Hooligan Zoo

Two Zookeepers… many Hooligans… It's always feeding time at this zoo!


Dear Keyzia,

Whew.  It’s been a long time since I last wrote a birthday post, but the momentous occasion of my beautiful oldest daughter turning sixteen seems to warrant dusting off the old blog, and getting the fingers to tapping.

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Well, I think the past sixteen years have gone pretty well, don’t you?  Other than the extreme pain of birth (I know, I know), poo-splosions, moving one billion times…  you’ve turned out not too bad at this age, if I do say so myself.

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I guess your dad had a tiny little bit to do with that.  But don’t tell him I gave him any credit.


There are so many things about you that I love, that I don’t even know where to start.  I love that your best friend is a boy.  I love that you are kind and compassionate.  I love that you often see a need, or see someone hurting, and you jump in to try and make it better.  You are a giver, my lovely, and I am so glad to see the work that God is doing on your heart to make you so much like Him.


Your heart for our foster kids, and the way that you have spoken into each of their lives, is something that was truly amazing to see.  They will always have a little piece of you with them, and for that I am glad.


You are ever willing to pull a goofy smile.  To make dorky jokes with your dad that make me groan, and him laugh until his eyes close.


In spite of your infrequent teen tantrums, you have been an amazing daughter to watch grow into this wonderful and beautiful young lady.


I love to watch you with your animals.  You feel so deeply for them, and have an incredible talent with healing and showing them compassion…  and yes, I know that compassion is a word I’ve used here a lot, but it’s what you are at your core.  Your compassion draws people to you, it makes people want to talk to you, and you will forever have to be careful not to take on others’ hurts as your own.


Guard your heart, lovely, but also don’t be afraid to give it.  I know, it’s a delicate balance, and one that even I’m still learning.


Soon, too soon, even though I know you think it’s not soon enough, you will be moving out and having your own life.  I see you preparing for that even now.  I pray that you will always come to me with your problems, even the silly ones, and that you will be able to gather people around you that are encouraging and uplifting.


I just love you so much, oldest girl, that my heart is full.  I’m so proud of you and who you are becoming.  You are a wonderful, smart, talented, amazing child of God.  And that will always be enough for you.  You are self assured, and you never forget who and whose you are.  You are His.  And He has given you to your daddy and I for our time on earth, and for that I am truly thankful.


I love you, chicken whisperer.  You are amazing, and I hope that you never forget that.


Happy sixteenth.  It’s going to be the best year yet!

Much love,

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10 years and 2 months

Almost 2 months ago we celebrated the decade it’s been since the day I thought I had indigestion… the day when you decided you were finished with the cozy confines, and were ready to meet the world.


Why am I writing this post two months after that auspicious day? I think because it has taken me this long to come to terms with the fact that I have now been a mother for a decade.

Ten years ago I held you, my first born. Your daddy cried, as he did for all of you, but for you? It was the first time.

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You are our first everything. Our first daughter, the first grandchild. The first child I nursed, the first that learned to use the potty. The first to have tantrums, the first to learn to ride a bike.

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Ten has been hard so far. Last week my heart broke into little pieces when you laid your head on my lap and cried… you cried about how the boys always want you to do boy things. About how sometimes you want to do boy things too, but more often you want to do girl things. About how you don’t want to let the boys down, but most of the time, you don’t even know what you want to do. Who you want to be.

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In the past ten years you’ve wanted to be a ballerina, a gardener, a doctor, a mama, a teacher… right now you want to be a writer SLASH pianist.

Some days you are amazing with your little sister. Playing horseland, dolls, kitchen, whatever other kind of game you can think of. Other days you just want her to leave you alone.

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For your birthday this year, you decided to cut off your very long hair and donate it to have wigs made out of. My heart just about burst in that moment, and even more so when you were sad to see it go.

I think that you have been neglected in the past. Ephraim has demanded a lot of attention with food issues… with… well, Ephraim issues. Talya is the baby. You are the oldest, and therefor the most responsible. The one who takes care of herself. Lately, through your attitude, you have reminded me that you need me MORE now than maybe you ever did.


I’ve always thought that parenting was hard. I’ve only just realized that the past ten years have been the easy ten. NOW is when it gets hard. Now is when you notice boys, now is when you need guidance, now is when you are really figuring out who you are, and what God has planned for you in this life. Now is when you need us the most.


It’s a tough place to be, ten is. I remember ten (even though you roll your eyes when I tell you that). The pull to be more grown up, the yearning to stay a child. The wanting the more, but not being ready for it at the same time.

The other day you were sobbing on your bed, and your daddy asked me what was going on. I may have frustratedly said to him, “THIS? Is our life now!”

But you know what? This isn’t our life now. Because the sunshine always comes after the rain.

Every single day you amaze me with your determination, your thoughtfulness, your gentle nature. You are one smart cookie, my daughter, and God has great things planned for you.

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Sometimes, sometimes when I look at you, when I see your frustration with your sister and brother, when I see you wanting more, when I see you unsure, frightened… I see myself there. I see myself in you. I often pray that you would get the good things, and not be saddled with my bad things. My idiosyncrasies. I want you to not have to struggle the way I did. I want to take all the painful parts of growing up, the dealing with boys, the insecurity, the wondering who you are; I want to take that from you. Take it and make it smooth.

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I want your heart not to get broken, and yet I’m sure that it will. I want you to never feel like you aren’t enough, and yet I’m sure that you will. I want you to always KNOW, always always know that you are loved and cherished. You are a smart, beautiful, intuitive, sweet hearted young lady. You are a child of God. You are important, and you are special.

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And when you forget those things? Daddy and I will be here to remind you.


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Halfway done…


I have a nine year old daughter. It seems like just yesterday I was doing the time honoured struggle of the first time mom. The doubting of my decisions, the absolutely in love with and taken by our new little daughter. The joy and that shiver that came through my stomach when I thought, God gave you to us. To us. He trusted us enough to have you, this perfect little chunky bundle of joy.

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And now? Now I look at you, and you have become this tall willowy young lady. This young woman you’re becoming who has an impeccable sense of fairness, and has difficulty learning that sometimes things are just. not. fair.


You are hurt easily. Your Daddy and I have to be very careful when we discipline you because you can easily be torn down. You feel for people. You cry when you feel wronged, you cry when you do wrong yourself. I can see so much of myself in you that sometimes I ache for what I know you’re going to have to learn in life. Some lessons that I have already learned, some lessons that I can’t protect you from.


The world is a hard hard place. I hate that you have to know that. I am glad that you are grounded in a faith that there is a God who is bigger than we are. A God who holds you in his hand. You once said to me that sometimes God rocks you to sleep when you’re scared. Your faith is one that I yearn for… ache to have my self. That simple knowledge that He is there and that He loves you.

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You are so multitalented. Knitting. Sewing. Bird watching. I love it when you sit outside and “talk” to the chickadees. You are much like me in that way too… getting an idea in your head, and just going for it. There’s a lot of learning in that kind of lack of planning. Lessons that we seem to be learning together.

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You are a voracious reader. I have a hard time keeping up with what you’re reading! We try to keep you supplied with good reading material, but you will have four or five books on the go at a time, and be able to tell me without a doubt what is happening in each book.

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Someone said to me not that long ago that we’re finished with the easy half of parenting you. That from this point on, things are going to be more difficult. Things are going to get bigger. Problems are going to be more complex.


I know, though, that we can do it. You are going to be such a lovely woman. You have an amazing heart, such a willingness to serve. I can see that in you when we volunteer at the Early Years Centre and you manage to gather up all the small children to do a circle. When you’re quietly reading to your brother and sister. When you gently ask me if there’s anything you can do to help.

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Your Daddy and I are so very proud of the woman you are becoming, and we can’t wait to walk this journey along side of you.

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Happy birthday my darling first born.


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And then she was Four.

Ah Talya.

You, who will be the last baby that we birth.  The last baby that I nursed.  You who all the firsts are also becoming the lasts in this house, you are four.


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I remember your sweet pudginess, right from birth.  How cuddly you were.  How you wanted to be held all the time, how “moo” was your favourite thing ever.

And now here you are, four years old.  Four seems so… old… with you.  It’s not a toddler anymore.  It’s not a baby anymore.  Four is independent.  Four is being able to dress yourself, four is imaginative, four is singing all the time.

Inside or Out Pocket Pants, size 5

You are happy when you are the centre of our attention.  But, you are not happy to be singled out in a group.  You want us to see how high you can jump now that you’re four.  You want us to watch how fast you can run.  Comment on how beautiful your pictures are.

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You insisted that when you turned four, no one would be able to recognize you. That your Sunday school teacher would be shocked that you were four now.

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Four is going to hold big things for you, you told us. When asked what those big things were, you just grinned at us in your monkeyish way.

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You are still the snuggliest child. You love to climb into bed with either us or your brother. I’m sure if your big sister could stand to sleep with anyone, you’d be right there in bed with her. You’ve been that way ever since your dramatic entrance into the world, content as long as you were close to a warm body.

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I love the way you sing about everything. From pooping, to what’s for dinner, you have a song for it. You’ll play intricate little games with everything, from the counting bears, to the bucket of markers. There’s always a mom and a dad and several kids… usually in song.

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You, my sweet Talya are just absolutely perfect. Stubborn. Joyful. Giggly. Full of songs. You are a joy, and I am so thankful for you. We wouldn’t be complete without you.

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My handsome boy. You were born seven years ago on the day that the doctors guessed you would be here. It was a challenging pregnancy, my first round of post partum depression, and yet here you were, this handsome squalling little thing.

Toothless Eph!

The past year has brought many things with you. Things like losing your first teeth, starting to learn to read. Getting your first CT scan.


Deciding not to STOP smashing rocks with a hammer, but deciding that you would definitely be more careful about it.

You are my surprising child. I can’t even count the times that you have shocked me with your perseverance, with your heart of gold. Son, I hope you keep that heart. The part that feels so deeply for everyone and everything around you. Your bravery at confronting an injustice, even when that might mean having anger turned on you.

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I love how INTO things you get. “Great persevering!” is a refrain commonly heard in this house. From spending two hours in a break until you were ready to come and talk about what was done wrong, to spending hours building a lego model. A K’nex model. Colouring a picture. Building a fort in your room. Smashing rocks with hammers. Your perseverance in getting the job done is a great lesson to me as well. If it’s work doing, it’s worth spending the time on to do it right and to get it done. I love that about you.


We are just now figuring out some food and behaviour issues for you. It’s a tricky thing, because when you are happy? When you aren’t hungry and things are going well? You are the best kind of kid to be around. Cautiously willing to try just about anything, easy going. Helpful. But, when you are hungry and things are not just as you would like them to be? Then your rage is fearsome to watch. I hope and pray that we can figure this out so that you can be that sweet sweet boy all the time.

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Oh Ephraim, you are the middle child. The only boy. I love to watch you as you figure things out in this world. You are so very black and white when it comes to rules. You don’t like anything that deviates from what you know to be truth. Not even in the slightest.

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You hold me to my word. If I say I’m going to do something, you can darned well bet that you will be the one who gently reminds me of what I said.

I love you, handsome boy. I wouldn’t change a thing about you, and I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for you this year!

Now that is happiness


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Ah Zi.  My wonderful and delightful first born.  As a baby you were so easy going…  slept well at night (albeit not during the day).  It seems like just yesterday I went into the hospital with what we thought were indigestion pains…  and now, now, I look at you, the young lady that you are, that you are becoming, and I am amazed, I am so thankful, and I am awed.

It’s so funny when I watch you, when you do things exactly the same way that I used to do them. Making your friends sweet little gifts that adults see as useless, gently intervening between fighting toddlers…

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This year has brought a new side of you. Where before you were happy to romp around with the boys for hours and hours, you do tire of them after a little while now. Curling up to read, get a break from their “foolishness”. Even tho you may have been the instigator in whatever maniacal opportunity that has presented itself at that moment.  Climbing trees, floating in the spring full sandbox in a rubbermaid…

Kid Extravaganza!

You are all girl, delicate frills, creative, bookworm, and yet, put you in the middle of a pile of mud, add some worms, and that is your element as well. I love your adaptability. I love how you walk to the beat of your own drummer, how you don’t care what others think of you. I love how you have no fear to tell someone, even your peers, when they are doing something that you think is wrong.

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I love your tenacity. How even when you’re frustrated, you still keep at it. Going and going until you figure it out.  You do this with sewing, with knitting, and tonight, on your birthday, you even learned to spin.

I love your freedom and your joy in the Lord.  How you will talk about His love with just about anyone.  I love your acceptance, your simple faith in what is good and what is right.

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I tell people all the time that you are “that” child. That you learn things easily. That you LOVE to learn. That once you saw that there were “words everywhere!” We could not hold you back if we had tried.

You take that will to learn in everything you do.  I watch you listening to your instructor carefully…  you try it, you fall, you just as simply get back up again and try it again.  It doesn’t seem to matter how often the fall happens, how many bruises there are, your determination will get you through.

You are the epitome of big sister. You love your siblings, and yet you hate them at the same time. You want to play with them, want to be with them, but you can turn on a dime and despise them. Screeching at them to get out of your room, leave you alone…

It’s getting hard to read you these days.  Where once a tickle fight was just about always welcome, now it may throw you into a fit… sending you screaming to your room to slam the door.  It’s a delicate balance, this hovering on the edge of womanhood.  You are mostly child, but you have one foot, one toe over the line.

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“You know how it is, Mama.” You say, “You’re the oldest too.” And I do know. I know absolutely.

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Eight is going to be a hard age, I think. For both of us. You are ready for more responsibility. A wee bit more freedom. I am not ready for you to be more than my baby, my wee little girl… To me, you are still that sweet baby, all ready to curl up in my arms. God made you to grow away from me… and that is the hardest part of being a parent. Learning when to let go.  Trusting that He will guide you, that He will protect you when you are away from the protective circle of your Daddy’s and my arms.

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Learning when to let you turn the spindle on your own. Figuring out when to let you fall, only helping you up when you ask. Letting you make mistakes, and helping you figure out how to make those mistakes right.

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When all I really want to do is hold you tight and protect you from all the woes of the world. All of that while at the same time letting you be a child.

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I cannot wait to see what the world of eight is going to bring us!

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And I am so very very glad that eight is not too old for spinning.



Ah Six.

Ephraim, my one and only son, my firstborn boy, you are six years old.  SIX!  When did that happen?  When did you end up on the closer side to ten??  I feel like just yesterday I was in labour and giving birth to you.  Snuggling you in your newness…

And now?

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Now you are this big… well. BOY.

You have attitude (you must get it from your father).

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You are tenacious, you are strong, you are all boy.


You are always building things… anything. With sand, with lego, with blocks. If you’re not building, then you’re ripping things apart. Always with single minded intensity. When people ask your Daddy and I what kind of a hooligan you are, we always tell them that you bring a lot of intensity to the game. Once you are grown, I will always remember that about your childhood. Revel in it.


Within your intensity is that small boy you have always been, even though you get incredibly angry with me whenever I call you “little.” You screech with rolling eyes, “MaMA! I AM NOT LIT-TUL!” I can feel the rage roll off of you, the desire to be seen as big. Just more of your intensity.


My boy, while you are stubborn, while you are intense, you are in equal parts soft hearted and kind. Your heart is very very big, and you feel things very deeply.

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You are quick to complement all the ladies in your life. Telling us we look nice. That we did a good job on something. Hugging us when we’re sad. I love it when you put your hand on my face and say that you love me.

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Ah, Ephraim. You are not the first in our little family to turn six. But, you are my first experience with living, learning and growing with a six year old boy. You have turned my world upside down since that day six years ago when I first held you in my arms. I see the beauty in the world through YOUR eyes. The way you see how you can make this into that, and that into this. How much better it would be if we could just smash that thing over there to tiny bits and burn it up.

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I love how easy it is to make your entire day wonderful. Surprising you with cake for breakfast…

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I love that you said this was the best birthday ever, when all we did was spend the day with you. When all we did was let you choose what we were going to do with your day.

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I love that the simple castle blocks your Daddy made you could be coated in gold you love them that much.

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I love that you told me just a few days before you turned six that you would never be too big or too old to snuggle me. I love that you told me that while curled up in my lap, your hand buried in my hair.

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Happy Birthday, darling son. You will never be too old or too big for me to snuggle either.

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There are so many things about SEVEN. New things, old things. Seven is grown up. Seven is no longer a child. And yet at the same time, seven IS a child and seven is NOT grown up.

Seven is determined.

Seven is friendships with boys and girls.

Seven is creative.

Seven is being a big sister, and always having someone copy you.

Seven is learning how to read, and being able to do it well enough to read to your friends.

Seven is silly.

Seven is getting your ears pierced.

Seven is being shy. Being vulnerable. Seven is feelings that are easily hurt. Seven is the gateway to growing up.

Most of all? Seven is beautiful. And I wouldn”t change her for anything.

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