It’s ThanksWeek around these parts, and you can bet your giblets I’m having a great time flipping through some old posts and thinking about the things I’m thankful for.

Today, it’s about the dudes of Casa de Franks. While I had to narrow three boys down to the one post below, I still have some specific things to say in today’s bonus content: Jacob / Austin / Jase. Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

This post originally appeared on September 2, 2011.

This has turned into Adoption Week here on the blog, which is kind of like Shark Week, only cuter. (Although if you haven’t been exposed to Haven’s razor sharp teeth…)

We’ve told Haven’s story, and told a bit of the rest of our stories along the way. But there’s one more thing that needs to be said:

My sons are real men. And I don’t deserve them.

Like their freakish athletic ability, there are some other characteristics that they didn’t get from me. They’ve been supremely selfless through this whole process with Haven. When I was their age, I would have been appalled if my parents had tried to add one to our nest. I remember freaking out the year my dad invited a homeless guy for Christmas. (It’s not that hard to remember. I was 33 years old. No seriously.) I flip out when my peanut butter jar gets disturbed. I am – in short – selfish. My boys – in short – are not. And for that I’m grateful.

Has it been easy? Nope. After the novelty of having a new baby in the house wore off, Haven has moved from being the fragile princess to being the little sister. She has an uncanny knack for finding the “off” button on Austin’s Playstation just when he’s about to make the high score, causing him to fling her into the front yard. (That’s hyperbole, social services people. No babies were flung in the making of this story.)

It’s not easy to go from a house with a 15 year old, 14 year old, and 9 year old – all very self sufficient – to a house with a toddler. They have had a crash course in changing diapers, making bottles, and clipping hair bows. They have mixed her formula, fed her smashed carrots, and snuck her ice cream. They’ve been puked on and peed on and pooped on more times than they can count. And through it all, they have led her and loved her well.

Nothing has made me prouder in this process than to see my boys become protectors. They hold her when she’s scared at the beach and hug her when our “attack monkey” game goes too far. They make sure her car seat is tight and her sandals are strapped and the kitchen cabinets are latched.

I feel sorry…very, very sorry…for any young man that shows up at our house in the future. Though I may be too old and senile to intervene, I know that three big brothers will work him over a few times before he gets close to their little sister.

People have frequently asked them, “So what do you think about having a little sister?” Last Sunday after church, one of them said, “How should we answer that? ‘We don’t like her, but I guess we’re stuck with her’? What kind of question is that? What do they expect us to say?”

Since they don’t know how to articulate it (especially after the 150th time), I’ll answer it on their behalf: they love her. They adore her. They want what’s best for her, and they wanted her. She lights up when they walk into the room. She loves her Jachub and her Ya Ya and her…well, she’s working on getting Jase to come out just right…but she loves him too.

She may never know how they’ve changed her life, but Merriem and I do. What’s more, we know how she’s changed theirs.

My little girl may have taught me what it looks like to be wrapped around her finger, but my sons have taught me what true selflessness is. I’m grateful that they’ve made room for one more at our table. I could learn from them.

We all could.

Jacob (15) at Wrightsville Beach, just after Haven decided she hated Wrightsville Beach.
Austin (14), probably just moments before she peed on him for the 28th time.
Jase (9), not bitter that Haven can’t pronounce his name yet.