Here we go..Will is about to graduate!

Saturday, May 14, 2016
I truly do not even know how to begin this post. Will is graduating from high school next week.  As I type that sentence I feel this strange emotion that others call bittersweet.  Bittersweet does not seem to capture all that I am feeling though.  I wish there was a word for "smiling through your tears" because that is what I feel.  I wish there was a word for feeling happy, excited, proud, nervous and about to throw up all at the same time. And while I know that his graduation and exciting journey to college is all about him and not about me,  I still have these huge rushing waves of emotion that I don't quite know what to do with. So, I am going to write some of them here. It's going to be long. And I'm probably going to sound like I am bragging about my son.  But if a Mom can't brag the week of her son's graduation, when can she brag?

Will is our firstborn.  He came into this world a few weeks early with a true and full knot in his umbilical cord.  He came into this world with a big lump in between the layers of his skull that had to be removed when he was 6 months old.  He was the easiest baby for about 3-4 weeks.  Dave and I thought (and actually uttered) "Wow this parenthood thing is a breeze!"  Yeah, God chuckled at that because almost overnight Will became the most difficult baby in the world.  He had an extreme case of colic.  This child screamed at the top of his lungs for about 8 hours a day non-stop. If he was awake, he was screaming.  It was awful.  I thought I was losing my mind.


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{Will 6 months old...just hours after having part of his skull removed}

I remember the pediatrician telling me it would only last a few months and I replied, "Can he live with you until then?"  And I was 100% serious.  I recall going to the grocery store one night after Dave got home and I could still hear the screaming in my head even though Will was at home with Dave. I was losing my mind. Similarly, I recall taking Will to a baby store as I was desperate to find something (colic drops, a pacifier, anything) to make him stop screaming.  Of course, as I was perusing the aisles, Will was screaming bloody murder. Another woman glared at me and said, "Can't you make him stop?!"  I wanted to punch her.  I was at the lowest point of motherhood and she knocked me down even further.  I looked her in the eye and said "Don't you think I would if I could, lady!"

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Just as the pediatrician predicted, the screaming stopped and Will morphed into a busy and curious toddler.  He was so inquisitive and smart.  He still had some issues resulting from that bump in his head and we spent many hours over the years in occupational therapy and speech therapy.  But he was such a happy, active and funny boy.  He was my buddy.  I did not have brothers or boy cousins so he taught me all about little boys. Will was an incredible sleeper.  He had two speeds, asleep and FAST!  He napped for four hours every afternoon.  Each afternoon when he woke up, we would go outside.  We lived on a cul de sac with a lot of kids.  Will was so funny.  He would collect rocks and leaves and grass and seed pods and fill his pockets with them everyday.  He also wanted to go door to door knocking and saying hello to everyone on the street. As soon as he could talk, he told us he wanted to be a scientist like his Daddy when he grew up.  He knew the geologic eras and every type of dinosaur as a toddler. People were amazed with his scientific knowledge.  And we did not teach him those things.


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I had no idea back then that all that play was shaping who he would become.  He is super social and outgoing (like the little boy knocking on doors) and he is about to study Science (with a sustainability scholarship) in college.

Will had a tough start to school.  I will never forget a phone call I received when we were applying to some private pre-school programs here in Texas.  Will had to take an IQ test but he was probably only 3-4 years old.  We assumed he would do very well.  If you ever talked to him, you would know he was bright.  Well, one day a school director called me and told me that Will was denied admission but she wanted to explain why.  Will had an extremely high "knowledge IQ" but his "performance IQ" was 30 points lower.  And even though the performance IQ was still above average, it was a red flag.  Apparently, Will knew a lot but he had a hard time demonstrating his knowledge.  I will never forget sitting in my car crying hysterically realizing that something was not connecting for him. The woman explained to me that he could have a hearing problem, vision problem or a learning disability.  She said that a 30 point difference is a huge gap and that we need to figure out what was causing it.

We had lots of testing done on Will over the years and I am not sure we ever really figured out what caused that gap. Yes, he has a little ADD (never medicated) and he cannot memorize rote material.  He was wiggly and busy in grade school.  But we never really had a clear sense of what was going on.  We taught him organizational skills and gave him neuro-vitamins and supported him emotionally. And he bloomed.  It was long and slow and at times painful, but he bloomed.

Will bloomed into an amazing young man.  In middle school, he became really involved with the youth group at our church and started doing a lot of volunteer work.  He joined the swim team and participated in geography bees (which he was so good at but had no interest in pursuing at the national level). He was an officer in National Junior Honor Society.  I started to see more glimpses of who he would be today.

And then he started high school.  Will was admitted to a very rigorous college preparatory school for boys.  It is nationally ranked among the best.  He really only knew a few kids who would be going there.  I will admit that I was a bit nervous about how he would fare.  I was not sure it was the right fit for him but he loved it when he toured and he had no doubt that it was the right place for him.

High School has been amazing for Will.  He found himself.  Strake Jesuit high school provided the perfect environment for Will to grow into exactly who God wanted him to be. While I would never call my kids "popular," Will became extremely involved at his Jesuit high school.  He developed amazing friendships with his peers and close relationships with teachers and administrators.  He became a leader.  He was a leader and team captain in swimming and water polo even though he was not a starter.  He was president of Young Conservatives and a founding member of the Spirit club. He helped lead freshmen orientation and probably holds the school record for having prospective students shadow him for a day (he loved the free lunch that came with that).  He was always giving tours at open houses and other events.  Will LOVES his high school.  The activity that meant the most to him though was leading retreats.  It is an honor to be chosen to lead and plan the freshmen retreats and the Kairos retreats and Will has done this as many times as possible. He will miss that tremendously.  He has done all this while being on the honor roll and in National Honor Society the whole time. I have tears rolling down my face as I write this because I could not be more proud of my son.

I do not share all of this to brag.  I share this to remember the journey and how we got here.  I share this for other Moms who have a busy "hyper" little boy who might be struggling.  I share this so someday he can read this when he is a Dad and he will know that it all works out. See, in those challenging infant and toddler days and in the moment when he was denied admission to pre-school, I had no idea who God was shaping Will to be.  I just had to trust in Him.  We did trust.  We chugged along praying and trusting and providing Will with unconditional love and support along the way.  And here he is.  He did it!

Last night, Will came into our room and sat at the end of the bed to talk to me about his day (he does this every night-I am so blessed).  He told me that he was chosen to do the first reading at his Baccalaureate Mass next week for graduation.  I was stunned. Will does not win the highly coveted athletic or academic awards at his school. He never has. There are so many bright stars at this school.  But this meant the world to me (and hopefully to him).  Apparently faculty and staff choose who does the readings at the graduation Mass.  And Will was chosen.   When I see him up there next week doing that reading, I am sure that I will reminisce about the hours of speech therapy and the the parent teacher conferences that I dreaded in the early days. I know that there will be tears of joy that he has come so far. To me, this is such an honor for Will.  It says that they really see Will for who he is. He embodies the motto of his school "Men for Others."

This boy looks good on paper and in photos.  But what I know is his heart. He has a compassionate and beautiful heart. He works hard.  He loves to help others.  He loves politics and social justice.  He loves nature and his family. He lives his faith out loud. We have such a special relationship.  He comes to me daily asking how my day was and sharing funny stories from school. He asks me for advice all the time.  We talk about everything.  You have no idea how much I am going to miss that when he leaves in August.  I have never been one to think parents should be friends with their kids but Will has become my friend.  Don't get me wrong, he still knows I'm the boss. And I have rules and expectations. But we have a friendship too.

Will has chosen to attend Miami University in Oxford, Ohio this Fall.  And while he might have struggled to get admitted to pre-school, he was accepted to every university he applied to.  And he received significant academic merit scholarships to all but one. He has come a long way. Miami University offered him some really great opportunities (one of them being a 5 year Bachelor/Master degree).  I am so excited for him to begin this new chapter of his life.


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Many of you have watched Will grow up on this blog.  He was just 9 years old when I started blogging.  Many of you have prayed for him and all of us over the years.  Thank you so much for that. We appreciate it more than you could ever know.

Here is a little stroll down memory lane.  All of the photos were either scanned in or a photo of the photo with my phone. Much of Will childhood was "pre-digital."  And there are gaps in elementary school where I have photos but they are not in albums or scrapbooks or on  the blog:(  So they did not make it here.


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{ June 22,1997. He had a full head of hair at birth!}


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{Baptism, October 1997}

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{Will loved riding the golf cart with Dad}

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{We used to go to parks all the time and Will would just run and run!}

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{Will learned to swim early as we had a pool in our backyard.  Who knew he would end up on the swim team and water polo team for all 4 years of high school?}


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{This was on our front porch one afternoon after Will's nap.  This is that stage where we would walk the neighborhood every day when he woke up as we waited for Dad to get home.  He is pulling away to go explore in this photo}

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{Will has loved being a big brother.  He and Harry were SO close.  Then they grew apart for a few years and now they are close again.}

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{Will and Uncle Moon looking at a turtle at a science museum in Philadelphia.  Will has always LOVED science museums.  One year on his PK4 field trip to the science museum, he hijacked a kid or two and took them on his own tour.  I don't think they chaperones were amused.}


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{This one cracks me up.  I told you Will loved dinosaurs. I think he is imitating the dinosaur. Look at Dave!  He was photobombing back in 2000 before it was a thing!}

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{At a science museum with my sister}

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{Will's first preschool class photo.  He is 2nd row center.  He sure did love Miss Peggy.  He called her Miss PAYYYYGY with a southern drawl.}


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{Will played with these dinosaurs forever.  Once when we were cleaning the playroom, he decided to pass them on to a friend and then immediately cried hysterically regretting it. I should not have let him make that decision. That was tough.  I had to call and ask for them back. I still feel bad about that and Will still has them to this day.}

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{Will met one of his best friends when they were just 5 months old.  We met at story time at the library and Will and David have been buddies ever since.  They will graduate together next weekend.}

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 {Will and Dave in Colorado}

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{Will's first day of real school.  Not Mother's day out}

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Pre-school Mother-Son breakfast.

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{1st day of 3rd grade?}

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{This is one of my favorite photos of Will.  He took me out on a date.  I blogged about it here.}

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{Will is so close with his Mimi.  This is on his 1st holy communion}

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First Day of School 2008

{First day of school 2008}

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{Will and his 5th grade teacher}

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{5th grade graduation from a school he went to for only 1/2 a year.  But he adjusted so well!  Here is a letter I wrote to him that day.}

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{14th birthday}

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{favorite middle school teacher}

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{freshmen year}

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{Will and me on the1st day of freshmen orientation}

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{Will and his oldest and best friend, David on the first day of freshmen year}

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{Here is a photo of Will and David last day of senior year}

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{And with their brothers the last day of senior year.  David is REALLY tall BTW!}

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{Freshmen homecoming}

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{1st day of sophomore year}

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{Junior ring and cross day}

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{Junior Prom}
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 {Senior Homecoming}

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{water polo...Will about to score!}

I have lots of posting to do and will promise to put a couple posts this week (Senior prom, easter, Mother's day, etc).  It will be a busy and sentimental week.  I am so glad I have this blog as I have years of memories here.

50 comments:

  1. Wonderful post. Congratulations to all of you as Will moves on to the next chapter of his life. There will be many more joy filled moments for you to capture. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you Cody and thank you for all the kind comments over the years. I appreciate them.

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  2. Great post. I love the baby photos as I am very sentimental about 90s. Great decade!

    Really nice reflection on Will.

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  3. I loved reading this and can't imagine how you must be feeling. You've done a wonderful job, and Will has such a bright future ahead of him. Thank you for sharing him with us, your readers!

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    1. You are very kind Michele. I always ask my kids if it is okay to blog about them and they have been fine with it. We have actually made some fabulous family friendships through blogging and in the adoption community so I am glad they have let me share parts of their lives with y'all. Thank you for all of the kind and supportive comments over the years. Best,
      Kim

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  4. Congratulations! So exciting! It goes by so fast doesn't it!

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    1. It really does. Thank you so much K.

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  5. WOW! What a beautiful post. Will is so lucky to have a mother who documented his childhood so well. I'm sure his children will love to look at this someday. I can't imagine how you are feeling, as my oldest is just 5, but am still sitting here crying!

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    1. Thank you Danielle. You still have so much time. Enjoy it all!

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  6. I LOVE this post. As a young mom this perspective is so good for me to hear. Congrats to will and parents!

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    1. Lia, I am so glad. That was one of the reasons I shared so much. My husband said I wrote a novel but I want people to know...it all looks great now but it was not always easy.

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  7. I'm a long time blog reader but haven't commented. I'm a Miami grad-it truly provides the perfect college experience and I'm always excited when I hear someone else is headed to my alma mater.
    My parents stayed at a B&B outside of town when visiting and always wished they had found it before my junior year
    http://whitegardeninn.cloudhostedresources.com

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    1. Thank you Katherine. We are so excited to explore Oxford and Miami. I am sure Will is going to love it there. Thanks for that source. It is very difficult to find accommodations there.

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  8. What a beautiful post - he is surely a reflection of his wonderful parents and family! A truly outstanding young man. Tears here, too - thinking of my own 13 year old son and the years passing by. Thank you for sharing such a lovely post!

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  9. Congratulations to Will! What an exciting (and bittersweet) time for the entire family!

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  10. Congrats to Will! He is going to do amazing things!

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  11. Congratulations to your sweet, smart, kind boy! I hope he has a wonderful experience in college! Thank you for sharing your heart with us :)

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    1. Thank you Ani. You have been a very long time reader. I am so grateful for all he kind comments over the years.

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  12. I've said it before, but if Blair and I can do half the job as parents and end up with Spence and Peter ending up half as amazing as your kids, I will feel very fulfilled!! What a great tribute to Will and what an encouraging post to other parents who need to hear that parenting is not always easy but often is amazing in the end!!! He's such a great kid and will do SO well at Miami!!

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    1. That is an amazingly kind compliment. We have had our ups and downs as parents and with each of the 3 kids but I am pleased at how they are all turning out. I know your boys will grow to be fin young men too. Best,Kim

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  13. You have no idea how much this post encouraged me as I am in the thick of helping my first born (a girl) thrive with ADHD. I know God has a plan. It is SO amazing to read stories from young adults who have "made it."
    Congratulations to you and to Will!!!

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    1. I am so glad that it was encouraging. Hang in there. There were days I just wanted to cry (and did). They get there in their own sweet time. Be patient and trusting and loving.

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  14. I have followed you for many years. We even have "gone to China" together. This post was my favorite. Enjoy every step of the graduation journey, you will laugh through tears but feel every ounce of pride that he and you deserve. Blessings to all on this very big step!

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    1. Oh thank you Maria!!!! it is so nice to hear from you and hearing that we have been on this journey together. I am excited for all the festivities this weekend.

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  15. As someone who has been following your blog since day one, this was such a joy to read! It's been so fun watching Will (and Harry and Kate) grow up on the blog and bring you all such joy! Being proud and wanting to puke at the same time..... I have another 7 years before I have to feel that way, but I know it'll be here before I know it. Have a wonderful month celebrating your first born! :)

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    1. Laurie, Thank you so much. It amazes me that people have been reading that long. I imagine you all feel like you really know us. Thank you for your kind wishes.

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  16. You have done an incredible job and Will is amazing! I have loved watching him grow and learning from you along the way. This post was especially encouraging and uplifting, as I am currently having difficulties with my 3 year old. Thank you so much for sharing your journey!

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    1. Thank you Michelle. Hang in there. 3 is the TOUGHEST age.

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  17. Beautifully written. I have followed your blog for years. This post brought tears to my eyes because I can identify with the "mom in you." I can only hope that my 9 year old son blossoms into every ounce of his potential. The sky is the limit when you believe they can achieve anything in life. Hats off to your Will and may you beam with pride at graduation.

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    1. Yes, Rebecca the sky is the limit if we believe in them. Thanks for your kind wishes.

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  18. Congratulations to your sweet Will! I akways love reading your posts because your love for your family shines so brightly. Best wishes...his future is so bright!

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    1. Thank you so much. What a kind thing to say about my love for my family shining through. There is nothing I love more.

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  19. What a sweet stroll down memory lane! He's such a great young man! Congrats to Will and to you and Dave too! Enjoy all the fun celebrating in the next couple of weeks! Don't forget the tissues - (I cried when my sons graduated from high school!).

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    1. Thank you Janet. you have always been so kind and supportive.

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  20. I have loved watching your kids grow up. Congratulations on graduation. Loved this post, very encouraging.

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    1. Thank you Martha. I am just realizing in a different way how many people have watched Will grow up. Have a great weekend.

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  21. This post moved me to tears. My heart goes out to you.I can only pray that my boys and I will have a relationship similar to you and your PRECIOUS Will's. Huge hug from VA.xoxo

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    1. Amy, Thank you so much. Will and I have a very special relationship and I am beyond grateful for it. I am going to do a post very soon about building relationships with your children.

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  22. Loved seeing all the photos and hearing your incredible journey with him. Congrats to the whole family on your new graduate.

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    1. Thank you so much Chrissy. You are always so kind with your comments.

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  23. Teary eyed! Love this post..It moves me xD



    Karlyn@Simplement D Liche

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  24. Congratulations Kim. I have followed your blog for years and commented many times. You are an inspiration. I live in Lexington, KY, but I am from Southern Ohio and have many friends that went to Miami. It's a great school. He's going to love it there. Lexington is not too far - Your family should experience a day at the races in April or October, at Keeneland! Best wishes to you on this roller coaster of emotions - I'm chugging along right behind you!

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment. We loved Oxford when we dropped him off. He is SO happy so far at Miami.

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  25. This is such an emotional and beautiful post. As I am sitting here, I can't help but tear up because I've been following your blog since the early days when Kate joined your family. Will has turned into such a handsome, truly wonderful young man. Your family is so blessed. I now have my first child, a son who is almost 3. It's nice to hear the challenges you've faced along the way along with all the special moments and celebrations. My husband and I found the newborn colic phase to be extremely challenging, but reading how other parents struggled it somehow makes it feel more manageable - especially when you see the end product of all those hours invested in your child. We are in Chicago with my in-laws in Southern Indiana, it is a nice area of the country with fairly mild winters (compared to Chicago!). I'm sure Will will enjoy the changing of the seasons!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Tiffany. You are in the war zone or mothering girl. I think the baby/toddler stages are by far THE hardest. Every stage has its beauty though. Focus of that. Hugs.

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Thank you for your kindness.