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I'll leave this post up for a week and then the site will be closed. Probably just password protect it while I work on creating the blurb book. I'm afraid if I don't stick to this May 1st deadline, I might change my mind.
I really enjoy reading blogs (despite the unfortunate term "blog"), and as Katherine at Any Day a Beautiful Change put it when comparing them to Facebook, "I ultimately prefer to read a handful of thoughtful paragraphs than two hundred pithy sentences." I'm grateful to close friends who now blog & make the miles between us seem all that much shorter. Grateful too to those who have become friends as their thoughtful paragraphs made me laugh or nod or think, or all three.
I won't stop reading them, but I am going to take a month off. From Google Reader and the Internet in general. I'll check email every other day or so, use Shutterfly and two other sites for other commitments, and I'm hoping that's all for the month of May. Because I'm an all-or-nothing girl, because there is so much I want to accomplish near my computer but never seem to, and because I'm curious to see if I can.
I may blog again, in the fall, or use some platform for photo sharing with family. I don't know. Let me know if you want to know if/when I do.
I'm grateful to everyone who visited here and gave me motivation to keep posting, to capture a bit of these common hours in our family. Thank you for coming!
My favorite posts are always lists, so I'd like to end with one too.
5 Things I'm Grateful for Right Now...
Photo Inspired by Molly
1. Each of my sons. I've been a bit tired lately---as Brian is working 2 jobs, between his job and our yard, which means I am too. I'm burnt out on meal planning and grocery shopping and preparing/cooking and cleaning up the kitchen throughout the day. Burnt out on laundry and housework and all of that. Burnt out on not being able to finish the simplest of tasks sometimes. But I don't burn out on caring for these boys. Some days I find it harder than others to balance the other roles with my most important one, but I relish time with these boys. They make me laugh, tell me stories, give me spontaneous hugs. That's pretty much everything I've ever wanted in life.
2. Reading with Aidan. I know Aidan can read, but I'm still startled by it sometimes. The four of us were on a walk this afternoon and I stopped to read a sign and heard Aidan start reading it aloud behind me. Total reality check. We read Treasure Island last month---which was a huge treat for me. I'd never read it, and guess what---it's REALLY good. Anyone know if Kidnapped is as good? We've just started 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea yesterday. I love our boys excitement when we start a new book, and their eagerness to continue when it's a good one.
3. Nolie-Cannoli. What a difference a month can make...I suppose that is the theme of the entire first year. We were weaning, then he got strep, so we have to start all over. He still wraps my hair around his fist while he's nursing, as if to say, "Don't you dare put me down if I fall asleep now." He laughs SO much. He loves tickling other people...and watching him do it is hilarious so it works. He eats, and eats, and eats. And this makes him laugh too. He's starting to talk, beyond the babbling, just the littlest bit, and yet at the same time, it seems so clear what he means to communicate. And there are those moments when we all look at each other and say, "Did you see that? I told him to drink his milk and he did. He understands everything!" He cocks his head to the side and grins at you when he's in trouble...he knows he's cute. He complains whenever his brothers get to go outside without him. He loves the new playroom and is playing more and more beside the Bigs, thrilled that they are including him, but he'll still come over to me every so often and just rest his head on my lap. That's his signature move. And then he's off playing again.
I know that was an entire post in itself, but I'm trying to squeeze it all in here, one last time.
4. Introducing Sean to T-Ball.
Of course after posting about him on his birthday, the rest of the day I kept thinking of little things and wondering how I could have not included them. The way he makes up songs, especially while sitting in the bathroom. Sometimes they are about that day's superhero, but usually they are about how much he loves his family. "Oh how I love my family"...and usually for my benefit ("Mom, did you like my song I made up? It was about how much I love our family.")
5. The chance to write here, the visitors who came here, the memories captured here.
October 2007-April 2009 and over 200 posts. Thanks so much for stopping by. It's been grand.
"Be well, do good work, keep in touch." - Garrison Keillor
Birthday season is finally over around here. Yay! I love my boys' birthdays and we don't go crazy with our parties, but it's still a relief when they're all over & just knowing that there won't be any more cake screaming my name for a while (well, at least once the one on our counter is consumed!).
I recently heard an interview with Karly Randolph Pitman in which she described the freedom she felt after she decided to stop throwing birthday parties for her kids. Listening to her made me ask myself whether I was doing certain things because I really wanted to or because I thought I "should" or because of some external image (from society or other mothers) that I had bought into.
Just asking myself those questions reaffirmed for me just how much I LOVE preparing my kids' parties. I love Pitman's point about identifying the tasks that nourish you and those that diminish you (e.g. homemade Halloween costumes---love admiring others, love ordering mine off ebay!). Of course I'm not planning the crazy "new generation" of parties that involve everyone your child knows and lots of $$. This year we limited guests to the same number as the birthday year (so Aidan got to invite 7 friends and Sean 4, which, when you add our 3 to the mix, is more than enough. 1st birthdays are always an exception!).
The real joy for us is in working together on creative ideas. I'm sure none of the four-year-olds noticed that the Starbursts or Milk Way treats fit in with our space theme---but little things like that make me happy. We did a little photo shoot for Sean's birthday invitation, and then I got to play in Photoshop:
Then we planned what games we would play. These were a combination of Sean's requests (he really wanted an Easter Egg hunt so we hunted for space rocks...plastic eggs filled with Starbursts), ideas from past parties (Pass the Planet for opening gifts), inspiration from Google, and what we had on hand. Both boys have had major Mr. Potato Head phases, which my parents have enjoyed indulging, so we began with Sean handing each friend a potato head and planting a big box of spare parts in the middle of them all. My favorite was the google hit, "Moon Walk" with big sheets of bubble wrap laid out that the kids jumped up and down on with much laughter.
(I've tried to warn Bri that my camera is usually set to AV priority but to no avail...)
The day before we decorated (except for the streamers that had been up since Sean's actual bday, thanks to Brian). The boys took much delight in pulling out every Toy Story book/toy/DVD we had and displaying them. I covered the train table with a black sheet I use for a backdrop and let Aidan lose with my scrapbooking supplies. He used metallic paper and a circle punch to make small planets, crayons and cardstock to make big ones, and when he wanted to use a white crayon to imply Buzz being connected to a rocketship, I couldn't refuse.
I've learned it is impossible to host a party as well as photograph it...so there are few photos from any of our celebrations. Luckily my friend Amy is always willing to oblige and she got some great shots of Sean blowing out the candles:
I've also learned that while I love to bake, the cake for the party is better ordered. I dislike store-bought cakes, but that's actually a plus. I feel a little guilty about serving artificial food coloring and trans-fats to little ones, but I figure they eat so healthy the majority of the time, this rarity will be okay. My scrapbooking supplies came in handy yet again for the top of the cake---glad they're getting some use!
The cake I made for Sean's actual birthday (we always have a family-only party on the real day) reaffirmed my cake ordering decision. Everything that can go wrong did. Cakes are a little tricky at this altitude, so one layer fell a little and the other stuck to the pan in one spot. Urr...but nothing a little extra frosting wouldn't fix...but then I ran out of frosting after doing the tops of each layer. So I used vanilla frosting for the sides (left-over from the cookies Sean brought to school)...all of which resulted in a pretty funny-looking cake. I'd spent much of the afternoon making it and was feeling a little defeated when Sean saw it.
"Mom, did YOU make this? For MY birthday? Wow! This is the best CAKE ever! You are the best mom in the whole wide world!"
Only he didn't stop there---he went on for several minutes.
So I'm grateful not only that I ordered the cake for Saturday, but also that I made our family's cake myself, however lopsided & marbled it may have been.
It's after 1 am here, and I have no excuse...the cookies for Sean's class were made before dinner, the presents have been wrapped for hours, and even his last-minute ironed-on but not yet sewn shirt is ready to go for tomorrow. But I can't sleep.
Simultaneously can't believe Sean will be four years old, and can't believe he hasn't been with me my whole life.
Hmm...I just deleted a lengthy paragraph on Sean's birth story...but it is way more about me than him, and it was my most difficult delivery, so that's a story for another day.
What I do want to recall is what a considerate baby he was. Seriously. He slept so well in those early days. I had to go back in the hospital after spiking a high fever the day after we came home. The idea of one's baby even being in a separate room is painful at that stage, so he came with me. But I was shaking so badly I couldn't hold him, and worried what I'd do when he woke up hungry. But he slept. And slept. Right next to me in the ER, even while the "who can find a vein in this girl's arm" was played again, and never woke up until I was in a room and ready.
Brian and Aidan had both slept (or tried to sleep) in the hospital room with us after Sean was born, so that night after being readmitted, after sending Brian home with Aidan, was really our first night alone, and it was one of the blessings to come out of all that.
I'm the fourth of nine children...so I even share the middle child spot. I try to be extra sensitive to Sean's unique standing in the middle. He adores his big brother. They are very different, but to others it's hard to tell ---especially as Sean imitates everything Aidan does, even his catch-phrases. This morning Sean announced, "I have some good news, and some bad news...", one of Aidan's long-time favorite openers. He wanted a Bakugan for his birthday, despite not really knowing what it is. Despite all of mine and Brian's attempts to sway him this week, we know he's going to choose his brother's favorite place for dinner tomorrow, so they can both get "alien pancakes."
And while Aidan will sometimes demand a little space or time to himself, the adoration is shared. When the bell rang and all the kids came running out of Aidan's classroom today, half of them stopped to wish Sean a happy birthday because Aidan had told them all about his brother's upcoming day. They make each other laugh hilariously, and it is the most delicious sound I've ever heard.
Still, Sean loves being the center of attention. Aidan often begins a book asking, "Who is the main character of this story?" Sean has picked up on this and will often announce, "I am the main character of this family." I've tried to explain to him that each person is the main character of his or her own life, but he is still trying to get me to understand that we are all just supporting actors.
He loves to play the "I love you as much as..." game, going all the way to the sun and Pluto and back. Sometimes when I tell him I love him, he'll ask, "Do you love me the best?" which still shocks me. I know I never liked being left out of anything as a kid, but I don't remember measuring every gesture as a middle child. A few days ago Sean declared he wasn't going to eat breakfast because I served Aidan before him. I tried to hold back my laughter while I explained that his oatmeal takes longer to make than Aidan's bowl of O's & Kashi Go Lean, but he'd have none of it.
He is not a dare-devil. He's strong and more aggressive than his brothers, but like his dad, he has an amazing risk-assessment ability. He likes to test things out first. He's also more outgoing than anyone else in our family. On a recent walk uptown, a teenager dressed in his best "wanna-be-gangsta" look, walked past us and Sean struck up a conversation. And he wouldn't let it go, felt the need to tell this boy, whose pants were nearly falling down and whose bare arms were already covered in tattoos, all the details of his day. And underneath all that exterior armor, the boy was too polite to turn away from Sean, and ended up walking backwards until he finally just cracked up and I did too. Sean is disarming that way...and if you give him an inch, he'll take a mile.
He'll often ask me to pretend that he has just "found" Nolan, and he'll come running, telling me he's found a baby and can we please keep him and name him Nolan. He LOVES to give gifts, and he'll often ask me to pretend I've never seen certain things before and then he'll give them to me as presents. He continually asks me to marry him when he grows up, and Aidan always snorts at this and reminds him that I'm already married, but Sean's indifferent. I know that to Sean, it just means to always be there for him, and there's nothing I'd like more.