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Henry has made another trip around the sun and this time, we celebrated his sixth year. Life with him has been one adventure after another and I have the very distinct feeling this boy is barely getting warmed up.

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See? He’s at home in the forest.
As the first boy out of our children, Henry has been an entirely different beast to raise. Though Jack reassures me his behavior is perfectly normal, there are days when I wonder if it would be best if I released him into the wild and checked on him when he was eighteen to see if he’s calmed down any. Girls I can do, being one myself, but boys sometimes seem like an entirely different species. Alien, basically.

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Henry enjoys a good silly face.
For example, Henry is constantly hurting himself. Not like stubbing a toe or bumping his head (though he does that plenty, too). I’m talking about stitches, knocking perfectly good teeth hard enough that they become loose, multiple bee stings, and facial scars galore. In fact, there’s a running joke about Henry and stitches over Christmas break. For the past several Christmases, it’s not a matter of if, but when. Come to think of it, that joke is only funny long, long after the fact.

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While there are some things that have me scratching my head over my firstborn son (does he even have a sense of self-preservation??), there are plenty of things we bond over. For one? Insects. I had a series of entomology jobs in college and Henry has taken our shared interest in bugs and run with it. Sometimes to his detriment (ever heard of an assassin bug? Henry knows all about them after he picked one up and it bit him…he was SURE his hand was going to melt off), but often, we walk away with his insect encounters with a renewed sense of wonder and appreciation.

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His inherent love of the animal kingdom doesn’t end with creepy crawlies either. He’s always game for fishing, rescuing turtles off the road, snuggling with the cats, riding the horses, or chasing the chickens.

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That love of animals translates well at our house. There are plenty of animal-related chores to do and Henry is exceptionally helpful. What was I doing when I was his age? Certainly not milking a cow (and six-year-old me is envious he even has the chance to do it!).

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Whether it’s putting out round bales, cleaning stalls, or washing eggs, Henry has this incredible sense of work ethic that will take him far in life. He doesn’t shy away from sweating and wearing himself out and every year, he becomes more helpful, independent, and responsible. I’ve seen him eye me while I’m mowing or watch Jack run the chainsaw. It’s only a matter of time.
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Henry has been waiting desperately for this particular birthday because last year, he missed out on going to school by twenty-five measly days (though I reminded him many times that if there was a year to wait on going to school, it was 2020). Now that his dream has finally come true and he’s a newbie kindergartner, he has relished every day he’s been in class.
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Every day after I pick him up, he climbs in the car and talks and talks and talks about how wonderful his day was at school. He makes me guess what letter they studied that day, what they did in specials, what his friends played at recess, what he ate for lunch, etc. He loves his teacher and has tried to save every paper he’s ever completed in school by stuffing it into his sock drawer. At our annual doctor and dentist visits, he has outright cried because he’s missing school. If he doesn’t have enough time to finish telling me on the car ride home, he follows me into the kitchen and continues to fill me in while I start on dinner.
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We can hope that his love of learning continues and if I had to guess, he’ll be a fine student throughout his schooling career. I like to give myself a little credit when it comes to his learning prowess, too. At home, he’s learned valuable lessons like, “You can’t lick your elbow, no matter how delicious that honey you dipped it into is,” “how to change the battery on a cordless drill,” and “how to make cinnamon sugar 101.” Practical stuff like that.

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The boy is made of mud.
The longer we’ve had Henry as part of our family, the more we’ve been blessed to get to know his personality. For one, he is not shy about…well…anything. He loves to try new things, make new friends, talk. He’s just as happy playing solo as he is being in the middle of a gaggle of kids.
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Henry’s joie de vivre bleeds into all aspects of his life. He doesn’t just love his dad. He adores Jack. Henry doesn’t just like superheroes. He lives and breathes them. They’re on almost every article of his clothing. He has a blanket with superheroes on it at his request. He painted a spare laundry basket lid to be his Captain America shield. He checks out library books with what? …superheroes.
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Scooperman ice cream?! He’s SOLD.
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So. Many. Sisters.
Though we never ever said we would keep having children until we had a boy (we would have been completely happy to be girl parents), we were thrilled to find out we were having a son. Jack and I both grew up with brothers and sisters, and there’s something sweet about everyone having a brother and sister. For quite a while, Henry was swimming in a sea of sisters. They love him to death, but they too sometimes butt heads with him because he does things differently. Thankfully, Henry is notoriously good at letting things roll off his back. He is the sweetest, most forgiving, loving, and happy brother anyone could wish for.
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Henry also came into the world with a healthy love for humor. He always seems to be trying to get a laugh out of people and has an infectious laugh of his own. He’ll tell knock knock jokes until he’s blue in the face and has a penchant for practical jokes. His laughter erupts especially when we’re reading a book or watching a movie. His imagination is alive and well and in his head, stuff is hilarious.
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Another thing that’s alive and well is his appetite. Boy can EAT. Seriously. I’ve heard the running joke that teenage boys eat their parents out of house and home. If Henry escalates this eating of his anymore, it very well may be true. He already eats two to three breakfasts, has a snack after school and still complains about starving before dinner is put on the table, and before bed, he asks for another snack…right after he’s had dessert. Good thing we’re getting pretty good at growing our own food. I just hope we can keep up.
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All those calories go into growing–he’s always teetered at the highest end of the growth chart–and playing. He climbs and runs, jumps and swims for hours. I get tired just watching him run circles around me. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing Henry dance, you know you’re in for a treat. He’s invented something he calls his “farmer dance” and if I had to describe it, it’s sort of a jittery Irish jig. Whenever he hears the right kind of music, it’s like a flip is turned on in his brain and he starts dancing. Always hungry ’cause he’s always moving.
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Henry’s special day was a lot like they usually are for everyone else. He was so excited to celebrate his birthday with his school friends, he came home to a special birthday dinner of chili, cinnamon rolls, and a fruit rainbow, and it was followed up with cake and ice cream.
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Not any cake, either. Chocolate cake. Chocolate chocolate cake. With a sun on top. Basically, we just went to the store, bought a bunch of different chocolate candies, and stuffed them into and on top of a chocolate cake. He was in heaven.

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I also snuck a couple of trick candles on top that re-lit after being blown out. He’s not the only one who enjoys a good practical joke.
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I am notoriously a bad gift giver (I see a need and fill it…think socks and underwear. Yeah, it’s bad), so I asked Jack for his suggestions. Boy, did he deliver. He found a lot of battery-operated cars on an online auction site. We brought them home and told Henry to pick…except it’s been such a hard choice that the kids are all still driving them around. It is hilarious watching them get in their little clown cars and tear up and down the driveway. Let’s hope it translates to them being responsible drivers when they’re teenagers. Fingers crossed!
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Henry also got love from his siblings and grandparents, who showered him with gifts and conversation (yay for technology so he could speak to his out-of-state family!). All in all, it was a fantastic day for him.
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I know I wax poetic whenever it comes to reminiscing during a birthday, but I can’t think of a single thing wrong with getting mushy. Henry is an amazing human being who is going to accomplish some amazing things and is going to bring some real cheer to the world along the way. He’s so clever and smart, hardworking and dependable, loving and loveable that sometimes, it’s hard to remember he’s only six. Our family wouldn’t be complete without his boisterous and loud personality and we are so incredibly blessed to call him one of our own.
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Happy birthday, Henry! We love you!

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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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