"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2016"
Jaden: I dropped you off at daycare yesterday morning for what would be your last full day with Dustin - our favorite college student daycare teacher who is now setting off to start his student teaching and then get a real job. We have loved Dustin the last few years. Some future school is going to be so lucky to have him. He has been so engaged with you during the summer months - and has even invested his time outside of the daycare to come to a couple of your flag football games and show his support during the fall seasons. I'm so grateful to him. But as I was walking out the front door of the daycare building yesterday, Dustin chased after me and stopped me from leaving. He wanted to have a private conversation with me - wanted to make sure that I knew how much he has appreciated you. He told me that you are one of the very best kids - that with all the athleticism and competitiveness inside of you, you always show the best of sportsmanship to everyone around you, that you never get down on yourself or any others, that you always rise above some of the behavior challenges displayed by the older kids at the daycare, and that the daycare "really needs you there." I stood there as this 22-year old college boy spoke the most beautiful praises about my own kid and shed tears right there in the doorway, feeling so much gratitude for you, so much gratitude for this wonderful daycare we are blessed by and so much gratitude for this young man who truly sees you and appreciates you. I have been proud of you so often, but that moment - that was a big one. That's a moment and a conversation I'll never forget. Good job, kiddo.
Brandon: On a super hot and sweltering Thursday night, you had a baseball game. And because you had already been at the pool and the playground all afternoon, when I picked you up for your 5:30 game, you weren't having it. You didn't want to play, you were tired, sweaty and hungry. But we talked about sticking to our commitments, I reminded you that you've been having so much fun with baseball, and I told you that sometimes we have to follow through on things even on the days we don't feel like it. And then you went out on that field and played one heck of a game - including making one fabulous and huge catch that surprised everyone in the complex! And so - we celebrated in a way that I knew would speak directly to your heart. We went and had ice cream for dinner. Your favorite cookie dough and vanilla. And I think these are some of the simple moments you'll remember - like that night when Mommy didn't make you eat meat or vegetables - but only ice cream and cookie dough chunks. You earned it.