The Tovsky Tribe

Chocolates, Cocktails, Friends, Babies...A Girl Should Never Have Just ONE!!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

A Letter to my Son on his 9th Birthday

Dear Turner-

9 year old Flyers Fan

Happy 9th birthday! Your final year in single digits, your approach to tweendom.  I am constantly saying (usually with teary eyes as my children laugh) how quickly time flies and before I even realize you'll all be grown. And, it's true. But, somehow, with you, your actual age confuses me and the whole concept of time.   Because Turner, you have always been beyond your years in so many ways that, sometimes, it came as a nice reminder that you were only 8 when we so often thought of you as older.

Turner, this birthday comes as all the others, too quickly, almost without warning. But, unlike each one before it, this birthday marks a significant milestone in your life's timeline.  Today is the halfway point of your childhood, the median between infancy and adulthood.  Prior to this day, the moments whizzed passed us, creating memories of coos turning to giggles and then to fully belly laughs; crawls becoming awkward steps before becoming long-stride gallops; emerging sounds that eventually formed into words before developing into sentences then ideas. It all went so quickly. Ahead of us lies your journey to adulthood; your body will grow, your mind will expand; I hope your hugs stay the same.  Your legs and arms will lengthen, but time won't.  Soon enough you 'll be taller than me, wiser than me, the one in charge.  The second half always seems to go faster than the first.  I just want to reach out, grab you, and hold you back- just a little. Maybe just slow you down.  But I wouldn't.  I couldn't . Not you. You have too much to offer and so much to share.  You thought outside of the box before you even knew what a box was and you'll continue to offer the world, particularly those of us that think the world of you, so much joy that slowing it down is both impossible and unfair.  This moment in time, this halfway mark, all I can do is pause, stare at your round and gorgeous face, see the baby boy that once was, tattoo it again on my mind, kiss those full cheeks, and hug your still small(ish) body.  Then, life will continue at what will seem like double time, and I will marvel as you morph into the man you'll become, a gentleman I know I will be so very proud of.

8 was great in so many ways, even if you often acted as an 11 year old.  You had an amazing year of growth.  You cultivated a fantastic group of friends - the crew, the squad, the meatheads- and when you're all together we are amazed at how great your group is. You were disappointed going in to the school year that none of your boys were in your class, yet your friendship with each of them has stayed intact while you've had an opportunity to foster new friendships with other boys as well. Making friends has never been hard for you.  After spending the summer at camp with Jagger, you and he are still good buddies, and your squad of boys is Alex, Greyson, Chase, and Michael. And, there's Jake and Gavin and James and James.  And, of course, there's Ethan, he's your friend, your brother.
The Squad
You've found passion in both playing and watching sports, and have risen to the status of biggest sports fan in the house.  You love to watch all of the Philly teams, and all of your brothers' teams as well. You'll watch with an analytical eye and discuss the plays, the errors, everything afterwards.  You know stats and figures and who is in contention for MVP. You know team records and which team is playing who, when.  Sometimes you use words that I don't understand.  But I'm trying to learn too. We find that you will know a random sport fact and when we confirm it with Google you are always right.   It's amazing to see the depths of your passion.  You love the Eagles and Carson Wentz.  You love the Sixers and Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.  You love the Flyers, in spite of them sucking, and Wayne Simmonds is your favorite player.  Whenever you watch Chase or Ryder's teams play you watch with the same discerning eye and have the same discussion of errors and nice plays.  You like to get opinions on who is the best player on any particular team and have your own opinions ready to share.  Your favorite birthday gift from your friend was your 200 football cards!  Yes, indeed, Turner you are an avid sports fan.
Happy with your football cards

As for playing sports, this year you were a 3 sport athlete. After participating in Beach Blast last summer with Gavin B you loved soccer and wanted to play again this year. Although you were on a team that didn't win one game I was extremely proud of your season. You hustled, you were aggressive, and you played some nice soccer.  You also chose to play goal tender. You did very well and if you could get some real training you will do just fine.  You are also playing basketball again this year, and are, once again, on the team with your squad.  You guys are so good and so much fun to watch. It's amazing that there can be so much talent within one grade at one small school.  Yet there is. And, this year, you learned to play lacrosse and will begin you first season in just a few weeks.  I am excited to see where you go with this sport.  The sky is the limit with you for sure.

Your first soccer game

Receiving your medal at Beach Blast

And, as deep as your passion may be for sports, you're not a "jock."  You're an athlete, sure, but your personality, at its core, is not jock.  You're kind and sensitive and thoughtful in the most endearing of ways. You have a creative side, and have also learned to play guitar this year. Although you're doing well with it you could certainly afford to practice more. ;). You still love to break out in song or dance and I still love to see it happen.  You went to your first concert this year, Green Day, then a few weeks later followed it up with your second concert, Imagine Dragons.  Both were awesome and you loved it.  You like to play games, play cards, or cuddle up and watch a movie.    You still like to give and receive hugs and I hope this is something that never changes.  You like to climb trees, ride bikes, go fishing, and play outside. You like to just play.  I love that about you.
First Concert- Green Day Revolution Radio Tour

Imagine Dragons concert- Evolve Tour

This year, on one of your many fishing excursions with your brothers and the Van Aken's, you had an accident that, now that you're ok, is sort of funny.  When Ryder went to cast his final line of the day you walked in the path of his cast and he hooked the biggest fish he ever caught....YOU.  He hooked you right in the shoulder blade.  You handled the whole incident amazingly and even when we tried to take the hook out, and dug into your skin, you were brave and you were strong and you never once blamed anyone.  You had to go to urgent care to get it removed, you endured one stitch, and we were grateful it hooked your back and not your precious fae.  You still love to fish and this story is one we will tell forever.

At school, in 3rd grade, you have Mrs. Cerra.   She is so nice and you absolutely love her.  At school you are a true gem. The first thing Mrs. Cerra said about you at conference was "KIND, KIND, KIND" and I could not have asked for anything more.  She said you are so nice and so helpful to everyone and show true signs of leadership. This makes me so proud. Not just a leader, but a kind one. You bring home "caught being kind" notes often and people are starting to learn they can really count on you.   You like math and are learning multiplication.  You like learning science this year. You are working hard to improve your reading and I am optimistic you will get where you need to be.  You spent the first 4 weeks of school at the top of the Dojo classroom leader-board and though you continue to get points regularly Mrs. Cerra has decided to award other kids too.  You're a pleaser and a doer, making school a place where you find great success.  Keep it up, my boy!

Your birthday party this year was once again celebrated during Winter break. In typical Turner fashion you announced last April, after spending a half day of school's afternoon escaping a room, "this is where I want my next birthday party!".  And, so we did. You and your boys all successfully escaped before the squad came back to the house for a sleepover. We served your favorite- tacos (your crew calls you Taco Turner), ice cream sundaes, and sweet and spicy chili Doritos. The night was spent playing Madden and NBA Live on X-Box, playing mini-hockey, and talking football and doing football trivia.  It was so much fun.  Unfortunately, we had to move your family party back a week as we all are recovering from illness, but we spent your birthday at a hibachi lunch and watching Chase play hockey.
You escaped the room with 3 minutes remaining

A room full of escapees
Happy 9th birthday 
The tradition continues with Hibachi lunch
By the numbers, you are now 53.5 inches, over 2 inches of growth since last year.  You weigh 90 lbs.  You wear a size 3.5 shoe.  Your growth is not slowing down.

Turner, you have always been your own person, and you should be proud of that.  You are the reason we all know the rules; you're the reason we know where things are; you're the reason why things get accomplished, as you always are the first to offer a helping hand. This bothers you sometimes, that not only are you the first to help but sometimes the only one to help, but try not to let it, because being your helpful, kind self is who you are and you should be proud!  You are fun, and funny, and love to party.  You are well aware of your surroundings, pay attention to details, know the answers to anything that you've been taught, told, or overheard.  You are empathetic and thoughtful and easy most of the time.  Although you LOVE to instigate your brothers, and often to tattle on them, there is no doubt in my mind that you love all 3 of them with every bit of the deep heart you have.  They love you right back.  The bond the 4 of you share is amazing and can't be shattered by constant bickering even if it makes dad and I a little nuts.

Band of Brothers


Like your big bro

Always making your baby brother laugh

Brother to brother

As you turn 9 and begin this second half of childhood I wish for you so many things.  I hope you continue to try and learn new things. I  hope you continue to dream big.  I hope you continue to put music to your thoughts.  I hope you retain the piece of magic within you that makes you the special kid that you are, one that everyone loves to be around, the life of the party.  I hope you continue to be thoughtful and make good choices.  I hope your sense of humor continues to mature and develop.  And, mostly, Turner, I hope you stay true to yourself in all that you are and all that you want.  I hope you know I support you and trust you and am so very proud to be your mom.

Happy birthday, buddy.  I love you so....

9 year old interview

Your first Flyers game and meeting the amazing Brian Propp

Growing into the birthday shirt- not so big anymore

Turner's 8th birthday letter

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Stand By Me!

Ryder and Turner received a few bass guitar and guitar lessons for hanukkah.  They each started playing and have continued for the better half of a year so far, though there are some missed weeks. Ryder, who has been down this road before, has really started to learn to play.  Chris Shepherd, the teacher, has done a great job teaching them with songs they want to learn.  Here is Ryder "performing" his rendition of Stand by Me!

Monday, May 1, 2017

I'm 42 and This is My Birthday Letter

Somehow it is time for another birthday.  It doesn't come with too much emotion as 42 in and of itself offers about as much excitement as 41 did.  It does, however, come with a slight tinge of stress in knowing I have to carve out time to write another birthday letter:)  Another to-do, sigh!

I would say that, overall, life is on an incline.  It may be slight, and it may be gradual, but I probably couldn't handle it any faster or steeper anyway.

This past year I devoted a lot of time, A LOT OF TIME, to studying for the Series 6 exam.  It was a lesson in time management as well as in Securities.  I passed on my first try.  I never imagined this is where I would find myself in terms of a career but an opportunity presented itself and I decided to act on it.  I am happy I did. I like my job and welcome the idea of doing more, being more, having more.  As a result, I have been working a lot more this past year and I have been enjoying carving out this little piece of the world just for me.  Although the longer days make for more complicated early evenings, I do enjoy working and building towards something that I am earning, however small it may be.

We are kept ever so busy by the boys' lives.  Between the sports, and the activities, and the parties, and the sleepovers, there is very little downtime.  There is very little quiet.  Although I do get a bit frustrated by the volume at which everyone seems to exist, I do enjoy the noise- the signs of life and happiness- that fill my house and my ears.  And, though the schedule is not one for the faint at heart, I absolutely love watching the boys play their sports, play with their friends, and develop their personalities.

Todd and I have been going out socially much more often and it has been good for us.  We are social beings and it is helping us to find a balance by having some time that belongs to us and some more time together.

As my early 40's settle in to itself,  I have acclimated to this stage of my life with acceptance (even if I am in a bit of denial about the number!)   Each stage of life has its own unique qualities that define it.  This stage, being Mom first, and everything else second, is as fleeting as all of the other stages that are already passed and are missed.  I know this, and so I embrace it, endearingly, each for what they are, and for the mark they are making on my life, on my memory.  Moments in life are defined by the factors that surround it and, more importantly, the people that surround you.  Every birthday letter I write indicates how similar things are and,yet, how different.  Changes are fluid, albeit slow. Times are high, times are low, and strength seems to come disguised as pain.  I have learned that when you look back, the tough times were not so bad, and even if they were, you usually can't remember. And, you survived.  And, here you are.  And, the high times were there too, all along.  If you don't stop, take a breath, and look around yourself every now and again, you could miss it.  All of it. You could miss that ephemeral moment of magic that didn't seem to be quite what it was until it was in the rear-view mirror.  The magic of your toddler's laughter that is sandwiched between too many dirty diapers and crib jumpings.  The magic of your tween's smile and his confession of needing you wedged tightly between his stubbornness and his attitude.  The magic of your sons thoughtfulness hidden amongst his persistent whine. The magic of your husband's touch as you pass each other, hectically, in opposite directions.  The magic of love that bounces off the deafening sounds and fills the room.   I don't want to miss the magic, so I follow the flow of the moments I am presented with and do my best to be the best I can be on any given day.

Over the years it seems that the core of who I am has gotten a little blurred by the clouds of stress and life.  Either that or age has changed me.  Perhaps it is both.  But, when I close my eyes and not try to see it but, instead,to feel it, it can all become quite clear.  And, I should enjoy it while it is clear, because it may not always be.

The weekend was a fun start to what I hope is a great year.  Friday night, though not birthday related, we had a great night out enjoying a cooking demonstration with great friends.  I love cooking demonstrations, and the company, and unlimited wine.  It was a blast.

Saturday, my actual birthday, began with my FREE birthday reward at Starbucks (yay!) followed by an afternoon in New Hope with Stacie and Joe.

 We went to a charming place called Nektar which managed to have all of my requirements: outdoor seating (in this case, overlooking the river), small plates menu, and good drinks.  A flight of wine and a few small plates and I was a happy girl; not to mention the incalculable laughs that we've grown accustomed to having when we are with the Morena's.  After, we walked to Havana.  There we soaked in the sun while sipping on a cocktail and sharing wings. Then, we strolled some more, hit some of the New Hope stores and the chocolate shop before heading home to watch Ryder play lacrosse followed by Chase playing baseball. It was a fun day. Very fun.

On Sunday, after an enjoyable morning at Annette's bridal shower, we watched more baseball and more lacrosse before enjoying our annual birthday hibachi and cake with the boys.

Leyela, Sophia, and Lily in awe of the beaming bride to be

Cousins, and sisters, at Annette's shower

cake after hibachi with my favorite boys

Unfortunately, we did not get to celebrate with the families, as our weekend was jam packed but, hopefully, we will celebrate all of the good things these last few weeks have brought us on Mother's Day.

Read my 41st birthday letter

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Most Valuable Lesson

In the spring of 2015 Chase had his first evaluation to play to ice hockey.  Later that year, as summer ended, Chase began playing in his first season of ice hockey.  Here is that post.

He just finished his second season.  This year he changed teams and joined the Wildcat Warwicks.  At first, he was nervous.  He was unsure of who the other players (aside from the two Rev buddies he joined the team with) and wasn't sure what to expect nor how he would fit in.  But, every moment of this season was beyond anything he could have expected.

Thanks to awesome coaches and teammates, Chase had an amazing year of hockey where he was able to learn, grow, and enjoy his favorite sport.  The Wildcats really focus on skating much more than his previous team had and he showed great improvement in that area. This year, he played Center, a position I had to google to understand his role. Last year he spent a lot of time scoring. This year he spent a lot of time passing. When I asked him why, he said "that's my job and I have awesome wingers I can trust to score!"  He loved every second of it, made some great new friends, and fell even deeper in love with this passion sport.

And, all of that would have been enough.  He never asked for more.  But, as it turned out, at the end of the year awards banquet Chase was awarded the MVP of the team.  Coach Vince presented the award by saying "It isn't always about the guy who scores the goals, but about the guy that sets them up.This guy had the most points on the team, combining goals and assists, and for that he gets MVP."  Additionally, he also earned a hattrick patch (any player with one or hattrick in a game) and a playmaker patch (any player who had 3 or more assists in a game).

Chase was beyond happy, and proud, and knows that he couldn't have gotten there without his teammates who skillfully completed the plays he created, which is the most valuable lesson he could have learned. We are so very proud of Chase.

And, thank you, to Coach Vince, Coach Jesse, and Coach Emmy for helping Chase improve as a hockey player.

The presentation of the award

2016-2017 Wildcats Squirt Maroon

Chase, Jagger, and Quinn.  MVP, Best Defensemen, and Coaches Award.  Most Improved, Nate, was not present that night.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A look at Age 2

This is each of the boys at age 2.  Not necessarily in life, but in these 4 photos I see Chase and Decker looking similar and Ryder and Turner.  What do you see?

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Letter to my Son on his 2nd Birthday!

Dear Decker,
The happy 2 year old

Happy 2nd birthday!!  2 years happy.  To say how hard it is to believe, though true, seems unnecessary because the passage of time continues to blow me away.  As does watching you grow and become your own person. Yesterday, when I asked you if I could take a picture of you on your last day of being one, you stopped mid-step, said Yes, then gave me a great smile.  Perhaps you knew what I was talking about because, typically, I can't take pictures of you because the minute you see my phone you want it.  You must have it.  You will whine and cry until you get the "phoney."  You can use it like a pro, finding your favorite apps, your favorite YouTube videos, and swiping any texts that come in right off the screen.

Today you woke up to balloons (one of your favorite things) and hugs and kisses and the surprise of Mom-Mom Jill, who had spent the night.  Then you spent the day with Uncle Mat (another of your favorite things) before coming back home for a quick dinner and cake before heading out to synagogue for Chase and Ryder's gimel shabbat.  You had cake.  We sang to you.  You were happy.  You also celebrated with cupcakes and your friends in school yesterday.  And, next weekend we will celebrate with your grandparents, your aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Last day of 1

The last few weeks you have been every bit the two year old you now officially are.  Adding new words to your vocabulary on a daily basis; crying if we tell you no; throwing books and other things across the room; touching everything; climbing most things; finding fascination in the smallest things; repeating the same things, daily, whether it be a routine or an episode of your favorite show; and laughing and making us laugh with ease.

Aunt Amy reminded me this morning that the day you were born it was a cold and dreary day.  There was an ice storm outside (that caused her and the girls to have a 2 hour ride to meet you) and a blizzard was en route.  I wasn't fully aware (or at all aware) of what was doing outside.  But, as Aunt Amy said, you were the only ray of sunshine that day and, Decker, at 2, you continue to be just that- A constant light in the room!  As the world perpetually changes- in our family we have had job changes, divorce, more babies born, bat mitzvahs, and more- in the world, we have had war, and economic volatility, Trump has, somehow, become our President and more- and yet, Decker, no matter what is going on around us you remain to be this little pocket of joy that can be taken with me where ever I go and, ultimately, joy gets spread.  It is quite a gift you have and I am beyond honored to be the person you call mommy.  Justin Timberlake wrote a a song called Can't Stop This Feeling, which I love.  In the song he refers to the Sunshine in his pocket.  That is you, Decker, everyday.  I love this song.

You are becoming quite the talker and are always saying new words and sometimes stringing two or three together.  You are constantly choosing a new word you hear from any of us to mimic, and add it to your vocabulary.  You say many words perfectly, and have come a long way from "ball" and "bubble", but you also have your own word for many things and if someone doesn't know your language they will have no idea what you are referring to.  For example, you know a dog when you see one.  You can point to one, chase after one, find one on a page in a book, or choose the dog puzzle but you always call a dog a "far far."  It is hilarious and I sometimes find myself calling dogs farfars, as well.  Two weeks ago we were in the Poconos with Uncle Rob, Aunt Jamie, Max, Leo and Sulky.  We had a great time and you spent a good amount of time chasing Sulky around the house calling "far far, far far."  You also know the shape star but consistently call it "high" while putting your hand up to the sky.  I assume you got this from Twinkle Twinkle Little Star because I always point up to the sky at the line "up above the world so high."  There is also Bah-bah-bah, which is banana, and should not be confused with Babba, which is Yo Gabba Gabba and "bebe" is actually what you say for a go-go squeeze, which you love.  Although you used to call milk,"Achun" you have recently learned to say it properly and can ask it for endearingly by saying "milky."  If you want to watch Imagination Movers, one of your favorite shows, you say "Tat-a-Tat" and refer to the book "Blue Hat, Green Hat" only by its hilarious point of "oops!"  Balloons are "La-loons" and though you can say "Cake" perfectly clear we should not confuse it with how you ask for ice cream, which is "cuuk."  You can say "Chase" and "Ry-yer" but Turner you called "Cock-er" until just the other day.  When you want to draw or color you will say "d" but when you ask for the markers it is "these."
And by far far I mean dog

He finally get's it right!  "Turner"

But, communicating with you is easy, even before you had so many words you had a way of letting us all know what you wanted or needed.  Whether it was a pull to the finger or the look in your eye or the motion of your hands, we always knew. And, now, as you string the words together to form near sentences it is such joy when you sit on the floor, look me right in the eye, tap your open hand on the ground next to you, smile, and say "sit. come play."  And, when I do it is always great fun that eventually leads to us laughing and you lifting your arm in the air and hitting the ground as you bend over, your way of saying "that is hilarious!"

You are a master at puzzles and have learned to match your colors and shapes flawlessly.   Although you typically answer blue first for most colors you know blue, red, black, purple and yellow by name.  You can only say the shapes "heart" and "high" (star) but can place all of the shapes into the proper sorting holes or puzzle spaces without fail.  You love books and enjoy the Barnyard Dance and "swinging your partner," "sliding with sheep," "Bowing to the horse," and "Leaping with the frog."  You also love Barney and watch the show and read our Barney book every day.  You like "choo-choo's" and kicking and throwing balls.  You like jumping on the small trampoline"boline" and playing basketball. You love the marble run (and so do I) and playing with the toy kitchen.

Three days a week you go to school with Ms. Donna and enjoy being with Grace, Casey, and Phoebe- whose name you say constantly.  On Friday's you still go to the best school around, Uncle Mat school, and are not easily dragged away on Friday afternoon.  And, Tuesday is my day with you.  My favorite day of the week. The one day I know I get to spend some one on one time with you and I love it more each week even if it is sometimes overtaken by errands.

You have your little "tricks" that you like to do, probably because it makes us laugh.  When you want to watch Teletubbies you stomp your feet on the ground; if we tell you to be a gorilla you pound on your chest; or an elephant, you do a raspberry noise while moving your arm like a trunk.  You can be a monkey with an "ooh ooh aah" and a giraffe by blowing up your cheeks and sticking out your tongue, a face you learned from the Charlie Monkey book.  You know what a rooster says, and will imitate the "cock a doodle doo," always with a pointed finger in the air, and your "meow" sounds very much like a real cat.  But not all of your tricks are animal related. You can hang from the pull-up bar, and ask to do so regularly.  You like to play "whoa" which is jumping on and being pushed down on Turner's bed.  You like to hide in the cabinet of your dresser, ask me to close the door, then crack up laughing when we knock on the door and open it up.  Often when we open it you are using the cabinet bar as another pull-up bar.  You can dab, but you think to dab is to wave, and explode fist bumps and give high fives.  You love to watch your favorite shows in the same spot in the living room.  You take the black chair and knock it over and sit in between the leg bars.  Every time.  It is rather adorable.  You love to watch and to feed the Froggy and the Fishies and have made it a part of your bedtime routine.  You love the "Barney, Follow Me" book and will follow me as I follow Barney's moves.  Your favorite part is when we do "scared as can be" which we imitate by putting the tips of our fingers in our mouth as if we are shaking.  When you go to sleep, usually without much hassle, you insist on your blanket having the design side up, and I have to blow lots of kisses under the blanket and trap them so that they can tickle your cheeks all night while you sleep. And, every single car-ride includes you taking off your shoes and your socks and, many times, chucking them across the car!

Your television viewing spot

You often make us repeat our words by saying "Heh?" and then, when we do, and you finally get it, you smile and say, "oh!"  You love to say "BYE" very loud and wave your little hand.  You say "Daddy, Bye" in the morning as we head out to school and then give an elaborate and adorable "BYE" to all of the teachers at Bright Eyes when I pick you up.  You delight in your brothers, who always make you laugh, and they are enjoying this new stage you are in as you are responsive to their little tricks.  They recently told you to "go tell mom you pooped your pants" and in to the kitchen you came running "mommy, pooped pants."  These 3 words had your brothers in stitches, which made you not only crack up but repeat the sentence again and again.  You have learned the word "fart" and laugh when you hear one, or even just the word. You are quick to entertain and once you get a response of laughter from any of us you will continue your little act.  You do silly dances and make daring moves (like jumping from the glass table to the couch) and your brothers and their friends get an absolute kick out of you.  They've taught you to play knee hockey, only you don't have to get on your knees, and to try to play Xbox.  You've also learned golf from Uncle Mat and, you love trying to talk to Alexa.  She doesn't respond to you yet but you crack up when we tell her "Simon says Decker you are cute" and she says "Decker you are cute".  We repeat this game with many adjectives.  When Alexa plays the Barney song or the Mickey Mouse song your eyes widen as if it is a gift just for you.

You skip when you walk, which makes me skip also.  Your voice rises on the end of every word just making whatever you are saying sound so very happy (like the pocket of joy that you are!)  Your smile is refreshing and your eyes are bright but there is nothing better than your laugh.  You laugh with your whole body and crack up into hysterics and it is impossible not to crack up also.  You weigh in at 27.2 pounds and stand at 33 3/4 inches.  It isn't always easy being the 4th son in our house.  We are very busy, often on the go, and our days are filled with a certain level of chaos even when things are calm. You are sometimes forced to fend for yourself, and we will find you playing nicely, doing puzzles, coloring, or looking through books.  I'll see you, and wish that I could join you for longer than a moment, and feel a little sad when I walk away to do laundry, start dinner, help with homework, run a carpool, clean up the kitchen, or anything else that someone needs, but I am happy that you are independent and content and happy.  And, Decker, you should know that no matter what we are doing, how busy we may be, how loud things can get, how many errands we must run, that you are loved beyond measure every single moment of every single day.  You bring all of us joy and laughter and a sense of peace.  You are the embodiment of good things, of true things, of real happiness and love, and I am thankful every single day for what you add to our family, to our lives.  I do not take credit for the joy that you are but I am certainly proud to be your mommy.  I love you Decker and I can't wait to see what this year brings.

Growing into the birthday shirt

Decker with his brothers and his "other brother, DT" on the frozen lake

Typically it is steps, beds, chairs he jumps off of- this is nothing

He didn't make the shot but he is working on that form

The sound of laughter.  "GO!"