We now have In-N-Out Burger, Trader Joe's, and these views an hour-long plane ride away.
Okay, so we likely always had these views an hour-long plane ride away, but I had never hopped on a plane with my kid to see them before this past weekend.
Hard to tell if Kyle enjoyed things, though.
We traveled down to Port Aransas for our niece's first birthday. Even though the celebration fell on Father's Day, Mike already had a motorcycle race planned (with his dad) out of town, so I decided spending the holiday with the rest of his family was the next best thing to celebrating with him.
Kyle's four, but it was actually our first flight just the two of us, and I couldn't have asked for a better, more smoother flight experience on the way down (we'll ignore the flight experience on the way back, when American Airlines told us we couldn't get on an earlier flight unless we paid $75/each). On the way down, though, the lovely AA worker waived our baggage fees and let us jump the security line. Oh, airline companies, why do you have to keep us on our toes! Anyway, Kyle was a champ for all the traveling. I don't know how a four year old can channel such patience, but he was a total inspiration to me on the trip.
It was a quick weekend away (we were gone from Friday morning to Sunday evening), but it was just what we needed. It felt like a real vacation with sandy feet and sun-kissed skin and reading on the porch of our beach house and early bedtimes (and very early mornings, which was less vacation-y than I would have preferred KYLE) even though we were gone less than three days.
I hope Kyle remembers this mini-vacation, holding hands while we walked to the beach each morning and building sandcastles and splashing in the ocean. I hope he remembers slathering sunscreen on his tiny legs and cannon-balling in the community pool, but I'll remember for us both, if he doesn't.
The only thing better than the trip itself was the company, which is the best truth of all the best trips, isn't it? Doesn't matter where we go, not really, just who we go with.
(The iron and candy anniversary! Or, as I'm calling it, a nice excuse to eat a lot of Almond Joys.)
You know what they didn't tell me at my bridal shower? That some time over the course of our marriage, Mike would upset me or that on more than one occassion we'd fight our way past midnight and that, also, I wouldn't fit into my wedding dress beyond my wedding night.
I understand why we played shower games and toasted champagne and ate cupcakes (of course my shower had cupcakes) instead of talking about the nitty-gritty. Those parties are about the fun stuff, the cupcakes and the champagne.
Marriage isn't a wedding or a shower or a party or a bunch of cupcakes, though. It's different and harder and better and more important.
What they also didn't tell me at my shower, though, is that Mike would turn out to be the kind of man who apologizes with real grace after those midnight fights, who shows up to talk about the tough stuff even though talking about the tough stuff is like his 1576th favorite thing, if he's rating his favorite things. He turned out to be the guy who hears me when I really need to be heard. He is the man who has never said no when I tell him I need a big hug or an afternoon to myself or for him to sacrifice something he wants for something I need.
Life is weird, isn't it? Six years ago, I was in a lovely wedding dress and last night I was in yoga pants, and both days, both places, were beautiful.
You know what my favorite thing is, if I am rating my own favorite things? Mike's laugh. When he laughs, I swear the world brightens. I would rate it top of the list because he gave that same laugh to Kyle, so Kyle's laugh is my second favorite thing. I'd say it feels extra awesome if I'm the one who has made either of them laugh, but I'll take the sound however I can get it. Mike's laugh, man. It's the best. That's not a catchphrase. It really is the best.
That's one thing I could have told you at my bridal shower. That Mike's laugh starts in his eyes, and it's the best sound I've ever heard.
There have been fights, oh have there been (and there will be more) and Mike will upset me many more times in our lifetime and who the hell knows if I'll ever fit in that wedding dress again, but every single day I've gotten to hear Mike laugh has been a good day. I've never stopped loving that sound, that guy, nine years after meeting him, six years after marrying him. He didn't give Kyle his hair, but he gave him that laugh. It starts in both their eyes.
I loved Mike so much on our wedding day, I couldn't even stand it.
I love him even more today.
(One of my favorite wedding pictures, of us listening to my SIL give a beautiful toast.)
Six years! Pass the candy.
Last weekend, A'Dell and I took our kids to the zoo, and as we were leaving the house, Kyle said with glee, "I AM SO EXCITED TO RIDE A GIRAFFE."
Thankfully he had a great time at the zoo despite giraffe rides being unavailable, but why on earth would he THINK he could ride giraffes at the zoo? WHO IS TELLING HIM THESE THINGS? I blame George. That damn monkey is always doing ridiculous things that no child will ever get to do.
Then this past weekend, we took Kyle to his first Ranger's game. He had a great time, and it was fun to introduce him to baseball. The kid's got soccer and football down, but baseball was new.
We were having a great time, eating nachos and getting a little sun, when Kyle turned to me and said, "When do I get to go on the field and play with those guys?"
Kid, your imagination is impressive! Our job of setting realistic expecations for you is not.
Age four is something else, though. I feel like I've become that mom, that mom who we all roll our eyes at a little bit. That mom who WILL NOT STOP TALKING ABOUT HER CHILD. Usually that kid is a baby and that woman is a new mom, but I dodged (I think?) most of those new mom bullets. I could hold a conversation about other things with my friends when Kyle was wee. I could go out with Mike and talk about many other things (usually taking naps) before coming round to gush about our cool kid, but something has happened since Kyle turned four. I CANNOT STOP TALKING ABOUT HIM.
I called Natalie the other day and basically wanted to talk about nothing except the funny things he's recently said. In the office kitchen the other day, a co-worker who I am friendly with, but who I am certainly not friends with, asked how my weekend was and I used that as an opening to tell her a hilarious story about Kyle. She looked...eager to get back to work.
I don't know, it's just a really fun age. Four year olds! They're awesome.
I taught four year olds when I was in college (FOUR YEAR OLDS WHO ARE NOW THIRTEEN YEAR OLDS OMG). Well, assistant taught, I should clarify. The real teaching was left to the person with an actual college degree at the time, but I was there to assist her from 8am-12pm every single week day. (EXHAUSTING.) I loved it so much. If I could have made an actual living teaching four year olds at that school, I would have. I would come home most days and tell Mike the hilarious things my kids would say to me. Four year olds, I used to say, they are the best. So sweet! So smart! So funny!
It's kind of weird raising a four year old vs teaching one. I am that mom bringing him into his classroom vs the teacher taking his hand to lead him to arts and crafts. I am the stressed, (sometimes) unshowered mom instead of the young teacher who somehow finds the energy to hang out with wild, dirty kids all day.
It's a weird full-circle moment having a four year old. I loved this age as a 22-year-old college student, assistant teacher. I love it just as much now.
I sometimes look at my life and wonder how on earth I got here. I was just 22, teaching kids as a part-time job. I was going to class, I was falling in love, I was broke. I was not an adult, no way, and I could hardly imagine becoming one. But I am now. No doubt. Mortgage, career, debt, husband, kid, and on and on.
Back then, I could only imagine I'd have my own adorable, hilarious four year old one day. I could only hope.
One thing they don't tell you, at least one thing they didn't tell me, is that watching your kids grow up with other great kids is one of the most adorable things around. A'Dell, how did this happen, anyway?
(March 2010; April 2013)
I have vacation recaps to write and Pinterest projects to share and suggestions for where to eat in both DC and New Orleans, and I hope I get to all those posts before 2014. In the meantime, let's dust off this blog. Seven quick (okay, not quick at all) takes...
1. Last week (wait, week before last...April you are so nuts), Molly's eyes swelled up and got a little goopy. At first, we thought it was just allergies, but then we realized she had also stopped eating and wouldn't take a treat. (Molly is like her mother. She will always take a treat.) Turns out, she had a severely abscessed tooth that had infected her nasal passages and was causing her eyes to swell. She is, thankfully, nearly good as new after a round of antibiotics and pain killers and shouldn't need surgery. Phew!
It really sucked, though, during the time we weren't quite sure what was wrong with her. Molly is usually fairly healthy. I mean, she's given us a scare or two before, sure, but it had been awhile. It was this weird wake-up call that our girl is nearly 10 and she's not exactly facing more years ahead of her than are behind her.
When the vet went over our options with Mike, she mentioned that if the antibiotics didn't work, surgery to remove the tooth would be necessary and it would be expensive (MANY THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS EXPENSIVE). We don't have a budget item for Very Expensive Pet Surgeries, but when Mike talked to me about it, it was just a given we'd figure it out. She's our girl.
She's a dog, yes, but she's also Molly. Molly! I've loved her for as long as I've loved Mike. While she can be pretty irritating on a day-to-day basis (she's the neediest living thing in my house), this was a reminder that she is absolutely part of our family.
Again, she's feeling much better. She probably wishes she had pulled these shenanigans years ago because we've been giving her cheese on a nightly basis, and we don't protest at all when she worms her away into our bed at night.
So many of my friends (online and off) sent out love to her, after I mentioned what was going on, and it meant the absolute world to me. Seriously, thank you so much if you were one of those people sending warm thoughts to our girl.
2. Have I talked yet about Justified? Well, I fell down a Justified-sized hole on Amazon Prime a few weeks ago and basically watched the entire series in something like two weeks. You'd be disgusted if you weren't so impressed, right? (Or maybe you're just disgusted...)
At first I was hesitant to start this show because I was (foolishly) led to believe there are no love stories, and I'm a girl who really prefers her TV shows to have a love story or two. But, 1) there totally are and 2) who really cares when Timothy Olyphant is wearing that cowboy hat so well throughout the series.
I'm all caught up in time...to wait a year for the next season! Cable TV seasons routinely break my heart.
3. I hesitate to declare this here because I've been doing it for a WHOPPING two days, but I've finally started my 30-Day Shred Challenge. That would be 30-straight days of doing (level 1, I'm not insane) the 30-Day Shred. This is such a quick and effective work-out, and a few Twitter friends are tackling the challenge with me. Want to join us?
4. I read this beautiful post about Holly's grandmother who recently passed away, and besides being reminded that Holly talks about love and family and nostalgia better than anyone, I was also struck that I won't ever be able to write a similar post about either of my biological grandmothers.
This makes me sad, on a basic that-kind-of-stings level, but right after that thought struck me, it occurred to me that Kyle will be able to write something that heartfelt one day (if writing becomes one of his things) about either of his grandmothers. Kyle is such a lucky boy, for a million reasons, but the relationship he has with both of his grandmas (Nana and Mia, as he calls them) is near the tippy-top of the list. I've said this before and I'll say it dozens more times, but the fact that he has this beautiful, special, unconditional thing with them both, something I never had, is one of my favorite ways we're rewriting history together.
5. This feels like a very silly thing to mention, but I am trying to fill a list here. I made some small edits to this site all on my very own, so I'm basically a web designer now (ha). I added new social media buttons, new "top post" pictures (right-hand sidebar), new links, etc. Just messing around a little bit, but enjoy if you...enjoy sidebar badges and those kinds of things.
6. We're debating taking Kyle camping for the first time this year. We need to make this decision pretty much immediately because Texas is going to get really hot in about two weeks. We'd just drive up to Oklahoma for the night, no big deal, and I think Kyle would love it. I mean, he's in such a fun stage, where everything new is So! Much! Fun! Mike really likes camping, too, and I really like when they do outdoorsy stuff together and leave me in peace to read, so it kind of works out for all of us. Last time Mike and I went camping, there was a burn ban, so we "camped" while eating dinner in nearby restaurants. That felt a little fraudy. Anyway, I'll keep you posted on our camping plans as I'm sure you're on the edge of your "WILL THEY CAMP?" seats.
7. Speaking of Kyle, age four has been a lot of fun so far. I loved age two (so much), and still loved age three (though will readily admit that, oh boy, do you have to pay attention when parenting a three year old--they will take a mile if you give them half a centimeter), so I was a little nervous about age four. But, regardless how hard age four can be (friends start to mightily influence other four year olds, unfortunately, wiping away ALL MY HARD PARENTING WORK IN ONE AFTERNOON), the age is just so HILARIOUS. He says the funniest damn things. He has said in the course of a week, "Slip me some skin, Mommy," and "Oh phooey! Phooey is my new word, Mommy." He spells words and can read a little bit and I'm amazed anew that I get to hang out with this kid. He's my son! It's very delightful every time I remember that.
I've figured out that babies just aren't my jam. I love babies! I especially love snuggling your babies and just...passing them back to you when they show the slightest sign of being unhappy about something. But toddlers? Then kids? Oh yeah. They're my speed.
I remember when Kyle was between one and two, maybe 15-16 months or so, and the weekends were kind of brutal. One, Mike worked weekends back then so it was just my boy and me, filling up two straight days, and I'd be so relieved by Sunday evening, which is a hard thing to confess. I was just so exhausted and he wasn't quite talking yet but he needed EVERYTHING and I couldn't sit until he went to bed. Now, we watch The Voice and he helps me cook and he makes me laugh EVERY SINGLE DAY and he asks me questions about geography and dinosaurs and stuff I really like answering. So much better than angry pointing, like he did back when.
Anyway, the other day he was looking at a picture of my mom and me from when I was in college and if there's ever a picture of me that he's not in, he assumes he was in my tummy. "Is that when I was in your belly?" "No, actually, that was before you were in my belly. That was even before I knew daddy!" He did not understand. He looked at me like I was nuts. Before him? BEFORE? No such thing. He finally said, "Oh, I must have been sleeping."
He walked off, cool kid that he is, with his hands in his pockets, and I thought to myself: I'm just so glad you showed up.
I'm so glad we're here.
Easter is one of my favorite holidays, which I know may sound a little strange. I'm not a very religious person, but I do believe deeply in a few things and one of those things is the power of the people I love to make me feel wholer.
I had a house full of those people this morning, and I felt it very good.
We thought it might storm during our brunch and egg hunt. Sometimes Texas can surprise you in the best, most sunshiney ways.
I hope your day was just as warm, literally or otherwise.
Oh, and these beer biscuits that were on our Easter menu were DELICIOUS and you should make them immediately.
I nearly titled this "A Typical Day" but I realized there's just no typical day for us. Our lives are all over the place, and that's probably true for a lot of you, too. We try to create routines but damn if life doesn't make that hard. (Shaking my fist at life...)
Anyway, I wanted to record our steps for an entire day not because my life is all that interesting (oh, it's so not as you'll find out at about 10am) but because this is the kind of thing I'm going to enjoy looking back on one day.
7am: Kyle wakes me up, and I give him my phone to play with so I can steal ten more minutes of sleep.
7:10am: Okay, I'm up! I get Kyle breakfast and he eats while I take a shower. I remind him that when I get out of the shower he'll need to get dressed for school.
7:20am: I'm out of the shower and Kyle goes (slowly, oh so slowly) to his room to get dressed.
7:30am: I'm dressed and getting ready and Kyle comes into the bathroom so I can tie his shoes.
7:35am: Kyle gives Mike a kiss and hug goodbye while I pack his bag for soccer practice after school. Kyle reminds me not to forget his soccer ball.
7:40am: I grab a granola bar to eat in the car.
7:42am: I kiss Mike good-bye and tell him to have a good day. He hugs me for just an extra second. Funny how much I need that extra second.
7:45am: We're out of the house! Not exactly on time but good enough. On the way to the car Kyle sees a bunny that lives in our backyard and he gets so excited. I tell him that means we'll have good luck all day and then we wave good-bye to the bunny. Kyle says, "Have a great day, bunny! And you too Molly!" We drive off, waving.
8:05am: We pull up to Kyle's school, which is usually just five minutes door to door. It took so much longer because, well, traffic.
8:07am: Forgot the tuition check, so I run out to the car to get it. We're using the loose definition of run here, of course.
8:10am: Back in the car and on my way to work.
8:23am: Remember my granola bar! It's the little things.
8:27am: Hit some unexpected traffic. (You know those six-word memoirs that were all the rage for a while? One of mine would absolutely be: Well shit, got stuck in traffic.)
(Unexpected traffic face with bonus Kendra Scott earrings!)
9:07am: Finally get to work, a few minutes late.
9:15am: I make a cup of coffee (uh, of course) and chat quickly with my favorite co-worker.
9:20-10:30am: So many emails. I worked late the night before, getting my inbox under control, but I still come in to about 50 new ones I need to respond to or forward along. Also, my to-do list. It's very long.
10:30am-12:00pm: More work. It's a rare morning that I don't have a meeting or call, so it feels downright luxurious to put my head down and charge through my to-do list, uninterrupted. You are now oozing with jealousy of my rocking life, I'm sure.
12pm: Leave for lunch. I have a work meeting with a local author, to go over her marketing plan.
12:13pm: Arrive for lunch, begin perusing the menu. Oh, menu perusing is one of my favorite things.
(Settled on a Caesar salad with a side of salmon.)
1:45pm: Head back to the office.
2pm: Call with a company we hope to advertise with.
2:12pm: Call is done! Oh, under-15-minute calls are my very favorite.
3pm: Afternoon coffee and note writing. I know, afternoon coffee should be a very bad decision but my body is miraculous in that caffeine works on it (as it should) but it doesn't stop me from falling asleep whenever I'd like to.
4:40pm: Head out early, so I can make it to Kyle's school in time for soccer practice.
5:37pm: Pull into Kyle's school. Chat with his teacher for a few minutes and head to the school bathroom to change Kyle into his soccer clothes. Oh, look! I forgot one of his cleats, so he has to wear his regular shoes. He is not thrilled with me for this. (Kyle is very rigid about few things but what he wears is one of them.) We have a brief heart-to-heart about how mommy might disappoint him on a much grander scale in the future, and I'm super sorry about the shoes but can we shake it off and move on? Eventually, we do.
6:03pm: Pull into the soccer field parking lot. Again, the soccer field is five minutes, tops, from Kyle's school. Traffic can suck it.
(He's briefly forgiven me for the cleat incident.)
6:06pm: Kyle realizes I ALSO forgot his water bottle. (There IS a water fountain directly next to the soccer fields, I'd like it noted.) He yells across the field to me, sititng on the bleachers, "MOMMY, YOU FORGOT EVERYTHING." I briefly think about pretending he doesn't belong to me (but all the parents know me) and then I briefly think about yelling back, "OH REALLY? DID I FORGET YOUR SOCCER BALL? NO I DID NOT." but that doesn't seem super mature (although it does seem super accurate). "Sorry, buds!" I yell back. I say a silent "you're welcome" to all the other parents for owning the "lamest soccer parent" award of the night.
7pm: Soccer practice is over. I call Mike to give him a heads up we're on our way home.
(Post-practice silliness and, uh, we're not driving here, I feel the need to clarify. I mean, of course we're not! He's not even buckled in! But "feeling the need to clarify" is one of the gifts the internet has given me.)
7:17pm: We pull into the driveway. Oh, it feels good to be home.
7:19pm: Mike bought me flowers, and they're waiting for me on the table. This feels a little stagey for this post but I swear he is not a regular flower-buyer. He bought me some for Valentine's and then, before that, uh maybe our fourth anniversary in 2011. This night is a coincidence! Swear it!
7:20pm: I'm in yoga pants and QUICKLY. That's how I roll.
7:30pm: Mike makes Kyle a PB&J sandwich for dinner (I wish I had whipped up some delicious meal for dinner on this day, to impress all of you, but sandwiches is ALSO how I roll.) Mike then makes me a fried egg sandwich.
(With Doritos on the side. NUTRITIOUS.)
8pm: Kyle brushes his teeth, washes his face, etc. while I ... tweet, I'm sure.
8:20pm: Story time. I think I read a Berenstain Bear book this night.
8:25pm: Mike came in and we had family story time for a couple minutes. Mike made funny noises, Kyle cracked up, I tried to keep everyone focused on the plot of the story (unsuccessfully). Hugs! Kisses!
8:36pm: Big plans to go work-out.
8:37pm: In bed.
I'd like to do this once a month (I see a book-type-thing created with my once-a-month "Day in the Life" posts) but, in reality, I bet you get another one of these posts in 2014. No sooner.
Mike and I have finally begun putting together a living room we can be proud of. It's only taken four years to start this project and it'll only take (I'm sure) another four, but hell I'm calling any progress a victory at this point.
In January, we painted the walls a nice steel gray, and we've bought frames for the many pictures we want to hang on them. Over our couch, we've decided to hang travel photos, just scenery shots, and it was such a fun ride through vacation memory lane, choosing which pictures we should display. We chose one from Puerto Rico, Chicago, St. John, Boston and in the middle we hope to find just the right photo from College Station. That might not be your vacation city of choice but all this travel, all this everything, began with that tiny Texas town.
Of course we chose a photo from the family roadtrip we took in the summer of 2011 (here, here). You might remember that trip if you've been reading my blog since then. We traveled through Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and a tiny bit of Arizona for a family wedding. We took Kyle, then two and a half, and Molly, then (and now) a giant but lovable pain in the ass.
As I searched through the hundreds of photos from the trip for just the right one to frame, I remembered how we almost didn't go. My car broke down (to the tune of many dollars) the week before the trip and the day before the trip Kyle got a Mystery Fever. No money and a feverish child. Yeah, that screams fun family vacation.
But, against all rational thought, we took the trip. We packed the car, we booked a couple cheap hotel rooms, we filled a cooler with snacks and filled my laptop with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes, and we hoped for the best.
We ate burgers in Amarillo, drank margaritas in Santa Fe. We hiked in Arches National Park while watching a storm roll through one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen before or have ever seen since. Kyle threw up in the backseat on a particularly curvy Colorado mountain road but then we saw a deer inches from our car a few moments later, and he quickly cheered up. We visited the Four Corners. We graffitied the cars at Cadillac Ranch. We introduced Kyle to family he'd never met and we sat around the hotel pool with them, catching up and slapping mosquitoes against our arms. Mike's parents treated us to a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter ride above Gateway Canyons, where we stayed for the wedding. We off-roaded to visit Shiprock.
We also had this one giant fight, on a New Mexico highway late one night as Kyle slept in the backseat. It was ridiculous, as many giant fights tend to be, and Mike and I stewed quietly after it ended. I went to sleep angry. He slept with his back to me. We apologized in the morning, after coffee, a good night's sleep, and a strong dose of perspective, and we shared a family hug in our cheap hotel room before eating the worst continental breakfast we'd ever had.
There was also this beautiful moment on a straight stretch of road, driving out of Utah as the sun was setting one night. Kyle had just fallen asleep and Mike and I were talking about anything, nothing, I don't even remember. Maybe our trip, maybe stopping for gas, maybe Kyle. I think my favorite thing about my relationship with Mike, or maybe just my relationship with anyone I've loved so long, is the ease of conversation. You realize how rare that is, as you get older, when there is no anxiety or self-consciousness or even awareness of what you're saying. You just talk. It's like breathing, talking to Mike, and I realized on that Utah road that I was just so damn grateful we decided to say yes to a trip we nearly said no to.
It was one of the most incredible trips, no weeks, of my entire life. It was magical, it was beautiful, it was exhausting, it was fun, even the fight, even the carsickness, even the bad felt good on that trip.
We almost said no, but then we said yes. We hoped for the best, and that's exactly what we got.
No other reason to write this than I just wanted to remember all of that today.
Tonight we were making wishes on dandelions and you wished for dinosaurs and then got mad when they didn't just appear. Uh. I guess we need to talk about what wishes are. And maybe what dinosaurs are too.
(Not from the dandelion wishing, of course, but from a kite-flying afternoon a couple weeks ago.)
I knew Kyle was a boy.
It's easy to say that with confidence now, of course, since he is indeed a boy but, still, I knew. My (literal) dreams were of raising a boy.
I would have loved a girl. I need to say that for the girl that could have been. I would have taken great pride in raising her. It would have humbled me, sure, but I would have loved it. I have two nieces, one very close to Kyle's age, and I just want to scoop her up whenever I get to see her. Oh, Ella. I love her to pieces. She's adorable, she lets me brush her hair, she sits still for ages, and I get to buy her shoes forever.
Still. I knew I would have a boy. Kyle. My boy.
His little feet began smelling like something died on top of them around 18 months. He began creating guns out of NOTHING, out of thin air, out of the bubbles in the bathtub, at around age three. I couldn't believe he could do that, that his imagination could go to PSHAW PSHAW when I had just handed him a hairbrush or a popsicle or a spoon, my goodness, BIOLOGY YOU ARE WEIRD.
He is usually covered in bruises. He falls, he runs into things, he plays tough, and sometimes I have no earthly idea how he gets a bruise here or there. I look at him at the end of the day and think, I really hope CPS doesn't just randomly show up to count the number or bruises on a four-year-old's legs. Because ooooh my you have quite a lot.
Then there are the Legos. Oh hell, the number of Legos in my house is insane. In fact, here's a new baby shower game for you -- you can use this one free of charge -- blindfold the mom-to-be, toss a hundred tiny Legos on the floor, make her go barefoot across the room and she wins if she gets to the other side without 1) bleeding or 2) using a LOT of profanities. The other night, I stumbled into Kyle's room in the middle of the night after being summoned for some ridiculous reason -- I think he might have seen a moth in the dark at 3am? I don't even know. -- and I stepped on a dozen Legos on the way out while saying a dozen bad words under my breath. That scene was being four-year-old Kyle's mom in a nutshell.
Then there is Kyle with a bunch of his friends. Wow. I just. When you get a bunch of boys together, I don't even know how to capture the noise level in words that are in my current vocabulary. Other than to encourage you to swing by the liquor store before that particular maddening afternoon. There is just something very loud and stressful and ALL CAPSY about a group of little boys together inside four walls. In fact, I'd only recommend getting a group of little boys together outside. Never inside. Without that stop by the liquor store first, that is. Also, little boys together will never be able to hear you. You will say DO NOT THROW A FOOTBALL IN MY KITCHEN and while your one little boy may hear that and listen, a group of little boys will just stop understanding English altogether. They can't help it, I've decided. They have to throw that football! It's just a truth of the universe along with taxes and Mondays being the worst and French fries being the best.
Yet, my side of the bed is the farthest from our bedroom door and he comes to me every single morning, not Mike. He climbs up and snuggles into me, all bed-heady and sleepy-eyed. He is so warm those first moments after he wakes up. He usually says, "Mommy, I love you." Then, "I'm thirsty. Get me juice, please."
When he hugs me, he wraps his arms so tightly around my neck and says, "Ohhhh, Mommy, you are the super best!"
The other night we gave him a quarter to get a piece of candy out of a machine after dinner, and he used that quarter to buy me a ring. He was so proud to give it to me. I will wear that ring until my finger turns completely green, I swear it. Maybe even after that.
He laughs with his whole body. His laughs start in his eyes and they just explode out of him and sometimes he just falls right over from laughing, he can't even help it. Where he can rough-house and fix things and fly kites and kick soccer balls with his Dad, he laughs with me. I just never knew how incredibly fun and perfect and healing that laughter would be.
He is warm and sweet and wonderful and pure. He is so sunny and bright. Raising him is a gift. A dream come true.
When I hear that anyone I know is having a son, my first instinct is to say, "Ohhhhh, you are about to be told the very best secret" because that's the best way I can think to describe it.
You see boys running wildly through the grocery store, you see dirty, smelly boys shooting pretend guns on the playground, you see their bruised, scratched-up legs from afar and you don't get it. I didn't get it. They're so loud, you might think. They're so much. They really do throw footballs around your kitchen EVEN WHEN YOU TELL THEM NOT TO. Their shoes aren't nearly as cute, either, are they?
But, then you have one. A son. Your son. Your boy. And he snuggles into you first thing in the morning and he wraps his arms around your neck and he spends his only quarter on you and he laughs with his whole self and he calls you (his mom!) the super best.
You get it.
You've been told a secret. The very best secret.
The secret of having a son.
I had a goal (on my to-do list this year) to choose one pin a month that's been gathering dust on my Pinterest boards and attempt to tackle it. It could be anything, really, from a DIY project to a local restaurant I've been wanting to try. Annnnd then I failed right out of the gate because January was pin-less. I know! But, hey. My list, my rules. I still get to cross that bad boy off if I finish 12 pins by December and since I did TWO in February, I'm back on track.
(I also might attempt Janssen's Pinterest challenge, so there's an extra six. I will basically own Pinterest by 2014.)
Pin of the Month #1: Dinosaur Egg Party Favors
I won't quit my day job to create dinosaur egg party favors for a living, but I still think this was a solid attempt. Even Mike was impressed, and that's saying something.
I bought clear party favor bags (at Michael's), candy rocks (I bought 2 bags, which was a good amount for about a dozen favors), and tasked Mike with printing the notes (front and back) on regular ole printer paper. Then I folded evenly and stapled. I would have preferred a sturdier stock, but this was a night-before-the-party project, so.
Pin of the Month #2: Kyle's Party Shirt
Turns out, I really like buying Kyle shirts to wear to his birthday parties. Here's a snapshot over the years. (Minus his third birthday, when I didn't buy him anything special except a few hundred balloons.)
I pinned a few possible shirts for his party, and purchased the winning one about two weeks before his party. The seller was awesome and put it in the mail the day after I bought it, since I left a note about when the party was.
In fact, all the Etsy sellers I've bought his party shirts from over the years have been great. Here are links to each: first birthday, second birthday (we had a small family party, with a transportation theme, so this airplane shirt was perfect), and fourth birthday.
I know, hitting purchase and calling that a Pinterest project might feel like a stretch, but I often (LIKE, WEEKLY) pin things I'd like to buy one day only to forget all about those things and wind up just dropping $50 at Target on similar (but less awesome) things instead.
So, there you have it! One post with a lot of references to pins.
I'm writing Kyle an email every day this year and while sometimes I write Kyle three emails in one day and post-date them (DON'T YOU TELL ME THAT'S CHEATING), it's been one of the best decisions I've made. In a while. They're capturing funny things he's saying these days, quality time we're spending together, and also the times he's being so FOUR I can't think of anything else to say in the body of an email except GAH I NEED A DRINK AND YOU ARE STILL SCREAMING FROM TIME-OUT. If he chooses to have kids, he will totally understand those particular emails one day.
Anyway, I thought I'd share a few here, every now and then. I don't know why. Maybe to just remember for myself since I try not to go into his account other than to keep it active. Here's tonight's...
I decided to write you an email every day for a year because I hoped a few of these emails would capture things we'll all sadly forget one day, a few would share funny stories, and the rest would give you a glimpse of what your life was like when you were four.
I also hoped that when you one day match your vague, fuzzy, just-forming memories of this time against these emails, you may get a better sense of who your mom is and was. I don't know how you'll see me in hindsight, or how your memories are creating me right now, and I wanted to give you just a little more of a record of this time.
I also wanted to give you a sense of the kid you are right now, the four year old you'll (unfortunately) never really know yourself. I would have loved to have known myself at four. I had great hair back then until your Aunt Rachel cut it all off. And I also had great Cabbage Patch Dolls and Care Bears and Pound Puppies that would likely sell for hundreds of dollars on eBay right now. (By the time you're reading this, maybe THOUSANDS.) I would love to have known myself at age four, true, but I would also love to pull myself aside and whisper SAVE THOSE TOYS. FOREVER. Even if that had been creepy for four-year-old me.
Anyway, these emails are just trying to give you a little slice of you this year. The sweet, incredible, wonderful, blonde-headed, soulful, funny, four-year-old boy that I get to hang out with every day. He's something else, grown-up Kyle. Just as I'm sure you are right now.
I want you to know more about small Kyle, four-year-old Kyle, the Kyle who laughs so hard he stops breathing and also the Kyle that stomps his feet (JUST LIKE HIS FATHER) when it's bedtime. But at the same time, I can't wait to meet the Kyle reading this. I really can't. Do you still like to read? Color? Eat cinnamon toast and chicken fingers?
Do you still laugh as hard?
Man, I hope so.
I love birthdays, as you likely know, and I really love the birthdays of my boys. (And, yes, of Molly. We bought her a big piece of delicious cake last year and I know it was delicious because I ate it all. That was a good day.) (I totally thought I blogged about Molly's last birthday and intended to link to it but, nope, around her birthday I was blogging about Taylor Kitsch and Whole Foods smoothies. NO WONDER SHE SIDE-EYES ME SO OFTEN.) Anyway, what's tough about Kyle's birthday is that February is Texas' usually coldest but also most unpredictable weather month. One year, we reached insane freezing temperatures for like a solid week. (I really thought I blogged about that horrible icy week of terrible cold but nope. I'm apparently a poor excuse for a blogger.) This year, it was 68 degrees the day before his party. The day of his party, of course, it was cold and overcast and windy, and I was super grumpy about it.
Like really fucking grumpy.
I went to Target that morning to buy all the things I still needed to buy (and many things I didn't still need to buy) and just stomped around the store and tweeted about how grumpy I was and stomped some more and then comfort bought a pair of earrings. (This was after I had already comfort ate a donut from Kyle's donut cake.)
The party turned out a-okay--as these things just turn out, of course--especially in Kyle's adorable four-year-old eyes. He was happy the entire time and he ran around outside in the cold, with his friends (and even without a coat!), and laughed and laughed and laughed. And laughed.
(That bottom right picture is candy grabbing post-pinata breaking, in case you thought we encouraged a kid brawl or something.)
We chose a dinosaur theme--and by we, I completely mean me because I pushed the theme on Kyle like the overbearing, birthday-obsessed mom I unapologetically am--but it was still my favorite theme ever. (And, don't worry, Kyle really liked it too.)
We set up pools of sand on the porch for faux-fossil digs. I buried a bunch of tiny plastic dinosaurs in the sand and let the kids take home whatever they unearthed.
Mike drew dinosaur feet on the front walk with chalk. (I just have to quickly give a shout-out to Elizabeth, who I stole the party idea from last year, and when I asked her where she found her dinosaur feet, she said, "Oh, I drew them with chalk" and I immediately thought THIS IS WHY ELIZABETH NEEDS TO LIVE IN TEXAS. I could stress eat donuts and she could just calmly fix my party problems.)
One thing Kyle chose all on his very own was his donut cake. We went back and forth on his cake for a while and he finally said, "I want donuts with candles." At first I thought we'd just buy two donuts, stick four candles in them, and call it a day, but then I decided donuts sounded good for everyone. And they were good for everyone. I could use one of those donuts right now, truth be told.
It was a good day, and when I put Kyle to bed that night, he told me that he loved his party, that he had the best day, and while I still have memories of grumpily stomping around Target because of the stupid effing clouds, the bigger memories are the ones of Kyle grinning.
Kyle grinning trumps a whole lot.
He's four! I still can't believe it.
The other day, I was taking Kyle to school and I handed him the latest Scholastic book order form from school. I told him to pick out three books, and we'd buy them for him.
He was naming a whole bunch of books he wanted, way more than three, and I reminded him he needed to pick just three.
"Ohhhhh, but I want all the books."
"I wish we could buy you all those books! We can only afford three, though."
I said it quickly, without really thinking, to be honest. I wanted him to choose, but it was also true. I wish we could buy a hundred books but, you know, THE ANNOYING MORTGAGE AND ALL. (The boy also refuses to update his resume and get himself a job. Freeloader.)
He got quiet for a few minutes and I assumed he was scanning the pages again to decide which three he wanted.
"I just need two books, Mommy. You can save the rest of the money."
He's going to become a surly teenager one day, only talking to me to request another $20, so I wanted to remember this moment. I wanted to remember when I thought to myself, "Ohhh, kid. Freeload as long as you want. In fact, let's save that money to get you a pony."
Kyle is four years old today.
Ever since Kyle could walk, we've ingrained in his head that he must (EVEN IF I HAVE TO YELL VERY LOUDLY AT HIM) hold our hands in the street or in a parking lot. The yelling worked, because he does just that, reaches up for one of our hands whenever we hit the edge of a road.
Yesterday, after I picked Kyle up from school, he talked about the cupcakes he'll bring to his class today and about how good he listened to his teachers, and he grabbed his sweatshirt off his coat rack, all by himself, as he does, and it was all so simply how our lives are. Our lives, our routine, this is our normal. As we walked outside and reached the last step before the parking lot, he was talking up a storm ("Mommy, I have an idea, let's put a candle ON TOP of my ice cream tomorrow."), and he naturally reached up for my hand. Right before I took it, I just looked at him, this kid of mine, with his shaggy blonde hair and sunny smile, holding his hand up to me and I tried tried tried to remember it all. This one particular moment, this one particular boy, this one particular life.
I never thought life could be this simple, this bright, this beautiful and, oh, I never thought I'd have such a perfect boy to reach up for my hand, to walk through parking lots and life with me.
I've wanted a lot in my day, but oh my goodness is Kyle a million times more than I ever thought I was worthy of wanting.
Happy fourth birthday, buds.
My oh my, do we love you to the moon and back.
1. Phew, we're through Christmas and New Year's and my birthday and we can finally stop eating, am I right? Well, I can stop eating. I'm sure you have enough will power to have stopped already. (Show-off.) Anyway, the Biggest Blogging Loser starts today, so I start my own new year too. I'm loosely doing the Whole30. I say "loosely" because I have a few (work and personal) dinner commitments I can't/refuse to cancel or suffer through drinking water at and also because I won't beat myself up over missteps or allow myself to go hungry rather than eating something non-Whole30 compliant. I'm going to try my best, I'll say, and I'm mostly just trying to use this month as a tool to become re-aware of what I eat after (so many) months of getting disconnected with that.
A couple things I'm giving up for the duration of the Biggest Blogging Loser, though, are alcohol and chocolate. I know! That's 12 long weeks without a glass of something or a slice of something, but I think I enjoyed my fair share of both over the holidays and this will be a good re-focus for me on fruits and vegetables and healthy dishes.
I was texting Holly tonight about eating wholer--and I hope she's okay if I share this--but she said to me "don't let anyone police you." This is just what I needed to hear. You put intentions out on the internet and you can feel (maybe just me?) that the internet then gets a say in those goals. So, I'm repeating those smart words to myself over and over. It's really empowering.
I'm doing my best! We'll see how it goes.
Anyway, here's my January menu, if you care to see it. (By the way, I love this template I found for 2013 monthly calendars. Maybe you'll like it too.)
(Click to enlarge!)
2. I've somehow managed to watch a ton of movies over the last couple weeks and while I'd like to sit down and write out thoughtful movie reviews for each, I never seem to have the time, so I'll quickly recap a few:
Go see Silver Linings Playbook. Oh, it's so refreshingly good! I found it funny and heartwarming and dark and romantic. Bradley Cooper just owned his particular character and Jennifer Lawrence was perfect, too, although I felt she had less to prove. She's done small, independent films and she's done The Hunger Games but she's just good, you know? You don't doubt this girl can act, and I now don't doubt that about Bradley Cooper, either. So, if you're looking for a (likely-to-be-nominated) movie to see in this particular awards' season, see this one. (Although I haven't seen some of the other awards' contenders, so maybe take actual critics' recommendations now that I think about it.)
So, I had heard a lot of buzz about The Cabin in the Woods for a while now, and I had been wanting to see it. I finally convinced Mike to watch it (with my sister and her husband) over the holidays and, wow, what am I missing? The twist was kind of in the trailer, so as not to be all that shocking. Anything beyond the trailer was...not good. It was ridiculous. It was campy but not funny (which I was told it would be!). I just didn't get the appeal, and neither did the three other people I watched it with.
We also watched Lawless over the holidays and I really enjoyed it. Sure, it's kind of violent but I can't imagine you'd go into a movie about outlaw bootleggers and be surprised by that. For the violence, you also get a healthy dose of Tom Hardy, so go ahead and give it a try.
3. This is the point in the year where I go from Holiday Mania! to Planning My Child's Birthday Party! and somehow I'm always surprised by this. It's like the holidays are a buffer for the weird feelings that Kyle turning a year older bring, and now that the holidays are over, I can properly feel all of them. I try never to let myself get too sad because I have a healthy, awesome kid. I wouldn't trade that for anything. But it's still weird, you know? He's nearly four! I sometimes just can't reconcile that. Anyway, he is nearly four and we're throwing him a dinosaur birthday party (although who knows WHERE yet because we have a very small house and he has a February birthday--one of the few notoriously cold months in Texas--meaning we can't just let the birthday guests run loose in the yard and that always makes our at-home parties feel super cramped and chaotic, but we'll figure SOMETHING out) and he is very excited about it, and I'm very excited about it, too. Four! I just don't know.
4. For Christmas, I bought myself Young House Love, and while I know they are a Very Big Blog (which bring Very Big Blog Opinions), I mainly like this book because I'm a home decor idiot. I'm bad at DIY and bad at decorating and bad at thinking of ideas while looking at my ugly walls. They broke down ideas and simple fixes all in one easy-to-reference place, and they also made it easy for me to show Mike "THIS! I WANT OUR HOUSE TO LOOK LIKE THIS!" and he understood what I meant without me fumbling through blog archives or Pinterest boards to show him photos. He's become re-inspired around our house (in part because of the things I've shown him from the book, I'd be willing to wager) and it makes it fun to dream up Home Fixes together. I love this book, really I do, and I'd recommend it to you, if you're anything like me.
5. Oh, hey, my college team won their bowl game, and I got to watch them do just that at my birthday party Friday night. That was a lot of fun.
We had a house full of Aggies, and it was a lot of fun to high-five and cheer together. I recommend watching your team win with friends, drinks, and snacks. (I just invented game-watching parties, didn't I? You're welcome!)
6. One my favorite birthday gifts was a gift card to Target. I don't really understand people who don't like getting (or giving) gift cards. You're telling me I get a piece of plastic and can buy WHATEVER I WANT from one of my favorite places with it? THANK YOU, THAT IS FABULOUS, GIVE ME THAT GIFT ALWAYS. I don't want to buy groceries or things for Kyle or anything I would already pick up at a trip to Target with this gift card. I want to get something fun and something just for me. I've been looking at a necklace for ages (that of course isn't online since the Target website is THE WORST), but if it's still there at my next trip to Target, I'm getting it. What would YOU buy if you couldn't spend it on groceries or household things or anything you'd have to buy anyway?
7. I've been trying to think of a seventh thing for too long and it's time to head to bed, so let's just end by saying I have a super stressful week at work and I'm back to cooking and working out (I'm exhausted just thinking of getting to Saturday morning) so please diffuse the stress with some fun things. What are you most looking forward to this week?
I usually let Kyle choose his bedtime book but if we're being straight here--and I like to think that's what we're usually being--I've been known to attempt to persuade him toward a shorter book if it's late or if I'm tired. (Or if reading the same long book a 15th night in a row, which can make me stabby.)
Tonight I persuaded him into a much shorter book than I realized and when I got to the end, Kyle looked at me, annoyed, and said, "Three pages? That's it? Well, that's pretty short."
He'll be four in February. And something has happened over the last few weeks. Something surprising and shocking and weird. He SEEMS like he's going to be four in two months. Okay, that's not actually all that surprising. That's just math. I know.
But, well. I was never very good at math. Math was always tough for me.
When I was pregnant, there was no doubt we would find out what we were having as soon as we possibly could. Frustratingly, we had to wait until around 22 weeks because of my doctor's appointment policies and I thought those extra days would make me go insane. Some people find out at 17 weeks! The pregnancy injustices! Didn't my doctor understand that I NEEDED to know what we were having?
(Spoiler alert: it's a boy!)
Now and for the last couple years, though? Well. I regret finding out while pregnant.
I don't know how to articulate this without it sounding sorta strange or like I'm creating things to be weepy about four years later, but it's very likely I'll have just the one pregnancy. Combine that with how quickly these last (nearly) four years have flown by (so fast, my god), and I just wish I could have lived in the moment back then in a better way. I wish I could have forgotten about registries and blue onesies and his middle name (which we didn't decide until the day we were discharged from the hospital, anyway) (it's Parker) and just tried to enjoy being pregnant.
I had a relatively easy pregnancy. I say that because there were no big complications (there was a very brief scare mid-way but that turned out to be nothing) and he was born healthy and ultimately that's all that matters, but I was also very, very sick. I kind of feel weird talking about it because I wasn't the sickest pregnant lady you'll ever meet, no, and Zofran definitely helped and I ended up gaining (plenty of) weight but I was on Zofran for nearly the entire pregnancy (I only say "nearly" because I was on Reglan the last month after finally responding to it and it was OMG SO MUCH CHEAPER). Before I got on Zofran, I lost 12 pounds in two weeks.
I had to pay out-of-pocket for some Zofran because my insurance wouldn't cover all that was prescribed and I needed, hilariously, all that was prescribed. Because of this, I threw up in the shower many mornings so I could wait to take that first pill. When I was in California for BlogHer '08, I ran out of pills and that flight home was one of the most miserable experiences of my life.
Aside from nausea, I also had horrible reflux the last month that caused me to throw up a lot, as well. Oh, man. That was something special. And I'm just going to put this out there so we can all be very real with each other: there were hemorrhoids.
I say all this not to make you feel badly for me--I know plenty who had it so much worse (which is why I always feel weird talking about how sick I was to begin with), people who didn't respond to Zofran, who were in multiple ERs, who had complications much worse than a three-day false alarm, who dealt with all this and then some while parenting other kids--but I say all this because it doesn't make much sense that I went through that and ultimately still liked being pregnant.
But I did.
Feeling Kyle kick was, easily, without a doubt, hands down, my absolute favorite thing in all the world until the moment he was born. I was one of the lucky women who never got tired of those kicks, never. I loved them until the day he was born. I would sit on the couch and watch my belly roll around for literally hours. (It's what I would look forward to doing on the weekends.) I would take (dozens of, really) videos of my belly moving. I would sit in staff meetings and watch my shirt thump and shake, grinning. My co-worker said I kept my hand on my stomach when I'd walk around the office months after Kyle was born. I just...I still miss those kicks. I loved those kicks. (I'm weepy right now as I type these words because they made me love a pregnancy that didn't have many other redeeming qualities.)
For me, and this is a very unique thought that nearly no one has understood when I've tried to verbalize it before, I wish that for those nine months I could have just been pregnant, just focused on those kicks and little else, not wished the time by so quickly to get to Kyle because he was always going to be at the end of it. He was always waiting for me whether or not I knew he was a he at 22 or 40 weeks. I was always going to meet the coolest little boy that's ever existed at the end of my pregnancy and knowing he was going to be a boy didn't steal that coolness, don't get me wrong, but I just wish I could have shelved the constant loop of "is it a boy or a girl?" and then "It's a boy!" and replaced it with "these nine months will feel like a blink one day, just sit on the couch with your hand on your belly for a few minutes more and breathe."
Mike and I also made a deal that he would name our baby if it was a girl and I would get naming rights if it was a boy. We made this deal because our short list of names for either sex were names we both liked a lot and if it had been Sophia or Sloane or Addison (our top-three girl names), I would have been happy. But we knew, after making that deal, that if we had a boy it would be Kyle. That was always my top pick. I liked a lot of names (Reid, Seth, Gabe, Joel, Ryan, Sean--I apparently really like four-letter boy names), but something was always telling me I was carrying Kyle. I didn't need a sonogram to tell me, in hindsight. I always knew it was him.
I know this all sounds ridiculous. Even as I write this, I sense that your eyes have rolled right out of your head and I don't even blame you. And it was so fun to buy Kyle a little striped GAP sweater (this one!*) right after we got confirmation that he was indeed a he, but I can't deny that since then, every time I find out a friend isn't finding out, a pang of regret hits me. Not a pang that I want another baby or I wish I would have eaten fewer chocolate croissants (HA, NEVER) or I wish I would have bought that one awesome baby product. No, just, that would have been nice, to have waited.
What about you, did you find out, not find out, regret whatever you chose, etc.? We should all have different feelings on this, right, and I don't expect too many people to get where I'm coming from, but I'd still love to hear your experience.
*I look at that photo and physically remember that colicky baby but ooooooh that's still Kyle! Those eyes, that boy. All Kyle.