Friday, June 28, 2019

To My Oldest on Your 11th Birthday

Dear To The Kid Who Asked To Be On Vacation For His Birthday And Then Changed His Mind (but mom already paid for the hotel-which doesn't offer refunds, so we're still going to be gone for your birthday),

You're 11!!! 11 brings a lot of changes: middle school, a phone, screen time privileges, new friends, more responsibilities, staying home by yourself. It's a bit overwhelming as a mom to be perfectly honest. Yet you continue to handle each change with (semi) a calm and coolness I wish I had. You give me the ability to make me think I'm doing okay at momming.

You've done a lot of changing in the last year. You went from my easiest child to my most difficult, all thanks to these pre-teen years. Your comeback skills are strong--for every time I tell you to watch your tone and what you're saying, in the back of my mind I'm thinking "ooohhh, that was a good one!" Someday I will tell you that. But for now, it's a challenge. There are far more tears than I thought I'd have to deal with for an 11 year old boy. You have yet to make me cry through it all, so I guess that's a plus.

You require more freedom and time alone and also bedtime hugs and tuck ins. You want to do things yourself and still know we're right there. You run and play and still want mom when you get hurt. You're in between a child and teenager. I fully realize why these years are challenging for both of us. I'm lucky though. I'm not overly concerned about anything. I worry, sure, but nothing to lose sleep over.

For an 11 year old, you're smart, responsible, helpful, and caring. Anyone can see that being around my daycare has influenced you. You know how to change diapers, hold babies, help toddlers express themselves, and proper clean up methods (you can mix a mean bleach solution and spray the toys quicker than I can!). You're extremely helpful with anything daycare related and took over a helper role this summer. 

It's no question that our household would not run as smoothly without you here. You unload the dishwasher, do laundry, clean up the daycare room each evening, vacuum, cook (you make a kick ass grilled cheese and tomato soup meal), and more. You require reminding to do these things, but you do them, usually without complaint. The only thing you complain about is cleaning your room....which is probably why it's in a constant state of disarray.

I love watching you figure out the world. You're both a realist and a dreamer. The two combined make things interesting. You love to travel, explore, and read. You've become quite the talented drawer. We've got drawing classes lined up to perfect your  natural skill. You continue to work hard at playing the piano and added in violin this past year. I love to see your love for music coming out. The Beatles continue to be your favorite, but you listen to a wide variety of music. You've developed a fear of heights and a sense of caution about the unknown that you didn't have before. Cautious is the word that best describes you at this moment in your life. You found you love races and are currently training for your first 5k mud run.

I can't wait to see what this year brings you (and I'm nervous too). You're now at the age that I hope I have given you the confidence, knowledge, and power to cope with the stress of middle school. I hope I have taught you right from wrong and how to stick up for yourself and others. I hope that you continue to come to me with your problems and share them with me so I can continue giving to you and building on what is already there.

You're a great kid and I'm forever grateful that you are ours! You made me a mom, give me continual confidence as a mom, and don't give me a hard time when I miss the mark (unlike your brother and sister). For you I am forever grateful. I can't imagine my life without you in it. I love you! Happy 11th Birthday Maxie!

Love forever,


PS -- A few pics I came across that so very much catches the essence of you!

 I believe a lifetime ago, I captioned this "Where the hell is the olive???" More appropriately it captures you putting everything in your mouth. Do I need to remind you that it was just in your tenth year that you swallowed a Lego??? Yep, that special moment happened and you came to me terrified about the Lego that went down your throat.

 The cats pretty much annoy you now. They (mostly Doc) try to lay on your lap and cuddle with you and you kick them off. At one point and time it was the other way around.

 This picture is such an accurate portrayal of life. Playing board games (something you've done daily this summer), with your brother being goofy and you telling him to stop messing around. Sometimes you laugh, but no one can get to you quite like Harrison does because you're complete opposites.

 Notice your serious face taking in the world. I see this face all of the time.

There's no one you love more than your little sister (then and now, for now at least). The comber of her hair, the one she goes to when she needs help with something, and the one she'll cuddle with.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Max's Birthday At Daycare

Daycare birthdays look a little different when you're 11. About 6 months ago, as we were planning our family vacation, Max requested that we be "on vacation" during his birthday. I set it up so we would be at the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame on his birthday. That was all fine and dandy, with a side of excitement, until Elizabeth's birthday rolled around. He must have seen how much fun she had during her daycare birthday, that that evening Max requested that he have his birthday at home now.

Well, those hotel reservations I booked back in winter weren't refundable (and our vacation dates unmovable), so we settled on celebrating his birthday early. Not only did he want to celebrate his birthday with daycare friends, but he also wanted all of his gifts! No big deal because they were all things for him to use during our trip. So, Sunday night we set up his table filled with gifts (and surprise gifts from Lauren--how cute are those road trip caddys for the minis to use??!!?). 

When I asked Max what he wanted to do for his birthday, he replied, "I don't care." So we did a lot of I don't caring. We watched whatever he wanted to watch, he continued to help with the younger kiddos, he played outside, played board games, and listened to his play list. He refused to play a song on the piano or violin, but he did dance to music (no pictures because he hid whenever I came into the room). All in all, it was a typical day, that featured extra sugar and carbs because, well, kids.

I was happy we had leftover cupcakes from their Birthday Bash and Max requested that his birthday "have no theme." Unlike H and Lil who had a Hollywood theme and an island theme for their days. I really wanted to make a completely white cake and put white sheets/coverings all over the walls so he could have a "no theme birthday," but I'm quite certain that would have brought him to tears.

He got a table tennis set. We spent a lot of time taking turns and teaching the younger ones how to play.

Snuggles for the birthday boy. They weren't exactly appreciated....

There's kind of this thing with all of the school age kids that goes something like, "who's in charge of baby Andrew?" That would be me, but the kids think they have a handle on it. Since it was Max's birthday he got to be "in charge" which means Andrew stood up to play at the train table and jump on Max's belly.

Pancakes and mini donuts for dinner on the living room floor. Sometimes it's the little things the minis love the most.

Harrison's Birthday Weekend

Harrison decided last summer what he wanted to do for his birthday weekend. He requested a day "riding rides at Adventureland," to see Toy Story 4, eat Chinese food, and have a birthday party. Somehow it all was accomplished and (not surprising) ended with the minis in bed 7 p.m. Sunday night!

Toy Story 4 was a great conclusion to the series of movies. I cried so hard that the youngest mini asked me if I was okay. Then the minis continued to make fun of me for crying so much at the end. 

We grabbed H's favorite Chinese food for a late lunch and brought it home to eat. We were home long enough to eat and have the minis goof around before we headed to Adventureland just as the sun came out (making it super humid). We rode all the rides for a few hours.

Sometimes I think they only want to ride the Tornado so they can run down the ramp at the end.

They did the bumper cars several times. 

The minis came home and fell into bed. I, on the other hand, stayed up decorating cupcakes and getting everything ready for the next day's Birthday Bash at Greenwood Park.

Cool and cloudy, but the minis and their friends went right into the spraygrounds.

Friends and family came out to celebrate. It was a great and exhausting four hours at the park! 

The minis built their Lego sets, played with some of their new toys, and went to bed before 7 p.m.! Mom and Dad took a nap on the couch so that we could stay up later (but not too late because we were exhausted!) to get a start on packing.

We celebrated the oldest's birthday early on Monday, which we also had to get ready for. Our weekends have been nonstop action. Even though vacation will be much of the same, I'm excited to get away and take a break from daily life. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Harrison's 9th Birthday At Daycare

Harrison had a FULL list of things he wanted to do for his birthday. We wound up spacing the activities out throughout the entire week. Harrison was bummed because it was raining for "his day" but we made the most of it with costumes, a photo booth, walking the red carpet, board games, friends, and visits from grandparents. I don't think he could have asked for a better day!

Harrison requested a "Hollywood sign cake" because he wants to go to Hollywood. I made and decorated the cake the day before. I had to use building cubes when the Santa Monica Mountains fell, but all in all, the cake turned out great. H added in the Lego people with the selfie-stick. I love how this boy thinks!

Last picture as an 8 year old.

Harrison was thrilled with the "red carpet" (actually a cheap red table cloth) and his surprise Hollywood sign on the breezeway wall. He and his friends walked the red carpet often throughout the day!

As usual, present opening happened first thing in the morning at 6:55 a.m. He was thrilled to get a Kindle to take on our road trip. Max and Elizabeth surprised him with Toy Story 4 figurines. Two daycare friends brought a full bag of fun goodies, one of which was a Whoopee Cushion. The kids had a blast with it!

The photo booth (otherwise known as our indoor playhouse) was popular. Mostly for taking fake selfies with the play phones. Proof of fake selfie taking below.

Bagels and cream cheese for breakfast, big pieces of cake for morning snack, ramen noodles, salad, and strawberries for lunch, and more cake with green beans and Goldfish crackers for afternoon snack. I had to fake a smile when Harrison informed me of the menu for his birthday (the birthday boy/girl gets to choose), especially when he also chose mac and cheese with peas for dinner. A full day of carbs and sugar.

Harrison was so excited about his menu that he spread everyone's cream cheese for breakfast and made the ramen for lunch!

Mom and Dad treated themselves to drinks during dinner because we earned it!

Grandparents stopped by after dinner to give gifts. Since we'll be gone for Max's birthday, grandparents brought gifts for all three minis to open! They're now well equipped for our long hours in the car for the next three weeks!

Elizabeth asked for an Energizer Bunny. Actually, she asked for "the pink bunny with flip flops and a drum."

I can't decide if Harrison does what makes him happy or if everything he does brings happiness. Either way, happy describes this kid perfectly.