Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Baby is Four

I'm rushing out the door for dinner, but I wanted to quickly post this. Gracie had such a good time!

Click to play Gracie's 4th Birthday


Then Sings My Soul Saturdays

Be Thou My Vision


I cannot hear this hymn without getting chills and tears in my eyes. I never really considered it a familiar favorite growing up, but my sister chose to have it played at her wedding and I have loved it ever since. My uncle arranged the song for organ and strings, and I've included the video here.

Side note: One of the funniest things at Amber's wedding was captured by Trevor on this video. The song was played during the lighting of the unity candle and prayer. Amber and David looked so beautiful as they kneeled and prayed together, and the music swelled around them. When they were finished praying, Amber (out of habit) leaned over to kiss him, and David visibly jerked away, horrified at the prospect of kissing the bride before the ceremony was over. It was a sweet, tender moment that we will tease them about for the rest of their lives.

Be thou my vision,
O Lord of my heart,
be all else but naught to me,
save that thou art;
be thou my best thought
in the day and the night,
both waking and sleeping,
thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom,
be thou my true word,
be thou ever with me,
and I with thee Lord;
be thou my great Father,
and I thy true son;
be thou in me dwelling,
and I with thee one.

Riches I heed not,
nor man's empty praise:
be thou mine inheritance
now and always;
be thou and thou only
the first in my heart;
O King of heaven,
my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven,
thou heaven's bright sun,
O grant me its joys
after victory is won;
great Heart of my own heart,
whatever befall,
still be thou my vision,
O Ruler of all.

video



Friday, May 30, 2008

He Made It

I received the call from Ronna that Nathan arrived safely in Washington, DC this afternoon. But not before a grueling (not to mention sweaty) morning of security checkpoints, changing gates and running down concourses.

A good time was had by all.

We arrived at the airport and made it pretty quickly through check-in and security. We went to the bookstore and bought a new book for him to read on the flight, since that is what I do when I fly. We stopped at the newsstand and purchased gum, Kleenex and water. We did a quick review of the rules:


"When do you put your feet on the chair in front of you?" Never.

"Where do you put your gum when you are finished with it?" In my Kleenex.

"Who is the boss when you are on the airplane?" The flight attendant.

And on and on, since I am nothing if not a rule follower. Clearly I have not passed this trait on to my eldest. Oh, he can recite the rules and make you believe that he is planning on following them, but it's all a ploy to get out of my immediate reach and go nuts. More on that later.

So, the very nice flight attendant took Nathan on the plane first, so he could get adjusted and visit the cockpit. I stayed at the gate until I saw the plane pull away and taxi down the runway. I sent out the appropriate text messages and called Trevor to let him know that all was well. At this point, you might be asking yourself what was so grueling about that? Perhaps you are thinking that I have a weak constitution and just the simple task of dropping my son off at the airport is too much for me to handle.

Just wait for it....

Gracie's birthday party is tomorrow, so I headed out to finish up some last minute errands, like, you know, buying our child's gift. I was happily strolling the aisles of my (note the proprietary tone) Super Target, browsing and enjoying some time alone. I got back in the Tahoe to drive home, and my phone rang. I was informed by Trevor that Nathan's plane had turned around and gone back to the terminal because of MECHANICAL PROBLEMS!

Yes, people. My child was on a faulty plane that ALMOST took off with something wrong with the hydraulics (I hope I'm making it sound like I totally know what I'm talking about here). Trevor hung up with the promise that he would call the airport and try to find out if I needed to go back or not.

Well, after several conversations and a not-so-briefly considered idea of not letting him fly at all, because this must be a sign or something, I headed back to the airport. Whereas I hit every green light when we were traveling calmly and ahead of schedule, this time I hit every red light and I was apparently driving within a narrow window of time in which every bad driver on a cell phone was on the road.

I finally arrived, got a strange look from the guard at the entrance to the parking garage who I had greeted only a few hours before, and made it through security with little trouble. I'm sure that everyone thought I was late for my flight, because I was the poster child as I fast-walked/ran through the terminal. And wouldn't you know it, the gate that Nathan had been moved to was at the VERY END OF THE TERMINAL. I use all caps so you can feel my frustration after the red lights, bad drivers, lack of parking spaces and trying to put my shoes back on and tie them as I ran through the airport.

When I finally arrived at Gate 19, I saw Nathan's red hair peeking just above the ticket counter and it was a beautiful sight for this mother's heart. The flight attendants were taking very good care of him, but he was tired of all the chaos and was getting hungry. I took him to get some lunch before he had to board again, and we sat down at the gate as he finished eating. One of the flight attendants asked to speak to me privately, and let me know that Nathan had been less than obedient in all the excitement. She was very polite, but it was clear that Nathan had not been listening to them and that he needed a talking to.

Mortified, I was more that happy to oblige and made it clear that Aunt Ronna would be inquiring about his behavior when he landed, so he had better behave himself. It was finally time to board again, and we waited until last to send him in so he would have less time to have to sit still. Here is the fuzzy picture I snapped as he was about to turn to go down the jet way:


My baby looked so small, but he was excited and when he arrived in DC he was all smiles and ready to go. So, now I have a week without him and I already miss his quick smile and funny ways. I'm glad that he has this opportunity to travel and to get to know my brother, sister-in-law and nephew better, but I can't wait to have him back home.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

School's Out for the Summer

Today was the last day of 1st grade for Nathan. He came home with stacks and stacks of papers and books. He received several accelerated reading awards and a sackful of candy to commemorate this auspicious occasion. Because what would an end of year party be without enough sugar to supply a third world country for a year?

So the school year ends, and the summer begins. When I was growing up, my mom was a schoolteacher, so summer meant 3 months of sleeping late, staying out past sunset with all the kids on the block and sleeping outside in the backyard in a tent. It was long, lazy days with nothing better to do than look at each other and dream.

Unfortunately (or maybe not, depending on how you look at it), I am not a schoolteacher. I work year round and that means that summertime for Nathan and Grace is just some more time spent with the babysitter. Now, I am fortunate enough to have a dear friend who keeps them in her home, but it still means they have to get up early every morning, get dressed and go to Miss Heather's house.

This is one of my big regrets as a working mom. I regret that (for now), my children will not know the joy of anticipating the long summer months at home. For them, it's just another string of days with the same old routine. Well, the same old routine for Gracie anyway. This summer, Heather does not want to keep any school age children, since all of the kids she keeps are Gracie's age and younger. It's too hard to keep all of them entertained and happy.

So this summer, Nathan will be doing some traveling. He leaves tomorrow morning for Washington, DC where he will spend a week with Patrick and Ronna. As a matter of fact, it's the reason that I am sitting here at 11:21pm typing instead of sleeping. I am so nervous for him! He is so excited about flying by himself even though this is the first time he's ever been on an airplane.
I know the airline isn't going to lose him, and I'll be able to walk him right up to the gate and Ronna will be there to meet him the moment he steps off, but I'm still nervous. Worried that he will get scared mid-flight and want me, with absolutely no way to communicate with me. Worried that he will kick the seat in front of him the entire flight and irritate his fellow passengers. (We had a long discussion about flight etiquette earlier)

Anyway, I know intellectually that he will be fine but the maternal instinct to protect and nurture is having a hard time letting go! Ronna has been instructed to call me the very moment she lays eyes on him. I have packed every single document, form and card that he could possibly need while he is away. (I know the birth certificate and SS card are a little overkill, but I can't help it) His baggage has ribbons that match the one on his backpack so he will know which one is his. He has enough food in his carry on to keep the entire front 5 rows of the plane fed and happy for the duration of the flight.

You would think that after seeing to every possible contingency that I would be cool, calm and collected. Congratulating myself on being well-prepared and organized. Secure in the knowledge that I have all the bases covered for him. But I'm still nervous.

I think it really boils down to knowing that I can't do it all for him. Some things he has to do for himself. He might get a little scared without Trevor and me. He might do some things that other passengers do not appreciate, and learn the hard way without one of us to buffer their reactions. But he will learn. He will learn that he can do it on his own, even when he is scared. He will learn to be more aware of those around him, even when we are not there to remind him to behave. He will learn and so will I.

When he lands safely in Houston next Saturday and I have him in my arms, I will have begun to learn the painful lesson of letting go. Of letting him be his own person and not just an extension of me. Of letting him live.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

If you are interested in reading a brief history of Memorial Day, go here for my post from last year. I am posting two songs today that are just incredible. Please take the time to listen to them and I guarantee that you will be blessed. The first is a song by the Gaither Vocal Band called Let Freedom Ring, and the second is their rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.

My favorite lyric from the first is:

Let freedom ring down through the ages from a hill called Calvary





I hope that as you enjoy time with family and friends today, that you will keep in mind those whose families are no longer intact because of the ultimate sacrifice of a loved one.

Happy Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Then Sings My Soul Saturdays

After some discussion this week about the merits of one University over another University in Texas, I have decided to dedicate this Saturday to my alma mater. Gig 'em Aggies! Whoop!

Love you, Linda!

Friday, May 23, 2008

I'm Excited!

I am so excited. Look what my husband brought home for me this evening...






I don't usually get excited about new gadgets, etc. If Trevor gets one for me (or I get one of his hand-me-downs), I'm perfectly happy. But this time, I was really excited about getting an iPhone. We were out shopping a few weekends ago, and I saw an iPod touch, and was just mesmerized. Trevor suggested that I just get an iPhone if I wanted something with a cool touchscreen, etc.

So the idea was conceived in my brain that I wanted an iPhone, and he made it a reality today. I have all but ignored my family this evening as I updated all of my contacts and played with my new toy. Did I mention that I was excited?




Whoo Hoo! It's Friday!

I wish I could say that I've had a wonderful week with my family. I wish I could say that I have spent hours on the floor with Benjamin, getting to know him better and spoiling him rotten. I wish I could say that I haven't been sick all week with some sort of viral, non-strep throat infection that makes it nearly impossible to speak (or cough, or swallow) without a topical anesthetic.

But I can't, so I'll have to say that I am ready to be well. I am ready to start feeling like a human being again, and I am ready to be able to yell at the kids lovingly counsel my children without feeling like I have razor blades in my throat. Do you know how hard it is to get the attention of a 3 and 7 year old, who are completely involved in playing with their 2 year old cousin, when you don't have a voice to speak of? I've been reduced to banging objects on my side table to get them to look at me. I've become the old, senile woman who thumps her cane to make a point.

It's sad, really.

In spite of my declining health this week, it has been good to see Ronna and Benjamin. She is just a wonderful as she always is, and Benjamin is just adorable. He is well behaved and obedient, and he is a complete joy to be around. I'm hoping that by this evening, all my drugs will have kicked in and I'll be ready for some real play time with him.

Amber left yesterday morning, and I am so glad that she was able to get over here for a visit. We stayed up too late talking and watching movies, but we had a great time. She took Gracie shopping for a clothes on Tuesday and Wednesday, and got her an adorable bathing suit from Target as well as flip flops and capri's from The Children's Place. She wanted to get her something for her birthday, and she always needs more clothes since she has a pathological need to change them at least 3 times a day. Sometimes I'm lucky, and I'm able to rescue them from the dirty clothes hamper, but more often than not, I wash entire loads of perfectly clean clothes.

Ronna made a wonderful dinner of breaded chicken and roasted potatoes last night, with a side of peas. It was incredible, and I was grateful that I didn't have to cook. I have been such a bad hostess to everyone this trip because I haven't really felt like doing much of anything. Thank goodness it's family, and they totally understand, but I love having people over and cooking special meals and making them feel really at home and welcome. It's killing me to sit around and do nothing while everyone else is bringing things to me and making me feel better. I think it's one of the real dangers of having service as a spiritual gift.

I am so focused on serving others, that I neglect to let them serve me sometimes. I find such joy in giving and doing, and tend to be a little uncomfortable when I am on the receiving end. Being able to accept help and kindness is just as important as dispensing it, and it is something that I need to learn to do more graciously.

One of the highlights of my week was the birth of Chance Patrick to my good friend Kasi. We work together, and she had him on Tuesday. He was 7 lbs, 13 oz and completely healthy. I've spoken to her a few times, and she was supposed to go home yesterday so I'm hoping to stop by this afternoon and meet him if I am feeling better. On second thought, I might just wait until Tuesday so be sure that I don't get him sick. The last thing a new mom needs is a sick baby!

So now I am already looking ahead to the long Memorial Day weekend. We have no plans, and that is fine with me. Ronna will be here until Sunday, and then we will have Monday to rest, relax and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that I can have this blog and all of the other freedoms that I enjoy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Challies Giveaway

Challies.com is having another giveaway! If you would like to participate, click the button below to enter the drawing for:

First prize: $200 gift certificate for Monergism Books and a Five Solas t-shirt.
Second prize: $75 gift certificate for Monergism Books and a Five Solas t-shirt.
Third Prize: $35 gift certificate for Monergism Books and a Five Solas t-shirt.


May Giveaway

I would also recommend Tim Challies new book The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. It is an incredible resource for understanding how we determine truth from untruth.

Monday, May 19, 2008

If These Old Walls Could Speak

With any luck, when I get home this evening my sister will be there waiting for me! I am so excited. We had such a good visit when we went home to Louisiana for Mother's Day, and now we get to have another one so soon!

She and David recently built a house and this last trip was our first opportunity to see it. We went over that Saturday night to eat and hang out. First of all, I have to say that she and David has incredible taste. From the flooring to the light fixtures, this house screams, "I have style". I was so proud for her and happy to see her in a comfortable home of her own. There is nothing like the feeling of finally owning your own place after years of renting.

We had brought left-overs from Mama's house, and as we were bustling around the kitchen getting everything ready it felt so natural. This was the first time I had ever been in her kitchen, but there we were reaching around each other and getting everything prepared for dinner. It made me long to live closer to her so that we could have more evenings like that one. Comfortable and easy, with that complete sense of belonging as though it were my own home.

This is what family is all about. The familiarity with each other and our history transcending new situations and environments. The love that we have for each other that envelopes those who are around us and includes them in the moment. I still don't know David very well because we live so far apart, but I love him. I love him because she does, and the more I get to know him and his character, the more I like him.

So Amber will be there when I get home, ready to visit and play with the kids. Then tomorrow evening, Ronna and Benjamin will arrive and the house will be full to brimming with the beautiful cacophony of children's laughter and the sound of adult voices remembering when we were the ones playing in the twilight, silently willing the sun to stay in the sky just a little bit longer. (I should run by the dollar store and get some glow necklaces and bracelets for the occasion) This song by Amy Grant always reminded me of my own childhood and family, and now our children are making memories of their own.

If these old walls,
If these old walls could speak
Of the things that they remember well,
Stories and faces dearly held,
A couple in love
Livin’ week to week,
Rooms full of laughter,
If these walls could speak.

If these old halls,
If hallowed halls could talk,
These would have a tale to tell
Of sun goin’ down and dinner bell,
And children playing at hide and seek
From floor to rafter,
If these halls could speak.

They would tell you that I’m sorry
For bein’ cold and blind and weak.
They would tell you that it’s only
That I have a stubborn streak,
If these walls could speak.

If these old fashioned window panes were eyes,
I guess they would have seen it all--
Each little tear and sigh and footfall,
And every dream that we came to seek
Or followed after,
If these walls could speak.

They would tell you that I owe you
More than I could ever pay.
Here’s someone who really loves you;
Don’t ever go away.
That’s what these walls would say.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Then Sings My Soul Saturdays



Stay Strong


I love this song by the Newsboys. The lyrics are on the video, but I wanted to show the chorus here. Every time I hear this song, I think of the verses in Philippians 3:13-15:

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Stay strong
You are not lost
Come on and fix your eyes ahead
There's a new dawn to light our day, our day
We've gotta stay strong
You and I run
For the prize that lies ahead
We've come too far to lose our way, our way

Get up, there's further to go
Get up, there's more to be done
Get up, this witness is sure
Get up, this race can be won
This race can be won

Friday, May 16, 2008

My Prince Charming

Here is a conversation that I had with Grace the other night:


Grace: Mommy, are you married with Daddy?

Me: Yes.

Grace: (With an expression and tone of pure delight and wonder) Were you a princess and was he your prince?

Me: Yes, baby. He sure was (and still is!).


Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Past, Present and Future

We went home to Louisiana for Mother's Day weekend. I hadn't been home since Thanksgiving, and it was good to be there with my mom. Trevor and I were able to take Friday off, and Nathan didn't have school (thank you FFA holiday) so it turned into a long weekend with my family.

We actually celebrated on Saturday because we generally try to get on the road as soon after church on Sunday as possible. We like to be able to unwind a bit Sunday night before resuming our normal lives on Monday. We had lasagna and salad for lunch, and finished it off with an incredible tiramisu that Amber made. Both Grannies were there, as well as Aunt Gail and Uncle Chuck. I really enjoyed sitting around the dinner table joking and laughing with the people that I love best in the world.

My favorite picture of the day was of Gracie, me, Mama and Granny. Four generations of women (well, 3 with a woman-to-be). This picture represents my heart. It represents who I was, who I am and who I want to be. It is my past, present and future.


These women have loved me, ministered to me and taught me what it means to give. They have been there through the good times and the bad. They are the ones I turn to when I can't speak my sorrow and when my heart is overflowing with joy. They are strong, unique, intelligent women who live their lives for Christ and I love them unconditionally.

I love the men in my family just as much, so I don't mean to exclude Nathan or my Dad here, but there is something that goes on between women that men will never understand. There is a kinship that goes beyond family ties or even friendship. How else do you explain the dressing room phenomenon? We've all been there. We go shopping without a girlfriend or sister, and we are suddenly struck by indecision. We ask the nearest female for her opinion because we know that we can trust a total stranger to tell us if we need a different size or a new outfit altogether.

If we trust total strangers to help us with our fashion choices, how much more do we trust the women that we know and love? It defies explanation or logic, but there is a bond. It is especially apparent between mothers, and it transcends race, religion and political affiliation. We all have that almost visceral need to protect and nurture our children, and by extension, the children of others.

My prayer is that in 20...40...50 years from now I will have similar photographs with Gracie, my granddaughter and great-granddaughter. I hope that they will all see me in the same light that I see my mother and grandmother. I can think of no greater legacy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Texas, Our Texas

Nathan's end of the year program was last night, and I compiled a few of the highlights. The first few pictures and videos of Nathan were of him singing our state song, "Texas, Our Texas" When he first started singing, he wasn't really paying attention to actually, you know, singing. He was too busy looking around trying to find Trevor, Grace and me. Once he found us, he sang with gusto. He was one of 5 other children who led the rest of the group.

The second set of pictures is his class doing the Cotton-eyed Joe. Well, a version of the Cotton-eyed Joe anyway. I was laughing so hard that I could barely take any video or decent photographs. One of my friends and I were leaning on each other we were laughing so hard! It loses something on video, but the boys were just hauling the girls all over the place, and they were all doing some really interesting moves. I leaned over through my tears and said, "This is going in the senior yearbook for sure!"

So, here are a few of the highlights of Nathan's First Grade end of year program:




Monday, May 12, 2008

Recap and Poetic Offerings

This has been such a crazy week, that I haven't had much time for logging on to the computer except to check my email and to do a little blog reading. I had such a great time in Denver, and I really wanted to devote some blog space to that trip, but I just never got around to it.

In a nutshell, it was great to spend some time with Courtney, Chris and Jack. I did some shopping with Courtney, we were able to catch a Rockies game, and we took Jack to the Denver Zoo the morning I left.


The only thing that throws me off when I go to see Courtney is the fact that she is a vegan. Like, no meat. And no milk. Did I mention no meat? Her pantry is full of organic food and her fridge is packed with tofu, rice milk and other vegan friendly foods. Basically, nothing that I eat even on a semi-regular basis.

Now this is not a slam on a vegetarian lifestyle. This is simply a few words of reflection regarding my love of meat and meat related products. As a matter of fact, I have composed a haiku in honor of my affection.

Meat is wonderful
Bacon grease used to flavor
Nothing else compares

Thank you. Thank you very much. Copies will be available upon request.

Seriously though, Courtney is very hospitable and never minded if Chris and I grilled up some fresh red meat, or when I sat down next to her at the Rockies game with a bowl of nachos topped with chili. That's love right there.

On the flip side, I always get to each a new vegetarian dish when I see her. This time she made an awesome pasta tossed with fresh roasted veggies and garlic. It was quite wonderful, as was the olive dip she made to snack on with crackers. So I miss the trans fat filled, calorie laden deliciousness of the processed foods I love when I visit, but I lose a few pounds and learn new ways to eat those veggies.

I also learned about this product while we were out shopping, and so I purchased some at a little boutique. Folks, this stuff works. We've all been there. You're at someone's house and you just can't hold it any more, or you're at work with only one bathroom that everyone shares. Never again will you suffer embarrassment for the natural workings of your body. That's right, it performs just as advertised. (The name alone sends me into fits of giggles).

I also have many pictures of the trip, but I need to get them all organized and in a slideshow before I post them. That's probably what I'll be doing this evening between laundry and dinner. Because I'm all about multi-tasking....

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

At Home and Loving It

I have received several emails asking when I was going to give a recap of my long weekend in Denver. While I do intend to devote an entire post to that particular subject, I'm still working on my pictures and spending time with the family.

Taking a trip is always fun, but it's so good to be home surrounded by familiar things and enveloped in the love of my family. Nothing makes you feel better than those tiny arms tightly gripping your neck and the sound of that little voice repeating over and over again, "I'm so glad you're home, mommy. I missed you!"

So, I'll get around to posting about my trip, but right now I'm spending all my free time soaking in the sight of Nathan and Grace playing and spending some quality time with Trevor.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Then Sings My Soul Saturdays






Henry F. Lyte wrote the hymn "Abide With Me" at the very end of his life. Lyte wrote it to his own tune, but today it is sung to Eventide, composed in 10 minutes by the organist William Monk, during what his widow recalled as “...a time of great sorrow. Hand in hand we were silently watching the glory of the setting sun (our daily habit) until the golden hue had faded… Then he took paper and penciled the tune which has gone all over the world.”

We often think of this song as a "funeral song", but the words bring comfort no matter the circumstance in our lives. Lyte wrote the words based on the passage in Luke where the disciples met Jesus on the road to Emmaus.


But the disciples constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.
No matter what season of life we are in, be it sorrow, pain, joy or growth, He abides with us always. In the valley and on the mountain, He is there to give us strength. In health and in sickness, He is there. On death's very threshold, He is there to comfort us. I can think of no greater joy than to die with His name on my lips in praise and joyful anticipation of being in His presence.

In my family, it's not unusual for someone to say, "I want (blank) sung at my funeral. Verses 1, 2 and 4 with a key change on the last verse." Seriously. We take our music seriously. Well, this is one of mine. All five verses. Preferably a cappella by a mixed choir. A girl can dream, can't she?


Abide with me;
Fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens;
Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers
Fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless,
O, abide with me.

Swift to its close
Ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim,
Its glories pass away;
Change and decay
In all around I see—
O Thou who changest not,
Abide with me.

I need Thy presence
Every passing hour;
What but Thy grace
Can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like Thyself,
My guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine,
Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe,
With Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight,
And tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting?
Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still,
If Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross
Before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom
And point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks,
And earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.


Friday, May 2, 2008

The Trip Begins

I finally met Karen, and here's the proof!


We met for lunch today after Courtney picked me up from the airport, and I just have to say that a lovelier person you will not meet. I recognized her right away, and we began to talk as though we had been friends for many years. It was so comfortable and easy, and I'm so glad we were both able to take the time to meet in person!

So now I am waiting for take-out from Twin Dragon, and enjoying my visit with Courtney and Jack. He has grown so much since the last time I saw him, and he's still getting used to me, but it doesn't stop me from stealing those hugs and kisses!