My youngest child is loving life this week.

His two older siblings are spending the week with the grandparents, offering up an opportunity at one-on-one time not generally experienced during his life. He's showing off his singing skills, relishing the moment at having toys to himself and conversing so much at the dinner table that it's difficult for him to finish eating in a timely manner.

Life is good for my almost 2-year-old. And for Dad, it's much easier than I remember when my wife and I were the parents of just one child. My recollection centers on much more crying, impatience and a lack of necessary conflict resolution — and those are just reflections of myself.

What's different? I'm more experienced, but I chalk up this new attitude to perception. For my youngest son, my wife and I, this week offers up a different look than what we previously witnessed. My son is not having to fight for attention and the house is his entire playground. For my wife and I, we've been doing this parenting thing for almost two years with three children, so when there's a subtraction of two, it feels like there's very little happening. The noise level decreases, the activity is less and bed time is more like a sprint, rather than the marathon endeavor that encompasses the majority of our lives.

It seems easy...maybe a little too easy and too quiet.

But this newfound perception has me thinking about Clinton, and the changes, both in the past and on the horizon, affecting the area. Our annual Progress sections will once again occur in September, where the Clinton Herald looks at what's happening in the Gateway area. One of those stories is about the process of 19th Avenue North, and how the project started and stopped for several years.

Now it's completed, much like many other projects envisioned decades ago, like Mill Creek, the Lincolnway Railpark, the Business and Technology Park, and more. For people who came to Clinton in the late 1990s and beyond, they don't know any different than constant construction on Liberty Square and other areas of town.

For some, though, that perception of change and growth, is missing. They're stuck on the good old days, when the city — and the world — were much different places.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention some of the challenges. Regionalization is continuing to hit micropolitan cities in Iowa hard. The changing face of the employee and their desires also isn't doing these mid-sized towns any favors.

Instead of burying its head in the sand, the city of Clinton and some of its citizens, aggressively pursued a new vision of bettering the city's infrastructure to be ready for growth. That happened in the mid-1990s, and we're seeing many of those projects finally coming to an end.

And while the growth hasn't been as quick as many have hoped, it's happening, despite what the perception is by area residents. Go ahead and take a drive to the west end of Clinton. Construction is a regular sight to see, along with new buildings and better outlets for visitors and residents alike.

With all this vision finally concluding, it's time to look to the future for ways to make Clinton a better place. The city will soon start single-stream recycling, and citizens recently had an opportunity to weigh in on the future of the parks system. North River Drive also is making a comeback in the city's conscious.

The city's vision from decades before is here. Now it's time to take a step back, open our eyes and see the area from a new angle. I got that new vantage point this week in my personal life. Hopefully you'll join along with the Clinton Herald during the month of September to see a new perception of the area's progress.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at scottlevine@clintonherald.com or @ScottLevineCH on Twitter.