Friday, August 18, 2017

Space for silence and humans and whatever else comes my way

I just finished a book, and I almost loved it. Have you ever had one of those moments where a book finds you at just the right time, and, even while you're loving it, you realize you might not love it if the timing were different? (If you know what I mean, you're probably as geeky about words as I am.) Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger always comes to mind when I think about the perfect timing of a book meeting a human. I loved that book so much when I read it, but I think the timing was everything, so I'm almost afraid to read it again. P.S. Someday I'll bite the literary bullet and read it again, but you should just read it now. Then tell me what you think, because sharing book recommendations is one of my favorite things to do, but then I live in fear that someone won't like a book I loved and then how the heck do we move past that?

Moving on, I just finished a book, and, like I said, I almost loved it. I never listen to podcasts. I mean that in the literal sense that I have never listened to a podcast. I'm going to come out of the closet and shamefully admit that I don't even know how one listens to podcasts. How embarrassing is that? I really, truly am an 86-year-old woman trapped in a 40-year-old body. So, I never listen to podcasts, but I saw a blurb about a podcast about a book, and I thought it sounded interesting so I put the book on hold at the library like all of the other 86-year-olds who like to turn physical paper pages of a book when they're reading.

It came at the perfect time. I had recently broken up with Twitter, and it was totally me, not it. I would read, then get angry, then click on more things to feed the fire, then get horribly sad, then craft vitriolic responses that I could never fit into 140 characters, then close the computer in a huff and a mood, all because of stupid pixels on a stupid phone or computer screen. Well, it's not really that simple, since the things that the pixels said were really happening or really typed or said by people, but it was an utterly futile relationship with no chance for change or growth on anyone's side. Therefore, I logged off, and that was that.

I didn't take the Twitter break up too hard. Twitter's not my thing, what with the confining 140 characters and so many strangers just hopping on to follow a person whenever your name crossed their weird internet rabbit hole path. Nope. Facebook is my social media of choice. Pictures and as many words as I want and the ability to keep up with family and friends from all over the country. Yes, thank you. It should be noted that I've never tried snapchat or instagram or that musical.ly thing that confounds my brain or any other cool and hip social media thing due to the fact that I'm simple and lazy. Also 86.

So, with Twitter gone, and yours truly wasting far too much time clicking on random stuff on my phone, I took Facebook off of my phone. You guys, I'm embarrassed by how much time I saved in a day without a minute here and five minutes there liking and posting and commenting and clicking. I had so much time on my hands that I started making all of our bread from scratch. I'm not even kidding you. Obviously, it was also about prioritizing my time differently, but without the temptation to turn the phone on when I had a spare minute, the prioritizing was simple.

That's where I was when I saw the blurb about the podcast about the book. It's a memoir called What Falls from the Sky by Esther Emery. It's stunningly and simply written, slightly self-deprecating, not over the top, not preachy, and very approachably lovely. (The ending left me a little deflated, which is why I almost loved it.) In it, Emery, an up and coming theater director in California, tells of her decision to spend an entire year without the internet. She used PAPER MAPS, not Google maps, for Pete's sake! No TV, no debit or credit cards, no googling the average length of an eel, no emailing her friends who lived across the country from her, no checking the church's website to see what time the bell choir is meeting on Wednesday. NO INTERNET!

The joke is that we love the internet until it doesn't work, and then our utter ineptitude at all things related to 21st century life becomes glaringly apparent. We don't know how to get to a movie theater or what time a movie starts or if we even want to see a movie because we haven't read the reviews from our favorite entertainment blogger. If we can't get online, how do we bank or communicate with friends or do anything at all work related? We're pretty pathetic creatures without the internet.

Emery signed off of all devices, cancelled cable and wifi, and lived for a year with her husband and two young kids. She read books, went camping, started cooking, focused on her marriage, noticed the stunning beauty of holding her baby, met some neighbors, wrote notes to her penpals, watched trees bloom in spring, baked bread, traveled to Nicaragua, grieved deaths, and went to church. As I like to say, nothing special happened, but everything happened. Her story is so real and hard, and I was about 2 pages from really and absolutely loving it.

I'm not ready to give up the internet, which should be obvious since I'm typing a blog post. I'm considering what her decision looks like in my life, and it's bringing up some interesting discussions that rattle around in my brain like dice on a plastic yahtzee tray. It's loud and clunky in there and mostly chaotic, but my brain is doing the difficult work of melding new ideas with old ideas into workable ideas.

On Wednesday, I woke up and signed off of facebook. I don't know my password since I had Jim change it a while ago, so no cheating once the kids go to bed. I texted my mom and a few friends about it so they would know to call, text, or email me if they needed to get a hold of me, but other than that, I just clicked log off. My mom texted back asking why. Here's my answer: "It's making me hate people. It puts the worst of the world in one easy to click spot that I get sucked into and hate humans. My time needs to be spent with real life people."

It is worth noting that this happened right after the horrendous, racist, grotesque, and despicable events in Charlottesville, VA and during a week when Donald Trump pissed me off even more than usual, which is saying something. I would read an article, get Furious with a capital F, click on another article, read something poetic and dramatic from someone talking about how we can change and what we must do in the face of this hatred and anger, repost, repost, get mad about another article, etc., etc., etc. It sucked me right in with the force of an industrial strength vacuum. And to what end? My mind won't be changed by an article on Facebook. That just doesn't happen. Change happens within the context of face to face, human contact between two people who care enough about each other to listen. Not hear sound coming from a mouth in order to react, but really listen, pause, think, discuss.

Does this matter to anyone but me? Doubtful. But it does matters to me. I am committing more of my time and energy to people and efforts that bring fruit to my life and hopefully to the lives of those around me. Tonight instead of popping online to check something after dinner, the two boys and I cleared off the table, played a game of Memory, read some books, got the little fellow to bed, and watched Karate Kid with my teenager. (Classic movie and as good as I remember!) I was not distracted. In Emery's book, someone called her and told her that they knew the internet was becoming an issue when they logged on without a reason, but instead being online was the destination. In other words, we aren't popping online to pre-purchase movie tickets or to look at the map of the Louvre for an upcoming vacation, but are just going on to pass the time. I do that far too often. One click leads to another click leads to a really good song on youtube leads to three hours gone in a flash with nothing to show for it.

To be clear, I'm a homeschooler who doesn't care how you educate your kids so long as you do it well because we need some bright, articulate humans to come of age and lead our country right about now, a vegetarian who doesn't care if you eat meat, and, currently, a social media drop out who doesn't care how much time you spend online watching cat videos or posting on Facebook. You do what you need to do and I'll do what I need to do. Right now, I need to spend time with real humans doing real things without wondering if the picture I post will be commented on or liked or why my friend did that cool thing with her other friend, but never reaches out to me.

The internet isn't going to be my destination anymore. I'm going to traverse more stable grounds here on the actual earth. For how long? I'm not sure yet. But I'm excited to see what comes my way.

Peace for the journey, friends.

P.S. You know the saying, if a tree falls in the forest and noone is there, does it still make a sound? Well, if a blogger writes a blog post but can't advertise on social media, does anyone read it? Apparently not, since yesterday's post has a whopping 8 readers so far. But, I've decided to be here on the blog more often to chronicle the big, little days of my life with my family and in our community. For me. For writing. For memories.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Summer's Last Hurrah

Summer ends early in Colorado, with the buses roaring past our house bright and early starting on August 17. In Minnesota, public school starts after Labor Day and that is the end of that. We're still doing cheesy 80's movie marathons, slow and extended wake-ups, and long pancake breakfasts with flour everywhere. In fact, we still have two kids away at summer camp for the week, so it's safe to say that our brains are not yet in full-time school mode.
So far Isaac and I have watched Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, and Karate Kid

With that said, we're easing in with more math lessons, Latin flashcards, cursive and typing practice, and the mama reading up on Algebra, Logic, and Latin. We'll be ready when Isaac's Challenge class starts on the 28th of August. . . we're just not quite there yet.

I can't exactly say where our summer went, but I can say it was a good one. We took no trips, had no big plans, and didn't sign the kids up for any sports camps. Each of the big kids did a week at church camp, but, other than that, we were around. We read books, went to an amusement park, planted our first CO garden, swam with cousins, hiked a bit, camped, played baseball in the front yard, took care of dogs, cats, and even a pig for Audrey and Elliot's job as petsitters, brought Isaac and his weed whip and lawnmower around town for his job doing yard work, tried our hand at trail horseback riding, popped popcorn for movie night, ate popsicles on the deck, and hung out.
hiking fun

happy gardener

swimming with cousins

cat sitting

camping

amusement park fun

fun with nana at the amusement park

trail riding near Estes Park

Church camp

Isaac had a lock in at church in May and part of the ice breaker was going around and saying where you were going for the summer. I was there because, although I am a few decades from middle school, I am part of the Middle School ministries at our church, so I get to hang out with our middle and high school students periodically. I cringed because I knew Isaac wouldn't have much to say on the topic and I worried that he'd feel left out or weird or any other less than adjective.

Kids were going to Greece and China and on a week-long backpacking trip, Florida and Ecuador and Turkey. Isaac was going to a week at church camp. Hmmmm. . . one of these things is not like the other one.

We stayed put and nothing happened and everything happened and the kids argued and I lost my temper and we laughed ourselves silly and made wonderful memories from our tiny, little corner of the universe. Isaac never mentioned that we didn't go on a grand adventure or big trip. Today, the two kids who aren't away at camp and I celebrated the waning moments of summer fun with a "not back to school" beach day. We invited a few friends who homeschool or whose child didn't have to be to school today to join us, and enjoyed the empty beach and playground. The kids played themselves ragged and the moms chatted and relaxed, and it was a great, unassuming end to a great, unassuming summer.



Thursday, August 10, 2017

Love and goodbyes

She knows all of the lyrics to recent rap and R&B music.

Her house is all brand new and angles and contemporary and red and white and gray.

Her dogs get groomed far more often than I do and at a much higher cost, too.

I mean, she doesn't like t-shirts, for Pete's sake.

Who is this woman?

She's my mom, and today is a big day in our little world. Somehow, in spite of all those differences, this woman birthed and raised me!

When we moved to Colorado, we came because we loved the state and, despite it looking like absolute nonsense on paper and confusing most people who saw us as so settled and involved in our community in Minnesota, it just felt right in our guts. Now, despite loads of difficulties and setbacks, it is our home. A delightful perk of CO life is that my mom lived one hour away from us. I haven't lived in the same state as my mom since I was 19 years old. She has always been very involved in our lives and extremely supportive of our family, but it's always been from a distance of many states away. When we moved here, that involvement, support, and love took the form of monthly sleepovers for one kid at a time to grow their relationship, periodic family dinners, birthday celebrations, and most holidays spent together. It has been an absolute gift.


Today that changes as my mom and stepdad begin a new adventure in California. Adding insult to injury is the fact that the move is not on their own timeline, but is brought about by medical reasons. Thankfully, it is nothing life threatening, but it is serious enough that a move is necessary.

To say we are sad is an understatement. It is this big pile of big emotions as we realize how dang fortunate we are to have so much loving family in our lives. As we realize how fortunate we are to have had the opportunity to live near them for almost three years. As we realize how fortunate we are to love and be loved so well. We really do know how fortunate we are.

But we want more. Because we are so terribly sad to say goodbye to the intimacy and time that only proximity allows. The love won't end, won't even fade, but everything else will change. A one hour drive turns into a 15 hour drive. Twice monthly visits become three or four times a year. I am a greedy human, aren't I?

I have truly cherished this time living near my mom, in spite of arguments and misunderstandings that are bound to come with two people who love each other, have intense similarities, extreme differences, and a deep need to communicate with all of the words as often as possible.

The bottom line is that I know I can be an adult and parent and live a beautiful life without living near my mom. I just really don't want to.

But I will. Obviously. The kids and I will cry some more, wipe our tears, and look forward to seeing nana and babu at Thanksgiving. We are so thrilled that my mom will feel so much better physically. We know they will make their new house into an amazing home and will fill it with friends and parties, contemporary design and rap music, but no t-shirts. We'll make sure we bring plenty when we visit.

What a day. Here's to new adventures.


Love you, mom.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Transitions

I like to think that I am pretty good at rolling with the punches. I used to be much more of a control freak, but one of the benefits of four kids is that I either had to chill out or go absolutely nuts. Most of the time, I choose chill out. That's not to say that I don't lose my cool or have moments where I want things to go a certain way at a certain time, but, for the most part, I temper my expectations, roll with it, and move forward feeling content and happy.

That's most of the time. Unfortunately, there are other times when I am hit with a tsunami of transitions, and I want to curl up into a ball with a loaf of bread and some brownies and ignore the world. I'm happy to report that I'm not there yet, but I wouldn't fault myself if I were.

On June 26, my third born turned 9. What a stupendous day of celebrating an adorably handsome, bright, kind, baseball loving, Harry Potter obsessed, animal whisperer, mostly introverted, fiercely loyal boy. Gosh, I love him, and watching him grow is and will always be a highlight of my life. Plus, so stinking cute.




On June 26, Jim started a new/old job at his new/old company. He started a new job last fall because his travel schedule was absolutely out of control, and it wasn't working for any of us. The new job promised less travel and a more reliable schedule. Some of that turned out to be true, but he was still traveling quite a bit, often with just a day's notice, and was not being compensated for it. Without going into all of the details, that job didn't work out and Jim started looking for a new position when he was offered a job with his old company. It was a very difficult decision and, with a solid level of trepidation, Jim accepted the job. We know it will involve travel, but that's pretty much par for the course in this field. How much travel? We have no idea.


On June 26, my mom and stepdad accepted an offer on their house that is an hour away from our family in order to move out of state. I haven't lived in the same state as my mom since I was 18 years old. When we moved to Colorado we moved because we loved the state, while acknowledging that being close to her was the most amazing bonus ever. It has proven to be as lovely as imagined. Actually, even better than imagined. She and my stepdad are incredible grandparents and amazingly supportive of our family. We still argue at times because it's what happens when you're so alike in the ways you're alike and so different in the ways that you're different, but, good grief, we love each other and we'll miss them like crazy. They are really sad to go, but it is the right decision for them.



 It's safe to say that June 26 and the days that followed were a doozies around here, with lots of emotions and tears and uncertainty.

Guess what else happened on the 26th? This is so cool! I was lamenting life in the dramatic way I am known to do. What can I say? I feel big. The highs are higher and the lows are lower. At any rate, we were meeting some friends at the park and after playing for a while they handed me an envelope of cash to use for whatever we need for foster care. (Now I just realized that I haven't even mentioned foster care on the blog, but this story only makes sense if I mention it, so I'll have to fill in the blanks at a later date. For the story's sake, we're trying to get licensed for foster care and have taken all of the classes and gone through all of the interviews, so we're in the wait stage. Did I mention we're in a stage of transition?) At any rate, they handed me a card full of encouragement and cash to support our family. Then I got home and another friend had mailed us a gift card to Target to use for whatever we need to support our hopefully expanding in the not from my belly way family. On a day that I was so down about so much that was, and remains, out of my control, the people around me lifted me up and encouraged me. The timing was perfect.

I'm not going to say God doesn't give us more than we can handle. Quite frankly, I think that's a load of bull. But. . . and this is a big But. . . God provides our daily bread. God provides people in our paths to lighten our load just when we think the burden is ours and ours alone. God provides. And as we step out in transitions and newness, these reminders came at just the right time.

Now it's August, and I've been sitting on this post since late June waiting to see how things will shake out. We still don't know. But I still know that God provides.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

fear, courage, and support on the high ropes

I have a kid who isn't a big fan of heights. It doesn't inspire terror, but it's not Isaac's favorite either. He has taken the walk of shame down the high dive a time or two in his life because it's just not his cup of tea. He and his sister arrived back home today from a week at camp. They do amazing things like white water raft on the Arkansas River, dance parties, skits based on biblical teachings with a strong dose of crazy and fun, hikes in the glorious surrounding mountains, and a high ropes course. Yep. High ropes course. He had the chance to do it last year and chose not to, but he really wanted to go for it this year. We'd talked about it, and I thought he'd probably do it, but there was also the possibility of a "walk of shame" once he got to the top.
white water rafting++
Our pastor spent the week at camp with the confirmation kids, so I got photographic proof that he did the high ropes course. I was so proud of him, especially after seeing the pictures because they do some freaky things up there! I could tell that it took some courage to do it. Once he was home, he told me the rest of the story.

The high ropes course is, obviously, about the challenge of high ropes, but is also a team building exercise. To that end, they go up in groups of four, two females and two males. Isaac said he enthusiastically chose to participate in the high ropes activity, saw it from the ground, and eagerly climbed the ladder. Of course, things look muuuuuuch higher from that angle, so he got a little nervous and second guessed his decision, but pulled it together and joined his group for safe, well-tethered, high ropes fun in the mountains 40 feet off the ground.
Smiles with a tinge of what the heck!
After the initial gut check, things were fine. Actually, things were very fun. . . right up until they weren't anymore. The snafu happened at the end of the course when the only way down is a zipline. There is a counselor there, plus two other people whose sole job is ropes course attendant. Isaac got to the zipline and was like, "nuh uh. nope." The other three people in his group went down. The group behind them went down. Eventually all other kids on the course had gone down, and still he sat. The director of the camp was down on the ground, but joined him up there once the other kids were done, keeping him calm, talking him through it, and encouraging him. His whole cabin was encouraging him and cheering for him. Eventually they had to head to lunch, and still he sat.
I think this part of the course is called islands. creepy!
When Audrey say her brother's cabin come back without her brother, she went over to his counselor to check on him. Hearing he was still at the ropes course, she asked her counselor for permission to go check on him. Granted permission, she ran over. She got there and shouted hello just as the camp director, who was standing behind Isaac, lifted him up, carefully held him over the edge, and let go. As soon as he was free of the ledge, Audrey saw Isaac beam with pride and enjoyment. It took an hour, literally, but he did it. With help and encouragement, he did it.

At our house, we talk about 20 seconds of courage. I have a few kids who are slow to warm to others. New situations intimidate them. We talk about how the initial leap of trying something new, talking to someone new, stepping out of your comfort zone is the most difficult, but after you take the leap, it's not so bad. In fact, it's usually enjoyable and exciting. Well, this particular situation required more than 20 seconds of courage, but it was certainly worth the wait. Isaac looks forward to doing it again next year now that he has the initial fear and success under his belt. As the camp director told him, "Once you do this, you'll feel like you can do anything."

Isaac and Audrey walked to the lunch area, and the kids from Isaac's cabin were still supporting and encouraging him by clapping and saying how glad they were that he did it. Man, I wish I could have seen that. My mama heart bursts that he was so supported and loved by his sister, his peers, his counselors, and everyone on the ropes course. There was no embarrassment or shame, only support and kindness.

I read the news, and I get smoke out of my ears angry at humanity. Thank God for the many reminders of the kindness and love of people. Those beautiful attributes were certainly on display at camp last week.

This little moment is a microcosm of life. We are never promised an easy life. We are promised a God who will provide our daily bread, who will provide people along the way to love and support us, and who will carry our burden when it becomes too much for us to carry alone. Isaac felt and experienced all of those things on the ropes course through the love and caring of God's people.

Amen.

++All photos courtesy of our loving and welcoming pastor.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

how did I get here?

I loaded up the suburban with four kids and a big cooler full of lunch and backpacks laden with pencils, water bottles, and snacks and drove down the hill (which is mountain folks' way of saying we went down the mountain to Denver) to attend our 3-day practicum for Classical Conversations. Classical Conversations is the homeschool community that we attend each Monday and that serves as the basis for our home education. It is a great fit academically for our family, has enriched our lives with wonderful friends and mentors, and has brought us closer to each other and to our Christian faith. How's that for a win/win/win situation?

Anyway, we arrived at the church that was hosting our practicum, and we sunscreened before walking across the parking lot to the church. My big kids grabbed backpacks and walked ahead of me while the littlest fellow, who isn't all that little anymore, held my hand as we looked both ways for cars before running to catch up with the others. It seems that Asher's main purpose in life is to look adorable, crack us up, and attempt to keep up with the others. No joke!

Another anyway, because if there's a tangent, I'm following it, I walked up behind my big kids and I wondered how I got here. It was this quiet, introspective, surreal moment in a day  of busy as I quietly assessed my little, big life. That's such a loaded, confusing, nebulous question. . . how did I get here? How did I, a women's studies and English major who was never getting married and never having kids because I was going to graduate from college, join the Peace Corps, and live a nomadic life of service and/or become a professor, end up as a home educating, Suburban driving, lunch packing, shoe tying, hand holding while we look both ways and cross the street, sharer of books, teller of stories, family adventure seeker, and off-key and exuberant singer of random tunes? Where do those two seemingly divergent paths intersect?

And how did I, the women who actually did get married (really young!) and did have babies (four, in fact, because go big or go home, I guess), become a mother of kids that can pack their own lunches and backpacks and attend Logic Camp and perform skits they made up based on the fallacies they learned about in Camp? How do I have a boy that is almost tall enough to look me in the eyes? How do I have a girl that all of our friends with younger kids want to use as their babysitter? How do I have a boy about to go to a week at camp without his mama? How do I have a boy who wears his little green hiking backpack to Day Camp and plays with the kids all day and comes home telling me all about how "the grown ups are sooooo nice to me and none of the kids were mean."

This is my life. It is exactly 0% how I pictured it. Maybe even negative 374% how I expected it. But, you know what? It's just exactly how it's supposed to be. Teenage and early college DeNae could never ever EVER ever have known what was coming down the pike. I wouldn't have believed one iota of it if someone had read an accurate crystal ball of my life at 40. Most days, I still can't believe it.

It turns out I wasn't meant to travel the world to live and share my passions. At least not yet. Right now my place, my life, my calling is with these five people, two mutts, and a fat cat that I call family. God called me here, right here within these four walls of a fixer-upper in our little mountain town instead, and I'm gobsmacked, honored, and thrilled. I'm also in over my head, tired of cleaning the kitchen, and constantly reprioritizing so we aren't stretched too thin.

So, how did I get here? God brought me here. I believe this is the life God planned for me and brought me to, one unexpected fork in the road at a time. I won't pretend to have any idea what's coming next. Clearly my track record for accurately envisioning the future hovers around 0/24,498. Regardless of how I got here and how much it differs from my expectations, I am so ridiculously grateful that all paths led to this space in time with these people.

Friday, June 23, 2017

teen and toddler

I have a boy who makes me nervous when he runs down steep hills because his wee, little, still chubby legs get going so fast that his body can hardly keep up and I feel a tremor of fear that he'll wipe out big time.

I have a boy who puts in his own contact lenses and leaves for the weekend with a friend and his family to go watch baseball in a beautiful resort town in Colorado.

I have a boy who gets so tired from his days at day camp, aka VBS, that he needs to be in bed by 7 pm and requires lots of mama snuggles and books to get him from 2:30 to bedtime.

I have a boy who goes from day camp to a job mowing lawn, pulling weeds, and weed whacking to a weekend away with friends with plenty of energy.

I have a boy who requests the same book over and over and needs to go in a stroller on long walks and requires my help in the bathroom.

I have a boy who emails me updates on his weekend away and takes a trip to Mexico with me to build a home with Casas por Cristo.

I have a boy whose biggest concern is what's for breakfast and how many books he can read before bed.

I have a boy who is finding his place in the world and navigating friendships and internet usage and the beginning baby steps of making his own big decisions.

I am parenting these two very different stages, plus two more in the middle, and it is beautiful and tiring, challenging and fabulous, all wrapped into one. They share a special bond, my teen and toddler, my oldest and youngest. They have a special handshake and elbow bumps and hugs before bed, books read cuddled on couches and beds and baseball in the front yard, a tackle game that no one else understands and a love of bopping the balloon. Seeing them together for the first time almost 4 years ago sent me right over the edge of love and amazement, and seeing them now only confirms that God gave us just what we needed when our cuatro joined the family.


There are times that both of them are crabby. At the same time, you guys. Toddler and teen crabbies at the same time are not cool. Hormones and toddler-iness are more than a person should have to handle in the same 30 second period. I mean, the audacity of these boys! Those are the times I want to hide in the bathroom until things calm down out in the wild habitat of my living room, but that really isn't a long-term solution. So I wade in and do my best to handle the situations without joining them in crazy town. Sometimes I succeed and other times I take the short and well-worn highway to crazy town until one of us finds our footing and sets us on the path back to the land of chill.



We're all learning. We're all finding our way. These boys of mine will be men someday. I take that responsibility tremendously seriously. For one of them, that day is fast approaching, which makes me so proud and also so prone to vomiting. For the other, I'm thinking solo bathroom trips will precede the transition to manhood, so we have a few more years. Thank goodness.


At any rate, being mama to these boys is one of life's greatest honors. My teen and my toddler. My oldest and youngest. Two pieces of my heart and soul walking around on earth for all the world to love and wound. What a gift.