To My Sweet Boys

Dear Stevie,

Tomorrow, you will begin an incredible journey – Middle School. I know you are nervous because you are always nervous the night before school starts. Sweet boy, you are so incredibly bright, I know that you will do just fine in 6th grade.


How is that possible?

It seems like just yesterday I was cuddling your eight-pound body and trying to figure out how I helped to make such a perfect little being.

And just days ago, you spiked your hair before your first Middle School Cross Country practice.

Son, these next few years will be ones you will never forget. You will hear things and see things that you are not used to hearing and seeing. You will encounter a lot of crazy. Please know that you can always come to me with any questions you might have. And believe me, there WILL be questions.

As you start down this Middle School path, I pray that you keep Jesus close to your heart. He cares about every detail of your life and will always lead you in the right direction.

You are a kind, compassionate child and I pray that you have a great year in Middle School.

Align yourself with good kids. Love like Jesus. And always do the right thing, even when no one is watching.

I love you sweet boy!



Dear Alex,

It is the night before your first day of third grade. You are most looking forward to wearing your new Adidas Spring Blades tennis shoes. I love that shoes make you so happy. Tomorrow, you will meet a teacher that you have never met before. I hope that your new teacher enjoys your bright personality as much as we do. I have a feeling you will shine brightly in third grade.

You were kinda bummed to learn that none of your good buddies are in your class. Well, guess what? You will make new buddies. Buddies that will enjoy running around the playground with you and buddies that you will no doubt want to invite over for playdates. I have never been big on change, but thankfully, you are always ready to, in your words, to “make the best of it.”

I know that you will do wonderful in third grade. I know that because, you are great at anything you set your mind to. You work hard and you play hard. Thankfully, you still climb up on the couch beside me to cuddle.

I look forward to hearing all about the third grade. And your new friends. And your new teacher. And even, how much you loved wearing your new shoes. You are such a great kid and I am so glad that you are mine.

Remember – and you knew this was coming – always do the right thing, even when no one is watching.

Love, Mommy



A Good Book

I spent most of the weekend with my nose in a book. A dramatic, action-packed, romantic, comedy with an interestingly different cast of characters.

I’ve had my eye on this book for quite some time. Each and every time I get my hands on it, I never want to put it down. It excites me, mostly because the main characters are dynamic individuals. I open the book and get excited to spend hours at a time really getting to know these characters and all they bring to the story. I do my best to clear my head, because sometimes this story is a difficult one to follow. Failing to pay close attention to all that is going on could cause me to miss out on details that are important to the storyline. I like all of the characters, even though some of them prove to be difficult. My absolute favorite is the one whom I most closely relate to. He has a big heart and absolutely loves what he is doing, even though he is in a supporting role and is rarely given the opportunities that some of the major characters receive. His role in some chapters are more impressive than others, but, it is evident – to me at least – that he makes this book so much more interesting.

I never dreamed in a million years that this would be the type of book that I would enjoy. Through the years and most certainly in this stage of life, lots of things have change in my life and I find myself all wrapped up in this type of tale.

The particular storyline has been building for weeks, and just like any good book, each chapter seems to excite me more and more because I see the prospect for new possibilities, as well as the scenes that get me all fired up . It is action packed and difficult to follow at times because the OH THE DRAMA, but aren’t most good books filled with pages full of drama? Sometimes, before I know what is happening, I get so wrapped up in one character, that I lose all track of another. I absolutely hate it when that happens. When you take into consideration all that is transpiring – funny scenes, jam-packed action, DRAMA, and various love situations, it’s any wonder that any of us can keep up with the dramatic twists and turns that happen at every corner.

The love is evident – at least for most of the characters. If not for love, how else could they do what they do? Why else would they try so hard?

I’d be lying if I said I never get frustrated when my nose is in this book. The characters – from all walks of life – are so different, but each one brings something unique to the story plot. Other times, these crazy characters make me laugh out loud. I love when they keep me guessing, because that usually means something wonderful and exciting is about to happen. And when it does, I can hardly contain myself.

Y’all. There are fewer things I like better than a good story.

It does me no good to speculate on how the story will end. All I know is that I keep opening the book, excited to find out what will happen next. The blend of characters, a great story, genuine love, exciting twists and turns, and DRAMA keep me guessing and no matter how many scenarios I work out in my head, I can never figure out how the chapter will end.

What I have figured out is that this story is well worth the time and trouble it takes to keep up with it. And, if you ever have a chance to take on a good read such as this one, you should do it!

Drama, love, action, comedy and excitement.

A good book doesn’t get much better than that.



I Think I Can

I got a little panicky today when I discovered that Alex and Stevie have only five days of school left.


Only five days stand between me and sleeping past seven in the A.M.

Aside from sleeping in late, I am OH SO SAD that in five days, we will have a 6th grader and a 3rd grader in the house. This school year has flown by, and I am just days away from surviving Stevie’s first year of Middle School. I can barely believe it. I am forty years old, but honesty, it seems like just yesterday I was finishing 5th grade myself. I remember the year well. As fate would have it, I drew the short stick that year and landed in a split class with both 4th and 5th grade students. For math and reading, we walked down the hall and joined the rest of the fifth graders. My teacher’s name was Mrs. Hackworth and she had a whiny voice. I can still remember the way she said my name – JULL-LIE – especially, the way she drug out a bunch of “L’s” in the middle.

It was a miserable year.

But enough about Mrs. Hackworth and her whiny voice.

I volunteer at Alex’s school on Thursdays making popcorn with several other mommy friends. Each week, our biggest decision is where we will have lunch after we finishing popping the corn. Most weeks, we eat at local Mexican restaurant. Some weeks, we hit the local Subway or McDonalds. Today, in celebration of the school year ending, of course, we decided on Mexican. This time though, we to ate a restaurant we don’t normally go to. While we were there, I remembered why I am not a fan of change. I am a creature of habit, and I typically find one entrée at a restaurant that I enjoy and order it every single time we go there. For example, at Chili’s, I order Chicken Crispers. At Olive Garden, I order a lunch portion of spaghetti with meat sauce. At Bob Evans, I order the Wildfire Chicken Salad, or occasionally shake things up and order Turkey with dressing. At a Mexican joint, I order either a chicken chimichanga with fajita filling, or a Chicken fajita taco salad. At our usual Mexican joint, the gal there knows us and she knows without hesitation that I do not – under any circumstances – want any guacamole anywhere on my plate.

At lunch today, I ordered a chicken fajita salad.

I was surprised when the waiter brought a plate of fresh, raw vegetables (onion, green peppers, lettuce, tomato) with cheese and chicken strips. That’s it. No taco salad shell. No melted cheese. No sautéed onions and peppers. After explaining to the waiter that I thought I was ordering a taco salad with chicken fajita stuff, he took the salad back and returned a few minutes later with a chicken fajita taco salad piled a mile high with guacamole.

I know I’ve mentioned a time or ten here on the blog that I don’t eat guacamole because I think it looks like baby poop. Plus, it stinks. Because I know what happens to food that is sent back to the kitchen, I decided keep that salad. Then, I did what I do when I don’t want to gag. I pulled my shirt up over my nose and mouth and started digging the guacamole out of that salad in an attempt to get any trace of it, OUT of the salad, plopped it on a salad plate and passed it to my friend, who said she would eat it, and then I took a napkin and wiped any trace of green off of the shell, just to be sure. And after all that, I enjoyed my salad.

This school year has been a good one. Despite my anxiety about Stevie starting Middle School (an entire year early, thanks to our local BOE sending our 5th graders there due to overcrowding in our Elementary School) he has enjoyed every minute of it. Alex has the same awesome second-grade teacher that Stevie had, so thankfully, it’s been a wonderful year for him, too. The only problem is, the year has flown by. With just one full week of school left, I am sitting on the big, blue, bloggy couch attempting to keep my calendar straight because “The Little Engine That Could” is straight-up BURNT OUT! (And speaking of burnt, I have a huge blister on my thumb because apparently I can not be trusted to operate a hot glue gun unsupervised.

Surely, I can make it through one more [fun] week – reward parties, field day, pajama day and electronic day, right?

I think I can.

Have a great weekend, y’all.

Pick A Stick

Our boys are great playmates. They play well together a LOT more than they argue. At eight and eleven, the spanking ship has sailed for the most part. I mean, I would still pull out a pampered chef discipline tool if needed, but for the most part, it seems silly to spank when the kids are bickering over a LEGO mini figure, or like yesterday, when one of them pinches the other in a fight over the Xbox 360 wheel.

How do you teach that your hands are not for hurting when you follow that up with spanking?

And then there are the times when all heck breaks loose in the back seat and I scream something like WHY CAN’T THE TWO OF YOU SIT BACK THERE WITHOUT TOUCHING EACH OTHER, I’M TRYING TO DRIVE!!!!

After months of taking away all electronic devices as the major form of punishment in this household, something had to give.

And Lord knows, my hollering fits weren’t working any more. Not like they really were ever all that effective, it’s just hard to keep this big mouth-o-mine under control sometimes.

While perusing Pinterest one day, I found an awesome discipline idea. It was cheap and EASY and I just knew this was gonna be effective, so I was all like, SIGN ME UP!

I headed to the Mart of Walls to get a bag of popsicle sticks.

I have deemed our new method of discipline the “PICK A STICK” method. We have used the method three times, and I feel like I am disciplining LIKE A BOSS.

I used some ideas from the Pinterest post, but really, I catered the sticks to meet our MY needs. With a sharpie, I wrote on 14 of the sticks.

  1. Run the sweeper upstairs
  2. Wipe dining room table off
  3. Dust living room
  4. Clean toilets
  5. Take laundry downstairs to laundry room
  6. Clean the bathtub
  7. Run sweeper upstairs
  8. Clean front door
  9. Put ALL laundry away on laundry day
  10. Say 5 nice things about your brother
  11. Straighten brother’s room
  12. Make brother’s bed

And my two favorites: GRACE

Yes, you read that right.


In other words, this discipline method also serves as a reminder to us about the grace of God. What better way to learn about God’s grace than to experience it firsthand. I wrote the word grace on two sticks and I want them to serve as a reminder of God’s love and grace in our everyday lives. In the three times the PICK A STICK method has been used, grace has never been picked. But if it ever is picked, I intend to talk to the boys about God’s greatest act of grace: the gift of salvation.

I placed the sticks in a Longaberger basket and it sits in our living room.

When things get out of hand at our house, OR EVEN IN THE BACKSEAT, I tell them to pick a stick.

So far, Stevie has swept the upstairs, Alex has swept the downstairs, Stevie has cleaned the bathtub, and Alex has cleaned off the dining room table.

You know what I say about that?


The boys understand that they perform whatever they pull. I was pleasantly surprised the last time they had to pick a stick. They asked if they could work together to complete their tasks faster.

You know what I say about that?

Hallelujah and Amen.

The Pick A Stick method works up in here. The boys haven’t fought nearly as much. And my list of chores is a bit shorter. Finally, a quick, easy, effective answer to the discipline madness.

I say it all the time, people. What did we ever do before Pinterest?

Forty and Fabulous

I had a fabulous weekend.

On Friday, McDaddy hosted an open house birthday party to celebrate my 40th birthday. It was an enjoyable evening full of laughs and thankfulness.

I have the best friends and family.

My friend, Linda brought me this lovely bag full of awesomeness.

I absolutely love it.

    • Some people say that turning 40….
    • is a sticky situation – post-it note
    • is rough – nail file
    • is sweet – Lindor truffles
    • stinks – a candle
    • blows – bubble gum
    • sucks – candy canes
    • is golden – goldfish
    • drives you to drink – bottle of Coca-Cola classic (Because that’s what I drink)

My sweet friends, Gannett and Katheryn gave me a yummy candy bouquet, a Yankee red-velvet candle and this hilarious card.


Oh my sweet mercy, I crack up every single time I see this card.

Y’all know I love bling, right?

And I also love baseball.

My sweet friend, Jessica, brought this perfect gift.

That, my friends, is a rhinestone MOM baseball bracelet and a rhinestone baseball ring.

It is fabulous.

My friend, Becky, brought another snowman to add to my collection.

And, as an added bonus, she filled it full of chocolate.

And speaking of chocolate, I found these on Pinterest and thought the kids might enjoy them.

They were a huge hit.

In addition to a wonderful evening of laughing and visiting,


and sharing memories, my wonderful friends brought a variety of gifts that I absolutely loved.

I have a whole new outlook on turning forty.

I am thankful.

I am blessed.

And I had a happy birthday.

And from the looks of my kitchen, I think our guests did, too.

I say it all the time…. I call myself a Princess, because I am married to a Prince.

Of course at forty… I suppose it may be time to upgrade my Princess status to Queen.

 Oh, and I almost forgot that McDaddy surprised me with these beauties,

Thank you, McDaddy! For the party, the trip to New York, for the sandals, and for loving me.

I am truly a blessed FORTY YEAR OLD.

On Turning 40

I spent the day reflecting on my forty years of life while I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned some more. It was a snow day for our school district so the boys were home too. They enjoyed half of the day before I made them clean their rooms.

I have been dreading this day for many months. Maybe even an entire year.



It even sounds OLD.

And weird.

I’m not sure why this has hit me so hard. I’m not really *that* kind of person. Age has never mattered to me before this BIG one. Plus, I don’t think I look that old, despite the appearance of that stubborn wrinkle between my eyes that refuses to go away whether I’m smiling or frowning, and the gray discoloration in my hair.

As I spent the day cleaning out and organizing most of my cabinets, I began to reflect on my forty years of life. I received a text today from a friend asking for prayer for her dear friend who is fighting pancreatic cancer. I found out on Sunday that my 40-something neighbor is in an ICU bed fighting for her life. If that isn’t enough to snap you out of your funk, I don’t know what is. I decided that instead of dreading this rite of passage – this 40th birthday – I should count my blessings and thank my lucky stars that I am alive, well, healthy and loved.

I have led a charmed life. I have seen and done things that most people only dream about. I don’t say that in a prideful way. Rather, I mean simply, that I have been blessed beyond measure throughout my life.

I grew up in a loving home. We weren’t rich, but we didn’t want for much, either. I had a beautiful lavender-gingham bedroom with a big, canopy bed. I have fond memories of sledding on inner tubes on snowy days, twirling my baton on our front walk for HOURS, and Sunday dinners gathered around our family table. My twin brothers and I were taught that honesty, respect, and hard-work are more important than material possessions, and my mom always told me you never do wrong and get by with it – words that I find myself telling my own kids today. I enjoyed playing school or office on our back porch and every Christmas was magical and memorable. I thought those were the best years of my life.

I met the man of my dreams in high school, even though it took me a couple of years to figure that out. We dated all through college and I could hardly wait to marry him. I worked my way through college and attended graduate school. If I had written a thesis I would have received a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Counseling. That is probably the biggest regret of my life. Still, at this stage in life I have no desire to go back or finish. Our college years were busy and fun, and I remember McDaddy and I would often hop in the car on the weekends and take a day road trip to Virginia or Kentucky. I thought those were the best years of my life.

After we were married I entered the workforce. I enjoyed the craziness in jail. I enjoyed my job. And I appreciated doing a job that I really enjoyed doing. During this time, McDaddy and I travelled the world – having visited ten countries – romantic places like London, Paris, Switzerland and Rome – and we’ve been to 36 states. (Just last month in fact, he took me to New York City to celebrate my 40th birthday.)

Back then, McDaddy and I were foot-loose and fancy-free. If we wanted to go on a trip, we packed up, and we went. I thought those were the best years of my life.

After trading in a career for motherhood I realized that I had it all wrong. These children – these two human beings that I helped to create – arehealthy and beautiful and wonderful. Realizing that this is the most important job I would ever do, I prayed that I would get this thing right. There are days that I lose my temper. There are days that I feel like I have lost [what’s left of] my mind. There are days I feel like a complete failure and I go to bed knowing that tomorrow is a new day. I am not a model mother. But I try to give it my best every day of every year. I have so much to be thankful for.

I am not a perfect wife. I am not always the best friend. I am certainly not the best Christian. I am impatient. I have strong beliefs and opinions, and often times my mouth beats my brain off the starting line. God has been so good to me, even though I fail Him often. His grace and His mercy is something I will never understand.

And that, my friends, is something you can’t put a price on.

I am loved by so many people. I have wonderful parents, a husband who adores me, children who are healthy, and friends I could call on any hour of the day.

Who cares that I am FORTY years old? These are the best years of my life after all, and I don’t want to waste another second dreading it.

So here’s to my F-O-R-T-I-E-S.

May they truly be the best years of my life.

This Parenting Thing Is Tough

This parenting thing is tough.

I kind of expected things to get tougher now that Stevie is in Middle School, but I never dreamed it would happen just weeks into the new school year.

I should have known better.

Sometimes, it is necessary to step up to the plate and stand up for what you believe in, even if it means you ruffle some feathers.

McDaddy and I had to do that on Friday.

We were met with opposition and unkind words.

And if you’ve ever been there, you know that stinks.

Still, we will always do what needs to be done where these two are concerned.

Even if it is unpopular.

Even if we do it alone.

My heart aches when I think about the look on his face as he asked us tough questions.

Questions that he had no business thinking about.

I am thankful for this guy, who always seems to have an [age] appropriate answer.

We take the responsibility of parenting very seriously. In fact, as a stay-at-home-mom, it is my only job. It angers me that we were treated so poorly by school administrators simply because we questioned them.

As parents, we are cheerleaders, protectors and advocates.

I am a loud cheerleader.

I am a fierce protector.

And I will step up to advocate each. and. every. time. I feel it necessary to do so.

Doing the right thing is not always easy.

It appears as though this might be a l-o-n-g road ahead of us.

Whatever the cost, these two are worth it.



Urine For A Treat

In case you’ve been waiting with sweet anticipation, I thought I should let you know that I was able to deliver the big orange bottle of urine to the lab without incident.

There are just some sentences you never thought you’d write on your blog.

And here’s where I must admit that I contemplated taking a picture of the big orange bottle in my fridge to share here on the blog.

And all I could think about was, “REALLY, JULIE?” and thought better of it.

You’re welcome!

When I arrived at the lab, I was hopeful that it wouldn’t be full of people. I just knew everyone in that joint would be gawking at me and it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that, OH LOOK, THAT CHICK IS CARRYING A PEE JUG UP IN HERE.

I’ve heard the older you get, the less you care what people think. I guess you need to be older than 39 for that to happen.

Much to my relief, there wasn’t one single soul in the waiting room.

Sweet hallelujah.

I sat down and waited for my name to be called. Once I made it back to registration, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was able to get in and out without being seen with the pee jug.

And now?

I wait.

I wait for some poor sap to analyze that mess.

I hate to wait.

And then I wait for my appointment next Friday when the Doctor will hopefully deliver some good news.

And then I WAIT to see if I ever get another dang kidney stone.

Have I mentioned that I absolutely HATE to wait?

I was not wired to wait.

Seriously, I suck at it.

It just dawned on me that using “suck” on the blog isn’t very ladylike.

My momma always said, “I’m trying to raise a lady, not a street urchin!” So, just to be clear, she would want me to tell you that I’ve been raised better.

And I have.

And now that I’m a mother myself, I get it.

I really get it.

There is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t find myself shaking my head in disbelief. Some days, I sound exactly like my mother.

  • You know better.
  • Did you just roll your eyes at me?
  • Are you crazy?
  • If you slam that door one more time…
  • Look at me when I’m talking to you.
  • What were you thinkin’?
  • You better watch that mouth.
  • This hurts me worse than it hurts you.
  • Because I said so. (Oh sweet mercy, I hated this one!)
  • You will understand this one day.
  • As long as you’re under my roof, you will listen to me.
  • Quit running in and out!
  • Do you hear me?
  • Someday, I hope you have a kid just like you. (HEY MOM! I GOT HIM ALRIGHT!)
  • I will not tell you again. (Except I probably will)
  • I want this room cleaned up! (One time my mom told me to do this, I crammed everything that was in my floor into my drawers and into my closet. When I returned home from a friend’s house later that day, I walked into my room to discover that she had dumped every. single. thing. from my dresser drawers in the middle of my floor. You best believe I never did that again!)

And last week, as I was cleaning Stevie and Alex’s rooms, I had to chuckle because I realized this thing had come full circle.

I am a mother. Who is like her mother. I now understand why she hounded me about cleaning my darn room.

And don’t think dumping the drawers on the floor never crossed my mind, because oh yes ma’am, it certainly did!

But instead, I cleaned and I organized.

And I will wait.

Because I know it won’t be long until their rooms are a hot mess. Again.

And I will no doubt say, “PICK UP YOUR JUNK!” followed by, “I want this room cleaned up!” And then I will ask, “Do you hear me?”

And when my little darlings attempt to ask, “WHY?”

I will respond with “Because I said so!”

It’ll happen.

Just you wait.

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!

My fellas and I spent the weekend camping with McDaddy’s sister, her four kids, and another family from our church.

When I picked up Alex from school on Friday, I could tell he wasn’t feeling well. He told me he was just sad because his class didn’t get to go out for recess, but I could tell he wasn’t his normal, smiling self. We had an hour at home before it was time to pick Stevie up from school. My heart sank when he said, “Mom, I’m freezing.” I got out the thermometer and my suspicions were confirmed.


Just great.

We were literally walking out the door to pick up Stevie and hit the road, and now we had to make a split-second decision about whether Alex and I would go or stay.

McDaddy and I decided that Alex and I would drive a separate car. That way, if his fever didn’t go away or he started feeling worse, he and I would make the hour drive back home. He slept the entire way to the campground, and by the time we arrived, his temperature was 102. I put him in a cool bath, and within minutes of the bath and the Tylenol kicking in, he was wound-up like an eight-day clock.

The fun was short-lived because by bedtime, he was hot again.

If you know me in real life, you know that I am a straight-up crazy person when it comes to the medical issues. Especially, medical issues involving my kids. I realize that a fever is not uncommon in young children. I also realize that I am very fortunate to have healthy kids. Still, I can barely stand the thought of my boys feeling bad. I wish I could just wave a magic wand and make them all better. It is, in my opinion, the worst part of motherhood.

By Saturday evening, he told me that his throat hurt when he swallowed. His fever had been up and down all day, and it seemed to be hanging steady at 101. I made a trip to the Google to find the nearest Med-Express and away we went. I was pretty sure he had strep because his throat was red and raw, and strep is “going around” at his school.

We made our way to the clinic, and I was relieved that there were only three others in the waiting room. We were seen rather quickly, and much to my surprise, he tested negative for strep. The Doc – citing his raspy cough and raw throat – handed us a prescription for an antibiotic, and we were in and out in about an hour.

We are now 56 hours into the fever, and 24 hours into the antibiotic. I am hoping we’re on the downhill side of this thing. I don’t like it when my babies are sick.

And speaking of babies, look what I found in my picture files.

I love this sweet child so much!

I hoping he feels better tomorrow.

And pleading with time to slow down.

A Letter To My Firstborn

As he walked past me, I grabbed on to his gray Nike t-shirt and pulled him onto my lap. He is too big for me to cuddle, but I cuddle him anyway. His lanky legs hang almost to the floor. I lean down and kiss him on the forehead, noticing his ridiculously long eyelashes. He is my firstborn. My baby boy. And McDaddy’s namesake.

Dear Stevie,

I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you that these past ten years have been the best years of my life. Back when I was 25, I thought I was in the prime of my life. I know now that I was so wrong about that. This motherhood thing? It is the most challenging job I will ever love. And you, my sweet boy, are the reason that Daddy and I became members of the Parents Club. We failed you in so many ways in those early years. We didn’t make you “cry it out” at night until well after you were able to speak and yell VERY PLAINLY “Daddy, buddy, daddy, buddy” and the two of us sat on the bed in utter disbelief wondering which one would beat the other to your crib side. You didn’t come with an instruction manual, so we’ve had to pick this thing up as we go. When we carried you in the house for the first time, your dad sat the bulky car seat (with you in it) down and we looked at each other and said, “Well, now what?”

We knew nothing about raising a child. Thank you for being patient with us.

The years have flown by.

And I am dreading the next ones.

These next few years will be tough for me. (Not for daddy, because he handles stress and change like a normal, sane person.) I, on the other hand, will be a basket case. I can hardly think about dropping you off for your first day of middle school without crying. It literally seems like just yesterday I was in an uproar about taking you to Kindergarten for your first day of school. Once you enter that war-zone Middle school, I know the unchartered waters could, and probably will get rough. Soon, you will start to notice girls and undoubtedly one will break your heart. And then, so help me, I will want to pull every hair from her head for hurting my baby. There will be things that happen at school that you will forget to tell me. Or refuse to tell me. I just hope you know that you can come to me and daddy with anything. I am slowly learning that I cannot blow my ever lovin’ top each and every time you are wronged. But it’s not because I don’t want to. I am your protector. And your biggest fan. And I would lay down my life for you without hesitation.

Oh sweet boy, you are so intelligent, I often wonder if you are really mine. When we joke about home-schooling you, I have to laugh because you have knowledge about things I have never even heard of. And Lord knows the only thing I could teach you about math is how to calculate 50% off of a sale item because I am a whiz at that. I am thankful that you took more than your good looks from your dad.

You are a statistical monster and you don’t forget one single thing. EVER. At four years old, you could recite the whole “If you have diabetes, and you’re on medicare, you may qualify for a free meter from Liberty Mutual” commercial. Several people suggested that we record you doing that, and sadly, I never did because it didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time. Man, I could kick myself for not doing that. While I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, you could probably tell me what you had for lunch seven months ago. And we learned a long time ago not to discuss anything important in front of you because no matter what you are doing, you are also LISTENING (you did take something from me, after all!)

You are kind-hearted and you love to laugh. You are a good friend and a child of the King. One of my proudest moments as your momma was the night you told me you wanted to ask Jesus into your heart. Because Daddy was deployed, I wanted to wait until he called so that we could discuss it together. You prayed right over Skype and your dad and I are so thankful that you made the decision to follow Jesus. As you enter this new phase of life, keep Jesus close to your heart. Love like Jesus. Consult Him when you are unsure about things. He loves you even more than Daddy and I do, and you will never go wrong keeping your sights set on Him.

You love the game of baseball and your heart for the game is unmatched. One of my favorite things to do is watch you play ball. I love that you are such a kind-hearted teammate. And I also love that you don’t mind me being your “team mom.” It is certainly one of the things I love the most about this season of life.

You are protective over Alex and you love to teach him things. He looks up to you, and I hope you keep that in mind when making decisions. The two of you love to play together and it makes my heart smile when the stars align and you jokers are getting along and laughing together. You take your role as big brother very seriously and I am happy about that. I have a confession: I often stand at your bedroom door and listen in on the conversation between the two of you. You talk about all manner of boy stuff. Farts. Lego’s. Cars. Friends. Dreams. Mini Figures. Baseball. Superheroes. And school. I hope the two of you remain close even when you are grown.

You are growing up everyday, but I love that you still like to play. I am dreading the day when you no longer want to do these things. Soon, you will ask to attend sporting events without me. And school dances. And you will no longer play with that little bit of hair (the bit that rarely ever lays as it should because you won’t leave it be – it even shows in that picture above, and below!) as you read, or eat, or watch television. I dread the day that you trade a matchbox car for a real car. And you trade a Big Nate book for a chemistry book, or Lord have mercy on me, a college handbook. Oh my sweet baby boy (daddy says I must quit calling you that!) I can’t hardly imagine that time.

Stevie, I am so proud to be your mom. Teachers have always commented to us about what a great kid you are. I am so happy to hear that. There is a reason I tell you every single day when I drop you off at school to do the right thing even when no one is watching. Aside from loving Jesus and others, it is the most important thing you can do. I love you and I want you to know I will always be in your corner. You can count on me to be honest and supportive and loving. And you can also count on me to go nine kinds of crazy on any girl that doesn’t treat you right.

I am only kidding.

Sort of.

As I count down these final eight days before you start Middle School, I do so with a heavy heart and a great big dependence on Jesus. He will be with you when I can’t be. And that comforts me. I know these next eight years are going to fly by, and there will be a lot of changes. One thing that will never change, my boy, is my love for you.

Don’t ever forget that.