The Big 6

happy buddy bdayI can’t believe you are 6 years old today – just this morning you said to me, “Mommy, doesn’t it feel like my last birthday was 5 months ago?” :-)

It has been a big year for you!

This year you asked Jesus into your heart… We were lying in bed one night last October talking about Jesus and you asked me if you could go to heaven one day.  Then one short, heartfelt, Holy Spirit-led prayer later, the angels were throwing the biggest party heaven had ever seen.

You lost your first tooth and the Tooth Fairy came.

You cycled your way through a variety of sports – football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and now you’re all about Nascar.  Your daddy and I just love stepping on the 100 millions Matchbox cars you leave all over the living room carpet. :-)

I love your honest heart…  You confess your sins quickly and then I get the opportunity to hug you close and whisper truths about His unending grace for you.

You still like to play in your kitchen and just yesterday we played restaurant and you cooked me a delicious plate of grilled chicken with bacon and asparagus.

Your little brother tells me regularly that you are his hero.

You like to pull out every piece of construction paper we own and make little creations.

Sometimes you crawl into Sunday School pretending to be a dog named Sparky and I love that the Children’s Ministry staff prints you a name tag that says Sparky.

You mastered the Monkey Bars this year.

Every once in awhile instead of saying goodbye you will say, “Toodaloo!”

You did amazing in your second year of PreK-4.  Your dad and I feel so thankful that you had one more year to play and make new friends.

I love how you are 6 and yet you use vocabulary like ‘aghast’ and ‘miraculous’ and can already tell time on an analog clock.

You get a real kick out of using potty words like ‘poop’ and ‘pee’ and everyday I wrestle with wanting to laugh about it or stuff a bar of soap in your mouth teach you about self-control and Ephesians 4:29.

You didn’t have a seizure this year!

You love to send text messages filled with funny emoticons to Mom-Mom and Grammie and Miss Cathy.

You would eat a brownie for breakfast, cake at lunch, and cookies after dinner every single day if we let you.  I am already praying about the day you go off to college…

I love how you never let me forget to give you Jesus Kisses.

You are always trying to honk my nose at bedtime and while it drives me crrrrazy, I love that you do it.

We recently sat down for an hour and you worked on writing your first book and I got to be the illustrator.  I love that you wrote Pictures By Julia on the cover and told me I did a good job drawing.

You never forget a thing.  {{A fact that also scares me a little bit.}}

I love how you gave it your all at the Talent Show.

Last night as we snuggled in bed, I reminded you about the story of your birth… How the doctors told us THERE WAS NO WAY we would ever have a baby and how we prayed for you by name and how God just blew everyone’s minds when He created you.

You are a miracle.

I’m so blessed to be your mama.  It is an honor and a joy to serve you.  You can talk about poop all you want, little buddy – we think you’re amazing. ;-)

Happy Birthday.

Love, Your mama

*If you want to see how this boy has grown, click on the numbers to see Happy Buddy’s other birthday letters – 5, 43 and 2.

The Quality Time Kid and the Martha Mommy

beach day2

I am a DO-er.  I am always moving, cleaning, typing, working, reading, talking, folding, laundering, imagining and any other action verb you can think of.

This makes an interesting dynamic in our home because Happy Buddy’s love language is quality time.  All day long he asks me to play with him and look at him and help him and cook with him and sit with him and read with him and snuggle with him and just be with him.

And all that Martha in me is learning to be a little bit more like Mary.

Because y’all don’t have to tell me that time flies.


In 15 years I want my boy to still ask me to do all those things I listed above with him (even snuggle, because I know 25 year old boys like to do that with their mamas – at least that book Love You Forever gives me hope), so every time I squash that desire to write that email, scrub that dish, or go on that purge-every-closet-in-the-house rampage, I am planting a seed for future relationship with my boy.

I don’t get it perfect every day.  I have a really hard time not trying to do 1,000 other things while spending ‘quality time’ with Happy Buddy.  Sometimes the laundry wins.  Or my iPhone. ;-)

And I also feel the need to point out the importance of balance here.  If I said yes to Happy Buddy EVERY time he asked me to play with him I would literally be playing with him ALL DAY LONG.  I grew a whole other person in my belly for him to have as a regular playmate.  Plus, we expect Happy Buddy to daily have time to play by himself, as well as come alongside me as a helper in the work that has to get done in our house.

Not to mention that I think there are some risks in spending too much time with our quality-time-loving-kids… Sometimes I see a little bit of an attitude in Happy Buddy that feels entitled to my presence instead of having a heart of gratitude for the efforts I make to invest in his heart.  That’s when we step back and try to regain a healthy perspective on mommy’s availability.

But with all that said, the bigger picture is me learning how to love my little guy best.

When Happy Buddy was born, we picked a name for him that means ‘Peace’ and ‘Rest’.

I had thought that by naming him this great name that he would become the very definition of it.  As a newborn that would look like a very peaceful baby who didn’t cry.  As a toddler he would quietly play and color in coloring books for fun.  As a preschooler he would never get in trouble in class or have emotional outbursts.

I smile now at how the Lord had a bigger plan for this boy’s name (and I laugh at my lack of understanding about REALITY – hahaha).

Because the meaning of Happy Buddy’s name wasn’t necessarily meant to embody his character but rather transform MINE.

This boy calls me to rest when my flesh wants to work and do.

This boy calls me to peace when I want to worry about all the things a mama can worry about.

This boy reminds me that watching him shoot hoops or pulling out a game of Battleship or sitting on the couch to watch a Nascar race or playing T-Ball with him in the 100 degree summer heat is the ‘better choice’ (Luke 10:42).

Summer is giving me the gift of more quality time with this amazing boy.

And I’m hoping to make Mary proud. :-)

What is your child’s love language and how does it challenge you to grow?

– Julie

The NBA’s Youngest Recruit

basketball 6basketball 8basketball 5basketball 2basketball 3

Just wanted to document what the Happy Buddy has been up to these days.

When the lease on my old car was up and we went to trade it in for something else, our car salesman at the dealership was handing out tickets for upcoming Miami Heat games to whoever bought a car that day.

We were only supposed to have received one set of tickets, but the salesman took pity on us because he saw how frazzled I was trying to keep 2 busy little boys occupied while waiting for 5 hours to haggle our way to a good deal and then get all the paperwork done, so he threw in a few more sets of tickets.

Let me just say that trying to lease a car with kids in tow is not a task for the faint of heart.  I believe we climbed in and out of every car on display, set off a few car alarms, made origami out of styrofoam cups, compared water from the water fountains on the north and south sides of the building, and played house for an hour under some tall bar stools in the waiting room.

Note to self for when next lease is up – skip the leather seat upgrade and hire a babysitter instead.

All that to say, Happy Buddy has been to see THREE Miami Heat games in the last few months and now he is OBSESSED with basketball.

Every day after school within seconds of getting home, he heads to the backyard where he plays a full 4 quarter basketball game – complete with scoreboard (see puzzles above) and running commentary.

He even sings the National Anthem at the start of the game which ends with his own inspiring interpretation, “The land of the free and the home of the grave.”

I usually do a half-time show that includes my one entertainment trick that never fails to please – blowing bubbles.  A few weeks ago he asked if I would do a somersault for the half-time show and I politely declined for fear that I would break my back and/or frighten the neighbors across the canal.

Every time I am tempted to want to tune out the constant verbal overflow of basketball player stats (just ask me if I know how much Lebron James weighs – BAM) and score reports on every team in the NBA, I remember that one day when he is a teenager and not interested in anything but eating and sleeping, I will miss this terribly.

What cute things are your kids up to lately?

– Julie :-)

A Whole Hand

birthday boy 14Dear Happy Buddy,

Your birthday this year made me a bit of a basket case.

I couldn’t stop thinking about how quickly you grew up – how you are now this big, giant 5-year-old.

After Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes in the morning, I took you and your little brother to the free water play day at the place you have been taking swim lessons.

I sat in a chair and watched you happily race around the small water tables and sprinklers, while I also anxiously checked the clock on my phone every 30 seconds.

Finally, 10:10 arrived.

The time you were born.

I called you to me.

You were much more interested in pushing a plastic toy wheelbarrow that had your brother in it, but I managed to lure you over with a pretzel.

When you got close enough, I pulled you in, cupped your big boy face in my hands and whispered,

“You’re officially a whole hand.  I am so thankful God made you.  You are precious to me.  Happy Birthday.”

And then you ran off smiling, looking at the 5 fingers on your hand in wonder, and my eyes filled up with tears that I’m sure all the moms at free play water day thought were a bad reaction to the 900 gallons of chlorine in the room.

You truly are so special, Happy Buddy.

You are my firstborn.  You made me a mommy.

And while I have loved every year of getting to fulfill that role in your life and watch you grow, this year has been especially fun.

Like I love that you are obsessed with front-loading washing machines and pretend to do laundry where ever we go.

birthday boy 5I love that you are so creative when choosing your apparel for the day.

I love that it takes you 1400 hours to eat a baby carrot.

I love that you always want to match pajamas with your brother.

birthday boy 12I love that you make up songs while we’re driving.

I love that you like to pull a chair up to the kitchen counter to help me cook.

I love that you always remember to buy the grocery store checker their favorite candy.

birthday boy 7I love that you like wearing your swim goggles in the bath tub.

I love that you have 1,000 reasons why you can’t go to bed yet.

I love that you wake up at 5 am every day (I could do without this one, though, just in case you feel like learning how to sleep in).

birthday boy 11I love that you are always asking me to LOOK or WATCH THIS at all the things you make or create or are doing.

I love that you think putting the water bill in the special mailbox at City Hall is a highlight in your day.

I love that you are an amazing listener.

I love that you are getting better about brushing your teeth.

birthday boy 4I love that you imitate whatever is going on around you – if Daddy is grilling, you pretend to grill.  If our kitchen has mold in it, you pretend your kitchen has mold in it.  If you’re watching the World Cup, you turn our living room into a soccer field.  You have an incredible imagination.

I love that you never forget to do Jesus Kisses every night before bed.

birthday boy 2I love that you have such a sweet tooth.

I love that you named my car Frank.

I love that you will play your drum set like a wild man – completely naked except for a super hero cape.

birthday boy 1I love that you enjoy learning new things – like how to use the leaf blower with Pop-Pop or how to bowl with Mommy.

I love that you leave your tinkle in the potty every morning because you are afraid the flushing sound will wake Mommy and Daddy up.

I love that when someone says or does something kind for you you tell them that “it opened your heart.”

I love that you think about God and ask me questions about Him.

birthday boy 6I love that you like to take out every toy you own and set them up all over every square inch of our house.

I love that you are completely captivated by clocks and timers.

I love that the other day I took your hand in mine and said, “When you are a teenager will you still let me hold your hand?” and you responded, “YES!” and then thought about it for a second and said slyly, “Well… maybe.”

I love that every morning the bathroom looks like you had a wrestling match with your toothpaste and the toothpaste won.

birthday boy 8I love that you occasionally steal my phone and record ridiculous, epically long videos of yourself making goofy faces, running around, and acting like you belong in a loony bin.

I love that when I pray over you at night I sense that one day you will be a great leader.

I love it when you smile at me.

I love it that you enjoy watching Tinker Bell movies.

I love that you applaud my attempts to sing “Let It Go” in the kitchen while trying to convince you and your brother that vegetables are delicious.

birthday boy 17I love that you tried to climb up the entertainment center the other day and almost broke your leg.

I love that you could care less about Disney parks but could spend hours riding the Monorail.

I love that you don’t cry anymore when I have to clip your fingernails or pour water over your head in the bath.

I love that when you have to go to the bathroom you force your brother to go as well.

birthday boy 10I love that you tell your speech therapist that she smells nice and that you compliment ladies if their toes are painted.

I love that you liked it when I wore that silly magnetic nose ring I bought at a souvenir shop on the beach.

I love that when I ask you for forgiveness you respond immediately with, “Always, Mommy.”

I love that you recently discovered the box I keep of all your old artwork and went around the house hanging up each piece on any available surface.

I love that you cannot leave the house without 15 things in tow.

I love that I caught you with your arms raised in worship while we were driving to church last week.

birthday boy 3Happy Buddy, I love that you are YOU.

This list is just a tiny version of a much longer one that is in my heart – a list that I ponder over and over throughout the days as I watch your hand fill up with years.

I can’t wait to see what the Lord has for you as He adds more hands to your life.

And oh, how I pray that you will continue to use those hands to serve God and bless others every single day along the way.

I am so proud to be your mama.

Happy Birthday. :-)



“So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in your name.” Psalm 63:4

Baking With Grandmommy

baking with grandmommy 1.jpgbaking with grandmommy1.jpgbaking with grandmommy 6.jpgbaking with grandmommy.jpgbaking with grandmommy 3.jpgbaking with grandmommy 5.jpgbaking with grandmommy 4.jpgbaking with grandmommy 7.jpgbaking with grandmommy 8.jpgWe spent a morning with Grandmommy (the hubby’s grandma) last week.

She didn’t freak out when the Happy Buddy flung sugar across the counter and all over the floor.

She didn’t mind that the snickerdoodles were shaped like baby carrots instead of melon balls.

She knew the importance for a little helper to push buttons like set the timer and turn off the oven.

She stayed patient even when it took about 5 minutes (and a few distracted trips to play with Legos) to fill up the measuring cups with Crisco or flour.

She let him have the first bite (and several dozen more).

She sent us home with 2 giant bags of goodies.  And a couple of pizzas.

She praised and encouraged and inspired my budding little chef.

She gave us memories to treasure forever.

She was a reminder to me that her and Grandaddy’s faith was what God used to inspire my father-in-law’s faith which was what helped inspire my husband’s faith which inspires my own and my boys’ faith every day.

I hope that one day I will get to bake with my sons’ children’s children (phew).

I won’t be as lovely or spirited as Grandmommy when I’m 86.

I will probably be bald, in a wheelchair, have no teeth, and look like a human raisin –

But we will make some pretty scrumptious snickerdoodles and we will talk about how great our God is.


Thank you, sweet Grandmommy, for your precious faithfulness.

This family knows Jesus because of it.

– Julie

“Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” Psalm 112:1-2 (ESV)

We Get Another Year

we get another yearEarlier in the year the Happy Buddy’s teacher came to us and expressed some concern about our son’s fine motor and speech skills.

He was having trouble holding a pencil, writing, sitting in a position that didn’t look like a contortionist, and pronouncing 98% of the letters in the alphabet.

She recommended therapy.

I guess I sort of went into denial about that statement because it felt like all my therapy eggs were in the Happy Baby’s basket – if that makes any sense whatsoever.

So I brushed it off and sort of just thought it would get better with time.

Then May came and his teacher asked to meet with us again to discuss the Happy Buddy’s progress.

And I knew what was coming.

I knew we were going to be encouraged to keep our boy in preschool one more year.

At first we were a little bummed because I knew how excited the Happy Buddy was about going to kindergarten across the street at the ‘big kid school’.

But then the more we thought about it, the more we realized how great it was going to be to not have all that big kid school pressure (I hear there’s homework over there.  And spelling tests.  And toilets that were designed for actual people instead of elves.  And possibly no more Show-and-Tell.).

He’d get another year to play in pretend kitchens and sand tables.

He’d get another year to mature socially (which is a nicer way of saying that he needs to learn to keep his hands to himself and stop throwing mulch at the girls on the playground).

He’d get the chance to be the oldest in the class instead of the youngest.

He’s get another year of pasting and cutting and working with pencils.

He’d get another year to just have fun and be a little kid.

We parents are always in such a hurry to get our kid to the next milestone.

And it seems that the Lord is constantly teaching me to stop obsessing over the milestones and embrace my children for who He created them to be.

And they were definitely created to be on something a little different than all those national averages.


Besides, it’s one more year where my little boy gets to live under my roof where we do glow stick baths and family dance parties and Crash Piles and Jesus Kisses and brownie baking and GRACE and forgiveness and kindness and love before he graduates high school and ventures off into the world.

And to this mama, that sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

– Julie :-)

“He has made everything beautiful in its time…” Ecclesiastes 3:11

The Great Paci Surrender

the great paci surrender10When I was pregnant with the Happy Buddy I SWORE up and down and left and right that my kid would NEVER take a pacifier.

I mean, hello?!  I read all the baby books and I knew all about nipple confusion.

I planned on nursing this baby until he was at least 10 and nothing was going to get in the way of that.

Not to mention I didn’t want my precious child getting messed up teeth and have to spend thousands of dollars on dental work.

And besides, my baby wasn’t going to need a paci anyway because he was not going to fuss or cry like those other babies.

<<<<<<Insert lots of loud laughing here.>>>>>>

the great paci surrender6The Happy Buddy was not even alive a few hours before the Happy Hubby was marching himself down to the nurse’s station to fetch us a pacifier.

As soon as that funny little thing was popped into our baby’s mouth, there was no turning back.

Our boy love love looooooooved his pacis.

He needed at least 4 pacis in his bed at all times (apparently each pacifier brought a little something different to the table).

He loved sucking them and chewing them and throwing them out of his crib as a form of entertainment.

the great paci surrender8He needed them to calm down.

He needed them to sleep.

He needed them when he was bored.

He needed them to poop.

He needed them all. the. time.

Well, we eventually got him to a place where he was only allowed to have his paci during nap time or while sleeping at night.

When that happened, suddenly the Happy Buddy wanted to take a lot of ‘rests’ throughout the day. ;-)

As year 2 of his life drew to an end, the Happy Hubby and I decided that on his 3rd birthday, we’d ditch the pacifiers for good.

the great paci surrender9But then… the Happy Baby was born.

And the drama that ensued in our Happy Home after his birth put pacifier retirement at the bottom of our list of things to do.  The Happy Baby ended up having his feeding tube surgery on the same day as the Happy Buddy’s 3rd birthday, so we just couldn’t justify ripping away his one physical comfort during such a painful and trying time.

All of a sudden another year went by and the Happy Hubby and I are looking at each other wondering if our kid is going to college with a MAM.

So over the last few months we have started to drop subtle hints that the Happy Buddy was a big boy and big boys did not need pacis.

We even mentioned a few times that his 4th birthday would be the perfect opportunity for him to put those little suckers to rest.

We even made the call that if his pacis fell behind his bed or got dropped on a dirty floor or in the toilet (yes, that happened), I would not replace or clean them.  So once he was down to his last paci, that was it!

As his 4th birthday approached and we were down to that last paci, I started to get cold feet.  I didn’t want to be remembered as the big ogre mommy who took away his precious paci.  Couldn’t it be more organic?  More natural?  Couldn’t a bird just swoop down and pluck it out of his mouth and fly away with it to some far off country?

The birthday came and went and I did not take away the pacifier.

A few days later, however, the Happy Buddy came to us and announced (completely on his own volition) that next Saturday (not this Saturday, the next one) he wanted to take his final pacifier to the hospital where ‘we got the Happy Baby’ and give it away to one of the newborns.

The Happy Hubby and I nodded our heads and approved of this, but we did not think for one second that our addicted son would actually stick with his plan.

He surprised us again by saying one week later, “Saturday is when I am giving up my paci.”

We encouraged him but still did not think that he was going to follow through.

Well that Saturday arrived and, to be honest, I didn’t even remember the significance of the day, but the Happy Buddy got out of bed and reported to us first thing, “After my nap we are going to the hospital.”

The Happy Hubby pulled me aside later when we were making plans for the day, “We aren’t really going to do that, are we?”

And I was like, “You bet we are!  I think we better jump out this open window before it closes forever!”

After the nap we put the paci in a small Ziploc bag (as I am sure that last pacifier was the host of 8.2 million different kinds of diseases and every letter of the alphabet Hepatitis) and drove to the hospital.the great paci surrender

the great paci surrender2 He took a few final sucks in the lobby.

the great paci surrender3Then we rode the elevator up to the postpartum wing.

the great paci surrender4We met the head nurse and he handed his last paci into her outstretched hand.

I made a big show of his courage and bravery and determination.

And the Happy Hubby had a Frosty from Wendy’s waiting for him in the car when we returned.

It all seemed too… easy.

The first night without the paci went surprisingly well.  He woke up at 5:30 in the morning and simply couldn’t go back to sleep.  I was okay with this, figuring it was a one time deal.

24 hours later and I am mass texting everyone in my address book for prayer because I am seriously wondering if I need to put the Happy Buddy in rehab.

It was an ugly couple of days.

For some reason the Happy Buddy turned to chewing on clean pairs of underwear as a sort of substitute for the loss of all that oral stimulation.

You’d think a rabid dog had gotten to his Thomas the Train big boys pants if you saw what he did to them!

At one point I even recited Psalm 23 over him focusing on “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” part and then changing the words to, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of no paci, I will fear no evil.  For you are with me…” :-)

But today is the 4th day post-paci and we’re seeing a bit of shining light.

the great paci surrender5We’re going to make it.

Now why am I sharing all this with you?

Well, I faced a good bit of anxiety about the fact that my child was 4 and still using a paci.  I also got some disapproving comments from other mommies who thought he was way too old to still be using one – which just piled on guilt.

In hindsight, though, I realize that it simply wasn’t as big of a deal as I (or others) made it out to be.

He eventually gave it up.

His teeth are fine (the fact that I constantly forget to brush them is more the issue at this point). :-)

He definitely did not have nipple confusion (I nursed him for 2 years!).

And he (and I, for that matter) learned a whole lot of great spiritual truths from the final paci surrender.

So, dear Mom who has a child with a addiction Lovey obsession – don’t worry.  I promise he won’t be climbing into bed with his new bride on their honeymoon and saying, “Hang on, babe.  I need my paci.”

I promise she won’t be sitting in the middle of an important meeting at the Fortune 500 company where she works with her thumb in her mouth.

I promise he won’t be telling his friends in the middle of the football game that he needs to go grab his blankie from the car.

Try not to fret about it.

Just do what you can to help your child see the bigger picture – that God is really all they need.

Happy Buddy, I just want you to know that I am so proud of you!

The choice you made to give up something that was so important to you… oh, how instructive that is to the body of Christ!

What beautiful sacrifice in doing the right thing – even when it cost you something.  That sounds like Jesus to me.

God helped you through the darkest hours, and you came out better and more seasoned (albeit with a few less pairs of undies) in the knowledge that you truly can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.  

But most of all you learned that He is enough.

Mommy loves you so much!

“But my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19