Celebrating our bookworm

I love my kids’ birthday parties. I love planning them, I love watching everyone enjoy them, I love the photos and memories afterward.

The theme for Lina’s 4th birthday party pretty well chose itself. You’ve never met a kid who loves books more than she does. A quick Pinterest search dug up a fantastic PBS resource for a book party, and we were off and running.

Lina understood what was happening much more this year. She talked for days about who was coming, and a party is just the thing for a girl who loves to be the center of attention. She loved the birthday song and blowing out her candle. She was able to do more with opening gifts, though she still needed lots of help. We served some of her favorite foods, and let me tell you, girlfriend can put away some chocolate cake and ice cream.

But enough talk. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

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Story time with the Village People

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Trying out a birthday present

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Anyone who’s seen Corin in the past couple days will have noticed his massive black eye. This is the exact moment of origin.

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Ben is six!

We’ll be celebrating Lina’s birthday this weekend, so those photos will be forthcoming. But she’s not the only kiddo in the family to have a birthday in September. My oldest nephew turned six a couple weeks ago, and we headed Chattanooga-way for the celebration. The cousins are close in age and have such fun together, which I like to think is building the foundation for a lifelong bond.

Happy sixth, Ben!

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Three for one more night

Tonight, for the last time in my parenting experience, I put a three-year-old to bed. Tomorrow, she will be four, and the girl who just weeks ago would rarely put two words together will hand me a book and say, “Mommy, help please. Read.” She will be excited for school in the morning, and when brother is too slow, she will yell up the stairs, “Corin! Come! Backpack! Bus!” She will belt out her made-up songs and dance with her reflection in the glass door. She will count to five or maybe even 10, and she might play hide-and-seek with brother. At some point, she’ll inevitably yell in astonishing volume at the unlucky soul who has crossed her purposes. She’ll laugh at silly faces and sibling antics. When she’s sleepy, she’ll rub my hair and suck her fingers and let me feel, just for a minute, that I have a baby still.

Tomorrow, she will do the million things she does every day to light up my world. But tomorrow, she will be four, and she will be just a little taller and just a little stronger and just a little wiser, and she will need just a little less of me. And I will be so proud and also sad, because I’m a mother, and it’s what we do.

Sleep well, baby girl. Another year begins tomorrow, and there are new worlds to conquer. I’ll be here with you, but just a little further back than I was yesterday.

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Start your (Mario Kart) engines!

Corin is old enough now to choose his own birthday party themes. I admit to a bit of trepidation on this front, but this year’s choice was manageable and fun, the win-win of kids’ parties. We still stick with mostly family parties, so both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins came to help us celebrate six years of Corin. The weather was COLD for the first official day of spring, but we made the most of our brief time outside and spent the rest of the time playing Mario Kart on the Wii, eating banana cake and ice cream and opening gifts. It was really fun. Seriously, I think my kids’ birthday parties are some of the best times of the year. I love watching them have a blast, and it’s such a great time with family.

But enough chit-chat, and on with the massive photo dump.

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Our newest addition, dad’s guide dog Honor, just home from training school.

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I think they love each other.

A cold day at the zoo, or, happy birthday, Corin

Five years ago today, my son, my precious firstborn, made me a mom, and life has been so rich and full ever since. The pictures pretty much tell the story of how we’ve celebrated his actual birthday. Still to come: his favorite dinner of homemade mac and cheese.

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They really do love each other.

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This photo cracks. me. up.

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Licking the frosting off the chocolate cupcake he picked out at Ivey Cake.

The boy who would grow up

So, it’s only been… how many weeks since my last post? Let’s just call that a blogging dry spell, shall we?

And now we’re moving on to talk about the fact that my eldest child is turning five on Wednesday. He’s spelling words – sounding them out, by himself! – and real, honest-to-goodness, five-days-a-week school is just a few short months away. I’m not entirely sure how any of this has happened, but it’s here, and I’m doing my best to keep up.

We celebrated with family today, and it was fantastic. Corin chose Peter Pan as the theme for his party. We kept things relatively low-key, but we did dress in costume, which was way fun.

I had to work to ignore the irony of planning a birthday party based on the boy who wouldn’t grow up. I tease Corin sometimes about trying to keep him little. “What if I put really heavy books on your head?” “What if I stopped feeding you all those healthy vegetables?” And he laughs and says, “No, I’ll just keep growing.” I feel keenly the shortness of these days. They are slipping through my fingers, and all I can do is snap photographs and say a prayer that I can hang on to the memories. These days are often hard and not at all glamorous, but they are precious to me.

Today, though, I have been reminded of what an incredible experience it is to watch a child grow and learn. It’s happening before my eyes. He’s taller, his face is leaner, he’s obsessed with superheroes and sword battles, he can spell “table” with minimal help. This year, I watched him anticipate and appreciate his birthday party in new ways. It is bittersweet, but there is joy in it.

For better or worse, our Peter Pan will grow up. It’s happening right now. (They Might Be Giants, anyone? “You’re older than you’ve ever been, and now you’re even older. And now you’re even older. And now you’re even older…”) I get my brief window to try to teach him things, to shape his character, to point him to the God who made Him and gives him a future. I’ll take it, and call it the privilege it is.

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