. It’s funny. I was just thinking (pretty recently as they approached Five Years Old) that we had finally found our way out of the Random Acts of Twin Naughtiness stage. It had been so long since they’d done anything really awful that fell into the category of “stuff they only do because there are two of them and somehow that is more than double the amount of naughty impulse and less than half the amount of self-control.”

In the last twenty four hours, they have cut their hair (and each other’s) with the fingernail scissors (kept behind a childproof lock in the bathroom cabinet, which they somehow defeated). They also pretended that their floor was a “rest area” and spread blankets out on it and peed on them. This is not our first family intentional floor-peeing incident (just scroll down to #6 there, and you'll be all caught up).

I’m not sure what this says about us.

Both the hair cutting and the peeing incidents happened while the girls were supposed to be sleeping.

So, despite my smugness, I’m forced to admit that the season of crazy twin behavior isn’t over- it’s just gone underground. Should I be glad, from a sibling relationship perspective, that they aren’t ratting each other out?

Mostly, I’m just annoyed. Bring back the tattling. Tattling saves hair. And carpet.

7. Finally, I’m hoping to knit this week.
I’m so close to finishing my cowl and ready to cast on a hat for Sam (who just can’t wear his any more). I haven’t knitted him anything since 2011 when I was on bedrest, so it is definitely his turn. I’m hoping to get some work done on the hat before Wednesday so I can show something new for Ginny’s linkup and not just more rows of the same.

There you have it- think I can do all that in a week? Sounds restful, right? Maybe "Sabbath" isn't exactly the word I should be using...

Thanks for reading my quick takes at the beginning of a week instead of the end of the previous one. For more of everything under the sun (divided neatly into sevens), visit Kelly and the others at This Ain't The Lyceum.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Yarn along, read along, get along

I'm in the middle of a few things that aren't quite ready to share yet, but you can find me over at Blessed is She today talking about prayer...specifically about calling God "Father" and what that means for our relationships with each other.

In other news, fall always makes me feel like knitting. I've been a dormant knitter for a while, but I pulled out this cowl this past week that has been unfinished for a long time, and I got back to work.

I still really like it! This is significant, because usually when I've had something hibernating for this long, it just doesn't make me as happy to work on it as it did before.

Nora says the needles are "more impressive" than the cowl. (I am really smitten with those, too.)

Our much-anticipated book club meeting is this Sunday afternoon, and I still have to make my way through about 40 pages of The Death of Ivan Ilyich. It's not exactly a light read, but it's not long, either. That's okay with me. Next month, we'll be reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I'm pretty excited to be leaving Russian classics behind for a little bit.

What are you reading? What are you making? I'm linking up with Ginny at Small Things for the first time ever, because I always mean to and never seem to get around to it. (If you go over there, please be kind and don't compare my knitting to those folks'- it's amazing and inspiring what people can do with yarn).

Saturday, September 24, 2016

On the edge of 8 {happy birthday, Samwise}

Dear son,

You were up at two o’clock this morning.

I heard your Dad in the hallway, trying to reason with you, trying desperately to explain that it wasn’t time to get up yet, that you shouldn’t have woken your sisters and brought them to your room to wait out the waning hours of your being seven, that we weren’t going to start a birthday celebration in the middle of the night. Not to be outdone, you were trying to break in, the rising note of frustration in your voice attempting to frame your argument, knowing that if you had the chance to lay out your points you could convince him you were right to be awake at such an hour.

It seemed about right to me.

Sleep has never been your thing. When you were a baby, we tried everything- co-sleeping, white noise machines, baths before bed, baths during the day, swaddling, rocking, singing. You seemed to enjoy the singing, but your eyes always flew open again when it stopped. You hated to be put down, but you hated sharing a bed with us, too.

I think you just want to be awake.

I think you can’t stand the thought of missing something- not a single moment.

Your brain runs at top speed all the time. Our dear friend, who knows you well, says it is like you never have just one tab open at once in the computer of your brain. You’re always working on a multitude of things, switching back and forth between your tabs with ease.

Sometimes the rest of us get left behind.
Sometimes this really frustrates you.

I don’t know exactly what it feels like to always be waiting on someone else to catch up with your train of thought, but I try to imagine so that I can help you. I do know what it is like to always be waiting on someone to put on his shoes or brush his teeth or find his library book, so maybe that helps a bit.

I thought I knew everything about being a mother before I met you, and then I realized I knew very little. I learn a bit more each year, but mostly, I unlearn things I thought I knew about children.

You have taught me so much that I never expected to learn.

You’ve taught me a lot about yourself, certainly- but also a lot about the phases of the moon and which dinosaurs were omnivores and which superheroes are DC Comics and which ones are Marvel. You’ve taught me about Viking funeral practices and tournament jousting and how toilets were constructed in medieval times. Together, we’ve watched operas on YouTube and Shakespeare on stage, touched horseshoe crabs and made clouds and built airplanes and sailed ships of our own design. We’ve climbed the Eiffel Tower (well, I climbed- I wore you in a sling and traded off with your dad) and eaten fish and chips in Covent Garden. We’ve watched the sunrise over the Atlantic and the sunset over the Pacific. We’ve read hundreds and hundreds of books.

People often talk about the joy of seeing the world through the eyes of a child. Seeing the world through your eyes has been an experience, for sure- a hilarious, baffling, exhilarating, disconcerting, illuminating experience. When I hear you wake up every day, usually long before the sun is awake, I have no idea what will happen, but I know to expect you to be wide awake and more than ready to take it on.

The most important thing I have learned in this adventure of being your mother is to assume positive intent on your part. I'm not always good at this, but I'm getting better. You’re a scientist. Everything you do has an aim. Most of the inscrutable things you have done over the years have been for one simple reason: you want to find out what will happen. When you tried to duct tape yourself to the ceiling, following a careful diagram you had drawn and scaling your dresser drawers to put yourself as close as possible to your goal, it was just to see if you could. When you colored on
the walls and furniture or dropped my cell phone into the fish tank or painted yourself blue or stopped up the sink with paper towels and seashells and Kosher salt to make an ocean, it was all about possibility.

There are a lot of possibilities. It’s impossible to guess which one you will tackle next, so I’m often stunned and caught off-guard. You have never met an adventure you didn't love...and if one doesn't naturally present itself, you are really good at inventing them.

At eight, you seem so tall to me. I don’t recognize your feet lately. But your hair still sticks up in just the same way, and your nose still wrinkles when there’s cheese involved in dinner, and your eyes still crinkle around the edges when you are pondering a serious question. You read through piles of books at a rate that astonishes me, so fast that I find myself doubtfully quizzing you sometimes to see if you really read that whole book.

You definitely did read the whole book.
You’re quick to tell me if you’re not going to finish a book.
You’re quick to tell me a lot of things you aren’t going to do.

Even when you're feeling disinclined to follow directions, I have to admire your grit. You commit to your position and you defend it to the bitter end. There's so much I admire in you- your zest for life, your thirst for knowledge, your strong sense of justice.

But you’re often agreeable these days, and you're willing to help out with lots of things now, like returning things to the library or running in at the post office so I don’t have to get everyone out of the car. You bake delicious cookies and start your own laundry in the washer. You unload the dishwasher and put the things away. You can play Star Wars on the piano and you dig giant pits in the backyard looking for fossils or treasure. You make movies and write screenplays and ride your bike to the country store and ride waves onto the beach and take showers all by yourself.

Today, like most days, I don’t know what is going to happen when we all wake up, but I know that you are going to be amazing.

Happy birthday, my Sam. I love you. I can’t wait to see what the adventure of being 8 will bring for both of us.

your mama