Help with medical expenses!

As most of you already know, I’ve been sick for over a year now. You can read my story and donate to help out with medical costs, share the link with others, or just keep me and my four boys in your prayers! We are getting so close to our goal and we appreciate everyone who has supported us thus far. We feel overwhelmed with love!  God Bless!

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Eight is Great: Happy Birthday Keaton!

Dear Keaton,

How amazing it is that I am now writing you a letter and you are actually able to read it and comprehend every single word, even the big words! Today you turn eight and my fingers so badly want to type five because weren’t you just four? How can you be eight? Time flies by and on a large scale as Gavin would tell us, eight years isn’t very long when you plan to live until 100. Gavin plans to live until 101 so you two can live forever together. This makes sense seeing that you have spent your whole lives together thus far.

While we’ve only had these eight years together, each moment has been an eternity in the most cherished place I’ve ever been, a world in which you exist with me. For days, I’ve been trying to draft this letter to you, but every time that I have sat down to put my feelings into words, I was overcome with love, pure love, with no words attached. So the page before me sat blank.

It’s so hard to put Love into words, and even harder when you are a mother speaking of the love you feel for your child, It’s a depth of, which is enigmatic. As much as I try to raise you boys, you boys end up raising me as well. I see my window of influence closing and before too long, it will be time for you to stand strong and make your own footprints in this world. I’ve been preparing myself for that moment since the first day you took your first steps, in which on that third step, you ended up collapsing in my arms. It seems as if it was a symbol in our relationship. It was your first steps towards independence. But that mommy will always be there to catch you when you fall. I’ll never fail you in that I promise.

Your older brother grew from a toddler to a young man while I was blinking, so I am acutely aware of how ruthless time can be. It won’t wait until I’m ready, so with every hug I squeeze a little tighter and hold on a little longer. I try to memorize the way your small frame fits perfectly against mine. I try to savor each and every moment because I know too soon you will be too old for my hugs. When that day comes, just remember you promised you’d always let me hug you, even when you were 100, since I plan to live to be 124.

Keaton you are easy going. You’re my go-with-the-flow kid, and for a mom who is not so “go-with-the-flow”, and has two other kids who never go with the flow, you are a gulp of fresh air. You have brought me nothing but pure joy since that very first moment I saw you. Watching you grow, absorbing the world around you, inquisitive and delighted to learn, I’m reminded each day of the treasure you bring into my world.

One of your favorite pass times lately is to make inquiries about what you were like as a baby, or what you were like at two, or how did you act when you were Ollie’s age. You sit listening intensely to me tell you all about your likeness at a certain age. As I tell these tales one word fills my mind, angel. From the moment you took breath into your lungs in this life, you have been perfection. You are all the qualities I want to be. You have the heart I wish I had. You have so much love to give that I am so jealous of how freely you can give it away. You were born an old soul with compassion written into your story. So while you sometimes think you are ONLY the middle son in the Grotegut family, I want you to know you are so much more! I’ve never met a single person like you. The way that you love, the way that you live your life, it makes me a better person. You are eight years old and I can’t believe how beautiful your spirit is. You glow with how much goodness is within you Keaton.


I am just in awe of the person you are becoming, Keaton. You are exuberant. You wake up every day ready for whatever awaits you, and you are rarely in a bad mood. I know this may change as you enter your teen years (can you ease me into it at least?), but I hope you continue to approach life in a glass-half-full kind of way. It’s contagious. You’re a loving, kind boy, those qualities are so important, and I am so happy they belong to you. Nothing else matters in life Keaton, except being kind. Okay there is also keeping your word and admitting when you’re wrong (make sure you are really really wrong when you admit to this, there are no take backs). Those are skills that will take you a long way, all the way, in life. Well, that and a killer sense of humor. Actually, that might be the most important. A sense of humor can take you anywhere, well just look at me.

You’ve done a lot this year. You started second grade and you are off the charts smart. You now read thick chapter books and are learning multiplication. This year you started a production company, helped manage a facebook account for our cat Jefferson, and learned to tie your shoes. You grew what seems like a foot taller and if possible even more handsome. You finished another season of T-ball and another season of Lego Art. You’ve become more artistic and reserved, and so much wiser. You are so helpful with your brothers. Without you as my backup for Ollie I would be crying in a corner pulling my hair out. All of us are so lucky to have you. I think it would be a 4-way-tie on who was our favorite family member, we all just adore you.

I want you to know Keaton that you are the best decision I ever made. When I look at you and the legacy of your life I can see God’s hand holding yours. I see the miracle of who you are unfold in front of us as each puzzle piece is put in its place. I can’t imagine a world without you in it, Keaton, I love you more intensely than I could have ever dreamed. Thank you for all that you have brought to my life. Thank you for loving me and for making me a better person. Thank you for making our family better for having you in it. Happy Birthday!

With a heart simply overflowing with love,

The one where you turn Three

Dear Oliver,

Today is no ordinary day. Today marks three years since the first time we met, the first time the world began after Oliver Michael Reed. It’s hard to believe that in this after, three years have come and gone. Time is an odd thing that way. One moment you were this intangible idea I had, the “bonus baby” that I wanted so badly to make our family complete. Then suddenly, you were here, making our lives rich and whole, and time just flew away. Now it’s hard to even remember how life was without you. No doubt it wasn’t nearly as loud. or as lovely.

Ollie, this letter is not just simply about the milestones you have reached this year. This letter is instead a celebration of our life together as I’ve watched you grow from two to three.  I want to write all about how much magic you’ve brought into my life this year. I want this letter to be filled with all the ways you’ve made me laugh, all of your misadventures, your curiosity, your innocence, your never ending quest to drive me mad, and your sheer determination to never take “No” for an answer. I’d also like this letter to be the written start of our voyage into what might turn out to be an Autism diagnosis for you. You’ll never know how hard it is to type those words. My heart is filled with sorrow, I feel as if I am in mourning for something that has not yet happened. Yet at the same time I am filled with so much hope, because this is a trip we’ve taken before. Yes, you are a different passenger, this is very true.  That fact only makes that hope stronger though. The starting line for you is in a completely different place than it was when we started with Gavin. I only have to look at your brother’s success to know that things will be okay for you. I have to believe that.

Even though we’ve been here before, I didn’t know until this year that you could be both broken and whole at the same time. For so long I told people we dodged this “bullet” with you. That you were fine and I was so glad for that. All the while things were heading in another direction. When my suspicions became a reality I was so angry. I was angry that God could allow this to happen to you, to our family again. I was so hesitant to have you, well not you, but another baby. I was so scared that if I got pregnant again and that the baby ended up having Autism, I wouldn’t be able to do it again.  It took me a few years to make the decision to finally get pregnant because I had convinced myself that there was just no way God thought I was strong enough to take on another child who needed more of me than I had to give.

It’s when I think of this moment in time, this fleeting thought, that I took for an answer to my prayers, that I wish life were written in pencil so I could go back and erase that doubt. What I didn’t know then, or rather who I didn’t know then that I do now is you. The moment you were born everything became irrelevant. Ollie You came into our family and you filled this emptiness within me that I never even knew was there.  While this journey is one that is full of so much grief it can fill your heart to burst, it’s not the only aspect of who you are. You are so much joy. You are this beautiful mix of warmth and strength, all wrapped up in a strawberry blonde haired little boy. The things that make you Oliver are 1% speech delays, sensory issues, and tantrums, and 99% wonderful. How could I think for even a minute you wouldn’t be worth it? To travel this unknown road with you is worth any cost or sacrifice, just as long as I get to have a front row seat to watch your life unfold.

Ollie, I want you to know that I am an imperfect person who doesn’t always know what she’s doing. I get overwhelmed easily and I can be selfish. But I want you to know that when it comes to you and your brothers, there is nothing I can’t do –nothing I will not do for you. God gave me you and I can’t believe what a gift you are. My life is defined by the legacy that is my children.  My promise that I will do my best for you to grow up happy and have every opportunity is all I want in this world.  If I had to do it all over again, I would always pick you.

We don’t yet know what we are dealing with. You seem to have a lot of autistic like characteristics, but at the same time you developed normally until you were almost 2 ½. I’m not going to say that it has been easy to hear that you are delayed, far from it. You are entering the realm of “preschooler” figuratively and literally. You will be starting preschool on Oct 28th and attending three days a week for three hours a day. I’m so thrilled for you because you will be attending the same preschool Gavin attended when he lost his way and needed to get back to us. It’s the most fantastic preschool and I am so thankful you get to have the same opportunity. While you attend school they will help you with your speech, your sensory issues, you’ll receive some occupational therapy, and most of all you’ll get a chance to socialize with other children. I am full of anxiety to let you go, I must admit. I know you will be in good hands, the best hands really. It’s just so hard to picture you doing something during the day that I am not a part of. Up until now I have been your entire world. You have been all mine and I haven’t had to share you with the world. Now, you’ll have whole chunks of time that will just be yours, memories that belong only to you. To me you are still so little and I thought we’d have more time together, just the two of us, before I sent you off to school. I know it will be an adjustment for us both Ollie, maybe more so for me than even for you.

Your speech is coming along. Although you were our earliest talker and last year you were saying more than either of your other brothers were at that age, you sort of stalled out. That’s not to say you don’t say anything. You have a lot to say, it’s just on your own terms. You still have a lot of cute “isms”. Right now you love to say “Hola Mommy” to me as a way of greeting. You always ask me “What’s wrong Mommy, what’s wrong?” , as if you can sense my ill mood. You call chocolate milk “Milk chocolate”, hotdogs are “D-Dogs”, noodles are “Noo-nooles”, and smoothies are “Movies”. You call your bedroom your “Nigh-Night” and anytime anything is missing you always say “Is it in the Nigh-Night?”  You refer to yourself in the third person and call yourself “Oliber”. You’ll say things like “Oliber made a mess” or “Oliber colored on the walls”. You are starting to piece together more and more full sentences and every day I feel like you are improving on your verbal communication. I sure am going to miss your ism’s when they are gone though. I already miss so many that you don’t use anymore.

You’ve changed so much in the past twelve months Ollie. It’s hard to believe you are that same two year old child who had a mop of blonde hair. Physically you have nearly shed all that was left of what still made you a baby. All that’s left is your diapers and the little dimples in your pudgy hands. This doesn’t deter your Dad from still calling you “Baby” or from me asking “where is the baby?” when I can’t find where you’ve gone off to. I think we will forever think of you as our baby. It’s hard to let go of that.

Music is all the rage for you this year, and all day long I love to hear you sing! It started with dance parties in the kitchen. I’d play songs from my iTunes list and we’d dance as a way to break up the day or to get you to tire out before bed. It turned into you having a constant need to listen to music. I loaded up your iPod with all of your favorite songs (currents include “I’m Alive” by Peter Furler, Rihanna’s “we found love”, “Starships” by Nicki Minaj, and a slew of children songs) and you would listen all day long. I have fallen in love with your singing voice. It’s just incredibly precious! Whether you’re singing “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom”, “The Alphabet Song” or “I wanna tank you, tank you”, I get such a kick out of listening to you. I’m so thrilled that music makes you so happy.  I hope this passion continues as you grow. I can picture you playing piano or maybe the guitar some day.

You are so incredibly smart! I am not just saying this to be one of those braggy mom’s either (although I am). You really are a sharp kid. You learned your alphabet not long after your second birthday, and soon after you could recognize both upper and lower case letters of the alphabet. You know all your letter sounds and you can identify what letters words start with if we ask you. You recognize your numbers and we aren’t entirely sure how high you can count. I know for sure it’s at least to forty, but it could be higher. You know all of your shapes, even those random ones like trapezoid and hexagon. You have this insatiable need to learn.

You have become more fearless, more of thrill seeker than you’ve been in the past. You climb to the highest points of playgrounds, you love hanging like a monkey from the bar on the treadmill, you’re always doing things that make me nervous, and you know it too. You love to push the boundaries, not that this is new, you’ve always enjoyed pushing your boundaries. Every single day you come up with a new way to wow me with your naughtiness. Lately your favorite thing to do is to squirt shampoo all over the bathtub, floor, and yourself until the bottle is empty. Since you are such a skilled climber, you just climb right up the shelves of the closet and pick a fresh bottle of shampoo to use when you’ve finished emptying the other one.  You love to flush your brothers floss sticks down the toilet, or really anything you can find that will flush down. You love to use their toothbrushes to brush your teeth or the floor. You love to just go and dump out toy boxes just because and you have no self control when it comes to keeping the books on your bookshelf. Some mornings I come into your room to wake you up and it honestly looks like you’ve hosted a frat party in there. You are more mischief than God meant to bottle up into one heart, and you make sure you let me know this. I try every day to find the trouble you get yourself into endearing. Boy do you make it hard!

You live your life for chocolate milk, the leapfrog movies, and prefer not to wear any pants, even when we are going out. You are always on the go, always making messes, and even though you say to yourself “crayons only go on paper”, they somehow always end up on the walls. You love watching youtube video (really boring ones about kids putting puzzles together), putting together peg puzzles, and playing the wii. You insist on eating your yogurt with a fork and you won’t drink from a sippy cup unless we first stick it into your mouth.  You drive your brothers crazy but you love them so much! You are strong will and what I imagine bliss to look like if it had the face of a little boy.

Ollie, you have grown into this big and mighty soul. I look at you and I know there are no words I can write to adequately describe to you the love my heart holds for you.  No matter how hard the week was, or how hard the year has been for us, for you., you will always put a smile on my face. You are the reason I can get through the tough times; you’re my motivation for everything. I’m grateful every day of my life for this amazing, perfect little person that is you.

What a privilege it is to be your Mom and to experience life through your eyes. It is the greatest gift you could ever give me.

I love you with all of me and more,




Dear Gavin,

Today you are nine years old. This is huge. Did you know I am the mom to a third grader? Holy crap you are in third grade! I honestly cannot believe it’s been nine years since the first time we met. Suspiciously your attitude on the day you were born is a lot like your attitude today. Very surly and moody with just a hint of tears. Who knew being nine was so emotional?

It’s always unbelievable to me as I sit here to write these letters that another year of your life has passed me by. Somehow the years passing are harder with you Gavin. It has a lot to with the fact that you were my first born, the little guy who tuned two people in love into a family. Another reason is that you have always been this incredible journey I have been on. Your years mark yet another success for me. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, I was afraid of becoming a mom. I was so afraid that I wasn’t good enough for you. That in me was some genetic anomaly that was passed down from generation of bad parenting. I’d gotten pregnant with you too soon when I felt I wasn’t ready. Yet, I discovered from the inception how widely I could love. How the very idea of motherhood transformed me. That’s the strange thing about being a mother: until you have a baby, you don’t even realize how much you were missing one.

Since you were born who I have become, and what I am capable of doing has made this bond with you even that much stronger. Now it’s inconceivable that there was ever a me without you. Although the fear of becoming a mother was replaced with a whole new set of fears though. When you’re a mom you learn about real fear. You’re afraid, always afraid. From cabinet doors to kidnappers to choking hazard to weather. There is nothing that can’t hurt your kids I swear. This is so ironic too Gavin because as your Mom I am supposed to be strong. I’m supposed to protect you. The older you get the worse this fear gets. It’s because I am constantly supposed to let you become more independent. I am slowly loosening the reigns I’ve had on you since birth and letting you find your own way. The panic that induces knocks the wind out of me and leaves me standing by the window making sure your walk home from school hasn’t left you missing. It never gets easier. So if I hold on to you a little tighter over the next few years, just know its because I love you and it’s so hard for mom’s to let their kids go okay?

Now on to what you’ve been up to this year! You started third grade just a month ago and you are doing fantastic! You love everything about it. You have become an even bigger Youtube addict this year and even started your own production company with your brother Keaton called “Koopa Corporation”. You are still wildly obsessed with all things minecraft and you’ll even be having a minecraft themed birthday party to celebrate turning nine. You’ve lost a bunch of teeth, including your two front teeth, which made your face adorable all summer long. You no longer believe in the tooth fairy and have taken up just raiding my purse for your tooth money rather than even putting it under your pillow. You fell in love with the Diary of a wimpy kid books, more books on facts and history, and Judy Moody. You spent the entire winter on your computer and the whole summer barefoot running around the neighborhood. You passed level 3 in swimming, gave up on boy scouts and gymnastics, and still love Lego art. Our family also got a new kitten and you manage his facebook page. If the computer genius thing doesn’t pan out I am sure you will have a career in PR.

I’m your favorite person lately, well second only to Keaton. You take such good care of me. This summer was scary for you because I got sick. You spent hours laying with me pouring out your fears. You are constantly worried for me, which is a lot to take on when you’re so little my Gavi-Goo. You even spent some of your allowance buying me a necklace at a yard sale to cheer me up. Your heart is so big and the way you love is even bigger. I love that we are close, I hope that never changes. I love that you spend hours laying in my big bed with me talking about things that don’t matter to anyone one else but us. I love making memories like that with you.

Gavin you are the most genuine person I know and I love that most about you. Okay well I love your sense of humor the best, but your authenticity is a close second. You are never afraid to say what is on your mind and you never sensor it. I wish every day I could be more like you. When you were three and we were told that you weren’t “neurotypical”, you weren’t what others would deem “normal”. Watching you grow up and seeing how your mind works shows me there is no such thing as normal. I personally subscribe to the belief that normal is just a setting on the dryer.

Gavin I look at you and I just cannot believe I am so lucky to have such a child. I’ve learned from you to judge the meaning of  my life in nanoseconds, that love has no limits, that we don’t need words to say how we feel, and sometimes you have to turn the world upside down to see it right side up.  Gavin you are one of the most incredible people I know. Each and every day you wow me with your strengths.

Happy Birthday my Gavi J! It’s been the most fantastic Nine years of my life and I can’t wait for fifty more just like it. I am so proud to be your mom and so happy that God gave you to me.

With more love than I can squeeze into five forever hugs,


Family Pictures May 2013

We had our family photos done this May. They are honestly the favorite photos I’ve ever had of our family. Here are all my favorites. Okay, I had a lot of favorites :)




Last day of School

Well another school year has come to an end. It’s hard to believe! This school year has just flown by. Both boys enjoyed the year and loved their teachers. Gavin had Miss Paul for second grade and Keaton had Mrs. Powell for First Grade. Here are their first and last day of school photos for this year. Both boys grew, but Gavin the most. About time too, we thought he’d be shrimpy forever.


All the ways I love you (Happy Father’s day Honey)

This year I didn’t have any money to buy you an expensive gift. I didn’t even have money to buy you an inexpensive gift. So I decided I would make you a homemade gift. This week I have been randomly writing things I love about you when they pop in my head, then I added them to this draft post. I know sometimes I have a hard time expressing myself and my feelings. So here is a list of so many reasons why I love you so completely. How my life would never be the same without you in it. I want to thank you for being my husband and for giving me three of the most beautiful boys I could ever imagine. This is my heaven on earth. You, and my other three boys.

Well without further ado…..

Things I love about you:

I love that you make such an effort to spend time with me. You make me feel like I’m valuable, important.

I love that you eat hot sauce on everything, even if I don’t want you to drink my sodies after you’ve been eating it.

I love how much fun we have together. Our life never has to be taken seriously if we don’t want it to. I like that we are on the same page about that.

I love that its strange for me to call you John. You will always be Honey. My cutest Honey with the widest smile.

I love that you listen to all of my complaints even when they are one sided and most of the time completely irrational.

I love what a magnificent father you are to our boys, how much time you take out of your busy life to spend with them. You are amazing.

I love how much of a good person you are. You make me strive to be better.

I love how patient you are, especially with me. I’m hot headed and moody and you always just ride out the storm.

I love your eyes. They are so soulful. Keaton has the same ones and I always think that the two of you are the same that way.

I love your smile. It was the first thing I loved about you when I met you. How it takes up your entire face and gets lopsided and lazy when you’ve had too much to drink. Gavin has that wide smile. When I see him smile I see you each and every time.

I love your dirty sense of humor and that you appreciate my dirty sense of humor. For where would we be without constant penis jokes?

I love that you love cheap boxed wine and that you drink it out of an ABC cup.

I love that even when we are disconnected for awhile, we always find our way back to each other.

I love that you eat whole boxes of triscuits and then lay on the couch hung over.

I love your honesty even though Kara is a bit afraid that you’ll be honest with her J

I love your integrity.

I love your Selflessness.

I love how hard you work to provide for our family. Don’t think for a second I take that for granted.

I love that you try so hard to break down the wall I always build up.

I love the calmness of your presence. Whenever I am sad or feel hopeless just having you near me makes everything seem okay.

I love that we have a lot of differences, but the important things we have in common.

I love that we love all the same shows.

I love our inside jokes.

I love that our family is your first priority, always.

I love when you randomly email me telling me you love me.

I love your ethics.

I love your sarcasm.

I love your intelligence.

I love your forgiveness

I love that you love me despite how screwed up I am.

I love that you are unique and you never try to fit the mold.

I love that you are a Mama’s boy.

I love that how genuine you are with your words.

I love when we hold hands and you swirl your thumb around in a circle in my palm.

I love the sounds of your laugh. I still remember Shar telling me it was one of her favorite things about you when she first met you. She said “God he has a great laugh”. I agree, you have a fantastic laugh.

I love how much fun we have together.

I love that we made three perfect little boys and that they are everything to you just like they are everything to me.

I love your scruffy face and the way it feels against mine.

You are my best friend, the one who knows all my secrets and still likes me despite how horrible some of them are.

I love how forgetful you are. It makes me feel like I have purpose. I am your memory keeper.

I wait all day to wake you up some days just because I miss you, or I have something exciting I want to say to you.

I love that you always pat the couch next to you for me to come sit close. Even if I am stubborn and don’t always give in I love that gesture more than you can imagine.

I love seeing you in things our kids do.

I love holding your hand.

I love That you’re open minded.

I love how randomly funny you can be.

I love when you sing along to songs. I still think about our trip to Vegas and you singing along to Jewel. It makes me smile.

I love that you put up with me. I know I am the biggest brat in all of Utah, if not the world.

I love that your iPod has Simon and Garfunkel as your workout tunes.

I love when you get drunk and how cute your face looks. I love the words that come out of you as you profess your drunken love for me.

I love that you’ll go shopping with me even though you hate it.

I love how much you sacrifice for me. I notice this every day honey.

I love what a good person you are.

I love our kiss. The same one we’ve had since we were dating.

I love that you let me tease you.

I love that you don’t really care for sports.

I love the way we play fight. Even though I am sure you hate it because I always end up kicking you in the balls. J

I love that you make me feel safe. Secure in a way I have never felt in my life before you.

I love that you drink tea.

I love laying in bed at night talking about nothing.

I love your teeth. They are small and perfect and go so well with your wide grin.

I love how hard you try with me. I know I’m stubborn and distant. I know I am a brick wall that is hard to break. But you never give up on me. You never have.

I love the way we make up after a fight.

I love that 95% of your life is spent in a good mood. I am always jealous of this. Teach me please?

I love how I know you’ll always be there when I need you to be.

I love that you always put me before you.

I love the way you treat me.

I love the way you inspire me to be more than I am.

I love that you like cats better than dogs.

I love your strength of character.

I love how involved you are with our children.

I love that you’re not afraid to speak your mind

I love how sexy you look in baseball caps.

I love the way we always hug each other. I don’t know if there has ever gone a day that we’ve both been home that we haven’t hugged. I love your hugs.

I love How often you tell me I’m pretty

I love how in my lowest moment, I instantly feel better when I hear your voice

I love how complete I feel when I am with you.

I love how you are my soul mate.

I love that after ten years of ups and downs we are still here. We are still in love. We beat the odds.

Sometimes I look at you as you are rough housing with our boys and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have stumbled into this life, to be with you, to have this family. I know I don’t tell you nearly enough how much I completely and utterly adore you. There are not enough words in this entire world for me to express fully the feelings of my heart.

I love our life together.

I love that we are better together.

You are my favorite person. I’m not good with feelings and I know this. But I am so happy you are my husband and my best friend. I am so glad we got stuck with each other. I’m so content in this beautiful life we share and it’s because of you. You make my life worth living. I love how I thank God everyday for bringing someone as wonderful as you into my life.

Happy Father’s day Honey!

Seven from Heaven

Dear Keaton,

This year I want to do something a little different for your birthday letter. No worries, I’ll still get around to bragging about how smart you are, how tall you’ve gotten, and how all the girls in the first grade swoon over you. But I first want to share with you a story about how important you are to me. You were born into our family and with you came so much happiness and so much light it was actually tangible Keaton. The impact you had/have on our family could move mountains.

I’m a different mom to you than I am to your brothers. There is a reason for this. It’s not that I love your brothers any less or you any more. It’s that you were born during a hard time for our family. Gavin had just been diagnosed with autism when you weren’t even a year old. Before he was even diagnosed we knew he was delayed and spent a lot of time worrying and wondering about him. The sadness of realizing that Gavin wasn’t normal was so hard on me and your Daddy. On top of Gavin’s therapies, treatments, and our depression, we still had you, this little baby to take care of. I worried that we did you a great disservice bringing you into a family that wasn’t functioning. I was so overwhelmed and ill prepared for having two kids so close in age, especially when one of them was disabled. You were so sweet Keaton and I felt so guilty all the time and worried that I wasn’t a good enough mother for either of you. My faith in god had been shaken. It was honestly the hardest time in my life.

One evening, shortly after your first birthday, you were laying on me asleep in the rocking chair, you hadn’t been feeling well. The entire day had been so difficult for me. You had thrown up and had a fever. You were clingy all day and wanted me to carry you everywhere I went. Gavin seemed lost in his own little world even more so that day and my stomach ached wondering if he’d ever be in mine. That night I was holding you and rocking you to sleep. I remember this night so clearly. I can remember so vividly how your sweaty head felt against my chest. How you were only wearing a diaper and little socks with monkeys on them. How peaceful you were. Your breathing was so even and your little cheeks were so perfectly pink. I sat there in the dark with you laying there on me.

Out of nowhere I just felt so compelled to pray Keaton. This was odd because I had been so mad at God for so long, but in that moment I felt hopeless and I just needed guidance. So I did. I prayed long and hard until hot tears ran down my face and fell onto your soft blond head. I asked God to just send me a sign that Gavin would be okay, to send me a sign that I would survive this, that our family would. I was too weighed down by all that life had thrown at me to be the kind of mother you needed, that Gavin needed. I needed a sign that I could do this. I needed hope. I needed strength. I needed something, anything.

In that moment I looked down at you and it’s as if God whispered in my ear “Here he is. Here is your sign. Here is your strength.” It took me a few years to understand this Keaton, to understand that you were the answer to my prayer. The depth of what that means to me you will never fully grasp. You were the miracle all along. You brought life into Gavin. You were his voice when he had none. You were his playmate when no one else was. You are his constant companion. You see him unlike no one in the world sees him, including me. You’re bond is unlike any other. We always refer to you both as two parts of one whole. You made him whole Keaton. Through you he understands empathy, sympathy, and how to use his imagination. You were more therapeutic than anything else for Gavin.

You also made me a better person Keaton. You made me see that I could achieve at this mothering gig. You have always been so forgiving of my mistake. I’m an imperfect person and you have always looked past that. You are the glue that holds this entire family together and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. You restored my faith that God is good always and no matter what. The impact you have had on my life in only seven years is nothing short of extraordinary. Now as we start walking down another uncertain path with your brother Ollie, I have more understanding about why you are his big brother. Why he was sent to our family too.

It’s no accident that I felt inspired to have you so close in age to your brother. People thought we were crazy to have you two 18 months apart. Now I can see the bigger picture. Your life has so much meaning Keaton. You came to this family to be the ultimate example to us all. You are full of more delight than any person I’ve ever known. You are heaven here on earth and proof that God gives us exactly what we need.

Now, with all that mushy stuff out of the way I’d love to tell you what this year has been like. Firstly I have to brag about what a smarty pants you are. You started first grade this year and you think that Mrs. Powell, your teacher, hung the moon. You are top of your class in reading and in math, which is no surprise because you try so hard at everything you do. You were also the only one to get above grade level in punctuation, which I think is definitely noteworthy. You are reading chapter books now. You really like the Magic tree house books, and have the most beautiful handwriting I’ve ever seen (especially for a lefty).

You played T-Ball this year and loved it. You started gymnastics and learned to do a front flip on the trampoline which always scares the living daylights out of me. Your biggest passion is legos! You and Gavin have been taking a Lego art and engineering class this year and have loved every minute of it. You cry every time we come to pick you up. We usually have to drag you out and threaten you with not coming back to coax you into the car. You are constantly building and creating. You are obsessed with minecraft and you and Gavin share a computer desk and sit side by side playing together. Every day I get to hear the funny conversations the two of you share.

You are a sensitive kid. You notice things others don’t, and you make connections that make my jaw hit the floor at least once a week. You are fabulous at making friends. As a way to encourage you to write, your teacher allows you and your classmates to pass notes to each other. Every day I pull out a note or two from your classmates saying how much they like you and how great of a friend you are. I see what a great friend you are to Gavin. He is so lucky to have you as his best brother. Your relationship makes me miss my sister Kara. You two are a lot like we were as kids. I love to hear the things you come up with together. I love that you stay up late laughing and talking. Your relationship is beyond words. You are also such a fun brother for Ollie. He loves his “Tee-Ton”. His eyes light up when he sees you and he follows you around like a lost puppy. I wonder if you know the impact you have on people yet? You have already changed the world Keaton.

Keaton you are soft spoken and mild mannered. You are sentimental just like I am. We are both hoarders of memories. Tonight we spent an hour going through your memory box that is filled with all your baby stuff. You hate to be teased, but don’t mind dishing it out, especially to Gavin. You are the great protector when it comes to your brothers. You are so many things wrapped up into a perfect little boy. Quiet, sneaky, beautiful, peaceful, clever, silly, cuddly, sweet, and wonderful.

These seven years have been the happiest of my life. You were born and with you came so much happiness my heart swells to think of it. Your smiles help me stay afloat and your tears break my heart. I feel so lucky and grateful to be your mother, and I celebrate this every single day. I love you so much. You are one of my favorite things in the whole world. I’m so glad God gave us you, our miracle. Happy 7th birthday TT Beck.

Forever yours,

The Boys at Easter

Easter photos are a tradition at our house. I spend weeks and a small fortune hunting down outfits my boys will most likely only wear for this one occasion. I scout out the perfect location for the photos, select the best props. I prep for everything. Except for my demonic two-year old who apparently ate a demon prior to our 45 minute drive up the canyon to my idyllic spot. Oliver screamed, and I do mean screamed the entire time. He refused to sit down. No coaxing, treats, songs, or death threats would make that child sit. Gavin and Keaton hammed it up for the camera, as is tradition. After being so flustered I could feel myself losing my cool I packed up and went home.

Here are a couple of the funny outtakes of  use trying to force Ollie to try to sit for a photo. Oh my stubborn youngest.

The next week I decided to dress them up and just try to get a couple of shots in the backyard near our fence. It was tough because Ollie is Ollie and when Ollie doesn’t want to do something its hard to convince him otherwise. I managed to get a couple of cute shots though.

So here they are Easter 2013:

Dollar is two!

Dear Dollar,

Two years ago today you came into the world like a whirlwind and it’s been the most joyful, exhausting, fun, and fullest year of my life. How lucky was I to get the best seat in the house for watching you grow? You’re no longer my sweet soft little baby; you’re officially a little person. Physically you look like a little boy now and its heartbreaking. It’s going to be so hard for me to let go of your baby-ness, in fact it will be impossible. I’m sure you’ll be 27 year old man bringing your wife and children over and I will squeeze you in half and still call you my little baby.

This year has been a blur for me, literally and figuratively. You are constantly on the move Dollar, and it’s been hard for me to keep up with you. One minute you were this chubby faced cherub who was unsteady on his feet and the next you were full speed running from me with two cups filled with water in your hands, laughing as they splash to the floor with your movements. It’s hard for me to remember the old Dollar, the stationary one.

You are mischief and perfection all wrapped up into a 3 foot little package. You give a new definition to the phrase “Free Spirited”. Most days you are trying to give Dennis the Menace a run for his money. A few of your favorite pass times are: Playing in toilets by either clogging them with bath toys, or using the plunger to splash all the water from the toilet to the floor, Using your crayons to color on anything but paper, flooding the kitchen by pushing the water dispenser on the fridge. You’ve recently learned to scooch stools and chairs over to get things that you want, ie sharpie markers, black paint, my expensive face cream, toothpaste (seriously kid stop eating toothpaste!), cleaners, etc. Just anything that for sure baby should not be getting in to as it could be dangerous, and then you get into it and then use it for evil. At the same time your free spirit has allowed you to never hold back. You are the happiest kid I know. You try EVERYTHING! You are so adventurous and willing to try anything it seems. I love that about you. I love that you take chances. While at two they are usually idiotic and include jumping off of high places. I just know later in life that you are going to be a risk taker that makes his life something so remarkable.

Your language has exploded this year. You were our earliest talker so that’s not surprising. You had 10-15 words by 10 months. This year you went in spurts. From the time you hit a year old until you were sixteen months your language stalled. You were working on trying to walk during that time and once you learned to walk your speech followed. You say 100’s of words and communicate so well. I love the “isms” you’ve given us. For example, you call yourself “Dah-er”, which is how your pronounce Oliver. So we’ve all taken to calling you Dollar, hence the “Dear Dolllar”. Your favorite drink is “Da” which is how you say Soda and you go crazy when you see it, you even like to look at pictures of your favorite Da, Capri Suns are “A Mons”, Trains are “Gyms”, EeBee baby is “E-Baby”, Gavin is “Gah”, Shanda is “Shan’Sha”, Ruby is Ru-Ru, Mac and Cheese is “Cheese Cheese”, your favorite blanket is called “Favory”, all snacks are “Bars”, unless it’s a Brownie then it’s a cake, and fruit snacks are called Daddies, and Cars are “Carkeys”. You are speaking in 3-4 word sentences and you are by far our best talker. I didn’t think anyone could top Keaton but you’ve done it!

You are also our first real boyish boy. You are obsessed with cars and trains (Gyms). You make car noises and say “Vroom Vroom, coming through, outta my way”. You can spend an hour playing on your car and train table. You also love construction sites. If we drive pass one or see one while on a walk you get so excited to see the big cars and trucks. You love throwing and kicking and throwing balls. We also found out you are a pretty awesome gymnast. You started toddler gymnastic class and you are pretty wild and rarely pay attention. But, when you do you are fantastic at it. I think we are going to pull you out and wait until you are a little older. I think it might be something you’ll be great at though.

This has been a fun year of watching you grow and learn, watching your little personality form. You love Barney (much to my dismay) and Elmo. You have to snuggle or be around your Dad and me every second of the day. You love your big brothers, especially TT, you think he hung the moon. You two have such a special bond. I love watching you together. You have five blankets you try to drag them everywhere with you. It started as three and has grown to five. You recently learned to climb out of your crib and you’ve been getting up at 6am to wake us all up, what a treat. You’ve also learned to open the fridge and just help yourself to 25 string cheeses a day, which you don’t eat, just bite and leave. You are so adorable Ollie. Your smile fills up your whole face and your laugh is unlike anyone else’s I’ve ever heard. You make everyone laugh with your silliness. I just know you are going to grow up to have the most amazing sense of humor.

Oliver, I want you to know how important you are to our family. Without you our family would not be complete. I wouldn’t be complete. I know that I don’t always have the patience you need from me. I know I yell “NO” and get frustrated with you more often than not. Your personality is new to me; I’ve never raised such a wild spirit. I hope you will forgive me for my short comings. You are teaching me to focus on the little moments, the new achievements each day, and to be grateful for the seconds we’re given. You’re teaching me to be patience and understanding, to sweat the small stuff. You are teaching me to laugh when I want to cry, to speak softly, and love without limits. I know that God gave you to me because he knew you were everything I lacked. Everything our little family lacked and needed. In year three I promise to yell No less often, hug you more, and try to laugh off your mischief. I know one day so very soon I am going to miss you being two. I am going to miss your dimpled hands and soft features. I need to let go and just allow myself to enjoy you, potty splashing and all.

Happy second Birthday to you my little Dollar Michael! I am the luckiest and proudest mom of the most delicious, beautiful, and hilarious two-year-old in the world. Let’s make year three even more memorable than year two shall we?

I love you with all of me and more!