Taylor Christmas Letter 2017

Hello Friends,

Christmas Moose here, wishing you all a lovely Christmas season, and ready to fill you in on the last year in my Happy Little Home.

First things first.  For the first time in many years, the family got me out of my box ON-TIME.  We had a wonderful day listening to Christmas music, eating leftover Thanksgiving food, and picking out a Christmas tree to deck our living room.  For some reason, the family didn’t think to bring me along to pick out a tree.  I’m not sure why as my moose-background qualifies me to be an excellent tree-picker-outer.  Ah well.  The family came home with Lydia’s top pick for a tree, and though they had a little trouble getting it up straight, it sure makes for a lovely view from the fireplace mantel.  There seems to have been an extra amount of dancing this year, Christmas music filling our halls, and, now that the Little Ones have figured out how to turn on the Christmas lights, they are on all-day, everyday.  Not that I mind.  Now, I know you’re all happy to hear all about me, but I must move on.

Starting with the youngest…Elijah John is now one year old.  He’s an adorable Little Calf and he is strong.  He muscles his way around the living room, sneaks around the tree, and gets right over to the lights faster than you can say, “Antlers”.  He’s pulling up now, babbling, giving hi-fives, and can handle being wrestled by his older sisters.  He likes to put things into his mouth, but hasn’t choked on any pine needles yet.  Oh!  And he can climb!  He started climbing the stairs this month, adding to Justine’s list of regular prayer requests for his safety.  He’s cute and sweet and, though it’s a bit early to tell, I think he’s going to be one smart little kiddo.

Paul (two-years-old) is his own moose…I mean, man.  He struts around like he owns the place and isn’t afraid to be different.  While the girls follow in each other’s footsteps, Paul doesn’t mind marching to the beat of his own drum, asking for a different treat than everyone else, or walking around barefoot regardless of the weather.  He always has a favorite toy he obsesses over for a few days: a wooden puppy, cloth book, toy car, football, or even a kitchen item (metal tongs, recently).  He’ll carry the item around all day, sleep with it, bring it to the dinner table, and on any outings.  He’s learning to talk more and more, and, now that Dad sits by him at dinner, he’s learning to stay in his chair without crying, even when he doesn’t like the food.  He still loves his mommy and anyone who’s around much will see Paul sitting in Justine’s lap, sucking his fingers and holding his own or her hair for comfort.

Abigail (four-years-old) is the sweetheart of the family.  She loves to be snuggled, gets sleepy more often, and likes to make people happy.  She will share with her siblings and gets so happy when she gets to skip nap time to play with Lydia. When they play, Abby is the princess/bride/ballerina and Lydia is the one helping her get ready and presenting her to the family.  Abby smiles shyly and lets Lydia be the spokesperson, but she loves to dress up. Abby is learning her letters this year and is working on memorizing her third Bible verse.  Abby is slower to learn new things than Lydia, but when she learns them, she quickly becomes more independent.  She has been known to clean the whole living room so she could have room to play, or find a blanket and snuggle up in the glider for hours when she isn’t feeling well.  Abby is often humming and singing, especially the two Bible verses she already knows and affectionately calls, “my verse”.  She has a fiery temper which she is slowly learning to control, but she also has a fiery love for life and fun and her smiles are always making everyone around her so happy.  She is also the little fish in the family and loves all things water.  Do not expect Abby to walk near a puddle without marching right over and stomping in it at least once.

Lydia turned six this year and started first grade.  She learns incredibly quickly, which is good, as the school day is often interrupted by diaper changes and nap times.  She is learning to pay attention to God’s voice and obey.  Lydia’s appetite for playing (especially with her Daddy) is insatiable.  She loves being read to and doing fun activities.  Lydia is always asking, “Can today be a fun day?”.  Some days the family goes out (without me) and visits a museum or walks downtown somewhere, eats out, and calls it a fun day, though I can’t imagine any family truly having that good of a time without their Christmas Moose.  Lydia thinks every day should be a fun day.  Every meal should be special.  And there should always be dessert.  After Elijah started trying to choke on everything, her school prizes were removed from the house (choke-ables, the family calls them) and she is now rewarded by earning enough “points” for her work to watch an episode of Mister Rogers with her siblings.   I can’t say I mind.  The kiddos gather together and Elijah crawls laps around them while they all sit mesmerized for half an hour listening to the show, then they spend the next week acting it out over and over again.  It’s pretty cute.  Lydia never outgrew the “why-stage” and can ask a million questions without taking a breath.  She is strong-willed and independent, but still loves to feel close to her parents and even her siblings, and can’t stand going to bed without being on good terms with everyone (and saying goodnight and giving hugs and kisses all around…twice).

The year has been full of ups and downs for Justine.  January started off with a newborn.  February found the family falling into a nice groove, but then March turned everything upside down.  It was a rough end-of-winter with not enough sunshine, sleep, or health in the home.  Springtime brought sunshine and led off an epic summer full of happy family memories.  Fall was a process of getting back into routines and fighting for more sleep. Why these babies don’t sleep is a mystery to me.  Moose calves just don’t have that problem, I guess. Justine has been embracing simplicity this year, and especially this winter, reevaluating her to-do list and canceling item and item that aren’t actually necessary.  She’s setting aside computer or phone time to engage the kiddos and tackle the few items she has left to-do this year.  I must say, it’s a heart-warming sight to see her sitting in her favorite chair each morning with the Christmas lights on and a mug of hot tea or coffee.  Her Bible is kept on my mantle lately (where the Little People can’t hurt it) and each day after reading, her thoughts, burdens, to-dos, and worries are laid out before the Lord then left for Him take care of.  The highlights of her year (beside becoming a tri-athlete) have been prioritizing her family and letting a lot of other things go, growing in closeness and unity with Dan, and seeing God work in the hearts of her children in some big and little ways.

This fall Dan celebrated his first anniversary working on the autonomous car for GM.  After months of the family praying that he wouldn’t have to drive so far to work, with no obvious answer in sight, his boss suddenly gave him an immense increase in freedom to work closer to home in addition to one day at home each week.  Unlike any moose dads I’ve known, Dan is an incredibly involved father.  He tucks the kids in each night, chats with them about their day, answers their questions and prays for them.  He leads family Bible-time each night, reading the Bible and asking or answering related questions.  He asks the kids about their days, takes them outside to sled and build snowmen, and stays up-to-date on what their learning in school.  He has been realizing more and more how important it is to invest in the family and let other things go, especially as he observes and hears from older dads in his office who haven’t done so and regret it now.  Dan plans the best fun days, treats his children with love and attention, and showers Justine with love in all five languages.

It’s been a delightful season in this warm home, and along with the Taylor family, I wish you a beautiful Christmas celebration in the coming days and the happiest of New Years.

With Love,

Mister C. Moose

Abby’s Fourth Birthday

This month, Abby turned four.

So let me tell you all who our Abby-girl is.  She is the most enthusiastic, life-loving little girl I’ve ever known.  I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again and again for the rest of our lives, but Abby is an extremist. When she’s happy, she beams.  When she’s disappointed, the world IS ending.  Her meltdowns are epic.  Her naps are deep.  And when she wants to be loud, she’ll hurt your ear drums.

Abby had to get some shots recently.  Imagine a small room in a doctor’s office.  Abby is curled up on my lap with tears in her eyes.  Lydia is sitting next to us, covering her ears and singing (loudly) a made-up song about how everything is going to be ok.  The nurse is quietly singing Abby a little song about what she’s doing.  It’s not actually time for the shot yet, but Abby is curled up tightly on my lap, clutching her favorite stuffed pig in one hand, and screaming at the top of her lungs.  She continues to scream, even when I tell her it’s not time yet, until the “pokes” are done.  But, the moment Abby was done, she had a sweet little smile once again, tears in her eyes, and was proudly clutching her new stickers as if she had just won a medal.

Abby appreciates food.  One morning she greeted me by asking, “Where’s Daddy?  What’s for dessert?”  Her favorite foods are hot dogs, burgers, pizza, and ice cream.  In fact, we let her pick out one meal for her birthday and she waffled between these choices for about a week.  But all hope is not lost for her future dietary choices.  When Abby doesn’t like the meal I make, she’ll happily ask for three bowls of salad instead.

Abby receives compliments like a pro.  You know how some (many) people shrug off compliments because they’re humble or don’t know how to respond?  Not Abby.  If you tell her you like her dress or that she has pretty eyes, she’ll look up at you with sparkling eyes, a closed-mouth grin, and big cheeks in a way that will make you either compliment her more or try not to giggle.  She’s just that cute.  Dan and I took her to a toy store to let her look around and see what she might like for her birthday.  The conclusion: anything.  Just getting a gift makes Abby’s day and she’ll keep that gift with her all day, whether it’s a sticker, sunglasses, stuffed animal, face paint, tiara…you get the idea.  It was so cute on her birthday to watch her reactions when we sung her, “Happy birthday”, and it was even more adorable to hear her later in a different room singing to herself, “Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me…”

Lydia and Abby are your typical young sisters.  They often don’t get along.  But within the past few months they’ve surprised me.  There are moments of every day when they can play happily together.  They get so caught up in their make-believe worlds and later come to tell me all the stories of what they’ve done.  Usually Lydia is the one in charge, deciding what they play and who’s who.  Abby is usually the princess, bride, or ballerina, and Lydia is the one doing Abby’s hair, picking out her clothes, and putting pretend makeup on her.  Abby also often “has a new baby” and Lydia is Abby’s doctor.

Abby gives the best hugs.  We call them Abby-hugs.  She squeezes tighter and tighter with impressive strength.  And, though her hugs are wonderful, she is less of a snuggler than her sister.  But she is more of a wrestler.  Dan likes to play-wrestle with the girls, but I usually sit out, so whenever a family comes over to our house, Abby wants to know if the dad will wrestle her.  If he’s not big on wrestling, she’ll go for tickling instead.

While Lydia learns things in big jumps, Abby is more of a slow-and-steady-type learner, but what stands out in her is her ability to love.  Since Dan and I tend to be pretty academic people, this has really made an impression on me.  I’ve seen that a person’s love can win you over.  In times when I’ve been overwhelmed and crying, Abby would approach me and ask, even when she didn’t have many words, “Mommy, why are you leaking?”  She’ll tell me now that she doesn’t like it when I’m sad or angry, and if I am she’ll ask, “When will you be happy again?”  She’ll stay by my side until I assure her that I’m doing well again and then she’ll run off to go play some more princess.

Taylor Christmas Letter 2016

Well, my Friends, I am back again for anther edition of the Taylor Family Christmas Letter. For those of you just tuning in, I am the much Beloved Christmas Moose, back again to update you on the Taylor Family Happenings from this memorable year. Ready? Here we go…

(The pictures you will see were all taken from the Taylors’ afternoon-long, pathetic attempt at a family picture. I say pathetic because they did not get one successful shot, and because they accidentally pointed the camera too low to include me. I was on top of the fireplace mantel. Ah well. Family pictures with four Little Ones are literally impossible.)

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Would you believe I woke up to meet another little Moose-calf in the Taylor household? They never even told me they were expecting! But out I come, out of my box in the closet to join the family in putting up Christmas decorations, and there was the most adorable little Baby just nestled up in Justine’s arms! If you’ve seen pictures, maybe caught a glimpse of the Little Guy snuggled up and sleeping…you have seen nothing. He is SO cute. Just wait until you see him with his little eyes open wide. Adorable.

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Along with writing a traditional Christmas letter, this year I have been delegated with the task of including an update of Elijah’s first month, because yesterday was indeed his first month birthday. Lij, as the family most frequently calls him (pronounced as the middle portion of E-Lij-ah) was born on November 20, bright and early. He flew through his tests and procedures and was happily discharged and sent home two days later, November 22, two days before Thanksgiving and four days before I came out of my box (Yes, they got me out a day late this year). However, Taylors like to break the medical odds and in true Taylor fashion, Lij tested positive for borderline congenital hypothyroidism. It sounds worse than it is. While hypothyroidism (low activity of the thyroid gland) can be very serious, Elijah has a very mild case and is already taking special medicine to keep everything right where it needs to be. As long as he takes his medicine, like the good baby he is, he shouldn’t have any symptoms.

Elijah weighed five pounds and eleven ounces when he was born, and at his latest appointment was up to six pounds, ten ounces. The first couple of weeks were slow going because he was just too sleepy to eat very much. Most parents want their babies to sleep more. Justine was trying earnestly to wake him up. Elijah even sleeps at night, much to Dan and Justine’s surprise and delight. Sure, he gets up every 1-3 hours, but three out of every four nights he’ll go right back to sleep after a diaper change or a snack. He is a content Little Boy and everybody in the home loves snuggling him.

And, I might be speaking too early, but as I was writing this update I saw the Little Guy roll over for the very first time. (Although he was sort of on his side to begin with.) Way to go Little Man!

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Well, as adorable as Elijah is, I just can’t spend my whole time writing about him. Next up is P-Man. That is: Bud, Buster, Buddy, Butch, Butchems, Butchcake, Stinker, Rascal. Paul. He’s a cutie too, and always up to something. This year Paul set a new record for the family by taking his first steps at 16 months old. He spoke his very first words during one of Dan’s softball games this spring, “Hi Daddy!”. Aww. Some of his other words are: baseball, Mama, Daddy, baby, Leeya (Lydia), Lijah, no, and sock. He loves wearing his shoes everywhere he goes, except in the car, where he loves to take them off. He still needs two naps a day, sucks his fingers when he gets sleepy, and enjoys being held by his Mommy. He loves to be outside in the warm weather and hates being outside when it’s cold. He will hold his little brother and give him kisses and sing him songs. He absolutely loves to wrestle anyone, but especially his Dad. Recently he found the drawer where Justine keeps her oven mitts, and now he likes to dig those out and put them on before finding Dan and punching his legs. He is all boy and super sweet all at the same time.

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Then there’s Abigail. Abby, Abster, Abs. She’s a little fireball and whatever she does she does ALL THE WAY. If she’s happy, she’s irresistibly sweet. If she’s angry, everyone from here to Detroit knows about it. She doesn’t let her big sister push her around. They are the very best of friends, even if they don’t realize it yet. Together they love to play house, wedding, and princesses. Lydia is always the bride or bridesmaid and Abby is the “Wedding Girl” (we don’t know what that is yet). She is three, but if you hold up your three middle fingers she will tell you that she is not that three. She is the pinky-ring finger-middle finger three. Abby always calls Paul by his nick-name “P-man”. She thinks Elijah is “so, so cute”. She likes to do school with Lydia, which involves coloring in a coloring book or tracing in her special tracing book which she calls her “cat book” because of the cat on the cover. She is learning that napkins are not called “Backins”, but she still calls toilet paper “paper toilet”. Abby is funny and sweet and learning and growing a lot this year.

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Lydia (Lyds, Lydnacious, Munchkin) started school this year and loves it. Her favorite parts are probably math and art, but everything else comes in a close second. Lydia is almost always pretending: pretending to be a mom, pretending to be a grown up with a sister that she is always visiting, pretending to be a princess, or pretending to get married (to Dan). She is incredibly creative with her outfits (regular or dress up) and becoming more and more aware of what she likes and doesn’t like. Today she was sharing her list of foods she doesn’t like (spicy peppers, onions, celery, mushrooms, and sort of baby carrots) and does (tomatoes, cucumbers, burgers, pizza, cheesy noodles, ice cream, chocolate cake, chocolate brownies, and chocolate). If you ever are lonely, you could use a Lydia in your life. She loves to be together, loves to snuggle, and can always find something to talk about with lots of questions included. She has an insatiable desire to play with her Daddy; read stories; and, at Christmas time, make tea, turn off the lights, and snuggle in the living room by the Christmas tree. She is quick to love, quick to forgive, and learning how to be a Big Helper to her Mommy and a Loving Sister to all three of her siblings.

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Justine has her hands full this year, as strangers love to tell her. She likes to think that full hands and full days make for a full heart, and she has been basking in the joy of it all this Christmas. This summer felt like one big, long wait for Baby. Now that he is here, Justine is soaking up his Little Newbornness as much as she can (while still taking care of the rest of the pack). She also loves teaching Lydia. All year she has focused on being a Good Mom and being grateful. She finally found a satisfying healthified toffee bar recipe, an accomplishment that can only be trumped by successfully taking all four kids to Elijah’s doctor’s appointment last week. (They are a handful!) Other than homeschool and Baby, the highlight of Justine’s year has been spending more one-on-one time with Dan. She, like Lydia, loves to spend time together.

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Dan started a new job working as an Artificial Intelligence Computer Scientist on the Autonomous Vehicle for GM this year. So far he has been enjoying the challenging problems at work, despite a longer commute and even earlier mornings. He still loves to work out in his (unheated) garage gym, even on the coldest and windiest winter days. This spring he joined several young men from church on a Softball team, and this summer he spent many Sunday afternoons playing baseball and soccer. Dan has also tackled several home repair projects this year including roofing his garage and rebuilding his old shed. He can’t wait until Paul and Elijah can tag along on his projects, in his gym, and on the baseball field.

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As for me, it was a good year snuggled up in my box. I have never had the privilege of seeing a Taylor Baby so freshly born, and, if I haven’t mentioned it yet, he sure is cute. The others are too, and even more so this year as more of them can say my name and give me hugs. I just love when they suck on my antlers.

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Well Friends, so wraps up another year for the Taylor Family. They, and I, wish you a blessed Christmas season and a very happy new year.

Yours Truly,

Christmas Moose.

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Baby #4: First Trimester Pregnancy Update

In case you missed the Instagram announcement, Dan and I are excited to be expecting Baby #4 sometime this fall/winter. Our due date is December 19th, and our doctor has high hopes that we’ll make it to 37 weeks this time (a TERM baby!) which would put Baby’s birthday around the end of November (November 28th).

At our initial doctor visit, I was less than six weeks along but we could see a tiny little heart beat pulse on the ultrasound machine. I’ve never had an ultrasound that early before. It was hard to recognize our little girl/guy.

The first question everyone asks when they hear the news is: “Are you going to find out this time?” You may know already, we found out ahead of time that Abby and Lydia were girls, but we waited to be surprised with Paul. I loved being surprised and Dan didn’t mind the wait, so we’re waiting again this time. I guess you’ll all just have to wait with us. I have an inkling suspicion that it’s a girl, but, for the record, I’ve been wrong with every single baby so far. 😛

So far, this pregnancy has been the most difficult, with more nausea and food aversions than my other three. Then again, I’m also chasing around three Little Ones this time and I don’t get nearly as long of naps. I’ve been particularly disgusted by lentils, and for several weeks I couldn’t tolerate most foods. There haven’t been a ton of strong cravings, mostly little ones: ice in my water, nectarines, and simple sandwiches with tomato, mustard, and lettuce. I’ve felt well enough to handle breakfasts, but then I’ve been unable to eat much of anything come lunch time. After nap time I’ve felt the worst, and I usually haven’t felt better until after the kids are in bed. Then Dan teases me while I make whatever sort of dinner sounds good to me at the time. Lately, I’ve had a humongous craving for cottage cheese.

I had my second prenatal appointment at eight weeks and everything looked good. (That’s the ultrasound in the Instagram pic.) My third appointment was at twelve weeks, but Baby was measuring closer to thirteen. That was also my pre-op appointment for a minor surgery performed a week and a half later. It’s the same surgery I had with Paul, and the procedure that will hopefully help me carry this baby even longer. My next appointment isn’t until July 12th (17 weeks).

So, other than the difficulty eating, this pregnancy really is flying by. The kids keep me so busy and our summer is just so full of activities, that right now I’m distracted enough that I’m not counting the days. I’ve been trying to cook and freeze meals here and there, but it’s been nothing compared to last time because I’ve been struggling to cook much of anything anyway. Hopefully we won’t really need those freezer meals until after Baby is born!

So Much to Say…So Little Time!

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Even though I have a handful of blog posts practically written in my head, getting them typed up on the computer is another story!

The kids just keep me so busy. Right now Lydia is begging me to take her outside so she can ride her bike with its new training wheels. Getting training wheels is probably the most exciting thing that has happened in her life to date (at least from her point of view). Paul is crawling around looking for a snack, and Abby is (thankfully) still napping. Someday I will be old and my house might actually be clean, and I might actually have time to write again, but right now being Mom is just a bigger priority.

So, enjoy a few pictures and a new look on the blog. Paul finally made it into the header picture. Way to go Buddy!

I am off to watch my biggest Munchkin ride her bike while I feed the others orange slices to keep them happy despite the cold.

Easter According to Lydia

Our family had a wonderful day celebrating Easter this weekend.  In fact, we had such a nice day, I didn’t even think to take pictures.  Sorry!

But, I do have something to share with you all today.  🙂

A couple of years ago, I used a picture book to teach Lydia about Easter.  We looked at it every day for about a week and in the end, Lydia was able to use the book to tell me about Easter.  Well, since Abby is now two and I thought it would be a good tradition to keep, we pulled out the same book and learned Easter again this year.  I was hoping to capture Abby’s version, but it turns out she isn’t quite as eager to be videotaped or to share anything on demand.  So instead, I have for you all, four-year-old Lydia’s version of Easter.  And, just for fun, I’m posting her two-year-old version here too.  Her voice was so high and cute!

Happy belated Easter everyone.  He is risen!

27 Reasons

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Today, on the twenty-seventh day of January, Dan is turning twenty-seven. Since we’re all about numbers around here, I thought it’d be the perfect day to share 27 things I love and respect about Dan. I sat down a couple weeks ago with this idea, thinking it’d take me a while to compile that many reasons, but I had the list written in about five minutes with plenty more reasons left unnamed. So, here they are, in no particular order, the first 27 reasons that I wrote down for why I love and respect my husband:

1. He prays.

He prays for me every morning before work and we pray together every night before bed. He prays before meals and trips. He prays when someone gets hurt. He calls me and prays for me when I tell him I’m overwhelmed. He prays when we start to argue or have a bad night. And those are only the times when he’s praying out loud with me.

2. He kills bugs for me.

Even though it’s pathetic. He doesn’t laugh at me (too much) and he never shows me the dead bugs before he disposes of them.

3. He insists on eating dinner together as a family.

Our dinners are one of the highlights of the day because we have them together. Every single day.

4. He reads the Bible to our family.

After dinner every night, Dan reads a section from the Bible. The kids fidget and my mind often wanders, but I know this is a priceless gift to have a husband who so values God’s Word.

5. He’s a natural daddy.

When we got married I knew Dan would be a good dad, not because he had so much experience with kids (he had none) but because he seeks God and does what is right. I was pleasantly surprised the first time Dan held Lydia and so naturally started chatting away with her in his arms. I believe Parenthood has come more naturally to him than to me and I am so grateful for it.

6. He seeks God’s direction.

Any time any major decision has to be made, Dan prays and seeks God’s direction. This has led to so many blessings in our lives already.

7. He knows when to have fun.

Dan is almost as frugal as I am, but every once in a while he decides it’s time to splurge with a family-fun day. He’ll pick a restaurant or a meal we can make easily at home, treat us to a dessert, take us to a splash pad or Ann Arbor museum, and let the kids ride the bus. Family-fun days have become more fun than I can even handle so now we have to keep them a little shorter so Mom can get a nap.

8. He’s frugal.

Dan has no expensive hobbies or fancy toys. The biggest splurge we’ve ever made on him was for his gym equipment, which has already more than paid for itself in gym membership fees.

9. He gives gifts like it’s his job.

Dan does gifts right. He thinks long and hard and can choose one gift that will be so meaningful, useful, and long-lasting. One Christmas he got my my Bible, which is probably my favorite gift ever. This year he got me my camera after my old one had died shortly after Paul was born. One birthday he bought me a set of shirts and skirts to mix and match when all my clothes were stained from baby spit-up.

10. He is generous.

More than me! Dan loves to give where there are needs and he doesn’t hold back.

11. He tells me his dreams.

I do not take this for granted. Dan actually talks to me and tells me his hopes and plans for the future no matter how likely or unlikely they actually are. This means the world to me.

12. He keeps me informed.

Dan pays attention to the news when I just don’t have the time or dedication. He updates me on what’s going on in the world at least once a week. When conversations come up outside of the home, I don’t feel quite so much like an ostrich with my head in the sand because Dan has clued me in on what’s going on outside of our home.

13. He provides.

Even when work is boring, or hard, or tedious, or hard to find, Dan has always done whatever he needed to in order to provide for us.

14. He listens to me.

I talk a lot. And he never tells me to be quiet.

15. He wrestles his family members.

Perhaps the girls favorite activity is wrestling daddy, and no matter how tired, some amount of wrestling takes place almost every night in our home.

16. He’s social.

I don’t have to cut conversations short because my husband is rearin’ to go. Dan is often the one wrapping up conversations when I’m tired, hungry, and ready to go home.

17. He’s smart.

I had no idea how smart he was when I married him. Not just book smart, either. He’s just smart all over.

18. He exercises.

There were no “Freshman 15” or “Marriage 20” for Dan. Dan needs exercise and makes it a priority to live, move, and eat healthy. He also makes it a priority for me to exercise and acts as my personal coach, pushing me when I just want to be lazy. God knew I needed this in my husband.

19. He lets me sleep.

When Dan takes the kids so I can nap, that just makes my week.

20. He helps at home.

Dan doesn’t sit around complaining about how messy everything is. He helps! He prioritizes my spending time with the kids and if he thinks things are getting too messy or I am getting too overwhelmed, he is quick to step in and do chores so I don’t have to.

21. He is cautious with the kids.

So many times he has noticed some danger and pointed it out. I have inwardly rolled my eyes and thought, “You are being way too cautious. This is not necessary.” only to find out later that he was right. I have learned to respect his cautions and listen to them.

22. He keeps our priorities in check.

Play with the kids. Get outside. It’s ok if the house gets messy. Just make sure there is something to eat. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I am a huge fan of my husbands priorities.

23. He helps me make decisions.

Dan is always there to talk things through, give advice, and pray with and for me. I’m not sure I even could make decisions without him to fall back on anymore.

24. He’s hospitable.

We love having people in our home and we are learning how to be good hosts. I’m glad I’m in this together with Dan and not inviting people into a home where Dad just wants some alone time.

25. He seeks wise counsel.

Dan is not too proud to ask for advice from the authorities in our lives or from people he respects. And he listens to them too.

26. He’s athletic.

It’s kind of fun being married to the Dan Taylor, athlete extraordinaire.

27. He’s cool.

Dan’s always been cool. I have never been cool. I was just the smart, quiet nerd who some people might have thought was sweet. How I ever got to marry one of the cool guys, I’ll never know. Our differences in this area are especially emphasized when some upbeat music is playing and we both start dancing.

Happy Birthday, Dan! You’re the best in the world!

The Necklace

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For Christmas my sister and brother-in-law gave Lydia some beads and stretchy string to make jewelry. After we got back from our trip up North, I spent a couple of days helping her make necklaces and bracelets. She made some for herself, some for Abby, and I made one for Lydia too. I was soon all beaded out.

One day Dan sat down with Lydia and she decided to make a necklace for me. Dan helped and soon I was presented with a small collection of mismatched beads on a string. Of course, I wore it all day and then left it sitting on my dresser when I went to sleep that night.

Fast forward a day or two. Our morning was not going well. Lydia was being difficult and I was getting frustrated. After yet another episode with lots of whining and crying and poor behavior (on both sides), I stomped upstairs to give myself a time out. I was near-tears-frustrated and knew I needed to cool down before having a talk with Lydia. As I sat on my bed and fumed, I started to pray, but I just couldn’t seem to calm myself down.

I glanced up and decided to get ready for the rest of the day, but something on my dresser caught my eye.

“Oh great”, I thought to myself, “the girls got into my stuff and broke one of my necklaces”. I, still angry, stood up and walked over to the dresser to assess the damage. There, lying on the wooden dresser was my necklace from Lydia.

Tears came to my eyes (again) and sentimental music started playing in my head as I slowly picked up the necklace and stared at it in my hand.

My anger was gone and the day was saved. My sweet baby girl, who is still far too young to control herself of her emotions the way I should be able to, loved me enough to want to make this for me. Even though I blow it. Even though I get angry.

Just then I heard my Little Munchkin, my Gooselett, my daughter, climbing the stairs cheerfully, fully recovered from <her meltdown. I put the necklace on and resolved to do my best to make the day a good one, a memorable one. For her.