Wednesday, April 05, 2017

My Robot Servant

What if you had a robot servant.  What would it do for you?  What would it be like?

I would have a robot that could do everything for other people.  For Daddy it would cook supper, so he could take a rest.  For Momma I would make it clean the house.  And for Britt, it would do all of his chores, cause that's what he said he wanted.  Rebecca wants it to sing to her and dance with her.  Just do things with her.  And I will play with it, and teach it new things.  Most important I want it to help me water my faerie garden.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Pregnancy After Loss: Preparations and Reservations

4-3, Kate's big chubby cheeks just like her Daddy.
I'm at 32 weeks and 3 days now.  I will now be having weekly appointments with Nonstress test and biophysical profiles.  I do feel better about the idea of having a weekly ultrasound just to check on things.  My anxiety hasn't been as bad in the last few weeks.  But I am still having weird dreams, and some bittersweet moments.

Pregnancy sleep is really weird. I've always had strange and vivid dreams. PAL sleep (pregnancy after loss) is even weirder. I can't get a break even at night. In my dreams Kate and Abigail get all mixed up.  I dream about Abigail and our loss, or I dream about Kate dying and having to pick out another tombstone.  The most common recurring dream, is one where Kate is born, and something isn't right and they wisk her off, before I can even see her.  I always wake up before I find out what is wrong or if she's going to be ok.

4-3, Does she have my Daddy's chin, or is it just the angle?
Last week at the MFM office everything checked out on the fetal echo-cardiogram.  Kate was measuring about 4 lbs, 1 oz.  I've had a few spells of nearly blacking out, one where I actually did.  They decided that it's because my blood pressure is always so low.  I've noticed my heart rate is getting pretty high when it happens too.  They advised take it easy, drink more water, and eat more salt.  In fact the doctor told me that I could have as much bacon as I wanted.  She was breach at the time, and when I asked when to be concerned, she told me not to be.  Apparently 95% of babies turn by week 36, that she had room and time to turn several more times.  She showed me where her head was, which explains why that part of my stomach has been so sore and feels over stretched out.

Sure enough this past week, she turned down, back up, and down again.  At the ultrasound in the OB office yesterday, she was head down.  Yesterday for the first time in months, we got to see some of the 3D shots.  The kids were really amazed by them.  I had fun showing them to Gary yesterday.  She looks alot like Ruth did to me.  She has big cheeks and Gary's nose.  We have debated if she has my dad's chin, a feature he'd rather not pass on.  Gary was insistent she was another blond, while I remain convinced that this one will have red-hair.
I can't see my feet, but apparently the camera can just barely pick them up.
Then it was a rush, clean up the house from the weekend, knock out school, and off to Britt's baseball game.  Afterward, Gary had to go back to work to run rain reels, so I came home cooked tacos, and we worked on the kids Egyptian costumes as part of history for the day.  Gary eventually made it home to eat supper while I finished all the laundry and folded it all and put it away.  But finally at the end of the night last night, when the kids were in bed, and I flopped down on the bed by Gary who was watching March Madness, I got to thinking.  It is so amazing that the technology exists and allows us this glimpse inside to see what she looks like.  It's fun to compare her to Gary and myself, to see which of the kids she resembles.  I have always loved speculating what the kids would be like when they arrived.

With Britt I can remember a very clear dream about a month before he was born, of a toddler with blond, blond hair and blue eyes like Gary, he had manic sounding laugh.  With Ruth I can remember a dream of black hair, fat chubby feet, and a big smile as she was learning to walk.  With Rebecca I dreamed the week before she was born about a blond headed little girl.  After losing Abigail I have had two dreams of a red head with long, smooth, stick straight hair, always from the back.  I can never see her face.  With this baby I have once dreamed off a girl with red, curly hair and blue eyes like Gary's.  Not tight Shirley Temple curls like I was always jealous of, but just some gentle curls.  The first three have proven to be so much more than I could have dreamed or imagined.

3-27, Kate's profile.
But even as I wonder about this baby, I can't help but wish I knew more about Abigail.  I will never know what she would have looked like.  Who she would have become.  What she would have been like.  Would she have been adventurous or cautious?  Would she be a tom boy or girly girl?  Just the other night Gary had left over cole slaw and baked beans that he brought home from work.  Two kids like cole slaw and hate beans, one likes the beans and hates cole slaw.  Would she have have even the odds?  Would she like them both?  Would she have tried to subsist on chicken nuggets, crackers, and milk?

We are thinking more and more these days about labor and bringing Kate home.  I've cleared out a spot for the crib.  We have plans to order replacement hardware next week, and set up the baby bed.  I've washed the 0-6 month clothes and put them away in the dresser.  Last week we went up to the hospital and did the tour, and talked with a labor and delivery nurse.  I finally sat down and wrote up a birth plan, one we plan to talk with the doctor about next week.  I've written up the last of our lesson plans, made plans to get the kids evaluated, and then rap up the school year.  We've talked about tentative plans for Mother and Daddy to come down. We are optimistically making plans, even while also making worse case plans.  I'll spare you those contingencies, but I still find it hard to be certain that we are bringing Kate home, instead of carrying her to Hopewell too.

Everything ends up on my stomach these days.  At 9 am, I
already have laundry detergent on my shirt.
Every plan we make for Kate though, reminds me of everything we couldn't do for Abigail, and everything we will never know about her.  Pregnancy after loss is an emotional roller coaster ride, that makes our previous pregnancies seem like a leisurely stroll.  I have told Gary I just hope that I can chill out some after she arrives, and not turn into one of those over the top paranoid moms.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Guest Room

Now, that we are starting to think about setting up Kate's crib in the guest room, I realized, that we never posted pictures of the guest room.  It's been done since the end of January.  My parents came down there for Ruth's baptism.  And we were blessed to have a homeschool family from PA stay over night with us one night, while they were doing their vacation at Disney in February.  We've also had Mom and Dad here a few times, when they were bringing the kids back or watching them here for us during a doctor's appointment.

We are thinking about putting the crib where the chester drawers are currently sitting.  I have just enough room to put the drawers in the closet.  The space is just right for that.  It may make the space between the foot of the bed and the crib a little narrow for walk space.  And of course we aren't sure at when we will move her out of the cradle in our room, and into the crib, or how long she will stay in there.  But I think this space works well for company, and Kate.  I have at least already washed up the baby clothes, and put them away in the dresser, which will double as a changing table.

For this room we went with a sage green color from the same color palette as the other colors in the house.  I like green, it's calm and soothing.  We also repainted the wrought iron bed white.  It's not in great shape, and if we end up keeping it long term, it really needs a little work done on it.   We did take the wore out 15+ year old mattress off and give it to Britt, because he can't tell the difference.  And we put the good Tempurpedic mattress on this bed with my old box springs.  I knew I wanted to put the chair that we got from Bro. Chris and Sis. Lydia in this room.  Plus, when we found out we were having a girl I thought we might go with green and pink colors, since they are popular right now.  So I just put the girls pink sheets back on the bed.  Of course I ended up going with bedding that was more coral than pink but with the greens and turquoise in it.  The only thing about this room, that I'm not sure I'm satisfied about, is that it's a bit eclectic for me.  The shelf holds all those things that Gary and I don't really know what to do with, but don't want to get rid of either.  Mostly from college but some other knick knacks too.


Because this room originally was the Master bedroom, before the old carport was converted into what is our bedroom and bath, there is also a vanity, with a small walk in closet to the left and a bathroom to the right.  The closet is home to alot of storage items that we want to be able to get to, but don't need on a daily basis, but things that shouldn't go out in the shed either.  Which is another reason that this space is so good for company.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

T -10 weeks

It's been awhile since I've written publicly about our pregnancy with Katherine.  Each week in my planner, I journal a little pregnancy update.  I write about how I'm feeling, my fears, and any doctors concerns or notes.  But I realized today, that I should blog again.  The great thing about the blog is it gives me a place to save her pictures and the pictures of me pregnant all together.

3-7, The bubble by her mouth is her umbilical cord.
 After getting past the approximate point where Abigail died and the gestational age of her stillbirth.  I slowly started to feel a little better, and less anxious.  Gary and I sat down together and went through the baby stuff from the other kids, and made a registry so that we'd have a list of what needs to be purchased this time around.  We even went online and price hunted for the best price for a new infant carseat.  After 3 kids and 8 years, something just wear out.  Or in the case of the cradle mattress, almost 32 years and 8 kids.  As I began to feel more regular movement, I also felt alot better.
1-29, Me at 23 weeks
Unfortunately that feeling doesn't seem to stay around permanently. We've had two other scares. The first was at 26 weeks, when they called to give me the results of my 1 hour gestational diabetes test. I failed it pretty badly, for the first time in 5 pregnancies. They proceeded to call me back every day for the next three days. One to tell me when my 3 hour test was scheduled for. One to tell me they were so sure I'd fail the three hour there was no point in taking it, unless I really wanted to. And one to tell me they wanted to check for keytones that I had to drive into town the next day. Of course, during all this, I did the one thing you shouldn't do - I googled GD and started reading. Apparently the condition isn't really well understood. It responds differently throughout pregnancy depending on certain hormone levels in different weeks of pregnancy. Also, doctors don't even agree on what the numbers should be. On top of this, the diet isn't a regular diabetes type of diet, because baby needs carbs to properly grow, especially toward the end of pregnancy. So you end up eating more meat and more often. Also, they recommend eating more fats to help delay the release of sugar - for example ice cream. All I could see was a total revamp of the way we eat and my budgeting for meals, along with the headache of daily counting carbs, and detailed meal journaling.
Taking the 3 hour Gestational Diabetes test.
Gary wanted me to go ahead with the 3 hour test, so I did.  The lab tech (I nice lady who has gotten to know us real well in the last year, as often as I am in there) told me that I could expect results probably noon the next day.  So, I called the OB at 1 pm that Friday.  They called me back and I only failed one number, but I had several that were close.  They cleared me for the gestational diabetes.  I cannot tell you what a relief it was.  Along with all the uncertainty about GD, studies show an increase in poor labor conditions and in stillbirths.  The numbers are even higher for those who have previously had a stillbirth.  There's also some speculation whether the current recommendations even do any good, because of how little is understood about the interplay of hormones and GD.  I thanked God profusely and I was able to go and enjoy the Strawberry Festival on Monday.  And while that's a subject for another post, it was about the best night me and Gary have had together in a long while.

1-30, She was rubbing her feet together, which is funny
because that's something I do when I'm falling asleep.
 Then last Tuesday at 28 weeks, after Britt asked for them to double check that it wasn't a boy, I talked with the doctor with MFM (Maternal Fetal Medicine) and asked him about my kick counts that I'm suppose to keep.  I told him that Kate is far less active that my first three were.  That it takes me a good 40 minutes on average to get 10 kicks, not the normal 10 to 25.  I also told him that she moves almost none during the day, that movement starts to pick up around 4 pm and she's fairly active till bedtime.  He told me that some babies weren't as active, but if she dropped to less than 10 in an hour, to drink and eat something, then try again.  If they still didn't come up to head up to the ER.

1-30, Her face, they look so skeletal in the ultrasound.  I'm hoping
maybe next appointment they will try another 3D shot.
The MFS (Maternal Fetal Specialist) also sat down with me after my ultrasound, and wanted to go over alot of things in depth that we need to be aware of, so that our pediatrician can watch for after Kate is born.  He told us that there wasn't sufficient testing done after we lost Abigail, and that somethings that should have been done as a mater of routine weren't done.  That made me mad with the doctors in PA all over again.  According to him there just isn't enough to conclusively say that it was my thyroid issues that caused her death.  He said that it would be preferable to pinpoint an exact cause, because that would almost put us out of the danger zone for a repeat loss, at least it would make our odds of another loss no greater than 1 in 100, just like everyone else.

He told me because of my prior loss, and our suspicions of thyroid being related that we would do a detailed fetal echo-cardiogram at my next appointment.  As they have told me before, the most common problem with babies who have hypothyroid moms, is heart problems.  He also said, as we progress we will want to watch her heart rate and see that it doesn't get too low, that can be another problem in hypothyroid pregnancies.  Last Monday her heart rate was 123, and they want it anywhere between 120 and 170.  He told us that after pregnancy we will need to watch out for a few things.  First off all, my TPO numbers (that indicate my thyroid antibodies) are always incredibly high.  There is no real way to treat this.  Those antibodies can cross over the placenta so Katherine will need to be monitored over the first 6 to 8 weeks to insure that her thyroid numbers go back to normal.  They had told me that much before.  However, the specialist also told me that my numbers are probably an indicator that I am a carrier for Congenital Hypothyroidism.  It is a condition that is one of many tested for at birth with the heel prick blood test they do, however, he said it can often give a false negative in cases such as me where the mother is already on levothyroxine.  He said that it must be caught within the first 2 weeks, to have the best outcome.  But that babies often don't show signs until week 3 or 4.  He said that it is the result of a child with little to no thyroid or one that doesn't work properly.  So, they aren't able to produce all the hormones a growing child needs.  He said, if it isn't caught until they are close to 2 (which apparently use to be the norm), among other problems they will have significant irreversible mental damage because of the lack of hormones.  He also reminded me to pay close attention to her hearing, as the second most common complication for children of hypothyroid moms, is deafness.

He did say though since we had an unexplained loss, he was going to note in the file a recommendation that we be allowed to induce at 38 weeks if we wanted.  That would be on my birthday, which I'm not interested in sharing.  I already share it with Mother's Day quite often.  (Of course as I joked with Sis. Lydia the other day, maybe if I was sharing a birthday with her, Gary would have to remember to do something for my birthday too, hahaha.)  Due to Gary's work schedule the last week of May at 39 weeks would be better, if we get to chose an induction date.  Either way, sooner is better now in my mind.  Though, I also know there are more risk to inducing early than a baby that comes on their own.
3-7, She pulled her arm up by her face.
3-7, Then she moved her umbilical cord with her hand from by her mouth.

I came home, and Gary talked with our family doctor, who will be seeing Kate just like the rest of us.  They said, that they can go over the results with us and help us watch things.  But after talking together, I told Gary that I feel like even after she gets here I won't be able to completely relax.  All this time, I've just been telling myself to manage the anxiety for 40 weeks, and we are done.  I feel like she'll be so much safer after she gets here than she is in there cooking.  But now I'm not so sure.  Of course, while every pregnancy brings really weird dreams, lately I've been having nightmares about labor.  Which of course, doesn't make my state of mind any better during the day.

3-7, I love seeing little baby feet.
The good news though is that the idea of bringing her home is becoming more and more real to me.  I have washed up all the newborn and 0-3 clothes.  I have plans to sort through some more clothes in the next week to determine what we might still need.  Staying busy this week, particularly with Ruth's beautiful faerie garden (pictures to come soon, I promise) has helped keep my mind off things.  I of course, take the matter to God over and over in prayer, it's just an ever continuing process.  However, despite all my reservations, I'm feeling like we can really celebrate this pregnancy.  I feel like we are far enough along that we can think about life after birth, that we can enjoy her little life, that we could even have a shower and it not feel presumptuous and weird.  She'll be here in 10 weeks or less at this point, and that is exciting.

Monday, February 27, 2017

4 Years with Rebecca


Happy 4th Birthday, Rebecca!  Yesterday, we had the last of your birthday celebrations, by getting your ears pierced and having a doughnut afterward.  You were such a big girl about it - picking out some, crying only a second, and then being cheery and proud for the rest of the day.  You turned four last week, but for the last few months, I have caught myself telling people that you are already 4.  In some ways you seem so old, though in other ways, you are still the baby of the house.  Many of the things I observed about your personality last year, have not changed over the past year.  You are still fiercely independent, unless it's something you don't want to do.  You still don't like to be told that you aren't as big as everyone else.

About half way through the year last year, we decided to give you a few simple jobs, and begin paying you, like Britt and Ruth.  That was an abysmal failure.  You wanted money, but not enough to work.  Unlike the others I have not done a good job in training you from an early age to help. Some of that has been the fact that I had them to help, and they were already trained.  Some of that has been that I've been very absorbed in schooling them, and not spent enough time training you to work with me.  Some of that is that unlike the others, you have been a real pain to try to work with, and it's often been easier to just do it myself.  And some undoubtedly has been the fact that I have slacked off in alot of areas since we lost your little sister.  However, we began rectifying that this month.  In your revised chore list, you have to wash dishes every day.  The first week, you loved it and thought it was great fun.  Since then you have complained about not liking this chore.  One day you either sat on your stool or stood at the sink for about 2 hours before washing the last 6 dishes.  You are willful, and ornery much like your brother.  And both of you unfortunately get it from me.

This year you decided that you wanted to do school.  It completely caught me off guard I was planning to wait probably two more years before we started you.  I did a little scrambling, and found a few pre-K books that we had never used with Britt or Ruth.  You quickly in a month or two completed them, and declared that you had finished school.  It was cute.  I have another book in the cabinet whenever you get the urge to do more, but I'm not looking to start you yet.  You can tell me most of your letter sounds, but not their names.  You also are getting pretty good at shaping most of your letters on the ipad or drawing them in sand.  You aren't too bad with a pencil for your age, but you aren't quite there yet.  Sometimes you can count to ten in order, but most of the time you skip 5, have the time the numbers after 6 or 7 are out of order.  Then you think you are funny when you goof them up and we can't get you to do them right.  You do love to listen to history when the kids are studying Egypt.  And have asked me to make you a history passport too.

We haven't done much science this year.  We've done things as we have come across them in history.  We've also done a few hands on things here and there - pulling out the microscope and telescope for example.  We are also starting on some yard work projects here at the new house, which I count as nature study.  You have expressed some interest in planting flowers, and perhaps having your own butterfly faerie garden.  We'll see how interested you are before we pursue that project.

Perhaps the biggest event for you in the last few months, is that you are playing t-ball this year.  As the youngest on the team, you are by far the most difficult child to coach, teach, work with.  You really enjoy hitting, and are pretty good at it.  You have needed almost no coaching in that area.  It was only a matter of finding a light enough bat for you.  But oh, you don't like to throw and catch, and oh do you tell us about it.  So dramatic.

We are also looking forward to bringing home a new baby sister in a few months.  It has been interesting to watch you interact with her this pregnancy.  You have enjoyed looking at babies of the same age in books, and think comparing her size to the size of different foods is really funny.  You like to feel her move, something you were never able to experience with Abigail.  You come to my bed first thing many mornings, to cuddle and like to talk to her, and then fuss at her when she kicks you.  Unlike the others you have never asked what if Kate dies.  I don't know if you just have more faith than the rest of us, or if this pregnancy is more real to you than the last was, or if you just aren't as affected by the memories of the past.  I often wonder how you will react to the change that she will bring.

Starshine, you can be the most frustrating child or the most delightful child full of laughter.  Life with you is always an unpredictable affair, a real surprise.  Of all of our children, you are the one that I think will scale the most mountains and do the most unimaginable things, and I look forward to seeing where you go in life.

We love you,

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ruth's Baptism

Ruth on Sunday 1-29-12 and Sunday 1-29-17. Hard to believe what a difference 5 years makes.
Ruth was baptized a few weeks ago. I'm not sure I have ever seen her quite so happy and giddy with excitement. But she is most always so happy it's hard to be sure. She out of nowhere Christmas day, while sitting in Church asked me if she could be baptized. I told her that we could talk about it after Church. But I was really surprised. Unlike Britt, which we saw coming from a mile away, we didn't see this coming. If anything Ruth who loves the people she sees at Church and the lunch she eats ever week there, has never cared for anything more than that. She has always been impatient for Church to be over, and gets this giddy little voice when she would tell me that it says "11:50, that means it's almost time for preaching to be over!"

However, I mentioned it to Gary that evening, but it was Friday night before the three of us could sit down and really talk about it together.  Like with Britt we told her that what she wanted to do was two parts, first it was telling everyone that she knew what God had done for her and second she was promising to be faithful to the Church living a life of service.  I didn't think she was ready, but Gary said it couldn't hurt to let her talk with Bro. Chris.  So we mentioned it to him, and he spoke to her at the New Year's Eve picnic.  When I asked her what they talked about, all she said was alot of stuff, but to pray to know when it was time for her to join.  Gary and I decided to sit on it, hoping she'd wait a while longer, after all it's a big commitment, especially when you are 6.5.  We thought maybe we'd revisit the issue in a few months after the Fellowship Meeting.  But she kept bringing the topic up.

In the meantime the Sunday of Christmas she had also asked me for paper to make notes like I do.  So I gave her a notebook and she had been listening and keeping notes for several weeks.  She quit napping during services.  At home, her biggest failing had been having a whiny attitude about clothes and her younger sister.  But we saw an abrupt change in that, a very noticeable decrease in that behavior in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  Don't get me wrong, they still fight I caught them at it just this afternoon, but it isn't near as frequent, and her attitude in general has improved.  When she began insisting again, I thought perhaps it was time.

We asked her if she wanted to be baptized that day to do communion that night, or wait a Sunday so Grumps and Ahna could come.  She decided to wait a Sunday if that was ok.  I told her I thought it was ok to wait, that if she lived to 70 and on average sat in communion twice a year, she could wash feet a total of 128 times in her life; but she'd only ever be baptized once.  It ended up being two weeks before we could have her baptism.  But she was so eager.  We initially planned to do it the following Sunday, but it looked like it would be impossible for Grumps and Ahna to come down.  When we asked her if she could wait one more Sunday, her reply was "It would be easier to remember that I was baptized on Britt's 8th birthday, but next Sunday is ok."

We asked her if she wanted to be baptized that day to do communion that night, or wait a Sunday so Grumps and Ahna could come.  She decided to wait a Sunday if that was ok.  I told her I thought it was ok to wait, that if she lived to 70 and on average sat in communion twice a year, she could wash feet a total of 128 times in her life; but she'd only ever be baptized once.  It ended up being two weeks before we could have her baptism.  But she was so eager.  We initially planned to do it the following Sunday, but it looked like it would be impossible for Grumps and Ahna to come down.  When we asked her if she could wait one more Sunday, her reply was "It would be easier to remember that I was baptized on Britt's 8th birthday, but next Sunday is ok."

For her baptism, she called out her favorite song, "I'll Fly Away" 363 in the number 12.  She asked me to make two braids and had picked out the prettiest pink dress with butterflies on it.  It was a little long, but I told her it would be ok.  Right before hand, she said she was a little nervous, and sat on the step and held her breath as long as she could.  Then asked if that would be long enough.  I told her Bro. Chris wouldn't hold her under even that long.  So up the steps she went.  She had the biggest smile, the kind that makes her eyes squish up almost until they disappear.  When she went in the baptistery to Bro. Chris, the water was up to her chest, and if she'd slipped we joked later, she would have baptized herself.  Afterward, on the way home Ruth couldn't quit saying how happy she was, and Rebecca told her, "I don't wanna get bab-i-tized."  I told her good that she was too little anyway, but that she should be happy for Ruth.  Rebecca said "Me like it when Roof is happy, but me not getting bab-i-tized."

I wish we could have gotten a picture with both sets of Grandparents, but Mister
was on turn around at work, and left before we could get a picture with them.
Ruth has been the happiest little girl and we are so happy for her.  We hope that she always finds such happiness in God's house and in His service.  I hope she can always remember this day.  She has always had the most giving heart, she took her own money this year to buy Britt a birthday present, and she was more excited about giving it to him, than he was about getting it.  She almost never complains when I ask her to do something around the house, and even offers to help out with things before I ask.  I hope she always uses that desire to help others and give to others and do for others in a way that will glorify God.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Happy 8th Birthday, Britt


It is so hard for me to believe that you could be eight.  The years seem to have gone by so quickly, even though the days sometimes seem to drag on and on.

You have grown so much this year.  You have gotten so tall, and I can sometimes see the man that you one day will become in your face.  You are anxious for more privileges that come with age, and yet you don't want any more work.  You wanted a big boy room and the big bed back, but you still want to cuddle with me in the bed on early mornings and have me read to you in your bed alone at night.

You love to play Mario.  Your favorite part of school is science.  You love your free time to build and explore whether that's outside in nature, or tinkering with your inventions.  Your imagination seems to be endless.  You love your sisters, and include them in everything you do.  Perhaps the biggest surprise to me this year is that you've found your first love.  She's smart as a whip, feisty and funny, and she's a red head.  You talk about how much fun she is, and how pretty she is.  And you've asked so many questions in the last several months about when you can get married and how to pick the right job when you are grown up.  Thankfully, there are still the questions about your elves and superheros.  After all, I'm not in a hurry to see you too grown up.

You still struggle with defiance, and being honest with me.  You are persistent and determined, and when you direct those traits you are amazing to watch, you can accomplish so very much.  When you dig in those heels and won't be directed though, law you are a terror.  You haven't grown to the point that you understand it is better to fess up to your mistakes than to hide it and be punished twice.  You still like to run the gamble that no one will find out.  It's something that you are working at.

Last night we had your cake after supper, we opened your presents, and you were so happy to be turning 8, even though I insisted you wouldn't be 8 until your birthday minute.  You were so excited.  You were so much fun to watch.  The best news may have been telling you that Daddy is going to build a new nature table, and you are going to get to help.  You want to do everything he does and enjoy when he lets you be a part of things with him.  You were also so excited to get the big transformer fat head style stickers from Grandmother and Granddaddy.  You were so disappointed when I told you that the wall was too textured for them to work.  But now you have some that fit your closet doors, and you couldn't wait to have me hang them up.

Little boy watching you sleep last night in one of your many strange positions, it struck me all over again, just how blessed we have been to have been your parents.  We love you, more than you know, and always pray that God will guide you and that you will grow to be a loving and honorable man.