A Letter to Liam: 3rd Birthday

Today my baby turned 3 years old. I still can't believe it and experienced so many emotions throughout the day. We set up the streamers, got the donuts ready, and as soon as Liam woke up, Ryan got Noah and Liam out of bed so that we could sing Happy Birthday to our precious Bert Bert (I can't believe that nickname has stuck so long). Liam LOVES attention, and he was the happiest little guy watching us walk into his room singing to him. He slid off his bed, took one look at his streamers, and ran to me saying, "You're the best!" He planted a huge smooch on my lips and started running through his doorway.

May 6, 2013
May 6, 2014
He nearly ran down the stairs once we mentioned that his birthday treat and presents were downstairs. We again sang Happy Birthday and put a big chocolate donut with sprinkles in front of him with a candle flickering. He blew and blew and blew but could not get that candle out. Finally, with some concentration, Liam finally got it! Five seconds later he started asking if he could open his presents. I mean, do you blame him?

May 6, 2013

May 6, 2014
Liam opened his Ninja Turtle swords, as he calls them, and immediately began showing us his "moves" with them. He has played with Noah's set for hours, which has resulted in lots of electrical tape to keep them together. We though Liam would enjoy a new set, and he surely did. He then opened his second gift. Ryan and I have been especially excited about this present. Liam learned to ride a bike with training wheels right after he turned 2 years old. Liam had been using Noah's old bike, and because Liam is so tall, he was really starting to outgrow it. We bought him a new Planes bike, and after he finally got all the paper on the box, he was surprised to see that his bike was not inside the box. We watched the Grinch Stole Christmas a million times around Christmas, and every time something goes missing, we always say that the "Mean Ol' Grinchy" must have taken it. So, we told Liam that the Mean Ol' Grinchy must have his bike, too! We suggested that he try to look in the basement for it. Liam went running down the stairs with Ryan and the other boys trailing along. I loved capturing his sweet smile as he found his treasured bike! This one fits him so much better, and Liam LOVED riding his bike all over our basement. #unfinishedbasementperks


We got Noah off to school and began our Do-Whatever-Liam-Wants-To-Do Day. He chose Duplos, so we built a dog house for a little while. Then, after I got the little boys dressed, we ran to Target to pick up some birthday party items. We are having a combined birthday party for all 3 boys this Saturday. First over lunch, we will celebrate with the boys' grandparents, my brother, his wife, and their daughter. Then, Noah has a baseball game early evening. Last, at 7:30 p.m., we are having around 40 people (friends, their kids, Ryan's sister, and her kids) over for an outdoor movie party! We're having so much fun planning these parties, and we cannot wait to celebrate, as Noah's birthday is just over a week, too. 

Enjoying our picnic. Liam was determined to have his cheese stick in the picture
After our trip to Target, I packed lunches, and Liam, Tucker, and I went to the park for a picnic. The weather was beautiful, and we had the best time sitting on a blanket together eating our lunch. Afterward, Liam decided he wanted to "go on an adventure," so rather than playing on the equipment, we walked around the perimeter of the park exploring and making discoveries. I told Liam and Tucker about dandelions and how you can make wishes and blow out the seeds like a birthday candle. We discovered lady bugs galore (a sign of all the Travel Approvals my China momma's received today!), watched butterflies flying around, pretended that trees were our homes, stood on stumps and big rocks, ran as fast as we could on the trails, climbed a tree, and went on a bear hunt. Liam's favorite part, I think, was when he got to be the boss and told Tuck and me when we could start walking and when we had to stop. He is bossy by nature (definitely my kid), and he thoroughly loved telling us what to do. :) 



I think this part of the day was my favorite. Being fully engaged with the boys just fills my heart! After we finished up at the park, I put the boys down for their naps. They fell right to sleep and stayed that way for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. When Liam woke up, he saw the streamers in his doorway, and asked, "Is it still my birthday?" When I said that it was, Liam shouted, "Yesss!" After Noah came home from school, all three boys played with their swords and fought bad guys along the tree line at our house. :) Ryan got home from work, and we left to have dinner at Mrs. Curl's, Liam's choice. They ate all of their dinners and enjoyed ice cream cones and time at another park afterward. 

We came back home, the kids took quick showers, and then I laid in bed with Liam for the longest time. He asked me to rub his back and to sleep in his room with him. He is quite the cuddle bug, but I told him that his daddy and I needed to spend some time together. Liam let me go after being reassured that as soon as he woke up, I would be home with him to play again all day. I gave him a kiss goodnight, wished him Happy Birthday again, and closed the door. My baby is 3...still so young but getting so big. These are precious years, and I am so thankful to have been home for the past six months with the little boys.

Speaking of being at home, last week I made the very difficult decision not to return to work next year. I have struggled for the past four months, and ultimately, I know this was the best decision for my family. I miss my coworkers and the children, and I really do love my job. However, right now, I know that being home with Tucker while he continues to bond and adjust to life in our family is so important. I have also seen how much Liam LOVES having me home. He is really vocal about it and doesn't like when I'm away for long. I know I will blink my eyes, and they will all be in school full time. I am trusting that an opportunity for work will open when we decide it is time for me to go back, and I am so thankful that my superiors have all been so supportive of my decision. I am counting my blessings. Now for my letter to my precious baby boy.

My Sweet Liam,

Today I experienced such a roller coaster of emotion. You turned 3 years old at 2:42 a.m. while we were both sound aleep. I remember your birth with such great detail, and not only did you come into the world with power and force, but you have been making waves ever since. Like I've written before, you changed my life with your precious smile. Because of you, you opened your daddy's and my heart to help 19 other children receive new smiles just like you. Operation Smile and Love Without Boundaries are our two favorite organizations to help kids with cleft lips and/or cleft palates. We are even sponsoring a little girl named Sadie in China through New Day South because she had CL/CP, too. We know God has blessed our family, and giving money to support kids just like you brings such joy to our hearts! Only 81 more surgeries to go to reach our goal of 100 children whose smiles will be made new thanks to your life!

After taking pictures of you this morning, I compared them to pictures I took last year. I still cannot believe how much you've changed this past year. I actually got really sad and even upset with myself when I saw the pictures. I became so convicted of how consumed I was with the adoption process. I remembered days of taking you to the park but not being able to fully enjoy myself because Tucker wasn't home yet. While I know that is a really normal feeling, I wish I would've just allowed myself to be fully engaged with you in the present rather than wishing for something that God would bring in His perfect timing. You went from this round little 2 year old to a taller, stronger 3 year old. I look at pictures from last September, just before we left for China, and you were just a little guy. In only 6 months, you have changed dramatically. It makes me sad because you are my baby boy! 

Because you are home full time with Tucker and me, I know this transition to us being a family of 5 has been more difficult for you than for Noah. You went from completely ignoring your brother, Tucker, to having so many times of incredible fun with him. You like to boss him around (again, you are definitely my child), and you can be pretty dominant (ahem), but your heart is in such a better place than it was six month ago. You love your sweet "brotha Tucka" so much, and you guys have a blast! You like to teach him new things like how to build or which color is which. I remember one morning when you climbed up into a chair to feed Tucker his breakfast even though he was totally capable. You guys can scream and laugh and fight and play, but when you make a mistake, you give such great apologies to him and seal them with a hug and a smooch. 

Your relationship with Noah continues to grow strong. You look up to Noah so much, and when you play, you keep up with him so well. You love Ninja Turtles and Ninjago, both cartoons I never would have let Noah watch at your age. You love riding bikes, playing catch, swinging swords, and swinging together. Tucker slept until 11:30 a.m. last Saturday, and you and Noah played for FOUR HOURS together and had the best time. I love watching you play with your brothers!

If you were to ask anyone how they would describe you, I would bet they would say you are HILARIOUS. You really are! I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say, "I was just sitting there when all of the sudden, this thing Liam did popped into my head and made me just crack up!" We feel the same way. As I read my letter to you when you turned 2, I wrote the same thing that you were just so stinking funny! You always seem to catch me off guard with your humor, too, and it leaves us both cracking up.

Liam, you are the happiest kid when you first wake up in the morning. I love the way you squeeze me so tight with your hugs. Your kisses are precious...a little long and wet, generally, but they are SO you. You experience emotional extremes. Your happiness is PURE JOY, the contagious kind that makes everyone around you smile. Your anger is sharp and loud, making you a bit impulsive. We're working on it. :) Your sadness is heartbreaking as those big crocodile tears spill down your cheeks. You can been wailing after a hard fall, and then all of the sudden, you will just make the decision that you are ok and immediately stop crying in an instant. You are protective of your brothers yet will do anything to get a reaction out of them. I always tell Noah that you just want his attention, even if it is negative attention. You just want people to watch you and will do the same thing 100 times and want us to watch every single one of them. I love your "moves" but joke that I will homeschool you because you are so charming. When a pretty girl comes over to our house, you will invite her to the basement or to your room. Please stop. You are 3, and it makes me want to lock you up. I love how much you look like your daddy but are super ornery like I was as a little girl. 

I feel like I somehow missed part of this past year by not being fully present with you, and I am so thankful for another year at home to grow closer to you. I've really started reading your children's Bible to you, and you love it. You are making connections between the stories from the Bible and your life. I am so excited to watch you experience the world through the eyes of a 3 year old boy. I look at pictures from the past year and realize how quickly time goes by. I don't want to miss out on these precious years of your life. Thank you for bringing me so much joy. You make me laugh and smile and shake my head all the time. I pray that God can help me be the best mom for you and your brothers. I am thankful that you were born, that you had a precious smile, and that you led our family to help other children just like you. If it weren't for you, Tucker might still be in China. Instead, he is home with us, and you get to play together every day. It is such a gift to have you home together! I can't wait to see how God continues to use your life to teach me how to be a better mom and how to live my life filled with purpose and meaning and unconditional love.. I love you so much!


p.s. This is my favorite video of you ever! Your daddy sent it to me when I was away at the C4C Retreat in March. It perfectly captured one of my favorite parts of your personality.

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