Tag Archives: Stretch

Motherhood: All Love Begins And Ends There


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The title of this blog is a quote from Robert Browning. It is simple and it is true.

How do I know this? I know this because I live with The Cinnamon Girl.

We have three children and I can write today – with no fear of being contradicted – that each of our children has become the strong, young adult they have become because of her love for them.

For them, love begins and ends in her motherhood.

EasterI wonder what they would say about The Cinnamon Girl if you got them talking, it they could identify what really makes her so special in their lives. What might they say? I am not certain, but I do have some guesses.

HJ jr might remark about how his mother has never let him down and always, ever and forever, has his back. He might say she has been his confidante and champion. He might say she is always there for him. He might say that she has made him a stronger and better person.

He might say all of that.

Stretch, who this weekend (this very day) graduates college, might say that The Cinnamon Girl taught him not too take life too seriously. He might say she taught him the so critical gift of irreverence. He might say she showed him through humor just how much she loves him.

He might say all of that.

Sous Chef might say that The Cinnamon Girl is one of the best role models for growing up into a strong and confident woman she could have ever had. She might say that she loves it when they cook together, or talk about make up together, or talk about life together. She might say that The Cinnamon Girl helped her become the amazing young woman she is.

As for me, I would say I have learned more about parenting (and about life) from my beautiful wife and partner than I ever would have thought possible. I learned it even more as I watched her mother her mother in the last stages of my mother-in-law’s life these last few years. What love and what grace my wife showed. What love and what grace she has.

Caroline and Dora Confirmation

My wife is a wonderful mother. Our children are, truly, lucky to have her.

As am I.

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Filed under Cinnamon Girl, Family, HJ jr, Mother, Mothers, Mothers Day, Sous Chef, Stretch, The Cinnamon Girl

Too Many Crossroads, Not Enough Tears | Stretch At 21 And A College Graduate


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So, it has come to this: Stretch turns 21 years old today.

21.

We have been through this before as HJ jr got there a few months back. We have crossed this particular Rubicon.

But, not only does Stretch cross the 21 threshold today, tomorrow, he graduates Gonzaga University and prepares, in a few short weeks, to begin his Master’s studies at the University of Notre Dame.

I am not sure which milestone is more affecting but I can tell you, I am emotionally compromised thinking about the little boy who used to spend hours playing Backyard Football, the middle school kid who laughed and laughed at something outrageous The Cinnamon Girl said to him, the high school student who made incredibly close friends, led retreats and loved his siblings, the college student who did so well he got himself into his dream school for post graduate studies and the young man who will dedicate his life to educating others.

We could not be more proud of Stretch, of the young man he has been and the man he is becoming.

We love you.

Happy Birthday!

Happy graduation!

Happy next phase of your life!

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19 Years of Sous Chef… Photo Essay


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Sous Chef is 19 years old today.

It may seem sentimental, but I thank God for every one of those 6,935 days she has been alive. Each of those days is a blessing. Each of those days is a gift. Each of those days is a grace.

She is a wonderful young woman, as likely to be volunteering her time with a marginalized population as she is to be having a raucous time with her many good friends.

That I am reluctant to see her grow up and beyond The Cinnamon Girl and me is cliched and obvious.

That I am more proud than words can express of her is, I hope, equally obvious.

That she is one of the shining lights of my life and one of the best people I have ever known is gospel truth.

Happiest of birthdays, Sweetheart. Many, many, many happy returns.

 

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Filed under Birthday, Cinnamon Girl, Family, Fathers and Daughters, HJ jr, Sous Chef, Stretch, The Cinnamon Girl

20/20 Vision – Happy Birthday, Stretch


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MatthewStretch turns 20 today. 10 x 2. 5 x 4. 2 decades.

I do not know how this happened so quickly.

I do not know where kid went, the one who, as a toddler, would wake up incredibly early – we are talking before 5:00am here – and drag me out of bed to play with his “guys” (his little plastic football players).

I do not know where that same kid who wanted to play every sport imaginable for as long as the days, weeks and seasons would last has gone.

I do not know where the boy who would sit in front of a computer screen playing “Backyard Football” hour-after-hour has run of to or where the kid who was sure he was going to be an NFL wide receiver or tight end has flown.

I have been looking for the guy who sat next to me at the conclusion of a frigid cold, heartbreaking Denver Bronco loss with a tear literally freezing running down his cheek.

Likewise, I have been searching out the student who sometimes asked me to read his papers and asked for help on his homework.

High and low I have sought the 6 foot 7, red robe wearing graduate I hugged as he walked across a special stage.

What I have found in these searches – what I have found with this new 20/20 vision of Stretch  now that he is 20 – is a young man on his way to adulthood. Well on his way.

I have found a young man upon whom others rely.

I have found a young man who cares deeply about his world and those around him.

I have found a prayerful young man, a passionate young man, a smart young man.

I have found a young man who it is both honor and privilege to call “son.”

And I have found just how lucky we, his bonus mom, his brother and sister and I are that he is in our family.

Happy birthday, Stretch. Many, many, many returns.

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Off to College (3 in 5 Daze) Part III: Stretch


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Day Five! The Cinnamon Girl and I bid farewell to all 3 kids as they head off to college (Sous Chef and HJ jr have already departed… and then there was 1) I love how small the world is and know that we’ll all be able to remain in contact far more easily and more closely than I was in contact with my family when I went off to school more than a few years back.

Still, it will be strange to have no kids in the house… strange and sad? Strange and wonderful? Strange and… we don’t know. It’s just a new chapter for us all.

Board M

Stretch and I got HJ jr all set at Colorado State University following our St. Louis trek to drop off Sous Chef. I am 1832 miles into this journey which, today, comes to an end without too much travel on our end. We put Stretch on a plane to Spokane, WA (so he has another 1093 miles to go!).

 

Stretch is heading into his junior year at Gonzaga University and he’s truly begun to fill in the outlines of the man he’s going to become. Poised and confident, he’s ready for this year and for all the challenges and joys it will bring.

The Cinnamon Girl and I are most excited to know that we will be spending a week with him in Spokane this spring and will look forward to whatever trips home he makes between now and then.

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From this…

Matthew Christmas 2015

… to this in the blink of an eye.

… plans to give you hope and a future.

– Jeremiah 29.11

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Yesterday, Sous Chef Walked Onto A New Road


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Yesterday, the youngest child in our household walked across The Stage after her full name (fours words in all) was called. We clapped. We laughed. We cried. We know things are changing, but we were overcome with pride.

Yesterday, before she walked across The Stage, the youngest child in our household gave the Valedictory Address during her graduation ceremony to her class and their families. She was cool and collected, warm and welcoming, funny and fascinating. She was everything her classmates know her to be – inclusive and loving. She gave a great speech.

Yesterday, before she gave the Valedictory Address, the youngest child in our household was volunteering her time at a local hospital, weeks and months after The Cinnamon Girl advised her that she could stop. She didn’t need the service hours. She did need more time in her schedule. She didn’t listen and continued volunteering because she didn’t want to let anyone down.

Yesterday, before she finally gave up volunteering, the youngest child in our household was in her bedroom hanging with “The Squad,” her inseparable group of friends with whom she laughed, learned and loved during her high school years. What a lovely group of young women they are – friends of Sous Chef who’ve become our friends.

Yesterday, before she was hanging with “The Squad,” the youngest child in our household was falling down – sans grace – in Belize. Ask her about it! Sous Chef is a closet klutz. It’s one of her most endearing traits.

Yesterday, before she was falling down – sans grace – in Belize,” the youngest child in our household was doing homework. At 7:30 at night. On a Friday. The Cinnamon Girl and I (and Stretch and HJ jr) are so impressed by her amazing work ethic and its results – straight As in school, lessons learner, knowledge gained. She is an amazing student, like one of the best I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen more than a few.

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Yesterday, before she was doing homework, the youngest child in our household was trying out for softball. Why is this a big deal? Because she gave softball her best effort and came up short, bravely learned from the experience and moved on. I have rarely been as impressed by her as I was in the moments after her very short high school softball career.

Yesterday, before she was trying out for softball, the youngest child in our household was delivering the Continuation Speech at her matriculation from middle school. For an eighth grader, she was funny and confident and irreverent. She remains those things today.

Yesterday, before she was delivering the Continuation Speech, the youngest child in our household was learning to cook at The Cinnamon Girl’s side. Sous Chef could drop the “Sous” from her name. She makes amazing food and will be able to wow and impress as she sets up the “little apartment” she and The Cinnamon Girl have discussed, many, many years from now.

Yesterday, before she was learning to cook, the youngest child in our household was excelling in Spanish acquisition, at a dual language elementary school. She has retained her command of Spanish and will study it in college and make it part of her life.

Yesterday, before she was excelling in Spanish acquisition, the youngest child in our household was smiling and giggling, laughing with her brothers, lightening our lives.

Yesterday, before she was smiling and giggling, the youngest child in our household was a fixture – her brothers had left for school and The Cinnamon Girl and I could look forward to seeing her at home, to hearing about her day, to listening to her make us a laugh with a joke or a story, to watching her grow into the amazing and confident young woman she has become.

And, soon, we will have to do all of that remotely. Soon our conversations will be electronic, completed via text or over FaceTime. Soon, she will take her full ride scholarship to college, her possessions and herself out of state.

Soon she will be far away.

But, we have Yesterday, we still have a summer of Todays and, Sous Chef, YOU have tomorrow. The Cinnamon Girl and I will always be a part of your shining Tomorrow.

Yesterday, before she looked into the shining sun of her tomorrow, the youngest child in our household was sitting on my knee…

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Stretch Turns 19


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More than a few words on Stretch today on the occasion of his 19th birthday:

Our kid has grown into a fine young man. Caring and compassionate, Stretch  is the type of guy who holds open the door, who asks if he can help, who genuinely cares. I don’t know how much his parents have had to do with making him who he is, I just feel both profoundly lucky and profoundly blessed that he’s become the man he has.

We miss him when he’s away at school.

Stretch loves sports, I mean LOVES sports. The Cinnamon Girl notes that he will turn on the television for anything involving a bat, a bat or a coach. She’s right.

He loves his family and truly takes joy from being with and teasing Sous Chef and HJ jr. He shares the same enthusiasm for his cousins, even when they are hanging all over his arms and legs as if they were limbs of a tree.

He loves his girlfriend friends and we delight in getting to know them through his stories of them.

He loves a good joke, a good laugh, a good moment.

And I love being around him and, as I’ve said many, many times, it’s my privilege to be his dad.

Happy Birthday, son. I love you and I love you and I love you (should go on 19 times).

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