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Nine.

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Sunday was Liam's 9th birthday. Nine. Almost a decade. In ten years he'll be nineteen. The downside of having children at a relatively young age is that even if you are younger that most of their friends' parents, it doesn't matter. It's almost unfair.

His birthday fell on a very discomforting day, with the passage of an unpopular bill that will do some unflattering things to small businesses like Chris's, a silly bill that ties health insurance to employment instead of empowering the people and giving it as a tax credit to the people so that they can get the best price for themselves on an open, competitive market. I mean hail, how much do you think toilet paper would cost (to say nothing of the quality) if there was only Government Brand X toilet paper as opposed to having Charmin, Angel Soft, and whatever else compete for the best quality and lowest price?

It's a ridiculous analogy and you get it and I don't mean to blow politics up your butt, but if you want more you can go here.

Anyway.

More importantly, my baby. He opens doors for ladies regularly and is big enough to do it. He opens my car door for me. I want a thank you note from his future wife because whoever she is, YOU SO OWE ME. Liam is an unbelievable gentleman.

We went into the Sprint store the other day to have battery pads put into my Pre. While there, one of the employees recognized us from our previous visit only a month ago to pick up car chargers and recounted for us a story about what Liam did the last time we were there:

The last time we were there, there also was another customer, a man in uniform, a soldier, fresh off a tour in Afghanistan, along with his mother. He was there upgrading his service. Liam, without any prompting from anyone, walked over to him, saluted him, and thanked him for his service. The man's mother began to cry and thanked him. The soldier saluted back and Liam wandered back to where Chris and I were, standing at the service counter talking to the Sprint reps, totally oblivious to what just happened. Liam didn't tell us but every single employee and all the other customers in that store saw him do it.

We heard about it during the last visit. I cannot tell you how it swells my heart with love and pride for a boy to do something like that, and not think it so out of the ordinary that he has to tell his parents. It's a blessing to hear about your child's good behavior and manners from someone else. You know that what you're doing is sticking and that they're of strong enough character to do it without you being around or without accolades .

That's his character. I don't know what I did right (isn't parenthood such trial and error?) but that gives me both a bit more confidence in my ability as a mother and a lot of thankfulness for such a soft-hearted soul that is my son.

Happy birthday Liam.
Happy birthday

My oldest baby recently had a birthday. He's at the halfway mark to driving. I thought, at one time, that I would never have a child, much less an eight-year-old. He's drawing ever so close to that "tween" era. This is so unfair. I'm not even 31-years-old.

He likes video games. He says "dude." Farts are hysterical. Girls are weird, but not as weird as they were last year, and especially not that one in his co-op class. Don't dare call him cute; he prefers "cool." Can he also borrow my leg-shaving cream so he can shave his face with his plastic yellow razor?

Medals for activities


Aside from all of this, he has a capability for compassion that quite literally stuns me into silence. He's kinder than most adults I know. Whenever I think that I can't be prouder of him he proves me wrong; I often find myself remarking in silent wonder, "How did I get so lucky?"

I sometimes ask myself if it's tougher to be his parent or for him to have me as a parent. I have rules and high expectations for his character; I want it to stretch and meet the bar his father and I have set for both boys. And he does. I have so much respect for him.

presents!


We went into this whole parenting thing with a couple of wits and a prayer. Of one thing we knew we were capable: the ability to love him more than anyone else in the world could love him. This continues to guide our actions.

In eight more years his social circle will be operating independent of ours. He'll start practicing for that day when he drives away for good. The most painful thing about starting a family so young is that they seem to grow up much too fast. Thankfully, we have years yet. I'm glad because while I gave him roots, I'm not quite ready to give him wings.

Liam's 8th birthday

Some day.

Happy birthday, Liam.

xo 

Four

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Someone had a good birthday.

He has a thing for hats

That I can still remember the day he was born so clearly, how he was thrashing about and hollering his head off even as he was being born, nearly suspends the reality of his birthday for me. Ewan is four-years-old now and yet he so very much looks like a baby to me. Except, as he is quick to point out, he's not.
 
Happy birthday to you

He's been working out of Liam's old preschool materials since the start of the school year and I feel pretty confident in moving him to kindergarten materials after Christmas. He can write his name, he can read simple words, and do simple addition. He's learned so much just by being at Liam's elbow whenever Liam does his lessons. He's fascinated with by haunted house shows, ghosts, skeletons, trains, scary books, the grim reaper, and much to my chagrin and Chris's delight, Rush is his favorite band. He also loves James Brown and can sing along to "Superbad."

He loved his cake

Ewan is completely different from his brother, and in some ways he and I resemble each other emotionally. Ewan is an introvert. He's not shy in the least; he just doesn't care much to socialize with others. During playgroups with other kids, he's content to sit in a chair beside me and while I talk to the other moms he will read a book or color. It took me two years of encouraging him to play with other kids before he finally rolled his eyes and indulged me. He's a quiet fellow and the only time he's loud is when he's displeased. He's incredibly compassionate, very protective of his big brother and me, even though he's shorter and stockier than Liam was at his age. Ewan is built like a tank and if one of my boys should grow up to be a boxer or MMA athlete, it will be Ewan.
 
The cake. For a four-year-old.

He got the cake he wanted, right down to the inscription on the tombstone. My mother was positively giddy about being able to have his cake made; I've always made the children's cakes and I think their grandmothers are itching at the possibility of being able to take that over for one or two of their birthdays. He saw his cake when he approached the table and the corners of his mouth pulled up to his eyebrows.

"It's very nice," he said before we all serenaded him with a chorus of "Happy Birthday." Then he blew out his candles.

Before I had two children I always wondered how I would be able to love another little human so unconditionally. That I would doubt the size of my heart sounds weird, but many mothers wonder. Your heart expands, along with your womb, those nine months. When Ewan was born I noticed his distinct personality from the beginning. I call him cantankerous at times, but strictly in a facetious, lovable sense. I would not change a single thing about him, even how he's a total morning person. He wakes me up on weekends by tiptoeing to the side of my bed and whispering "It's good morning time!" in my face. You have to welcome the sun after a wake up call like that.

The rest of our Thanksgiving; click on a photo to enlarge.
 
From across the table. I had to wash the Martha Stewart off me after this
My father-in-law and my mother
More.

We're gonna have a good time

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Last night as Chris and I were watching political coverage on television I remarked that Alan Colmes slightly resembles a giant penis with hair and glasses. Chris guffawed and sputtered: "What an ignorant thing to say about the penis!"

This morning the Best Buy television repair man arrived half-an-hour too early at the crack of dawn (to replace some sort of filter-thing in our LCD) and we hopped and stumbled about the room in our underwear trying to put on pants and almost knocked heads like the Stooges.

Last Thanksgiving I made a big deal about hosting dinner for our parents and our straggler friends from New Orleans even though both our parents wanted to host the meal. Chris backed me up if only because we share a bed at night. Then when we went to our friends', Gravity Kills', show the night before and I perhaps (stupidly) had a smidge too much to drink because I am the world's cheapest date. I was sick the next day, in my dinner dress and apron, and Chris did not gloat. Me? I would have gloated until the cows came home, but not him. I almost wanted him to gloat, just to get it over with, because I knew that I was in his pocket.

Whenever he runs an errand or stops by the store he always brings me a Snickers because he knows how much I like them. For that I can forgive him taking off his socks in the living room and letting them nest under the chair.

I love knowing that I can always count on him, that when my chips are down; he's the proverbial prizefighter who blasts out of the corner to do some pinch-punching for me.

I believe in two things: that there is that one person out there for everyone, your soulmate; also that one person who is the only person that can put up with you for all your life. I can be demanding, I have a sharp tongue, and I know that Chris is the only man with the combination of grace and patience who can enjoy the show. (Though it's a pretty good show from my end, too.)

Happy birthday.

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