A Positive Spin on a Twisted Year

Post by:  Jason Barks

As random as it is, I was just thinking this morning how life would make an incredible amusement ride.  I've heard so many times the shitty expression that life "has its ups and downs."  Really?  That's all your life has?  Because I feel like my life has come complete with ups and downs, corkscrews, figure-eights, twists, turns, and I'm sure a complete stop somewhere in there, not for amusement purposes mind you, but just to be completely freaking unpredictable.  In fact, the very act of me writing this is a complete loopty loop.  In short, I have never been one to sit down and write anything.   Not because I didn't have opinions, not because I couldn't think of anything to say, but because I simply couldn't bring myself to sit down and do the physical act of writing (or typing, technically).  Once or twice at my wife's behest, I have produced the random blog, usually about something where a guys perspective might be nice.  This typically happens after a great deal of coaxing, poking, prodding (and none of those within a sexual context).  She typically has a way of getting me to do things that I don't want to do (which, to be honest, is usually in my best interest.)  Simply put, for as far back as I can remember, I have just never been able to make myself sit down and do any task that requires the least bit of mental focus.  I mean, I'm a smart guy, or at least I think so.  But then again, I also think I'm ruggedly handsome and have the back muscles of Vin Diesel . . . so perhaps I'm not the best to judge.  Either way,  I have at least had the mental wherewithal to do most of the tasks that I have spent my life trying to avoid.  My problem has always just been struggling to get myself to do them. I can poignantly remember the feeling of watching everyone turn in their homework and knowing that, once again, I don't have mine.  At that moment, I would feel like such a failure and I would resolve not to feel that way again.  Apparently, making futile promises to myself was one of the latent talents I would later continue to develop, along with procrastination and "pseudo-apathy."

 I got by just fine in elementary school because most of the work was required in class and there was very little choice in the matter when it came to completing it.   The higher the grade level, the more things like homework actually counted towards my final grade.    By this time, of course, I had adopted the "class clown" persona and it became "my thing" to continually get either thrown out of class or at least made to sit by myself.  I think I ate lunch standing up with the rest of the delinquents most of my seventh and eighth grade year.  I got pretty adept at eating my triangular pizza in one hand while holding my lunch tray in the other.  Taking a couple of bites of pizza, gently placing the slice back on the tray freeing my hand for a sip or two of milk, and then repeating.  Needless to say, it was a delicate balance (but I got plenty of practice.)  I also, became really good at cleaning the cafeteria, which was also a task for troublemakers like myself.  I didn't mind because I was usually pretty well-rested after having slept through forty-five minutes of Geometry.  By the time I had gotten into high school they were already trying to demote me to "tech prep" classes which was the unsaid track for hooligans, dumbasses, "retards"(not the literal handicapped), and the rest of us who had little expectation to succeed.  It is a sickening, sobering feeling to know that those around you expect less than what you know you are capable of.  Apparently, it was no red flag to anyone that assessment tests continued to place me at the higher percentages of my class but my academic record was pathetic.

Anyways, of course this trend continued into my college years, where I enjoyed every class, excitedly soaked up every bit of in-class information and continued to bomb the shit out of most of my classes.  I realize this probably reads like a crappy Lifetime, "made for tv" biography about some person you've never heard of.  Also,  I'm not sure exactly how I derailed by delving in to all of this needless background information about how I barely graduated high school.  I apologize for that.  My intent was to show how quickly things can change in a year, and how too often that change is brought about by some of the most unpredictable events.  Here I sit, in 2012, writing a blog (completely on my own accord), having just finished the final book of a trilogy last night (after reading for over four hours).  This might be common practice for some, but for me, this is unimaginable.  It is no understatement to say that 2011 was not a good year for the Barks'.  2011 came complete with, unplanned pregnancies, moral failures, mental breakdowns, and tons of resulting depression fed anxiety for the both of us.  Needless to say, in our personal "life-coaster", 2011 was a crazy ass, unexpected, cluster of emotional curly Q's that left us reeling, dizzily searching for anything to hold onto for stability.

Today, I'm happy to announce that we have been all but destroyed.  In fact, after this year, our family has sustained some of the most difficult situations that it has faced yet . . . but we are here, still a bit shakey, but standing nonetheless, hands clinched, knuckles white, fiercely holding on for dear life.  In the wake of the aftermath,  I love my family today, more than I ever have.  I look at my two boys and my heart burns.  I know the love only a father can feel.  The feeling that it is my job to love them, provide for them, to protect them, and put their needs above my own.  And my wife, holy hell.  The shit I have put that woman through.  She has stood beside me through everything.  Multiple failures to finish my degree, failed entrepreneurial attempts, moodiness, and every mistake (including ones big enough to destroy our marriage). Without her I would be the most miserable of men.   I have more respect and love for her today than the day we were married.  We were so young and naive then.  Our love so fresh and green.  Now we have been battle hardened, tested, tried and sure... a little worse for wear maybe, but now we know the true nature of love.  The former may be the kind of love that makes for good romance novels, but the latter is what truly makes it valuable.  Because now, there is no confusing "love" with an emotional response.  Sure emotions are still there, but real love is the fortitude to push through even when its absent.  It is truly choosing to experience life together despite . . . whatever.  And even though the "whatevers" can most definitely suck at times, they are the main ingredient for a love worth having.  Anyways, so out of the shittiest of years,  I have had a chance to address and confront buried issues from the past, had a second baby boy who has completely stolen daddy's heart, found out many of my scholastic failures could be attributed to my recently diagnosed ADHD and I am walking away with an unprecedented appreciation for my wife and family.  While I would still give my right eye to forget this past year, with all of its' mind-bending twists and turns, there is a distinct sense of closure that comes from being thankful for the good that can come despite . . . "whatever."


PS:  I love the song below and I thought it went nicely with this post.  Its not an "official" music video. Its just one where somebody thought in a moment of genius:  "I'll upload a cool song and then drag and drop a ton of pictures that quasi-coordinate with a single phrase in the song and maybe I'll be cool too." As you may have noticed, I'm typically not a fan of these, but it was the best I could find.  So, thank you, "MaylaCocka" (uploader of this video) for the five minutes extra you took to add the wonderful tree scenery from the assortment you found on Google images.  Enjoy.

PPS:  In case you missed it, Jaime wrote a little disclaimer about the blog (found here).

Changes: A Disclaimer.

My life is a currently the poster child for full blown chaos.  Juggling two kids has been a challenge but I recently went back to work and it has thrown every aspect of my life into a spiraling funnel of disaster.  Dramatic?  Perhaps.  True?  Hell yes.  I am currently typing amid lots of stacks of paper that are intended for my taxes.  There are 4 loads of clean laundry piled on my bed and I am not really even sure what day it is.  Yes, pure disaster.  I feel like I am running around and getting nothing accomplished.   I am working to come up with some kind of system to restore order.  Part of this has been looking at all of the things that occupy my time.  I made a list yesterday of everything I have going on.  From my family obligations, hobbies, non-existent social life and household chores.  Then after staring at it for I long time I just sighed and wrote in giant letters across the bottom of the page "I need to get my shit together."  After a few more moments, I started to evaluate.  What could I do to improve my time management?  What could be cut off my list?  And of course, this space came into question.  Why do I blog?  Obviously it takes up a good bit of my time.  Case in point, I should be putting up laundry right now instead of writing.

I started to think a lot about this space.  It has sort of grown and changed over the years.  When I started to think about why I blog, I realized I have kind of veered off course.  I like to write (although I am not that great at it).  I enjoy sharing my thoughts with the world.  One day they are going to conduct a study and realize that people who blog are narcissistic sociopaths or something.  Because, lets be honest, it is a weird hobby.  The thing is, over the last year or so, this has kind of moved towards a craft blog.   It was natural because I am crafty.  And, I loved getting new readers and feedback.  Every time someone I didn't know comments on a post it was so exciting.  I know, bloggers are weird. While a craft blog is fun, it really isn't what I enjoy about blogging.  I like having a record of my life.  Of what I was thinking and feeling at a certain moment.  I like tossing it out in the wide open world and seeing what kind of feedback I get from people.  So after much debate, Barks Blog will be going back to roots so to speak.  Less crafty more rambling and writing.  I realize by doing this I might loose a few readers, but I've got to get the most out of this space.  And for me that is writing about my thoughts and feelings, not so much about craft tutorials and recipes.

Another change is I am going to be a bit more real.  I often approach this space with hesitation because I don't want to offend people.  Given our background in the church I have a few readers who knew me from back in the day, so to speak.  These more conservative friends and family I worry mght be horrified to know that sometimes I like to swear, don't go to church regularly (or even know how I feel about church), am a registered democrat and love a cold beer or nice glass of red wine.   I just came to the realization that this is my space on the internet and I am just going to be me.  Like or leave it.  I don't want to be offensive for offensive's sake but I also just want to be free to say what I think.  To be able write how I really feel.  So, you've been warned.  If the idea of possibly reading a post in which I talk about drinking a margarita and voting for Obama offends you then you might want to unsubscribe. This site won't be political, because I am not really a political person.  But I know, just the thought of me voting for him is enough to send a few reading such a state of horror they proably just passed out in front of their computer.  Six people just unsubscribed from my feed and a few family members are considering disowning me.  Now if I dropped an F-bomb we might not get invited to any more family functions, but I don't want that, so I am taking it easy on you. No four letter words right now.

On the surface, this might not really be a big change, but it is a subtle one.  And, I am sure a few projects will make it here from time to time, because we are DIYers at heart.  There will be more posts about us running around naked and how hard going back to work was for me and less posts about how to make homemade lotion. So depending on why you read, this might be good news or bad news.  Either way, I am going to just going to use this space to dump my thoughts.  To create a log of my life and the way it changes and grows.  To leave behind a place where my boys can see what on earth was running through their nutty mother's mind.  Maybe their dad too, I am hoping to actually let this site really be the story of us (as told from both of us).

Regardless of who you are and why you read, every time you come to this blog to read something I wrote, it means so much to me.  Seriously, I love you even if I don't know who you are.  Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with me.

PS. I am a nerd, but you probably all ready figured that out by now.  In case you haven't, here is a some nerd proof . . . thumbs up for blogging (oh my God I just wrote that . . ).



Where do we pee? In the POTTY.

Potty training is a bitch.  Yeah, I said it.  I just can't think of any other way to describe it. No one tells you that it is infinitely harder on the parent than the child.  This is even the case when you take the "child-led" approach.  Henry is all geared up for potty training.  But, there are accidents and over sprays.  Umm, teaching a little boy to pee in the toilet is a sure fire way to make sure that every inch of your home is covered in urine.  I've spent the two years of his life being keenly aware of Henry's bathroom habits.  Now, we are taking that one step further.  We are celebrating them.  Only a parent can truly understand the awkward feeling that comes with dancing around a toilet full of poop.  It is a little creepy.  And, Henry has no interest in privacy.  I've gently tried explaining that grownups like privacy when they go potty.  He just looks at me and says "no, you watch Henry."  And so, I watch Henry.  We make such a fuss of his toilet usage that I slightly worry that he is going to be disappointed when he grows up and realizes no will celebrates his poop.  Add to the mix that I also have a 8 month old, which makes potty training even more intense.  Have you ever tried to balance a toddler on a toilet with one hand and a baby in the other?  If not, you are missing out on a real adrenaline rush.  You have to focus because the prospect of dropping either on a public bathroom floor is utterly disgusting and terrifying.

Of course, teaching a toddler to use the potty makes going anywhere difficult.  Right before Christmas we got stuck in the middle of nowhere with a friend and had a bathroom emergency.  My friend (Hi Valerie) and I deiced to take her 2 year old daughter (Miss Stella) and my two kids to look at Christmas lights.  This alone is almost a suicide mission, but it became full blown crazy because we had two potty training toddlers.  And of course we get out in the middle of nowhere and Henry announces that he needs to potty.  We spend a few awkward moments debating our next move.  Valerie, who is braver than me, announces that we will just pull over and let him go on the side of the road.  Which sounds good, except Henry has never peed outside or standing up.  We pull off into a creepy abandoned lot in the cold, drizzling rain.  The whole time Valerie is assuring me that Henry can do it.  Of course when I got out to get Henry he had kicked off his shoes and we can only find one.  Since time is of the essence, Valerie tosses me one of Stella's rain boots and tells me to just stick it on his other foot.  Henry, who loves pink, freaked out over the pink polka-dot rain boot.  I have to literally drag him out of the car while he is begging for the other pink boot.  About the time I get him out and into the grass Alex starts crying.  At that point, I realize I have no idea how to teach Henry to pee standing up. I know nothing about little boys.  This would be a great lesson for Jason to teach him, but unfortunately he was at work.  As Alex approaches full blown hysteria, Valerie offers to come and help Henry.  She has nephews, she is feeling good.  I point out that I don't even think he will go.  Then Valerie performs her magic.  She has the mom voice down to an art.  Kids just respond to her.  I even want to do what she says.  It is funny because she is super tiny but I think she could get anyone to do whatever she wanted.  She looks Henry in the eye and says "Henry, it is time to pee." And just like that, he starts.  But, he has never peed standing up and . . .  you guessed it . . .  pee goes everywhere.  All over him. All over Valerie. All over Stella's boot.  About this time Stella decides she needs to go.  Since I have Alex calmed down I get Stella out to go potty too.  This is when I realize that I have no idea how to get her to pee on the side of the road without making a mess.  This happens a lot when we go out.  I am the helpless parent.  Valerie is pouring gobs of hand sanitizer all over her urine soaked hands only to realize that she has to come help Stella because I am just not kid friendly.  I am getting better.  We get Henry stripped down to his pull up and toss him in the car.  Stella successfully does what she needs to without making a mess.  We get everyone in the car, thinking it is almost over.  Then we realize that we lost a paci.  This results is a chorus of whining.  Stella for her paci, Alex because he is hungry and Henry because he wants pink rain boots.   Of course this is one of the rare times that Valerie, who is a nurse, didn't have a pen light in the her car.  Eventually she finds a little key chain with a light, locates the paci and we load up and head off.  When we all get in the car, we just cracked up. I mean, how could we not?  The whole scene was so utterly ridiculous.  As we were pulling away Valerie mentions that this is one of those times she wish she carried a small hand gun* since we were out in the middle of nowhere.  I quickly pointed out that any criminal would have taken one look at our car full of kids and ran away.  Who needs gun when you have potty training toddlers.


In the mean time we are just going to keep plugging along.  Ever grateful in the knowledge that one day I won't have to wipe my kids butts anymore.  People tell me I will look back on this age and be somewhat wistful.  I mean they both are obscenely adorable right now.  But, I just don't know if I will ever live long enough to want to relive these days.  The poop aside (and there is a lot of poop), I haven't slept thought the night in months.  Then this morning Henry woke me up at 6am telling me he wanted a bagel.  In my sleep deprived state I said "Can't you get it yourself?"  His response "No mommy, you do it.  Get up right now, pea pea please."  Even with that cuteness it was inordinately hard to drag myself out of bed.  Then, it was time to poop . .  . again.   I have no idea how you people with 3, 4 and 5 kids do it.  Seriously, you should either be sainted or put in a mental institution.

*I am not a gun fan. I hate them.  I don't like the NRA.  I like gun control laws.  I even wrote a little about it a few years back.  That being said, EVERYTHING you've heard about southern folks and guns is absolutely true.  They love them.  It is just part of the culture in this area.  For most of the people in this area having a loaded gun on your person is like second nature.   This is one part of living in tennessee that I will never embrace.  Embracing my husband (who is a gun toting southerner), we be as close as I'll ever get.


Alex has a tooth!

My baby got his first tooth.  This is always a huge milestone but it seems particularly meaningful because Alex is my last baby.  We shut down the baby factory. And by we, I mean Jason.  We were always in agreement that if I had bake our babies for 9 months and then push them out my lady parts the very least Jason could do is get a little snip, snip.  Needless to say, I have been running around the house all morning attacking Alex's little face and smothering it in kisses.  I keep saying "my baby got a tooth" over and over.  Henry keeps looking at me like I am crazy, which is par for the course.   Alex was kind of a turd the first few month of life.  Is that bad to admit?  He was so fussy.  Then, like magic, sometime after 6 months he just stopped being so needy.  He has became a total joy.  He laughs and giggles all the time.  Now he is only fusses when there is a reason, instead of all the time.  My sweet, perfect baby.  My last tiny baby is growing up.  If I am this reflective over a stinking tooth I might be a train wreck when he starts kindergarten.

I wanted to get a photo but he won't stop rubbing it with his tongue.  Not that cam blame him, I bet it does feel kind of weird.


Of course Henry was all like what are you doing? When I told him I wanted a picture of Alex's new tooth he promptly sat down and informed me he had a whole mouth full of teeth for me photograph.  I think his exact words were "momma I got lots of teeth."


PS.  Henry is abesseed with Matt and Kim right now.  They came on the ipod the other day and henry came into the room and yelling "it's matt and kim."  Which totally freaked us out, that kid is so stinking observant. I guess he heard us talking about them. The recognition went to request.  And that is where we are now, listening to a lot of Matt and Kim.  Like all the time.  Before his little butt is even in his car seat he is begging for Matt and Kim.  Actually he tells me to put the ipod on matt and kim in his sweetest little toddler lisp.   I am not going to complain to much, he could be begging to listen to crappy kid music.   This is from an older album but is my favorite song, hands down.  It makes me so happy.

PPS.  Henry is running around the house with his underwear on his head, and I am not even making him stop.  I guess that is how he needs to express himself today.  Honestly, wednesdays are so crazy I feel like running around the house with my underwear on my head too.


Thoughts on Marriage, and Divorce

I've been thinking a lot about divorce.  Not like I am looking get one, but just in theory.   I mean truthfully this is has been a rough year for my marriage.  There were moments when I thought for sure Jason and Jaime were going to go belly up.  We came to that point where we had to decide if we were going to make it work or call it quits.  We took the "make it work" approach.  And, so far it has been working.  Pretty well actually.  Apparently spending hundreds of dollars on counseling can actually be helpful.  The thing that I have been thinking about is my response.  Whenever I hear someone is separating, I always say "how sad."  But the thing is, it really isn't.  I mean, if they were unhappy, then it is good it ended.  I think Louis CK nailed it.  His quote is below. You can hear the audio here (good article btw).

Let me tell you something. And this is important because some day one of your friends is gonna get divorced. It’s gonna happen. And they’re gonna tell you, don’t go “Oh I’m sorry!” that’s a stupid thing to say. It really is. First of all, you’re making them feel bad for being really happy, which isn’t fair. And second, let me explain something to you. Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce. It’s really that simple. That’s never happened – THAT would be sad. If two people were married and they were really happy and they just had a great thing, and then they got divorced, that would be really sad. But that has happened zero times. Literally zero. Ray Charles has killed more jews than happy marriages have ended in divorce. So if your friend got divorced, it means things were bad and now they’re – I mean, they’re better. They’re not good. Life is shit wall to wall. But they’re better, so you should be happy.

Jason and I were talking about this last night and he informed me that he would be with me forever. But truthfully, can anyone really promise that?  I don't think anyone starts their marriage thinking it will end but lots of them do.  Five years ago I would have never imagined that we would be having the problems we've had, but here we are.  People change and grow, things change. Right now, we are happy again.  We plan on being happy together for a long time.  I guess it is just age but I now know enough to realize that 5 or 10 years from now things might be different.  We might be different people. That is just life.  I realize this all sounds negative but feel like it is a much more realistic view of a relationship than I held when I was in my 20s.  In my 20s I really believed that we were immune from marriage difficulties.  The thing is, no one really is.  Marriages take work, and even then sometimes they just end.  Having this view has helped me to appreciate the good parts of my relationship.  Marriages are fragile.  Don't take your spouse for granted.  Talk to each other, a lot.  Even about problems and things that might be a little difficult.  When you come to an impasse, get help. And, in the end, do what is best for you and your spouse.  For us it has been best to stay together but every couple is different.  We really shouldn't judge or be sad for other couples who decided to spilt.  I agree with Louis, no happy marriages end in divorce.

PS.  Some of this was triggered by the queen of blogging separating from her husband.  And, some other relationships that have gone belly up.

PPS.  Louis CK is amazing.  Funny and reflective but at times really vulgar.  Google with caution if you can be easily offended.  You've been warned.

PPPS.  This post was a bit heavy, here is a video of Alex playing before bed time for you end on.  I mean, how can this not make you smile?

PPPPS.  We really aren't separating.  I know some people are probably reading way to much into this post.  We really are in a good place, on a positive trajectory.


Yeah, what day is it?

The last few days have been a whirlwind.  We just got back from a long weekend away.  It was lovely.  We went to Jason's parents house to sleep.  Yes, sleep.  It was our sleep-cation.  It was needed.  Although, returning from it has been hard.  After getting sleep it has almost been worse to go without.  And, as with all trips with small kids, there is the aftermath of trying to get everone back home and settled into their routin.  But, all in all we are starting to get into the swing of things. Maybe.  For you enjoyment, a some photos.  None of these really have to do with our weekend.  I took a pitaful amout of photos while I was out of town.  I guess I really was tired if I was to tired for photos.  Anyway . . .

Guess who rolled over?  ALEX.  Oh the joy of finally seeing your almost 9 month old baby roll over for the first time.  Funny story, the first time he rolled over was in the bathroom.  He was trying to lick the toilet.  True story.  He kind of takes it in spells, today not so much rolling but he proved he can do it.  I am going to try to get a video because it is really funny and adorable.  I mean look at that face, of course it is adorable.


I am attempting to participate in the 2012 Creative Color Challenge.  I have done a couple in the past but this time it is a year long project.  One color each month.  I am hoping this will help push me to create a bit more.  I also find working in a limited color pallet to be a good exercise.  Anyway, January's color - Orange.  This is an oil pastel sketch.  It is the first time I have ever used oil pastels and I feel I have a bit to learn.  This is based of a pencil drawing I found in an old sketch book.  It was years ago and I have no idea where the inspiration came from.   I just liked it so much I thought I would draw it again.  I feel like I should try it again with paints or study up some more on pastels.

Jan. Orange

While we were visiting Jason's mom mentioned wanting a good recent photo of the boys.  Of course this is much harder than it sounds.  No one wanted to play along and this is what we ended up with.


Honestly, I love these more than a posed "good" picture.  I think it totally captures my guys right now.  They both have such fun little personalities. I love that they are at an age where they are starting to really play and laugh with each other.  Gosh, I just want to squeeze them.  You know, when they aren't making me crazy.  Just keeping it real. Being a parent will make you feel like you have bipolar disorder.  One minute you can't get enough of your kids and the next breath you feel like if you don't get a break you are going to loose it.  Nonstop action.


Off to sleep, until Alex wakes up.  I am still planning out my revenge.  When they are teenagers I am going to spend a whole night crying then wake them up at 6 am demanding breakfast.  When they complain I am going to point out that at least they don't have to clean up my poop.  Of course I realize that when they are teenagers I will probably get all misty eyed and nostalgic when I look at these photos.  Heck, right now just thinking about them growing up makes me feel all kinds of emotional.  Being a parent really does make you a little nutty.  


To Thine own self

own self.jpg

This is a little painting I did on a block of wood that I salvaged from Jason's shop.  I think this line from Hamlet going to be my quote of the year.  "To thine own self be true."  I am going to take care of myself, so I can better take care of the ones I love. I am going to true to who I am.  I am going to be confident in my choices because I am going to follow my heart. I'm going to try to care less what people think. It is so easy to loose yourself in motherhood, this year I am going to try to find myself again. And thus concluded my new-age sounding rambling.  I am really not as touch-feely as this post sounds.  Just been a bit reflective of late . . . I think it comes with age, stress and sleep deprivation.  


2012, It's gonna be good

I won't lie, I am not even a little sad to see 2011 go.  It was just kind of an awful year.   Lots of anxiety and stress.  Just lame.  The only really good thing to come from this year was Alex.  And, he is pretty great. My goal this year is to be more positive, across the board. For me, it is a little easy to get bogged down in crap.  I've been doing a little art journenling and I thought in honor of the new year I would dedicate a page to good stuff in my life right now.


In to trying to do some positive thinking, I also decided to actually make some resolutions.  I love resolutions!  I do.  I like writing down goals.  I like to revisit them through out the year and see if I am meeting them.  Last year, because of pregnancy I didn't really tackle this endeavor (starting the year with an injury is always a bad sign).  Since last year was the crappiest year ever I decided I was going to revisit my practice of resolution making.  I think I am just the kind of person that likes intentionality and resolutions help me be intentional. Here is my list  . . .


My list is pretty straight forward.  Most of the stuff I wrote down isn't really measurable. Which, for me takes the pressure off.  The only one that might need explaining is the one about getting Alex moving.  We finally got him with a pediatric physical therapist and he has some muscle tone deficiency.  He should be fine with therapy but he will be a really late walker.  And, he might not be overly athletic.  The good news is he will walk.  We have a great therapist and a good plan in place.  I just can't help but feel hopeful.  The year started with some good changes and I have to think it will be better.  I will say that I grew up a lot in 2011.   I learned a lot about myself.  I am stronger than I thought I am.  I'm going to take all that strength and channel it into making 2012 amazing.  I hope it can be!

PS.  We had a lovely New Year's Day dinner with some good friends (hi Cassie and Sherry).  It was so yummy.  They even made Alex his first place card.  I couldn't think of a better way to start the year or better people to start it with.