Coming across these pictures is what prompted this post:
I took these right before we all moved to Cary, because I wanted to remember Kaden playing with the Howard kids. Looking at these makes me cry, and cry, and cry.
When we bought our fixer-upper on West Highland Avenue, I was new to Kinston. I knew the Howards, but I didn't really know them. It was nice thinking we'd have a good family living across the street, but I had no clue how lucky we really were.
How do I love the Howards? Let me count the ways:
1) I love all of the yummy treats I've gotten to devour thanks to Stephanie's amazing cooking skills. There is nothing as wonderful as getting a phone call with her on the other line asking if we'd like to "try" some of the dessert she just made, or hearing the doorbell ring and seeing a cute blond child standing there with a plate of gourmet cupcakes.
2) I love how gorgeous their yard is. Even though it meant that my yard always looked like complete crap compared to theirs, it was so nice to gaze out the window and see something pretty. No matter the season, it always looks so lovely.
3) I love all of the walks I've taken with Stephanie. She is the kind of friend to whom you can tell anything.
4) I love all the walks Stephanie has taken with my child. Let me ask you something: Does your neighbor call you up and ask to "borrow" your infant or toddler, even if he's cranky? No? Well, mine does. Not only that, but she usually tells me to go run errands while she has him. I know. Be very jealous. Stephanie has served our family in so many ways, big and small, and she always acts like it's no big deal, even when it is a huge inconvenience for her. For example, she once kept Kaden for an entire day for me while I was still teaching, and it was her husband's day off!
5) I love that I have been able to watch a Supermom (not to mention Superwoman!) and learn from her. Stephanie is such a patient, loving mom. She is such a hard worker! She is the kind of person who makes you realize you can do anything.
6) I love Landon, Joel, and Allison. I love them. And I love how much they love our Kaden boy. I think Joel would give Kaden every toy he owns if we let him. Every time we go over there we leave with a basketball, a truck, or a book. I love all of the coloring book pages we kept posted on our refrigerator from Allison--beautifully executed designs with inscriptions like "To KR" (Katie Reese) or "To KF" (Kaden Fox). I love all the amazing deals on magazine subscriptions I've gotten thanks to Landon's school fundraisers. I just love the Howard kids.
7) I love that even though the Howards aren't my neighbors anymore, they will always be like family to us.
One of the saddest parts of leaving Kinston is leaving our amazing neighbors behind. I've tried to convince them to move with us, but to no avail. I hope when we buy our next house we'll find new neighbors to love, but somehow I doubt they'll hold a candle to the Howards. We already miss them so much!