And so… you’re 4…

Today you turned 4 (going on 14?). You are the most epic adventure and we are so proud God gave us you.

This year has been a one of growth & changes & learning to just BE in it all.

I say this knowing full well your daddy will read this. He’ll agree. You are a mama’s boy. You and I have a sacred, guttural, intrinsic bond. You are my person. I only say that about 1 other person. Your daddy may also say “you are your mothers child” which is slightly different; ask GiGi about that one… she hears it a lot. (Heaven knows I have no idea why she would ever in her life hear such nonsense?!).

You saw a different kind of love this year from your daddy & me as you started figuring things & people out on your own. Some of it was easy, some of our love was tough. We’ll continue to love you in both ways; that’s our job.

You learned people have good and bad days. Good days bring about happiness and kindness; bad days can bring out the worst in people. You experienced friends having bad days. I watched you handle it with grace and strength and compassion which is pretty amazing for a 4 year old. You even saying “invite <so and so> to my party!” was a level of compassion most grown adults can’t muster. Keep it up, kiddo. Anger often comes from a lack of good love; remember that.

You are starting to come into your own. You love all things dinosaurs, Paw Patrol, PJ masks, and Mickey Mouse. And yoga. This year you picked yoga over all of the other activities. Namaste, bud. You make your mama & daddy so proud on that one.

You love hard. You are helpful. You are kind. You are oh so smart. You are learning hard stuff. And you’re doing great.

Stay strong. Stay curious. Stay kind. Always be the hands & feet. You are our heartbeat. You are our everything. We love you. Happy birthday.

– Mama & Daddy.

Pre-Kindergarten is here. Heaven help just about everyone.

All summer long Nicholas has been preparing for pre-Kindergarten. He’s been so excited to experience the ‘grows up classroom’.

Last week, to help prepare us all we went and met his new teachers. I walked up after their open house presentation to introduce myself.

“Hi, Ms Robinson. I’m Jaclyn Szapacs, Nicholas’ mom.”

“Oh, ma’am, I know who you are.” (uh-oh)

“You do?”

“I do. I also know who your husband is.” (Crap)

She went on to say Nicholas’ old teacher had gotten her up to speed on our curious, headstrong 3 year old and told her we are helpful at home in reinforcing rules he has at school. She also asked if she too could use the “Nicholas, do you want me to call your mom?”, trick that seems to work so well at church and in his old class.

Absolutely. Use it.

Today, Nicholas got out of bed, headed for the kitchen to eat breakfast, got dressed in his school uniform, posed reluctantly on the front porch for his 1st of many “1st days of ___” picture, got in the car, and arrived at school a confident pre-kindergartner.

He’s been excited for the new school year and the new experiences he’ll have. In addition to science, math, and reading and writing, he’s asked to take yoga classes and soccer. So he’ll be a reading, writing, science, math, yoga, and soccer kiddo during the school days.

Here’s to a great school year. Here’s to being kind. Here’s to growth and change and taking it all in stride. Most of all here is to his heart growing and loving on others just as Jesus loves on us.

Go be Jesus, buddy. You make us so proud.

Well…Hello, Spring.

North Carolina has been playing with my heart these past few weeks as Spring is on the horizon. A beautiful day has been typically followed by 5 rainy, cold days. And snow into April? I just can’t. At least I couldn’t until this week when the Spring weather started and hasn’t stopped. As the family who claims to be outdoorsy (hey, I’ve been known to drink wine on the patio!) we are enjoying this weather.

Enjoy these Spring photos of Nicholas. Jen Yancey took them and I think she did a fabulous job!

these past few months. 

This has been a place for me to share about Nicholas. The good, bad, and whenever I can: the hilarious. Today it’s going to be about a bit more. 

These past few months have been trying for us as a family. We’ve been stretched. Sometimes too thin. We’ve been called to serve & give in new & often uncomfortable ways. We’ve been questioned. We’ve been tested. We’ve been asked to base decisions on others’ priorities; not our own. God has been at the root of all of this & we know that so we’ve laughed we can, cried when we needed to, and drank wine by the fire whenever we had the chance. 

If I had it my way we’d live on an island. Just us 3. No work. No other commitments. Just us and what would seem like endless time. People often scoff at this when they hear me say “I’m going to buy an island and live there and you might be invited if you’re nice!”. They tell me I’d get bored. Maybe. But I’d be willing to risk it. 

Life doesn’t work that way though. 

In July I got an email from an old boss. The email simply said “you’d be great at this.” and included some contact information. A few days later I received a call from an executive recruiter wanting follow up on my boss’ email and see if I might be interested in talking more. So, I did. 

And today, nearly 10 weeks after that 1st email, I resigned from my job at Carolina. In a few weeks I’ll begin an incredibly exciting opportunity. 

I’ll be closer to home (much closer). Instead of a 1 hour one way commute I’ll be only 12 minutes away. There will be less long travel trips on my calendar. I’ll be able to spend more time with Andy & Nicholas. We’ll also have the means to support our family & community in ways we’ve felt called to but haven’t been able to do so before now. 

I’m grateful. Andy is proud. Nicholas would just like to watch “one more!” episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. 

This decision was not easy. It came with much discussion, a lot of questions, some tears, and prayer. Lots of prayer. During this time I didn’t pray for what I wanted. I simply prayed for grace. I mean I wanted grace NOW but nonetheless I prayed for grace. And all the while I heard a voice “be patient my child.” That voice may have laughed a few times at my desire for immediate grace but the mantra never changed, “be patient my child.” 

Leaving Carolina isn’t easy. It has its warts but it’s also a place that has allowed me to grow, has tested me, and has provided support when our family needed it most. I enjoy the people I work for, I work with, and the work we do. It’s been fun. Hard work. But fun. I won’t rehash the past now that it’s just that- I simply wish the best for the employees and the work they do. They’re doing amazing things in that department and it’s been a honor to lead those efforts for the past 6 years. 

I’ll close out my time with Carolina at the end of September. Then I’ll spend a few weeks off with family. Just us 3. There’s been no talk of an island escape yet during that time but you never know. 

The middle of October will bring a new dynamic for our family. I couldn’t be more thrilled. 

give my husband all the credit. 

I am humbled to be a wife & mama to the 2 men that I belong to. They are my people. And my husband is the catalyst for what we did recently & what was talked about today in church. 

Today in church we talked about serving each other- it’s been a summer long series that I have longed for on some days & struggled with on other days. We’ve tossed around the idea of “I love you” versus “I won’t love you through <that>” all summer. 

This morning our minister used our little family as the example of people who saw a need and met it. It was broadcast to all 3 locations and is online for all to see. (but please don’t look it up- unless you just want to see what kind of a JESUS loving tribe we belong to). 
We were unaware that what we did would ever be spoken of ever – let alone this morning. And we didn’t do much – we just loved on complete strangers in a way folks loved on us when N was in the NICU. 
It was humbling. It was a also bit horrific when it happened (I kept praying “please don’t say our names, do not say our names.”) for the family we helped was just 1 row away and we’d rather them never know. Ever. We didn’t do what we did for credit. We did it because someone loved us in a way we never knew we needed when we were in crisis so we wanted to share that crisis-ridden “we got you” love.
It also reminded me that Jesus is always watching. Even when we are at our worst. Even we we think “yeah, I love you & all, but I don’t love you through <that>”. 
So I tell you this not for a “that’s so awesome!” or “way to go!” but to tell you that we continue to try to be what would make Bea Parker (my grandmother & a woman I still try to call on the phone some days- even though she moved on to glory 2 years ago) proud. To remember our roots & to be grateful for what we have & realize it’s only a few hours gone wrong that we could lose it all. And we could be right back where we were- away from home & in desperate need of love- in all its forms. Even when that love comes in the form of a lawnmower on a sunny day. 

you are our child (& it’s hysterical!)

There is no doubt…Nicholas is our child. As he grows so does his personality. He has a knack for well timed quips & a dry sense of humor that most sitcoms yearn for. I see more of Andy & myself in him every single day. 
Most mornings when he wakes up from sleeping, he spends a few minutes staring at the ceiling (I know because I am MOM – and because I have the video monitor on all.the.time). Then, he’ll get up, open his door, & come down the hallway to wherever it is we are. He’ll run right in the room & say confidently “I’M BAAAAAACK! (You) missed me.” (We did.)
For Easter he got a bouncy ball with a fish inside. When the ball bounces it also strobe lights. He quickly named it Dory (after the Nemo/Dory movie series). He will eat dinner with Dory right by his side. One night he was bouncing Dory and she got stuck in a corner. After I “fished” her out he held the ball and said “I am so so so sorry, Dory. Not nice. Sorry.” (I see all those conversations about being nice are paying off).
At dinner the other night he was unhappy with the vegetables on his plate. Instead of arguing with me about eating it he simply looked at them and firmly said “You! Go over there!” and pointed to the door. (He did end up eating them).
One morning as we were getting ready for the day Nicholas informed he “not go school today”. I asked what was he getting dressed for then. Without missing a beat he replied “to ride the bus to Papi’s house.” Bless.
And, just last night he was watching a cartoon before bed. The main characted had lost his 1st tooth & was awaiting the Tooth Fairy. Nicholas screamed “Mama! I can’t find my tooth!” He then proceeded to look under the bed, sofa, even pulled up the throw rug in his room to look for his “missing tooth”. This went on for a good hour. He was upset that he “lost” his tooth & wanted to know when the Tooth Fairy came to our town because he wanted to be ready. (I think we still need to explain the different meanings of “lost” to him in this scenario).
(Like I said, he is like his mama & daddy, right?!)

let there be glory (Happy Easter!)

Easter felt different this year. Maybe it was that we just experienced a death in the family & were worn slap out (physically & emotionally) from all of the travel. Maybe it was that I had just returned from a business trip to the west coast. Who knows.

It was our 1st year at home for Easter with Nicholas. No travel. No planes, trains, or automobiles (other than those toys sized ones that seem to multiply every hour on our floor). We dyed Easter eggs (Nicholas was surprisingly into it). We decorated a tree in the front yard. We read stories. There were parades & parties at school.

On Easter night Nicholas woke up at 3 AM, walked out of his room, and asked if we could go see what the Easter Bunny brought. I asked how he knew the Easter Bunny had already come to which he confidently replied “Because the Easter Bunny got it done before bedtime” (Yes he did buddy). After a little coaxing he went back to bed – only to wake promptly at 6 AM.

The Easter Bunny did in fact come. He brought a motorized John Deere tractor with books & toys (any guesses on who ran the Easter Bunny show this year? – Hint: he’s from up north). The Easter Bunny left a bit of a mess when he came to the house – footprints everywhere.

After doing “Easter Bunny” & eating hot cross buns for breakfast we headed off to church. We greeted folks as they came in (for the record my husband is never more handsome than when I watch him welcome strangers into our church). During service we talked about Abraham & Sarah & their faith (may we all have faith like them). We talked about sacrifice & how we don’t need to make a sacrifice now that one has been made for us. There were more souls than there were seats & that is a problem I’m happy we have.

After church, we headed to Graylyn Estate for brunch. We ended up dining in a private room & Andy ordered champagne & I didn’t want to leave. Old homes, good food, & champagne (with a child who is quiet) is a little bit of heaven for me. After brunch Nicholas participated in an Easter Egg hunt on the estate grounds. We explained that we needed to share the eggs we found with our friends. After Nicholas found 7 eggs he said “all done.”, helped a new friend find an egg, & then quickly ran down the hill to play with the quack-quacks. I’d like to think his “sharing” was a product of our conversation but the better explanation is that he saw quack quacks ducks. However, I’ll take a win anyway I can get it.

We spent the afternoon at home, napping, reading books, & letting Nicholas play on his new playset in the backyard. It was a peaceful day.

We’re remain steadfast, hopeful when promised, & humble when delivered.

Happy Easter, y’all.

Your aunt Doris died 

There is no “better” title. Death happens. Jesus teaches us it is not the end- darkness is not where we will spend eternity. “Yea, though I walk through the valley”- not into; just through. Rest assured she walked through- straight into glory. 

Who was your Aunt Doris? Formally, she is Mami’s half-sister. (“Mami” is your daddy’s mama). She is also Uncle Nicks wife of 50+ years. And let none of us forget- you are named for your dear Uncle Nick. 

Aunt Doris was more than an aunt to all of us. 

 She was the ONLY aunt present at mama & dada’s wedding. (Yes, you also have “aunts” like Mary Alice who was there but I digress). She was the only blood aunt on both sides there. Yes 90% of this was your mama & dadas doing- we didn’t want everyone there. But we wanted Uncle Nick & Aunt Doris. 

She was my favorite mathematician. (& that says a lot because I HATE math). My favorite day with Aunt Doris was when we were in a family favorite restaurant & she said to the waitress “I see you still have this price typo on your menu. You can’t have something & sell it for $0.099. Tell (owner) to fix it it before I come back. I taught him. He’ll know I’m serious.” The grammarian in me fell in love with the mathematician in her at that moment. 

She was strong willed (does this sound like anyone you know?). She held high standards for those she loved – because she knew we were good enough. She was patient. She was tough- but a gentle kind of tough that pushed you without beating you. She didn’t play in family dynamics often- one time she got involved in a harried situation & in no less than 5 words she put everyone in their place. Everyone. I always loved it when she would do this; even when it was me she was putting in place. 

She loved you. She loved you because you are your daddy’s child. And your daddy & Uncle Nick have a bond that is indescribable and one that even bring tears to my eyes when I see them together. So I can’t imagine what watching this bond for 40 years as she did meant to her. 

Your daddy was a paulbearer. The minister that married your mama & dada buried her. Your Uncle Nick stood proud. The service was beautiful. 

(There were not typos or math errors that day – she would have been so proud.) 

words. so many words. 

“Mimi” Kay & “Aunt” Annie will tell you I was worried for a while about N’s language development. Both are the right ladies for me to ‘worry’ to – they both have solid backgrounds in child development, speech, & education (plus they’re also mamas!).

Well……I am officially not worried anymore. This kid went to bed one night knowing 10 words & woke up the next day with what seems like 1,000 words. He still signs while he speaks but his speech is so much clearer than it was just a few days ago. A few of our favorite things to say:

“Mama what’s that?”. (He already knows what “that” is but he feels the repetitive need to to ask you anyway).

“I hold it.” Doesn’t matter what “it” is – he wants to hold it. Everything from his milk cup to his trains to your coffee cup to the windex to the fire extinguisher. (Some things we say “no” to of course).

“Where’s Ichibod?”. Ichibod is our adopted family crane that resides with my parents in SW Florida. Ichibod has a sordid past (don’t we all?). He started showing up for food every time my dad would come in from fishing & while were in the hospital with Nicholas Andy would go out every day and catch fish off the dock just to feed Ichibod. It was therapeutic for them both I think. Now that Nicholas is old enough to fish himself he enjoys it & likes feeding Ichibod. Even thought we’ve been home from Florida for a few months he wonders where Ichibod is most days.

“Wine”  He’s my child. Let’s leave it at that.

“Hush Gage. Hi Fru-Fru. No Joe.” Yes, this is all one sentence. These may (or may not) be things I say to the dogs at least 15 times a day.

“Hi Bus!”. Andy’s parents have an RV that they motor around in. When it’s here Nicholas loves to wave to it every morning. When it’s not here he waves to the school bus that goes by our house.

“AAAAAAAAAmen.” This one speaks for itself (at least it does for me). Nicholas loves to complete all prayer time at the house. He waits for the “….In Jesus Name…” to say confidently “AAAAAAAmen”.