How can it be that this sweet little boy is 23 today?
This photo was cropped from a photo taken in August 1996 as James was leaving home to help his friend and colleague Chris move to Vancouver.
It is also the very first photo of the kids that I was ever given, not long before I got to meet them the very first time.
If you'd have told me then, that 17 years later, I'd have many years behind me of being a wife, custodial step-parent and zookeeper, I'd have probably laughed at the thought. There was no part of the scenario that I'd imagined for myself. I never dreamed I'd leave the lower mainland area to go ANYwhere else.. much less across the country..
Though as it seems to go in life, the best things always seem to come to me when I'm not looking for them, and often when I'm not expecting them. At least over the years I've gotten better at recognizing these blessings when they present themselves.
Justin was just 5 years old in this picture. I was out visiting in September that year, and we were all talking about his upcoming 6th birthday. I asked him what he wanted for his birthday and he thought for a few moments before whispering in my ear that he wanted me to come to his birthday party.
I'd never been declared a birthday gift before, but we managed to make it happen. There were some big happy smiles waiting for me that day. I know *I* won't ever forget them.
This is another favourite photo of the 3 little bears..
Can you tell they were enjoying a little chocolate?
Here's a photo of our youngest, and our eldest taken a couple of months ago..
Time sure flies..
Today, as you celebrate your 23rd trip around the sun, your father is telling the story of the salad tongs and the day of your birth. Caelly has just exclaimed "OMG Justin is 23 today!" and is bugging Dad to see if he feels old yet. Caryn is out in Brockville somewhere preparing to make you an uncle.
As for me, I'm right here at home reminding you that no matter how far away from home you are, or just how old you get, that you always have a home to come home to, and loving arms to hug you.
Back then your favourite hobbies were reading and computer games, you loved playing with Lego (or at least spreading it all over the floor for Daddy to walk on - LOL) .. though many things in our world have changed - your hobbies remained fairly consistent.
You may be grown now, but you will ALWAYS be our little boy, and your sisters' "brother bear." Funny how as I type that I am reminded of the girls' and their "Mary-Kate and Ashley phase" and Caryn running around the house singing brother for sale.. some days I'd wonder how you guys all managed to survive without killing one another..
As your stepmom -- Teemy or Teemy-Mommy as you named me way back when.. I have had the pleasure of sharing in the lives of not one, but 3 little bears who over the years have brought me to laughter and tears - sometimes all at the same time. They say that parents teach their children, but I have learned much from you.
On this day and every day.. I love you!
but especially today.. your birthday..
Sending you an abundance of love and hugs along with my every wish that this year be the best one yet.
You have had many trials and lessons thrown at you this year. You've made it through the worst, the best is yet to come.
Just hang in there babe.
And now for a little less mushy and serious... XO