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This week has revolved around picking beans. We have lots (emphasis on lots) of beans and are picking a couple of rows every day. Anyone who stops to visit or drop something off is strongly encouraged to grab a bucket and join in!

However, we did take Labor Day off. It was a double holiday for us as Liam was celebrating his 17th birthday.

Liam was an inquisive child, happy to follow Bill and me, wherever we went and whatever we did. That was fortunate because we took him everywhere. He liked to explore, ask questions and create. He built things out of sand, twist ties, wood, metal, and fruit - pretty much anything. And he always seemed to be thinking about something.

He has grown taller and stronger - reminiscent of Bill when I met him. Liam is fairly self-reliant and still creating, always creating. He is sensitive, caring, funny and . . . still always thinking about something.

When he was little, he relied on me a lot. He nursed more than 3 years, hung out in my sling - riding on my hip or back, and slept in our bed even after he weaned. I always knew he would move to his own bed sometime, I just didn't know when.

I read books to him - never ending stacks of books. We would spend the afternoon in front of the bookshelf switching from silly Chicken Little to non-fiction books on snakes to Greek myths.

With his birthday, I realize our relationship has changed significantly. Now I rely on him as much as, if not more than, he relies on me. He harvests crops, packs vegetable boxes, feeds chickens, unloads bags of grain from the truck, and keeps an eye on his brother and sister when we are gone. He prepares meals, entertains us by telling jokes in different accents (British is my favorite, but German is a close second), and enlightens us with the difference between adaptation and evolution.

And he still blows us away with his creations, sometimes a sailboat carved out of a cucumber, sometimes a man holding a sword wound out of twist ties, or sometimes a prehistoric creature welded from metal rebar.

I can't imagine how boring my life would be without his impressions of Bill and me bickering. I can't imagine starting the day without his morning hug. I can't imagine my kitchen counter free of his bits and pieces of metal and design sketches.

Somewhere along the line, he grew up. I can't feign ignorance of this fact. I knew it was happening. In fact, I often welcomed it. His independence freed me to do other things.

But adulthood seemed so far away. It isn't anymore.

I know that someday he will move out of our home . . . as I contemplate picking more beans, I'm glad I still don't know exactly when.

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