First, I think you’re both crazy. The fact that you want to go into a Superpipe is insane. It has 22 foot vertical walls and is made out of ice. You charge into it at full speed with the intent of riding up that huge wall as fast as you can and jumping up out of the pipe and flipping and spinning. If you wipe out, there could be dire consequences - you could fall more than 22 feet. Regardless of the danger, you both drop in…one right after the other. You share a common dream of one day being on the podium at the X Games. Jack, you’ve been training for this for years and your love of freestyle skiing has certainly rubbed off on your little brother. Because he knows you will only bring him with you where you know he will be safe, he blindly follows you. It is a big responsibility for you to take on…making sure your brother is safe. I am continually impressed by your drive to learn new things and push yourself even harder than you did the day before. Your little brother is watching you like a hawk. He thinks you are larger than life and will follow wherever you go. You are actively shaping who he is.
I’ve lost count of the times I would remind you that he just wants to be included in what you do. I know there have been so many times that you’d rather not listen. Because he’s on the spectrum, he just approaches most things in a totally different way than you do, and that can create a lot of frustration since you are such a perfectionist and rule follower. In those moments, I was there to remind you that he just wants to be included in what you do. There was a phase where he would play quietly near you because to him that was as good as being included. In those moments, I was there to remind you that he just wants to be included in what you do. After so many reminders, I’ve seen it sink in. I’ve seen so many moments that you include him in what you are doing. I’ve seen you encourage others to include him. And I know because of him, you are right there to play with friends at school that may just do things in a different way. Without judgement. Only with a loving heart. And I really can’t tell you how proud that makes me!
Everywhere we go you both have to find the biggest tree and climb it. We recently started walking Luna every evening around this lake and you have fallen in love with this tree specifically. Every time we go here, you both spend the time gathering sticks and climbing into the tree to build your own secret “tree house.” I love when I see you both bonding and building not only houses, but memories together. This little lake has definitely become a place where I truly enjoying taking you and look forward to doing with you both every evening.
You have a little shadow. A messy, noisy little shadow. Cam watches and attempts to imitate everything you do. And although it drives you crazy at times, I know you feel the love that he pours over you as he stares at you with joy. Because to him you are the whole world. You are the one who shows his how to get dressed, how to build forts, how to get cozy on the couch, how to dig at the beach, how to everything. I know that it can be hard to be followed constantly by someone who doesn't always understand the rules of play but you are amazing with him. Truly amazing. And when I think of the future when you two are grown, I have no doubt that you will fill this role just as well as you do now.
Colton is sitting up so well these days. He still needs some supervision when supporting himself, but in no time at all he will not need any help from us at all. I can see your excitement, Xander, and enthusiasm, as Colton gets bigger and more mobile, because as he does, he becomes more and more able to play with you. You two were born to be brothers. The more I see you interact, the more I see how much you care for your little brother, the more I realize that you would never have been truly fulfilled without him in your life.
I love adventuring with you kids more than you will ever know. You see the world through untainted glasses and your view of your surroundings is that of pure amazement. This month's adventures brought us to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. We hiked, we climbed on huge rocks, we talked about how the rocks formed, the beautiful colors we were seeing, and if we would find any snakes on the trail like the signs said. Watching you guys explore brings me so much joy. You boys are far more brave than your older sister. Part of that is due to your boyhood and the fact that you are both fearless and have no depth perception, your sister on the other hand just knows more about the dangers of the outdoors. Your little brother tries his hardest to keep up with you, you let him as if you already know that life and your adventures are going to be far more enjoyable and memorable with your favorite little tagalong. I admire you boys and your budding relationship everyday, in fact I often am just mesmerized by the two of you and how close you are for being 2 and a half years apart. I hope you continue to cherish each other in the coming years as I cherish everyday with you kids.
This place where we live is more than I could have ever asked for. I enjoy sitting in the pasture surrounded by the cows listening to them graze. I love sitting on the back porch watching the two of you fight over the four wheeler, or the baseball bat, or.. ok everything...that’s not my point. I enjoy our special place in our little house on top of the hill with our animals and beauty all around us. I do love all of those things, but this place isn’t my home. You are my home, the two of you and your Daddy are my home. I love your hugs, your “I love you Momma’s” and playing ice cream shop on the porch. My life would never me the same without you and I don’t think that I would ever be “at home”. Love you both more than I could ever put into words.
You really don't play together yet, in the typical sense. Bright colored baby toys seem to have universal appeal though, and the little play gym seems to be everyone's favorite.
In your 11 months on this Earth, you have made it clear that you will not be ignored or left behind. You always seem to be one step ahead of us all Gryffin, and we are all constantly trying to keep up. At no point in time is it OK for Archer to do anything that doesn’t include you, and when he tries you will do everything in your power to join in. I would say that the “annoying little brother” stage has begun.
My boys. This month has been hard. It seems as though you’ve been fighting more than you’ve been friends. “I hate you” has outnumbered “I love you”. I’ve been struggling too. Many days I’ve gone back through old photographs of you boys just to remind myself that you do love each. You are best friends. Some days are just really tough. But when I see photos such as this one from two years ago — when one morning looked over as I cooked breakfast and saw you two sitting in the most perfect pocket of light. Big brother “reading” to little brother. And when I see these moments once again, my heart swells and I am reminded that all is right in the world.
You two have become the best of friends but more importantly you have learned HOW to be someone's friend. "Treat him the way you want to be treated", "You catch more flies with honey"... These are life lessons that we have repeated to you millions of times and I'm so proud to see you truly caring about each other's feelings and being there for one another. I get those warm fuzzies when you include each other and want to play together on the same team. I really do feel like I am shaping and nurturing two tiny humans that are going to one day go out in the real world and succeed. Whether or not you like it you two are stuck together so you might as well enjoy it!
GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: GRETCHEN WILLIS
Oh, my sweet boy. I never knew how much you needed a little brother until he was born. Sure you had two little sisters but it's not the same thing. I see that you've carved a special place in your heart for your baby brother. Having children is that way, as you will one day realize: they fill a space in your heart that you never knew was empty before. It's that way with him for you. And it's that way for both of you with me.