Before having kids of my own, I thought parenting was going to be a piece of cake. As the second oldest of ten kids, a classroom teacher, and former nanny, I had years of experience with children—and I knew I was good with kids. I was sure that my “expertise” was going to make parenting seamless. And then I had my first child.

I think God knew I needed to be humbled, or I would have probably been one of those parents who knew everything. My first came into the world screaming and colicky and didn’t stop screaming for months. He has always been my lively one—full of endless energy, excitement and curiosity, and while that could be challenging at times in his younger years, it was also a rich gift, and that personality has been an amazing asset for him as a teenager. (For those of you who have hyperactive toddlers—I promise you that energy does turn into a huge benefit.)  My other three were much more subdued, but they all, of course, have been drastically different from the next, encompassing both unique gifts and challenges.

While parenting hasn’t been the cakewalk I assumed it was going to be, it has been the most enriching and rewarding role of my life. The pure joy and love that kids (and fur kids) exuberate is refreshing and reflect what really is important in life.

Our August issue is dedicated to kids and pets. I hope you enjoy learning about a local teenager and a local dog who are both making a name for themselves on the big stage in different ways. We also wanted to share tips on family photo sessions, decorating a kids space and a fun last minute summer get-away.