Before having kids of my own, I thought parenting was going to be a piece of cake. As the second oldest of 10 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.

Our August issue is dedicated to kids and pets. In this issue, we share about teenagers overcoming adversity and inspiring others, we learn about a therapy dog named Finely who is a student at a Leawood school, and local dog trainer shares her heart with us, and much more.