“Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth”

My seven-year-old was in the middle of an existential crisis. It started with some rowdy play with his older sister, which ended badly – yelling, punching, crying, storming off. Then, some Peter Pan-ish despair: “I don’t want to grow up! My body is getting bigger and it’s hurting my sister and I didn’t mean to hurt her. And Ellie is growing up and losing some of her imagination! I don’t want to lose my imagination!”

Followed by deeper questions about his own existence: “If I had never been born, who would I be? Where would I be? What would be me?”

Followed by even deeper questions about existence itself: “What if God isn’t real? What if the earth created itself or was created from space or from science? What if a different God created space?”

space

Jack reads a lot of science-related nonfiction about outer space, geology, weather, and physics. They are books written for children, but based in current scientific theory nonetheless.

Jack also attends Sunday School, reads The Action Bible, and has parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and family-like friends who, in the words of Walter Brueggemann, live lives which are “Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth”.

observatory

Mauna Kea observatory

Meanwhile, my nine-year old reads the story of the very sick woman who touches the hem of Jesus’ garment and is immediately healed. “Why didn’t Jesus heal my friend’s mom?” She asks, still trying to process the death of a classmate’s mother to cancer this year.

I used to think the never ending “why” questions at age three were hard. Now I realize they were just relentless, and many times, didn’t require thoughtful answers. I practiced this theory during the week I spent with my three-year-old nephew in Hawaii this December. When he started a volley of questions, I finally figured out that I could flip one back at him, “Why do you think, Johnny?” Satisfied with his own response, that usually quelled him for a bit.

This strategy only goes so far with my older children’s post-modern thought processes. While I want them to wrestle with hard questions, discover and stretch their own faith muscles and reasoning skills, I do ultimately want them to discover Truth with a capital “T” – not a truth that is defined by themselves, or the most current scientific journal.

It’s the Truth that leaps from our hearts, longing for eternal relationship when we have to say goodbye to a loved one; that yearns for justice when we see violence against the helpless; that rises in applause when we witness sacrificial love; that marvels at the infinite vastness of the universe and the infinitesimal micro-wonders of a single cell. The Truth that whispers to us that all of this, everywhere, couldn’t just be meaningless biology and chemistry and physics.

fern

So, when Jack’s relentless, existential questions became too much for me at 8:00 that night (and John, the hard-question parent, was out), I reached out to my friend Phil Long, the Pilot-Poet, a man awed to heaven if there ever was one. He responded to Jack’s angst with a poem, written Dr. Suess-style for a budding scientist-philosopher.

jack and lava

It’s a little long for a seven-year-old, with a few words a bit beyond him, but maybe it was also written for someone like me – his mom, who doubts, struggles, and wavers with her feet planted in earth and eyes stretched to heaven. It reassures me that the answer to nothing is actually a big something. A big someone to be precise; someone who, Phil likes to say, created the universe and composed its laws through poetry – His very Word. Someone who reached down from heaven, caressed earth as a babe, a seven-year-old boy even, and shrank the distance between eternal and finite, heaven and earth.

volcano rainbow

And there, my son, is a good place to start.

Nothing, More or Less
By Phil Long
For Jack

We live in a universe
That appears to be
14 billion years old
And if we can believe
What we are told
It really is
Nearly that old
And it came from nothing
Nothing at all

And not just no thing
This claim un-includes
All sorts of anythings
That ever were used
All matter and energy
Just for a start
All forces and fields
And every last quark
Every boson and muon
And gluon and screwon
Every photon, electron
Every neutrino
Every dimension, pretension
Every casino
Every force and attraction
Every quantum fluctuation
Every sucking black hole
Every Hawking Radiation

Just keep making lists
Until physics is gone
Take away all of it
The music and song
Leave a bunch of nice concepts
All floating in space
Then take away space
And take away time
Take away every single mind
Leave nothing to chance
Leave no thing behind

Leave a bunch of laws
With nothing to rule
A bunch of ideas
With no one to fool
A bunch of theories
With nothing to test
Nothing to attract or repel
Or connect
Nothing to be
And nowhere to go
Leave no thing and no where
And start with zee-ro

When we dream about nothing
We all make mistakes
Our nothing is something
Because we’re wide awake
We think of nothing
As if it were actual
When the fact is
A nothing like that isn’t factual
A nothing that’s something
We’re trying to think
Is really a subtle
And devious prank
Our thinking is something
Instead of a blank

But if we want to believe
That all came from nothing
We must first grasp nothing
As a thing-less something
So here’s a solution
To get us to zero
To help us grasp
How it all became
To give us a little
Conceptual grammar
To fill this fine Blank
That preceded the Bang

Nothing is less than
What we insist it is
Absolute absence;
Complete nonexistence
Without potential
Or possibility
A one-sided equation
Equal to infinity
It can’t even be
Thought of at all
It can’t be considered
Imagined, conceived
It can’t be denied
Or ignored or believed
Nothing is never
Minus nil minus naught
Nothing is complete and utter
Without
Nothing is exactly
“What rocks dream about”

From this, we are told
Without even a blink,
That all this that is
And all that we think,
Suddenly happened
Without any cause
That the universe
And all it’s laws
Simply happened somehow
Without reason or rhyme;
Every iPhone, quad-copter
Chainsaw, and time
Just happened to happen
By chance or by shuffle
By no cause or effect
Without any kerfluffle

Our brightest physicists
Can’t get nothing right
They all start with something
Since nothing’s elusive
And end up with conclusions
Much less than conclusive
But we have to have nothing
Before we can start
And nothing’s a difficult thought
To impart.

 

Kid Abolitionists Read 1,000 Books

I have two fairly normal, grade school-age American kids. They like Legos, comic books, candy, screens, The Dollar Store, terrorizing each other, and avoiding all manner of hard or boring work. They daily need reminders to be polite, generous, grateful, and diligent.

They have kind of a weird mom. One who spends her summer trying to sneak into their Red, White and Blue childhood colorful, abstract concepts like justice, abolitionist, commitment, overcoming obstacles, compassion, slavery, bystander, educational equality. At the same time I worry that both my kids will end up in therapy because they haven’t yet been to Disneyland.

Can you feel my angst?

My friend Heidi and I lead book clubs for kids and moms during the summer in which we attempt to impart these lofty ideas to five-to-ten year-olds.

Juliette

We are educators and enjoy the challenge of making the abstract concrete and empowering children to learn and impact their world. This is what teachers do. Likewise, we ourselves never want to stop learning and impacting our world!

heidi

At the beginning of the summer, Heidi and I met and discussed how to help our book club kids’ hearts and heads get smarter and do something to help raise awareness about modern day slavery and funds for International Justice Mission.

The book we read with the boys this summer was “Snow Treasure” by Marie McSwigan.

Snow Treasure

In this story, children in Norway during WWII secretly transported over 1,000 bricks of gold bullion on their sleds past Nazi soldiers to a hidden ship ready to embark for America. It took the cooperation and teamwork of the entire village to ensure that the gold made it safely to America, away from the Nazis’ knowledge and hands. The book was full of Big Ideas like teamwork, bravery, commitment, perseverance, creativity, and sneakiness.

In book club, we set a big goal: Reading 1,000 books together as families during the summer. Stacking up (figuratively) 1,000 bricks (of the literature type) required teamwork and effort. The idea was to raise awareness and challenge friends and family to support our fundraising campaign.

book poster

On the other side of the world, on Lake Volta in the African nation of Ghana, there are thousands of boys who are trapped in slavery in the fishing industry. Just this year IJM started its first rescue operations and is in the process of working with the government and local law enforcement to put an end to impunity for slave owners. Putting slave masters behind bars prevents the continuation of the slave trade on Lake Volta and shows that justice for the poor is possible.

Latest figures from the Global Slavery Index reveal that there are an estimated 36 million slaves in the world today – more than at any other time in history. IJM has operations and casework all over the world, but it is these boys in Ghana that our book club has chosen to learn about, pray for, and advocate for.

The abstract became concrete to me and my kids when we read about the first rescue operations on the Lake last March. This summer we retold the story at book club using Lego minifigures. We showed the book club kids the note signed by IJM’s Office of Investigations for our book club’s advocacy and support: “Your encouragement means the world to us and to those living in freedom because of you,” they told us.

IMG_4853

I love looking for and strengthening the connections between my little family and community and the wider world. A thousand gold bricks, a thousand books, a thousand dollars, a thousand prayers, a thousand slaves, a thousand ways a person, even a child, can make a difference.

1000 book challenge

On August 18th, I was a little worried we wouldn’t reach our goal – we were barely halfway to 1,000 books. I should have known that procrastination and fighting for justice are not mutually exclusive. By the end of August, we surpassed our goal of reading 1,000 books and surpassed our fundraising goal of $1,000.

Then, we celebrated. I have found that joy is a fruit of doing justice. Gary Haugen, President of IJM, once said to an audience of aspiring abolitionists, “Jesus wants to give you five things: extravagant compassion, moral clarity, sacrificial courage, persevering hope, and refreshing joy.” When we move in obedience to him, God has a way of showing up and moving in power on behalf of the powerless and oppressed. He multiplies our small offerings and equips us for the journey. It is only natural to celebrate and give thanks together when we see him move and big challenges are overcome.

A group of book club families and others who support our book club gathered together this month to celebrate meeting our reading and fundraising goals. We also invited Mike Hogan, an IJM director who lives locally.

Mike gave us a snapshot of IJM’s work around the world, and the many different types of people who skills and passions are needed to make the organization function (he all but guaranteed future jobs at IJM for our book club kids). He passed on greetings from the Ghana team who had seen our video last year, and gave us updates about their ongoing casework.

Currently, IJM’s focus in Ghana is to strengthen its ties with local and national law enforcement, help shape government policy, and restructure the justice system, so that Ghanaians themselves can bring rescue and justice to their own people. Based on IJM’s successful interventions in other regions of the world, it is estimated that the system of slavery on Lake Volta could be completely eradicated within the next 10 years.

Mike introduced us via a photograph to Benson, the Ghana team’s aftercare director who ensures that every child rescued from the lake is brought to physical, emotional, and spiritual health, educated, and when possible, reunited with family.

Mike concluded by giving the kids some action steps. He told them that one of the most powerful things they could do to bring an end to slavery is to tell their story. He encouraged them to tell friends and family about slavery in Ghana and what their book club is doing about it. Simple advocacy of regular people telling their story builds and multiplies awareness, which in turn becomes a grassroots movement that becomes loud enough to draw the attention of legislators, corporations, and philanthropists.

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 1.54.22 PM

Ellie took his words to heart. That night after we came home, her fourth grade homework assignment was to write for 20 minutes on any topic of her choice. She chose to write about what she learned from Mike about slavery on Lake Volta. The next day at school, she volunteered to read her paper aloud to the class.

The words we speak, Mike told us, will have an even greater impact that the dollars we collect. I pray that these kids bravely use their voice and their pencils for good, for the rest of their lives.

Banceusesther

We did end up collecting a few dollars for IJM, however. As of today, our fundraising total is $3,075 – three times our goal of $1,000!

And reading 1,000 books is not a bad way to spend a summer.

Mike asked the kids if they had any time to play with all that reading. Of course, they reassured him. They are just normal American kids. But they are also kids who want to make sure every child, everywhere has opportunity to read and play.

boys book clubgirls

They are abolitionists.

1000 books

 

What Legos and the Virginia Reel have to do with Justice

Last week we concluded our fifth summer of justice-related book clubs for kids and moms. Each summer I have met new people, discovered a new author, strengthened ties with the larger, global justice community, and been witness to God’s work in the world and in our family.

Last year I shared how I came to start leading book clubs for moms and kids around the topic of justice. This time, I want to process how I see the book club facilitates developing a heart and mind for justice in a child and a family.

~ A circle of moms, daughters, and sons: When we gather at a local park on summer mornings for book club, we form a large circle-ish shape. The moms sit on blankets with their littles and bigs huddled next to them or on laps. I love seeing all their faces – most of whom I know well. Some are friends of friends. Some of their children I already know and love, and all are loved intimately by God.

I heard an interview with Atinuke, an author of books we read last year. She said that her name means: You were loved before you were born. This is what I know about each child and mother in that circle: You were loved before you were born.

We gather together around a common purpose and each of us approaches the learning and activities differently. Each mom brings her own experiences and talents, each child brings her and his own readiness, attention span, and personality. We form connections with each other and to the larger world around us. Seeds are planted and watered in moms and kids, and the One who loved us before we were born will grow those seeds in time.

Juliette

~ Books: Together, we read a book throughout the summer, one that was carefully chosen to stimulate our heads and our hearts. Our “head and heart” books have been vehicles for discovering different places, cultures, and perspectives that a child growing up in the sheltered environment most of us live in needs opportunities to explore.

readingSnow Treasure Ghana PosterNaomi Reflection

Justice Heroes: Each time we gather, we learn about a real justice hero – men, women, and children who have stood for justice and acted with courage and compassion in their time and place. These are people who were not bystanders, but acted in the face of injustice, and we are inspired to do the same.

~ Action: Sometimes we read, talk, and listen, and our heads and hearts get smarter, but then we keep that smartness to ourselves and never do anything with it. At book club, we encourage the kids to do something. So, they become abolitionists. They use their words and actions to raise awareness about modern day slavery, and support International Justice Mission, a global organization that protects the poor from violence in the developing world.

They write thank-you notes to encourage the rescuers, office workers, survivors, care providers, and investigators on IJM’s Ghana Team. They are encouraged think creatively about acting justly now as children and as grownups.

IJM letter

Together as families, we challenged ourselves to read 1,000 books and raise $1,000 for IJM by September! As of this week, we are very close to meeting our goal.

Counting books

~ What Legos and Dancing have to do with Justice: Engaged brains and happy hearts facilitate learning. But a lot of the content related to global justice issues is complicated and sad or frightening.

So we play with legos, or more accurately, use legos to teach about justice.

IMG_4853

Telling the story of IJM’s casework on Lake Volta using Legos

We dance. I am so grateful to have a friend to whom I can say, “Hey, you know that one part in “The Year of Miss Agnes” where the village has a dance? Do you think you could teach our book club girls “The Virginia Reel?” I wish you could have heard the peels of laughter in the park that morning (scroll down to hear a sample).

~ Widening the Circle: We teach our children that being an abolitionist means speaking up on behalf of those who are oppressed. So the kids sent letters to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends. They answered questions and tried to speak up when a grownup asked them about the book club. They tell about slavery in Ghana and what our book club is trying to do about it.

And the circle widens. Five-year-old Genevieve’s grandfather in California received a letter from his granddaughter and shared it with his co-workers at an auto shop, who were encouraged by the little girl’s initiative and responded with a donation to IJM.

Genevieve

Ripples of relationships from each book club family grow ever wider, and more come to know about modern day slavery through the words and actions of small children.

Together, we grasp the outstretched arm of God who hears the cries of the brokenhearted and uses his children to bind their wounds and set captives free.

boys circle 2

We clasp the hands of those that go before us,
And the hands of those who come after us.
We enter the little circle of each other’s arms
And the larger circle of lovers,
Whose hands are joined in a dance,
And the larger circle of all creatures,
Passing in and out of life,
Who move also in a dance,
To a music so subtle and vast that no ear hears it
Except in fragments.
(The Larger Circle by Wendell Berry)


Thanks, Katie Jenks and Shawna Demaray for the photos and video!

I Know You Will

My daughter and I are about to be separated for 16 days, by far the longest time we have spent apart these last nine years.

Ellie leaves first by heading off to Eagle Fern Camp – her first overnight camp experience. A couple days later, I leave for Kenya. One of the most difficult parts of my decision to travel to Africa was this departure from Ellie.

That is not to say that leaving my son Jack will be easy. After all, I will be gone during the last couple weeks of the Year of Little Boy, Six. He is a mama’s boy through and through, and I anticipate some tearful nights during those weeks. jack

But some children are tethered to us with stronger cords, not because we love them more, but because of the way they have made us wrestle – with ourselves, with them, with God. Ellie is such a child.

Within the first days of her life, we noticed that, if awake, Ellie was rarely in repose, but would arch forward  from her swaddled or buckled-in position with eyes wide open, earnestly taking in the world, gathering observations, making judgments, per se. The stimuli around her were like data to be mastered. After the first few weeks of newborn rest were over, daytime sleep was a battle to be conquered, and if she was vanquished (napping), at least she had the victory of not going down easy and staying asleep for only enough time to unload the dishwasher, change the laundry, and take two sips of coffee. ellie 6m

Then there was the feeding battle. Nursing Ellie was never an idyllic, bonding experience. Here’s a fun little rhythm we practiced: she’d cry to be fed, then cry as she waited for letdown (which was likely prolonged due to my stress over my stressed-out baby), then I’d cry, then she’d cry louder at my crying, then she wouldn’t sleep.

The first nine months were pretty much a blur. I remember thinking, how do women do this, all over the world, with so much more daily hardship than I have?

By 10 months, Ellie had gathered enough “data” to start using it to control her world in another way: Speech. Her favorite things were spoken in two syllable, repeating consonant-vowel strings: “Fa-fa” was “fan”. “Cah-Cah” was “clock”, looked for, pointed at, then enunciated with the assumed demand that her grown-ups repeat the word, looking at the favored item with appropriate excitement.

As any self-respecting speech-language pathologist/first-time mom probably does, I counted all my child’s words in preparation for her one-year checkup with the pediatrician. Ellie had 75 words. The count grew so rapidly after that, I stopped keeping track. When she was two and-a-half, during a particularly stressful moment in a parking lot, she astounded me by carefully verbalizing from the back seat, “I feel exhausted when you say those words to me.” Was she miraculously reading the Social Communication IEP goals I write for my students? Who knows.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to win arguments with children who were that clever with language and emotional manipulation at the age of two? ellie2 ellie 2

But here’s the thing: she is the girl I never knew I always wanted. She delights me with her interesting observations and conversations. She sees things so clearly and can discern and describe ideas I never considered. She is smart, brave, strong, and adventurous, #LikeAGirl.andy and ellie 1andy and ellie 2We love each other ferociously, even when we don’t exactly act like it. My relationship with her draws out both beauty and ugliness in me, which I can assign to their rightful places. Mostly, she has drawn me closer to Jesus, because he knows her and loves her in ways I can’t. Sometimes there are no books or google searches that will reveal answers to the questions I have about her, but Jesus leads me gently as I parent her and that is a comfort. ellie

Ellie listens to music as she falls asleep, and I recently bought her a CD by J.J. Heller called I Dream of You. Tears sprang the first time I listened to one of the songs, I Know You Will, because it put words to the kind of feelings and prayers our relationship triggers. It’s a hopeful song when you’re parenting a child who baffles, exhausts, and worries you, but who also carries a glow so bright you know she’s gonna shine like a city on a hill.

I know she will.

 

Little Boy, Six (and a Half)

Recently I spent a delightful evening at my sister’s house, celebrating our cousin, Anna, who was about to be married. Aunties, cousins, grandmas, sisters, and mamas – girls from five to 80-something – gathered and chatted and spoiled the bride-to-be as women do. I loved it. One of my cousins and I were talking with another cousin who has a six-month-old baby girl. This new mama shared some hard things she has discovered about motherhood, but then ended with, “I’m sure I will look back on these days and miss them.” My other cousin (who has two toddlers) and I looked at each other and shrugged. “Maybe.”

baby jack

To be completely honest, I don’t miss those days too much. Oh, there are moments when I glimpse tiny pudgy hands or remember rocking my babies to sleep that I feel a twinge of nostalgia. I also miss all those rhyming and lift-the-flap board books. But mostly, I’m loving the stage my kids are in right now.

A couple years ago, I heard the saying, “The days are long, but the years are short,” and wholeheartedly agreed. Now, the days and the years are flying by, and I want them to slow down. I’ve started feeling like I’m missing opportunities every day to speak love and truth into my kids’ hearts, so every night, I try to remember to tell them: You are the girl I always wanted. You are the boy I always wanted. ellie and jack walking

My youngest is six (and a half, if you ask him) and in first grade. He no longer gets rocked to sleep, although we do still read books before bed and he asks me to “lay down for one song” when we tuck in at night.

Last year, when Jack was in half-time kindergarten, he accompanied me on many grocery shopping trips. On one such outing, after Jack cheerfully chatted with me along the aisles, then helped me bag the groceries, then put them in the car, then buckled himself in his booster seat and started reading a book while I walked the grocery cart back, I thought, in a few months, he will be in school every day, all day. Just when he’s finally old enough to be a pleasant, helpful shopping companion, I lose him. And it happened. This year, I do all my grocery shopping on my days off when the kids are in school.

There is something absolutely dear and magical about little boys, six years old. For one thing, they don’t have big teeth yet. jack and diorama

This little guy’s mind is exploding with knowledge about the world, yet he still conjures imaginative possibilities, intertwining reality and fantasy. When Jack was three, his most favorite thing to do was don a black cap and dance around the living room with a broom to the song, “Step in Time”. He was a chimney sweep.

Now he becomes Luke Skywalker, light sabering his way through the Death Star full of storm troopers. Playing with Legos is accompanied by loud sound effects and intense dramas, and dozens of quickly assembled creations that cannot be thrown back into the bin (because they are like, real). Jack Jedi

Taking inspiration from Calvin and Hobbes, he recently found a big cardboard box and drew buttons and knobs and the word, “Duplicator” on the side. He climbed in and closed the lid over his head. When he emerged, he seemed genuinely disappointed that there was still only one of himself.

He still loves to dance. At my cousin’s wedding last weekend, he was a fixture on the dance floor from the time the music started until the bride and groom drove away. At one point, Ellie ran over to me, yelling: “Mom! Look at Jack!” In the middle of a particularly bass-thumping song, there he was, bouncing up and down on a groomsman’s shoulders, surrounded by 20-somethings dancing around them. “THAT WAS AWESOME!!!” he cried when he finally escaped the mob.

I observe six-year-old boy when I’m at his school, and I see him squirming on the carpet, in his chair, and in line. He touches or bumps into whoever is near him. Thankfully the other six-year-old boys understand, and usually it’s not violent enough to catch the teacher’s attention. ninja hands

School equals recess and PE and science experiments, and LOOOONG passages of time in between that involve pencils and much erasing. He still says things like, “I had to do a fousand fings for maff today,” and his friend might say, “We thwew the bock chips at wecess and got in twouble.” His second trimester report card included the telling comment: “Jack is a spirited young man….” When he gets home from school (or I get home from work), we meet with big, crushing hugs and sloppy kisses.

John and I typically get one these answers from Jack in response to “How was your day?” (He is uncannily clever about preemptively striking follow-up questions):

1. My day was awesome. It was so good. Every single part of it was good, so I can’t tell you what was good about it.

Or,

2. I had the worst day in the universe. Well, maybe the worst day on earth. Don’t ask me what part was bad because every single part was bad. I can’t talk about it. 

These responses are characteristic of a boy prone to exaggeration and the use of sweeping generalizations to avoid unwanted outcomes (ie, long conversations about his school day). This tends to put him at odds with Dad and Sister who are diametrically opposed to hyperbole and can dissect an argument with the precision of a defense attorney.

Jack became an avid reader, and I can hardly tear him away from books about volcanoes, Calvin and Hobbes, and the Disaster Strikes series in order to introduce him to the delights of Beverly Cleary (“I know there is a girl on the cover, but I promise you’ll like it!”). Jack reading

He still has to be reminded most of the time, but he sets the table, puts away his laundry, practices piano, and picks up a room without help, and sometimes sings and dances while doing it. He practices ninja moves on the way to the bathroom and forgets what he went there for. He considers the consequences of war and decides that weapon stockpiling and mutually assured destruction are faulty constructs. He loves soldiers, but he can’t handle the thought of guns being used to kill living beings – human or animal.

He has innumerable quirks and habits. In 20 years, I wonder if I will remember his daily requests for “triscuits and cheese slices”, his abhorrence of wearing wet socks, a gross habit of wiping his constantly drippy nose (allergies) with the hem of his t-shirt, and his unshakable fear of entering a dark room alone. He measures people’s ages by whether they were alive during notable volcanic eruptions or earthquakes (so far he has met no one who experienced the destruction of Pompeii). When we come home and enter the house from the garage, he holds the door open for me, and walks up the stairs behind me.

Six-year-old boy daily perfects his role as a nuisance to Big Sister, but also repeatedly tells us how much he loves his family (even Ellie). In fact, love is his favorite word. When he talks about his love for God, me, and the stuffed cat and dog he sleeps with, his face squeezes tight as he flexes his whole body to show the fierceness of his emotion and devotion. jack and ellie walking

Poor Jack is a second born surrounded by assertive (bossy) first borns (Mom, Dad, Sister, little cousin “N” and little cousin “E”) who are used to wielding power and inspiring (commanding) respect. Jack has become a de facto middle child in our family gatherings, and sometimes people are surprised when he says something clever or demonstrates an accomplishment (Oh, yeah – Jack’s here, isn’t he?). cousins pi day

He never fails to make us laugh. Dad and Jack laughing

He really wants to be a volcanologist when he grows up, but also is determined to only go to college for one day, then come back and live with me, so we’ll see how that turns out.

Oh, Jack, you are so wonderfully you I almost deleted this whole post because I can’t possibly put into words how marvelous you are at six. Jack - six

Ok, you were pretty marvelous at five, too.

Jack's School Picture

I’m pretty sure you will be marvelous your whole life long, because you are the boy I always wanted. But you already know that.