dear calum,

happy birthday, 7 yr old! can you believe you are so old? 6 was an exciting year for you – finishing kindergarten and starting youth soccer. you are growing up in all kinds of ways and you cannot wait!

2016 04 01 mendell star calum.jpg


six was an ok year for you. you are kind of a dramatic guy, with high highs and low lows. when things are going you way you are quite pleasant; then they are not you are quite the little thundercloud. some of it is your personality and some of it is your age and some of it is probably being the middle child.

2016 05 15 bros.JPG


but overall you enjoy life and make the most out of things. you enjoyed kindergarten and you are enjoying first grade and you love learning and writing and learning how to read. you are the only nerd in the history of phonics who loves that topic the best.

2016 06 20 lantern maker.jpg


your teachers find you to be a delight and we struggle to leave school in any kind of reasonable time on rainy days because you have to stop and hug any of them that you see on the way out. and they love it. you continue to enjoy all of your classmates and despite some challenges in reading and writing, you really enjoy doing your school work too. you got to be part of a special reading group at school recently and you really like meeting with classmates and discussing what you have read. you don’t see the extra intervention as anything but positive and that is pretty great. sometimes your learning specialists would like you to get a little more stressed about your challenges so that maybe it will motivate you a little bit to work harder on them, but mostly you are content to keep soldiering along without getting too worked up about things.

2016 07 06 sand calum.jpg


you love getting new books from the library and you love having books read to you. you are not as excited about having to read books back to us – it’s still a little bit of a challenge – but you are really coming along with the reading and you can really tell the work you have been putting into things. at the beginning of the first grade school year you were behind but now you are starting to catch up.

2016 08 15 pirate calum.jpg


you love youth soccer and you play so hard that it’s almost heartbreaking. all of your hard there is paying off too and you are gaining a lot of skillz yourself. it’s tough keeping up being as small as you are, but that is going to end up being your secret weapon when everyone else underestimates you and then you crush them. you would like to go to soccer every day all week long, so it’s very frustrating to you that we only go to soccer twice a week – once for august and once for you. you’d like to go to both of your practices and to the weekend soccer as well. sometimes we make it on sundays but usually by then we need a break, so that is definitely not your favorite thing.

2016 09 03 brothers.jpg


you also are really enjoying riding your bike and would like to rid every day to and from school and it is endlessly frustrating to you that we cannot do that. you love whenever we do manage to squeeze in a family bike ride and of course we never manage to do it quite frequently enough. you love playing with zachary and emmanuel and you will play with hugo and his buddy sawyer as well. you aren’t too picky about how only anyone is as long as they are willing to play with you. you like playing baseball in the backyard with zachary (and zachary even gave you your won glove to play with) but you are just as happy playing star wars.

2016 10 10 corn a-mazing.jpg


you like playing pokemon and you have your own special and favorite cards that you like but you also enjoy playing magic with august. you like playing board games and card games with the family – something that we never do enough of for you either.

2016 11 17 new earrings.jpg


you are generally helpful around the house and you are generally kind to your brothers. hugo makes you crazy (because he is crazy making) and sometimes august teases you, and it’s true that it really is no picnic being the one in the middle sometimes. but you do your chores without too many complaints and you get along with your brothers most of the time.

2016 12 20 zoo lights ii.jpg


you have a big heart that i am pretty sure is going to break for the whole world when you get older. i think you are going to be pretty tough and take care of yourself but you take social justice pretty personally and i think you are really going to be a fighter for people who have less privilege than you. you always have ideas for signs for any protests that we go to and they are usually messages like “be nice to my friends” and “please don’t hurt anyone”. the world is already lucky to have you.

2017 01 07 snow brothers.jpg


you love playing the iPad and watching movies. you like snuggling during movie and book time and you like to give hugs during dinner (but please save your hugs until after dinner) and during toothbrushing (and after toothbrushing) and after bedtime (please do not get out of bed for hugs) and although you are quite lovable we are working on consent and appropriate times for affection and also not using affection as a deflection technique to get out of doing what you are supposed to be doing.

2017 02 12 treats.jpg


you are scatterbrained and get lost in the middle of tasks. not because you don’t know what you should be doing but because there is always something else you would rather be doing. we are working on that and you are getting better at all of that as you are getting older. you are funny and brave and confident and silly. you love a good joke and a good game. you are thoughtful about others and you try to be kind. you need to be quiet and eat at meal times and you need to work on not reacting so satisfyingly when your brothers are trying to get a rise out of you. you are the most likely to give a kiss or a hug or to say i love you. you are a delight and i can’t believe how much you are growing every day.

2017 03 26 calum 7 vi.jpg

7 (40.5 lb 43.25″)!

happy birthday!




6 years old

dear calum,

6 years old! what a big year for you!



5 was not your easiest year (you are a stubborn little bugger! which both makes me proud and drives me crazy), but you had a lot of big accomplishments! i think it was tough still being at home for the first half of the year, but you really grew A LOT. your speech has made leaps and bounds in improvement! enough that we only kept your IEP just in case you had some regression over the summer or if you felt a little shy at school and could use the extra help. but it’s made a serious improvement in the way you interact with the world. where once you were shy to talk to new folks or even to express yourself sometimes at home, now you make new friends wherever you go! it’s beautiful and amazing to see.



the summer was a good time for you – there is nothing you three brothers love more than being together, and this summer was no exception. you learned to be more brave in the pool – jumping in to papa or nana and even swimming a little bit to the side or to the ladder. you were able to swim back and forth between two grownups too and you (and we) were very proud about it.





you grew a bit this year too (35 lbs, 41″)! we did go to see how things are going with your body – you are a really small fry – but your bones are just taking their time and you will eventually get there. it was good to hear that you don’t have any deficiencies in anything, you are just not a fast grower (like many other members of your immediate and extended family), and that is good to know. you have a killer smile for sure that more than makes up for your size.



the biggest news after your speech accomplishments is, of course, that you started kindergarten! FINALLY your big day! you got to ride the school bus and you were very excited. we followed behind and met you at school, and while you were a little nervous, you mostly were just very pleased to finally be there. your little uniform pretty much slays me. unlike your brother, you will actually wear button ups, and you are a very handsome and stylish guy. you came home every day for the first few weeks telling us all about your “NEW FRIEND!” until i think you knew everyone’s names in the class. your kindergarten teacher was both impressed and a little appalled at your comfort level at school and i am pretty sure she spent the first few weeks working on getting you to sit down and MYOB.



you do love school, though, and once you figured out the game you were quite good at it. because you are the middle child (and mostly because of your speech), you didn’t know any letters or numbers or oh, basically anything school-relevant, at all when we sent you, but you quickly picked most things right up! it was good that we kept your IEP because it helps with your being a little behind in your letters, especially. BUT YOU CAN READ!! we need to work on that more this summer but you are doing a great job. you will need some help in first grade too, but that’s what school is for! the best part is how much you are up to the challenge and not afraid to back down on things that seem trick at first. your papa and i are really proud of your hard work and progress. it’s been a big year for you.





you are getting better and better at soccer. you’re not the biggest or the strongest or the fastest, but it’s clear that you have the most heart out there. you are the most focused and you really play with a lot of passion. your footwork is getting better and boy if you keep that focus going, you are going to go far with anything you put your mind to!





you’ve been dying for swim lessons and it just keeps not quite working out for us. i am hoping that is something we can do this coming fall and/or winter. you love playing soccer and of course the iPad. your favorite shoes are the riders of berk, clone wars (sometimes), slugterra, and wild kratts. we got you caught up on all of the star wars movies this year in time for you to watch the force awakens and even though i think you don’t really have any idea at all what happened, you were HYPED to be there (so were we!!).



you are tough and stubborn and crazy-making and sweet and sensitive and our tenderheartedist little bear. we are teaching you not to back down from bullies (ahem, hugo) and you are teaching us to always be a lover. we are so lucky to have you in our lives!





5 years

dear calum,

this one snuck up on me a little bit. i mean, obviously i knew it was coming. you’ve been talking about your 5th birthday party since about two days after your 4th birthday party. your having a birthday has been on my mind most days for about 11 months. but five. for real, man, that’s getting up there in years.



it was your first really tough one. 3 was hard for your big brother and 4 was considerably better if not easy. but 3 was pretty ok for you. 4, not so much. your stubborn streak really came into its full glory this year. you are almost definitely willing to almost cut off your own nose to spite your face. it’s very trying. you were a pain in the butt. i am proud of your ability not to back down in the face of injustice and that will serve you well in about 20 years but i seriously can’t wait for this developmental phase to move up and out. one night you spent 45 minutes taking 1-2 minute breaks on the basement stairs because you weren’t interested in cleaning up some legos. it was only when i promised you that if you didn’t take this last chance to clean them up i would send you to bed without dinner and you would not get breakfast until you cleaned them up in the morning that you finally relented. and then it took you about 4 minutes to clean up, tops. stubborn.



you have also been working on your whining this year. there are a lot of “but i want..” in your arguments for why you should get to do or have things. it’s trying and wearing. and then you have a breakdown when i still say no. you are having a hard time learning how to say “may i please have” instead of “mama i want.” we talk about how your parents are not your servants and that we don’t wait around all day waiting for your orders, but so far it’s not sinking in.



eating with you is a real trial. you take FOREVER. you do end up eating pretty much everything you are asked – and believe me we give you reasonable, calum-sized proportions – but it takes all damn day. i’ve tried all of the things, snacks, no snacks, with chocolate chips, without, you choose, i choose. it doesn’t matter it all sucks. we’ve just whittled it down to what protein and fruit/vegetables you have to eat and then you can have whatever carbs you want pretty much and often we have to put on a timer to get the last bit finished. i’m not asking for the moon here, but you are exhausting. you will be hungry a lot this coming september, i am certain.



it’s not all narrow misses from being sold to the nearest traveling circus, though. you’re mostly really sweet to your baby brother. you are learning how to get along with your big brother. you took swim lessons this fall and really learned a lot! you started taking speech in october and you’re made huge amounts of progress in articulation and confidence. you learned how to count to 10 all on your own. you are really growing and becoming and funny and interesting person.



you are as big a star wars nerd as anyone in this family now and have even seen most of the movies. you do find them a little scary at times but not too scary to watch. you all have a star wars blaster and there are many imaginary star wars games played in and out of the house.



you’ve started to make your own friends. for the longest time you were just too shy, and i am guessing that your speech may have had something to do with it, but you will even sometimes introduce yourself to other children (usually with prompting, but i think you just need the extra little confidence boost). and you have friends you ask after and work hard at getting together with. for most of the year you liked the idea of seeing these friends more than the reality, but now at just 5 you have started to figure some things out.



like every child with the opportunity, you love the ipad. you especially like tiny thief, a sort of role playing game where you have to solve puzzles to complete quests, but you also like fighting games and sports games and mostly games you can play with gus. you get about an hour or so many days of the week while i work and hugo naps and then about 30 minutes on the weekends. a lot more time than i think is probably best, but i also feel like it’s your last few days of ipad glory before school starts in the fall, so i’m okay with it.



you like card games and board games a lot, and i am sorry that i don’t have more time to play them with you. you especially like sleeping queens and you will play just about any board game that you can. you really enjoy playing and you don’t seem to mind losing – as long as you get to play you really have a good time.



this winter was crazy. after awhile even you were sick of the snow. but for the longest time you really enjoyed climbing and jumping in the snow especially. we really suited up well and you didn’t seem to mind the cold – at least for a long time. it was hard, though, being cooped up inside so much. as soon as spring came and the snow finally melted, we were all so relieved to get back outside again.



your soccer skills really improved this fall. you’re still so small, but you work so hard. you needed papa to be with you a lot at practice, still, but you love to play a lot and you are always so excited to go.

2015 02 17 zoo snow ix


it was hard for you to be left behind this past year when school started. we did a few special things – boston nature center classes, swim classes and speech school – and for the first few weeks your wore your backpack everywhere and all of that helped. and you were so proud that you had so many schools! the winter ruined all of that except for speech school, but i think you are really going to be ready this fall. i can’t believe it is happening so soon!

2015 03 26 five


you’ve done so much growing this year (38.5″, 31.5 lbs!), calum! you were a challenge and crazy making, but you were also still a lover and a snuggler too. we’re all so lucky to have you, thanks for being you.



4 years

dear calum,

my love. how big you have grown! 4! the age where i can no long pretend you are a baby. the age where the baby fat (and tiny as you are, it’s still there — just barely — yet) starts to go. the words and sentences and stories get bigger. where the kid really starts to blossom and grow. 4 is a great year, if bittersweet. how did it get here so quickly?!

2013 04 26 buddies

3 was a good year for you. i’ll admit, i was nervous. 3 was hard with your big brother. i didn’t know what to expect from you, my easy going guy. but while you spent this year becoming more of your own person, with lots of bursts of independence and I-CAN-DO-IT- MYSELF’S, you didn’t seem to be as tumbled by all the feelings and you were able to keep your cool more often than not. i’m not disappointed — we introduced a new baby into your life a few weeks after 3 last spring and you seemed to take it all in stride. partly i’m sure it’s because you already have one brother, so what’s the big deal about adding another? and partly i think that’s just you, more or less ready to roll with most of the punches.

2013 05 06 truck

closer to 4 was harder — for me, anyway. you’ve become a lot more stubborn and unmovable. you are SO stubborn. you mostly so easy going that when you dig in your heels it’s always shocking. and mostly over very stupid things, so it’s very annoying too. we’ve had to entirely revamp previous disciplinary plans that worked really well with your brother because you just don’t give an eff. seriously. it’s always really impressive in hindsight, although during-sight it makes me want to hang you upside down by your toes. one time this last year it took you 45 minutes to put away your legos. forty-five minutes. 39 of which i am pretty sure you spent sitting on the basement stairs in 1-2 minutes increments. you punk. it wasn’t until i assured you that you would go to bed and then getting up and do this stair sitting again in the morning AND NO BREAKFAST that you finally agreed to put them away. so help me child.

2013 06 12 brothers

you really enjoy having a baby. i don’t know how much you know what it means to be a big brother yet, but you love having hugo as much as you love having august. the best part about having a 3rd baby is you and august being his big brothers. he of course completely adores you, but what is so amazing to me is how much the two of you adore him right back. unlike august you seem to have easily accepted that he is a new person, or at least a new thing that it is important to be gentle with. not that you’ve never hit him or pushed him around or that you never get mad at him, but you pretty much never have given him a hard time that he didn’t deserve. and you loved to hold him (before he became a giant. and not that it stops you, you still are always in his business trying to love him to death) and to play with him and to read to him. yes he’s annoying and knocks down or eats or tears your things, and that makes you mad, but mostly you are happy to have him around. i think that’s really cool.

2013 09 26 calum ii

august going to school this year was tough for you. you feel like you are ready to go to school, and the first few weeks it wasn’t uncommon for you to burst into tears when your big brother go on the bus and left you behind. so we got you a backpack and a lunchbox and we got you some “school”. twice a week this year you are hanging out with your frenemy lola. actually, you are great buds now, but it took several months for you to realize that you enjoy her company. you still are frequently total jerks to each other, but when you are good together, you are really really good.

2013 11 28 calum

we also started speech this year, at your other school — a real school, no less. once a week for an hour at the school right around the corner from us! so great to have speech and so close too! so many wins. the only drag is hugo, who is very easily (understandably) bored. and also amusingly very very good at repeating all of the sounds you are working on. you don’t seem to notice/mind, though, and you are really starting to enjoy going very much. you like the games that you play with the SLPs and you like the other kids (a few kindergartners have speech for the first 30 minutes with you). and you are getting new letters left and right! you are very proud (and so are we) and it’s been very nice getting a better idea about what you are saying!

2013 12 21 sunshine pancakes ii

you moved into the room with gus this year. that of course was a happy/sad moment for your mama. you still wake up pretty frequently at least once a night, and we still often wake up in the morning to find you had moved into the single in the middle of the night. i miss having you in the room, but i love that you are snuggled up with your big brother. you seem to really like sharing a room with gus, too, and it is you, not gus, who occasionally sleeps on the top bunk. otherwise you both have your own clone wars comforters and pillows on the bottom bunk together. you are getting so BIG, my little one.

2014 01 13 calum

we are having a fun year spending time with your friends, josie (cho-zee), rory (yuri), and shona, seby, makiah, margot, and eamon. just almost to 4, you really started to hit your groove with kids. you’ve enjoyed playing with kids for a year now, but you’ve suddenly discovered the ones you own age/size are actually worth playing with too. and it’s been so adorable to hear you get all excited about meeting up with them by name. sure, the big kids are your biggest heroes (and all the other kids were of course invited to your birthday party as well), but it’s nice to see you making your “own” friends too.

2014 02 09 calum

we had more cavities this year. ugh. the only good news about that is you are such a laid back guy that the dentist was able to fill them without putting you under. hurray! you also grew this year too! at your 4 yr appointment you weighed 28.4 lbs and are up to 37 inches! although that’s very very big for you, it still makes you a very small peanut (sorry).


you started soccer this fall. you were always very excited to go, but still spent most of the time in papa’s arms. this spring, though, you’re suddenly very into it on the field as well, and play very very hard. you’re actually quite good as well, tiny hero. you like to kick the ball around a lot at home or at gus’ soccer practices too. it’s so fun to see you play so hard. off the field too — board and card games are on your radar these days too. and books. you LOVE ladybug girl and bumble boy, oliver jeffers books, pete the cat, and books about clone wars. and you like the same book over and over and over and over and.. you get the picture. it’s adorable/the worst.


you’ve gotten much better at the balance bike, you eat a lot more things, you love to play the iPad (surprise), and have all kinds of opinions about what shows you like (clone wars, charlie and lola, curious george, despicable me). you still love to dance. you still have amazing floppy hair (although you have expressed interest in cutting it short “like august”) (mama said no).


you are my amazing, stubborn, silly (so silly! so many jokes), obnoxious (so many butt jokes!), perfect 4 year old.

2014 03 26 four ii

i’m a lucky, lucky mama to have you!

love, always,



top of the morning

gus slept in the top bunk last night. the move was precedented exclusively on the fact that calum tried to sleep up there the night before. which was largely due to the fact that when a good friend of the kids’ slept over a week ago HE slept on the top bunk. the first person under 30 to do that.

calum didn’t make it on his turn. this is partly due to the fact that we usually sing or sit with him until he is asleep and i didn’t do it that night. it’s kind of intense to try to put all 3 kids to bed at the same. weirdly enough we are at a point in all of their lives when they are all ready for bed at almost exactly the same time. so being the only grown up in charge of that activity gives mixed results. the kids had been particularly obnoxious that night, so i just said forget it (or something close to that expression and which also starts with an “f”), go ahead sleep in the top bunk here are your books go to sleep. that didn’t work at all for calum and he came downstairs about 10 times. and 10 times i took him upstairs without a word and put him back in the bed as gently as i could. stupidly gus was sleeping on the outside of the mattress so i sort of had to toss calum onto his side. even doing that gently is a bit of a thing now that even tiny calum is getting to be so large. eventually he wore himself out and fell asleep, but it was an unpleasant 45 minutes or so.

last night gus said HE wanted to sleep in the top bunk — prompting calum to exclaim that he did too! (no, i said, you had your chance last night, tonight it’s gus’ turn). so of course i, alone again, said go for it. i read them 4 books on the bottom bunk and then helped gus put his comforter and his pillow up there and then tucked calum into the bottom bed. and told them papa would kiss them when he got home and then i walked out of the room.

and then i didn’t hear another peep (!!).

of course the first thing that i assumed is that they both were dead because obviously. but they both woke up this morning demanding breakfast at the usual time so i guess they were just worn out. we’ll try it again tonight if the would like. i love having them on the bottom bunk together, but calum IS kind of annoying at bedtime and with school starting it’s probably better for gus to have his own space. the best part is that this is the very beginning of calum going to bed and then essentially falling asleep on his own, which is so very nice. it’s not that we mind having a snuggly bedtime routine, but that can be accomplished on the couch and then with book reading in bed without having to lie with him until he falls asleep.

i don’t expect tonight to be as easy last night, but it was a pretty interesting milestone. and a relief for me for the nights that papa isn’t home.

39 weeks 2 days (may 26)

after much deliberation, hugo shevek colvin shenk finally consented to being born at 9:05 pm, may 26, at brigham & women’s hospital at 7 lbs 5 oz and 19 inches (he uncurled to 20.5 by the morning of may 28th). he has what may be medium brown hair and newborn colored eyes. possibly jeremy’s nose.



there are many hot and contested debates about his looks. i don’t see any resemblances yet, personally, but i will concede he’s a rather lovely guy regardless. he’s awfully pleasant and sleeps well and is much adored by his older siblings. frankly, he’s quite perfect in every way.


birth day cake

DSC_0140 DSC_0145