Saturday, March 11, 2017

JV turns 3

Jackson Vaughn is not a baby, not a toddler. Somehow we have a little boy running around and talking up a storm and making life a lot more interesting.

Two was a challenging age, to be sure -- lots of learning obedience -- but it was another year of tremendous growth for Jackson and for us as parents. Two is not terrible.

Our sweet Jackson is cautious and sensitive. He doesn't take too many risks and doesn't like things that are remotely scary.

He is bright and attentive. He loves to read, learn new things, listen to people talk, and notice details.

He is playful. He loves playing sports, using his imagination with toys, riding his little bikes, exploring playgrounds, and running around with his buddies.

He is social. He is excited when other kids join him on a playground, and he enjoys having people over or visiting people in their homes. He loves going to church, too.

He is musical. He sings songs and plays the drum, xylophone, piano (exclusively original tunes, of course!).

He is loving. As busy as he is from dawn until dusk, he always demonstrates a big heart and a deep love for the special people in his life.

It is difficult to capture the essence of such a small and complex and wonderful human. Raising a child is not simply trying to survive perpetual exhaustion, nor is it just carefully making sure you check off all the developmental boxes. Raising a child is investing your heart in the life of a precious creation, made in the image of God, who needs wisdom and love and discipline. As you seek to teach truth to a wayward soul, you find yourself on your face, acknowledging how little you know, how much you need God's wisdom, and how profoundly you love that soul that God has entrusted to your care.

Jackson is a joy to know and a privilege to raise, and we indeed love him profoundly.

Happy birthday, sweet firstborn.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

M.H.H. | Twelfth month

Happy first birthday, sweet Matthias Henry!

One-year stats: 20.11 lbs (38th percentile), 30.1" (58th percentile)

Our little Matthias is such a ham. He loves people, he loves food, and he is just a happy guy. (Unless you try to feed him bananas or eggs -- then you are a traitor.)

He likes rolling around and lying down on pillows and blankets when they're tossed on the floor. His giggle sounds a lot like the bleat of a goat. He dances to music by bouncing up and down, plays peek-a-boo, and shakes his head back and forth to be silly.

He has 8 teeth, four on top and four on bottom.

He sleeps wonderfully, 8 PM to 8 AM, and naps two or three times a day. He has, at last, retired his loud screech (thankfully).

He is weaned! It took a little while to master tilting a cup, but now he's a pro.

He says "mama" and "dada." And he voted in the Presidential election with his mama.

Isn't it amazing how each child is so unique, and how a parent's heart is capable of loving each one so fully? Matthias is our precious second-born, Jackson's buddy and brother, and a source of daily delight.

We celebrated his birthday with both sides of the family in Missouri this year, and I took his pictures when we got back home.

For his day of birth video, click here.

His birth story is here.

And here is our sweet one-year-old now:

Friday, December 2, 2016

Thanksgiving in Missouri

A few years ago, when I was commuting to school regularly, I started listening to Christmas music in September.

Before you roll your eyes at me and move on with your life, let me explain. (Or roll your eyes and move on with your life -- it's your prerogative.)

At some point growing up, Thanksgiving and Christmas melded into one wonderful season of the year in my mind, especially as I become a young adult. We had traditions for the holiday that meant a lot to me, and signaled the beginning of the season. I treasured the time with family.

So for me, listening to Christmas music in September gave me a glimmer of hope that Thanksgiving was only a couple months away, and I would indeed survive the semester.

In 2014, we had our first Utah Thanksgiving with people from our treasured church family, and the next year, some family members came to us since Matthias was born just two days prior. This year, our third holiday season in Utah, we decided to make the long trek to mid-Missouri for a Thanksmas Backe/Howard Spectacular.

I just came up with that title on the spot. Impressed?

It was a bit of a whirlwind -- traveling there and back took two days each (plus a bit of another day, thanks to bad weather), which left seven full days to be with family. I'm very thankful for those seven sweet days.

Below are some photos from our week. How do I concisely express what they mean to me?

They mean that our boys were able to spend time with their grandparents and their great-grandparents.

That we ate some really good home cooking in the company of people we don't see too often.

That Jackson and Matthias bonded with their cousins over a Cozy Coupe -- in the same living room where I played with my own cousins growing up.

That we visited some very special, kind-hearted friends.

That a tree-finding and decorating and bell-ornament-counting tradition never loses its special significance.

That our boys are dearly loved -- and we are, too.

Three generations of Howard men. 

Matthias tends to prefer anything that Jackson has.

Exploring Peepaw's work truck.

Matthias celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, AND his first birthday all week! (It's a hard life.)

Embrace the braces. Also, that's Jackson's "cheeeeeese" face.

I caught the sucker thief red-handed. (He took it from Jackson.)


Have I mentioned that I'm thankful?