Gabriel at twelve

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I’ll confess, I’ve been dreading this birthday. For Mormons, twelve marks the great crossover from childhood, to Young Men or Young Women. This Sunday Gabe leaves Primary where he’s sung and been taught since he was 18 months old, to Young Men’s. He’ll be ordained a Deacon, join a Quorum… go to junior high.

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My fifth and youngest boy– I’ve clung to his childhood, so hard, for so long, and he’s rewarded me with his extraordinary sweetness, matchless humor and intense creativity.

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But he’s growing up. I can’t hold him back.

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But I have a feeling he’ll always be Gabe.

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When I asked for a birthday photo, I thought we’d comb his hair and step into the back yard. But Gabe donned his jacket and bow tie (’cause bow ties are cool) and insisted we go downtown.

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As we drove he chattered about his awesome sixth grade teacher, his latest story and the game he and Xander made up with their Legos last night. Every few minutes he turns to me saying, “You’re the best mom ever.” or “I’m so glad you’re my mom.” “You take the best pictures.” He’s all sunshine and love and enthusiasm.

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As the fifth in a line of brilliant, talented boys and shining star Mary just below him, you might think Gabe gets overshadowed. And yet, he holds his own.

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This is what happens when I tell Gabe to push his hair out of his eyes.

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If his brothers tease, he turns their words into a compliment; when Mary cries, he comforts. He brings out the best in his siblings, the best in everyone.

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I’ve heard rumblings lately about the damage parents inflict by posting negative or embarrassing facts and photos about their children. And I have to think the opposite is also true.
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When I focus on my childrens’ strengths, they do too.

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As Gabe says, “It’s important to keep up my street cred.”

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And just in case you’re wondering— 1. yes, he still sleeps with Baby Bear.

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2. almost never eats fruit.

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3. sings and dances with wild abandon

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4. cuddles up next to me during family prayer

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and I’m still (and probably forever) the only person allowed to call him Gaby-baby.

Happy Birthday Gabriel! We love and adore you.

January 22, 2014



  1. Selwyn

    January 16, 2014

    Gorgeous pictures of a spectacular individual. And yes, bow ties ARE cool!

  2. Tracy

    January 16, 2014

    Love that sweet boy. And the bowtie! Simply smashing! Happy Happy 12! xoxoxo

  3. thatgoodpart

    January 16, 2014

    Perfect…I have a daughter who will turn 12 later on this year. Now I’m secretly hoping that one day their lives will cross paths, they will get married, and I can learn all of your secrets. Even if I learn them a little late. 🙂
    Beautiful post.

  4. Michelle

    January 19, 2014

    I see glimpses of his young man self already starting to emerge. He’s so precious.

    “When I focus on my childrens’ strengths, they do too.”

    I have not been able to stop thinking about this talk by Pres. Eyring, “Help them Aim High”: “help young people glimpse the grandeur God sees in them and their futures and the unique service He has prepared them to give. He will help you see how to do it for your children or for other youth you lead. But as you prayerfully seek to glimpse this future for yourself and to communicate it to the young person one on one, you will come to know that God loves each of His children as individuals and sees great and unique gifts in each of them.”

    This is one of the things I love most about your blog, Michelle. You adore each of your children and it shows. You see the divine in them and celebrate it openly. And the impact of that shows. And it radiates to so many who read your blog and enjoy your beautiful gift for photography.

  5. Mitchell Family

    January 20, 2014

    Happy Birthday Gabe! We love you! And Baby Bear forever!

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