Caden John

Last October most of my Dawson family (and a few friends) visited us in Michigan for a Notre Dame game. The men had tickets to the game but the women chose instead to tailgate before the game and then walk around campus during the game. At the tailgate I went to pour myself and my friend a drink and then asked my sister (in-law) Lindsey what she would like.

Here’s something you should know about me: I have a sixth sense when it comes to pregnancy. The night before the Notre Dame game I noticed Lindsey not having a drink (it’s a Dawson tradition to have a drink after a long road trip) and munching on food more than she normally did. I gave her a raised eyebrow look to let her know she was being closely monitored. Bless.

Back to the tailgate: she followed me to the makeshift bar at the back of my minivan (I keep it classy people, don’t ever forget that) and said simply, “I know you already know, I saw your face last night when your mom asked what I wanted to drink. You cannot say anything to anyone because no one else knows but that eyebrow raise was correct, I’m pregnant again.”

My brother and Lindsey already had 2 amazing little girls so I was thrilled they were giving me another remarkable child to love on. Plus, it just so happened that every other male Dawson in our extended family had given birth to all girls. So it was that the Dawson family line either continued or ended with the tiny zygote now officially implanted in Lindsey’s belly. No pressure wee one.

Lindsey also mentioned, while I poured a celebratory vodka tonic for auntie Tesi, that if her calculations were correct this baby would be born on or around my birthday. I wasn’t aware of any way this news could have gotten more exciting until that moment.

As June 5 approached I checked in every few minutes relentlessly to see how Lindsey was doing. On June 3rd I decided to make my way to Iowa knowing Lindsey traditionally had very short labors and I just didn’t want to miss it!

When I got to Iowa the doctor okayed the induction for the 5th because Lindsey was already dilated and contracting-we were going to have a baby!! On my birthday!! Which happens to fall on my mom’s birthday!!

Marcus and Lindsey took off for the hospital early on the 5th so my mom and I got to spend our birthday hanging with my two nieces. I miss these two little girls so much every day in Michigan so getting to spend so much quality time with them felt like a perfect birthday gift.

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There is something about Landry that resonates within my soul. Not sure if it’s because she is now the middle child in a family with 2 older girls and a younger brother, much like myself, or if it’s her love of food and books but-I just love her.

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Truth be told I am not at all good at sharing my food. But Adley Sue can ask me for anything and I would give it to her. It’s rare that I’m around them without my kids but it was a truly special time, Adley and I were joined at the hip all day and it made me incredibly happy.

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After a quick pit stop at the tire store to fix a flat on my brother’s car, Lindsey’s mom took the girls while my mom and I headed to the hospital.

I knew I had to make the 8 hour trip back to Michigan later that day as we had a weekend full of kid activities so I spent most of those first hours praying labor would be quick and I would get as much snuggling as possible before I had to leave.

Soon after we had lunch with Marcus and Lindsey in their room, there was a text letting us know Lindsey was just checked and it was baby time.

2 minutes later my brother sent a text with just the baby’s face and the words, “It’s here!”

Mom, dad and I spent the next 10 minutes staring at the picture trying to guess what the sex of the baby was and begging my brother to let us in. We legit snagged a security officer and asked him to go back to the room and find out for us. That actually happened.

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Finally he told us we could come back. I made a video to document. I feel like I need to apologize for all of the things. In this video you will hear my “baby voice”, my “happy scream” and witness my inability to remember what I’m doing when I’m overcome by joy.

Brace yourselves, Lindsey looked way to good to have just had a baby. (And let me just take a moment to reiterate how much I love that sister of mine, I’m so so thankful she’s in our family. What a good mama and good wife to my brother. #blessed as the trend goes.)

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When I did the math, I had approximately 45 minutes to snuggle before I needed to get on the road in order to make it home by about 1am. I didn’t waste a single second.

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3 generations of Johns (Grandpa John, Dad Marcus John and baby Caden John-if Tomas would’ve been there it would be 4 generations btw).

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I don’t know, man, but watching my brother become a daddy again was just really special. I am so, so thankful I can count my brother as one of my good friends and am incredibly proud of him. Even in the months when people wondered if they would have another girl he made sure everyone knew it didn’t really matter to him. Lindsey mentioned numerous times she was more anxious about producing a boy than Marcus ever was. I love him, that’s just all there is to it.

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Yes, it was my mom and my birthday but it was also Emmett’s. Emmett is Lindsey’s sister’s son who was also born on June 5th. Of course we had to take a picture of the June 5th birthday buddies!

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It’s been 2 months since that day and I haven’t been able to get back and see little Caden John. Even with all of the modern technology, I hop on the struggle bus most often when I think about my nieces and nephews. Next week we go for a visit and I’m beside myself with anticipation.

Heard you loud and clear Caden John, see you soon. Love you so much.

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Dailah is 9!

Dailah is 9!

As July 26th neared, I asked Dailah what she wanted to do for her birthday. In our house the birthday person gets to choose everything we do and eat as a family, which is often the most exciting part for them. We rarely go out to eat as a family so birthdays are their one chance to choose wherever they want to go. Dailah, though, decided she wanted homemade spaghetti instead because “It’s too hard to have a quality conversation in a restaurant, it’s so loud and there are TVs everywhere.”

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Dailah’s first reaction for virtually everything is hesitation. “Hey Dailah, here’s a young lady your age, why don’t you introduce yourself and play for awhile?” Hesitation. “Dailah, why don’t you try doing a cartwheel on that trampoline?” Hesitation. She definitely tends towards a fixed mindset-if she doesn’t succeed at something initially then she believes she will never be successful at it. But after the initial hesitation she usually goes all in. So it was the case with her friend Kenna, who was the sister of one of the boys on our baseball team. Hesitation and then, best friends. (Image from Snapchat, find me there: tesileagh).

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Once she’s all in you simply won’t find anyone as hard working or passionate as Dailah. She’s open to new experiences for sure, but doing something in her wheelhouse? That’s her jam. And if it includes snuggling babies or pets, fuggetaboutit.

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She’s beautiful, to be sure, but I genuinely believe God saw what was on the inside and decided he would have to attempt to make the outside be just as wonderful. He failed, because there’s just no way to encompass all the joy and life that lives inside this one in just one suit of skin. (Those eyelashes are her real eyelashes. I believe the kids refer to this phenomenon as “I can’t even”)

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We’re not a big present family. The kids get to open a few small things that are usually picked up within the checkout aisles of our local Meijer but they never complain. Dailah was rather ecstatic with her fake nails and crossword puzzles.

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She’s currently obsessed with cheetahs. Obsessed. Dailah takes after her dad with regards to obsessions-they tend to come and go with the tide. As someone who doesn’t really obsesses over anything, I used to get swept up in each obsession buying Zach or Dailah whatever they needed to show that I supported each one only to-2 weeks later-see those same things collecting dust or in the Goodwill pile. It used to be maddening but now I secretly find it charming, who doesn’t love seeing someone so excited and passionate about something? I get that all the time with these two, I’m pretty lucky in that way. (Notice the cheetah print fake nails-$4 to show I support the obsession? #worthit)

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After her week at camp the counselors gave her the “trendsetter” award. They said if she wore her hair one way one day, all the girls would wear it that way the next day. That she came up with some odd combinations of outfits but every time she walked out of the door like she owned the world in that crazy outfit and it somehow looked like the most stylish combination they’d ever seen. They talked about her willingness to help out campers who were struggling and to never leave anyone out. It’s like she sought out the kids who were feeling left out and brought them into the fold, they said.

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Dailah has grown so much both physically and emotionally in the last year. It’s been so awesome to have deep conversations about what it means to be a girl/woman in our culture. I sometimes forget that we are as open of a family as we are until we are in public. After her cheer competition standing in line with hundreds of people she turned to me and yelled, “These bloomers are going right up my vagina!” Heads turned and one woman said to me, “I’m not even sure my daughter knows the word vagina.” Dailah was shocked to hear this. Doesn’t everyone speak openly about vaginas she wondered?

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Perhaps I’m most proud of her developing sense of humor. It’s no secret I love comedy and it could be said our family’s love language is sarcasm. Dailah has always been funny but this year she’s started learning when it’s appropriate to use it and when it’s not. As her timing has gotten better so have her witty remarks (and notes).

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Or this one, after she helped babysit my nephew Julius (JuJu) while the adults went out for a bit.

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Being a mother to Dailah has always been and remains to be a delight every single day. She is uninhibited joy, laughter uncontrolled all mixed with the intensity of her favorite animal. She is the best snuggler the world has ever seen and the conductor of so much life. I still can’t believe my good fortune at calling her mine.

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Love you so much Dailah Leagh. Happy birthday baby girl.