Normal is a four letter word. Extraordinary is the new black.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sunshine is where you make it....

Thirty six years hurling around the sun on this beautiful blue marble. It's been a fantastic ride to date. Daily I am hit with those moments of silent gratitude, moments I sit back and think, "Life is so good." This is about the time and my brain counters with a concern that at some point there has to be a wrench thrown in. There has to be ups and downs on this sweet roller coaster ride we call life.

A little reflection reminds me, that, actually, there have been lots of "character building" moments. It's just that I ride the roller coaster with both arms in the air, screaming with laughter.

For thirty four years, my birthday claim to fame was that it was always sunny on my birthday. Some years I would feel the sunshine before I even opened my eyes. Other years, it might start overcast, but at some point, the clouds would part, and the bright orange ball would shine bright. Still relying on the outside to fuel my inside, I would tell myself, "It's always sunny on your birthday, because you are a sunshiny girl."

Recently, we have had some tricky years. Years when the definition of normal became a moving target; until we realized that normal was a four letter word, and extraordinary was the new black. Through all that, I still held onto the fact that life was good and it was all how you chose to ride the ride.

This year, my hubby offered to chase the sunshine. He found a beach less than two hours drive, with a sunny forecast. While that would make for a great story about finding your own sunshine, I realized that I needed to let the chips fall where they may. I needed to find sunshine within the stormy skies.

In life, I have learned that there is pure joy dancing in the rain and sunshine always lives in your heart, if you choose it. Today that lesson finally came full circle, and I arrived at a place of comfort and rest within it's truth.

My sunshine today was my own. It came from within and it was within the people that I love. It was in our oldest making me breakfast in bed (for an army) and then having all three kids share it with me.
Yes, the date on that yogurt is May 13th. For all I love the boy, I couldn't eat it, and had to tell him.

It was in hubby suggesting a drive in a rainstorm to pick up a new gadget for the camera.

It was in the moment when Graysen hugged me and said, "Happy Birthday" and Lorelei wrapped my hand cream up in a cloth and gave it to me as a gift. It was the journal that Caylen put together by hand and the card that Lorelei drew while I was in the bathroom.

It was comfortable coffee with a dear friend and love from friends that were far away but close in my heart.

It was not buoyed by the weather, but rather, it shone independent, because it was.
Life is sunshine, you just have to let it in, and remember, it's always right there, just behind the clouds.

So today, the rain was comforting and welcome. After 34 years of just sunshine, I've learned it's the rain with that sunshine, that really makes things bloom.


As soon as I finished writing this post, at about 8:30 I felt light through the window behind me. It was heading to bed for the night.

Calling a friend I pulled the, "I don't care that you are in your jammies, it's my birthday, the clouds are parting, and I'm losing the light. Be ready in two."

She thought I was insane, but all the best people are.
Reward.......Waaaaa-pam! The clouds parted and there was awesomeness. Beautiful, pink, bright fleeting awesomeness. Not sunshine, but I knew it was there, just behind the clouds. It feels like the secret to true happiness is knowing that there is always sunshine, sometimes you just have to find it, yourself.

Finally, tonight, I dragged my hubby out to a cemetery by our house to try out my new cable release for the camera. I took my first night time long exposure. While it exposed, we danced to Ingrid Michaelson, and laughed. When it developed, we looked in excitement and I laughed remembering that I'd forgotten to set the focus to infinity. I've got no where to go but up from this image, and it inspires me to learn.

It's going to be a great year. Night night.

Friday, May 25, 2012


This morning, I was reminded, those that crow loudest sometimes need a little boost too.  Our little girl was going to Kindergarten practice today, and she was not her confident self. Today's one hour mini session was a teaser for all the kids starting school next year, and more importantly, a reality check for all the parents. Having been down this road a couple of times now, I tried to tell myself that this was just another step. It doesn't matter what you tell yourself though, because your heart always knows the truth.

I sat down next to my girl and asked, "What are you worried about?"

"Momma, I WON'T KNOW ALL THE NUMBERS." She cried, emphatically.

Often I wonder at this strong little girl. So sure of herself, so knowing. Often we forget her age and joke that we think she is an 80 year old woman, who came back for one more wild ride in this life. Lorelei is here for the party. She is here to embrace every delicious second of this life.  Rarely does she give herself permission and time to recognize her fears. She replaces that nervousness with bravado and a fierce determination that she can talk away her butterflies. Seeing her take a quiet moment to offer vulnerability and voice her worries is a relief. These moments, a reminder to support her strength, but also help her recognize and accept that her vulnerability is just as valid.

"Oh baby, it's okay to be nervous but I promise you, you don't need to know your numbers. You are going to learn all that. Mommy has been to school and she is still learning, every single day. That is the best part of life, always learning, always discovering."

Her eyes got wide as she whispered, "Really?"

"Really!" I nodded. With that, her whole body relaxed in the new knowledge that not knowing is just another exciting adventure.

My own nervousness arrived us at school earlier than usual. I told myself quietly that this was a good thing. This meant more time for Lorelei to adjust to the kids, but in truth, it was momma who needed time to adjust.

Graysen and Lorelei climbed out of the car and trying to slow my breathing, I reminded myself that though the urge to hold onto my girl tight was so strong, she was my girl that needed to fly. She needed this adventure. I am forever a "never say never" mom. Choosing to keep our options open, homeschooling has always been one of those options, just not yet exercised. When Caylen went to Kindergarten, we told ourselves, that if it wasn't a good fit, we could always homeschool. That permission to change our minds, our exit strategy, has always been a comfortable safety net for an "incase" moment.

Why then today was I ready to throw the brakes on the whole shebang?
Watching the two of them walk to the crosswalk I wanted to shout, "Stop, rewind. Let's go home. School is cancelled. Forever!"
Parenting is all about adjusting and readjusting.  Remembering our "exit strategy", one foot in front of the other, we made it across the crosswalk.

Feelings from eight years ago, came flooding back. Caylen going to school for the first time, I remember feeling this sense of panic with every step towards the first big day. This worry that there were all these hours in the day that would be trusted to someone else. Giving up that control, releasing it, came in part with developing a fantastic communication with the school and his teachers.

It came from seeing him blossom and grow in his new adventure. As he is a child that craves human interaction, I learned quickly to adapt and realize that him being at school did not mean giving up control. Instead, it meant opening our parenting world up to include some fantastic, gifted team mates. A realization came quickly, that the saying, "It takes a village" meant not only the family and friends you chose, but also the educators that cared deeply for your children. Those gifted guides that work in tandem with willing families, opening their village up to another level of amazing. This was a lesson we learned even more so with Graysen. Knowing instinctively of his needs, there was this fear he wasn't ready, but we charged ahead, knowing that the exit strategy was always there, waiting in the sidelines. The gift of our teammates for him was ten fold. His teachers, through the years, all beautiful humans that genuinely liked him and saw Graysen, not a label. This has given him a secure place to learn and grow and it has given us the gift of healing, realizing that there are those that see our child and not a problem.

All these memories and lessons ran through me as Lorelei stood close to me. It felt like she was testing to make sure that this was still the same safe little cocoon she knew from all her times volunteering in her brother's classes. She took in the kids playing, giving me a front row seat to the moment when her curiosity and playful spirit, eventually tipped the scales on her uncertainty. Like watching a bucket spill over, she slowly leaned forward and then ran for the roundabout, climbing all the way to the top. A look of relaxed bliss spread across her features as she took in the playground from her new vantage point. When did her legs get long enough to climb to the top?

My sister and I had a talk one day about having kids and we came to the realization that the image we held in our mind of ourselves as mother's, was an image of us with young children. We never fast forwarded to what it might look like parenting growing children. Instead we were stunted, resting in the eternally Peter Pan outlook of a motherhood defined only by babies and toddlers.

There is so much amazing past all the angst of diapers, and feedings. Past first steps and teething, there was this whole world of wonder when you realize it feels good, watching them grow. Something about having newborns, allows you to hold onto your own youth. Part of me mourns the end of that, but more so I am surprised to find myself excited to watch them carry on, to adventure and discover in this world.

The bell startled me. Snapping me out of the conversations with other moms. The, "me too's" and the "can't believe your little one is old enough already" faded quickly, as kids scattered into their classrooms.

Our girl ran to the kindergarten room, and stopped short outside the door. She wore her nervous excitement in every fiber of her being. In her hand she held a picture, that this morning, she had insisted she needed to draw for her teacher. Once inside, shyly handing it over, all her uncertainty melting the second she started explaining her artwork.

Teacher formalities out of the way, she made fast friends with a few little girls and took over the puzzle table. This was about the time that I was released dismissively with a quick kiss and a, "You can go have your coffee now mom. I love you."

Walking slowly to the door, it hit me, this feeling like I was getting away with something. Like it was all too easy. Part of me wanted her to need me, to ask me to stay, but this ain't momma's first Rodeo. Knowing she would be fine, that she would miss me, but she would be okay, I kept going, inertia pushing me out the door. Muttering something to the teacher about being given permission to leave, knowing that if I stopped, I wouldn't start again.  Leaping clear of the door, a tad giddy, I may have made eye contact with some mom's and let out a tiny, "Woohoo!" letting inertia continue to push me to the car.

Inside the quiet warmth of the car, that giddy feeling was instantly overcome by a wave of sadness. For the last 13 years, I have had a little adventurer home with me, to take on the day. This September would be something else entirely.

When Caylen went to school, I tried to shush all those voices of worry, or sadness. I tried to fall in line with the response I thought I was supposed to have. 13 years into this parenting thing though, I've learned that it's all okay. The sadness, the nostalgia, the worry, the feeling of losing control, the excitement and the giddy. It's all valid, and it's all going to be okay. It's just another amazing adventure we are standing overlooking.

She is our third baby, so the all these feelings are less, but also more; different, but the same. She is our bonus human, and so like everything with her, I try to take it in and soak it up as much as I can, because this is the last time I am stepping through these milestones, and bittersweet seems to be the word of the year.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Bravery of Prince Graysen.....

Once upon a time there was a young Prince named Graysen. He lived in a lush green kingdom, with his royal family. Young Prince Graysen was born into this world with the ability to see things in a way that others miss. He was always wrapped up in details that others didn’t notice, and rarely paid attention to that which was important to the other subjects of the kingdom. Some people in the kingdom saw his view of the world as a defect, but really it was just a difference and they were missing the magic of the world through his eyes.

Prince Graysen was born into the world with a destiny to tame the many worry dragons that swarmed around him. To most of the subjects in the kingdom, these dragons were invisible, and so they did not understand his quests. However, to those that did see his battles, they knew he was a great, and brave warrior.

On this particular day, the worry dragon “Rides-a-bike” had been circling with more intensity than in all the past years combined. It was a dragon that his parents, the King and Queen (yes Queen, momma wears a tiara driving the royal minivan on the royal carpool), had pushed to the side, choosing instead to focus their young son on other more pressing battles. At long last though, the time had come for the young prince to face down this dragon and conquer it, once and for all.

Prince Graysen was afraid and cried as he jumped on his wheeled steed. His mother, hating that she had to send her son into this battle, wanted nothing more to run into the castle with her boy and lock the dragons out forever. She knew though, a dragon ignored, breeds more dragons, and no locks could keep them out. Her job was to support him through these battles in childhood, so that he held the tools in his adult years to walk this world along side his dragons as old friends.

Prince Graysen also knew that it was time, but with fear holding tight, the dragon had the upper hand and the young Prince found himself forgetting where his weapons for battle were.

His parents, the King and Queen, realized that he needed to be reminded of the rewards that come to those brave warriors that tame their worry dragons. They told him of the great trophy, Minecraft for Xbox 360. If you don’t know about Minecraft, the royal princes have declared it akin to kittens, sliding down a rainbow at Christmastime. Anywho, the trophy Minecraft for Xbox 360, would be his if he made this dragon his pet.

This was a truly great trophy. Prince Graysen had known it was being made available to the royal trophy cabinet on May 9th, as he had been tracking it’s release for about a year. He had also been talking at his mother, the Queen about it, most every waking second, for that same amount of time. The Queen explained that while it was available, the only thing that would unlock the royal credit card was Prince Graysen taming this dragon and adding it to his collection of dragon pets.

Prince Graysen was unhappy with the rules of the kingdom and stomped around decreeing that someone should lose their head. He fell into an invisible hole on the sidewalk, melting down into a puddle of frustration and futility. Thankfully Prince Graysen was not yet leader of his land, because it appeared that it would have been the Queen's head on the chopping block.

In time Prince Graysen understood that the terms of the quest would not change and he helped the Queen create a plan to tame this dragon and win the trophy. The queen suggested 18 battle days for this victory, knowing secretly, that the young prince would not need nearly that many.

On the first day of battle the young Prince went out with the wise Lady Tracey of the tribe ‘life coach’.
Lady Tracey was a great trainer of young Princes and Princesses, who held the same world views as Prince Graysen. She understood the quests that the young prince was required to challenge in his life, and she was another voice of support and training for the Prince. She joined him on the battlefield, the young prince took deep breaths and he was very brave. He wielded his great power and managed to make six definite blows against Dragon “Rides-a-bike”. Three times lady Tracey coached these blows and three times, Prince Graysen told her, “I’ve doth got this.” While the blows were short, they were strong and steady.

Prince Graysen came inside the royal castle victorious and encouraged that this dragon would soon be among his beautiful menagerie of dragon pets. Inside, he told his mother the Queen of his great battle, unaware that the queen had proudly looked out the castle window and watched him face that dragon head on. She had watched, her heart bursting with joy in seeing that the young prince was discovering what she had known all along, that he had the power to do great things in his life.

The young prince and the queen sat around the royal dining room while the cooks worked on dinner in the kitchen. (Okay, so there aren’t any royal cooks and the queen was actually the one doing the cooking, but a girl can dream, can’t she?) They stood over the battle plan, writing down the details of the day's successes, and planning for tomorrows epic clash.

That night the young prince slept uneasily, concerned for the next day. Upon waking, he spent most of the morning bargaining with the Queen, attempting to circumvent the terms of this battle. The queen held fast, knowing that the dragon “Rides-a-bike” was only a small part of a larger life quest. That quest being the young prince learning to trust in himself, in his brave heart and to take chances.

That morning, Prince Graysen went to the royal school to learn from the royal awesome teachers who understood his view of the world and his quests. When he shared with them, the battle that was required later that afternoon, they affirmed that the power was within him, and that they believed in him, and that he should to.

Try as he might to stall the march of time, the young prince soon found himself back at the royal castle. It was a warm, beautiful day in the kingdom. The young prince’s older brother and younger sister eagerly grabbed their horseless, wheeled, contraptions and spilled out into the street.

The young prince went to his mother, making a feeble protest or two. He looked his mom clearly in the eyes (or close enough) clarifying, “How do I know that the rules won’t change if I am victorious over the worry dragon “Rides-a-bike”?”

His mother smiled and confirmed, “When you ride your horseless, wheeled contraption around the street, just like your older brother Prince Caylen, the trophy will be yours.”

The young Prince watched his big brother effortlessly glide and swoop up and down the road. He stood still for a moment. The queen watched him processing the task at hand, wondering what he must be thinking, wondering if the battle it was too soon for this quest.

Slowly, the Queen saw a change come over the young prince. For the first time she saw determination, growing in his eyes. She saw his body grow still, and he seemed to dig down deep within him, reaching for weapons he had stored away for just such an occasion. The Queen followed the young Prince onto the battlefield. She held the back of the horseless, wheeled contraption, but almost instantly upon entering the great arena, the young prince cried, “Let go!”

He peddled, wobbled, wavered, and stopped. He scrambled to gain his footing as the dragon circled around for another pass. Again, the queen started with him, and again, he pedaled, wobbled, wavered and stopped, this time finding his footing a little faster. The dragon, circled again, blowing fire, and roaring at the young prince, yet the great winged creature could not touch him. The young prince’s determination had created a shield that the dragon could only slam up against. Desperate to avoid the leash the young prince was carrying, the great dragon continued to hammer away at the shield, trying to build on the boy's shakiness.

The battle waged on and on. The queen watched as her son fought with all his might, stopping, starting, over and over, each time finding his footing faster than the last. No longer was he allowing her to help him back onto the field when he stumbled. He pressed into the battle, alone, and with each new attempt the Prince fought back faster than the last.

The queen, watching him charge head on, steadfast, knew, today was the day that this great dragon would fall.

The dragon, raged and slammed against the shield, one last time with all his might. The young warrior fell hard to the ground. The shield closing in close against the young prince, so that even the queen could feel the vibrations from the wings of the great beast, and the heat from it's firey breath. The queen felt the waiver in her son's resolve. Getting back up, he turned to her and whispered, “I really, really want that trophy mommy.”

The queen wanted to hug him, to tell him that from this day forward, she would slay all his dragons. She was conflicted; wanting to use her veto power to negate the rules of the land, but her heart told her with one last push this battle was all but won.

She whispered back, “Are you going to let your worry dragon get in the way of your Minecraft trophy?”

“No.” He replied.

“Then tell your worry dragon, ‘Go away. I want the Minecraft Trophy.’ ”

“Go away worry dragon, I want the Minecraft Trophy. I want to ride my horseless, wheeled contraption!” The young prince’s voice slightly shaky, but there was a steadiness bubbling from deep inside.

With that, he put his feet on the pedals, once, twice, three, four times; the dragon roared, each time, with less ire, less strength. Slowly, the gap between the young prince and the dragon closed, as the great beast circled, closer, and closer, calmer, and calmer. With one final push of resolve, Prince Graysen was suddenly riding his horseless, wheeled contraption, and the dragon was trotting along side him, feisty, but leashed.

“That’s how it’s done.” The queen softly cheered as she watched her young boy circle, victory lap after victory lap. He fell in line with his older brother, exploring the road in front of the castle. The dragon, while still spirited, seemed so much smaller now, as it padded alongside the young prince. The queen was hit with a ‘heartbust’ of joy as she watched her young boy settle into his new skill.

After, all the victory laps, after the royal family and assorted villagers passing by cheered, the young prince turned to his mother and father and asked if the trophy was now his. With a smile, his parents took him into the castle, retrieved the royal credit card and unlocked the Minecraft for Xbox 360 trophy.

As the royal Internet was downloading the trophy into the royal Xbox case, the queen took her son upstairs to record his victory on his battle plan. The prince drew confetti on day two of the plan, and his mother spoke to him softly, “Do you see now, that you had the power to do this all along? The only thing that stood in your way was you believing in yourself. You can do anything in this world Prince Graysen, if you just trust and believe in yourself.”

He hugged her and disappeared into the royal gaming room to discover his trophy with his older brother.

 The queen let the events of today's battle wash over her. She found herself grateful that having a young Prince born to these quests, meant that she had the perspective to celebrate these battles in a way that she might have missed without this destiny. She reminded herself that in time, all battles will be won. In his own time, her young prince will rule his world with courage and strength. While his reign might look different from that of his royal siblings, it would be right and beautiful all the same.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


This morning I was getting dressed. The house was already moving, the boys in their morning routine. The sound of the garage door opening, told me that hubby was taking out the trash. Woot woot! One of the only jobs I avoid by pretending it simply doesn't exist.
Meanwhile, I was drawn to the happy chatter of a four year old, one room over.

She. Was. In. It!

There was a whole world in her room. Voices of all the different characters floated through the house.  Lego Hello Kitty and crew, were fraternizing with Barbie, who all appeared to be trying to crash a BBQ at the Fisher Price Dollhouse. I walked over to her door. Lorelei had dressed herself, again in something mismatched, yet surprisingly it worked.
The floor in front of her dresser, looked like "backstage at fashion week'.

While I could have been bothered that all the work to sort the toys out, to carefully fold those clothes, was wasted, I just couldn't muster up the frustration.
It all melted away as I reminded myself what a beautiful thing it is to have a child that knows how to play. That is the magic of being mom to such different little humans. I learned years ago, that not all children instinctively know how to play, and so I celebrated. I celebrated and I reminded myself that clean rooms do not make memories. I listened quietly for a few more minutes, letting her happy dialogue float past me, and quietly walked away.

I went into the kitchen and started the coffee, looking up in time to see hubby walking down the hall. Turning on his cellphone, without missing a beat, he smiled at me saying,
"Just in case you are wondering, Lorelei is in Japan right now."
"Japan huh? Nice!" I laughed.

I started unloading the dishwasher, and soon our little girl walked into the kitchen to join me. Sister loves a good dishwasher unloading session. I am her captive audience as we put away the dishes and reload, and I'm happy to listen to her chatter as we do it, knowing soon enough the shine of this job will wear off and it will become a chore instead of a treat.

Today though is different. She grabs a spoon that needs to go in the bucket on the counter and heads over. I snicker quietly to myself, waiting, anticipating the request for help in reaching that I know is coming.

Yet, nothing. I look over and I'm stunned to see her reaching up and putting the spoon away all by herself, still chattering, oblivious to the fact that her momma just had a reality check that time does not stand still. She grabs a few more and I just stare, wondering, when did this happen? When in the four years of life, and amazing, and insane, and exhausting and blur, when did she grow into this young girl? I snapped a quick shot and looked on the screen to see in the bright light of the morning, that in her facial features, the baby was all but gone, replaced by little girl.

Today, the weekend hung over me. So many balls in the air, so much to do to prep. Balance had it's bags packed and was heading out the front door. I was about two steps behind it, ready to run from all that needed doing, in favour of playing outside in the sun with our youngest. I reminded myself, balance.

I raced around the house, getting out stuff for dinner, throwing a load of laundry on, hanging another load on the line to dry. I washed the counters, ran a broom along the floor, checked and sent emails to teachers and commitments, and ran a cloth over the bathroom surfaces.

In between, Lorelei and I sat on the deck and had a chat over breakfast (her and I) and coffee (me). We enjoyed the musical thrum of a hummingbird that came past for a sip from the feeder.

 We marvelled as we managed to spot that same hummingbird, perched, in our tree. Such a balanced contrast to it's normally constant motion. 

Convinced that I'd met the requirements for keeping the house needs to a dull roar, I grabbed the camera and the kid and ran for the car. We grabbed bagels and milk along the way, and landed at the Blue Heron Nature Reserve for a little adventure. Our goal, finding the creatures that lived there; a tall order when you are travelling with a chatty, silly four year old.

Momma saw a lot of Herons, a frog, some birds.
Lorelei saw the cat that lives at the reserve. She and the cat; it was all about them today.

 So while I was tempted to push things, to drag her down a path to find a frog, to sit still by the water and wait for a bunny, it was not my agenda that mattered today. What mattered was this moment with my girl who will be grown in a blink.

I sat and watched her talk to the cat. I watched her say hello to a couple and then charm them by telling them that she lived in Canada.

 I followed her lead as we left and walked down the road to a farm where the horses seemed even more interested in her, than she was in them.

I took in the day, the sunshine, our girl. I forgot all the things I thought needed doing, the places I expected I should have been, and I breathed in that moment, in the only place I needed to be, in that now. I balanced.

It feels like this is the motto for my life, my lesson for my time on this earth. I'm the all or nothing girl, or at least I used to be. Becoming a mom, an adult, learning to love the skin I'm in, has given me the gift of learning balance. Balance in my day, my heart, my life. I fall down, I get back up, I try again.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bliss is....

Tonight I laid in bed, after a truly full weekend and just took in the amazing that was two sleeping babies, sprawled across every possible inch of bed they can claim.

It's those moments that I am quiet and take a moment to just fully embrace the bliss that is this simple life of family and love.

Our story is no different from anyone else's. Our challenges and triumphs are repeated in families far and wide. However, the gift of little people is that ability to truly refine down that which really matters. In my version of the day, all the little annoyances, the negatives, the challenges are filtered through a heavy dose of humour and sunshine.

When I look at it that way, bliss is really simple.
It's deciding halfway through Friday, that it's the weekend and springing the kids early from school for a picnic. Is it all bliss? If you choose it, it is.

You can focus on the fact that surprising your autistic son at school for an impromptu picnic means dealing with the cyclical meltdown all the way to the preteen's school, which only intensifies when the preteen gets in the car and picks a fight. You could focus on the fact that as soon as you get to the river the sun disappears behind the clouds, which open up, and then spend the next 45 minutes fluctuating between sun and rain. You could, but you'd miss all the bliss.

You'd miss that moment when the eight year old remembered for the hundredth time, that surprises ARE good, or that moment when the boys forget to bicker and realize that they like each other.

You'd miss the moment when they realized that trying to take a picture of all of us together is hilarious.

You'd miss the laughter that comes when the rain falls again and we huddle together and try to pretend that it's sunny, or the squeal of joy to discover mom brought double chocolate cookies. You'd miss that moment when walking back, you see the boys enjoying each other, and big sister lovingly patting little sister on the head.

You'd miss that moment when the eight year old forgets that he didn't want to come and instead he falls  back to grab your hand and say, "Thank you for taking us here. It was fun."

Moments like this, I will myself to take pictures with my mind. The kind of images that you can feel and smell and hear when you close your eyes at night. The kind of frozen moments that I can hold close when they are grown with babies of their own.

Bliss is simple. Everyday, in the whirlwind that is life, that is raising a family, there are a million opportunities to call it in, to write it off, to declare it bad. I don't want to live like that though. I look at the time we have had as parents already. Our oldest, born to us, is almost 13. That happened in a blink. I'm certainly not wasting another blink worrying about all the little things that won't matter in 20 years.

What will matter in 20 years, is remembering the soft deep single snore of a little girl laying next to you sleeping. It will matter that the eight year old came into our room again and fell asleep on me, his little body relaxing into a sound sleep. The laughter will matter. The picnics in the rain will matter. The 100th time we taught Graysen that surprises are great, will matter.

Everything else is just what tries to distract us from what matters.