Posts in Family
"What strange creatures brothers are..."

Jane Austin. She knows her stuff. This pair. God knew exactly the brother that each of them needed. He knew we'd need a little dose of wild in our Chap and a little dose of insatiable curiosity in our Oliver. They are braver together, sillier together, louder together. 

The argue and steal toys and make chaos and noise and messes. But they also throw themselves into each others arms after school, and snuggle under blankets watching Tumble Leaf. And from across a sea of people on Sunday, I watched Oliver drop handfuls of Easter Eggs into his brother's basket.

What strange creatures brothers are...

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This season

I want to remember you both as you are in this season. When you still fit snugly in my lap. When you curl into my side, beneath my arm, bodies warm and wiggly. When you tuck yourself in beside me. The sweet smell of your head as you are nestled against me. I cannot catch that scent enough. I cannot kiss that hair enough.

You love our bed. Both of you. I find you there so often. Behind the pillows. Under the covers. Sitting on the headboard. Jumping. Snuggling. Sumersaulting. Reading. Driving cars. We find your treasures, as we pull back the covers and put tired feet beneath cool sheets.

A remote control.

A handful of matchbox cars.

An atlas.

A red sock.

A batman mask. 

A toothbrush.

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Oliver, you have a world that is entirely your own. We catch glimpses and hear stories and have come to know and love its cast of characters: Gabriella, your beautiful imaginary wife (who bears a strong resemblance to our girl, Darcy), Olivia, Stetson, Clapps and Mapels, and the baby twins: Oliver Jr. and Gabriella Jr. With the exception of the twins, you have maintained your imaginary family for close to a year now. They accompany us on trips and adventures, they join you at your work, you often discuss what they are learning, and how you and Gabriella have to "consequence them" sometimes. When the twins were "born" two weeks ago, you wrote them each birthday cards, telling them how happy you were that they were born and how much you love them.

You have a daddy's heart.

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Still a lover of information and facts. Your mind is so like your Dad's. Most recently you have become fascinated with road maps and atlases. How often do we find you on your tummy,  pouring over a road map, perusing the names of the cities. How often do you grab Daddy or I and sit us down with an atlas, inspecting various states, making mental notes of their state bird or flower, asking us to find cities. And suddenly we are all much more well versed in geography. 

Also space. And the human body. I seriously doubt there are other four year olds quite so well versed in the digestive "sys-teem" as you.

Your mind was made for information and you are constantly mining for data. 

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Your heart, though. Buddy your heart. It is piqued by redemption stories and by The Redemption Story. Most often your line of questioning leads us back to the heart of heaven to a God who loves you and died for you and wants to celebrate with you into eternity.

You have so many questions (still) about death and heaven. It has been a topic you have continued to bring up since last spring. And your questions are deep, echos of the depth of your heart.

Will there be sin in heaven?

Will there be kids in heaven?

How do we get to heaven?

Do we have bodies in heaven?

What is the shape of a soul?

Some of your questions arise out of fear. And we are praying a deep peace for you, that you would be very held by Jesus during bouts of fear and that you would always invite us in those dark places with you and that we could look for the light together. Comfort seems to come quickly when we start imagining heaven together, and you seem especially fond of two ideas: One: that no one ever throws up in heaven. Because that is the worst. Two: That God's glory shines so brightly we won't even need a light bulb. 

I hope your room is right next to mine in heaven sweet boy. I can't wait to sit at that banquet table with you.

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Milo Chapman. You are a whole hurricane. Aggressive and unbridled affection comes literally pouring out of you. 

Your firm hands cup our faces, and pull us against your face. Forehead to forehead. Nose to nose. Mouth to mouth. And you squish your face against ours. Hard. Like really, really, uncomfortably hard.

Nobody loves a good face smash like you.

And that is the reason we have all had the flu.

Twice. 

Face. Smash.

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No one gives affection quite like you.

No one insists on affection quite like you.

Sometimes we hear you screaming from your bed: "MOMMY! 'NUGGLE ME NOOOOOOOWWW!!!!!!" It's not the warmest of invitations, and it's not always greeted with the warmest of responses. But I hear your heart, buddy. You want to be held. You want to be close. You want to be secure. 

Daddy says you remind him of me. Like a lot.

I can't really argue.

Lately, you've been telling us your tummy hurts and that you need to see the doctor. We suspect it's the antibiotic you are on, but the result is that you want to be held. 100% of the time. And not just snuggled up in our laps, but wrapped around our waist, specifically while we are standing.

All 32 pounds of you.

"I caweee (carry) you, Mommy." (aka: YOU carry ME, Mommy. Like Now.)

All the time.

If you had your way.

Your spirit animal is a baby sloth. 

There is a reason sloth momma's move so slowly.

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You have few greater than joys in this life at this point, beyond face smash and "caweee me" than your Lightening McQueen matchbox car, woe-bots (robots), your pacifier (which I am so embarrassed we haven't gotten rid of yet, but it is quite honestly my only bargaining chip sometimes) and "pway tackwle Daddy"(play tackle daddy). If Daddy is not available, you will substitute Oliver quite gladly. He almost always obliges you. And the fits of giggles and belly laughs as you crash into him and roll around on top of him is contagious.

Because your belly laugh game is strong.

You laugh HARD.

You cry HARD.

You love HARD.

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Buddy Buddies, we love you. We love watching you. We love entering  your private worlds and joining you in them. We love watching your personalities grow and knowing you more each day.

We are captivated.

We are praying so many deep, deep things over your hearts. That God would win, that truth would win, that redemption would win, that forgiveness would win, that love would win, that tenderness would win, that courage would win, that generosity would win, that wisdom would win, that purity would win, and so much more.

And we are praying deep bonds of affection between the two of you. And if that means we sacrifice a good mattress in the building up of that affection, we will gladly bear it. 

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We are on the same team

Three year olds, man. This is THE season. It is the season of pretend and "Doktor Ah-wi-ver" (Doctor Oliver) and "Ast-wo-naught Ah-wi-ver"(Astronaut Oliver) and "Baby Ah-wi-ver."  It is the season of potty humor and poop jokes. It is the season of shoes on the wrong feet, and undies on his head, and Daddy-shirts at bedtime.  It is the season of planting himself near construction sites and watching diggers and dumpers and giving the workers thumbs up. It is the season of snuggles on the couch, and hiding 'awww to-gever" (all together) under the covers, and reading "Go, Dog. Go!" over and over and over.

It is the season of questions. "What's her middle name?", "What car does he dribe?", "Are we sitting at da table?", "Can I? Can I? Can I?", "What day is it?", "Are my shoes on de white (right) feet?", "Are we in da car?". They come at you so fast and so constantly. So many questions. My eardrums ache at the end of some days, and other days my soul is laughing at all the absurd questions I have answered. "Can our house wear a diaper?!", "Can I take a tubby on the roof?!", "I don't mow (know) Mommy, why DID I touch my poo poo?"

It is the season of "No! I don't want to!!!! I don't wike to!!!" It is the season of a little bum on a little time out stool. So. Many. Times. Every. Single. Day. It's the season of a red face and hot tears and a vein in his neck that bulges when he doesn't get his way. It is the season of Star Wars stickers on a chart on the fridge and a music video when enough stickers are earned. 

But that bulging vein.

We see it so often.

So much so that now we have a special time every day where we sit down and simply practice obeying with a happy heart. Because man, we need to work on this, on purpose. The same way we work on counting, and coloring, and cutting... we are working on obeying.

But here's the thing sweet boy. It's not you versus me. It is not a battle, with winners and losers. I'm not trying to outsmart you, or out-wit you, or beat you at your own game. I'm not working on my angle or strategizing against an opponent. I'm not standing on one team, and watching you across the field on the other team.

I know it probably doesn't feels like it. When your face is red, and your heart is racing and that little vein in your neck is bulging.

But, buddy, we are standing on the same side of the field. We are on the same team. We are fighting together, not against each other.

I know it's too much to ask of a little guy... to remember all that in the middle of a crisis. But that's ok, because I can remember it for the both of us. When we are in the thick of it together, this week and this year and ten years from now. 

We are on the same team.

You. And I. And Daddy.

We are on the same team.

Awww To-gever.

Despite what your feelings tell you. Despite what your racing heart tells you. 

Despite what my feelings tell me. Despite what my racing heart tells me. 

We are in this all together.

Oh buddy, we are working with you for your good. For your future. For your character. We love you and we are in this together. You carry our heart inside your skin. How could we ever be on opposing teams? We are for you. We are so incredibly and deeply and profoundly for you.

And oh the grace we pray over your heart and mind for the days we haven't postured ourselves alongside you. When we approach you with the heart of an opponent instead of a parent.

We love you.

We are for you.

We are on the same team.