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Posts Tagged ‘You say it’s your birthday’

For me, each kid in my family has an age that I identify them with. An age that for whatever reason, gets stuck in my brain. For Keaton that age is 3-4ish so to wake up this morning and find him a whole SEVEN years old is really messing with my brain’s construct of what my world should look like. I honestly have no clue how we got here. How did that sweet, funny, pigtail-sporting, tutu-wearing, booty-shaking toddler morph into this hard-working, sword-wielding, ninja-rolling, BOY?

To quote one of his favorite movies: Inconceivable.

Keaton is no one thing. He is not a kid that you can put in a box. He loves swords and rough-housing, and nail-polish and his stuffed Crookshanks. He’ll happily watch a Barbie movie or Star Wars. He is sensitive and kind. He is mischievous and a fairly adept liar.

He is joy. He is love. He is ours and we love him so very much.

Happy Seven, Keaton Sir!!

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Let’s get the awkward part out of the way and admit that Mama did a really crappy job of keeping the Internet abreast of all your one-year-old antics. Which… part of me is grateful for because life with three kids and a new house is no joke. We are constantly busy, constantly running and any down time I have right now is way better spent sitting on the floor in a heap of cars and trains with you snuggled in my lap. It also makes me sad because WOW did this year fly by at breakneck speed and I just want to hold tight to the little person you are right now. I love having a log of all the adorable and frustrating things your brother was doing at this age so I sort of feel like a failure for not keeping it up as I know all too well these moments that seem so sharp and unforgettable now will fade with time.

So! How do I sum of a year full of amazing you? Let’s start with your favorites:

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You’re favorite books: {Firstly, let me just say how grateful I am that you love stories. Getting Keaton to sit for books was impossible until he was 4 and now both of your siblings prefer to go off on their own and read to themselves so having another reading buddy is awesome.} You love; But Not the Hippopotamus, Each Peach Pear Plum, Ten Little Ladybugs, Goodnight Gorilla, 1,2,3’s with Charley Harper, Bear Takes A Trip, Wild Things, and I Love You Goodnight. You have to have 3 books before nap and bed and every time we get to number three you say “Laaaaaast book, Okaaaaaaay?…”

Favorite foods: Olives {the Felland is strong with this one}, beef sticks, spaghetti, fruit snacks, starburst, cake, berries and noodles. You have a major sweet tooth and I love that you change your voice when asking for a treat to see if my answer changes. You start with a whisper “a starburst please?” then, “A starburst? “a STARburst please?”, “starBURRRRRST?”

Favorite drink: Juice. Juice. Juice. JUICE! I only give you one or two small cups a day and you POUND them. You’re going to be tons of fun in college, I can already tell.

Favorite things: You love your blanket and nuk. So many times I go to look for you and start panicking when I can’t find you only to discover you between the couch and the coffee table laying with your blanket over your head. “Ezra! What are you doing?” Then a muffled, “I SNUGGLIN’!” Like, Duh, wasn’t that obvious, mom?

Favorite songs: ABC’s, Itsy-Bitsy Spider, and your very favorite, “What Does the Fox Say” WHY GOD, WHY? {Well, I know why, because it was on a Glee compilation CD your dad made for me and Rowan hates that song so Keaton would sing it to annoy her and you loved the big reaction it got so it quickly became your favorite, much to our chagrin.}

Favorite Games: Buttons, Ring Around the Rosie and the one where you and your brother run and chase each other screaming at the top of your lungs must be super fun because no matter how many times mama yells at you two to JUST STOP you guys keep at it.

Favorite Place: OUTSIDE! You have loved outside since you were a baby and every minute not spent out in the great outdoors is a minute wasted. You also love going to Grandma and Grandpa’s and to the park. You also love to go in Rowan’s room, but that’s a bit of a sore spot for your sister since you also like to destroy her Lego sets and steal her American Girl accessories. If I could count the times I’ve said “No-no rowan’s room” to you over the last 6 months it would, well, it would be a lot.

Favorite shows: I will say in the last couple of weeks you’ve started to branch out and begrudgingly allow some Daniel Tiger or Curious George but for a solid 5 months the only thing you’d sit for was Elmo’s World DVDs and sometimes Sesame Street because Elmo makes frequent appearances. Elmo is your everything. Rowan was like this and it drove me nuts but I’ve grown to love the furry red guy and know that all too soon you’ll become obsessed with Star Wars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Amazing accomplishments and Firsts:

You are fast. Super fast. Like I have to legit run my hardest to catch you.

You are pretty fearless at the playground. I’m sure this comes because you have older siblings but you climb high and fly down the big slides. I see the look of horror in the eyes of the parents and grandparents of other toddlers that I would dare let you go on the big equipment but eh. You know what you’re doing and I’m not going to stop you so I just smile back at them.

You drink out of a cup like a boss. I don’t want to name names but 2 of your siblings couldn’t hold a damn cup without spilling it spectacularly until they were 4. Sometimes I still don’t even trust Keaton with an open cup. You might dribble a little but otherwise you do awesome with a big cup and prefer to use them over sippys.

You love to stack blocks. And knock them over. And stack them again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I love how you say pumpkin, pronounced punkaaan. This is apropos of nothing, it just makes me really happy. If you had a toddler resume I would put this under one of your strengths.

You can count to 20; sometimes correctly, sometimes 1,2,3,5,7,8,9,15,18, 20!! You love to count.

You’re starting to learn your colors.

You handle the insane amount of car-time like a pro. From waiting in the parent pick up line to hauling your sister to and from dance, we easily spend 5-6 hours in the car a week and while you do get grumpy sometimes, it’s nothing that a little “Fox Say” and a fruit snack won’t fix.

Your language/communication is great. You still put “a” in front of almost everything. You speak in 3-5 word sentences, are starting to use pronouns correctly and you are very good about voicing your wants/opinions. This is a double-edged sword because you think just because you know how to correctly ask for chocolate you feel you should receive that chocolate every single time the spirit moves you and yes, son, in a perfect world that is how life would operate but out here in the real world, it’s just not how it works.

Some struggles, or UNfavorites we’ve experienced…

You’re a hitter. Not a hurty one… you don’t do it out of aggression, you do it solely for the reaction ad mostly you focus this behavior on your brother. We calmly but swiftly separate you and firmly go through the “Hands are not for hitting” spiel so then you’re like, fine “Sorry, Mama” here’s a fake hug that I don’t mean and then you kick because kicking is not using your hands, then we calmly but firmly go into the “Feet are not for Kicking” speech to which we get another half-hearted apology and fake hug and then you proceed to stick your tummy out as far as it will go to push with it and then we maybe not so calmly remove you and get a little screechy about NOT HURTING OUR FRIENDS WITH ANY PART OF OUR BODY, OK?!!! I know this is just a stage and consistency is key but it’s driving me BANANAS.

Related: You throw things when you’re mad. I… don’t like this at all.

You have trouble warming up to people. When new or unfamiliar people try to greet you, you hide behind me and shout ALL DONE until they quit looking at you. It is somehow very offensive for a stranger to say hello and let me just tell you it’s more than a little embarrassing when a cashier or friend of mom’s comes up to us and says “Oh he’s so adorable, look at your big blue eyes!” and you screech ALL DONE at the top of your lungs at them as they step back and look horrified. Rowan was very friendly to anyone, Keaton was clingy and a little shy but always sweet, you…. you… well, you are many wonderful things but sweet is not a descriptor I would often use for you.

I know these few paragraphs don’t do justice to the little person you have grown into the last year. One minute I’ll look at you and you’ll seem so small and the next, it’s like you magically stretch and you seem so giant to me. Sadly I know there are already things I’ve forgotten over the months. Just like with your big siblings, I sometimes close my eyes tight when I hold you and say “remember this, remember this moment right now” because I so badly want to stop time and keep you small and precious but the wish is fleeting… we love watching you grow and learn and explore all the things you’re curious about. We love seeing you try to imitate your big siblings, sometimes successfully, others not so much. We love seeing you smile and laugh, which you make us work for but oh, is it ever worth it. Mostly we just love you, Ez. And we wish you the very happiest of birthdays and an adventurous, marvelous year of Two.

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A long time ago I made a wish…

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r93 r92 r91 d3 d2 d1

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I wished for you, and you came true.

Happy Ninth Birthday to our girl. We love you with all of our hearts, Rowan J.

r96

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Today is my dad’s birthday. He would have been seventy and surely would finally be blissfully earning the moniker we gave him much too young, “The Old Man”. My dad would’ve been a good old man, the best really. He already excelled at it by his late forties and that sort of thing only gets better with practice.

For his 70th, I’d like to share a story from my 15th.

Once upon a time, there was a horribly selfish 14 and 364/365 year old, who was incredibly PUT OUT by the fact that her dad was going to miss yet another of her birthdays. You see, my dad {yes, I will be playing the role of The Selfish Brat for this story} was the secretary for something called the International Claim Association, or ICA. {Which, totally unrelated but worth mentioning~ when I was a young thing I was a little hazy about all of this so I used to tell people my dad was a lawyer for the CIA. Untrue! But probably impressed a lot of very confused people.} In fact, my dad was an attorney for a life Insurance company so he was deeply familiar with the claim department of his company which led to his involvement in this organization.

Let me just break here to say, none of this matters. Except that it did because the committee meetings for this particular organization were often held the second week of September which also happens to hold an extremely paramount moment in history: the date of my birth. And because these meetings were often held at warm, sandy-beach locations, my mother naturally wished to accompany my dad and where did that leave me? A neglected orphan cruelly left to suffer yet another birthday alone {or, you know, in the company of very loving, capable grandparents and older siblings who more than made an effort to give me a special day, WHATEVER.} {I should also note that while my dad did very well for himself and his family, 5 kids in parochial school and all the various other expenses so many grunions incur, of which there were numerous and plenty, is not easy on the checkbook so taking us kids along was just not a viable option.}

By the time my 15th birthday hit, I was OVER it. Had it been a year later, I probably would not have cared, being at an age where spending the day with my friends would be much more important than hanging with my family but at 15 I was not quite there yet and the memory of my 12th, and golden, birthday still stung. On that occasion, not only was I was missing my dad but out of the goodness of my mother’s heart {she stayed home this time}, she agreed to baby-sit my severely ADHD cousin who had been served sugar and Mountain Dew at a Boy Scout function and who subsequently had to be locked out on the porch for fear he would destroy our house. It was an unpleasant experience and I told my dad he wasn’t allowed to miss anymore of my birthdays until I was over 18. I’m sure he didn’t actually agree to this, but somewhere in my head he did, so when I found out he would again be attending the ICA meeting over my birthday I was… displeased.

He left a day or so before the 12th of September. I can’t remember the conversation we had or the hug I’m sure he gave me, despite the fact that I had not stopped giving him The Filch Eye since I found out he was leaving. On my birthday, from Wherever, USA {I can’t even recall which warm, sandy location he was visiting this time} he called and I told him, after careful consideration, I would forgive him for ditching me if he brought me home something really, really special. Something to make up for not only missing this birthday but the handful of others over the years. He just chuckled in his way and told me to “be good”. I took that as a confirmation that he was going to bring me home something awesome. Something truly spectacular. And really? I should not have been this naive. I can say with almost 100 percent certainty that my father didn’t pick out any of our gifts growing up. I’m positive that task was delegated to my mother and she did a fabulous job at it so I don’t know what I was thinking. By the end of my dads trip I had myself pretty well convinced that he was bringing me the 1995 equivalent of a time traveling, golden unicorn that shit money. {Spoiler alert! That did not happen. Disappointing, I know.}

Anyway I had built this whole thing up in my head, so sure, sososososo sure, that my dad wouldn’t want to disappoint me and would have been sufficiently guilted into picking me out something fabulous. And sure enough, when he got home, he intimated to me that he did pick me out something special. All my teenage angst and rage dissipated, I was immediately filled with love! admiration! and awe for this wonderful man. This beautiful father who brought his newly minted 15 year old daughter a special gift. He passed me a smallish green box. Oh! Jewelry! I hadn’t even thought about that! Diamonds? Sapphires? Oooooo definitely sapphires, they’re my favorite and also my birthstone which makes them awesome AND meaningful. I was so in love with the contents of that box for roughly 20 seconds and then…

I opened it.

And it was a fish.

A fish made out of shells.

It wasn’t even a pretty fish.

It was a dumb fish.

It was the goddamn dumbest, ugliest fish I had ever seen in my entire life.

I hated it.

I hated that fish more than anything I had ever hated before and I was an angsty teenager so I hated A LOT of things.

Here is where I’d like to tell you that I pushed that hate deep down. Deep, deep down. And graciously smiled and hugged my dad for picking something out just for me. I did not do that. “What the hell is this?” may have been uttered. Also “A fish? You thought of me and bought… a stupid fish? Really?” I was not happy and after making sure this wasn’t a gag and my REAL gift wasn’t waiting for me outside, I left the little green box on the counter and stormed off to my room.

Such a brat. A complete, utter, ungrateful brat. To my mom’s credit, she was patient and understood why I was upset. Later that night, through the crack in their bedroom door, I heard her explaining to my dad that no 15 year old girl wants a fish made out of sea shells for her birthday. “They want CDs. They want pagers. They want Abercrombie shopping sprees. They really don’t want decorative fish.” And in true, unperturbed Garry form, he said quietly, “I thought it was nice.”

I did not forgive him easily. I did not take that dumb fish out of its box for weeks on principle. Eventually it made its way to my room, I’m sure my mom brought it there, and at some point I took it out. Inside was a little stand so it could be displayed and well, time is a funny thing, that ugly fish made it into that stand and was placed on a shelf in my room. I still hated it. It reminded me not only of being disappointed in my dad but of my own shitty behavior when I had received it… but there it stayed. Mostly forgotten, occasionally despised, for the rest of my years at home.

*         *        *      *

After he died I found myself in my old room. For the few months following the unexpected, I had abandoned my cozy loft apartment that still had my cats and my fiance, to give support to my mom in the wake of a loss that seemed as long and wide as all eternity. There, on my dresser was that dumb, ugly fish. And I picked it up, and ran my fingers over its cool, smooth surface, its sharp angled fins, and I cried. And I clung to it. I imagined my dad wandering off into the hotel’s gift shop. I saw him walking slowly along the shelves, scanning the various kitschy objects. Picking trinkets up, putting them down. I saw him pick up the ugly fish. I saw him smile at it. I felt him run his fingers along its surface. I heard him say, “I’ll take this one. For my daughter, she turns fifteen today!” And then they put that atrocious thing in that small green box and now here it was, 8 years later, a gift from my dad. A part of him here, waiting for me to love, and to appreciate the love it always had for me.

Ugly Fish {that’s its name… after all, a spade’s a spade} has spent every night since, these 10 long years of missing him, on my nightstand. It is a reminder to be gracious. A reminder that I was loved. A reminder of my dad. And I love him so much. And the dumb fish too.

Happy birthday, dad.

2.10.1

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This boy.

So much, all at once.

Slashing, pewing, round-house kicking.

Jumping, wiggling, couch-flips.

Spinning, twirling, split-jumps.

Hugging, snuggling, kisses blown.

A spy. A ninja, both regular and turtle. A Jedi. A Stormtrooper. A puppy. A little boy whose mom died in a tragic motorcycle accident. A police officer. A fireman. A big guy teenager. A SYTYCD contestant who always gets a ticket to Vegas. A doctor. A patient. A baseballer. A footballer. A basketballer. A soccer baller. Not a hockey pucker, mom, I don’t like to skate. An olympic diver.

A dreamer of dreams so big and so small.

Kindergartener.

A little brother, a big brother.

A middle child.

Writer of names and random pronouns.

Reader of Dr. Seuss, Mo Willems, and whoever wrote all those stupid Star Wars books.

Lover and love of everyone around him.

Beautiful face, beautiful heart.

Energetic boy. Sweet boy. Our boy.

This boy.

We love you, Keaton.

SIX!

SIX!

Now blow out the candles on your cake... ah. shit. Well, we all know mama's not great with the numbers...

Now blow out the six candles on your cake… ah, shit. Well, we all know mama’s not that great with the numbers…

There we go. That's more like it, six year old.

There we go. That’s more like it, six year old.

Gratuitous lash picture...

Gratuitous lash picture…

Happy Birthday, Big Guy.

Happy Birthday, Big Guy.

 

{* Last two pics, Christine Welsh Photography, First three pics, Christina “I can’t count to six” Gunter Photography}

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“We’re just doing a small family party for Keaton this year. Can you throw together a quick invite to e-mail out to the fam?”

“Sure! I’m on it.”

I should have known when I saw him smiling gleefully and maniacally rubbing his hands together as he opened Photoshop that this was coming, but alas, I just. never. learn.

11.22.1

PS~ I would like my family members {and my son, for that matter} to note that there will be no pterodactyls, ninjas, or erupting volcanoes at this party. There will be a party sub and possibly a newly minted 6-year-old in a tutu, but that’s about all I can promise you.

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11.3.1

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