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Another Year Older

Leigh —  January 7, 2013 — 2 Comments

Roark is one of those unfortunate kids whose birthday falls within the week after Christmas.  Actually, it’s on New Year’s Eve.  When I was discussing with my doctor when I was going to be induced, I had two options: New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.  I have no shame in telling you that I based the decision of Roark’s birth date on my finances.  MediaMerge had had a really profitable year in 2008, and we really needed the extra deduction. Even though the kid was just one day old, as far as the government was concerned, we could claim him for the whole year.  So New Years Eve it was.

I did try and think about Roark when making this big decision as well, and rationalized that if you have to have a birthday the week after Christmas, why not on the day every one is already throwing a party?

Of course while I was pregnant with him, I made all kinds of promises about how I wasn’t going to skimp on his birthday celebrations just because he got handed a crummy date. After all, it wasn’t his fault that his birthday fell one week after God’s son’s, and he deserved as much hoopla made over him as we did his sister, right? (You thought for a second there I was going to say “God’s son” and not “sister” didn’t you?)

Of course new parents make all kinds of silly promises that they can’t keep.  On his first birthday, I showed up to our family Christmas gathering with a birthday cake with Roark’s name on it and called that his party.  I know…shameful.  I did get a little better the next two years.  I actually called some friends and brought a cake to Burger King.  At least I wasn’t piggy-backing off the family Christmas party anymore.  And while he’s young and probably really didn’t know the difference in the past, I knew he was getting gipped, and I swore that this year was going to be different.

I have come to accept that no one wants to come to a child’s birthday party on Dec. 31st.  They want real parties, not bouncy houses or clowns, but booze and fireworks.  So having a party on his actual birthday probably isn’t going to happen until he’s older.  So this year we are going to try having a party later in January.  I’ve already booked the date at Chuck E. Cheese, and he’s beside himself with excitement.  This has caused some confusion for him, but I keep telling him that he’s just got to trust his mommy that it’s better this way.

That doesn’t mean we let his actual birthday go by unnoticed.  Oh no…we celebrated from sun up until sun down.

We have a tradition in our house that when it’s somebody’s birthday, we start the morning off at Krispy Kreme.  It’s how all birthdays should begin if you ask me.  I wasn’t until I was loading this pictures onto the computer that I noticed Edie’s crazy shoe/sock combination. Jeggins + fuzzy striped socks + crocs = one stylin’ kid.

After Krispy Kreme, my mom dropped by and took Roark to Toys R Us.  I always have the hardest time telling people what to buy him for his birthday when he just opened a crazy amount of presents the week before.  In my heart, I want to tell people that he really needs clothes and underwear because he’s growing like a weed and I feel like we need to be a little sensible after so much excess.  It’s probably best if I don’t answer that question for him.

So when my mom asked me what Roark wanted for his birthday, I told her that I honestly didn’t know, and it might be best to just let him go pick it out.  So that’s what she did. It took him forever to decide what he wanted, but he finally decided on this: He has played with this silly toy more than anything else he got all Christmas.  It combines two of his most favorite things: Power Rangers +Transformers = Marketing genius.

After his shopping trip, Edie and I met up with them at Red Robin…not because it’s got great food, but more importantly because they sing to you when it’s your birthday.  When you’re four, that’s still really fun. It kind of bothered Roark that they didn’t sing the traditional “Happy Birthday” song, but he forgave them when he saw the sprinkles on the ice cream.

Next stop on Roark’s day of fun was the McWane Center where we met up with some friends.  I didn’t get a group shot because the McWane Center was crazy crowded on New Year’s Eve, but I did manage to snap a few pics while he played in the bubbles.Yes, I made the shirt.  You can find the applique design  here. I was determined to do everything for him that I normally do for his sister, and that includes make him a special birthday shirt.After the McWane Center, we came home to finish our celebrating.  To make the day a little more special, I let one of Roark’s buddies come home with us to spend the night.  He thought this was a BIG deal because it was the first time that he’d ever had a sleep over. He’d seen his sister have friends spend the night tons of times, but this was the first time a friend came over just for him.  He’d only been four for a day and already he was enjoying the new perks of being a big kid.

We ate dinner and then had more doughnuts.  This time we did it right and put in some candles in one and then sang “Happy Birthday” in it’s proper form. Edie really got into it with some hand motions.I know I’ve admitted to not properly celebrating Roark’s birthday in the past, but there is one area that I have never skimped on in previous years.  And that’s fireworks.  Roark believes it’s not his birthday unless we blow up some stuff, and I wasn’t about to let him down this year on his big day.  So after dinner, we all put on our coats and went outside to play with some fire.He takes his sparklers very seriously.  It probably has something to do with all the warnings Ken gives the kids when he’s lighting them.  Things like, “Don’t run around. Hold it straight out.  Don’t move.”  In other words, have as little fun as possible while holding fire on a stick.  Roark was just doing exactly what his dad had told him to do.After fireworks, I declared it bedtime.  I don’t know about the kids, but I was worn out!  I know this isn’t the best picture to commemorate Roark’s first sleep over and that his buddy, Cade, looks kind of like a monkey because he’s trying to give himself rabbit ears, but the expression on Roark’s face makes my heart melt. He didn’t have to fake that smile.

He’d had a great day and for the first time, we had celebrated it properly. Ever since his sister’s birthday in November, he’s been asking me when it was going to be his birthday.  He’d waited a month and a half for it to finally get here, and in the end, I think it was worth the wait.

The Princess Party —  November 22, 2011 — Leave a comment

So you can’t say I didn’t warn you.  Prepare yourself for cuteness overload when watching this video.  You might not be able to stand it. Enjoy!

So I turned 32 last week, and as much as I hate to admit it, I’ve reached an age where days before my birthday, I have to calculate what age I’ll be turning by subtracting the year I was born from the current one.  As in, 2010-1978=32!  I don’t even have to right down the math either.  I can just do it in my head because I’m an accountant. 

This birthday really was a good one. We celebrated by pawning the kids off on to my parents and going to dinner and a movie.  When Ken and I were dating, I would have considered this to have been the most generic date night combo, but it’s funny what nine years of marriage and two kids can do to your romantic scale.  I just wanted to be out of the house and eat a meal without having to negotiate how many bites had to be eaten before somebody could get up from the table.  And if I didn’t have to listen to a whiney toddler fussing because he was being contained in a high chair, well now, that’s a happy birthday. 

We slept in late on Saturday morning, and I didn’t get out of the bed until noon.  Of course, I was awake at 7:00 because apparently my internal mommy alarm clock is programmed to wake at that time whether kids are in the house or not, but I spent the morning lying around, watching TV, reading, and NOT cleaning anything.

Eventually we got up and went to the lake to visit with my family.  My brother and his girls were there, along with the kids and my folks, and we spent the rest of the afternoon playing on the water.  It really was a fun day, and it might actually make me want to turn another year older…which is saying a lot these days.

I’ve begun to notice a trend as my birthday approaches, and when I say it, I know it’s just going to make me sound that much older.  But for the first week of June, I’ve noticed that I get a bit touchy.  Maybe “snippy” is a good word for it, and not just when someone mentions my looming birthday, but in general.  

When I think about my birthday, it’s just a reminder that I’m not sixteen anymore, even though, I feel sixteen inside my head.  Well, okay, maybe, twenty-one, but definitely NOT thirty-two and married with two kids.  I remember my mom saying something similar to me when I really was sixteen, and since I knew everything back then, I thought it was an idiotic thing for her to say.   And now, here I am, coming full circle, struggling with the same thought.  Am I really a grown-up?  How did this happen?  When did it happen?  I blame Ken because he has always been an old man trapped inside a much younger looking body, and I think his old person tendencies have begun to wear off on to me.    I already know what his comeback would be to that statement.  I still maintain that I go to bed early because I have to get up early with the kiddos, and it has nothing to do with my age. 

The truth is I wish my age didn’t bother me, but it does.  I haven’t gotten to the roots as to why that is yet, but since it bothers most people past a certain point, I really don’t feel all that alone.  Hopefully I won’t become one of those women that insists they’re still twenty-nine because I’m still young enough to find that silly, but then again, there once was a time I thought my mom was just as crazy for feeling the way I do now, so who knows.

My dear sweet Roarkie,

You turned a year old at the end of last month, and oh my gosh, I can’t believe it’s already been a year!  It’s seems like just yesterday I was lugging around this gigantic belly and knocking into things as I waddled around our house. 

Happy Birthday, angel!  To celebrate this momentous occasion, we let you stuff your face with birthday cake in front of all your family, and I do mean, STUFF.  Well, at first you just poked at the cake with your little sausage-like fingers and tasted them ever so slowly.  But you quickly realized that this wasn’t the most efficient way to get the sugar in your mouth.  So within a couple of minutes, you just picked up the entire cake and crammed it into the lower half of your face.  By the end, you were covered from head to toe in icing, and I was thankful that we decided to have this spectacle at your grandparents’ house as opposed to a restaurant like we did for your sister.

If there is one thing that I have learned this year, the thing most obvious that you insist on pointing out with every new milestone, it’s that you are not your sister.  I must admit this has thrown me for a loop once or twice because she has always been my gauge by which I measure other babies.  And before you start accusing me of playing favorites and loving her more, it’s not because she was a perfect baby, and therefore, dearest to my heart.  But she was what I knew, the only experience I had with infants until you came along.  So when you didn’t cut your first tooth until you were eight months old, I thought it was odd.  I mean, Edie had four teeth by the time she was four months old and spent most of her infancy looking like  a chipmunk. You, on the other hand, had no teeth and spent most of your first year smiling like a toothless old man.

Also Edie never had a definable first word because once she caught on that words had meanings she began imitating lots of sounds, but not you.  Your word is “Uh Oh,” and you know exactly when to use it.  You drop your paci, “Uh Oh.”  You fall down, “Uh Oh.”  You hurl your juice cup across the kitchen, “Uh Oh.”  But that’s it.  No other words.  I’ve been trying to get you to say “Mama” for months now, and you couldn’t be any less interested.  You have absolutely no need for any other words at the moment, I guess because “Uh Oh” seems to suffice in most of the situations you find yourself in.

Gosh, you are into everything!  It wasn’t until you came along that I had to put locks on my kitchen cabinets.  You love to open a drawer, any drawer, and pull out all of it’s contents onto the floor.   This is really one of the more annoying things that you do, and as payback, someday I plan to tell your highschool buddies about finding all my underwear strewn about the house because of your curiosity as a baby.   And don’t get me started on your love for remote controls!  Like a moth is drawn to a bug zapper, you, my son, cannot resist a remote control.  If I try to hold you in my lap while sitting on the sofa,  you begin climbing me like I’m a mountain that’s separating you from your precious.  And when we take it out of your hands and tell you “No”, you throw yourself on the floor like we are the meanest parents ever because we are denying you the fun of pushing buttons and hearing the volume change on the TV. 

Me & Roark

But for the most part, you are a very easy-going baby, and mainly only fuss because you want one thing:  yo’ mama.  All I have to do is pick you up, and you stop crying instantly (which I think is just proof that you love me the most in the whole wide world, and therefore, I win).  But there are times when I won’t pick you up, and you act like a baby, standing at my feet, holding my legs, and pleading for me to hold you.  Although it can be irritating in the moment, I want to remember there once was a time that to please you, all I had to do was hold you in my arms.

You are such a joy.    Over this past year, I have heard countless times, “You are going to love having a son,” and I now believe it.  That’s what you did.  You made me want a little boy.  You made me see how special having a son can be.  For as long as I can remember, I wanted a house full of girls.  I don’t know why, but that’s just what I always envisioned.   And even though I understand simple statistics, I was still surprised when I heard the words, “It’s a boy!”  I just could not picture myself with a son, and yet, there you were.  But over this past year, I have fallen so deeply in love with you that now, I can’t imagine my life without one. 

I have been given the most awesome gift a mother can have, a daughter and a son.  I now get to experience life through both of your eyes, see the world through different viewpoints that otherwise I would have missed. You did that for me, Roark, and I will forever be grateful for it.



Letters to my Children

Leigh —  November 18, 2009 — Leave a comment

My dear sweet Edie,

You turned four years old this week.  Happy Birthday, sweetie!  We celebrated this year with a party at the YCMA with lots of kids and games and junk food.  You had a blast, but you have a good time almost everywhere you go these days.

When I asked what was your favorite part of the party, you said, “Playing duck-duck-goose.”  Duck-duck-goose?  Really?  That surprised me.  Not opening presents and eating cake?  Nope.  Duck-duck-goose was your favorite.  You enjoyed the one thing that I didn’t plan.  My spur of the moment idea that I just pulled out of the air when my other games were a bust.  That’s us in a nutshell this year: me trying to plan everything down to the last detail, and you enjoying it most when I just roll with the punches.


This year has been a monumental one in our family with the birth of your new brother and all.  I think you’ve done remarkably well considering we turned your world upside down.  You are a great big sister.  You are so good in fact that sometimes you compete with me to see who can be the most motherly towards him.  On a side note, when Roark’s fifteen, he is going to love that.

From the day we brought Roark home, you have not been jealous of him for a second.  To this day you still aren’t.  In fact, you are more jealous of me hogging all of Roark’s attention than you ever were of him taking up mine.  If I kiss on his belly, you want to kiss on his belly.  You want to hold him and feed him, and you are great at finding a paci in a pinch.  And when I’m changing his diaper, there you are, right next to me, handing me every possible ointment or product I could possibly need.  At times, I’ve felt kind of like a surgeon in an operating room with my nurse close at hand.  “This one is especially stinky, Doctor,” you might say right before you swab my forehead with a wet wipe.

You’re favorite game is pretend.  All day I hear, “Pretend I’m the mommy,” or “Pretend your my prince.”  While folding clothes, we play pretend with Daddy’s balled up socks and make believe they are ice cream cones.  And while in the bath tub, you like to pretend your at the beauty shop, getting your hair done.  Your name is always “Sherry Bobbins,” and I’m always “Pumpkin Eater.”

At four years old, your imagination is out of control, and I love that about you.  It’s the way it should be.  Sometimes while riding in the car, you will be in the backseat playing with a hodgepodge of Happy Meal toys that live in the floorboard of our van.  You’ll be talking to yourself, and your father and I will catch a line or two of some crazy story you’ve made up.   I’ll look at him and we’ll smile at each other because sometimes you are so cute it physically hurts, and no one understands that like we do.

I know it is the most cliche thing a mother can say, but I can’t believe how big you are now.  It seems you are straddling this fence between baby and little girl, and each day I feel you slipping towards the little girl side more and more.  You still want me to hold you and kiss your boo boos, but at the same time, you are running towards your independence faster than I am able to keep up.  You don’t want a booster seat at dinner anymore, and you dress yourself most mornings.  Your vocabulary amazes me, and I often find myself wondering where you’ve learned a certain word or phrase and even crazier, how to use it properly.  At least once a day, I find myself laughing at something silly you’ve said and sharing it with anyone who will listen.

We have this routine at night as I tuck you in for bed, right after we’ve read a book and turned out the lights, we talk for a couple of minutes, snuggling in the darkness.  Last night during this time between us, you were laying there with your eyes closed, teetering between being asleep and awake.  You took a deep breath, and as you exhaled you said, “You’re my best friend, Mommy.”  I pulled you in a little closer and laid there a couple of more minutes wondering how many years I had left that you were going to feel that way.  I want to hold onto this time forever, and it’s just slipping through my fingers.  I can already feel you pulling away.  We’ve had some difficult times between us this year.  I see eye rolls and hear tones in your voice that hint at my stupidity.  I’m doing my best to handle it now at an early age, but I know that this is just the beginning of what’s to come.

At some point, I am going to go from best friend to idiot in your mind, and I probably won’t even be able to pinpoint when it happened.  It might be when you’re eleven, and I’ve had to tell you for the 100th time that eleven year olds don’t need cell phones.  Or it might not be until your thirteen and still don’t have a cell phone and you aren’t allowed to wear tube tops out of the house (on second thought, you won’t be able to wear tube tops period…ever).  You get my point.  There will be a day that you are going to hate me.  Some day soon I’m going to embarrass you just by my very existence (and maybe sometimes on purpose depending on how evil you’ve been that day).  And slowly, I am becoming okay with that because as your mother, that’s my job.  To mold you and guide you and point you in the right direction.  It is the highest calling I have ever had to answer, and the most fulfilling thing I have ever done.  No matter what you throw at me, I will always love you.  No matter how many eye rolls or looks of death you give me with those beautiful brown eyes, I will remember there once was a time when you thought I was just about as terrific as I think you are now.