Resolutions in February


Better late than never right?

I’m stuck in a rut and need to reevaluate – for Pete’s sake, set – some personal goals.

So I started making a list of resolutions for the year {basically a glorified to-do list}.  And when the list was completed I wanted to poke my eyes out.  Because seriously, one of my top to-do’s was to organize all of our photos and create photo albums. Bleh.

I decided to switch gears and write out more general goals instead of specific resolutions.  Here’s what made the list…

FAMILY: This is a year of anticipation and change for our family.  I want to make sure we remain intentional about our family time together because well, it’s easy to not be intentional.  I hope that we continue to nurture and grow our already steadfast traditions.  I love that we make it a point to sit down for dinner every night to eat, reconnect and pray together.

INTENTIONAL RELATIONSHIPS:  I’d love to end each day knowing that I’ve been a good wife, mother and friend.  Or at least tried my best.  I want to be a steadfast source of encouragement, love and support for my husband.  And to know that I’ve looked into the eyes of my children each time they speak to me.  To shower them daily in kisses, hugs, kind words of encouragement while providing safe boundaries in which to grow.  I need to become more intentional about connecting with my treasured friends.  It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the tasks of our household and leave little time for nurturing these live-giving relationships.

LAUGHTER: I want to make sure we leave more time and room for silliness and fun. Heck, let’s go way out on a limb and add some spontaneity to the mix.  I know that when Alex gets home from work, I have a tendency to turn into a grouchy task lady, rushing around trying to get everything done I wasn’t able to do during the day.  Meanwhile I hear Alex and the boys laughing and playing in the background and somehow still think it’s more important to put the laundry away.  We {I} need to be silly more with my children.  Yes, this is a goal.

ADVENTURE: I have an adventurous spirit. I just need to find her again.  The boys are at such fun ages and it’s getting easier to get out and experience new things.  I hope we are adventurous these last few months as a family of five and quickly settle in as a family of six.  Nothing brings more joy than getting out there and doing things together as a family.

JOY: I love the idea of trying to find joy in every situation no matter what the circumstances are.  This also translates to quiet time with my bible on a regular basis.  I’m thinking fewer devotionals and *how-to* faith-based books and more time just soaking up His living Word. You know, just reading the plain ‘ol bible.

INSPIRATION:  I really want this year to be filled with true inspiration and not comparison. This probably will equate to less screen time {i.e. blogs and pinterest} which is probably a good thing.  This should also translate to reading more literature, i.e. real books.  This just makes me happy.  Oh and I want to remind myself to put down the dumb iphone already and grab the real camera.  Those are the pictures that we treasure.  And yes it might be silly, but looking through that lens is a pretty quick and easy way to get a dose of inspiration.  Inspiration, which in turn leads to writing.  Which I love.


It’s how He made me.

I’ve made a recent discovery: I require copious amounts of silence or near silence each day in order to function on three out of four cylinders.

Going and doing all the time just isn’t me.  Yet I have three busy boys, a husband, a household and plain ‘ol life to keep me moving at a pretty darn fast pace.

You see my dilemma.

Perhaps the most crazy thing to come from this recent discovery is my willingness to finally accept my reality.  Why it has taken me all these years to figure out such a simple thing like *I need quiet time?*

Looking back this solution seems so obvious.  Quiet time = calm happy Libby.  Yet most of the time the equation looked like this: jam-packed schedule = crazy Libby.  What’s my problem?  Maybe it’s because I’m a people pleasing, rule-following, type-A personality?  And if everyone else around me can live at break-neck speed then why shouldn’t I?

Certainly this life of mine has doled out its fair share of head-scratchers.

My weekly bible study got me thinking about spiritual gifts and how we can use our own God-given talents to be ambassadors of the Lord.  And what might you ask does this have to do with my time management skills and need for alone time?  There actually is a strong connection.  Oddly enough my spiritual gift is not to run around town like a chicken with my head cut off.  And yet what do I do most days?  You guessed it, I spend way too much time acting like a crazy chicken.

So then what are my spiritual gifts?

Not knowing where to start I began to take note of specific times during my day when I am able to lovingly serve as an encouragement to others.  Basically, when did it come naturally?  Some opportunities were obvious.  While with my children, setting the tone for our household and leading by example.  At school pick-up and drop-off; how do I reach out to others in spite of our morning and afternoon rush?  In the evening, creating a calm {ish} setting for Alex to come home to and for our family to reconnect at the end of the day.

There was one opportunity that was especially obvious, yet I was hesitant to claim it.  I’ve always been wary to call myself a writer, but in the last week it has been pressed upon my heart that this is a very specific spiritual gift the Lord has given me.  By not fully accepting this gift then I’m not fully accepting how he made me.

Interestingly enough, most writers need periods of quiet to craft their words.  This means that God gave me a spiritual gift that practically demands quiet time.  Ironic, no?

OK, so I’m a writer.  But what is the point of my writing?  And how can my words be used to glorify Him?

Again, this was a challenge for me.  Of course this answer is also obvious, but sometimes the truth can seem so harsh.  So here goes nothing…as a mother I have experienced what many would claim as their greatest fear: raising a child with special needs.  And yet here I am, living out what most assume be *the worst case scenario* and I remain hopeful and joyful.  Not only that, but I believe more than ever that God is King and I lovingly serve Him by sharing our story.

I understand now that it’s vital for me to take the time to sit quietly and pour out my heart through words.  My Creator knows me well.  He created me with a talent that fits me perfectly.  This gift not only allows me to live joyfully and weightlessly, but allows me to serve as an encourager to others, writing as an ambassador of hope.

It’s how He made me.

How did he make YOU?

Pruning, parenting and raising cool nerds.

Today is dark and dreary in contrast to the sunny and mild winter days before.  The snow has been washed away by the rain leaving us with a yard of mud, dead looking grass and bare trees.

In what seems like a nearly impossible feat, this winter season has become a time of rest and pause.  We’ve stayed close to home.  Alex and I have had to dig deeper in our parenting and decision-making, but I’m hopeful that all of this pruning will bear much fruit.  We’re talking about the future, re-adjusting our priorities and soaking up the present.

All of this reflection has helped me to clearly see the beautiful rhythms we have created with our days.  This is contrast is both helpful and necessary as more often than I’d care to admit, I can all too easily get caught up in our challenges.  I’ve stepped back and seen how our family thrives on routine.  Our days are predictable, our evenings familiar.  And we get to see the benefits of this daily; as William leads us in prayer before dinner, Charlie signs and says bath time after clearing his plate, and Henry gathering books and his cup of ice before bed.

I’ve also been soaking up my blessed mornings with William.  All of my saying *no* to outside obligations and commitments is finally paying off, our mornings are almost our own.  It’s hard to know if its circumstances or my own personal growth as a mother but my patience seems to have multiplied, and my willingness to simply *just be* with my child is the priority.  It is a pleasure, not one of my many tasks of the day.  Is this terrible to admit?  Perhaps this is the difference between a seasoned mother and a new mother?  {And by *seasoned* I mean only in the baby/toddler/preschool category…grade-school and up I’m green as they come.}

We’re going on more *adventures,* simple surprises that are a big deal in the eyes of our little ones and still manageable for mom.  Visits to the frozen yogurt place, a doughnut date, getting to walk alongside mom at the grocery and *help* put things in the cart. These things are a really big deal.  I love that my boys know how to seek out joy in our daily life, no fancy trips, or shiny new toys required.

It’s easy to get frustrated as the world tries hard to rush our children through childhood.  And so I work so hard to give them a safe and protected environment at home.  A setting that encourages kids to be kids.  Cool nerds if you will.  Which is why my heart practically sings when I watch my boys get excited about building towers or playing with their wooden trains.  This is why I hesitate to schedule any extra activities.  Our precious time together – these moments when all three boys are playing for what seems like hours – I want to protect that childhood treasure.

The Elephant in the Room

I’m going to make this quick because I feel silly even mentioning it.  I haven’t been feeling well the last few months and last week I finally received an answer; arthritis.

Yeah, I laughed too.  I was certain the doctor must be joking.  Nope.

I like to think of myself as a private person.  Yes, I’m catching the irony from all angles as I write this on my *blog*, which is published on the *internet.*  However, if my goal is to give a somewhat accurate account of our family’s story then I should include some of my failings and faults; not just covering the diagnoses or mishaps of my children, but occasionally turning the mirror on myself.

I’m not writing for sympathy.  In fact I’ve been struggling to write much of anything.  It’s as though I have to leap over this first hurdle – getting it out there – and then the steady flow of words will be released again.  I especially hate to write about this subject; giving life to something that I’m hoping to smoother to death.  That and I can’t stand it when people complain about their ailments.  As life would have it, I now have an ailment to complain about.

So…long story short, this winter while my immune system decided to take a break, some sort of virus made itself at home in my body and the result is something called reactive arthritis.  All of my crazy symptoms right down to the random case of pink eye make me an almost textbook case.

The good news according to my rheumatologist, {My mom and I traveled over to Seattle to seek out a specialist} is that this form of arthritis should go away.  Halleluia!  In three months to two years.  Seriously.  In the meantime, I’m popping pain pills left and right because my body actually thinks I have arthritis.  Some days I feel outright silly; the pain is at bay and I’ve been making a mountain out of a molehill.  Of course this is often followed up by a day when I am selfishly consumed with myself and my pain.  Pain has a funny way of not only affecting your body, but playing with your mind.  {Nope, despite what Alex might think it’s not called *over* reactive arthritis.}  And yes, I realize that there is always something *worse.*  But I don’t think the goal is to out-suffer one another.

My saving grace is that our children have no idea and despite everything, our days operate as usual.

I wish I had some wonderful theology to offer, scripture I’ve clung to, or great lesson I have learned.

I don’t.

But these words struck me and seem worthy of sharing no matter what sort of trail you may be facing:

Some of us have the privilege of being able to hide our brokenness from the world, but others cannot. Christian theologian Francis Schaeffer referred to humans as “glorious ruins.” We are all God’s creation, glorious in our likeness to the Creator, but also, because of sin, ruins of what we were originally created to be. In 2 Corinthians, God tells the apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I often thought this verse meant that as God’s power was made perfect, my weaknesses would be taken away. But as I have studied this verse more, and lived more of life, I know this is not the case at all. Our weaknesses, struggles, and scars remain, but the God of the Universe transforms them and shows His power and love to a broken world. In the Bible, Jesus tells us over and over again that we must be like little children. For those of us who have spent time with children, we know that they have many perceived “weaknesses” from the world’s perspective. But time and time again they rise up to face the world around them – they stand up, dust themselves off, try again, and, most importantly, they trust. These “weaknesses” are in fact not weaknesses at all. They are the tools God has given all of us in order that we might grow, discover, learn, and be transformed. He has allowed each and every one of us, in our own unique way, the opportunity to partner with Him in His work in the world. And luckily for us, He is in the business of bringing glory from ruin.

So there it is, out there.  Let’s move on shall we?

Today is Tuesday

Oh yes, we’re going to cover all sorts of important information here today…starting off with identifying the day of the week.  I’m running one day ahead this week and today feels like Wednesday, but it’s Tuesday.

It’s official.  Henry is playing little league baseball.  It’s our first forray into organized sports which means we’re having to adjust our evening expectations and try things out on the fly.  We’re a sit down to dinner all together every single night sort of family so when you throw in a couple of practices and a handful of games into the mix it gets crazy fast.  Add to that a meeting or two and next thing you know I’m texting baby-sitters at 9 o’clock at night to see if they can come over the next day.

I realize we aren’t the first family to participate in sports, but I’m working hard to balance things as we figure out our groove.  That said, I finally came to my senses and excused myself from my two evening meetings this week.  And last night I was right where I should have been…freezing to death, watching Henry go 2 for 2 at bat, play catcher for three innings and cheer his team on to a 10-0 victory.  Charlie and William were thrilled to run through every little dirt patch they could find and pick up every stray piece of litter.  Of course Nana was there – this was as good as it gets for her – watching her grandson play baseball...well that’s just the best.

between the guns and the flags, my boys were mesmerized by the color guard…

looks like someone’s not quite sold on baseball…yet…
random photo up-load…my favorite lunch…a smoothie…recipe at the bottom of the post…

Let’s rewind just a bit.  First I want to say thank you for your kind words of encouragement.  You guys are so darn funny, and have the best advice.  Needless to say we went into the weekend with a to-do list a mile long, but I also had plans on taking it easy.  Of course I plowed right through my to-do list and sank into the couch Sunday evening spent.  Sadly I need to learn how to relax and just let some things go.  Silly right?

Knowing I was struggling, a friend asked me if perhaps I was going through another grieving period.  That perhaps I will unknowingly be hit with these moments of grief – some obvious, and others camouflaged in fatigue – always.  I’ve wondered this myself.  If you were to ask me today on a scale of 1 to 10 the impact Down syndrome plays in our lives I’d give it an honest 2.  But maybe, just maybe it weighs heavier on my heart than I realize…or maybe this is just motherhood…and the journey of raising any child.

I don’t know.  Yet, again I’m reminded it’s not about me.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28 – 33

I have no idea what they were doing, but they were giggling and having the best time…

A supplement up-date….After much thought, consideration and research {thank you for your input and suggestions} we’ve decided to stay the course and stick with our original decision to skip the supplement routine for Charlie.  I believe this was still a good process to go through – the writing, research and discussions with other parents – as it’s important to periodically take a another look at what options are available for our children.  I don’t ever want to stick my head in the sand, ignoring an opportunity but I’m also not going to go through life doubting myself and the decisions we have made for our children.

This process also vetted out some interesting themes as I connected with many parents.  I noticed one particular theme, which isn’t often discussed.  Since it’s a sticky subject I’ll simply speak from my point of view and let you fill in the blanks.

We believe that our son Charlie was fearfully and wonderfully made, designed from the very beginning to have an extra 21st chromosome.  We believe that our great Father has a plan for each one of his children – and while we might not always understand His design or plan, it exists.  This is not to say that we would deny our child medical care if they had cancer, or would choose to forgo a cast in the event of a broken bone.  But who am I to try to disprove the Creator of the Universe, going to great lengths to fight against the extra 21st chromosome he was designed to have?  God does not make mistakes.

My son has Down syndrome.  I am not ignorant about his condition nor are my expectations unrealistic.  I love him for all that he is – who he is.  I will go to the ends of the earth to ensure that Charlie is the best little Charlie that he can be.  But I will not ever try to change or deny who he was made to be.


And that my friends is way deeper than I planned on diving today…on that note I’ll leave you with some pictures of Alex and Henry’s trip to Timbuctoo {spelling?} to visit a goat farm.

Yes, that’s the same red sweatshirt…I snuck it into the wash today…I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing lots of red this spring…

Oh yes, the smoothie recipe…

Smoothie for one:

1/2 banana

3 frozen strawberries

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

two handfuls of fresh spiniach, stems removed

1 tbs. ground flaxseed

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup orange juice

I actually eye-ball all of the ingredients, but there are my best guesses…yummy!

About Down syndrome.

It’s the middle of October and I’m feeling guilty.

See, October is National Down Syndrome Awareness month.  And I, my friends have not mentioned it once.  This doesn’t mean that Down syndrome hasn’t been on my mind.  I for one am well aware of Down syndrome.

But there are thousands, millions {billions?} of people who aren’t aware of {don’t care about?} Down syndrome.  And as a mother it’s my personal duty to make sure every last person knows about Down syndrome.  Right?

Yes.  And I want to.  I have a lot to say on the subject.  Initially the words come fast and furious then the emotions quickly follow.  I become frustrated, angry.  I feel helpless.  Because swimming up-stream is hard work.  It makes you tire easily.  And the stream is only growing and gaining speed everyday.

The stream is filled with “experts” telling expectant parents that their not-yet-born baby with Down syndrome will live a life filled with suffering.

I wonder how many of these “experts” the ones who are giving expectant parents an “unbiased” opinion, actually know someone with Down syndrome?  Do they have a child with Down syndrome?  A sibling?  Could it be that their “guesses” at what life is like with Down syndrome are so convincing that now 93% of expecting parents terminate after receiving a diagnosis?

There are other “experts” in the stream.  They {in their all-knowing, but don’t actually have or know a child/adult with Down syndrome} proclaim that this child will indeed be a burden.  Friends and neighbors might also pipe in because they “know someone” who has a cousin, who has some sort of disability and it sure seems like a burden for that family.

Are you following this fuzzy logic?  Because most are.  Determining the value of a life based on an assumption.

The “experts” have proclaimed that our children have no value in the world.  That they will never live all full life.

I wonder how these same narrow-minded “experts” manage to live a full life when they themselves are open to only a small portion of what life has to offer.

I know that I can’t compete with the “experts”.  Clearly they must know something I don’t.

But I do know what it is like to be a mother to a son with Down syndrome.  I know that I am no different from any other mother.  My heart does not love based on ability.  A child is a child.

I have witnessed first-hand the effects of a developmental disability on siblings.  It is beautiful.  It is patient.  It is kind.  Love in the purest form.

I know that I am not an exceptional parent.  I am not an exception to the rule; living out a happy life in spite of the fact that my son is “developmentally delayed.”  I believe that our life experiences are what we make of them.  I choose to see the glass half-full, always have and always will.  And here’s a little secret for you – a diagnosis, Down syndrome or otherwise – won’t change that.  Sure, there is the icky stuff in-between, the initial shock and such.  Let’s just call it life.  But you get to choose.  Half-full or half-empty.

When I first started this blog, I was swimming in a sea of Down syndrome.  I had been tossed to the deep end and was trying to find my footing.  As the days passed and entries were made, I noticed a progression from those early days when I was trying to educate myself and others around us on Down syndrome to today, a place where contentment resides.  Where Down syndrome is most certainly a part of our lives, but not the driving force I thought it would be.

Looking back through my posts I see a mother who was searching – trying gain her baring in a world that had completely shifted.  Rediscovering a faith that had been floundering.  Discovering and admitting my own weaknesses.  Strengthening our growing little family.  Meeting and making new friends.  And just like our days, this little blog too has ebbed and flowed with the state of our life.  There have been dark moments that I chose to share hoping that it might bring comfort to another family on this journey.  Happily, we have been blessed with an abundance of joyful moments and have shared those stories and photos of the beauty that is our life.

And yes, there are times when I feel a bit exposed.  As in, am I seriously telling all of the internet this? sort of way.  But I always come back to this:  Swimming upstream isn’t easy.  But with each photo, story, shared struggle or joy, I am raising awareness of Down syndrome.

In my own little way I am shouting out to the world: This is what Down syndrome looks like!  It isn’t all therapy, IEPS and doctor’s appointments.  We are not suffering.  Quite the opposite actually.  And isn’t our family beautiful?  Yeah, and we’re happy too.

People see what they want to see.

I see love.  Light.  Joy.  A full life.

I guess the words still do come easily.  So yes, I will write a bit about Down syndrome this month.

Good times

I’m in a reflective mood.  Charlie will be three on Monday which means we are saying our good-byes to the therapists and teachers who have led us through the last three years. This has made for an emotional week.  It’s possible to look at this third birthday as a graduation of sorts, but the mommy in me only sees her baby growing up.  Growth is funny.  It makes you proud, celebrating many milestones big and small but it can be overwhelming too, leaving the {unknown} future stretching out before you.

I’ve had to face {yet again} many of my fears and worries.  My worries about raising a son with Down syndrome.  Yet each time they crop up I discover that I’m wiser.  More patient with myself.  I’ve learned to block out the static and lies of the world around me.  And I realize that these darn worries and fears, while persistent, have lost their power over time.  Yet even still, I am living out what was once one of my greatest fears – raising a child with special needs.  And this life – the one that I was so fearful of – is filled with love, family, friends, laughter, tears – all of the things that make up a good life.  It’s certainly not perfect, but it is ours and I love that.

So no, I’m not dwelling or worrying about the future.  Instead I’m playing catch-up.  It’s about time I posted some long-overdue vacation photos {thanks to Joy for taking on the role of photographer!}  Because when the doubt starts to creep in, or the future looks daunting, it’s always nice to remember the good.  And boy has this summer been good.

Charlie discovered boating.

It didn’t take him long to find his sea legs.

And he kinda loved the tube.

Especially the waving part.

Henry was OK with the tubing {this summer we’ve discovered that he is pretty cautious around water} but loved to go fishing with his friend.

William was a total boat convert too…he was especially happy when the boat was going full-speed.

The water park was a hit with all three of the boys…

Lake Chelan 2010

These vacation photos reminded me of one of my many *silly* but real fears.  I wondered what our life would look like with a child with Down syndrome.  Would our friendships change?  Did families with children with Down syndrome go on vacation?  I’m happy to report that our friendships have only deepened.  Those that were on the fringe, were just that.  We have connected with new and amazing friends and reconnected with friends of the past.  There is something to be said for being vulnerable and real.

As for vacations, we have taken plenty.  As a family and as a couple.  I think that’s why these vacation photos mean so much to me.  They represent the family I wasn’t sure we would be after Charlie was born – a family that is playing, having fun and traveling.

So to my fears I say: This is what Down syndrome looks like on vacation.

Looks pretty good to me.

The end.


To kick off summer I unplugged for a few days.  The first few days were intentional.  Look at me world – I can survive without internet!  It’s just me and my kids at home, la-dee-da-dee-da! Only to discover a few days later that our internet had indeed fizzled out.  Ahh!  What now!?

We are still awaiting our new airport, and in the meantime I’ve had to quietly type in the same room as a sleeping William.  You know, so that my computer can be connected directly to the cable.  It’s oh so very 2001. 

Then there is the whole “it’s summer” thing, which I’ve discovered means there is probably going to be little or no time for me to write.  Ahh!

And William is moving!  {And teething!}  Commando style though it looks more like he is sliding/floating across the floor.  No matter, my baby is MOVING!  EVERYWHERE!  And he is FAST!  Ahh!

{He has a good teacher.}


We last left off with me sharing the truth.  An honest account of a picnic gone awry.  Or really, the way any picnic with a five, three and not yet one-year old would go – not according to plan.  Yet even in the midst of knowing I shouldn’t, I plan and continue to plan.  In a world where I fully realize the big things are not in my control I often wonder if I still cling to the little bits and pieces of life thinking just maybe…

Also, to clarify; I am not easily offended.  I know that for the most part people are good and go out of their way to discover our world with Charlie.  We are so grateful to our amazing family and friends who love our Charlie.  And those simple things – scheduling playdates with Charlie, inviting him to birthday parties and including him just like any other child do not go unnoticed.  There are no words in my mommy heart to express my thanks and gratitude for that.

I also know that at one time or another we all feel like no one else could possibly understand where we are coming from no matter our circumstances.  But as a mother, this reality is mine and mine alone.  No matter how much help I get from Alex, my mom or friends, I am his mother.  Truthfully, this reality sometimes rocks me to the core.

Yet there is beauty in this often bumpy journey.  People are so good.  And while I might occasionally throw up my hands asking “why!?” I would never change a thing.  And so we continue, raising up our little family.  Doing everything we would do extra chromosome or not.  Going on vacation, enjoying a trip to Starbucks, visiting the park, taking swimming lessons and yes, going on picnics.

So thank you; for your words, comments, e-mails and phone calls.  Thank you.


And because I want to remember just a sliver of the goodness that was poured out over me last week.

From my brother Jimmy:

there’s been this anecdote floating in my head for a while now, and i’ve always wondered when i would share it with you.  i just read your most recent post and realized that i think now would be a pretty good time.

it was when i was living in paris.  i was walking from ludmilla’s (my boss) to the metro one day after a lunch.  the walk was probably just over a mile long, and it was through this beautiful little neighborhood that had all kinds of patisseries and boulangeries and fromageries on ever corner.  and the streets were full of these typically older, elegant frenchies dressed in tweeds and silks.  not to mention the cafes and the lingering cigarette smoke (which somehow always smells good in europe…); the point is, the walk was a joy, and i always looked forward to it.

one day, at the halfway point between ludmilla’s and the metro, standing at a bus stop was a heart breakingly beautiful woman, probably in her mid- to late-forties, standing forehead-to-forehead with her, what i assumed to be, twenty-something down syndrome son.  and libby, they were laughing and smiling with each other in a way that was so tender, and so perfect.  the bonds between this mother and son were palpable.  they were each others worlds.  i just wish everyone in the world could have heard the way he made her laugh.  any person with a beating heart walking by this duo could only be reduced to a feeling of, “I wish I had that with someone.”  myself included.

but, as i walked by them, my heart filled with the thought, “That’s my sister and Charlie.”

i think about it all the time.

and the best advice our uncle jim ever gave me (and to be honest, the man’s given me some good ones, wittingly or otherwise), was that relationships never get easier as time goes on.  but they do become more fulfilling and worthwhile.