We'll start with the biggest story of our year. This is a story that needs to be documented for later years, as it is unique in and of itself, but it also reveals so much about the personality of E.J.
Last March, we headed down to DC to visit Uncle Jim and Aunt Chris. As usual, we made a stop at the zoo, one of our favorite places down there. We always laugh at how our kids are just as excited about the petting zoo type animals (goats, sheep, cows, etc.) as they are about the lions and tigers. This visit, they spent quite a bit of time watching the alpacas. Having spent a month in Peru, Kaleigh was quick to relate her experiences.
Once we got back home, Charlie seemed to have the alpacas stuck in his head. In typical Charlie fashion, he started hyper-focusing and spending huge amounts of time researching alpacas on the internet. It wasn't long before he found alpacas on Craigslist. He mentioned this to brother E.J., who had been saving up money to purchase an ipad at the time. E.J. quickly did the math and realized he could purchase a pair of alpacas for the same price as the ipad.
When he first came to me with this idea, my reaction was the expected "Are you crazy?!?! Don't we have enough live beings around here?!?! Who will take care of them? Where will we put them? What will they eat? Where will they go in the summer?" E.J. calmly listened to me rant and rave, listened to all my questions and then gave me all of his logical, practical, so-very-E.J. answers. Then I pulled out my ace-in-the-hole... "What about your ipad." He quickly and seriously replied that he wanted to do this instead. And this is what stopped me. How many 13 year old boys out there would choose 2 alpacas and all the care that comes with them over an ipad. And how long would he be thinking this way. So to the utter bewilderment of all of our family and friends, I said "Okay then."
Before long the boys were out back converting our old shed into a barn complete with a hayloft. They were building fences and planting pasture grass. They were researching Massachusetts alpaca farms, and talking with camp about bringing the alpacas with us for the summer. This was really happening. And last April, they arrived. Spitfire and Melvin. E.J.'s two new best friends.
Each morning now, I watch as my son bundles himself up for the 6am cold, and trudges outside to break up the ice on their water buckets, give them fresh grain, and spread their bedding hay around. He is out there after school, shoveling frozen manure, and cleaning their barn. He never complains. He never procrastinates. And I never once regret saying "Okay".