Perhaps it’s because he walked in their feathers when he wasn’t yet two, but Xander is the champion and friend to our chickens.


Without fail, he daily fills their food and water bins and peeks into the nesting boxes for eggs. When the mercury dips below freezing he frets over their welfare and changes out the frozen water barrels twice a day.

Caring for the chickens was never assigned to Xander– he can’t check it off his job chart or collect coins for his efforts– he simply cares.


Lucy too, recognizes Xander’s heart. Throughout the day, there isn’t one child who pets Lucy or fills her food bowl more often than the others (and I’m the only one, forever and always, who changes her kitty litter), but at night she seeks out Xander’s bed and curls herself contentedly at his feet. When we did the great room switch this fall, she followed Xander to his new room and the top of the bunk bed. We laugh nightly, watching her navigate the window sills and lampshade just to reach her favorite sleeping partner. And when the littles drag their blankets and pillows under the Christmas tree or to the basement for a slumber party, Lucy seeks out Xander and nestles at his feet. He is safe; he is good.


Everything about home life delights Xander, he is always eager to work in the garden or chop vegetables for soup. He is the child who pushes me to decorate early and lavishly for holidays and takes great pride in our family culture. A perfectionist at school, Xander is never happy with anything but 100% and straight As; his teachers are alternately amused and overwhelmed by his demand for knowledge.


But from me, Xander never demands perfection. He blatantly adores me and tells me so almost hourly (will that change as he enters his teens?). I never anticipated this part of mothering– the affection and acceptance from these people I love more than life.

Twelve is a momentous age in Mormon culture– much like turning thirteen for Jewish children. In a few days he’ll become a Deacon: passing the sacrament and walking through the neighborhood on freezing Sunday mornings to collect offerings for the poor. At our house, it means he’s responsible for his own laundry (though, overachiever that he is, he’s been doing it since last summer).

I am not anxious for this child to grow and change– but I know he’ll do it well.


p.s. I know this seems like an over-the-top braggy post, but 4th children get very little recognition. And I restrained myself quite a lot… a lot a lot.

February 5, 2011
February 10, 2011



  1. Vennesa

    February 6, 2011

    You are a very blessed woman!!

  2. dalene

    February 6, 2011

    I have a soft place in my heart for those who care for chickens. He’s a sweetheart.

  3. Kerri

    February 6, 2011

    I think I may have a little bit of a secret crush on Xander (all in the name of future match-making, of course.) What a sweet post, Michelle.

  4. Tracy

    February 6, 2011

    Oh my word this post made me cry. Please don’t show a picture of him in his tie, I think my motherly tears will never cease.

    Love him.

    Love you.

  5. Mitchell Family

    February 6, 2011

    Not too braggy at all. You didn’t even mention his quick wit and perfect comic timing.

  6. Jeanelle

    February 6, 2011

    I want to meet this special young man! I love hearing about another deacon being ordained. What a wonderful tribute this was. Thank you.

  7. Jess

    February 6, 2011

    What an amazing child. I need to know your secrets to raising such fantastic boys. My Little Leo is well on his way and I pray he becomes a man of integrity with a heart that seeks after God. If he could also be so kind and caring and wonderful? I’ll be over the moon.

    p.s. I don’t think this post is too braggy. In fact, most of the time I think we mamas don’t brag nearly quite enough. If we’re worried about over-bragging, we need to do it a wee bit more, I’ve decided. LOL

  8. seven smiles

    February 7, 2011

    My fourth boy turned 12 on the 2nd.
    Be still my heart. It’s breaking a little inside letting go of my babies and watching them grow.
    But, like you, I know this boy of mine will do it well.

  9. house of 7

    February 7, 2011

    michelle, i am not sure you will see this but i just came from the shutterfly blog ( and on the header is a photograph of your family! it’s a younger one, as i can tell, mary looks younger to me. i don’t know if they (the pictures in the header) change, but it was cool to see faces i recognized from your fabulous blog! celebrity status -check! ☺ have a great day!

  10. Selwyn

    February 9, 2011

    Happy 13th year of excellence to Xander!

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