One of the questions we most often hear in regards to our family is,

“Do all the kids get along?” 
The answer is yes.  They have gotten along beautifully from day one.  They met, bonded, would become annoyed with one another and then act like best friends two seconds later.  Within months they acted as if they had always known each other.  People have commented on how it seems like our family was always meant to be, and we feel that as well.   They all look like they could be blood brothers and sisters, their names flow as if one set of parents named them, and usually most folks can not figure out which are Ryan’s blood and which are my blood. We love this and it makes all of them more secure in the knowledge that we are one big, generally happy family.  
Caleb and Tate, our 10 year olds, act like typical brothers.  They usually complement each other really well.  Caleb is quiet, introverted, really smart, a ferocious reader and a first born.  Tate is also a first born, although he doesn’t fit the typical first born mold as well as his older brother; which is interesting because he technically gave up the title of first born when we joined families in 2011.   Tate is extroverted, life of the party, never knew a stranger, and confidently throws himself into anything.  Caleb has brought calm and structure to Tate, and Tate has brought confidence and a social aspect to Caleb.  They are like ying and yang or some kind of crazy. 
Mya and Mabel are like peanut butter and jelly.   Mya is quiet, introverted, not so sure of herself in new situations, so helpful and really wants to please those in authority – kind of like a smooth spread of jiffy.  Mabel on the other hand – there is nothing quiet about this child, she’d be jalapeño jelly if she were a flavor – the life of any and all parties. We never worry about her hiding information from us or being sneaky because she’s the type of person who just does whatever she’s going to do boldly and in your face, regardless of what you think about it!  We joke that we will be dragging her down from telephone poles one day (or hopefully not other types of poles).  She is extremely colorful, loud, extroverted and smart as well.  We discovered, to our amazement , that she is quite intelligent. At a recent parent teacher conference we were informed that Mabel was moving up from her kindergarten reading curriculum to 1st grade curriculum because she had completed all of her work. These two sisters are as well, a perfect mix of two delicious, two completely different substances to make one dang good sandwich at the end of the day.  Mya helps Mabel, she mothers her, encourages her, and I truly believe that Mabel pushes Mya out of her shell a bit.  They are going to be an interesting pair to watch as they enter their teenage years.  
Luke has enriched all of our lives in ways we could have never predicted.  He has opened the eyes of the kids to how special those who are different from the “normal” can be.   As a family we have cheered on his accomplishments, like walking, talking, and waving goodbye, and we all prayed intensely as he was rushed to ER yet again.   Luke’s favorite person right now is Mya.  She recently began feeding Luke breakfast on the weekends. We agreed to this arrangement because, honestly, it bought us an hour of sleep.  We decided to have a trial run one morning and she did fantastic.  She got him up, fed him his breakfast, washed his face, hands, and tray, and then brought him back to his room where he was promptly placed in front of a video. One morning when I was awake early, I fed him, cleaned him up, took him out of his chair and attempted to bring him to his room and that’s when he saw Mya out of the corner of his good eye.   He immediately left my side, walked over to his sister, grabbed her hand and they started singing Veggi Tales together.  Hand in hand, 8 year old Mya led her very special 8 year brother down the stairs to his room.  
Josh and Jada, the three year olds, -they play together, fight together, and have each others backs against all of the bigger predators of the house.  They will never know life without one another and they will never know life any differently than what they have now.  I envision them being best friends for years to come. Every child wants to feel truly a part of a family unit, and I really believe that all of our kids feel like we are a family, mom and dad, brothers and sisters, joyous days and pain in the rear days. It has been a huge blessing to not have sibling issues or even any catastrophic parent/child struggles so far.   We had one major incident when 1 year old Josh met 1 year old Jada for the first time.  They were both standing on my old deck getting to know each other.  Josh had not been around other small kids very often, and he had a tendency to be a little mischievous.  Jada also was not used to being around another little person about her age, and she tended to shy away from this creature with a sly smile etched across his face.  Ryan and I were visiting with one another and within one split second, Josh saw Jada standing at the top of the deck steps and decided to reach out and push her down 8 wooden stairs.  She lost her first tooth that night; to the utter amazement of her older brothers and sisters.  
They all get along, and we are eternally grateful for that, and it just goes to show, when God is in the midst of the journey, things just seem to fall into place in unexpected, yet beautiful ways.  He makes all things beautiful.
Beauty from ashes…

Just keep livin!!

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