Saturday, December 31, 2005

~Where he proposed~

First off----HAPPY NEW YEAR'S!!!!!--- We are being a totally boring old couple and staying home. We had a neighbor invite us to their bbq and party, but since we just got in from Houston, we are a little tired and anti-social. We saw Mr. Griffin for a bit and watched so called "live" entertainment from Time's Square. I say so called because they were all videos. We all agreed that it was more fun watching all those people from our comfy chairs. Ivan and I may have enjoyed the energy and crowds in person for a little while, but definitely not all day. They were asking people's New Year's resolutions and a bunch wanted to lose weight. Well I'm going to put some on- about 30 lbs or so!! I'm not showing yet, to the uneducated eye, but some of the jeans are already getting uncomfortable. It's exciting. We are looking forward to being able to feel and see the baby's movements and find out if the little one's a little brother or sister!

Here are more pics of Houston. Of course, people were proposing marriage in Time's Square tonight. Here's a blast from our past. This is where Brian proposed to me. It was a beautiful evening at the Transco tower in 1998. If you've been to niagara falls, you could pretend with some imagination that this was a man-made recreation. Of course, that is not what they are attempting with the falls (now renamed Williams Tower). It is a pretty amazing thing to see in the middle of the city though. We also walked through the mall where all the fancy stores are that sell $200 tore up and stained jeans (gave me an idea for a resale shop. I've got tore up old looking jeans and they're authentic! Do I have a buyer???) Stores like Abercombie and Fich, Channel, The original Levi's store and other hoity toity stores we really had no interest in.

Here's a full view of the falls.



Ivan was trying to figure out why we were getting wet and cold in the mist of a giant shower.

Here we are on the actual bench where he popped the question. He gave me a necklace, but it was dark by then and I couldn't see it, I said, "I'm sure it's beautiful" or something like that. Of course, I also said "yes" to marriage with him and have known ever since someone WAY smarter than me picked us out for each other and just gave me the courage to go for it.

Now, 7 years later, Ivan is on our bench and for the new year, another on the way ;) Hey, we may need a bigger bench eventually!!!

our little getaway

Ivan in Nana's backyard, enjoying the warm weather.

Nana helps Ivan navigate the tricky rocky path.

Ivan discusses world issues with Nana, all grown up!

He also does his "I'm cute and a little shy" pose.

Nana has these dolls about Ivan's size in the corner. I'm not sure if they are in trouble or if they couldn't pick who would count for hide-and-seek. Ivan didn't take too much interest in them, except for the one with hair who he repeatedly tackled and generally tried to beat up. Don't ask me what she did to him, I have no idea!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Thanks to all!!!

Thanks to everyone for the cards, gifts and Christmas well wishes. I just love this time of year. We received gifts from neighbors, family, friends, even a homeless friend. We have learned a lot from "the poor". More often than not, they are the most generous people, even though they have the least. You really do know that people care, and not by the whats and the how much, but by the thought, the gesture, the thoughtfulness. We received so many thoughtful gifts, even handmade gifts and memory lane gifts and it's been fun to give too. We had a houseful today for our last Christmas party, hosted by us. Last night we went to our hispanic neighbors, which was totally different from the night before. Last night was high class and richly flavored in hispanic culture and love. The night before was also filled with generosity, but to it's own tune. It's fun being who we are because I can't see either of these families inviting each other over and hanging out, but both of them found it in their hearts to include us as their non-relative invites for intimate Christmas moments.

We had our own intimate Christmas moments this morning. Ivan had German chocolate for breakfast, talked on his new phone with who knows who, thoroughly enjoyed his first lollipop (which I can't find, but Ivan has brought out a couple of times--- gross), rocked on his new, totally beautiful, handmade rocking chair from Grandpa Ian, read French Canadian books and woke up from his nap to a houseful of African friends speaking French. Unfortunately our favorite Big Buddy, Mr Griffin didn't make it since he is not feeling well, but we're going to go see him in a bit. We also found some homeless friends of ours and they oooed and awed over Ivan and gave some of the most profound advice about family being one of the most important things and to cherish mine. I do! Both our immediate and extended. We love you and thank you for making this season so special by sending us your love.

We just got to talk to Grandma Ruth who is with family in Jamaica. Our love to all the Williamsons and Simpsons!!! We wish you were there. Drink some ginger beer for me. I love that stuff. By the way, I drank some sorrel yesterday. I had some frozen from last year and new it was time to bring some out. It looks like they sell what they call "hibiscus flowers" here, so maybe I can make some more next year! Also eat some hot patties and hard dough bread for me, play some dominoes (please beat uncle Nevil, we couldn't), and of course give hugs all around from me. I wish I was seeing you, but from afar, we send our love.


Jennifer remembered that my favorite chocolate bar is mint choc. aero, only made in Canada. Jen, you rock! She also added plenty of nostalgia in her gifts. Hey Jen, that indian doll was yours, someone brought me mine already, but I'll take care of her for you, now mine has a friend! Also, I was wondering if mom can possibly have anything else from our childhood in that mansion! OK, the bunkbeds, but those would be pretty hard to mail!! ha, ha.

Ivan's new French books are cool too.

This chair is the most beautiful child furniture I have ever seen. PLUS, it's handmade by my dad- and uncle (I about cried when I read that in the note). AND Ivan already totally loves it! He immediate got on it and tried many sitting positions, he babbled on about it endlessly (don't ask me what he said, I have no idea), and rocked of course! Talking about handmade, Andrea made a beautiful cross-stitch we will surely treasure. And I know that took you a long time, 'cause I saw you making the one you gave Jen! Thanks! Oh, and by the way, we shared, gave and ate and ate and we still have chocolate the day of Christmas! You are wonderful!

Another big hit of course was Ivan's phone and remote car key thingamagig. He also loved playing on his xylophone/piano and so did all the other kids who showed up, but it hasn't broken yet, so I guess it withstood the drop it, fight over it, hit it tests!

And you can't have Christmas without some humor. Jennifer remembered how funny Brian thought it was that SK has places with names such as "Moose Jaw". And the funniest gift prize goes to... The biggest wrapped gift ever. Brian asked me if I wanted my gift wrapped some time ago and I said, "of course", not knowing he had gotten me a body pillow. He hid the wrapped gift, since just seeing it would give it away- even wrapped! This was one of those must haves for the next pregnancy- yeah!!! The runner up in grift wrapping goes to dad who must have used half a roll of duct tape on the cardboard creation he made. Mom said he would have made the Red and Green proud (a canadian hick show) indeed he would have!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas y'all!


We are feasting on the fat of the land-- or more specifically, on the chocolate, baked goodies, brisket, ham and genuine goodness of friends, neighbors and family! We attended our first of 3 or 4 xmas parties tonight. I'm not sure if it's because xmas fell on Sunday, but it seems everyone we know is picking a different time for a meal. So we get to attend them all. We went next door tonight, where Ivan learned how to use a straw in his new sippy mug. We have either one or two parties tomorow, depending on if they don't coincide with each other and we are hosting Sunday. Lots of fun and food to go around.

Last year we got a dart board, so now we are quite familiar with the dart section at the store as we get replacement pieces and perfect our game. Ivan has gotten in the grove too, as you can see. He can't hit the board yet, but he loves the sounds it makes (it's electronic), the action and thrill and of course the chewiness of the darts!

Of course, the cat believes that she is God's gift to humanity. I'm not sure what she will do without the gifts and trees as this is her favorite hide out for the last month. If we add a gift to the pile, she picks a new spot to claim and you can find her there 90% of the time.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Ivan funnies vol.8







Ivan made up his first joke. It's pretty amazing, since he can't actually make sentences yet or use more than about 3 words- mamma, dadda, and nana (which means everything else, he uses it from morning to night, more than mamma or dadda). So this is how his joke goes. He's made up a new voice. It's kind of gravelly and deep, making him sound a bit like a muppet. He uses the voice with long strings of syllables, like he's monologuing in his very own language. The first time he did this, I laughed and he realized it was funny. So now he does it just to make me laugh. Only sometimes as he is about to start, he gets himself so tickled about it that he can't go on and bursts out in laughter himself. You can tell he is trying to get the voice out and instead he looks and laughs, like when you have a really good joke you can barely tell because you are laughing so hard yourself!


Ivan decided he doesn't like vegetables as much as other foods, so mommy was trying to trick him by putting carrots in one of his favorites (refried beans in a tortilla). He wasn't fooled. He just spit out the carrots. So then, I chopped them up in tiny pieces and tried again, but then he just refused to eat it. He won that round, but he gobbles up his oatmeal every morning, even if it has pumpkin in it (momma won that round!) He does eat veggies if they are mixed in a stir fry or soup, but mommy and daddy don't want to eat that every meal.

Ivan thinks he's a big boy here, and he's getting there with each new skill. Ivan is learning to drink out of small glasses. If he grabs a glass of water, he just pours it towards his mouth, dumping it all over himself, then he pulls on his shirt (like- hey, this is all wet!) If I help him get it started, he can drink and tilt it the glass pretty well without spilling, but then he doesn't know to tilt the glass back up when he's done. He just keeps it at the same angle and pulls it away from his mouth, effectively spilling it all over himself again!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Peckasso


Ivan fascinates me. You can tell he is his own person with his own ideas. I have his daddy's juggling balls in a tube. He loves to take them out and check the tube to make sure it is empty. He also enjoys carrying the balls in his mouth, but that's another matter. The other day, I watched him meticulously transport all three balls to a window ledge. He placed two balls on the ledge, then squeezed the third in between them. He seemed happy with this accomplishment, then in a burst of energy, he threw them all down to the floor. I have no idea what this little ritual was, but it was obviously thought out and gave him delight.

Ivan is learning about spoons, forks, pens and pencils. He uses all of them in much the same way. He will let me scoop food up for him, but left alone, he wants to tap the utensil in his food, over and over and over. The same with writing tools. He will let me help him scribble, but he bores with this quite easily, then taps, making little dots and dot squiggles.
This is Ivan Peckasso Baggett's first all by himself creation. (It was done in marker and erase-a-board, which is why I had to scan it for posterity). I was excited because I'll place the writing utensil in his hand and he will invariably flip it to the cap end to color (which of course does not work!) So I'll place it the way he flipped it and he'll switch on me again. You don't realize how complicated something as easy as a pen is, until you try to teach a 14 month old to draw! "Ivan, I don't know why the pens and pencils only have one end, but you have to learn which end will write." Maybe the other end is for chewing!!! (Ivan still thinks the whole thing is for chewing.) In any case, he did this drawing without any help (apart from me putting the marker in his hand the "right way", which was a big accomplishment for mommy!)

Auntie Jen, before you get too excited, I really think Ivan is right-handed, although the picture shows him with the pencil in his left. Of course, only time will tell.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Christmas at the Baggetts







Ivan enjoys the calendar Andrea sent from Germany, but maybe not quite as much as his parents do. In Germany the windows do not only hide a cute picture, but chocolate shaped like the picture! Since Ivan is still too small to have much chocolate, his parents help with the daily allotment (before all the grandparents get in a tizzy, we do let him have some, but never before bedtime!!!)

Ivan "rides" Saba, his christmas reindeer. True confession. I didn't know reindeer were a real animal until I read about them in a National Geographic a couple of years ago, and even then, I asked Brian if it was a joke. I also found out that roadrunners are real (I've seen them and they do run across roads, but they don't beep and aren't chased by the same famished wolf constantly. Oh, yeah, and reindeer don't fly either). Also, there is such a thing as the tazmanian devil, but not unicorns. I think I've got most of it figured out now, but growing up where these exotic creatures are not and the power of television to create skepticism about did me in!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Baggett Christmas pick a pic





Here it is, hot off the press... the first ever (that we know of) interactive Christmas letter.

Instead of mailing pics, we are posting these 4. Now you can imagine your letter with your favorite pose. Sorry, the three scanned snapshots are fuzzy, if you don't get the clear digital one in an e-mail it's because I don't have your address. E-mail me if you want a printable copy (waterfall@safe-mail.net)

The way this works is that you choose the answers you like best! Don't write them in the comments, just put them in your head or if you really, REALLY want something on paper, copy, paste and print off your very own letter! If you care about accuracy, I've put the "real" answers in the comments.

Our pretty stamp on your letter would be:
a) an american flag
b) an american flag billowing in the wind
c) a picture of some old guy, I have no clue who it is (for US only)
(aparently for all international mail, the US wants you to know before you open it that it is from the US)

We had lots of visitors this year including
a) three sets of grandparents (each for multiple visits)
b) two uncles
c) an ecstatic aunt
d) a female peacock in our backyard tree
e) all of the above

Our parents love us, but their most popular question is now...
a) when are you going to send new pictures of Ivan?
b) what is Ivan doing now?
c) you should post that about Ivan
d) so, what else is new?

Our Christmas tree has decorations from...
a) Canada
b) my BBBS "little sister"
c) homeless guys and some not so homeless friends
d) Germany
e) a beach in Galveston, Texas
f) all of the above
g) none of the above
h) a, b and sometimes c
OK, I'm making a point here... didn't you hate those?

Rate the following statement. We will still have a few pieces of uneaten German chocolate the day after Christmas (Andrea sent us a huge box full)
a) very likely
b) maybe
c) probably not
d) no way

Ivan is no longer allowed chocolate after:
a) 10am
b) 3pm
c) 5pm

Ivan has taken ___________ number of ornaments off the tree.
a) 7 or so
b) about 25
c) approx. 136

Our selections for Christmas music include:
a) a charlie brown christmas
b) 3 reject cds that nobody had taken out yet from the christmas cd section at the library including a mandolin Christmas
c) good children's african music and bad children's jazz (because it really should not have been produced for kids)- neither of which have anything to do with christmas, but we have them over the christmas holiday
d) all of the above

We have ________ stockings hanging above the tree.
a) 3
b) 5
c) 10
d) none, who would hang stockings above a tree?

What we REALLY want for Christmas
a) an accordion (they're real popular here)
b) snow
c) peace on earth
d) what we already have: the love of friends and family

We hope you all have a _________________ (wonderful, hillarious, surprising, eccentric, unifying, explosive) year.
We are _________________ (excited, hopeful, amazed, totally cool and collected) about our coming year.

______________________ (love, kisses, hugs) Brian, Angela, Ivan and little embryo

Monday, December 12, 2005

the mystery and awe

I've always loved biology. I enjoy learning about biology so much, I've actually contemplated taking biology books out of the library just for fun (but I haven't gone that far off my rocker!) One of the fun things to me with growing a baby is knowing what all is going on. I read an incredible book when pregnant with Ivan and now have a magazine synopsis version to read during this pregnancy. Both of them came to a point in their depictions, in the second month, where they admit that with all the scientific advancement and genetic understanding, no one can explain many of the mysteries of the growth of embryos. About a month and a half ago, our second child was but a bunch of cells multiplying, some kind of awe inspiring mass floating, growing, expanding. This we can comprehend (to some degree). But at the incredibly tiny size of one tenth of an inch long, the cells become three distinct layers, each one with a stagering amount of various roles and functions. What no one can understand is how each cell knows what it's to become. In the same layer, some cells develop into the brain, nerves, skin and even hair, nails and tooth enamel. Another layer becomes bones, muscles, blood vessels and blood, the heart, part of the lungs, the kidneys and some reproductive organs. The inner-most layer takes on the task of becoming the liver, intestines, urinary tract and the rest of the lungs. To our unknowing eye, all the cells seem the same. They carry the same genetic code and yet each cell knows what to do, how to be different and bring to perfection this little being. One of the greatest tragedies of course is when something is amiss in a baby or newborn, but the more I read and understand the complicated process of growing a baby, the more I am amazed that any baby comes out breathing and able to function. There is just so much involved! One detail that I failed to add last post was that those pictures of our growing baby make the embryo look big. He or she is only the size of a grain of rice!!! Can you believe it? And yet all the internal organs are in place (although not yet fully formed or functioning, the lungs don't even need to work until birth).

These are but some of the mysteries and it causes me to be in awe of the mystery, of the beauty, of the majesty of creation, of the Plan, of the Lover, of His grace on us. Who are we to deserve such wonder in us, in me??, right in my belly? (Crazy!) We remember being so grateful that Ivan was so healthy, knowing that not everyone has such an easy outcome and thinking how unworthy we are. We just receive it, the love and goodness and we wonder. We wonder at it all and rejoice within our most inner being that we are known fully, completely and that we are loved.

Friday, December 09, 2005

baby #2

We had our first doctor visit regarding this pregnancy and got to see our little baby in utero too! I was surprised the doctor would do a sonogram the first visit, but when she heard how big Ivan was at birth, I think it made her a little nervous. She said she didn't like delivering babies that big. I'm thinking... "who's really delivering this baby anyways? I did ok with it, so I'm sure you can handle it too! I mean really, who is most affected here!" So, the sonogram allowed her to move the due date up a week or so, because of course the baby is "big" already! What do you expect with two 6 foot parents? Our official due date is July 3rd. We won't be hitting either of our birthdays, but now the race is on to see who's country's birth is our target. Since Ivan came a day early and the doctor already threatened inducing, I figure Canada Day already has the upper hand!

I thought seeing a sonogram wouldn't be as exciting since we've seen them before, but that was not the case. It was almost more amazing since I really know what a baby is like now and yet here I was seeing this one at such an early stage, swimming, heart pumping, waving his/her arms, moving, scratching his/her face and putting on a show for his/her delighted family. Ivan was pointing at the screen and yelling. Don't let the fuzzy picture fool you, there are no boy parts showing, that's the umbilical cord between his/her legs.

Seeing the baby helped make this seem more real to us. With Ivan, we're pretty busy and I don't have the time I did without him to read books and think about the pregnancy, so I often don't think about all the implications. But seeing the baby moving was very exciting and helped us focus in on the new little one.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

the changing/coinciding seasons

The weather is weird in Abilene, Texas. In Saskatchewan, Canada, where I am from, there are four seasons. When one finishes, you can put your clothes up, call one season to an end and bring in the new with all your expectations for a predictable winter, summer, fall, spring (or at least mostly predictable). Not in Abilene!

I kept saying that there are no seasons here. It took me about 8 years to figure it out, but I was wrong. There are seasons, but it's harder to notice because they don't come when I am used to them coming and they don't come and go, but kind of linger, then kick back in and play peek-a-boo all year. OK, except for summer. You won't need your winter gear from June-Aug. and that's a definite. Think loose, cool clothes or even no clothes, (but only in the privacy of your own home please).

Fall, winter and spring on the other hand are totally unpredictable. I realized recently that there IS a fall, with color changing leaves, wind and coolness, but it may come as late as Christmas. Last year we had snow for Christmas. This was incredible as some years it doesn't snow here. It could snow today though if we had any chances of precipitation. Texas is breaking records in coldness right now, it's about -10 C here (in the teens for you Fareinheit folks). What is so weird to me about this is not that it's cold in December, but that last week, when we were taking some family pictures, the three of us wore short sleeves due to the heat. You just can't tell what kind of a day you'll have until you check the thermostat. Back in SK, if it's Dec. you pick out a sweater for the next day. The only variable is "how many layers?"

Ivan has had enough of the indoors. He saw beautiful sunshine beaming through the sliding door and hollered until he had me convinced we should go out. We got bundled, very bundled and I discovered a funny thing. Ivan's winter jacket causes instant loss of balancing ability. Sweaters are ok, tuques, mits, shoes, pants... no problem, but the instant I put his jacket on he can't even stand up, yet alone walk. It was hillarious. I'd lean him up and he'd tip over, prop him back up and down he goes. Strange. I didn't notice on the developmental charts at what age they can walk IN WINTER CLOTHES. Maybe this is only listed on the Canadian charts!

And now a word from the star of this blog:
"eSo, here 'sggggggggg gto gggggwgggggggwinter v , fall," Thank you Ivan. What I was trying to say was... here's to winter, fall, spring, summer and all the other seasons we may experience this December and happy holidays while we're at it!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Ivan funnies vol.7

Ivan's sense of humor is coming through more and more each day. His daddy invented a new, slightly dangerous game that Ivan finds hillarious. Daddy walks and talks animatedly, then does a most dramatic fall, out of the blue. Ivan then about falls over laughing at funny daddy. Teaching empathy may be a challenging lesson in the future, but Ivan is learning to laugh at himself. Sometimes when he falls now (if it didn't hurt him) he laughs!

Viewer discretion advised.This picture has been altered for your viewing purposes, since this is a public blog and all!

We've all heard of milk mustaches, how about a milk gotee?

We got a bunch of cute pictures of Myka and Ivan the other day, but we didn't quite get the coordinated smiles on this one. It's more like "hey, why are you guys still taking all those pictures of us, haven't you taken enough today?". Myka..."boys, they just don't get it. This is part of babyhood, we're too cute for them to resist, and no, they won't stop even if we don't look our cutest!"

Bottoms up!
Do you have more of that?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Nobody told me!



I didn't realize that a few snips of some scissors would steal my baby from me and return to me a toddler! Ivan has a friend a month older than him who has had several hair cuts from as early as 4 months old, but while Ivan was born with a full head of hair, his first year he's had many folically challenged moments.... So, it wasn't until today that I finally decided it was time to do something about the hair dangling over his ears and down his neck. I've thought this for a while. The timeliness of this first cut has nothing to do with the fact that a small town librarian asked if Ivan was a boy or a girl. I mean, she probably spends way too much time with books and little interaction with babies, I mean toddlers. She may be color blind too, 'cause Ivan was wearing all dark blue, sporty looking clothes. But this has nothing to do with her comment. Nothing at all.

I just trimmed the slightest bit off the sides and back, because he still has just a few artistic looking strands in front. It probably didn't help that we dressed him in these super preppy clothes my neighbor got him at a garage sale (they were brand new, $33 off the original price!) The back of his hair looks ok. Ivan wouldn't hold still, so the cut is a little less than perfect, but thanks to his natural waves, you can't really tell that one side is a bit higher than the other. I could do worse, like put his shoes on the wrong feet. (I'll be more careful about that from now on.)

So anyways, I trimmed and my first thought was "wow, he looks good". Then it was "wait, where's my baby?" As if to prove his growing up, Ivan decided (right after his hair cut) that he didn't need to hold his arms up above his head to walk anymore. Coincidence? I think not. It was all those scissors' fault! Now he just walks around, like a little boy, types on the computer and talks on the phone. Who told us to cherish the moments because time flies? (Oh, yeah, everyone).

Friday, December 02, 2005

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

What on earth was God thinking?

Does anyone else find it extremely dangerous and outragous to send small fragile, incredibly shapeable and moldable babies home with totally untrained, unexperienced and new (as in a few hours new) parents? We've been at this a little over a year and I still think it is an incredibly risky tactic...

Brian's confession...

He was getting the bath water ready for Ivan and turned around to discover that Ivan had gone off exploring. The water was still running and Brian turned to see legs in the tub! Ivan had crawled head first into the tub with his clothes on! Forget that slow daddy! Ivan was on his belly, making swimming motions and getting his clothes all wet.


Angela's confession...

I was on the computer e-mailing when I heard Ivan crash and cry in the kitchen. I quickly got up and ran to soothe him, but when I took him out of the kitchen, he kept crying and fighting me. This went on for several minutes and I kept asking him what was wrong. I'm sure this infuriated him even more since he can't talk yet. Finally, I clued in that he fell in the kitchen, by the table, by the sippy cup! "Do you want a drink?", I asked. He instantly became happier, hopeful and delightedly relieved. Maybe there is hope after all for this mom. I mean, we've been through this many, many times before, but this time it only took her about 20 minutes while Ivan had to suffer the throes of parchness and misunderstanding. Ivan does have a back-up plan. I'm sure he fell trying to get on the table so he could help himself. Forget that slow momma!

Brian's bad influence...

We go to the Christmas parade and Brian can not resist yelling out protests to the float featuring an energy company which is increasing their rates this winter. Other parents say "hey kids, look at the horsies". Brian says, with dripping sarcasm, "yeah, merry Christmas to you too, thanks for the rate hike!"


Angela's bad influence...

Angela terrorizes the dog by chasing her with Ivan's walker, causing the dog to jump up onto the furniture to avoid the scarry mom-gone-crazy-crashing-in-to-me-with-the-walker combo. Ivan's humor must be like his mom's, because he found this totally hillarious.

So, what was God thinking?
-watch this guys, this will be hillarious. We're going to have ourselves some FUN these next 20 years or so.
-this will definitely help with their arrogant, we've got everything figured out attitude, they'll come crying to me in about 30 seconds.
-now they'll know how I feel when they are bone-headed with me!
-now they'll know how much I delight in their love to me.
-I can not think of a greater gift I can give these two: the joys, the surprises, the laughter and fun, the tenderness, the trials, the stretching, growing, learning and loving.